Valerie V Show Ep 8: Buying Home Care Leads- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
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We’re going to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly about home care leads today, and I’m glad y’all could be with us. We are going to go right into it, this is a big topic of conversation, whether you’re new to the home care industry, or you’re old in the home care industry. Big topic, so let’s talk about it. First thing we want to talk about is, who sells home care leads? Well if you look on Google, or if you’ve talked to other home care agencies …
You know that home care leads come from a lot of different places. A Place For Mom sells home care leads, Elder Care Link, CareInHomes.com, Caring.com, Care.com, lots of different places. And I’m sure I haven’t even named them all.
So usually when you buy a home care lead, and this might not include all of these services I just talked about, there’s a cost to those leads of course, and there is a way that they want you to buy them. Either in bulk or one at a time. Usually, they want you to make a bulk purchase, over the course of 30 days they give you however many leads you’ve signed up for. The average cost per lead can go anywhere from $30, to $250 per lead. It depends on how qualified they are, it depends on a whole bunch of stuff. So, the cost of a lead for home care, a lot of times you’re going to be asked to decide whether you want exclusive leads or non-exclusive leads.
If you want exclusive leads, my understanding is that what that’s supposed to mean is, that those leads only go to you, they don’t go to a bunch of other people. But if it’s a non exclusive lead, which would be cheaper, then it’s going to go to many people. So, five or six other agencies are also going to get that lead, so you have to be really fast on the draw if you’re going to go with non exclusive. You have to be fast on the draw anyway. So, the question is, is any of this worth it? Should I be buying leads? And, I’m going to talk about that kind of toward the end.
So, the other thing to understand about leads, this is … Back in, I want to say five years ago, as long as you followed up the same day, you were doing pretty good. But right now, you have to follow up instantly. You have to be the first person to actually make a connection with that lead. So, follow up time is crucial. And the interesting thing that I found about this, is that if somebody’s feeling out a lead form, they probably didn’t just fill out that one lead form for that one company where you happen to buy the lead, but they probably filled out many lead forms. They’re looking for resources, they’re looking for help, they’re looking for some kind of answer to their elder care issue. So they probably filled out a whole bunch of lead forms. I’m just making sure I’m still on.
And so, the follow up time, it has to be instant, whether they’re exclusive or not. So, the notification time for a home care lead also is significant. If you’re generating leads in any regard, whether it’s a service that you’ve paid, or you’re doing it on your own, or someone’s helping you do it through your own website, you need to get those notifications instantly. So they need to come to you by text if you’re out in the field a lot, or by email if you’re one of those people who’s constantly on your email, and you know that’s good enough. But, nine times out of 10 it’s better if the notification time is down to just seconds for that lead form to be sent to you, and if you are notified on your mobile device, that, that lead has come in. Because without that, that lead might sit in your email for three or four hours while you’re out on a call, and you can’t get back to that person.
Leads can come in via form, they can come in via phone, and usually when you purchase a lead those are all form based. They can come in through phone as you know, and they can come in via texting if you have the right platform built onto your website. So there’s all kinds … Or messaging, I should say. There’s all kinds of different ways to get those leads, but that notification time needs to be short, it needs to be instant, and the follow up time on your end has to be right away. So, my recommendation is that if you’re going to buy leads, that you know this upfront. And if you can’t be that person who is being notified and following up instantly, that you assign someone to that.
Now, if you’re on your own and you’re just starting out, you’re going to have to be that person. But if you have an office staff, or you have someone else who can help you, making sure that they are responsible for notifications and follow up time is super important. You’ll never close a lead if you wait two days to follow up, or you wait till tomorrow. You need to follow up right away. Now, that doesn’t include the middle of the night, but during the day, that’s something you have to do quick.
Long term commitment. Okay, I hear a lot of people say, “Well, I’m going to buy leads because I really want to get this business rolling, and I really want to make sure that I’m getting new clients in, and I know it’s going to take a while for SEO, and content, and I’m trying. I’m going out there, and I’m doing the direct referral marketing, but I want some clients right now.” Or, “I’ve also heard if I don’t get some more clients right now, I’m going to have to shut my doors. I don’t have anywhere to send my caregivers. I’m brand new at this, and I need clients right away.”
