Asian woman holding credit card and using laptop for online shopping while making orders. internet, technology, ecommerce and online payment concept

How eCommerce Will Grow Your Audiology Practice – Guide

eCommerce is short for “electronic commerce,” which is the buying and selling of goods (or services) on the internet. So, put simply, eCommerce = growth.

According to eCommerce expert Gary Hoover, his research shows that just in the last 14 years, the growth of ecommerce companies has skyrocketed across the board. And it doesn’t stop there; growth projections estimate that by 2022, ecommerce revenues will exceed $638 billion in the U.S. alone.

Now, you may be thinking, “I am an Audiologist and eCommerce doesn’t apply to me.” Well, you are wrong.

How to Start

Shopping online used to be a convenience and a luxury, now – it’s a necessity.

Even before you set-up your ecommerce store, you need to make sure you protect yourself legally and get your finances in order because proper marketing to sell products is crucial; that is how you start building your store.

Building an ecommerce business takes more than just selling products online. Even the best business ideas can flop if you aren’t driving enough traffic to your site. So, first you will need to:

1.    Do your research

Growing any online business is an investment. As an Audiologist, you have your eCommerce niche already laid out. You will likely be selling things like ear wax cleaning kits, dry store kits and hearing aid maintenance tools, just to name a few, but before you decide on what to sell online, you need to understand the different business models available. If you want to turn a profit without touching your product or investing heavily at the start, drop shipping is a smart choice (when you utilize drop shipping, you don’t need to carry any product in-house; it goes directly from the supplier to the customer).

2.    Determine your buyer persona

Who are you selling to? What does the store represent? Who are your ideal customers? You need to project a consistent brand image from start to finish.

3.    Finalize your business plan

So, you have your target market, your product niche and your brand name. Now you need to put your business plan on paper and determine your startup budget and monthly expenses. The business planning phase is also when you want to iron out details like:

Responsibilities – Is your staff responsible for different eCommerce responsibilities? And if yes, who does what?

Product sourcing – What products do you want to sell? Where are your products coming from?

Logistics – How will these products get fulfilled? Do you have a partner you’d like to work with to get orders filled? How will they be shipped? What is the sales tax? Will you sell to anyone who discovers your eCommerce store or just to patients?

Marketing budget – You will need to get the word out about your online store, so how will you notify current and potential patients? How will you push products?

If you build it there’s no guarantee they’ll come. You need to market your store. Some additional questions to consider include:

  • Will you use sponsored content, social media, pay-per-click ads, or a combination of strategies?
  • How will you monitor what campaigns are driving traffic to your store?
  • If marketing your site seems overwhelming, will you hire help?

Marketing can be overwhelming because there are a lot of things to figure out. We get it; your mission is to sell products, not worry about driving traffic. But if you want to sell more and expand your reach, online marketing is incredibly necessary to meet that goal.

4.    Create your online store

Once you’ve figured out the legalities for your ecommerce business and started thinking about design, you need to decide if you want to add your store to your current website or get a new site with another domain name (and any redirect URLs that might be relevant).

Remember, you will you’re your brand to carry throughout your ecommerce store, so choosing the right ecommerce software is not easy. There are literally hundreds of ecommerce shopping cart platforms. You need to carefully evaluate things like loading speed, features, compatibility with different payment gateways, compatibility with your business structure, your web developer skills, SEO-friendly features, and more. You may consider looking through some templated themes for an online store, which can work, but it may be wise to hire a developer to make sure there are no issues in the buyer journey (browsing, cart addition, check-out, purchase and tracking).

eCommerce and Audiology

The first step to building an ecommerce business is knowing what products you want to sell to your patients. This often is the most challenging part of starting a new online business because you may be questioning things like, what are the products you can sell and how you will get inventory. There are also more finite details like sales tax and return policies that can get more complicated.

But it can be done.

