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How Geofencing Can Help Generate Qualified Senior Living Leads

Justin Croxton, Managing Partner, Propellant Media

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On this episode, Justin Croxton from Propellant Media discusses the use of geofencing technology in digital advertising for senior care and senior living organizations. Our conversation covers what geofencing is, how it’s done to improve the relevance of your advertising, privacy concerns and cost. If you run digital display advertising, this episode is for you.

2019 State of Senior Care Sales and Marketing Report

We surveyed senior living marketing and sales professionals and executives in strategic sales and marketing functions from across the Senior Care continuum.


Rick: Hello and welcome to The Senior Care Growth Show, where senior care and senior living sales and marketing leaders go to grow. I’m your host, Rick Whittington. If you’ve ever wondered how to take your local online advertising to the next level, today’s episode is just for you. Today we’re going to talk about geofencing technology with Justin Croxton of Propellant Media. If you haven’t heard of geofencing, or you don’t know what it is, or maybe how to apply it to your community, stay tuned because Justin is going to describe how senior care and senior living communities can use geofencing to attract new leads to your community and increase your occupancy. Justin, it’s great to have you on the podcast today.

Justin: Hey, Rick. Really appreciate you having me on today as well. It’s going to be a really fun conversation. I’ll try to make it not too complicated for everyone, but it should be a good one.

Rick: Awesome. We’re looking forward to it. Justin, so why don’t you tell our listeners to start off with who you are, what company you work for, and what you do there.

Justin: Sure. So I am a managing partner with Propellant Media. We’re a digital ad agency based out of Atlanta, Georgia and also Charlotte, North Carolina. We do a number of things. AdWords, SEO, that sort of your standard blocking and tackling from a digital advertising standpoint, but I think what we lead with as an agency, is geofencing, programmatic display advertising for clients. Being able to hyper locally targeted people in very precise locations is really what’s been the bedrock and the growth of our agency. We do this across a number of different verticals and industry sectors, and senior care living communities happens to be one of the sectors that we also focus on as well. That’s sort of our history, that sort of our background and I’ve been in digital for for quite some time, so I love talking about this stuff. I love talking about it.

Rick: Excellent. It’s great to have you on the show and, that all sounds like topics that I know our audience is really interested in. Let’s just start with learning a little bit about geofencing. What exactly is geofencing, and can you simplify that for our audience?

Justin: Absolutely. Geofencing is a means of being able to serve ads to people in very precise areas. I mean, all the way down to the contours of the building. If you think as a senior care professional, your goal is to target individuals, let’s say the caregivers, who are essentially the only people that you want to target, and they have mothers or fathers that could essentially be in a senior living facility. If, let’s say you’re, you’re in Atlanta, Georgia, you don’t want to target all of Atlanta. Let alone you don’t even want to target just people that are 45 years and older. You want to target those people who you know have loved ones that can essentially go into the senior living facility. Part of what we’re able to do with geofencing is built what we call virtual geofences around just those locations where you know there’s a high preponderance of individuals that have loved ones that could essentially go to a senior living facility at one point or another.

So maybe you decide you want to target your competitor’s locations, maybe you decide you want to target other hospitals, ER facilities, maybe you want to target nursing home facilities, which is probably the one location that makes the most sense for senior care facilities. We can go within our platform, build what’s called a virtual fence just around that location. I’m not talking about a one mile radius either, I mean only that location. When someone with a mobile device walks inside of that location, we’re able to target. We’re able to capture their mobile device ID and begin serving ads to that person both while they’re inside of that geofence, then also for up to 30 days after they leave the geofence. They can see those ads when they happen to go on mobile apps and websites. So if you think about Angry Birds, Words With Friends, the Weather Channel, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, we have well over 600,000 – 700,000 apps that we have access to.

