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.

Patient Recall: The Key to a Successful Comeback Plan

During the COVID-19 shutdowns this spring, many practices struggled with finding the right way to communicate with patients. Overwhelmingly, practices that followed a plan and stayed connected to their database and/or used a service like Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC) to make calls to patients realized two great benefits.

First, those practices reassured patients that they were still there for them and would continue to serve their hearing healthcare needs moving forward. As business returned to normal, those practices kept patients informed about the additional safety procedures they put in place as well as any changes to their hours and services. A remarkably large percentage of practices were quick to implement curbside service and offer remote care options to patients who couldn’t come into the office.

Second, but equally important, it was their existing customers who felt most comfortable coming back into their clinics and purchasing new devices. Whether it was a result of pent up demand or increased family interaction placing a greater value on hearing healthcare in general, it was these patients and their purchases that led to the recovery of many practices.

Of course, this didn’t just happen overnight—it was the practices that put a concerted effort into patient recall that saw the quickest recovery to their business. These practices strengthened their patient relationships and stayed top-of-mind because they took the time to pick up the phone and call their patients. They checked to see if their patient’s existing devices were working optimally or upgraded them to newer technology.

In addition to being a smart business strategy, patient recall is and always has been founded in good healthcare. You need to remain in contact with patients—before, during, and after each sale—to maintain a loyal database. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to invest in patient recall. Not only is new customer acquisition expensive, but the industry is becoming more competitive every year. Leveraging your relationships with existing patients is simply the most cost-effective way to build brand loyalty, drive awareness, and increase patient referrals.

Finally, let’s consider another challenge practices face in maintaining patient relationships: rechargeability. For many years, practices have relied on free or low-cost batteries to keep their patients coming back. While certainly a great innovation, rechargeable hearing aids have significantly reduced the number of office visits patients need to make. That’s why practices need to put greater emphasis on outbound calls to engage their database. At Consult YHN, our most successful Associates make patient outreach a priority and are rewarded because of it.

When it comes down to it, you have two choices: hire an additional staff member to handle your outbound dialing or outsource it to a service like YPCC. The good news is that we can help you with either decision. We hear a lot of practice owners express initial concern about the cost of patient recall. What many don’t realize is that it’s actually an incredible bargain when you consider the end result: a more loyal patient database, increased sales, and most importantly, better patient care.

Click here to learn more about Your Patient Contact Center or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Bill Connerton is the National Vice President of Sales at Consult YHN. Bill has been with the company since 2011 and has worked extensively with some of the largest practices in the country. He has developed and lead a team of Account Managers that drive behavior change in practices, including the development of business owners who partner with Consult YHN.

Five Simple Ways to Create a Five-Star Patient Experience

Think about the last time you received top-notch customer service. Did your doctor call to check up on you the day after a procedure? Did a restaurant give you extra sauces and napkins with your delivery? Did your accountant send a handwritten note on your birthday?

Now think about the last time you received terrible customer service. How many friends and family members did you tell? Did you rant about it on Facebook? Did you write a scathing Yelp review?

The truth is that the customer experiences we remember are the ones that were either fantastic or truly awful. And unfortunately, it’s usually the latter that gets the most attention:

Customers who have a bad experience are 2-3 times more likely to write a negative review than happy customers are to write a positive review.

Needless to say, bad reviews are bad for business:

80% of people will choose to go elsewhere if they read bad reviews about your business online.

A positive customer experience is key to building loyalty. As the saying goes, “a happy customer is a loyal customer.” And you can’t underestimate the value of loyalty:

Loyal customers are 5 times more likely to purchase again and 4 times more likely to refer a friend.

During my years working in a private practice in Florida, I oversaw all our community outreach events (health fairs, hearing seminars, Lunch & Learns, etc.). Anyone who knows me would tell you, I’m perfectly suited for this type of work. When I wasn’t in the office, I was out in the community, talking to people, learning about their hearing history, and conveying to them how important hearing is to their relationships, livelihood, and overall health.

Once you scheduled an appointment with me, you were my patient. I sent my patients appointment reminders, I called them the day before their appointment to confirm, and on the day of, I made sure to greet him/her upon arrival (“George! Welcome! It’s so nice to see you again!”). This didn’t happen overnight—it took time to build these relationships and good habits. I was fortunate to have a boss who pushed me to do more, be better, and try harder. Sometimes it was difficult, but the outcome was worth it.

I realize the Coronavirus has complicated what good customer service looks like. Healthcare providers have had to quickly adopt new safety and sanitation protocols to protect staff and patients while continuing to provide the same high level of care.

But the pandemic has also made exceptional customer service all the more important. Even something as small as extra bread with my takeout pasta seems to mean so much more. Years from now, it’s the people and businesses that took the best care of us during this challenging time that we’re going to remember most and be loyal to.

Below are sure-fire ways to increase patient satisfaction and build greater brand loyalty—not just today, but in the months and years to come.