As consumer demand for online purchasing surges, audiology professionals should capitalize. Instead of having patients drop into order supplies, why not have them order them through your website? eCommerce can provide several benefits: 

  1. Increased revenue

By allowing patients to purchase through your website, you open your business to new revenue opportunities. This can serve as primary, or passive, income depending on how you want to approach it.  

With OTCs on the horizon, it’s also a great opportunity for your business to profit from these new products. 

  1. Reduction of in-office visitors

Reduced “drop-ins” and non-revenue-generating activities are more important than ever, especially with sanitation requirements. E-commerce lets patients order safely from home, keeping your office time dedicated to new patients. 

  1. Improved search rankings

eCommerce offers SEO (Search Engine Optimization) benefits that can boost your website’s rankings in search engines. The more active you are, the more likely your products will appear in patient searches. 

  1. Better patient service

By providing home delivery supply options, you serve your patients better, keeping them loyal and engaged with your business. 

eCommerce can be complicated, but with the right solution you can engage more customers than before.  

.Shop

Your clinic can sell products to anyone, anywhere, any time with .Shop. With full mobile compatibility, buyers can access your store on-the-go or from the comforts of their own home. You can use a single dashboard to view and manage inventory, orders and reports anywhere you go. Add or edit products and keep your store up to date. You can offer an unlimited number of products and customize your offerings. .Shop can scale with your business no matter how many products you want to sell. 

Female Patient Being Reassured By Doctor In Hospital Room

How Do You Bring More Patients to Your Practice?

The definition of online presence is a combination of things including a strong website with an active blog, social media pages, online ads and reviews. But there is a lot more that needs to be considered when creating, supporting and managing your online presence.

Now, more than ever, your website’s user experience (UX) matters and this is especially true in the competitive healthcare industry. When someone arrives at your website, they are expecting answers to their questions and if you fail to meet their expectations, they’ll leave. Not only do you miss the opportunity to convert a lead, but you may also even damage your brand’s reputation in the process.

Establish an (Active) Online Presence

If you aren’t online, chances are many patients will not know you exist. It is important to make sure that your website is beautifully designed, easy to use, informative of why your practice is best, and finally, mobile-responsive.

According to Oberlo, about 90.4% of millennials, 48.2% of baby boomers, and 77.5% of Gen Xers use social media platforms. In 2020, more doctors will use social media to communicate with potential patients.

But an online presence is not just simply a modern-looking website. You will also want to make sure you:

  • Submit your practice to online directories
  • List your practice on Google
  • Create a profile on major review sites
  • Utilize social media marketing and have a strategy to reach your audience

Savvy healthcare providers are thinking beyond websites and developing innovative resources to meet their patient’s needs.

Post on Your Blog Regularly

It’s no secret that when people get sick, they go online to figure out what might be the problem. Typically, they’ll enter their symptoms in the search tool and see if there are any suggestions offering a solution. If you want to attract more patients, you must create helpful, high-quality content that answers patients’ medical questions.

A blog allows current and potential patients to see how you approach things like frequently asked questions, treatment approaches, and services that they may not know much about. You can also use a blog to post about any new updates to your practice, any upcoming events or anything else that you consider “newsworthy.” A blog is a very efficient and effective way to provide information to your local audience – and no, you don’t need to post on it every day; twice a month is enough! But you may find yourself posting more if there is more information that needs to be released.

Manage Your Business Profiles

As a healthcare provider, you should claim your business accounts online. Now, there are a variety of places where you can have a business listing. There are also important business profiles such as:

  • Google Business profile
  • Yelp
  • Happy Hearing Care
  • Healthy Hearing
  • Health Grades
  • And more!

First, you need to ensure your Google My Business account information is accurate. Potential patients who are searching for the services you provide may not click through to your website – instead, they may decide to call to schedule an appointment directly.  You will want to make it as easy as possible for them to click to call your office. Or if you change your hours, you need to update the information, so people know when you are open. If you offer more accessible options such as tele-audiology or ecommerce, you will want to make sure those services are mentioned so it comes up in the search.

