What Works—and What Doesn’t When Marketing a Home Care or Home Health Care Agency
Over the last several years, we’ve had the opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of home care marketing. We’ve worked with both small independent home care agencies, as well as franchisees of large national home care companies, and we’ve learned a great deal about what works when marketing a home care agency—and what doesn’t.
I’m going to share with you some of the important lessons we’ve learned about how to market home care and home health care services.
What are the best marketing channels for your home care or home health care agency to attract qualified leads? How can you ensure that your pipeline of potential caregivers stays full? What are marketing channels you would be best advised to avoid?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in the home care industry will grow by 54% by 2026. Getting your home care marketing right could mean that your agency could be positioned to capture a larger part of this growing market.
By the end of this guide, you should have a clear picture of how to market your home care business. If you’d like to speak with a home care marketing agency about what might work for you, click here and we’d be happy to take a look at your market and put together a proposal for you.
Prefer video? Watch this video that focuses on the digital marketing channels discussed in this article
First, How Much Should Your Home Care Agency Spend on Marketing?
Advertising expenditure for the home care healthcare industry increased over 20% from 2018 to 2019, from 3.7 billion to 4.4 billion dollars.
As the home care industry grows, agencies are relying more and more heavily on marketing to capture market share.
Unlike other industries that are seeing consolidation, 78% of home care healthcare agencies employ under 50 caregivers. This means that the market has yet to be dominated by large players that smaller, independent agencies cannot compete with.
This being the case, your home care agency has a shot at capturing market share.
Even more encouraging is the fact that in many markets, home care agencies are simply not dedicating adequate resources to their marketing efforts.
While widely accepted rules of thumb dictate that a growing business should dedicate 5%-10% of revenue to marketing, Home Care Pulse’s 2014 Private Duty Benchmarking Study found that typical home care agencies were spending just 1.1% of revenue on marketing.
This should be encouraging to you.
While in some industries it is necessary to exceed the typical 5%-10% of revenue to achieve any positive ROI through marketing, it seems clear that in many markets, a home care agency can often achieve market penetration without needing to dedicate an excessive amount of resources to marketing.
Setting aside 5%-10% of a new home care agency’s revenue (or target revenue) for marketing is likely to be a roadmap to capturing market share. For an established home care agency, 2%-5% of revenue is a more common amount to spend on advertising.
The key is to spend it in the right places.
How to Market a Home Care Business
The most commonly used channels used for marketing a home care agency are:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
- Display advertising
- Social media marketing
- Referral Networks
The key is to understand what each of these channels is best used for.
For instance, simply putting up a billboard on a busy highway is extremely unlikely to drive leads.
A #1 position on Google is unlikely to capture the attention of an internet user if the #2 and #3 results are trusted names and #1 isn’t.
The key to successfully marketing your home care business is to understand how to leverage each of these channels so they reinforce one another.
I’m going to share what we’ve learned from marketing both independent home care agencies and large home care franchises (check out our results page if you want some details on what we are capable of doing).
SEO and PPC Drives Home Care Leads That Are Ready To Hire
The ultimate goal for your home care marketing efforts is to get a phone call or contact form submission.
The best way to get clients for a home care agency is through Google.
More times than not, a Google search is the last step your customers will take before contacting a home care provider. You want to be sure that your website is visible in the search results they’ll be choosing from in this moment.
Both SEO and PPC tend to be at the bottom of the marketing funnel for home care agencies, meaning that they’re marketing channels used when customers are ready to take an action.
This is not to say that there’s no value in middle and top of the funnel marketing channels such as billboards and radio; it’s just that those channels are better used for branding. People don’t see a billboard, pull over, and call a home care agency.
They will, however, be more likely to trust your company and click on your result on Google if they are already familiar with your name.
I’ll talk more about top of funnel marketing channels later in this article. Instead, let’s start with the home care marketing channels that directly drive leads: SEO & PPC.
Is SEO or PPC Better for Marketing a Home Care Agency?
Home care digital marketing isn’t a matter of deciding between SEO and PPC; it’s a matter of determining when SEO is right for your home care business and when PPC is right.
PPC advertising will deliver qualified home care leads almost immediately, but once your budget is spent, it’s gone.
Search engine optimization (SEO) will take longer to deliver an ROI for your home care business, but once you’re positioned well in the search engine results, you shouldn’t have to do much to maintain your position (and the leads that come in through organic search).
The decision to invest in SEO vs. PPC for your home care agency’s marketing is largely a decision between a long-term and short-term investment in marketing, and whatever makes the most sense for your business at any given time.
1. SEO for Your Home Care Business
At a high level, all of the activities that go into SEO fall into one of three categories:
- Ensuring Google can optimally crawl and index your website, as well as structuring it in a way that users and the search engine can best understand and navigate it. This is often referred to as Technical SEO.
- Maximizing the relevance of your page content to the queries your customers search for before and while they are searching for a caregiver. This is often referred to as on-page SEO.
- Building trust and the authority of your website through the creation of content and the acquisition of links from other websites.
The Challenges of Keyword Research for Home Care SEO
When building new landing pages for your home care website, or optimizing pre-existing pages, it’s important to optimize them to target keywords that your customers use to find your services.