1. Be accessible.

Today’s consumers expect and demand greater convenience in every aspect of their lives, including their healthcare. For younger and more active patients, offering services like online scheduling, automated appointment reminders (via email and text message), and live chat can be differentiators for your practice. Keep in mind that some of your patients are also more tech-savvy today than they were just a few months ago. With the pandemic forcing older Americans to remain largely confined to their homes, many have relied on video chat and other apps to shop, work, connect with loved ones, and even meet with doctors. The best thing you can do for your patients right now is to make yourself available to help them, especially the most vulnerable. Consider implementing curbside and teleaudiology services if you haven’t already.

2. Stay connected.

Now more than ever, your patients want and need to hear from you. So much that we recommend overcommunicating with them. Consistent outreach and follow-up with your database is crucial to increasing patient satisfaction and driving sales. Continue to update your digital properties (website, social media, Google My Business, Healthy Hearing profiles, etc.) to reflect any changes to your hours and services as well as the safety precautions your office is implementing. This should also be included in all of your marketing collateral. Use social media to stay top-of-mind with patients and make calling your database a priority. How often should you contact patients to ensure they purchase their next set of hearing aids from you? Click here to find out!

3. Make a good first and second impression.

Your website is often your patients’ first impression of your business. If it’s cluttered, outdated, slow, and/or difficult to navigate, visitors will have a negative perception of your practice (follow these ten tips to take your site from good to great). Just like your website, your office space should be a positive reflection of your brand and the quality of care you provide. Old or unsightly furnishings can suggest a lack of pride and attention to detail while a mini-fridge filled with bottled waters says, “We care about your comfort.” A fresh coat of paint and a fresh pot of coffee (or Keurig) can go a long way in creating a more inviting atmosphere where patients feel welcomed. Once it’s safe to have communal items in your waiting area again, be sure to have fresh new educational and marketing materials (flyers, posters, brochures, etc.) for visitors. Aside from offering valuable information that can help patients make the decision to invest in their hearing, they lend to your credibility as an “expert.” Finally, toss out all those old magazines—no one wants to read about the Royal Wedding anymore (well, except me, but that’s a topic for a much different blog).

4. Don’t keep them waiting!

How do you feel when you arrive to an appointment on time but the doctor doesn’t see you for 20 minutes or longer? Honor your patients’ time with respect. If you’re overbooked and struggling to manage your time, have your Front Office Professional (FOP) do a double knock on the door 5-15 minutes before your next appointment or a single knock when the patient has arrived. This can help keep you focused. Need more time with a patient or wrapping up a sale? Take a quick second and let your FOP know so they can inform your next patient. This is where having a fresh cup of joe and ample reading materials will come in handy.

5. Ask for reviews and referrals.

I’ve already touched on the importance of positive word of mouth but allow me to really drive the point home: nearly 90% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their best friends’ recommendations and people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. If you’ve done everything right and created a positive experience for your patients, then this part should be easy. A satisfied patient is already more likely to recommend your practice to a friend or family member. But why wait for that to happen when all you need to do is ask? There are several ways to ask for patient referrals and, I promise, none are as awkward as you think. In addition, you should be sending automated online review requests through your practice management software (email and/or text message) after each appointment. It helps to plant the seed while the patient is in front of you. Let them know they’ll be receiving a message then explain how valuable their feedback is and that you’d really appreciate it if they could take a few minutes to share their opinion.

Change is hard. I’m the first to admit this. But we all understand the value of good customer service. If you’re following the above recommendations, keep it up. If not, take it one day at a time and gradually make the changes needed to ensure that every person who walks through your front door has the best experience. As my mom always says, “it’s the little things that often make the biggest difference.”

Consult YHN can help.
Talk to your Account Manager or contact us today!

About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.

Opportunity Mindset: Why It Matters and How to Adopt it in Your Practice

What is an opportunity mindset?

I know what you might be thinking: “Uh oh—must be another one of those Consult buzzwords!” But, at least it’s not another acronym, right?

All jokes aside, opportunity mindset is essentially a way of thinking and doing—an intentional, positive, and action-oriented attitude. And it relates to everyone in the practice, regardless of his/her position. A person can only achieve as much as he or she focuses on. So, if you focus on finding, embracing, and seizing opportunities, eventually, you’ll enjoy more opportunities. Make sense?

What does it mean to have an opportunity mindset?

Great question! I can sum it up in one word: PROACTIVE. It’s all about being proactive in creating as many opportunities as you can, not only to grow your business but to help more people in your community hear well again.

It’s not sitting around and waiting for the phone to ring, but rather picking up the phone yourself and initiating a conversation with your patients. It’s asking patients who are satisfied with your services if there is anyone they know who could also benefit from them. It’s calling Mr. Jones after he failed his hearing aid evaluation and refused to commit to hearing aids to see how he’s doing and whether he has any questions.

Everyone in the practice has the ability to do these things—providers, front office staff, patient recall specialists, even directors, and owners. If you have one person on your team adopt this mentality, it’s a plus. But if you can get your entire team on the opportunity mindset bandwagon, your practice’s entire energy will shift, and growth will happen naturally as a result.