My feeling is this, I know that buying leads sounds like an instant solution. So does Google AdWords, and so does Facebook ads. They all sound like instant solutions to the challenge of not having any clients, or needing more clients right now. And I honestly gotta say, that I don’t think they are. I don’t think this is a short term solution. I think you’re throwing money at a problem that’s not going to go away. And if you’re not a great closer, and not all of us are … I don’t consider myself a really great closer. I can talk all day if my microphone’s turned on, but I’m not a great closer. I’m not a sales person, like one on one sales person. That’s just not my gig.
There are other people who are great at that, but it’s not me. And I can identify that. I will give you the facts, I’ll give you the information, I’ll tell you all about it, I’ll tell you my opinion, my experience. But I’m not a closer, I don’t think. It’s just not the way I would describe myself.
So, if you’re not a great closer and you know that, you’re not great about asking for the business, you haven’t had sales training, then you might want to think about not necessarily buying leads that are instant, and that you have to close right now. And especially when you don’t have a choice, it’s between keeping your doors open and not keeping your doors open. The other thing is the long term commitment. So, I am of the opinion that leads, when you buy them, this is not a fix for a failing business, and it’s not a fix for a business that’s struggling financially.
What I think is that, buying leads are a great supplement to a business that already has its head on straight, that already has a suite of clients. Maybe just a few, but a business that’s not inherently struggling and trying to decide whether it’s going to shut its doors or not. Buying leads isn’t going to make that change. There’s probably something else very wrong that needs to be fixed. My gut feeling on leads is, that if you’re going to buy them, you need to start out in a place of financial safety, and a place where you have that money to spend, and that this isn’t your throwing it all out there, seeing what sticks, and hopefully this will save my business. That’s not a good place to be, and it’s not a good reason to buy leads. You have to be patient with these people.
So when I talk long term commitment, my meaning behind that is this. When you get your leads, you get all kinds of contact information from them, you get information about the person who needs care, you get their email addresses. Those people need to be followed up with over, and over again many times. They’re not in a crisis that they have to have solved this second. It might be six months before that lead really closes. It might be that they’re searching, they know that their parent needs care, but they’re not in a financial position to provide that care. Or, they’re not in a position where their parent is ready mentally to have care givers come in the home.
But at some point if they kind of are searching, and they’re filling out forms, and they’re looking for information, at some point they’re going to pull that trigger. And, if that’s the case, you want to be the one that followed up with them last. Now, let’s be honest, I’ve filled out these forms on all these websites before, and one of the reasons is because I wanted to be able to recommend a service, and I wanted to see what would happen if I filled out a form. What happens is, I get calls from five local home care agencies within 15 minutes of me filling out that form, which is the way it’s supposed to work. But if I weren’t expecting that, that would be a little overwhelming for me.
And also, I notice that after two or three phone calls, the calls stop. And I never get an email, or if I do I can’t remember at this point, it wasn’t anything memorable. And I’m not on anybody’s newsletter list, I’m not on a follow up that can go on forever, and ever, and ever. I’m followed up with for a short time, and then they move on to someone else.
My opinion on that, is that you should have an E-newsletter that allows you to follow up with that person for infinity. So, if you have an automated newsletter that’s going out, and most of our clients do, and if you have email addresses from people who have inquired about your services, then put them on the newsletter list. If they don’t want to hear from you, someone passes away, they can beep, unsubscribe. So, I guess my recommendation is that you follow up forever. Follow up, and follow up, and follow up with that person. Some day they’re going to need that help, that they originally sought answers for. And you might be the only person left that’s still following up with them.