Once you claim your business pages, you will be able to manage your information efficiently and make sure your patients can find you!

Reputation Management and Reviews

People are always searching online to learn about your brand before deciding to work with you. Just as a positive online reputation can earn you more customers, a negative online reputation can deter them. Many businesses are turning to online reputation management companies to maintain their positive reputations or repair negative ones.

You may not think you have enough reviews to make an impact on your business, but do you know where your reviews are? If you have a negative review on a platform you don’t actively manage, it may be sitting there, unaddressed.

If you aren’t very active on social media (or not at all active on social media), you are also missing a whole slew of reviews that could be online about your business. Social media monitoring for your reviews and reputation is also very important.

Some things to consider about reviews and how you approach them:

  • What if your product/service sparks criticism?
  • What if your employees are not social media savvy?
  • What if your competitors are more active online than you are?

So, what are people saying about your business? It is important to take a proactive approach. Monitoring your public reputation on a regular basis, and not just when you come to know about a specific event to deal with. Monitoring your business’s online reputation can be both DIY (Google Alert is an example of a free web monitoring tool accessible to anyone) and professional, depending on the size of the business involved.

Utilizing Pay-Per-Click

PPC (pay-per-click) marketing is a form of online advertising in which advertisers accrue costs when users click their ads. Advertisers bid on the perceived value of a click in relation to the keywords, platforms, and audience type in which it originates.

As its name suggests, you pay each time your ad is clicked. Google AdWords is the most popular ad network when it comes to PPC, but there are also other alternatives you can consider that may offer cheaper, and sometimes more effective, options.

When you type a search query into Google, the search engines provide two sets of results: organic results and sponsored results. Typically, the first few results on the left are sponsored results (indicated by the small green square around the word “Ad,” and the “Sponsored” label). All other page results are organic results or results that have not been paid for.

If you are looking for a simplified answer of how to get started with PPC advertising, it can be summed up into a seemingly easy three-step process:

  1. Choose the keyword you want to advertise for, purchase it, and create an ad to display.
  2. Target audience types in a search query using the keyword you chose. They see your product and click it (hopefully they like it and purchase it).
  3. You are charged for the click. When you want to stop your campaign, simply stop purchasing and your ads will disappear.

It’s important to remember that your results with PPC advertising rely heavily on how well you plan and optimize your campaign. If your campaign is improperly set up, your efforts could cost a lot of money with little to no return.

What You Can Deliver and Anticipate Now

As patients search habits shift, it’s essential for your practice to position itself where they are. That means going beyond a website and creating a holistic digital ecosystem that amplifies your message and services. And this means being accessible to patient wherever they, or you, are.

Telehealth & E-Commerce 

At this point, healthcare consumers demand excellent customer service and experiences because they’re fed up with long waits, confusing medical information, and poor communication. If you want to grow your practice, you must be able to deliver exceptional patient experiences because your practice’s reputation—and future—depends on it. Telehealth and eCommerce offer a win/win solution for you and your patients; It is an excellent solution for people who need more accessible options and you can treat more patients, expand your reach and target more areas.

Remote services offer new marketability options for your business. By increasing accessibility, you can capture more patients.

Social Media Management 

No matter your industry or business or what you post, you must be conversational. Social media etiquette can get lost behind a screen, but at the end of the day, all social media channels are built on conversations. Picture a few members of your target audience as you create content: what do you want to tell them? Avoid constant sales pitches or you’ll quickly be perceived as spammy. And don’t be afraid to show some personality! We’ve talked before about the importance of every business having a story and a voice.

More and more users are flocking to social media to engage with businesses. By having a sound social media strategy that covers multiple platforms, you can increase followers, engage with existing patients, and showcase yourself as a thought-leader in your market. By maintaining an active presence on social platforms, you will be sustaining a low-cost way to engage with patients and raise brand awareness among prospects.