In terms of delivery and deployment, that’s rarely an issue and what really is the focus is how do we get to just those people? So whether it’s 10 locations you want to target or 100 locations, or even if you want to target individual households, meaning homes that you want to build your virtual fences around, we have that as a capability as well. That’s really what the process of geofencing looks like. I think as marketers, what we all care about, and as advertising CEOs, how do we get our ad dollars concentrated to just those people who’s really going to care about what we have to say to them? That’s what geo fencing ends up producing for senior care facilities and organizations and healthcare facilities.

Rick: As you described the process of taking your mobile device and entering a building or a certain geography that has that geofence around it, I can almost hear maybe some of our listeners cringe a little bit and and think about privacy concerns.

Justin: Sure.

Rick: What kinds of privacy concerns are there with geofencing, and is that something that we should be worried about or thinking about?

Justin: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think the one thing to note is that what we’re not doing is we’re not capturing a user’s phone number or their address per se, like, I don’t know personally know what your phone number is. I don’t personally know exactly where you live per se. What I do have is your ID, so from that ID I can serve you ads. I can’t send you text messages. It’s a passive experience where if a person enters the geofence, and then they are going about their day and they go into a mobile app and we have Brookdale senior care, let’s say, that’s a case where you are able to serve ads to that user or to individual on behalf of that senior care facility.

The other concern, the other concern that you may sort of be somewhat worried about is we’ve had certain organizations or healthcare facilities that have some issues with HIPAA compliance laws, right? Where they decide that they want to target an abortion clinic, and they want to serve ads to an individual telling you, “Hey, I know that you are pregnant and you should not have that abortion.” Or “I have this great cancer product,” and you’re trying to target the Mayo Clinic. That doesn’t work. And not doesn’t work in the technical sense, but you can’t do that. It’s not a good practice, I don’t think.

But when you have, number one, your creative assets or just telling people that, hey, you exist as a brand as a senior living facility, that’s fine. You can’t have creative that says, “Hey, I know your mom is 65. She may have had a couple of falls, and we’ve got this great of senior living facility.” That’s not good, but if you just want to let people know, “Hey, we’re this awesome, amazing senior care facility,” and you’re targeting locations that you know your audience primarily goes to, that’s totally fine. What I tell people is don’t be obnoxious about it. Don’t say I know that this person’s at this age or they’re dealing with this ailment, because even on our platform where we don’t even allow that or within our agency. It’s about brand building, building that awareness, so that when people are ready to make that decision, they are thinking of you, and again, you’re getting your ad dollars concentrated to those places where you know there’s a higher preponderance of folks that will consider you at one point or another.

Rick: Yeah, that’s great. I think now that we know what geofencing technology is and how it can be used in the marketplace, can you run us through an example of a client or someone in the senior living community, how they can take advantage of that geofencing technology? You don’t have to name names or tell us who your clients are, but can you give us an example of how a senior living community might take advantage of geofencing?

Justin: Absolutely. We have one client who had a test market of about 15 test markets, and so we targeted like over a thousand, maybe 1,500 actual geofencing locations. It was about 100 geofencing targets per senior living center that they owned. Part of what they said is, “Justin, we would like your team to geofence these hospitals in this area. We’d like your team to also geofence some of our competitors in these areas, and we also want you to target nursing home facilities.” We go inside of our platform. We build the virtual fences around those individual locations, and we focus on just standard static ads, ads that really don’t change. They’re just like one image and then boom. It’s an offer or there’s some information that says, “Hey, this is where we’re located,” that type of thing.

I think we also did some pre-roll mid stream and post-roll advertising for that individual as well, for that community. Then, also, they had some connected TV advertising. So if you think about Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, CBS apps, those apps where it’s like you’re able to serve digital ads through some more of those assets. You’re sort of able to take some of your TV budget and allocate that towards that, but still be very targeted to where those people that you really want to focus on are going. You can essentially build out an entire campaign just around those individuals and reach just those users from that perspective.

