Internet Listing Services

Internet Listing Services (ILSs) have become the Internet version of printed guides, the old-fashioned way of finding businesses. Just like printed guides, ILSs give users a single place to find your senior living community (and your competitors). Against this background, they can seem like a natural way to advertise and get leads.

However, the dynamic nature of the Internet has made the costs and benefits of ILSs different than printed guides. For example, printed guides are published only occasionally, whereas ILSs can change every day. Furthermore, senior living communities don’t need to pay the publisher of a printed guide for every lead they receive, like they do for ILSs.

Communities and consumers also have more options now on the Internet compared to past decades. ILSs may seem like a necessary component of digital marketing, but in fact, it’s possible to get more leads at a lower cost via other marketing methods.

ILSs can be costly for several reasons. First of all, they’re ultimately competitors. Although ILSs may seem to offer a helpful service by driving leads to your website, their listings can undermine your other digital marketing campaigns and lower your overall return on investment. That’s because ILSs are in direct competition with your community websites in organic and PPC search rankings. In other words, ILSs ‘steal’ your leads, then turn around and sell them back to you. They also drive up the cost of paid search as competing bidders. They may seem like a convenient way to increase leads, but their “service” can backfire and increase your costs.

Besides operating as competitors, ILSs don’t provide the best leads or guarantee a high level of conversions. The prospects that come from ILSs are often not engaged. After all, they just viewed your community and your competitors on the same list. They’re engaged with the ILS site, not yours, and they’re comparing communities. They’re not ready to commit. Another disadvantage of an ILS is that your brand is diluted and only represented by whatever the ILS dictates. Your brand is often reduced to your logo and a paragraph about your services. You essentially look like your competition and the searcher hasn’t learned enough about you to know the difference.

In contrast, leads that discover and experience your community on your website are much more engaged and likely to become residents. The conversion rates for these leads are about three to four times higher than leads from an ILS. If your main goal is to get more residents, then it’s more effective to focus on leads from your website, rather than depending on ILS leads.

In the end, ILSs don’t care what happens down the road. They’re mainly interested in attracting more leads by outranking your website and outperforming your community on social media. Then, after taking away your traffic, they send it back to you at a lower conversion rate. Quantity, not quality, matters most to them.

This mentality applies to consumers, too. Initially, ILSs may seem like sympathetic guides, helping families and seniors choose independent or assisted living communities. However, this help is biased and unprofessional, based on marketing and money rather than quality of care.

Advisors working for senior living ILSs, such as A Place for Mom, may have good intentions and genuine sympathy, but ultimately, they aren’t adequately experienced in senior care to guide families towards the right community. They don’t meet the senior face-to-face, and they may not even visit the facilities they’re recommending.

ILSs may defend their approach by downplaying the importance of their referrals. They may encourage families to personally tour the communities, explore all the options, and form their own opinions. In practice, though, their referrals are powerful players in the senior care industry. ILSs can seem knowledgeable, and consumers appreciate having a free service. They don’t know that the “knowledge” of ILSs is based on provider fees, not in-depth research.

How consumers are finding local businesses is changing, and this includes the senior care industry. In past, consumers relied on listing services because they were less familiar with how to navigate the Internet. Today, with mobile search increasing and users more comfortable, they are turning to the simplicity of searching on their own and finding businesses that match the services they are seeking. Essentially, moving away from ILSs is beneficial for consumers as much as senior living communities. Both could increase the quality of the end result by removing the middleman. Communities would have more engaged leads, and seniors would have a better chance of discovering the community that really fits their needs.

G5 works to make this situation a reality by driving leads directly to a community’s website. Unlike ILSs, G5 focuses on increasing quality, not just quantity. This teamwork allows communities to reduce their dependency on ILSs without compromising their brand.