If you have not yet participated in our Email Marketing Survey, we would love to have your input. You can access our survey here – it’s short (7 questions), so it won’t take you too long and we appreciate your taking the time to share your opinion!
When companies first begin contemplating whether they should start doing email marketing or not, one of the biggest questions I hear most often is ‘I don’t know what I would use it for’. We have all heard about email marketing and many companies are using it – with varying degrees of success – as is evidenced by the many emails we receive every day in our own email inboxes. When I think about the emails I get in my inbox, I know that I definitely categorize them into different levels of interest. Like many people, I have an inbox for personal and a seperate one for business. When I open my personal inbox, I tend to scroll past about 75% of the emails as things that I don’t every even bother to open. I don’t care about every sale going on at every place I have ever made a purchase – unless I am looking for a particular item, I just scroll right past those emails. I do pay attention to all the shipment tracking notifications. And, lately, because we are looking at adopting a dog, anything that has the word dog, puppy, rescue or Doberman in it gets opened repeatedly. But, most other things just get passed by. There is simply too much information to read through it.
The same goes for my business email. If it is from a person or company I recognize, I open it, of course. But, if the sender is not familiar, and the subject line does not appear to be applicable to my position, I don’t open it. I always unsubscribe from companies that have nothing to do with my business/industry.
The common theme in all the emails I actually open and read is if it contains information that is relevant to my business or personal life. If it is relevant to your audience, they will appreciate receiving the information in manner that, in my opinion, is very unobtrusive. The great thing about email is that your audience can choose to ignore it or come back to it at a later date. Unlike a phone call, which can easily be viewed at as an intrusion, we can see that an email is coming in, who its from and if it is necessary to read or attend to immediately. A phone call, especially from a solicitor, can come in at a bad time and easily turn someone off of your message, even if it is helpful information.
If you are a senior living community and you do not currently do any type of email marketing, why should you even consider it? For starters, email marketing (through Constant Contact, the service we use and recommend) can be extremely useful in communicating with your employees. You can track your open rates and see exactly who is reading the emails you are sending out. We find this particularly useful with our Trainer communications. We have over 300 Certified Personal Trainers who work for us as contractors across the United States. It is vital to our operations that each Trainer is following our L2BH protocols. When we introduce a new exercise, a new piece of equipment or need to communicate something quickly and efficiently to our Trainers, we send out a Trainer email. Through our dashboard, we can see who has opened the email and who has not. Depending upon the urgency of the message, we can even re-send the same email again and again until we know that all of our Trainers have read it. Email is also a very helpful tool when it comes to evaluating performance. For instance, if we notice class attendance is falling in a particular Trainer’s class, checking their email open rate can be a very effective tool to see how engaged they are in their business. If they are not opening their emails and class attendance continues to drop, our Regional Owners will begin monitoring their classes much more closely. As a senior living community begins to use email marketing to communicate with their employees, management will be able to ensure that their message is being received. If a new critical guideline needs to be communicated to your employees, Constant Contact email marketing will allow you to see who has gotten the message and who needs to be reached out to in a different way. This is much more effective than simply posting a NOTICE on your bulletin board in the breakroom. As we all know, some people will never read the postings, and there is absolutely no way of know who has and who has not.
What about communicating with your potential new residents and their families? If you are planning a group tour or an activity which you would like to invite your potential new residents to, you can place an ad in a local paper or other publication where they may or may not see it (which is usually not free), you can mail an invitation in the mail (which is decidedly not free once you design, print and pay for postage), you can have staff members phone and invite (which costs an hourly wage for their time, plus we already know it may not come at a convenient time). With email marketing, you can simply create an attractive invitation and email it out to all of your clients. You can ask for an RSVP, or you can simply check into your open rate and see how many people actually opened your invitation.
Vendors & Partners
You can use email marketing to communicate with vendors and business partners. Your community can spread the word about activities and events by letting your business partners know what is going on. You can also efficiently disseminate information – like if you need to cancel activities for a week during flu season to protect your residents. If you are a non-profit organization, you can communicate all information quickly and easily to all board members.
Residents & Families
The biggest advantage to email marketing is the cost-savings for printing when it comes to communications with your residents and their families. While you may still need to provide paper menus and activity schedules to those who do not have email, you can cut down on costs dramatically by making these items available electronically. This is also a large advantage to communicating with the families of the residents. Having had family members in assisted living myself, I know how often we asked Grandma to get involved and get out of her room. This was before email was so common, and she continually told us there was nothing going on. What she really meant was, she was afraid to go down to a room full of strangers by herself and join in on an activity. Had I known about the activity, I could have scheduled my visit to coincide with activities I thought she might like – like the fitness classes – and attended the event with her to reduce her anxiety.