Established in 1978, Brookdale Senior Living is the largest owner and operator of senior living communities throughout the United States. The company operates more than 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and enriching variety of experiences for residents, and Large's team works diligently to shake the company free from outdated stigmas associated with its industry.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 brand information 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 brand information across the web proved to be no small task. Brookdale has a history of growing through mergers and acquisitions that dates back twenty years. "In recent years, 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 says. "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."