Top 7 Marketing Trends of 2021 – Our Industry Partners Weigh In

We can’t predict the future; however, we can rely on experience, expertise and, leaders in the industry to help guide us with our biggest questions about marketing in 2021.

The pandemic has impacted many components of our lives, including how we stay connected and communicate. Muffled sounds from masks, isolation, and Zoom calls have compelled individuals with hearing loss to be more receptive to seeking or improving treatment. This provides a unique opportunity for hearing healthcare professionals to build greater trust with current and new patients, requiring a plan for consistent communication and marketing.

 As you plan and execute your marketing strategy, we turned to our valued partners for their expertise and insights on the top trends to keep an eye on in 2021.

Trend #1: Ensure your website is mobile-responsive

Mandy Mroz, Au.D. | President | Healthy Hearing

If you haven’t done so already, 2021 is the year to make your practice website as functional and impressive on mobile as it is on desktop. According to Google, 94 percent of people with smartphones search for local information (“hearing clinics near me”) on their phones.

You can test the mobile experience of your practice’s website in three easy steps:

  1. Search for your practice using different web browsers (e.g., Safari, Chrome) on your smartphone. Is your main website one of the top results? If not, there may be an issue with your mobile site.
  2. Using your smartphone, view your website in different browsers. Is your phone number easy to find and clickable for consumers ready to call?
  3. From your desktop computer, visit this website for a quick, objective test of your mobile site performance.

If you’re concerned about your mobile website, contact your web developer right away. Google will start ranking sites based on mobile performance in March 2021. Review your other web assets too, like your Healthy Hearing profile. We’ve been prioritizing mobile for years, but we’re always open to feedback on your experience.

Trend #2: Boost your credibility to rank higher on Google

Kevin St. Clergy | MedPB Partner, Chief Business Development Officer | MedPB

Medical marketing has become much stricter because of the pandemic. Some older marketing practices are now even getting banned. In addition to a push towards greater transparency in marketing, Google and other major marketing platforms are looking for cues that you are a reliable source of medical information. Some of the trust factors they look for are very technical and should be baked into the structure of your website. Others come from social media, online reviews, and other external factors. What a lot of business owners don’t realize, is that there were significant changes last year and more coming in 2021. These changes ultimately affect your cost per lead and the number and quality of your new patient leads. They also open the door for the competition to steal your patients.

Trend #3: Prioritize database marketing

Tom Flage | Sales and Marketing Manager | Blueprint Solutions

Did you know that 47 percent of patients will purchase their next set of hearing aids from a different clinic? Maintaining communication with your patients is essential to avoid becoming part of this statistic. Effectively marketing to your existing patients will help you consistently grow your business, drive revenue, and establish a presence in your local community. One of the most cost-effective ways of doing this is through email marketing. While it may not be as flashy as social media or TV ads, it’s significantly less expensive and allows for a more careful, targeted approach in delivering the right message to the right patients at the right time.

Automating email marketing through your office management system can turn a time-consuming process of collecting emails, drafting content, and identifying the right patients into just a few clicks. Some office management systems will allow for sending custom marketing emails automatically to help you capture missed opportunities. Track your email campaign’s read/open rate via reporting in your OMS to help you identify the most effective messaging.

Trend #4: Enhance your clinic’s online reputation

Meghan Pendley | Business Development Director | Audiology Design

Online reviews are the new word of mouth. In fact, more than 80 percent of consumers read reviews before visiting a business or using a service, and 48 percent only pay attention to reviews left in the past two weeks. In today’s culture, positive online reviews equal trust. Patients look to them as a snapshot view of your practice.

Adding patient reviews to your Google Business listing (aka. Google My Business profile) can also help with your overall search ranking on Google. The more robust your online presence, the easier it is for people to find you! It’s also important to give patients multiple platforms on which to leave their feedback, especially Google, Facebook, and Healthy Hearing. This will ensure you cover the sites that provide an easily accessible log-in or simply one they prefer. Utilizing a review generation service that helps your practice obtain more patient reviews and also automates with your Practice Management Software (PMS) should also be a key component of your digital marketing strategy in 2021.