I think the other thing that’s nice too is a lot of times it’s great to be doing all this brand building, right? How are we building our brand, getting our name out there? But what’s also critical is how do we measure success? I think the challenge that we all face with advertising is how we measure success with billboards, radio, TV, and print, some of those more offline channels? What’s also great about geofencing though, is you can measure walk-in traffic to your location. So let’s say we targeted those 1,500 locations on behalf of those 15 senior care facilities. We can actually measure all of the people over here that have walked inside those 15 locations who have either seen or clicked on those ads, and then actually came back to one of these 15 locations. We can actually measure that and put that into a comprehensive report that is then shared with the client. Now we can say, “Okay, these locations are not really doing this justice. Let’s remove these.”

“But these locations are doing us justice. Let’s keep these.” We can measure foot traffic, and then we can also measure the number of people who have never seen the ads that we were targeting. So let’s say we’re targeting those 15 locations, we can make a comparison between your natural foot traffic from people who never saw your ads and compare that to the actual foot traffic you get from people that did see your ads because there’s going to be two different conversion rates. There’s going to be one that’s down here for unseen ads and then one that’s up there for people that do see your ads, so now we can get a comparison on actual campaign conversion lift to get a sense of what impact it’s having. Not just how many walk-ins you’re getting, but actual conversion rate as well. Now we’re having a little bit more of a comprehensive conversation of what impact this overall campaign is having and driving both awareness, but most importantly, tour visits and walk-ins to your location. That’s sort of how to look at it from that perspective.

Rick: Yeah, you’ve got to love digital marketing for that reason, that you can measure almost everything.

Justin: Almost.

Rick: You really can get a good sense of what works and what doesn’t work.

As you think about doing creative for those ads that you run, is the creative graphical in nature, is it text based, video based? What are some of the best practices you see there?

Justin: Yeah, great question. So they’re not text space, so they’re not like Google AdWords, let’s say. They’re not like Bing ads. They’re more like traditional static ads that you might see on Google display network, so if you go on a website or an app, and you look on the far right hand side of the very top, you may see a banner or something that’s on the right side that’s like a 300 by 250 or 320 by 50 or 720 by 90. They’re more graphical in nature, so they can be a traditional static ad, or they can be an animated ad that sort of changes. I think some people here on the call or on this podcast may have actually seen that at one point or another. You have that component of static as you can run, and then you can also do video too.

If your video is 15 seconds or 30 seconds long, that’s usually what I suggest. We have some clients that want to run minute-long ads. I don’t know why, but we always tell folks 15 seconds or 30 seconds always best. What’s nice is if the video ad is professionally done, it’s really elegant, it’s compelling, you can use that same video ad for pre-roll, midstream and post-roll. Also, use it for over the top TV, connected TV advertising. The reason why I keep talking about over the top TV is that with traditional TV, you’re usually going to target like a ZIP code. It’s not like you can go to the TV advertiser and say, “Hey, I only want to target folks that are between the ages of 45 and 50, and that only went to these locations.”

No, no, you can’t do that. But with geofencing and over the top TV, you can leverage those sort of TV budgets with the targeted nature of geofencing, advertising, and still, you’re also getting at least a 96% watch rate traditionally with over the top TV and connected TV advertising. I like to sort of mirror those two with sort of a bifurcated or trifold type of split of the budget that we may do between static, mid-roll, and post-roll video ads, and then also over the top TV.

Rick: Yeah. It sounds like this would be a good thing to think about or consider if a senior care community or organization is running some direct mail or some TV ads that actually get foot traffic in. At that point you can target them with a digital ad, so you’re really doing a cross channel ad there in support of your sales and marketing efforts. Does that sound right?

Justin: 100%, and I appreciate you bringing that up because we have our standard geofencing, right? Where we’re targeting business locations like our hospitals, right? That’s one bucket. The other bucket is what we call addressable geofencing. It’s called household geofencing, essentially, where we’re able to take the flat line coordinates of individual household addresses, build virtual fences around those locations, and then serve ads just to those individuals. So let’s say a senior living community just opened up, or they’ve been around for about six months, and they’re really trying to gain some awareness for their location. They decide that they already plan on doing a 10,000 or 20,000 mail drop. I don’t know what that usually costs, but shoot, let’s say it’s at least $15,000 – $20,000, let’s say for that. You send that one mailer out. That’s it. They can throw it out. I can do whatever they want. That’s it, right?

