You can convert more leads and referrals to new clients by understanding the influence of online search. Get the complete step-by-step guide.
If you’re looking to grow your home care agency and convert more referrals and leads to clients, the key may be your digital marketing. Why? The way new clients find and research an agency—the awareness and consideration stages of the customer journey—is completely different today from what it was just a few years ago.
What’s so different? Two things:
1) The immense popularity of online search, which today works a lot like 411 directory assistance that our parents and grandparents used.
2) The information that search engines like Google and Bing generate and display on the search engine results page (SERP).
Online search is growing fast.
First, let’s look at the popularity of online search. We all know that consumers who are looking for a caregiver or home care agency—and don’t have a specific referral or agency name in mind—usually go online to begin their research. But you may be surprised by how much online search has increased over the past five years.
According to Google Trends on the date of this writing, the peak popularity of online searches for “home care agency” has climbed 12% over the past year—and surged 58% versus five years ago. We see a similar trend among searches for “caregiver” with an uptick of 8% versus a year ago and a whopping 62% increase from five years ago.
These generic industry search numbers are hard to ignore. But something else has also changed dramatically in recent years—the way consumers who do have a referral or specific home care agency in mind also use online search. Online search is now the main gateway for offline referrals.
Today, nearly all prospective clients pass through the online search gateway on the path to your agency—or your competitor’s agency.
Online gateway for offline referrals.
When a family member receives a personal recommendation or referral for an agency, the most common next step is to go online and search for that agency. They may want to learn more about services, double-check the quality of caregivers through reviews and ratings, or just need to find the phone number. Whatever the reason, online search is what nearly all consumers do before calling an agency.
And what do consumers see when they search online for a specific agency? A lot.
- Paid ads for home care agencies at the top of the page
- Map listings of multiple agencies next
- Customer reviews on various online review platforms
- Business listings, including the agency they searched for
That’s a lot of information to take in, sort through, and make sense of. It’s filled with distractions and confusing titles, which often become barriers to finding the one agency they searched for in the first place.
Even consumers who are searching for an agency by name will see—and have to get beyond—a big wave of search-related information.
So even if you have amazing relationships with your referral partners, great sales reps and agency reputation, and lots of satisfied customers, you just can’t ignore the power of online search. How do you capitalize on the current online search trend and get a bigger share of the home care business in your area? Understand the basics of digital marketing.
Digital marketing and local search engine optimization (SEO) can be overwhelming if you’re just getting into it. But you don’t need to become an expert to see results. You just need to focus on the top three things that consumers see in their search results—and follow these steps to optimize each channel.
Step One: Get Online Reviews
Customer reviews help your business float higher in search results and make your business more credible and appealing. Why are reviews so important? Google loves customer reviews and ratings. They help your site’s domain authority, which means a higher search ranking. And reviews, which stand out on a busy page, are usually the first thing consumers look for before clicking on a listing.
Step Two: Get On the Map
Today, maps appear on the first page of all search results. They show where businesses are located in your area and help potential customers find you. Test Google, Yelp, and Facebook Maps to make sure your agency shows up. And it should—they all list home care agencies on their maps. If yours doesn’t show up, you may need to “claim your business” and verify your current info.
Step Three: Run Paid Ads
Keyword ads can be highly targeted to your service area. But before you spend a dime on advertising, be sure your reviews are strong and your map listings are accurate and optimized. Then, look at keyword ads—the ones that show up on the top of the results page after someone does an online search. If you’re just starting out with paid ads, Google AdWords Express is a good place to start because the interface is so easy.
These three channels all work together to enhance your agency’s online presence and help new clients find your faster. Keep in mind that digital marketing doesn’t replace your in-person sales efforts—it supplements them.
Ready for a deeper dive into digital marketing and the specific steps to optimize your agency’s online presence? Download our free Digital Marketing Guide for Home Care Agencies. We’ll show you how to get reviews, get on the listings map, and walk you through how to budget and create paid search ads. This is the same training we share with Honor Care Network Partners, who grow on average 30% in three months.