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.

Is Your Website Ready for the Surge in Digital Traffic and Leads?

It’s no surprise that the digital world and its role in communication has changed dramatically since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have adjusted to working from home and relying more heavily on technology to communicate with coworkers, friends, and family.
According to The New York Times, website usage for sites like Facebook and YouTube have skyrocketed since February 29. Video chatting platforms like Google Duo and popular remote work apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have also reported record usage spikes.

People look to connect and entertain themselves

This trend isn’t going away anytime soon. While the days of social distancing and continuous handwashing will eventually fade – the need for a strong digital presence will not.

Your website is your most valuable digital asset; therefore, the time is now to assess its performance. In other words, does your website have what it takes to engage and convert the influx of people seeking help with their hearing loss?

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Nearly 90% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase, which includes visiting a business’s website

Hopefully, your site is updated to reflect the safety precautions your practice is implementing to protect patients and staff, as well as pertinent information on any Telehealth or curbside services being provided. Patients care about and want to know how your practice is responding to COVID-19 and adhering to CDC guidelines. This information should be posted prominently on your homepage and any social media profiles, like Facebook and Healthy Hearing. Don’t forget to update your Google My Business profile to reflect any changes or updates you make to your services or hours.

Now, let’s discuss the specific items you should focus on when evaluating the performance and success of your website:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Check whether your website dominates the first page of Google for the top hearing healthcare keywords. There are free online tools that will show you top competitive SEO metrics. Ultimately, your website provider/digital partner should manage your site’s SEO performance regularly and make the necessary updates. This is vital to maintaining a prominent rank in search results, which drives more quality leads, appointments, and sales.

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55% of search engine clicks come from the top 3 listings

Content:

Good SEO and good content go hand-in-hand. Fresh, relevant, and engaging content on your site will boost its SEO. It will also increase the amount of time visitors spend on your site and, in turn, your conversion rate (the percentage of unique site visitors who “convert” to leads by calling your office or filling out an online form). Adding unique content like videos, infographics, and weekly or monthly blog posts will help differentiate your brand from the competition. Timely articles about the effects of untreated hearing loss are great, but they’re even better when mixed with more personable and creative posts that will resonate with readers—tips for summer hearing aid care, how to choose the right hearing aid for your lifestyle, etc.

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52% of consumers say blogs have impacted purchasing decisions

Upgrades:

Features like click-to-call, online scheduling, chatbots, contact forms, and mobile-responsiveness are no longer optional—they’re essential.

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additional leads
On average, online scheduling tools generate 4 additional leads per month for hearing healthcare providers

User Experience (UX):

Users’ experience with a website is determined by how easy or difficult it is for them to navigate and interact with it. One broken link or slow-to-load page can create a bad experience for users. Your site needs to fulfill visitors’ needs, wants, and expectations both quickly and easily. While UX testing is a complex process, there are several simple things you can do yourself to enhance your site’s usability, including:

  • Check every link and app/widget to ensure they work.
  • Add internal links between relevant content and pages.
  • Shorten long paragraphs of text and/or break them up.
  • Create more white space around text and titles.
  • Use strong CTAs (Call-To-Actions) to guide users to convert.
  • Make sure all images and pages load quickly.

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Better UX design could raise your website’s conversion rate by 400%

Design & Layout:

Your website is most often your patients’ first impression of your brand. If it looks outdated or unappealing, visitors will have a negative perception of your practice. Everything from your fonts and spacing to your colors and design elements needs to be clean and cohesive across your entire site. There should be a consistent header and footer on every page that includes your logo, practice information, and social icons.

Of course, you want your website to stand out from your competitors. But that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to its layout and design. Despite a common misconception, “templated” websites are not “basic” and are not going to make your site look exactly like other audiology websites. To start, they’re 100 percent customizable – using your brand, color schemes, unique assets (logo, photos, videos, more). Second, website “templates” exist for a reason: they work! Keep in mind, website site design is part art – but primarily science. Most developers use behavioral science and best practices to design websites for optimal usability and most importantly – conversion. Some tools developers use to test the merit of a website include:

  • User Testing: A platform for obtaining rapid customer feedback on any customer experience, including websites, mobile apps, and real-world experiences.
  • Heat Mapping: A graphical representation of data that uses a system of color-coding to represent different values. While used in various forms of analytics, most often they’re used to show user behavior on specific webpages and determine where the most important content should be placed on a page.
  • Conversion Tracking: A powerful tool in Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) that lets you identify how well your ad campaign is generating leads, sales, downloads, email sign-ups, and other key actions.