Search Engine Advertising 

As social media grows, so does the advertising opportunity. But just throwing an ad on Facebook and sending them to your website won’t suffice. It’s about taking the patient on a journey from discovery to consideration and conversion, creating a singular exit point – contacting your business. 

Although it sounds like a lot, expanding your business virtually doesn’t need to be difficult. With the right solutions you can automate your office, take back non-revenue generating time, and increase patient accessibility all while reducing overhead.  

We know how important your patients are, and attracting your patients online is the bridge that will reconnect you. Whether your doors are open or closed, integrating virtual practices into your regular business practices ensures you will be able to offer your services regardless of the circumstances. If a patient can’t travel into your office for their appointment, virtual appointments help solve their transportation problem. If your patient needs supplies, they can easily buy them through your website. Plus, you can expand your business by offering virtual appointments to individuals who live remotely and don’t have a local practitioner available to them. 

A new world requires a new way of doing business. Position your practice to not just survive but thrive.

Woman doctor having video call with patients on laptop, online consultation concept.

Efficient and Effective Virtual Practice Management

If you are interested in creating a virtual environment to increase productivity and efficiency, then you have come to the right place!

Offering virtual options to your patients will revolutionize your business. A recent survey has shown that audiologists feel the COVID-19 lockdown has brought about some beneficial changes to care of patients with hearing problems. The study, published in the International Journal of Audiology, estimates that between May 29, 2020 and June 15, 2020, just 5% of face to face audiology appointments took place in the UK. Many of the appointments were replaced by ‘telecare’ or ‘remote care’. Most of the telecare appointments did not hinder their ability to provide audiological care using standard procedures.

So, how do you get started? What do you need to do?

This guide will take you through the virtual practice management process – and don’t worry, it is much easier to navigate than you may think!

What is a “Virtual Practice”?

A virtual practice can be easily described as a practice that conducts healthcare visits from anywhere over a smart device (like a computer or smartphone). Telehealth is a collection of virtual communication tools used to deliver health care services. Its primary advantage lies in creating opportunities for various types of provider-patient interaction that do not require in-person visits; so, convenience is key.

Adopting the latest telehealth initiatives can help your practice achieve numerous benefits, like:

  • Lowering healthcare costs
  • Increasing efficiency and revenue
  • Providing your patients better access to healthcare services

This all leads to happier, healthier patients who stay in your practice!

According to the National Business Group on Health, approximately 96 percent of large practices were planning to offer telehealth services, and it is because telehealth has countless benefits. And to top it off, Dr. Adam Licurse described in the Harvard Business Review how a virtual visit pilot program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital yielded a 97% satisfaction rate among patients, with 74% stating “that the interaction actually improved their relationship with their provider.”

Whether you currently have a telehealth service implemented into your practice’s business or are looking at your options, this guide will help you to understand how you run an efficient and effective virtual practice.

1.    Select a Virtual Platform That Meets Your Practice’s Needs

When you decide to deploy telehealth, you will want to make sure you do your research. Not all telehealth platforms are created equal and it is very important for you to have an option that includes features that enhance your specific practice as an audiologist. So, for example, what works for a cardiologist or an oncologist may not work for you. You need a platform that has:

  • HIPAA-compliant audio and video 
  • Mobile and desktop compatibility
  • Ultra-secure network 
  • Provider scheduling 
  • Self-guided set-up and training or white-glove set-up and training 
  • EHR/OMS integration 

And some platforms offer even more, like:

  • Automated patient notifications with AI (artificial intelligence)
  • Virtual, in-office, and kiosk visit workflows 
  • Branding for your business 
  • Patient self-scheduling 
  • Automated patient intake forms 
  • Integrated payment processing 
  • Secure messaging and file sharing 
  • Integration and product support 

2.    Book Your Virtual Visits

Once you adopt a virtual platform, it’s so important to embrace it! Going more virtual may seem intimidating but there is support that can help you navigate your new telehealth dashboard. Some additional things you should consider are:

  • Who will book the visit? (Your office or the patient through an online portal that has access to your calendar of availability?)
  • How are consults going to begin?
  • Does the patient need to call and check-in?
  • Will you have a virtual waiting room?
  • Are you planning on sending out individual consult links?
  • Will someone in your office contact the patient ahead of time to set-up the visit for the practitioner on the computer?