But we can layer on an additional, take that same list of addresses and target those same users, just those users with another advertising that’s centered around that senior living community. So again, all the things that we’ve talked about is how are we getting our ad dollars concentrated to those people who are most likely to become a potential, either patient or somebody who can live or be interested in coming to our senior living facility for a tour. We can layer in addressable geofencing as a strong support system or as a partner system to anything that you might be doing from a direct mail standpoint.

Rick: Yeah, that’s a great point. I think this really ties everything together from a marketing perspective. We think about how we can see return on investment from direct mail or from TV or from radio or from newspaper, and if you’re using digital marketing in your process, not as a standalone item, but something that you’re using in coordination with those other marketing channels and those other marketing venues, you can really start to understand the success of that whole marketing program. It’s not just the digital piece or just the offline piece, but it’s really everything together.

Justin: Yeah, absolutely.

Rick: What about retargeting? So I know, for example, if you run an ad and someone steps inside of your virtual fence and you run an advertisement to them, can you also retarget them in other places if they are not inside that virtual fence?

Justin: Correct. Thank you for bringing that up, and I may have missed that one part, which is a very important part. So when a person walks inside that geofence with their mobile device, not only can we serve ads to that person while they’re inside of the fence, we can continue to serve ads to them for up to 30 days. We have certain platforms where the cap is 30 days, we have other platforms where the cap is, like, it’s pretty much infinitesimal essentially. I like the 30 day mark because you don’t want to just target people forever because that can get obviously gets annoying. Like, all right, I’ve seen your ad a million times, plus you’re trying again. Once you’ve sort of gotten your ad in front of that person, hopefully something’s registered, right? Or they’re thinking of you at some point or another if they are truly in market.

What’s nice is we also have some flexibility within that 30 day window. We can set it to where the ads stop after one day, one week, two weeks, or one month. We can have a six month long campaign, but we can have that audience poll fall off after a day or have that audience poll fall off after a week while the campaign still runs. Now you’re saving ad budget for more people that you believe are going to continue to be the right audience that you want to get your message directly in front of. From that standpoint, there is a sort of an opportunity without question to retarget, then for a lot of my clients and the clients within our agency, I tell everybody, everybody, there is no reason for you not to do traditional site retargeting. Meaning for someone that comes to your site or clicks on an ad and comes to your site, but then they leave and you just have a message in front of those people in perpetuity or for as long as it makes possible sense to whether it’s for three months or for six months, let’s say.

That’s normally what I recommend depending on sort of the life cycle of when a person decides that they want to go to a senior living facility and do a tour. I tell everybody. I do that across Facebook, Instagram, Google, our platform. We do site retargeting on our platform. Heck, you can even do it on LinkedIn, and we tell clients to do that stuff too.

Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I think we’ve talked a lot about senior care and senior living communities. What about at home care or hospice care? Can companies like that that still service seniors, in a way, with care and treatment, can those companies also use this kind of platform?

They definitely can. Again, you’re just trying to be sensitive to the sort of that transition that some people may be going through. Like I’m not going to come here and say, “Oh, I know your mother, father is close to the end of life, so give us a call.” It’s more so again, brand building, right? You’re just trying to let people know that you exist. There are certain platforms that, there can be a little bit of a sensitivity. I think the other thing to consider is that there are some at home care businesses that are out there that are really focused on leads, like I need leads right now, and they’re only focused on lower funnel. Lower funnels are areas, for everyone that’s on the call, lower funnel would be like AdWords being, like I have actively searched for hospice care or at home care, whereas what we’re doing is a little bit more middle to top of funnel, sort of somewhere in that range.

