Online Marketing Strategies for Choosing a Domain – CareGiverList.comMike Sullivan
delivers online tools for researching senior care options to seniors and their families along with a complete caregiver training and career center for professional caregivers. Senior care companies subscribe to Caregiverlist’s proprietary hiring, marketing and training tools. Caregiverlist was founded by CEO Julie Northcutt, in 2067, as she saw the need while owning a senior home care agency which she sold to LivHome, in 2007. Previously, Ms. Northcutt launched the online advertising for Morningstar.com in 1996, when websites were just beginning to develop as commerce resources. By partnering her internet knowledge with her senior care industry experience, she developed Caregiverlist to deliver time and money saving tools for both senior care companies and consumers.
Mike: Tell me how you chose this domain. Were there other names you were considering?
Julie: I had the concept for the website before the name, but from working in online advertising since the days when the internet started (remember InfoSeek, Excite and Overture?), I wanted a url that was easy to remember and easy to spell. I also wanted it to be a name that had meaning in the senior care industry and meaning for information services online. One of my advisors mentioned the book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand“, by Laura and Al Ries, and I grabbed a new copy of it which was updated for the internet. I wanted to stay away from the word “elder” because I know that seniors and their families just don’t use that term in everyday conversation. I also wanted to be careful not to be too generic.
In the book, Al and Laura talk about url’s that worked and didn’t work. Pets.com and wine.com did not work – they were so generic that people couldn’t remember what service they actually provided and there are trademark issues with generic words, too. My senior care company was named “Chicagoland Caregivers” and ranked extremely well on the search engines. It made the business sound bigger than it was in the beginning because of the term “Chicagoland” instead of just saying “Chicago”. I knew that there was some relevance to the word “list” online from it being used for Craig’s List and Angie’s List. This is how I came up with “Caregiverlist”. Easy to spell and easy to remember and not totally generic with the addition of the word “list”.
Then I saw a cartoon in the New Yorker magazine that showed an alien space ship landing in the front yard of a house. The alien is on the doorstep of the home and says to the homeowner: “I found you on Sprgslist”. That is when I realized the word “list” does have meaning online and has become a little bit mainstream. I then knew that “Caregiverlist.com” was going to be the url I was going to use. And I still have the New Yorker cartoon on my bulletin board.
Mike: What is involved in putting a site like this together?
Julie: We have a lot of moving parts. But we have a super-star team which has worked with websites from the beginning, just as I have, which I think is valuable because they are we are all early-adopters and will keep evolving both the content and services to keep up with the latest technology. We have a solid administrative site to allow us to self-publish new content easily and our designer also created a basic design template and then adds customization, as needed. We have user generated content (submit your Certified Nursing Aid School listing) and receive more than 2,000 caregiver job applications each week which are filtered into our backend tools that companies subscribe to.
Mike: Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?
Julie: Our visitors spend at least 5 minutes on the site – and the average time spent is 24 minutes. We have deep editorial content and tools to help seniors and their familieis and professional caregivers. We have solid information – we are the only resource, for instance, with the acutal daily prices of nursing homes and we have actual online training courses for professional caregivers. We receive 1 million pageviews per month and continue to grow.
Mike: How does Caregiverlist.com generate revenue?
Julie: Senior care companies subscribe to our job application service, background check service and caregiver training service and client lead management service. Everything is free for caregivers and seniors. I often have to explain to people who have not seen the site that we are not at all like the nanny websites. We built custom tools for the senior care industry and when they subscribe, they are able to log-in to their own company Provider site and manage all their business processes much more efficiently. We have a recurring revenue stream of ongoing subscribers from business clients. We launched with a free Pilot Program, inviting 200 companies to use the service and on the day we switched to paid, our first subscriber signed up for an entire year – that was cool!
Mike: What means do you use to market the site online?
Julie: It has helped that I understand the senior care industry. As a third-party provider of unbiased content, we are able to provide editorial and custom content such as widgets (for finding nursing aide schools, nursing home prices and senior care services). We actually do not buy cost-per-click ads. Everything is through content partnerships and organic SEO listings. We do attend industry trade shows and actively called nursing aide schools and senior care companies to introduce them to our services.
Mike: Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?
Julie: Do your own focus groups through friends, families and enemies to find out what they really think. Make sure you can spell the url easily and if “it is what it is”, the valuable organic traffic will happen for free. I always joke that there is a reason the Yellow Pages filed for bankruptcy – for 5 years I asked them to add a category called “Caregivers” because seniors and their families do not know to look for senior care services under “home health care”, which was the only category available in the Yellow Pages for me to advertise my senior care agency. Then within the category of home health care, there were both Medicare agencies and private duty agencies and Medicare home health agencies staff registered nurses and skilled therapists and do not provide private pay caregivers so you quickly lose your mind and look for another resource.
Even those of us in the industry all shared stories that when we were new to the industry we could not find the category for our services in the Yellow Pages. Finally, the year I sold my senior care agency, the Yellow Page sales rep told me that the powers above had agreed to add a category for “Caregivers” but would not let me advertise my company there – they would only say “See home health” under the listing. But that didn’t help becuase it still mixed in the Medicare agencies and didn’t work for consumers so I just didn’t advertise. R.H. Donnelly, owner of the Yellow Pages, then had to spend millions to rebrand as Dex Knows………oops! Ask your customers about the url you plan on using first. R.H. Donnelly has spent millions advertising the new brand but if they had been listening to their customers, that wouldn’t have happened. Now that I have shared how useless the phone book was for my industry, I do encourage you to think about what category in the phone book you would look for your company service in if it were 30 years ago as this can help with brainstorming for the right url.
And, remember the long-tail. The web is an information resource and the younger generations who did not grow up using the phone book as a resource do go to Google and type in exactly what they want and expect to find it. Be sure to remember the “long-tail” when deciding on a url. Most keyword searches have now grown to be 4 words or longer.
Mike: Any other information you’d like to share regarding online business?
Julie: Just that business really is the same online, we are just using a new medium to communicate and consider that you will want a url that can be a brand name offline and online.