5 Thing you need to be doing online now.
With patient loyalty seemingly at the lowest point in the history of our profession, it’s important to continue to find effective ways to keep new patients coming through our doors. Location still matters, but less every day. Word-of- mouth is always one of the most powerful ways to grow your business, but a referral will only take you so far these days. The eyecare businesses that are investing into their brand and presence online are the ones who are thriving in today’s new reality.
The term online presence represents the journey and not the destination. New technology, new platforms, new algorithms are being developed and launched every day. It’s nearly impossible to find a way to keep up to all of the changes yourself but it’s important to always remain consistent in your approach to growing your online presence.
Here are five things you need to be doing online now in order to both grow your revenues and increase patient engagement:
1. MAINTAIN A MODERN WEBSITE
Your website is your true first impression for your practice and it should be treated as important as your dispensary. As mobile device usage continues to surge, we are now living in the mobile moment. Nearly 60 percent of online searches in the eyecare industry are being generated on a mobile device.
Google now provides two completely separate search results pages – one for desktop searches and the other for mobile. If your website is not mobile friendly, your website will not show up for mobile search queries. They have also shared the importance of website speed as a critical factor in determining how visible your website will be on a Google search result page. Ensure your website is mobile-responsive and loading in under five seconds (ideally in under three seconds) for an optimal patient experience.
2. CONSISTENTLY CONTRIBUTE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
As brand loyalty exists at an all-time low, businesses are now looking at new ways to reach a new audience and keep their attention. Social media truly allows you to do this and engage with your patients on an entirely different level. The key to success with social media is consistency. Choose a platform that suits your brand well (Instagram for your high-end optical) and choose a consistent posting schedule.
Ask or assign certain members of your team to be in charge of this. Imagine being paid to spend time on Facebook.
3. AUTOMATE PATIENT COMMUNICATIONS
One of the reasons we are finding patient loyalty decreasing is that people are always looking for ways to save both time and money. The use and utilization of technology within the patient experience is becoming vital to attract and retain new patients. Millennials most requested way to communicate is through text messaging – does your practice offer any type of text messaging campaign? Can patients book their appointment online (through your website or even Facebook Messenger)? Are you confirming appointments via text message or email? How about post-visit surveys? Recalls?
All types of communication between your practice and your patient can be accomplished through technology. Speak to your patient management software company to see if they have this pre-built and ready to use. If they don’t, there are several companies that specialize in providing services just like these.
4. COMPARE YOUR COMPETITORS
As every business in every industry fights commoditization, it’s vital for your practice to be different. This might involve selling unique frames, building a funky (and memorable) dispensary, specializing in a medical niche or carrying instruments that no one else does. Patients have choice and they are finding medical professionals as they would any other business – through research and word-of- mouth. They are in search of a business that they can feel a part of. Everyone is in search for his or her tribe and providing something different will help those people find you.
Spend some time each month, maybe over a coffee, researching your competitors online. Try searching for various products, services and brands and see who is appearing for those searches. Click and visit all the websites in your area to learn what they are doing – how are they different from you? Through this process, you will learn where the gaps in the market exist.
As people spend more and more time online, it’s almost impossible for your business to stay viable without investing in some sort of online advertising. Most online advertising can be broken down into two types: branding and lead generation. You can increase your branding efforts with campaigns that are purchased by the number of impressions (times your ad shows up) you want to have within your geographic area. Lead generation can be achieved with campaigns that are focused on performance (pay-per-click ads).
The various platforms that work well are Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, YouTube and the Google Display Network. All of these platforms are self-serve and have an entire library of instructional modules to help get you started.
Kevin Wilhelm is the President of Marketing4ECPs – a digital agency focused on providing marketing solutions for eye care professionals. To learn more about our digital marketing program, visit our website at