One of the challenges of home care SEO is that there isn’t one term that is universally used for your services, which makes finding the right keywords for your home care agency challenging.
This makes keyword research a critical step (unless you’re already highly experienced at SEO for home care agencies and you’ve already done extensive keyword research, like we have).
For example, there is a limited number of ways that someone searches for a dentist. “Dentists near me,” “dentists that accept X insurance,” “pediatric dentists in xyz city.”
When it comes to home health and home care agencies, on the other hand, here’s just a small sample of how we see people search for home care services:
- Caregivers near me
- Elder care agencies
- In-home care services
- Home care services for seniors
- Personal care services
- Adult care services
- Home care assistance
- Home care agencies
- Caregiver agencies
And the list goes on and on.
As a matter of fact, one home care agency in Philadelphia ranks for 357 different keywords on just its main service page:
This means that when writing the content for your pages, an SEO must work to include all of the different ways a potential patient or family member may search for home care services.
Have Dedicated Pages For Each of Your Services
Your primary home care service pages should be targeting a combination of the services offered and the location of the business.
This means have a dedicated page for “alzheimer’s care in XYZ city,” “live-in care in XYZ city,” “private-duty nursing in XYZ city,” and so forth.
Do not put all of your services on an “our services” page and expect it to rank well.
Also, make sure you are mentioning the cities and towns you want to rank in when you create these pages. Target local terms.
SEO for Home Care Agencies is Local SEO.
Think about it: home care services are as local of a service as you can get.
Your patients are looking for care at their home, so they will be looking for home care practices that are near them. So while some industries can have a more national approach to their strategies, home care SEO strategies should be heavily focused on local SEO.
A big part of local SEO is optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
Many clients may come across your business through your location-based landing pages, but there is a high possibility that they come across your business through your GMB or other local listings. That is why optimizing your local profiles is such an important part of your overall in home care marketing strategy.
If your GMB profile is properly optimized, then your business could show up in Google’s local three-pack. This means that your business will show up to viewers before they even have a chance to view the organic listings:
To help ensure that your GMB is showing up in the local three pack, you need to make sure that you have optimized your profile for the proper local search terms, your profile is filled to completion, and that you have included review generation into your home care marketing.
To have a properly optimized GMB profile, you need to complete every section of your account with accurate information about your home care agency. The most important areas will be the NAP (name, address, phone number) of your business as well as the categories you have picked.
The category and description sections will help Google better understand the type of business you are as well as the keywords that should bring up your GMB profile.
Reviews Can Help Your Home Care Agency’s SEO
As I mentioned before, reviews are a key part of an effective GMB profile and should be a key part of your home care marketing strategy.
97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more, and 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
If you do not have a method to generate reviews, then you are missing out on bringing new users to your site through your GMB profile.
On top of having users trust your brand if you have more positive reviews, search engines actually favor well-reviewed businesses. This means the more reviews you have, the more likely your home care agency will show up in Google’s local three pack.
No matter how well your pages are optimized for SEO, the number one position for organic search is still below the top 4 ads that Google serves.
Let’s take a look at the top of page one for the search term “in home care in philadelphia”:
That isn’t to say that organic search is not needed—the majority of clicks still go to the organic results—but a sizable number of potential clients do click on the ads every day. Being in these top ad results can aid in bringing more potential leads to your website.
What is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is an advertising channel where you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it.
These ads are triggered when someone performs a search using keywords you’re bidding on:
When the user performs a search, Google conducts an almost instantaneous auction to determine the placement order of the ads, as well as the potential amount you will pay for the click. This order is determined by 3 factors:
- The maximum amount you are willing to pay for the click. Mind you, you’ll only pay a little more than the next highest bidder; you may bid $30 for a click, but if the next highest bid is $1, you’ll only pay a bit more than $1.
- The quality score of your ad. This is determined at the keyword level and is calculated based on:
- The relevance of the keyword to the landing page your ad links to
- The expected clickthrough rate of your ad (what percentage of users have been clicking on your ad in the past)
- The relevance of the ad copy to the keyword you’re bidding on
- The expected impact of the ad format. Google offers a number of ad extensions, which allow for richer advertisements. Use as many as possible to maximize this aspect of your ad.
PPC advertising can be used to target both potential leads as well as potential caregivers looking for jobs.
Home care leads on the Google Ads platform usually result in a cost-per-lead of $90-$150, of which you should expect to be able to close 25%-30%. We’ve also observed that owners of Visiting Angels, Comfort Keepers, and other franchises often see significantly lower costs per lead, most likely due to the strong brand.
Assuming an average customer lifetime value of $13k-$15k and a customer acquisition cost of anywhere from $500-$800, Google Ads can be a great, scalable way to fill your pipeline.
Remarketing a Home Care Agency: Get Back in Front of Leads
Regardless of how they got to your website, you can deliver ads to visitors that came to your website. You can even narrow it down to only target specific visitors, such as those over the age of 55, or exclude people that visited a certain page.
This is called remarketing.