You will also want to cover:

  • Visit notes

During an in-person visit, you usually take notes; well, the same applies here. Charting the patient encounter for video consults is very much the same as an in-person visit. Consider standardizing a method for recording that the consult was conducted over video. 

  • Sending paperwork

How are important documents such as prescription, lab, and imaging going to be transferred? Does the patient need to have access to a printer? Do they need any intake forms?

  • Billing

Will your patients be paying out of pocket? Will their visits be covered by an insurance provider? If their appointments are covered by insurance, determine the process for submitting claims.

Depending on what you decide, consider discussing payment options with patients prior to their virtual visit. 

  • Follow-up appointments

How will the patients arrange a follow-up visit? You may want to get them to commit during their virtual visit. Consider booking the next appointments at the end of each virtual visit to save time and help keep patients compliant.

3.    Communicate Your New Service With Your Patients

Your patients are probably not aware that you are offering telehealth as an option to receive care (unless you have done a formal announcement). Email addresses can be used to communicate virtual care services to patients, and depending on the virtual care tool, can be useful for sending out the virtual visit URL to patients. You will also want to collect (or confirm) the phone numbers you have as mobile numbers; they are useful to communicate with patients in case of any issues with the virtual visit, or to ensure that they are ready for their visit.

You will also want to add a banner or some type of visual announcement to your website so that anyone who visits your website will be aware of your virtual service offerings. Plus, if a potential patient does a search like “audiology telehealth,” Google will pull sites that mention “audiology” and “telehealth.”

4.    Create a Regular Time Block Specifically Dedicated to Telehealth

Telehealth may be completely foreign to you and that is ok; anything that is new takes some getting used to.

A way to ease yourself into telehealth is to create a time block during your work week where you will schedule virtual appointments. So, for example, maybe on Wednesdays from 1:00pm to 5:00pm, you have your schedule blocked out just for telehealth. Or you can commit a few days of the week to telehealth – you can easily create a schedule that works best for your needs.

Whether you use telehealth because you need to have more flexibility and a means to support your practice from anywhere or you just want to accommodate patients who can’t come in to your office and are outside of your area, telehealth is a very welcome option to practitioners and patients alike.

5.    Delegate Different Responsibilities in the Telehealth System

It is very important to get your staff (or even a single staff member) up to speed on your chosen telehealth software. You may want to designate a few key employees who can become immersed in the process and teach others about how it works. Or you may want to designate specific roles to each employee and assign them features that will be part of their job duties. For example:

  • Your receptionist is responsible for reaching out to current patients and scheduling appointments.
  • Your office manager is responsible for billing and processing payments.
  • Your healthcare tech is responsible for sending applicable information and updating patient records.

6.    Addressing Problems

With any new service, sometimes you encounter unexpected “speed-bumps.” Here’s how to navigate some telehealth issues that may arise: 

Reimbursement 

Getting reimbursed for telehealth services can prove problematic for healthcare providers. 

To overcome these types of financial obstacles, it helps to have a reimbursement plan that includes using technology to track expenses for reimbursement claims. You can employ a platform that keeps track of these expenses so you can properly document receipts required by payers, while keeping up to date on insurers’ allowable reimbursements. 

Lack of Integration 

If your Electronic Health Records (EHR) system doesn’t coordinate with the telehealth platform you’re using, you likely will complicate your workflow records.  

By using a platform that integrates with your EHR, you can record your established workflow and ensure your patients’ virtual visits are properly documented and updated for future visits. 

