Despite being a largely reputation-based business, home care companies sometimes fall short when it comes to maintaining a strong online presence.
“Reputation and trust are very important,” Karina Tama-Rutigliano, digital marketing strategist and founder of Rutigliano Marketing, told Home Health Care News. “Trying to find an agency to provide a caregiver to take care of my mom isn’t the same as buying a pair of shoes. It’s a very complicated decision, and people want to be sure they are making the right one.”
Tama-Rutigliano is all too familiar with the senior care space, having previously served as the digital marketing advisor for Senior Care Networks, an online resource for elder care. She also previously served as the digital marketing manager for Caring People, a West Palm Beach, Florida-based home health agency that provides services in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
Home care, as an industry, tends to lag behind when it comes to having a strong online presence, according to Tama-Rutigliano.
“This is because the home care industry, for the longest time, has used traditional marketing,” she said. “Digital marketing is still something that’s new for the home care industry. Most companies know that they have the need, but they don’t know where to begin, and sometimes the smaller companies don’t have the budget for this.”
Like most consumers, home care clients and their families will often go online when searching for companies that provide care. This means checking a company’s general information, social media and reviews — all of which have the ability to leave a lasting impact on potential clients.
In general, 81% of consumers say they look up customer reviews and ratings when considering a product or services, according to a 2018 Deloitte survey.
When it comes to home care companies, roughly 20% of people say they read reviews, according to research from BrightLocal.
“As a digital marketer, I can say that most people leave reviews when they are upset about something,” Tama-Rutigliano said. “Very few people leave reviews because they are happy, and it can be very difficult for this industry to collect reviews.”
Home care companies can adopt a number of methods to address their online perception. Specifically, investing in reputation management tools and having a strong email marketing strategy can help.
Aside from failing to keep up with online reviews, there are other common mistakes that home care companies often make when it comes to establishing an online brand. Those pitfalls include having a company website that isn’t modern, or one that is slow or difficult for users to navigate.
These seemingly small factors could possibly sway a potential client to look elsewhere for care services and impact a provider’s bottom line, according to Tama-Rutigliano.
“If I’m a user looking for a caregiver, because my mother was just discharged from the hospital, I need a caregiver now, and I would be frustrated,” she said. “I would end up leaving and checking out another [agency].”
Home care companies should also stay on top of the content on their sites. Content that isn’t clear — or a general lack of content — are issues to avoid. Having content that explains facts about the company or a frequently asked questions section on the site is also important.
Additionally, companies shouldn’t be lax when it comes to social media.
“An example, [an agency might] have a Facebook page, but they haven’t posted anything in three months,” said Tama-Rutigliano. “How am I, as a user, supposed to know if I can trust this company?”
While smaller home care agencies are more likely to make these mistakes due to budget constraints and a smaller team, larger companies aren’t immune, according to Tama-Rutigliano.
“I’ve seen big companies where the SEO isn’t well done,” she said. “Plus, since this a niche area, sometimes they’ll hire someone who knows marketing but doesn’t understand home care.”