Trend #5: Find creative ways to engage new and existing patients

Brian Urban, Au.D. | President | CounselEAR

As the last 12 months have clearly shown, maintaining a consistent connection with your current patients and finding creative ways to engage with new ones is not only beneficial but essential. In times when new patients may be reluctant to seek care and existing patients may neglect routine follow-ups, we need to be creative, flexible, and consistent in our approaches to engagement. For me, this brings two main areas to mind:

Telehealth: Telehealth is a fantastic tool for connecting with new and existing patients, establishing/maintaining rapport, and ensuring that they’re receiving high-quality care. For new patients that simply have questions and would like to speak face-to-face before an in-person visit, telehealth consultations can help ensure they move forward with an evaluation when they’re comfortable. For existing patients, routine follow-ups can often be managed via telehealth, thereby reducing exposure and improving convenience for them as well as your team.

Email Marketing Automation: Utilizing an email marketing automation system enables you to take a “set and forget” approach to reaching out to patients based on specific criteria. For example, patient birthdays, upgrade notices, and more. 

Emails are automatically sent to patients based on your specific criteria and contain your preferred images/text. They can also contain a link to your online scheduling tool. In this way, you’re able to reach out to patients at the right time with the right message and provide them with a seamless experience. As we work our way through the COVID world into what’s hopefully a post-COVID world very soon, telehealth and marketing automation can help you conveniently deliver a new and engaging level of care to current and prospective patients.

Trend #6: Embrace technology to stay connected to patients

Bryce Colacurcio | Chief Strategy Officer | ROC Advertising

For many of us, the list of things we thought were vital in life is much shorter today than it was pre-pandemic. At the very top of that list is our relationships with our friends and family. Whether it’s hearing the conversation going on around us, the laughter in the other room, or the grandkids over a FaceTime call, people want (and need!) to connect with loved ones, now more than ever. The ability to hear in loud or noisy environments affects one’s health, well-being, and family memories, and we should be mindful of this. As business owners continue to navigate these challenging times, reducing expenses has become a necessity. That means prioritizing how marketing dollars are spent is just as essential. By focusing marketing efforts on a tried-and-true approach that brings a strong response, we can reach those who feel isolated and bring them to the conversation, both virtually and in-person.

The meteoric rise in telehealth and video chat/conferencing platforms like FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype shows that your patients are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and adopting digital technology. You need to meet them where they are, which means embracing tools like online scheduling, text message appointment reminders, and chatbots. And, creating short, engaging videos to post on your website and social media. Lastly, don’t shy away from explaining the benefits and advanced features of today’s high-end hearing aids to older patients—while they may not have understood Bluetooth before, there’s a good chance they do now.

Trend #7: Differentiate your practice in a competitive market

Robert M. Traynor, Ed.D., MBA | Clinical & Forensic Audiologist | Robert Traynor Audiology

If you’ve never heard of recreational audiology, it’s been defined by the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) as “the practice of hearing conservation and consumer education regarding products and services used to enhance and preserve hearing occupations and environments that may not be regulated by governmental agencies.”

Although virtually ignored by most practitioners, there are some, including Garry G. Gordon, owner of EAR, Inc., who concur that the market for hearing protection in industrial and recreational markets such as, manufacturing, aviation, musicians, law enforcement, auto racing, motorcycles, hunting and shooting sports, is more than 60 million individuals.

Approximately, 47 percent of consumers seeking hearing protection admit to a noticeable hearing loss. While some of these patients will eventually present themselves for hearing care on their own, specializing in industrial and recreational hearing impairment could have incredibly positive results that could revitalize even the most struggling practice. This might be just the method to differentiate a practice in competitive markets, where competitors are all marketing to the same population.

Altogether, some great advice and to summarize: continue to use the most cost-effective channels to stay connected to patients—email, snail mail, phone calls, and social media. Develop and follow a marketing plan, monitor it regularly, track results and adjust it as needed. Boost your search engine ranking by maintaining a strong online presence and reputation. Continue to emphasize your safety precautions in all of your communications. Ensure you’re using the features of your PMS that simplify and support your marketing efforts. Take advantage of our team of marketing experts at Consult and our partners.

Last but not least, remember the profound impact you have on the lives of your patients – and ensure your passion comes through in your marketing.

 

What 2021 trend are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below! I’ll get the ball rolling: sweatpants remaining acceptable work attire.

Learn how Consult Marketing can help you drive more leads and sales in 2021!

