Digital Strategies

Did COVID Silence Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing? 6 Ways to Rejoin the Conversation.

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April 7, 2021

Small talk is the latest casualty of social distancing. Unfortunately, this means less word-of-mouth marketing for your practice. EyeCarePro has the solution!

By Danny Sauerwein and Jeremy Unger
Content Writers, EyeCarePro

The small talk “conversation before the conversation” performs many functions, but it also happens to be where a lot of word-of-mouth marketing takes place. How many times have you bumped into someone and started discussing what you’ve been up to? Chances are, you’ve probably endorsed a business without realizing it at one time or another.

“You should try that new seafood restaurant. The salmon was amazing!”

“I love your frames! Where did you get them?”

Word-of-mouth and other types of marketing that rely on the normal in-person interactions that were commonplace before the pandemic have largely dried up. This makes online marketing not just a good idea, but a question of survival for many businesses. As a result, knowing how to manage your online marketing is more important than ever before.

And so we bring you our top six tips for getting your marketing started or ramped up
Ensuring that you have a clear vision of what sets your practice apart from others, articulating it in the design of your website and the way you communicate with your patients, allows you to put your best foot forward and increase the number of patients coming through your practice doors.

1. Identify Your Brand: What Sets Your Practice Apart?
The competitive landscape in optometry is becoming increasingly complicated. That’s why it’s more important than ever to center your marketing efforts around a solid value proposition.

Many practices fail to formulate this basic part of their marketing strategy, and see appointments dry up as soon as a new competitor comes to town that does a better job defining what sets them apart. Don’t wait until it’s too late to figure this one out!

2. Construct Your Patient Personas
Without knowing who you’re speaking to, you won’t know how to speak with them, and how to best convince them to come to you for their eyecare needs. For this, we can’t stress enough the importance of well-constructed patient personas. Once you’ve built these archetypes, you’ll get a better picture of the types of marketing strategies you’ll need to use to bring in the kinds of patients reflected in the personas you’ve constructed.

Some of the questions you should ask when building your Patient Personas include:

● How old is my ideal patient?

● Do they or their family members have specific eyecare or eyewear needs I can address?

● What is my ideal patient’s financial situation? How does this affect their budget when discussing products and services?

3. Make Sure Your Website Offers a Good User Experience
User Experience (UX) refers to how the site looks and feels to the average user who lands on your site. This includes how simple your website is to navigate, whether the colors and layout are easy on the eye, whether the user is properly directed to the places you want them to go onsite, etc.

Important tips for UX when designing your website include:
Mobile Friendliness– An increasing percentage of people are using mobile devices, so it’s important to make sure that your website appears correctly and loads fast when displayed on mobile devices.

Calls to Action (CTAs)– It’s not enough just to get users onto your website and reading your content. You want them to book appointments or take other actions related to their eyecare. This is where CTAs come in. Great examples of CTAs that work are, “Book Your Appointment Today,” “Fill Out This Form” or “Click Here to Learn More!”

4. Don’t Neglect The Role of SEO in Practice Marketing
Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process of making sure Google and other search engines consider your site to be important, relevant and authoritative for the types of searches potential patients are looking for in your area. Major considerations for your practice website’s SEO should include:
Practice Homepage– Your homepage is the front door of your website. Most of the traffic to your site will come through here, and Google often considers this the most important and authoritative page you have.

Service Pages– Make sure to discuss all the services your eyecare practice provides, especially those that set your practice apart from others. This is also where you expand on the major offerings mentioned on your homepage.

Location/Contact Page– It’s important for Google to know where you’re located, when your practice is open and how to reach you. When someone in your area searches for services you provide, Google will direct them to your website as a result. Your location page should have your practice phone number, your address and your practice hours.

Editor’s Note: Never address or detail a patient’s medical condition in a public forum like an online review page. Doing so would be considered a HIPAA violation.

5. Positive Reviews Are Key To Your Marketing Efforts
Marketing research shows that one of the first things users look at when searching for services online is reviews. That’s why it’s important that you carefully manage and monitor reviews for your practice. Here are a few tips on how to best manage your reviews:

Patient Experience– Any discussion of reviews and testimonials has to start with the patient experience inside the practice itself. You need to aim to wow since a truly impressed patient is much more likely to leave a positive review. Discuss with your staff what they can do to help create such an experience for patients, and be sure that the layout of your practice reflects this as well.

Quantity AND Quality– It’s important to have as many high-quality positive reviews as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask patients who are obviously happy with their experience to leave a review. Having a high number of reviews also helps drown out the influence of any negative reviews you may get along the way.

Negative Reviews– Negative reviews happen even to the best of practices. The key to handling these is not to ignore them, but rather, to respond to them head-on. A well thought out reply, professionally and compassionately written, can blunt the impact of even the most scathing reviews.

6. E-Mail Marketing Is a Good Way To Stay Top of Mind
E-mail marketing is a great way to encourage repeat visits and keep your practice on patients’ radars by providing helpful, interesting or fun content and reminders. Ask for your patients’ e-mail addresses when they come in for their next visit, and stay in touch throughout the year to stay top of mind. Here are ideas for ways that e-mail marketing can help:

Seasonal Campaigns– Back-to-school is a great time to promote children’s eye exams and eyewear to families. Dry eye season, during the winter months, is a great time to promote products that your practice may be selling, such as specialty eye drops or artificial tears, that can help fight the symptoms of dry eye.

Practice Newsletter– Another great way to keep in touch with your patients is through a practice newsletter. You can include interesting health news and eyecare tips for your patients, as well as news about your practice, upcoming promotions and events.

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