So what you have to do is, you have to look at this over time. It’s also a numbers game. So for every person that you hear a no, eventually you’re getting closer to that yes. How many leads do you have to go through before you hear that yes, and what is the value of that client? What is the financial value, how many hours a week, and how long does it last? What is the financial value of that lead? Did it make it worthwhile to continue to buy leads for several more months? It might be. So, follow up instantly, make sure that you understand the time between the … The amount of time that happens between the form being filled out, or the phone call being made, and the notification of you. And where you’re being notified, and if you can follow up instantly. And if you can’t, make sure there’s somebody else who can.
And then long term commitment. When you buy leads, you have spent a lot of money for these leads. So keep them on an email list, keep a drip campaign going, do something to keep yourself top of mind. Avoid follow up failure. Follow up failure is when you have all these business cards, leads, you have all these people that you could be following up with, but people start falling through the cracks because you’re just moving on and moving on, and you’re churning and burning. Put everybody on a list, sound out a newsletter, do it. If it’s the only way you can follow up, I mean you can do maybe a personal follow up at some point. But, if that’s the only way you can get through to these folks over time, put them on your newsletter list. No matter how much you don’t like newsletters, that doesn’t mean your clients hate newsletters. It means that they are in the market for elder care, and for you to catch them, and remind them, and put your brand in front of them once a month, is super important.
Just like buying a car. You don’t see the car ads, and the ads in the newspaper, and the online ads. you don’t see any of that. you don’t pay attention to it, your brain tunes it out when it’s not your issue. If you’re not looking for a car, or you’re not in the market for a car, you’re not going to see those ads. But the minute you click on something, or you start filling out forms, or you start looking at websites online, guess what? Everything you see is about a car ad, and the guy who follows up the best, and has the car that you want, is the person that’s probably going to win your business.
So, the same rule applies with elder care. If you’re not in the market for elder care, you’re not going to pay attention to any of this. But the minute I fill out that form, it’s telling the world, “Hey, you know what? There’s a challenge here. There’s some kind of problem. I don’t know if anybody out there can help me, but I think that somebody in my life’s going to need care. It might be myself, my spouse, or an aging parent or relative.” Something is happening in that persons life, so don’t hesitate to follow up, and follow up, and follow up, and follow up.
So, my opinion is this. Leads are okay, they obviously are a big giant business so they must be working for somebody. You need to be a great closer on the phone, you need to have a super fast follow up time, and a super fast notification time. Those two things need to be quick. And, you need to make sure that you are in this for the long haul with those leads, and you don’t think that tomorrow, you are going to have a new client. It does happen, but it doesn’t happen often enough to save your business.
What I think is most important, is that you have a long term strategy for marketing online. You should be generating your own leads, and your own referrals, and your own online presence can help tremendously with that. So if you have an excellent website, and you have a tracked and recorded phone line, so you can track everything that comes in through your website. If you have those two things, the only thing people are going to do is fill out a form or make a call. That’s how they’re going to get a hold of you. They’re not going to send you a telegram, they’re not going to send you a letter in the mail. They might send you an email. But 90% of the time they’re going to pick up the phone and make a call, and 10% of the time they’re going to fill out a form. Especially if it’s like after hours. So, you need to be able to track those forms, and those phone calls. And when you track those, then you’ll know what your online marketing return on investment is.
If you consistently publish good content that’s search engine optimized for your local area, and you share company news, and you use Facebook as a community outreach tool, and you use LinkedIn as your professional networking, then at that point you will be starting to generate your own leads. They’re exclusive to you, you have to follow up quick just like you do with any other kind of lead. But, those leads are exclusive to you. They saw something, they heard something, or they watched something that really intrigued them, and they’re on the hunt for a solution to their elder care problem. So make sure your website is up to par, you have lead forms on your website, you can track and record the phone calls that are coming in from your website, and you’re able to understand where people are finding you. Was it Google, was it Facebook, was it a referral but then they looked you up online, how is that working?
So my opinion is that, you should have your own lead system, you should build your own online empire. If you buy leads tomorrow and then you turn that off, it goes away. You’ve really done nothing to brand yourself, you’ve just talked to a few people who may or may not qualify for your care, or want your care, or need your care. If you build your own online empire, if you build your own brand and in your local area you’re everywhere, because you’re always reaching out to your community on Facebook, you’re always reaching out to professionals, you always have great content. When you do that, that stays forever. That doesn’t go away. Those articles stay, those videos, like this one, they stay. You want to make sure you’re building your own online empire, as opposed to just buying leads, or turning that Google AdWords on, and then turning the Google AdWords off.
