Brookdale Brings New Life to Senior Living with Yext by Helping Residents and Loved Ones Find Its Communities
“We had 600 communities then added 500 more. When you almost double in size, trying to manage all that information in your systems — combined with name changes and such — is a big job. We were pulling from several different sites and had a mass of information. There were multiple phone numbers for one community. Multiply that by 1,100, and it was just crazy. Yext helped us get our digital presence under control.”
Established in 1978, Brookdale Senior Living is the largest owner and operator of senior living communities throughout the United States. The company operates over 1,100 senior living communities, home health, hospice, and nurse on call offices across the country, with a mission to enrich the lives of those it serves with compassion, respect, excellence, and integrity. Brookdale’s goal is to assist each family during its search for senior living — no matter what stage of the process the family is in. Brookdale strives to meet people where they are as they age and believes that growing older means living the way one chooses to live one’s life.
“Our residents are typically seniors in their 80s,” explains Jeff Large, Manager, Digital Content. “Though often, when we think of our customers, we think of an adult influencer — usually a daughter in her mid-50s — who is looking for care for a mom, or dad, or loved one. Then, of course, there is the prospect senior who is looking for independent or assisted living for himself or herself. Oftentimes widowers will seek us out. So we have these personas from a web perspective that help drive what we say or do through our digital presence.”
Brookdale espouses the belief that senior living ought to provide a positive and enriching variety of experiences for residents, and Large’s team works diligently to shake the company free from outdated stigmas associated with its industry. “We’re striving to improve how we use our digital presence to speak to someone who is probably a little stressed,” Large points out. “Most people don’t do this frequently. Rather, a person usually goes through something like this — searching for care for a loved one — just once or twice in a lifetime.” He continues, “Think about your mom or dad. ‘What is a nursing home? What do they say it is?’ There can be fear, and anxiety, and stress. At Brookdale, as part of our online strategy, we are taking steps to reduce this friction of engaging with senior living overall by digitally addressing those thoughts and feelings in an initial safe place.” He adds, “People then can begin to take steps when they feel they are ready to visit and make contact.”
As part of this effort, Large’s team has focused on ensuring the company’s digital knowledge is accurate. “I have been in the digital world for fifteen years,” he states. “Obviously, mobile is growing significantly, particularly with smartphones becoming more accessible. For us, we know a large percentage of our audience comes from mobile. By way of simple example, we have a significant number of folks who have a loved one in one of our communities, don’t know the number off hand, and will look the location up on mobile really quickly then place a call.”
Cleaning up all Brookdale’s digital knowledge proved to be no small task. Brookdale has a history of growing through mergers and acquisitions that dates back twenty years. “Then in 2014, we merged with our largest competitor,” Large recounts, “and that company with which we merged branded its locations’ names in a different way than we branded ours. Our previous 600 communities were independently named — very few had the Brookdale name. However, once that merger happened, we started a branding and renaming project such that all our communities would be named Brookdale. It is an understatement to say there was a lot going on all at once — we had 600 communities then added 500 more. When you almost double in size, trying to manage all that information in your systems — combined with name changes and such — is a big job,” he describes. “We were pulling from several different sites and had a mass of information. There were multiple phone numbers for one community. Multiply that by 1,100, and it was just crazy. Ultimately, that challenge is what prompted us to pursue Yext.”
Brookdale Joins Forces with Yext to Ensure Its Massive Merger Goes Smoothly
Large was relieved to get Yext up and running. “From an online perspective, we had to get our house in order,” he says. “Before Yext, there was no way to make it as simple as flipping a switch and giving hundreds of communities a new name. It was a continual process of updating because from a search perspective, updating our listings was imperative. There are so many publishers! Yext helped us go directly to all these publishers on the web,” explains Large. “In the Yext Knowledge Engine, we update one community name, and it’s changed on all listings. Yext thus simplified the process for us and helped us be more proactive. It saved a significant amount of time in that regard. It is simple and easy as a platform — and powerful, too.”
Brookdale uses Yext to manage the public facts about its brand. The Yext Knowledge Engine enables brands like Brookdale to manage the digital knowledge about their people, places, and products across their websites, mobile apps, internal systems, and the entire PowerListings® Network — over 100 maps, apps, search engines, GPS systems, and social networks including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing, and Yahoo.
“Yext works wonderfully!” Large raves. “It keeps our presence consistent even though there are 1,100 senior living communities out there — none of which is cookie cutter in terms of numbers, addresses, or levels of service.”
Since getting started with Yext, Brookdale has significantly improved its digital knowledge. Now with over 67,000 live listings, the company has grown its overall listings presence by 76%. Brookdale has corrected 48,000+ addresses and 110,000+ phone numbers, and it has added 244,000+ photos. Brookdale has also seen a 368% increase in Facebook ‘likes’ over an 18 month period, and the company’s “Get Directions” clicks rose 125% in the first year.
Large appreciates that Yext can help Brookdale foster even more meaningful relationships with its residents and their families. “Everyone we’ve worked with at Yext has been really smart and intelligent. They know their game! ‘Tell us what your needs are,’ they say, ‘and then we can help you grow in your understanding of what we do, and then we can help you do what you do better.’ That Yext is definitely customer focused would be the first impression. Moreover, while we do bring things to the table, Yext’s people help us grow in our understanding of opportunities. They roll with the punches and are constantly willing to offer insights into ideas that might not have occurred to us.” Large concludes, “Teaming up with Yext has been a great experience for us.”