How Merrill Gardens used digital marketing to increase occupancy

To maintain its competitive edge, Merrill Gardens was looking for new ways to improve the company’s marketing efforts. For VP of Marketing Amanda Warren, the question was how.

His solution: FURTHER, a leader in AI-powered sales assistants designed to help operators increase occupancy.

“We used to have live chat on our website several years ago, but it was more expensive,” says Warren. “Now we’re moving beyond previous benchmarks, allowing marketing to do more, including playing a bigger role in lead development. With FURTHER, the ROI was so easy to see, because we can easily measure their production (and) move-in leads in our CRM.

Indeed, today’s retirement home operators are increasingly adjusting their view of the sales funnel, finding benefits by taking advantage of opportunities in the middle of the funnel rather than at the top. Marketing comes first. Here’s a look at how senior living operators can revamp their digital marketing strategy, while delighting three key groups: the marketing team, the sales team, and the potential resident.

With the right tools, quality and quantity can work together

Refocusing lower in the funnel is a quality improvement game. But that doesn’t mean operators should deny the benefits of quantity. Instead, says Thomas Bierlein, FURTHER’s Chief Customer Officer, they should ask themselves, “How can I provide a great user experience for digital leads while delivering results for my sales team?”

“There’s a quality game and a quantity game,” Bierlein says. “Our most successful partners are positioning themselves to excel in both.”

The key to managing a large amount of leads is the ability to segment and organize that amount of leads, he says. With an ability to glean quality from quantity, sales teams will appreciate their ability to deliver a better experience to a more targeted audience.

“We knew we could get leads, but this (AGAIN) helps us get more good leads,” Warren says. “We can help our sales teams be more efficient by focusing on what converts at a higher rate.”

Embracing digital marketing in today’s socially distant world is essential. Operators going digital can better track lead attribution as well as spend, to get the most out of every dollar, Bierlein says. He sees two additional reasons why becoming more flexible and dynamic in digital marketing will improve occupancy in the long run:

  1. Get in touch with future buyers. Just because someone isn’t ready to move in today doesn’t mean raising awareness won’t have a positive impact on their future decision. Connect early and make it meaningful.
  2. Expand your network. The person the sales team is talking to may not be the right one for the community, but the ripple effect tells us that if they have a positive experience, they’re more likely to recommend someone. one that she knows and that can be appropriate for the community.

“Those ready to move in now, those researching, those looking for themselves or a loved one – all of these specific data points can help guide next steps, regardless of traditional quality measures” , he said.

Engage prospects with a great experience

Marketing teams do everything they can to increase awareness, drive traffic, and capture leads, but to do it well requires a balance of having the right experience and the ability to focus on qualifying the right leads for the sales. Digital marketing tools create this ability.

“From a marketing perspective, adding FURTHER’s Virtual Sales Assistant to our website was a big step forward for us,” says Warren. “It’s such a convenient way for consumers to connect. This eliminates friction for prospects and we’ve seen the volume of inquiries change instantly. »

“For the potential resident, FURTHER creates a unique user experience that makes it dear to the senior living operator,” says Bierlein. “Part of their experience is getting their questions answered without having to wait for someone to take their call or respond to an email. It’s that quantity-quality overlap. While the FURTHER Virtual Sales Assistant welcomes a prospect that the sales team might not be able to immediately find time for, adding to the quantity, this potential buyer has a quality experience with the website.

Operators, on the other hand, use FURTHER to gain important insights into prospects, which helps drive more meaningful interactions through increased awareness of the effectiveness of their efforts.

“It’s important that we communicate with potential residents in a way that is both helpful and timely, giving them the resources they need to take the necessary steps in their search,” says Bierlein.

Always get results for your sales team

Ultimately, all of this work is about providing the sales team with what they need to do their job best. The marketing team uses FURTHER to convert website traffic and generate quality leads, while the leads’ great experience increases the chances that the sales team will close them, either immediately or later.

“Now your sales team can focus because they know who they’re talking to and can prioritize quality,” says Bierlein. The best results when this happens:

  • Increase in requests
  • Increase in scheduled tours
  • More accommodations
  • Optimized expenses

“At the end of the day, potential residents want to connect with communities in different ways,” Bierlein says. “Amanda and her team wanted tools to help them do that while still providing a great experience. We’re helping them achieve that and optimize their sales efforts to achieve optimal results.

This article is sponsored by Further. To learn more about how you can improve your website and drive more accommodations, visit

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