Okay, so let’s talk Google AdWords and Facebook ads for just a minute. I just covered this in a webinar, our Q1 Power Hour that we did. And by the way while we’re doing that, let’s just take a look and see what’s going on here, ’cause I’m paying not a bit of attention to anybody but me. All right, let’s see here. I’m just going to go to the live show and say hello. Yeah, okay, “Do you have a newsletter company you suggest?” I do. I have a couple of them. I am all about … Uh-oh, did I turn it off? Oh my gosh, I am so paranoid about this microphone.
Okay, I am partial to a certain kind of a newsletter, so we’ll rewind for one second and talk newsletters. Your newsletter should be mobile responsive. Everybody who reads it is going to be on a mobile device, they’re going to be sitting on the toilet, or they’re going to be watching TV at night, or they’re going to be sitting in traffic, let’s be honest, and they’re looking at their phone, and they’re scrolling through their email and they see your newsletter, and they’re going to skim it. So the newsletter itself needs to be super simple. I know everybody’s interested in these beautiful, artsy, crazy, award winning looking newsletters, but there’s two things that happen with those kind of newsletters.
Number one, they’re not automated and they will never go out. You say you’ll do it, but you won’t do it. And number two, they’re hard to read on a mobile phone. So, nobody’s going to read them. Or, they’re going to read the text version only, and that’s a bummer. So, they need to be mobile responsive, and they need to be automated. Which means, that you put a blog post on your website, and boop, it ends up in your newsletter. You put another blog post on your website, boop, article number two in your newsletter. We have this magic way of doing this. We use two systems that we recommend, Constant Contact is not one of them. Although I do like Constant Contact, they’re a little more pricey than they need to be, but they do have a lot of bells and whistles. That’s not the one we recommend. I like them, but I don’t recommend them for this.
Campaign Monitor would be number one, CampaignMonitor.com, and Mail Chimp. MailChimp.com. Both of those have what you call, “RSS fed newsletters.” Meaning, the blog post that you put on your website is part of an RSS feed, or it should be, and your newsletter system can look at your website and say, “Hmm, I see one, two, three, four new articles this month. I’m going to suck those in, turn them into little exerts, and I’m going to send it out to all your contacts.” That is an RSS fed newsletters. It’s a little bit of geek speak, but this means that your newsletter’s automated, it goes out without fail, and it doesn’t have to be amazing to have an impact. It just needs to be, it actually needs to happen.
It’s much more important that the newsletter goes out, even if it’s a text based newsletter, than to have this fancy crazy one that you have to modify every month, and therefore everybody’s busy, and it’s the very last thing on your list. Newsletters are important. Automated, Campaign Monitor, Mail Chimp. Okay, next.
Google AdWords, and Facebook ads, let’s talk about that. Yes, I hope you can still hear me. Okay, Google AdWords. This is, again, my opinion. Oh look, my phone’s going to Google AdWords, that’s creepy. Here’s my opinion on Google AdWords. And by the way, say hello on the Facebook. I can see your questions, I’ve got ya. Don’t do it. So, Google AdWords is great for plumbers, and roofers, and for salons, and for people selling T-shirts, or selling websites, or selling home care leads. But, Google AdWords is not necessarily great for home care, and there are several reasons why I say that … And my mic is still on.
Number one, we have this challenge in home care, where there are certain parts of the country where we don’t need anymore non qualified, or unqualified caregivers looking for jobs. We don’t need to hear from them. We need qualified caregivers. When you put a Google ad up, and for those of you who are techy and know how to run Google AdWords, yes. I know you can put 27, 37, 47 negative keywords in there to deter the folks who are looking for jobs. It doesn’t work, you’re still going to get job seekers in a lot of them. So if you’re spending $1,000 a month on Google AdWords, which is the ads at the top of the page when you do a search on Google, it says, “Ad,” really little right by it. A lot of that money, if you spent $1,000 a month, I’m going to say seven to $800 of that is going to go to job seekers.
