How Email and More Referrals Go Together for Home Care Marketing
The value of referrals for home care agencies is a proven way to build the business and a primary goal of all home care marketing. Your former customers along with their family members and the professionals that you interact with are a great source for new business. The challenge is finding ways to stay “top of mind” with all of these people and the time required.
To be competitive, every home care agency has to use all the tools available to stay visible and avoid drifting into invisibility. One solution is the combine traditional referral approaches with a marketing automation approach. If you are using the right approach it will still feel personal, offer value to those you’ve served, and keep out of the trash-heap of forgetfulness as they interact with friends and others who will need your services now or in the future.
Using email is one tool that is often overlooked, and it's low cost and still works with both seniors and the caregivers and family supporters in their lives. Email should be part of a strategic approach to marketing for home care.
The Wharton School places email in the top 3 sources for building referrals.
How Email Builds Home Care Referrals
Word of mouth has become a digital activity. If we know about a restaurant, good sale, or great hotel and want to share it with someone, we send it to them digitally. It's what makes the whole digital experience so important for home care business growth.
Effective email places that opportunity right in the inbox of the individual that knows you best - a customer or adult child of a client. When you remind them of your value, and serve their ongoing needs for insights and support via email, you set every one of your customers up as a potential client referral source.
An email or resource that you deliver to a customer or one of your client's adult children becomes an organic referral source that serves as a form of word-of-mouth marketing.
Email can be an important part of the buyer's journey. But it has to be connected to the brand story that you are working to tell - the brand story that your website presents.
FAQ How Email Can Help Build Home Care Referrals
What kind of content should go into emails?
The key to effective email is always the value of the content. Your emails need to be designed to HELP, rather than SELL. Valuable content should always be based on
What are the essential requirements for emails to boost referrals?
1. You need to have a segmented list that comes from your marketing automation or customer relationship manager (CRM - more below). This should be built into your website.
2. You need to be using an email system that is integrated with your blog and is capable of tracking responses and providing follow-up insights.
Should the emails request a referral?
If you have a referral program that accrues benefits your clients, then this can be one of the elements of your regular emails, but never more than 20% of the time, and normally less. It can also be placed at the bottom of the email as a suggestion.
How often should emails be sent?
Email that goes out too often, especially to an older adult crowd, will create frustration rather than positive connections. Research places the sweet spot at 1-2 per week.
What format should emails take?
There are a variety of helpful formats, however, a newsletter style is not generally one of them. Use single-subject, easy-to-scan emails that include something of real value.
Step by Step Referral Emails
1. Gather Your Lists and Make some New Ones.
Start with a customer list and then separate family members and others that you’ve contacted in the process of serving (family members, neighbors, and other professionals). Each of these groups should be treated as a separate group or “segment,” with its own list. Add to these names professionals in the community who work in your area of service. Leaders and professionals in senior centers, the Chamber of Commerce, local clubs, churches, and other organizations that work with seniors. Consider identifying care managers, financial planners, and long-term care insurance agencies.
You’ll need their name, organization (if applicable), and email address. It also helps to keep track of the relationship that you have with each person as a way to sort your lists effectively. Many times a CRM system (customer relationship management) is used for this purpose - you can get one at no cost that will help you maintain the information you need.
In a CRM you can track the relationships by simply creating a new data field that allows you to select from the various relationships that you may have (or want to have) with people in your lists. Set up categories such as former client, the family of the client, community leader, and health professional to identify which group each person best fits.
2. Identify information that you can provide that has value to those in your lists.
In order to build referrals, you have to provide something of value. No one wants to get a weekly or even monthly email that is simply a sales pitch. This is one of the issues with the way websites are designed, too. They tend to be all about you instead of the prospect. Offering information that demonstrates your expertise, and has value to those on your lists is the best way to keep the relationship growing.
Make a list of topics that you can share that fit your expertise and will help you connect with those on the list. Here are a few ideas:
- Safety Tips for Seniors in the Home
- Resources for Local Seniors
- Best Buys for Seniors on a Budget
- The Power of Conversation in the Life of a Senior
- Brain Health
- Senior Scam Alert
- Gadgets and Tech for Seniors
3. Get Original Content and Organize it for a Series of Emails
You can gather information on all the topics you’ll be sharing about from industry and even competitor websites. But be careful, not only do you not want to plagiarize, but you also don’t want a Google penalty for having duplicate content online. Anything you gather will have to be rewritten, and while you lean on the ideas you collect, make sure you re-author all of it in your own words. It’s important to give credit to others for their ideas too, and it will help your credibility if you reference the source of the information you provide.
4. Send out an introduction email explaining what you are offering
Since you are going to be sending out information by email, it is important to let people know what you are offering. It is best if you make it a friendly introduction that shares how you want to meet the needs of seniors and will be sharing tips from your experience in working in the homes of many who are elderly. Give people the opportunity to easily say, “no thank you,” which is also called “opting out.” This is a feature that is included in almost all mass email software and is a requirement to avoid being considered a source of spam email. Make sure you add a subscription button to your website so that you continue to build your lists.
You will get referrals in three different ways from this process. First, By simply reminding your former clients along with their family and friends about what you do, you will stay top of mind and receive referrals. Second, people will share valuable ideas with others and that will result in referrals. Third (and here’s the important part), if you are using a good email system, you’ll be able to see who is opening your email. If you have a total list of 500 people, then you may have 100 or more who are regularly opening what you send. If they are reading it, then they represent someone who has an interest and could be an even more powerful referral source.
For those who are routinely opening your emails, consider a personal phone call or a personal email with a purpose. You can call to email to simply say, “thanks for reading my articles,” and ask them if they “have suggestions for other articles that they might find helpful.” This will prompt a discussion of the challenges that they are facing with family, friends, or clients - and that could also lead to a referral.
6. Send some articles in Print or Video to Seniors
If your list includes seniors and you don’t see high open rates, then consider sending a print version, or recording a video. While 85% of seniors do use email, you can increase your impact by adding another version. Since you have an article, it doesn’t take much to turn that into a simple video script, or format it for print and drop it in the mail.
It's ok to share information that you didn't create. However if possible, curate that information through your website so they stop at your digital home first, before going to look somewhere else.
7. Improve the experience of those who respond to emails and visit your website
When people click one of your emails and visit your website, it is very similar to the experience of stepping into your lobby. It provides a first impression that is followed by a customer service experience because people connect the quality of your website with the quality of your company. While it may not be true, it is a logical extension of what rational people think.
Poor website experience = poor company quality (at least in the website visitor's mind).
Think about a website that you are forced to use which is very difficult to navigate, or on which you cannot find what you need to access. What thoughts crop up in your mind about the organization as a result? That process may be occurring with your business if your quality of service isn't represented by a quality website.