The New-Age Home

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Founded in 2000, A Place for Mom is the nation’s largest service for elder-care referrals. “We help families find all sorts of elderly-care solutions for their loved ones—nursing homes, assisted living, home care,” says Ben Villa, the service’s senior product manager. “We advertise all over the Web, on search, email, and basically we need to generate leads by means of people filling out our online form.”

That online form would appear via a rather generic landing page, which is what A Place for Mom would serve up to those who clicked on any of its ads and search results—regardless of whether those potential customers had searched for “assisted living” or “nursing home.” “It was a one-size-fits-all form,” says Villa. “There was no customization to it.” Visitors would sometimes fail to become leads because the site was insufficiently specific to their needs. 

Eager for both a new site layout and a better mechanism for bringing leads to its portal, A Place for Mom turned to SiteSpect, a provider of Web optimization solutions, in November 2008. Using SiteSpect’s ability to gauge the essential nature of individual page links, A Place for Mom found that a number of leads were getting lost in the clicking process. So the company streamlined its site, reoriented link positions, and simplified form fields. A Place for Mom already knew, for example, that 98 percent of users ignored one of the form fields on the landing page—and testing proved that simply doing away with this field increased conversion rates.

The SiteSpect implementation has improved lead generation through new keyword searches. “We’ve tested probably a few hundred variations of our form,” Villa says. “At any given moment we’ll [be testing] maybe six variation families…. Users will see maybe 20 versions of a page.”

When people search “Kansas City retirement homes,” for instance, they’re now taken to a landing page that includes a form about retirement communities and retirement-related content customized based on the search keywords. Once a visitor has input several pieces of information—name, email, phone, and how she heard about the company — A Place for Mom will then connect the lead with an elder-care advisor, who helps identify an appropriate community. 

In just the first three months after optimizing its keyword searches, Villa says, A Place for Mom saw a 30 percent boost in conversions, on the way to an overall 70 percent improvement. It’s the subtleties that make the difference, he says. A Place for Mom used to drive inbound traffic to a universal page titled “I’m looking for elder care near...,” but has since begun populating landing pages with customized phrases such as “find assisted living near...” or “find nursing homes near...” to greet visitors based on the keywords that drew them to the site. The small variations have delivered a big payoff, according to Villa.

The SiteSpect platform provides visibility into statistics such as how many visitors came to a certain page, how many converted, and from which variations. Villa says he consistently runs new variations to see what sticks—often two or three a week. Some succeed, and some don’t—to varying degrees—but Villa says A Place for Mom is quick to adopt the changes that help the company better serve its customers. 


With SiteSpect’s Web optimization, A Place for Mom:

  • increased conversions by 30 percent within three months; 
  • lifted the improvement in conversion rate to 70 percent by the end of the first year;
  • is able to test new keyword combinations, with more than 100 variations tested thus far; and
  • developed, based on keywords used, more than 20 variations of its main entry form for lead generation.

[Editors' Note: Earlier versions of this article mischaracterized the nature of A Place for Mom's customization offerings and site-testing process. The editors regret any confusion these may have caused.]

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