The other two to $300 of that in that month will go to perhaps people who are looking for care. But of those people, a larger percent of them are going to qualify for Medicaid. And if you don’t take Medicaid, as many of you don’t in private duty, then you know you’re going to not be able to service that lead. So, you’re churning through a lot of dough for only maybe a couple of leads a month that actually … One to two maybe, that actually qualify, and that might turn into something. And if they don’t, you just blew 1,000 bucks that month.
If you go down to $300 a month, like $10 a day on Google AdWords, the odds are much worse. So, you have to kind of weigh how much can you afford to spend, versus how good of a closer you are, versus what kind of ads you’re running. It’s kind of complicated. Just slapping an ad up there without any knowledge of Google AdWords is really not a great idea.
Facebook ads. So we have the caregiver problem with the Google AdWords, and the people who don’t qualify. So Facebook ads next … Oh, let’s see if we have any … Okay, no, I don’t have any questions. But if you do, please type them in. I can see you.
So for Facebook ads, there is a lot better result with Facebook ads. I’m not saying that you don’t have to spend a lot of money, but I am saying that there are better results. And the reason is, that you can target better. Google AdWords and Facebook ads do not work the same way at all. But, Facebook ads tend to eliminate the problem of caregivers constantly clicking on your ads. It’s not to say they won’t, but you’re not targeting them. So, chances are they’re not going to even see the ad, so you get a better result. So also I would say with Facebook ads, it’s not about just slapping a picture up there, and paying $10 a day and saying, “Hey, we provide home care in your area. Give us a call.” That’s not going to work. Nobody’s going to do that.
You have to really reach out, and really reach deep with Facebook ads, and you need to create a lead ad form. The only way you’re going to know if somebody’s qualified, or at least a little bit qualified, or at least know a little bit more about them, is if you actually use a lead ad form. And they have to put in their name, and they have to put in their phone number, and they have to put in their email address. So, if you want to do Facebook ads, I recommend depending on the geography that you’re in, and the level of competition, you’re looking at 600 to $1,000 a month in Facebook ad costs by itself. And, you’re looking at making lead ad forms, and using video instead of a picture.
So you want a really short, really happy 10 to 12 second video, and you want to make sure that, that is what you’re using as opposed to just a static image. So for Facebook ads, there is a better ratio. But again, sometimes those leads are going to end up costing anywhere from 30 bucks a lead at the end of the day, all the way up to over $100 a lead, depending on where you’re located. So it’s still not cheap, but I think they fare far better than the leads from Google AdWords, if you’re looking for home care clients.
Okay, I’m just going to check one more time, I think everybody’s good. All right, so thank you very much. We’re going to keep these short, and to the point. We’ll be live again tomorrow, or maybe it will be a recorded video tomorrow. But then on Thursday, we’ll be here with Melanie Stover. We’re going to do what’s called a, “Be Live.” B-E, L-I-V-E, and we’re going to get on the screen together. We’re going to share a screen, we’re going to be live, we’re going to be live. And we’re going to talk about direct referral marketing, so join us.
Valerie’s motto and favorite saying is: “Impact is not created by big budgets, impact is created by innovative marketing ideas!”
Valerie is a Registered Nurse and the author of three books, Aging Answers (2003), The Senior Solution (2007) and Priceless Caregiving (2009). Her adventure in internet marketing began as a self-promotion experiment and ended up becoming a full time marketing consulting business for the elder care market.
Valerie has appeared on national television (Today Show), has hosted her own local radio show, and has been interviewed for dozens of publications and radio shows across the country regarding her business and the business of elder care.
She fast became the foremost authority in driving sales via the internet, seminars, and e-mail for senior service providers and elder care entrepreneurs.While Valerie’s best known for her expertise in marketing, her students share that her biggest impact comes from her ability to make things happen quickly, even on a small budget.
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