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The development of consumer-oriented technology has dominated the hearing marketplace in recent years—making wearables, hearables, smartphone connectivity, hearing apps, and other smart devices more commonly expected from patients. Likewise, the demand for more sophisticated and modern marketing strategies from hearing healthcare providers has also risen. Gone are days where ‘product, price, place, and promotion’ is the ultimate marketing framework. The most proactive and savvy hearing professionals are actively finding new patients using the current trends in marketing and patient care to rise above the competition. Let’s take a look at those trends and why they’re working.

Digital First

Digital media has completely outpaced traditional media as the first choice for marketing. It’s not hard to see why: Digital marketing is less expensive, faster to launch, easier to modify, gives more rapid results, and offers detailed data on the effectiveness of any one campaign, creating a much better return on investment (ROI) across the board. For marketing hearing healthcare services, digital marketing is the new frontier of accessing a formerly-difficult-to-reach audience of people with untreated hearing issues. With Baby Boomers being the fastest growing population on social media, you better believe they’re browsing other sites worth their time online. Digital marketing is how you prove your website should be one of them.

The Market is Mobile

No business sector is immune to the dire need for a website optimized for a mobile audience. Ensuring that your practice’s website is mobile-friendly may not at first seem like an imperative marketing move—until you realize that your website’s traffic will largely be determined by this one key facet of your overall online marketing plan. With over 77% of American adults owning a smartphone, and studies showing that they spend more time each day on their phones than even watching television (with an average of more than two hours per day), it’s no surprise that search engines like Google have decided to penalize websites that are not mobile-friendly by ranking them lower in search results. Having a website that’s optimized for mobile screens means the most important information will be front and center, the interface will be clean and intuitive, and the website will load quickly (i.e. optimized for wireless connections).

The New King

“Content is King” has been the mantra of digital marketers for over a decade. Creating valuable content as a way to increase organic traffic to your website continues to be a critical element of a complete digital strategy (which we talk more in-depth about here and here) and should not be ignored. But an evolution of that content is also underway. What began simply as useful written content, has evolved to include eye-catching images, graphics, and video media. These are the visual elements that make a piece of content more shareable on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the like. And this is precisely where the throne might be experiencing a hand-off. Social media activity continues to skyrocket, and companies have taken note. Healthcare practices are wise to implement a social strategy and to shape their content around it’s “shareability.” For 2018, it appears that social media is becoming the new “king,” and content might be the new “queen.”

Get Personal

The opportunity available in the digital realm is no secret, despite the fact that hearing practice owners have generally been slow to adapt their marketing strategies to the rising trends. The result of this growing awareness is a crowded marketplace where sincerity and innovation succeed in gaining the fleeting attention of online users. Glossy ads and picture-perfect images no longer get the appeal they once did in marketing tactics—and your practice’s online image is no exception. Consumers have been revealing an ever-growing preference for authenticity and relatability in the companies they choose to interact with, online or in-person. Social media has much to do with this shift, providing a platform for a more personal and transparent interaction with potential customers. The most effective campaigns online reflect this trend of a more personal approach by gracefully weaving storytelling, vulnerability, and often a bit of humor together to reflect the brand’s “humanness.”

As a hearing professional, your opportunities for storytelling are vast. Whether you share accounts of your own journey through a hearing issue, or how you helped a patient in need (anonymously or with permission), giving a peek into the details about the people behind the practice can go a long way in developing a trustworthy and approachable impression online.

Go Live

In 2017, we highlighted the need for more use of video as a medium for content distribution, as research continues to reveal its increasing appeal. It’s simple: more people click on social media posts with video content, and the second largest search engine worldwide is YouTube. Video also allows online viewers to get a quick sense of your authenticity, personability, and knowledge—key elements of effective content marketing.

While the reasons to get on camera continue to rise, it appears that 2018 may indeed be the year of “going live” instead of pre-recording those informative video clips. The introduction of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories (two avenues for publishing your live videos) has revealed a fresh way to access more viewers on either platform. On Facebook, while the number of users is greater than ever, organic reach is down due to changes in their algorithms for what users see in their feeds. However, the reach for live videos remains high, and those videos are accessible long after the live recording is finished—adding valuable content to your Facebook business page. This trend also echoes the sentiment of the previous one: the more real, the better.

Back to the Basics

While not exactly a new trend for 2018, the quality of your website’s design and user flow continues to rise in importance as the Internet becomes more crowded. The unfathomable amount of websites online has created a sophisticated Internet user with high expectations. Surveys reveal that your website needs to capture visitors’ appeal within the first 10 seconds to keep them from clicking onward, never to return. Efficient, intuitive, and sleek website design are the first steps toward this goal. Filling your pages with engaging and useful content is a close runner-up.

 

Taking a look at the trends of 2018 for the hearing healthcare marketplace is like looking at a landscape of possibility. Your target market is online in numbers like never before, and your competitors have been slow to really harness the power that online marketing holds. Incorporating even a few of the above strategies for your practice could mean a finish to the year like you’ve never seen before.

At AudiologyPlus, we specialize in simplifying the process of getting your practice found online. Our 20+ years in the hearing industry have shaped the digital solutions we build and the client satisfaction we’re known for.

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