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
- Update Annual Marketing Plan
- Prioritize & Call Database (follow-up as needed via email)
- Tested Not Sold
- Care After “Yes”
- Out of Warranty (3 years+)
- Set up Online Scheduling
- Utilize Consult Marketing Collateral
- Update Digital Presence
- Physician Referrals (call and email)
- Prioritize Community Outreach
- Create Videos for Social Media (how-to, virtual events, etc.)
- 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
Budget: Minimal Spend
“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!
- 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.
- 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.
About the Author
Eighty-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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
- 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!
About the Author
Your website is your virtual practice and, today, most often your patients’ first impression of your brand and practice. Nearly 90 percent of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase, which includes visiting a business’s website.*
That’s why choosing the right digital partner is vital to your practice’s overall success. It’s important that you choose a reliable, competent, and highly skilled digital partner that you can trust to manage your online marketing needs, including your website. Choosing the right partner could increase visitors to your website and in turn, drive more new patients through your front door.
Over the last few years, the number of digital agencies has skyrocketed, making it difficult for business owners to vet and choose the right one.
So, how do you know if you have the right partner? The below questions are a great place to start:
1. Do I own my website?
2. Is my website a custom design?
3. Is my website a responsive design (mobile/tablet friendly)?
4. Are the phone numbers on my website click-to-call?
5. Does my website support online scheduling?
6. Is my website updated with new product launches and content from my manufacturers?
7. How often is my website content being updated?
8. Do you provide additional digital marketing services?
9. How are you measuring results?
10. What is your digital return on investment?
Still not sure if your current website provider is the best fit for your business? Consult YHN Marketing will conduct a personalized website and digital marketing assessment, including a geographic and competitive analysis. Contact your Account Manager to learn more about our comprehensive marketing services, including the Consult Digital Program. Or, contact our in-house team today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*United States Ecommerce Country Report, 2017
About the Author
Does your website blow your competitors’ websites out of the water?
Almost every patient journey begins with or includes a Google search. Hopefully, your PPC (Paid Per Click) and SEO game is on point and driving prospects to your website. But how many prospects is your website driving through your front door? And, is it good enough that it would motivate someone to drive 10 extra miles to your practice over another?
It’s an ambitious goal, but certainly possible with the right tweaks…
- Optimize your page speed
According to Google Analytics, 40 percent of web users leave pages that take more than three seconds to load. Meanwhile, another study has shown that even a five-second delay in page response can increase your bounce rate by more than 20 percent. Find out just how fast or slow your site is with Google’s free PageSpeed tools. Since image file size is one of the biggest culprits of lagging web pages, make sure the images on your site are compressed. There are several free applications you can use to compress your own images.
- Be smart about your layout and design
Design is the main reason people don’t trust certain websites or the businesses behind them. For example, low-quality images or design inconsistencies between pages can be giant red flags to a visitor. That’s why everything from your spacing, fonts, and heading sizes to your colors, button styles, and design elements need to be consistent, cohesive, and clean. A consistent header and footer on every page that includes your logo, practice information, and social icons is equally important. And while we’re on the topic, have you ever thought about how your website’s colors might impact the user experience?
- Check your mobile responsiveness
With mobile searches finally surpassing desktop searches last year, Google recently announced that it is now indexing websites based on their mobile version instead of their desktop version. In other words, the content, links, speed, etc. of your mobile site are now the key drivers of your search engine visibility. Before you panic, know that Google has a number of tools to test how mobile-friendly your site really is and Search Console has a mobile usability report that outlines problems on a page-by-page level. One must-have feature of your mobile site: Click-To-Call. Why? Because 76% of consumers say they use mobile call features to schedule appointments for local services.
- Offer rich content
For search purposes, Google recommends having a minimum of 250-300 words per page. But your content should go above and beyond providing basic information about your practice—it should engage and educate visitors. Hearing health tips, hearing loss facts, a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, a list of the devices you offer with details about the different styles, and a blog (that’s regularly updated!) are all great examples of rich content. Creating content with legitimate value not only helps to present your practice as the local expert, but it inevitably supports your SEO efforts.
- Make your content easier to digest
Step one: trim the excess fat. Did you know that white space around text and titles can increase user attention by 20 percent? Create that extra room by keeping your paragraphs as concise as possible. Step two: make sections of text easier to scan by adding headings and subheadings, choosing clear fonts, and breaking down key points, features, or services into bulleted lists. You can get more creative with your layout by replacing traditional bullet points with icons or using lines, borders, or different shading to visually isolate related content.
- Reconsider your images
We all know a stock photo when we see one. Although stock images aren’t inherently bad, they are inherently generic and impersonal, which can reduce trust. If your website relies heavily on stock imagery, it’s okay, many websites do. However, consider replacing a few stock images with actual photos of your practice and staff. We promise that prospects will want to see you and your staff members’ smiling faces. Any stock images that you do use, should complement the content, not distract from it.
- Use calls to action and buttons to guide visitors
Your website should provide a customer journey that is clearly mapped out and fluid from page to page. Visitors should always see a next step or action to take as they browse. That’s why every page should feature a distinct call to action (CTA), accompanied by a phone number, contact form, and/or button. A strong CTA is 2-5 words that urge visitors to take an immediate action, whether it’s “Click Here” for more information or “Call Today” to schedule an appointment.
- Add a contact form
Current and potential patients alike need to be able to contact your practice when it’s most convenient for them. Contact form submissions are also a great lead generation tool. Any visitor that completes a form on your site is a prospect and should be contacted as quickly as possible. Some website forms can automatically send a thank you email to your new prospect and let them know the timeframe in which they can expect to receive a follow-up phone call. Now, this prospect can be added to your practice management system and to future marketing initiatives.
- Add patient reviews
A 2018 survey found that 72 percent of patients used online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor and 88 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Boost your digital presence and reputation by including links to review sites, a dedicated testimonial page, or even better, using our Online Review Builder which gathers your positive online reviews in real-time and displays them on your website for you.
- Boost your SEO!
You didn’t think we’d write an entire blog post about websites without mentioning SEO, did you? Simply put, ranking in the top positions on search engine result pages means significantly more traffic to your website, and then through your front door. Similar to PPC, SEO is an efficient marketing strategy because it targets online users who are actively seeking out your services.
While digital marketing trends come and go and change constantly, a solid website that entices potential patients, engages current patients, and reinforces your brand will never go out of style.