TUESDAY 17 AUG 2021 4:40 PM


Following the onslaught of bad press surrounding UK care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry faced severe budget cuts and a repetitional crisis. Independent care home provider, Porthaven, implemented AI enabled technology to deliver a new, efficient and cost effective comms strategy.

Care homes were among the hardest hit sectors in the pandemic, with floods of negative media coverage documenting the industry wide struggle to cope with Covid-19. As a result, the demand for high quality care homes soared with top locations charging upwards of £3K per week. The competition between these high-end facilities was fierce, and the burden fell on comms teams to efficiently relay the right information through the right channels.

Porthaven has nearly doubled in size over the last five years, with a total of 17 locations across the UK. Advertising spending has grown steadily in line with the expansion, but the pandemic led to severe spending cuts to media and comms budget. 

The organisation implemented a digital comms strategy using AI technology and machine learning, to streamline its communications and ensure every pound spent translated into potential enquiries. By utilising data analytics, Porthaven found that the search volume on Google was far exceeding the available budget.

Gez McGuire, digital strategist behind the Porthaven campaign, says, “For a traditional media buying agency, particularly one whose focus is predominantly traditional or social media advertising, a need to reduce spend like the one requested by Porthaven would simply lead to exactly that - a spending cap on that channel.”

Focused data analytics enabled the team at Porthaven to identify the demographic, location and type of device being used to conduct searches on Google. “Analysis of extensive PPC reports and analytics accrued over several years revealed that 50% of the total traffic was from tablets, yet the most engaged traffic came from mobile devices. Based on our research we were able to expand the campaigns to allow for granular targeting from both a budget and bidding perspective, per care home. This ensured maximum relevance and visitor engagement,” adds McGuire.

Operating in a sector that often communicates on sensitive topics, the introduction of a live chat feature on the website was a bold move. Getting the use of language and tone of voice right was key, says Julia Wild, managing director of Iconic Brand Agency.

“Our solution is a care home specific live chat facility where potential residents and their families can chat to real people and get the answers they need for any additional enquiries. The result has been an increase in dwell time on the site, which in turn has helped to increase enquiries,” adds Wild. 

Overall, the AI campaign led to a combined increase of 20.83% in sales between September 2019 and February 2021. Combined with the overall reduction of cost per enquiry of 38.7%, Porthaven was able to support thousands of families and efficiently communicate through the Covid-19 pandemic.