How does one adopt an opportunity mindset?

So, how does one adopt an opportunity mindset? First and foremost, it’s a decision to commit. Once you decide this is what you want for your practice and its future, YOU become the trailblazer. Leaders need to set the bar, dedicate themselves to the concept, and demonstrate what exactly an “opportunity mindset” looks like.  

To do this, your team needs to see YOU proactively:

The entire team needs to engage in this behavior for the culture to shift. Yes, you read that correctly: EVERYONE. No one is exempt. If you are not focusing on it and would like to make it a priority or would like support for the processes you currently have in place, your Account Manager and Consult YHN’s experienced trainers would be more than happy to help. However, the buck cannot be passed. The only way for a practice to adopt an opportunity mindset is for its leaders to set an example, make opportunity creation a priority, hold their staff accountable, and follow up. Once you accomplish those items, the magic will start to happen!

Why should my practice adopt an opportunity mindset?

Now more than ever it’s essential for practice owners to adopt this mentality, especially because many are trying to make up for lost time and revenue as a result of the pandemic. It’s one of the core fundamentals of growing a business. Best of all, it doesn’t cost anything and is risk-free—you have far more to gain than lose by making a simple adjustment to your way of thinking.

Every Consult Account Manager is an expert in creating an opportunity mindset, whether it’s in a practice, Ear, Nose, and Throat clinic, hospital, or university. It’s what we do every day—just ask any of our thousands of engaged Associates. It’s also only one of many different areas where we can help practice owners grow their top-line revenue and bottom-line profit.

To learn new strategies on how to be more PROACTIVE and DRIVE more patients through your door, reach out to your Account Manager, join one of our weekly teletrainings, or contact Consult YHN today!

About the Author

Kate Thomas is an Assistant Account Manager and has been with Consult YHN since 2009. Before moving into her current role in 2016, she worked in the company’s Recruiting Department. Kate supports the East division and their accounts through front office and physician marketing trainings, community outreach support, and anything else needed to help practice owners achieve their professional goals. When not working, Kate enjoys gardening, yoga, meditation, running, hiking, cooking, and anything else that allows her to use her creative mind. Whatever she’s doing, it almost always involves her husband and three beautiful children.

Seven Reasons to Call Your Patients

Telemarketing can be an unsettling word for some. It evokes the days of yesteryear when family dinners were interrupted by phone calls and last names were mispronounced beyond recognition.

Forget what you thought you knew about telemarketing. In fact, forget the word ‘telemarketing’ entirely. At Consult YHN, we’ve turned outbound dialing into a service essential to the success of your hearing healthcare practice – Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC).

Through YPCC, our Associates have access to a highly-trained, professionally-managed workforce committed to patient communications and the success of the practice. YPCC’s patient contact specialists act as an extension of your practice, devoted to expanding your reach, securing appointments, and driving new and existing patients through your door.

Retaining current patients while effectively acquiring new ones should be an ongoing priority for every practice. Considering that 45 percent of patients will purchase their next set of hearing aids from a different practice – reinforces the importance of consistent patient outreach and follow-up.

Calling patients, whether it’s your staff or through our YPCC call center, is a beneficial process to implement in your practice for the following reasons:

1. Revenue-driving activity

On average, YPCC books 0.5 appointments per hour, and practices that use their service realize a net gain of 8-10 units per 40 hours of calling. At their competitive rates, your practice could pay less than $100 to book a qualified patient on your schedule. Through our Consult Database Program, 75% of appointments booked are through the YPCC efforts – with the average program yielding $11,400 in total revenue.

2. Keep consistent touchpoints with your patients

YPCC has developed carefully crafted scripts for each segment of your database. This ensures that the patient contact specialists are speaking directly to each patients’ individual hearing health journey.

3. Alignment with marketing activities

Sending just a letter or postcard to your database doesn’t cut it anymore. Making phone calls behind each of your marketing activities – and with consistent messaging – will better convert your warm leads into appointments. Multiple touchpoints help keep your brand top of mind or maintain “stickiness” in the minds of your patients. Additionally, a follow-up call behind a database mailer removes the work by the patient to act on a marketing call-to-action.

4. Outbound and inbound options

In addition to making outbound dials, YPCC also offers inbound options to help with call overflow or after-hours and weekend calls. This ensures your practice makes the most of every call and reinforces your commitment to excellent customer service.

5. Database cleanup

The health of your database will have a significant impact on patient retention. If you haven’t recently scrubbed your database for patients who have moved or passed away, then any other outreach to those patients is precious marketing dollars wasted.

6. Seamless patient experience

With full access to your practice management software, YPCC’s patient contact specialists schedule appointments on the spot.

7. Time-saving

Employing someone else to call patients on behalf of your practice puts more time back on your schedule so that you can focus on what you do best: helping more people hear well again!

The truth is patient contact centers have become a staple in the healthcare industry. Whether you are a small private practice or part of a hospital network, utilizing a contact center is a cost-effective way to retain patients and fill your schedule with appointments.

Click here to learn more about Your Patient Contact Center or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.