By Bethany Ellis
In today’s modern world there’s no denying the rising trend of digital and its prevalence in everyday life. We keep updated with the world via digital: reading the news, contacting friends, shopping; the list is endless. In fact, a lot of you are probably reading this article (a piece of digital media) which you found through email or social media (digital channels) on your smartphone or computer (digital devices).
So, the question is: how important is digital to an eye care practitioner? The answer is very!
In general, people are already present and active participants on digital media channels. Therefore, making it easier for businesses to engage in conversations and generate leads in these digital spaces.
The opportunities that digital will open up to your practice are endless. But first of all, let’s clarify what we mean by digital marketing.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is any form of marketing products or services that involves electronic devices.
Digital marketing can be done both online and offline. This article will focus on the online aspects of digital marketing.
As a practice owner, the most cost-effective type of digital marketing will generally be online. These include:
|Search engine optimisation (SEO)||involves optimising your online content to help a search engine rank your page as a result of a keyword search|
|Search engine marketing (SEM)||involves paying money to bid on keywords so that your website ranks highly for specific keyword searches|
|Content marketing||involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a defined audience with the end goal of driving customer action|
|Social media marketing (SMM)||is the use of social media platforms to promote a brand voice, products and services|
|Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)||is buying visits to your website where you are charged per click on your advert. The most popular form of PPC is search engine marketing|
|Affiliate marketing||is performance-based marketing, rewarding affiliates for each visitor/customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts|
|Email marketing||is sending emails to potential or current customers|
It could be that you only need to focus on one or two areas of online digital marketing, this is particularly restricted by the budget available, but also the potential gain you can achieve by knowing your target audience and how best to target them.
What’s important is to have a central place where customers can find the information they need, such as contact details, opening hours, and information about your practice, products and services. More than anything, it serves as a portal for communication, therefore it is essential that a number, or an email address, or a submission form is readily available. In terms of digital media, this could be either a website or a social media page.
You might already have a sufficient website or engaging social media page. But are you leveraging it to deliver the best results for your practice?
What makes a good website?
To get the most value from having a website at all, it’s important to:
- Apply a localised strategy – you want to attract people in your local area so it’s important to have a website that has been optimised on a local level in order for your practice to rank well in searches. Every day, people conduct more than 2.2 million searches online, and 75% of searches start on Google. The first five results on Google get 67% of all clicks. Therefore, it’s important to include information about your location as well as the products and services you offer, to help Google determine where to rank you. This way, your practice will appear as relevant to your desired audience. How?
- Have a well-structured website – following a search, your website is likely to be the first impression you have on prospective customers. So it needs to have a good impact. Make it as easy as possible for your customer to achieve the goal they set out to do when they went to your site. This could be to find out your address, to make an appointment or learn more about your offerings. Don’t overcomplicate the content and structure of your website. Keep it simple and make sure it flows between key areas.
- Meet the pain points of a customer – by having a localised strategy and well-structured website, you will help meet the pain points of your customer as you are enabling them to find an answer to their problems. For example, they might search for an eye doctor near me. If you show as a top result, providing the service they need, you have helped lead them to the next stage in their customer journey. This could be to make an appointment, which you can facilitate by having a clear call to action and easy booking system.
Top Tip: Not sure why or how a customer came to your website or visited your practice? Have a conversation with them and ask some simple questions like: “Can you walk me through how you found us?” and “Did you find what you were looking for on our website?”. They might have some great insights about how you can improve the customer journey. This is the best way to get instant feedback and fully understand how well your website is performing.
It is evident that these key elements will help draw new prospects to your practice, depending on what they require and whether you can offer it. But they won’t know what you can offer unless you make it clear and put in the effort to rank well for relevant searches.
The impact of social media
If you can’t invest in SEO and a well-structured website, at least consider developing a presence on social media. This medium will open up new avenues in several ways:
It’s unlikely that any eye care practitioner provides their services to the entire local population, therefore there is always potential to gain new customers. Social allows you to build a brand voice for your practice, through content marketing. As a general rule, it is best to have a combination of earned (user-generated content – pictures/testimonials etc.), owned (content about the products and services you offer etc.) and paid media (adverts on social media). This balance – particularly integrating earned media into the mix – helps build a more relatable brand and provides ways for potential customers to connect to you beyond the doctor/patient relationship. Investing in paid – creating an advert and specifically targeting it toward a defined audience can also be highly rewarding. In particular, this helps build awareness about your practice in the location you decide to target.
Develop Brand Voice
Having a social media presence – be it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – allows you to build a brand voice for your practice. This could be achieved by tapping into lifestyle trends that your target audience aspire to. For example, mums will be interested in the wellbeing of their family but also relate to humour directed at parents or mothers. By posting content that is not directly related to your business, you are breaking down the barrier of communication and connecting with your audience on a new level. This is what opens up opportunities.
Nowadays, customers have high expectations from brands. And healthcare is no exception. A website that reflects a professional and modern practice speaks for itself and will have a huge impact on attracting new customers but also retaining them if the service provided is of the same level. It will also demonstrate that you have more interest than just fitting a quota of patients in lenses every day.
In order for any digital marketing to be effective, you need to know your audience. Is there a particular modality you want to expand your practice in? Is there a particular demographic you want to tap into that you haven’t already? It could be ortho-k, it could be sclerals. Think about what kind of patient these lenses are relevant to. Parents with myopic patients? Great. Now put yourself in their shoes. What kind of imagery and messaging will get their attention and allow a connection to be formed? That’s the content you need to post and share on social media, and if those people are not a part of your audience you should consider investing in paid promotions and target these people specifically.
Digital marketing is a matter of trial and error. Any goals you wish to achieve through digital marketing should be guided by your practice goals (such as increasing the number of scleral fittings) and reflected in the products and services you provide. There is no definitive guide to implementing digital marketing techniques that will work for everyone, as it depends on the needs of your audience and the market you aim to expand in. Therefore, the best way is to be flexible in your digital strategy and spend time learning what is working and what isn’t, and adjust your plan accordingly.
For any advice or assistance on how to achieve success with digital marketing, please get in touch. I am happy to answer any questions!