Lack of Sufficient Patient Data 

A lack of platform integration can also interrupt continuity of care. For example, if you have a new patient who received care (in-person or through telehealth) elsewhere, it may be difficult to retrieve their information. The best solution is to inquire where your patient previously received telehealth services, including those created at hospitals and providers with other medical facilities. 

Service Awareness 

If your patients aren’t aware of your telehealth services, then it won’t get used. And if your employees aren’t aware that you are using telehealth, that is another missed opportunity to increase overall efficiency. That’s why it’s important to plan to have some type of launch to get the word out, whether it be through email newsletters, social media, or your blog (if your practice includes one). Word of mouth is also never a bad thing – tell all your patients as you speak to them.

Patients’ Lack of Technical Skills 

When patients don’t understand how to use telehealth services, it naturally makes things more difficult and limit accessibility. It’s a good idea to give patients a brief run-down of what to expect when using telehealth (like an email or text message notification, joining the call via video, or having a friend or family member assist with set-up when the appointment is occurring). 

It’s equally important to train your staff on using your telehealth equipment, so they also can help patients who require assistance. 

With a virtual option, you will be able to increase revenue, serve more patients, and grow your healthcare practice.

Social media and digital online concept, woman using smartphone and show technology icon.

Developing and Executing a Social Media Strategy

In today’s digital world, your business’s social media presence isn’t just “extra” marketing activity. It is a powerful way to extend and support your patients. But there is a small catch; utilizing social media strategically, especially for small businesses, can fall far down the list of marketing priorities.

According to Oberlo, there are 3.5 billion active daily social media users worldwide, and that number is only growing. And here is an interesting fact: Users 65 and older are the fastest growing group on Facebook, so having a Facebook business page is a must. But there is crucial information about social media that you should know as a healthcare professional.

Maintaining an active presence on social platforms is a low-cost way to engage with patients and raise brand awareness among prospects. However, don’t treat each social media platform as a stand-alone medium; use all of them together to drive traffic to specific pages on your website.

Choosing the Right Platform(s)

It can be tempting to sign up for every social media platform out there. Instead, pick two to three channels to start with. For the hearing health industry, your target patient is more likely to be found on Facebook than LinkedIn. Depending on any specialties you support or the community you are in, you may have prospects that are more, or less likely to be on platforms like Instagram or Twitter.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s your vision? Your voice?
  • What products or services do you offer?
  • What’s your message and how can you best convey it?

Keep this in mind: It’s always easier to scale up than scale back, and that includes social media marketing. If you start with too many channels at once, you risk fragmenting your message and not having enough time to devote to each platform. Social media marketing, like digital marketing, is an ongoing work in progress. You’ll always be testing, analyzing and refining. After several months, you may realize a particular social media channel isn’t working for your business. At that point, step away from that channel and pivot to another one.

You may be surprised to learn that there are two major platforms that you probably aren’t utilizing that can easily take your practice to the next level.

YouTube and Pinterest

YouTube can be a very powerful learning tool, as they add a dynamic element to your business. You may feel a little intimidated to create videos yourself but think about all the potential these helpful videos can offer. Video sharing can also provide unlimited opportunities to enhance your business and brand awareness.

Pinterest is not just for home décor and fashion. It is a social platform where people can find inspiration and ideas for their interests and other hobbies. Every idea is represented by a Pin, which is an image that is searched and saved to Pinterest boards. Pins can also link back to websites, which is why Pinterest is great for driving traffic and sales.

Finding Your Audience

As you decide which social media channels to activate, it’s important to understand where your audience spends time. Many social media marketing resources take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. That’s a helpful starting point but paying attention to your customers and prospects is what will help you succeed. If you host any focus groups with members of your target audience, ask a question or two about what social media channels they use and where they enjoy hearing from businesses.