Through these methods, developers know what the target demographic expects to see and how they can best be encouraged to convert. For example, most websites have a horizontal top navigation, left-aligned logo, and right-aligned contact information because heat mapping shows this is the best structure for usability and entices users to travel deeper into the site.

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People form 75% of their judgment on a website’s credibility purely on its aesthetics

Website Provider/Digital Partner:

If your internet-savvy nephew is managing your site, it may be time to consider making a change. A reliable and highly-skilled digital partner will make all the difference—a partner you can hold accountable to manage all your online marketing needs, not just your website. Your digital partner should oversee ongoing website maintenance, performance, results, and provide you ownership over your domain and other digital properties. Click here to find out the most important questions to ask your website provider or reach out to your Consult Marketing Account Executive for assistance. The Consult Digital Program offers engaged Associates a comprehensive digital solution proven to drive leads and sales.

Questioning if your website delivers the results it should? Consult YHN’s in-house experts will conduct a personalized website and digital marketing assessment, including a geographic and competitive analysis.

Increase your digital traffic and drive more patient appointments –
contact Consult Marketing today!

About the Author

Genevieve Amabile joined Consult YHN in 2019 and serves as a Marketing Account Coordinator. Prior to Consult YHN, she worked as a Social Media Coordinator for a staffing agency and interned with Seven Mile Publishing & Creative in Avalon, NJ. Genevieve graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications in 2018. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, and listening to her favorite true crime podcasts.

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.

Online Scheduling: Everything You Need to Know Fill Your Book

This is a sentiment we can all relate to. There are only so many hours in a day to check things off our to-do lists. We have places to get to, people to see, and things to do – you know how it goes.

When it seems like all we do is go, go, go, it helps to have some shortcuts to help us get our lives in order. At the end of the day, here are three things we know for sure about today’s consumers:

People are busy.
People want things to be easy.
People like options.

Gone are the days of calling in a food delivery order, thanks to apps like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash. Between your phone, tablet or computer, everything is available right at your fingertips and presented in a way that busy people can easily decide between options (see what I did there?).

So, with the shift towards automation, it should be no surprise that online scheduling has become a preferred method of booking appointments. In fact, according to a GetApp survey, nearly 70 percent of consumers prefer online scheduling for service appointments compared to only 21 percent preferring to book by phone.

More and more healthcare providers are using online scheduling tools on their websites for the following reasons:

  • Enhances patient-experience with fast and easy booking
  • Provides 24/7 access to scheduling
  • Frees up time for front office personnel
  • Increases the number of monthly leads (on average, online scheduling tools generate four additional leads per month for hearing healthcare providers).

By offering patients solutions at the touch of a button, we remove the last barrier to entry standing between patients booking their appointments. Once we get them through the door, it’s time for the provider to shine and help patients hear well again.

Still not convinced?

Allow us to address the biggest objections you may have (skeptics, pay attention!):

 

You say: “Online scheduling is going to mess up my calendar/block scheduling/PMS.”

We say: Online scheduling tools such as those offered by Sycle and Blueprint are integrated directly with your practice management software and come equipped with the capability to only book during pre-selected times. The Blueprint OMS booking tool is specifically designed in a way to work with block scheduling and is always updating in real-time based on the practice’s Blueprint OMS schedule.

 

You say: “Patients who book online are more likely to cancel/no-show.”

We say: The benefits associated with providing real-time online appointment booking far outweigh a possible cancellation or no-show. Even if patients cancel or don’t show to an appointment booked online, their patient file will be flagged for follow-up so you can continue to nurture that lead.

Blueprint OMS will also display a patient’s cancellation/no-show rate. Therefore, if someone with a known, high no-show rate books online, the practice can take whatever measures necessary to ensure the patient will attend the appointment, be it a follow-up call, implementing a no-show policy, etc.

 

You say: “Is online scheduling HIPPA compliant?”

We say: Yes! Online scheduling tools were built out to be both HIPAA and GDPR compliant. Blueprint’s online booking system is fully self-contained—all data remains within Blueprint OMS, and no information is exchanged with any third-party platforms. Additionally, all online bookings are made on a secure website that uses HTTPS to encrypt all communications and ensure privacy.

Adopting a consumer-centric approach and offering your patients the flexibility to schedule their hearing appointments online can save you time, increase your monthly leads, and better serve your patients.

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.