About the Author

Nicole Finkbiner joined Consult YHN as the Marketing Communications Specialist in 2018 with nearly a decade of communications experience. Over the course of her career, Nicole has created a wide array of different content for various mediums and outlets—news articles, press releases, arts features, product descriptions, small business websites, e-blasts, social media posts, promotional materials, and more. In her free time, the Philadelphia native enjoys soaking up the city’s culture and binge-watching TV shows.

2020 Year-in-Review

As we embark on a new year, let’s take a moment to appreciate the past one—2020 was a wild ride!

Together, we succeeded. We led our members through the pandemic. We leaned on and learned from one another – navigating all roadblocks while preparing to thrive in 2021 and beyond! Join us in celebrating our best moments.

Your success is our success. Here’s to even more in 2021!

About the Author

Nicole Finkbiner joined Consult YHN as the Marketing Communications Specialist in 2018 with nearly a decade of communications experience. Over the course of her career, Nicole has created a wide array of different content for various mediums and outlets—news articles, press releases, arts features, product descriptions, small business websites, e-blasts, social media posts, promotional materials, and more. In her free time, the Philadelphia native enjoys soaking up the city’s culture and binge-watching TV shows.

Marketing Through COVID-19: Key Considerations to Drive Leads at All Budgets

Communication is essential, especially during this time—and it will be equally important several months from now. Hopefully, you’ve used any downtime during the pandemic to stay connected with your patients.
As the economy opens, it’s important to forge ahead with your marketing efforts, including a specific plan to ramp up your marketing activities.

Practices that act now and adapt to the current environment will capture new patients as well as maintain a high volume of patients after the initial influx of demand has settled. Being proactive with your marketing strategy will ensure the near-term demand you experience won’t drop off in one, three, or six months, allowing you to continuously grow your business.

Consult YHN’s COVID-19 Resources Center provides healthcare professionals with strategic business advice and support, including virtual webinars, financial analyses, articles, marketing collateral, and more. A useful resource is our Cash Flow Analysis tool which determines your current and future months’ liquidity. This information allows you to forecast how much you can spend on marketing each month, with a goal to ramp up spend as your budget and timing allows.

Your messaging today is more significant than ever – it needs to be relevant, clear, and consistent across all of your marketing initiatives. It should address patients’ current needs and concerns, like providing a safe and caring environment as well as acknowledging that those struggling with hearing loss are even more challenged by COVID-19 safety measures.

Whether your practice is operating with a proactive marketing budget, limited budget, or no additional spend budget, we have solutions to help you drive new opportunities. There are many ways to stay top-of-mind with your patients without spending a lot of money. Below are Consult YHN’s marketing recommendations based on your practice’s current budget and timing.

Budget: No Additional Spend
Timing: Now

Planning Considerations:

  • Prioritize your patients and schedule
  • Fill your schedule with revenue-generating opportunities
  • Utilize no/low-cost marketing initiatives
  • Prepare for pent up demand from individuals seeking hearing help
  • Focus on marketing to maintain momentum
  • Depending on the response/how your patients are reacting, move on to higher-cost marketing initiatives

Sample COVID-19 Marketing Collateral, Available for Immediate Use

View More Samples Here  

Budget: Minimal Spend
Timing: ASAP

“No Additional Spend” initiatives +

  • Database Letters
    • Never stop reaching out to your database!
  • Consult Database Program
    • Our turnkey solution for database outreach enables your team to focus on closing more opportunities and helping more patients. We help you implement a consistent strategy, targeting each segment of your database with custom letters and follow-up calls that drive appointments and sales. From designing and printing to mailing and reporting—we handle it all, and at a competitive rate that’s included in your monthly Consult statement.
  • Email Marketing
    • Sending emails to your database is easy and inexpensive. You can check to see who clicked or opened the email in order to prioritize lead follow up via a phone call. For example, people who open and click on your email are the most engaged, so start with them, then work down the list. We recommend ConstantContact because it is easy to use and signs a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
  • Consult Upgrade Program
    • For over a decade, Consult Upgrade has been the most effective way for practice owners to reach their patients and increase sales. For a one-time flat fee, a dedicated Digital Technology Consultant will work with you on-site to organize and run an Upgrade event that, on average, yields an additional $51,250 in sales for practices. The schedule for 2020 is almost full – act fast to secure your spot!