Another tip? Keep a close eye on your analytics. Use Google Analytics to monitor social media traffic to your website. Most social media platforms will also provide built-in insights. Make a point to regularly look at your data, which will not only tell you what type of content is performing well, but also where your audience is interacting with your business.

Consistency is Key

Unforeseen circumstances can prevent you from posting consistently.  You’re busy running your business and suddenly it’s been two weeks since you’ve posted on Facebook or any of your other social pages.

On the other hand, you don’t want to post for the sake of posting, which is why so much of social media marketing is about balance. To help ensure a consistent posting schedule, try these two things:

  • Gather content before you launch. If you haven’t yet activated your social channels, take a few days to gather content before you go live. Create an easily accessible file on a tool like Dropbox or Google Drive where you can stash photos, videos, and other visual assets. Then, pair those with the holy grail of social media marketing: an editorial calendar.
  • Build an editorial calendar. You’re going to be creating a lot of content, including for your social media channels. Building a calendar can help keep you organized and ensure you’re hitting all of your messaging pillars. You don’t need to start with anything fancy — you can build a simple spreadsheet in Excel or in Google Sheets so that you can share it with your team. Include quick content notes on your calendar — do you have products to feature? A sale or promotion to share? If you’re also blogging, you’ll want to be sure to share all your blogs on your social media channels so that you drive people back to your website. If you get stuck creating content, look at what other businesses in your industry are doing. Are there widely used hashtags like #TBT (Throwback Thursday) that you could personalize to your company? Or look up silly national holidays that you can potentially tie into your product or service. Creating social content really does get easier. As you find your groove, you’ll start to see ideas and inspiration all around you.

Put The ‘Social’ in Social Media

No matter your industry or business or what you post, remember this: be conversational. Social etiquette can get lost behind a screen, but at the end of the day, all social media channels are built on conversations. Picture a few members of your target audience as you create content: what do you want to tell them? Avoid constant sales pitches or you’ll quickly be perceived as spammy. And don’t be afraid to show some personality! We’ve talked before about the importance of every business having a story and a voice.

Announcements, contests, helpful tips, articles, and product promotions are all great ways to encourage followers to interact with your business on social media. And whichever platform you’re on, be sure to manage patient feedback — especially negative feedback. This is crucial to maintaining your brand’s reputation, as well as providing your patients with the personal interaction they desire.

An open dialog with your patients could also encourage them to directly raise any problems they may have with your product or service. This is a good thing, as it gives you a chance to resolve such difficulties before they escalate into issues that result in patients taking their business elsewhere.

The more effort you put into engaging your social followers, the more you’ll reap as a result. Your social media channels are the perfect place to show people who your company is, why it exists and why they should do business with you.

Third Party Tools

There’s no shortage of tools to help you manage and optimize your social channels. To track the performance of links in a place besides Google Analytics, try a link shortener like Bit.ly, which will save your links and show you data like clicks, referrers and geographic location.

Management tools like Loomly, Buffer, and Meet Edgar automate functions like scheduling and can be a big help, especially if you’re struggling to find enough time to manage your social media. One note about scheduling: remember what you have scheduled and what it says. If, for example, a national tragedy strikes, it’s a good idea to disable any schedule posts to prevent being perceived as insensitive or dismissive to what’s happening.

To easily create polished graphics that are sized for a specific social platform, try using apps like Canva or WordSwag. For more in-depth photo editing, Snapseed is a robust option (also an app).

Need help? Ask!

There will likely become a point when social media management becomes too much for you or your team. In that case, consider outsourcing your social media marketing to a solo contractor or an agency. You can set up parameters for reviewing content prior to publication or attend regular meetings to discuss strategy and results. Be sure to carefully vet your prospective vendors and, if possible, equip your vendor with brand and messaging guidelines to help ensure consistency. And if you discontinue a vendor’s services, be sure to change your social media passwords ASAP so that you know who has access to your accounts.

