The Shelter Group

Multi-site Strategy & Web Services for a Leading Developer of Senior Living Communities

Shelter Group screenshot

TBG & The Shelter Group

The Shelter Group creates, manages, and owns multi-family and senior living communities throughout the eastern U.S. Shelter has a variety of brands and complex market segments including:

  • Development, management, and ownership of independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer’s care communities under the well-known Brightview brand.
  • Property management for multi-family communities under the Park View and Shelter Group’s Family Living brands.
  • Acquisition of existing high-end senior living communities under the Brightview brand.
  • Acquisition of affordable senior living communities under The Shelter Group brand.

Shelter is a longstanding client of TBG (The Berndt Group); we have developed multiple generations of sites for their various brands, taking advantage of new designs and technologies over time. We have developed digital market strategies, content strategies, and implemented robust content management for a set of sites that represent complex, federated content. In other words, centrally managed content populates many different sites, fitting the COPE method: Create Once, Publish Everywhere.

Corresponding with Shelter’s multiple product offerings in a complex, multivariate market, the individual community sites have the challenge of serving two primary audience types:

  • Adult children of seniors—usually women—researching assisted living, independent living, or Alzheimer’s care for their aging parents.
  • Residents of assisted living and independent properties, who use the sites as a guide to what’s going on in their communities.

Because of this dual-pronged approach, the sites have to strike a strategic balance between reassuring adult children that the purchase of senior living services is not only economical but also the right thing to do for their parents. And the sites must also fulfill the tactical need of informing seniors, and being otherwise generally usable and pleasurable, as they go about their daily activities in their senior living communities.

Photography is a key design element of meeting both strategic and tactical needs; TBG worked with Shelter to generate and edit photos that position the company as a leader in its field and in the individual communities in the regional and economic markets they serve.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is also a major theme for the family of Shelter sites. Because the purchase of senior living services is a big ticket investment, optimization for search and conversion is crucial. TBG worked on structuring content in a way that major search engines favor, increasing Shelter’s search rankings.

The latest project for Shelter features TBG using responsive design for the Brightview Senior Living websites.

Responsive design is a means of using one set of code to look good and work well—to “respond” well—on every screen size and device—no matter the size or orientation. Elements on the page—text, photography, and other features—shift into optimal alignment for the screen resolution you’re using. So whether you’re viewing the Shelter site on your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer, you’ll be able to use the site without crazy horizontal scrolling, pinching, or zooming in and out.

Brand Positioning

Brand Positioning

Communicating the core message of “vibrancy”—to both adult children and prospective residents—was the brand positioning challenge for the Brightview Senior Living sites. TBG’s design would need to portray the positive aspects of living at Brightview. TBG used photos of buildings and people to give a sense of place and of who chooses to live in Brightview communities. Further, photos of residents engaged in community settings such as pubs, movie theaters, and gourmet dining rooms gave prospective residents the chance to imagine what their lives would be like if they moved to a Brightview community. TBG also recommended the implementation of guide content to reinforce the brand promise and add value to the site experience. Prospective Brightview residents and their adult children are able to understand and relate to the people, settings, and activities they see depicted, ensuring that the residents are happy and comfortable with their choice of where to live.

Conversion Optimization

Conversion Optimization

Another key challenge involved driving prospects to take the next step towards living in a Brightview community. TBG recommended removing emotional obstacles to moving in by featuring content that helped prospective residents—and their adult children—picture themselves living at Brightview. In addition to the integral use of photography mentioned above, content had to be written in simple, matter of fact language with emotionally resonant concepts. New content would need to motivate seniors to make the move because they want to rather than because they have to. Messages of convenience and independence spoken as testimonials from actual residents communicate a sense of belonging, purpose, pride, and ownership. TBG developed a community finder tool for prospective residents and adult children to search for communities based on multiple filters, and placed the tool in context with the new, more straightforward content and photography. Lead captures from the websites increased, proving that removing emotional obstacles to converting was the right strategy for Shelter.

Centrally Managed Content

Centrally Managed Content

The Shelter Group has a complex family of multiple websites targeted at different market segments. But they all share a common set of core content, such as the community finder tool, corporate parent content, and careers content. Shelter needed a way to get common content federated to their multiple sites and to do away with duplication of effort and manual content management. TBG implemented a content management system (Ektron) for Shelter that enabled the firm to create the content once and publish it to multiple sites. The workflow of the CMS allows for the automated federation of content to multiple sites at once, making it easier to share content between the corporate site and the community sites. This resulted in the reduction of overhead of managing multiple, smaller sites with overlapping content, SEO requirements, and geographic orientations. Given Shelter’s small marketing staff, the value of the CMS is its ability to furnish a much better publishing experience without requiring an increase in staff.