You can remarket your home care agency using the Google Ads platform. This will allow you to deliver advertisements to users that visit websites on the Google Display Network (GDN) and YouTube.
You can also remarket to users on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media.
3. Social Media Marketing for Home Care Agencies
Social media is great for caregiver engagement and retention.
I have never seen a home care agency build a lead generation engine through social media, however. Your target customers are on social media, but it’s very hard and expensive to create engaging content that will make them interested in following you on social media.
You’re best off using your home care agency’s social media channels for caregiver retention and recruitment.
If you do decide to try it, the target customers of a home care agency are largely on Facebook and Instagram. They tend to skew older and are less likely to use newer platforms such as TikTok or Snapchat (though more and more older people are starting to use it).
Both Facebook and Instagram are now pay-to-play platforms that are very difficult to reach clients on organically—even if they have liked your page.
Roughly 5%-10% of the people that have liked your page will ever see your posts, unless you’re paying for the reach.
Social media marketing that aims to generate leads for a home care business needs to focus on a paid strategy, if any.
4. Television, Radio, and Billboards for Home Care Agencies
We do not handle any traditional advertising for clients, but we do have partnerships with agencies that do. We also do know what it’s effective for and where it falls short.
Traditional media is great for branding and creating trust.
Branding is the process of creating mental associations between a product or company and an idea or feeling.
Effectively branding your home care business can create the sort of trust and awareness of your agency that can make it the first place a potential client will think of when they need a caregiver.
It is important to remember, however, that television, radio, and billboards are not direct response ads. When done consistently over time, traditional media can put your home care agency in the minds of the customers you want to do business will. Rarely will it result in immediate phone calls.
If you decide to build your brand via traditional media, be patient.
5. Referral Partners: Possibly the Most Powerful Marketing A Home Care Agency Can Do
There is no advertising that can beat word-of-mouth.
When a physician or person a family trusts recommends a home care provider, there is little any competitor will be able to do to sway that case their way.
It does, however, take a lot of time and resources to build a referral network. Once you do build it, you’ll come to see that it’s the one that will have the lowest cost per acquisition over the lifetime of your organization.
The question is, how do you build out a referral network for a home care agency?
- Do you knock on doors of local physicians and local hospitals?
- Participate in community events?
- Attend conferences?
- Send out requests for referrals to your past and current clients?
- Push out content on your social media platforms?
The truth is that all of the above takes a lot of time and much of it will be very slow to deliver any sort of return on investment.
For example, one Home Helpers franchise owner shared with me that he knows a fellow franchise owner that has attended community events for years in order to build a network of referral partners.
He claims to have never gotten any business from it.
So how can you identify ways to build out your referral partners?
Learn from the ones that have already done it.
Your Care Coordinators Are a Tremendous Asset
One of the largest Comfort Keepers franchises in the U.S. got that big by leveraging their care coordinators to build relationships with primary doctors.
As they brought in patients, often through channels such as SEO or Google Ads, the reached out to their primary physicians to collaborate on creating and delivering their care plan.
To start, a personal relationship developed between the home care agency’s staff and the primary care physician’s office.
Second, the physician got some reassurance that a caregiver would make sure that the patient was getting everything the physician ordered.
A doctor that recognizes that an aging patient needs assistance at home is going to be much more likely to become a referral partner if he knows you personally and is reassured that you are going to actually provide the care they know the patient needs.
Linkedin Is Arguably the Only Social Media Platform that Can Drive Home Care Leads
The general public isn’t interested in following your home care business on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.
While it can be a good channel for caregiver recruitment and engagement, you’re likely wasting resources if you try to generate leads through these platforms.
Linkedin, however, is a different story.
The leaders of your home care agency can leverage Linkedin to produce and share valuable content about aging and other health topics relevant to your industry—content potential referral partners may be interested in seeing.
Other physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, and other healthcare providers in your local community are often going to be open to connect on Linkedin—just as long as you use it as a channel to share information and not to pitch your services in their inboxes.
Try to use Linkedin to stay in touch and top of mind of potential referral partners you meet through events and patients you share.
Building a Network of Referral Sources Through Old-School Sales
You can get referral sources by sending sales representatives to local hospitals, physical therapists, primary care doctors, and other healthcare providers (similar to how pharmaceutical reps do).
The truth is, however, this is going to be very slow to see results and has some high upfront costs.
A person with a successful track record as a physician liaison may be an attractive candidate to undertake these efforts.
How to Get More Client Referrals?
Providing great, reliable care will generate client referrals better than any email blasts, social media marketing, or any other marketing efforts.
Hiring the right caregivers, training them well, and fostering a culture within your organization is the path to more client referrals from past and current clients.
Hire a Home Care Marketing Agency
With the combination of SEO, PPC, and email marketing, it seems like a lot to have an effective home care marketing strategy. But that is precisely why many companies will hire a home care marketing agency to take care of these marketing strategies for them.
A home care marketing agency can offer a fresh perspective to your marketing efforts that you may not have thought of before. A marketing team can help inject new blood into your marketing efforts, helping to identify unseen opportunities and enhance any campaigns that you are currently running. Let them take over the marketing strategies so you can focus on your patients.