It’s very possible. I have seen results that have bore fruit. Part of it does depend on the creative that you’re using. I think what’s nice about this space right now is that there aren’t a lot of people that are utilizing it, and if you are an at home care facility or rather at home care business, you’re just trying to let people know that you’re out there. I think that kind of gets to another point which is sometimes it’s one thing to just let people know you exist. It’s another thing that actually give value to individuals even before they’ve ever even made a decision for that matter. So one thing that I would recommend personally to folks out there is come out with, and this is like some free advice here, but have a content piece that says “13 things you need to consider about before you choose a hospice care center,” or something more along those lines where you now have this lead capture that’s branded by your facility or by your organization, and you’re already in the beginning stages of building that personal connection.

If you run a geofencing campaign and you’re pushing them, you’re pulling them both into your brand, but you’re also pushing them to do a search. One way or another, they’re going to have the ability or potential to download this asset, which could require their email address, their name and their phone number, and then you have someone both in part of your email marketing, but also as someone that you can build a relationship with. Whenever they read that guide, they’ll be looking, there’ll be thinking about your brand. Those are little things I think folks can do for geofencing that can still help from an inbound marketing standpoint.

Rick: Yeah. I want to make the connection here. What you mentioned is that the geofencing advertising that you’re doing is top to middle of the funnel. What you just mentioned with creating a guide or a downloadable piece of content on your website and sending them there can help to generate that name and that email address. Have you seen other ways that companies might move that lead further down in the funnel and actually have a sales opportunity?

Justin: I think the folks who have the most success with geofencing are not just looking at geofencing in a vacuum. Like “I’m only going to do geofencing and nothing else.” The folks that have success are the ones that are doing a little bit of offline, and then also a good chunk of the online. So the Google AdWords, the Bing Ads, they’re focused on SEO. Their site is good, and I don’t mean just like, okay, good. I mean, like really good, because a lot of people forget that I’m not going to go to a restaurant that has a terrible facade, the windows are incredibly dirty, there’s potholes in the parking lot. I’m just not going to go there, particularly if I see it at a bird’s eye view if I go online and see you have crappy reviews.

The same thing goes for your website. A lot of people sort of don’t think about that as sort of a lead generation channel, but for all the advertising that people do, 98 percent, I’m throwing a number out there, but I’m pretty confident at least 98% of people will go to your website. That’s part of the competitive comparison that people are making as they choose who to have an even further conversation with, because at every stage of that funnel there is a conversion. That first, most important stage is that website. Clients that have great websites that really helps answer the questions, but also brings immediate value to that person before they ever make a decision are the ones that usually ends up winning that business, or at least gets them to the conversation part of that competitive set of three or four senior care facilities that folks are trying to consider. So great website, lower funnel stuff, SEO, without a doubt, having reviews, those types of things, all those are our inputs that are getting that person to decide on who is going to be great for their loved one, or for their parent or whomever. I tell folks that all the time. It has to be comprehensive. Don’t just look at each of these things as its own silo. It never works out that way.

Rick: I think a lot of our listeners at this point might be saying this sounds really complicated. Is geofencing something that they can do themselves if they’re already running campaigns internally? I know you mentioned you had a platform, so tell us a little bit about this and how that happens? Does that happen inside of Google AdWords? Is it outside of those technologies? Tactically, how does that work?

Justin: Got it. So tactically it’s not with an AdWords, so AdWords doesn’t have a platform that allows for you to do geofencing. I think the next question people are going to ask is, “Well, what about Facebook and Instagram?” The same holds true for Facebook and Instagram. The smallest that you can get with Facebook and Instagram is down to a one mile radius, like officially within their platform, down to a one mile radius. We use a number of different, what we call it demand side platforms that we use for a lot of our clients. What’s great about our agency is that we’re sort of platform agnostic. We do have a couple that we really, really liked to use because they do deliver some of the better results and there’s better reporting capabilities and better targeting capabilities. But in terms of the technology itself, it’s all focused on, I’d say we have about three different platforms that we currently utilize for a number of our clients. In terms of whether clients can do it themselves, normally I’d say 99.8%, let’s say, of, of our clients are typically utilizing our agency, or they would utilize your agency for example, to leverage these geofencing campaigns for their clients, essentially.