Planning Considerations:

  • Once you’ve maximized your database outreach efforts, consider:
    • Are people responding?
    • Do you need to make any changes?
    • Have you exhausted all potential?
    • Is revenue ramping up?
  • Based on the answers above, decide on strategy and timing for direct mail drop and digital advertising.
  • Once you’ve seen all of your existing patients as well as all the new patients willing to come in regardless of COVID-19, the next step is crucial – and marketing will be key. Your marketing plan needs to be set now so that you can implement and capture the untapped group of new patients and your demand and revenue can consistently grow.

Budget: Pro-Active Spend
Timing: When Ready (Cash-Flow Dependent)

“No Additional Spend” initiatives + “Minimal Spend” initiatives +

  • Direct Mail
  • Digital Advertising
    • Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
    • Facebook Advertising
    • Display Retargeting
  • Consult Digital Program
    • Drive and convert more quality leads with our industry-leading digital solution! We outperform the competition so that your website dominates the first page of Google for the top hearing healthcare keywords. We also track your results and provide you a return on your investment.

Planning Considerations:

  • Lead time considerations for direct mail: 3.5 weeks ahead of the event
  • If you have the budget, spend it on PPC. Cost per lead is lower right now, meaning your budget will go further than it did pre-COVID-19. For example, based on the current environment there are fewer businesses competing for keywords, etc. This trend will end as business returns to normal. If your budget allows, there’s a significant, yet, temporary opportunity to introduce your practice to as many patients as possible at a lower cost than normal.
Your Account Manager and the Consult YHN team are here to help you develop a comeback plan that’s guaranteed to position your practice for success in 2020 and the years ahead.

Start driving more leads today – contact Consult Marketing!

About the Author

Nicole Finkbiner joined Consult YHN as the Marketing Communications Specialist in 2018 with nearly a decade of communications experience. Over the course of her career, Nicole has created a wide array of different content for various mediums and outlets—news articles, press releases, arts features, product descriptions, small business websites, e-blasts, social media posts, promotional materials, and more. In her free time, the Philadelphia native enjoys soaking up the city’s culture and binge-watching TV shows.

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Facebook Business Page

comment like and shareEighty-six percent of small businesses use Facebook as their preferred channel to connect with customers. If your practice happens to be a part of the other 14 percent, please stop what you’re doing and create a Facebook Business Page. Everyone else, please continue reading.

Marketing your practice on Facebook is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to build brand awareness, stay top-of-mind with current patients, and attract new ones. Facebook is the most used social platform for users aged 55 and above. In fact, 68 percent of Baby Boomers use the site daily.

But of course, that doesn’t mean your Facebook page is actually reaching all those Boomers.

On any given day, there are an average of 1,500 posts that appear in a person’s News Feed—the main page where people scroll through and view content from friends, family, and businesses—that’s a lot of competition!

And, Facebook recently changed its algorithm to prioritize personal posts over brand page (business) posts to encourage more “authentic interactions” and “meaningful engagement.” In other words, it’s more difficult for businesses to achieve the same kind of exposure, organically. Unless you’re a large corporation with deep pockets, your page’s reach is largely limited by the number of followers/fans you have on your page.

But fear not—below are several ways your practice can amplify its reach on Facebook and drive more engagements without spending additional money.

  1. Optimize and personalize your page

It’s important to enter as much information as possible about your practice. While some fields might not apply, there’s no excuse for not entering your address, phone number, email, website URL, and hours of operation. This information will help your page appear and rank higher in Facebook and Google search results. In addition to basic contact information, including a practice description and mission statement is equally as important. Leaving those sections blank only hurts your credibility.

Your profile picture should be your practice logo or a staff photo. Your cover image should be a high-quality photo of your team or office that isn’t overly busy or text-heavy (you can use a stock image, but if you want to make a real impression, avoid generic photos).

Most important is that your cover image is the correct dimensions and optimized for both desktop and mobile. Stick with an image 820px wide by 360px tall and keep all text and graphics in the middle “safe zone” as shown in the graphic below.

If your uploaded photo is smaller than these dimensions, Facebook will stretch it to fit, making it look blurry. TIP: header image dimensions differ for Facebook Groups and Facebook events so don’t expect to use the same image.