A client will come to us and they’ll say, “Hey Justin, here’s our goal. This is what we’re trying to achieve as a senior living facility. Our competitive set is x, these are our targets, this is sort of the assets that we have. These are the other campaigns that we’re running through digital and offline. What are your thoughts on a comprehensive game plan?” At that point, there’s sort of that mind mapping session, the game plan is developed, and then we start deploying everything from creative assets to whatever video assets you have, building the virtual geofencing, doing the campaign setup, and then executing, and then seeing how things go during the course of that campaign. Normally, we’re taking all of that workload off of the senior care facilities. We’re executing that full stop on behalf of them, and then providing the reporting so that folks can make intelligent decisions on what really is making a difference.

Rick: So the creative, the platform, all of that is something that you take care of?

Justin: Absolutely.

Rick: Million dollar question.

Justin: Yeah.

Rick: How much does geofencing cost, and what does it require?

Justin: Well, a million dollars. That’s the million dollar question, right? No, no, no, no. So there are some platforms where you have to be spending at least $10,000, $15,000, $20,000. Our agency, just to kind of throw some real numbers out. I try not to tell folks what our pricing is per se, but I will say that it can be a couple thousand. It’s not going to be, you don’t have to start off with $10,000. Let’s just put it that way. Then the other thing that I’ll say is CPM is cost per thousand impressions, and for the viewers out there an impression is when an ad passes your, your line of sight on an app or a website, or an impression is when you actually see an ad, like a video, let’s say, and it plays partially or all the way out.

So that’s what an impression is. We charge based on impressions, so our CPMs can range anywhere from, you have some companies that can charge all the way down to $7 cost per thousand impressions. Some companies out there that are starting at $14, sometimes $16, and that’s not for video and over the top TV. I’m just talking about static, so it can range from that standpoint. But I think the key question is is this cost prohibitive to a senior living facility? The answer, in my opinion, is no. If you’re spending money on AdWords, TV, billboard, print, there’s no doubt in my mind that you should or can effectively have budget allocated towards geofencing, and you don’t have to lose your shirt over it to see is this actually driving results, driving foot traffic, eyeballs, awareness to my facility essentially. I hope that answers the question. It’s not $20,000 or else, “Sorry, I won’t have a conversation with you.” That’s definitely not the case.

Rick: It sounds pretty comparable then to some of the digital advertising they might already be running.

Justin: Exactly, exactly.

Rick: Well, Justin, just to wrap things up, where can our listeners find you if they would like to have a conversation?

Justin: Oh, you’re so kind. Well, if you’re interested in just having any sort of conversation, and I love to have plenty of them, you can visit us at Propellant Media. Our website is, or you can do a search in Google for Propellant Media, and you’ll find us at the very top of Google, I promise you that.

Rick: Well, Justin, I want to thank you for being a guest on The Senior Care Growth Show today. I know our listeners will get a lot of takeaways. Probably a lot of questions, also, from today’s discussion. At least that’s my hope, is that they have some questions that they’ll go online and research, and maybe even call you and talk to you about some of those questions.

Justin: Looking forward to it.

Rick: We really appreciate it.

Justin: Thank you so much. This has been a pleasure and everyone, thanks so much. Thanks for taking the time. Thank you so much.

Rick: If you would like to learn more about Senior Care Growth, you can visit our website at You can also listen to or even watch our older podcast episodes of The Senior Care Growth Show, and you can read articles that we’ve written about sales and marketing topics that are relevant to the industry today. We will also be releasing our 2019 State Of Senior Care Sales And Marketing Research Report in the coming weeks, so please keep an eye out for that. If you’d like to be notified when that comes out, you can go to our website again,, and download the 2018 State Of Senior Care Sales And Marketing Research Report, and we will send you an email with the new one when it comes out later this month. We’ll see you next time on The Senior Care Growth Show.

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