  1. Post content that’s fun, informative, and timely

I know—easier said than done. Perhaps it would help to first clarify what kind of content you should NOT post: anything that Facebook might consider too salesy or spammy. Instead, focus on providing content that’s valuable to your followers and humanizes your brand. Tell your story and tell your patients’ stories. Share articles and infographics that illustrate the importance of good hearing health and the risks associated with untreated hearing loss. Show your followers what the latest hearing technology has to offer. But don’t just educate your followers—entertain them! Post a joke. Post a meme. Post a photo of your staff wearing silly hats on “National Hat Day” (Jan. 15).

Whatever you post, just make sure it includes some sort of visual. As far as how long your posts should be, organic engagement peaks at 40 characters while posts with 80 characters or less receive 66 percent higher engagement (40-80 characters is the sweet spot).

The good news: you don’t have to create all your own original content! Sharing posts from other industry thought-leaders (manufacturers, hearing health advocates/non-profits, etc.) is just as important. Bonus: Facebook rewards posts that receive engagements (likes, comments, shares) with increased reach (more eyeballs).

  1. Incorporate (mobile first!) video into your content strategy

The only things people like more than images are videos. Proof. That’s why Facebook has even started to prioritize video content. When it comes to creating videos for social, the most important thing to keep in mind is that most people watching them on their phones (96 percent) and without sound (85 percent). Videos designed for mobile-first are usually optimized to play without sound. Regardless, any video that you post should be two minutes or less, have movement in the first two-three seconds, a thumbnail that will grab people’s attention, and subtitles if necessary.

Not sure what to film? How about an instructional video showing patients how to properly clean and maintain hearing aids? Or inspirational testimonials from patients about how hearing aids have improved their lives? Is anyone in the office celebrating a birthday soon? Fill an employee’s cubicle with balloons, record his/her reaction, upload the video, then get ready for the “likes” to start pouring in!

Oh, and if you’re camera-shy, it’s worth noting that there are endless hours of videos already available all over the internet and social media that you can easily share.

  1. Be social

Social media engagement increases loyalty and generates word of mouth. Above all, that is why you have a Facebook page in the first place. But engagement is a two-way street. If someone “likes” your posts, then “like” theirs. If they leave a comment on a post, respond to it. The same goes for any questions and recommendations/reviews you receive. And try to do so quickly—over 70 percent of users expect a response within an hour.

  1. Be consistent

Consistency will make it easier to create and execute a content calendar every month. If you don’t currently have a third party to help run your social media, then designate one person in your office to manage and regularly update your Facebook page. While there’s no magic number, most experts suggest posting once a day or at least three times a week. What days and what times, you ask? Stats show that Facebook engagement peaks on weekdays between 12 pm-3pm. You can also use Facebook Insights to find out which days and times your specific followers are most active (at the top of your business page, just click on Insights > Posts > When Your Fans are Online).

  1. Connect with your existing community

The easiest way to increase your Facebook audience is to connect with the people and businesses you’re already connected with in the real world. This includes your staff, current patients, manufacturers, other industry partners, community groups/organizations, and local businesses. These are the people who will most likely find your content interesting and are, therefore, more likely to share it. Not only is Facebook prioritizing content from friends and family over businesses, but people are 16 times more likely to read posts shared by their friends and family than those shared by brands. So, definitely encourage your employees to share your content with their own Facebook networks. Then, go ahead and “like” the pages of your colleagues, industry partners, and any other industry influencers so that they’ll be more inclined to return the favor

  1. Promote your Facebook page

If you’re not driving traffic to your social media pages from your website, then you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Links to your social media should be visible not only on your homepage but in the footer or header of every single page. In addition, include social media links/icons in your email signature, business cards, marketing email footers, and all of your other digital marketing materials. If you want to go one step further, add a simple call-to-action to the end of your emails (i.e. “P.S. Like us on Facebook”). 

 

So, there you have it —the foundation for a successful Facebook marketing strategy!

If you like what you just read, please follow Consult YHN on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 😉

About the Author

Nicole Finkbiner joined Consult YHN as the Marketing Communications Specialist in 2018 with nearly a decade of communications experience. Over the course of her career, Nicole has created a wide array of different content for various mediums and outlets—news articles, press releases, arts features, product descriptions, small business websites, e-blasts, social media posts, promotional materials, and more. In her free time, the Philadelphia native enjoys soaking up the city’s culture and binge-watching TV shows.