Here’s a final tip: if you haven’t yet fully developed your brand and marketing, you’ll want to do that before you dive into social media management. Your social channels should be a reflection and extension of your brand, which is why it’s so important to start with a larger marketing strategy.

Keywords in Your Blogging Strategy

How to Use Keywords in Your Blogging Strategy (And 4 More Blogging Success Tips)

If you have done any research on web marketing in the last 10 years or so, you have probably heard that blogging can be a great addition to your practice’s online marketing toolbox. And that’s true!
While blogging sounds easy enough, however, it should not be started without a true plan or strategy. It can be a simple and robust part of your online marketing, but like any other part of your marketing plan, you should have a strategy mapped out and in place for your blog.
One powerful way to harness the opportunities that come with blogging is to use keywords in your blogging strategy. Here are a few easy tips to get you started on creating your own blogging keyword strategy:

  • Understand what keywords really are.

Your blog can gain more traffic when people from search engines like Google find your blog and read your posts. To acquire this type of search engine traffic, your blog needs to include keywords. These keywords are the search queries that are typed (or spoken) to a search engine, such as Google. Basically, the keyword is the “question” the searcher is asking. Your job is to provide the answer in your blog.

  • Select specific keywords to target in your blog article.

One of the best ways to choose keywords to use in your blogging is to consider what types of questions your ideal audience will be asking. To do this, you need to have an idea of who your ideal audience is (such as a typical new patient). Think about what someone might be searching for when they find your blog and what answers they need. As a hearing professional, some important keywords might be centered on terms like “hearing loss,” “hearing aids,” “hearing health care,” and so on.
When selecting your keywords, you can also use online tools that evaluate keywords, suggest similar ones, and display each keyword’s “difficulty score.” If your blog is relatively new, it is probably best to aim for keywords with a lower difficulty score.

  • Incorporate your chosen keywords in your blogging.

Back when search engines were fairly new, all you needed to do to rank for a certain keyword was to use it many times on your page. However, those days are over. Google and other search engines are smarter now, and they have developed ways to assess not only whether you include certain keywords in your blog, but also how well you actually answer the question that the keyword poses.
So, to make sure your blog ranks well on search engine results pages, focus more on answering the question than simply repeating the keyword. One useful way to think about this is to search for existing pages that currently rank well for a keyword you would like to target, and then think about how you could make your own page better than that one.
With these simple tips, you are well on your way to effectively using keywords in your blogging strategy.
As a bonus, here a few more ways to make sure your blog is a success:

  • Be consistent. Do not start and stop blogging. Publish new articles on a regular schedule (even just once or twice a week), and do not allow your blog to go dormant.
  • Make sure each blog article has a certain number of words. This number is up to you. In recent years, marketing research has shown that longer blog articles (think 1,800 words or more) tend to do better in search engine results. However, many blogs still rank well with 500-800 words per article.
  • Include images. Very few people want to click on a link for a blog article and be hit with a wall of text. Break up the text with relevant images for some visual variety.
  • Encourage interaction. Invite your readers to leave comments or connect with you on social media. When you do receive comments or messages, be sure to reply to them. You want people to engage with your blog, and therefore your practice.

For more great information about how to make your blogging strategy a success, we encourage you to contact AudiologyPlus today.

PPC Campaigns and budgeting

The Basics of Budgeting for PPC Campaigns

If you are working on growing your business online, there are likely a lot of moving parts that go into your marketing strategy. You have your website, a blog, social media accounts, ads on social media, email marketing campaigns, and more.
You may also use PPC (pay-per-click) marketing. In this model of marketing, you can run online ads and pay when someone clicks on your ad. This can increase the traffic to your website, which can, in turn, lead to new patients visiting your practice.
While PPC seems like a straightforward (and worthwhile) concept upfront, there are a lot of smaller decisions that go into running a PPC campaign. For example, you need to choose the keywords and phrases you want to target, what time your ads will run, and how big of a budget you want to allocate to PPC.
If you have been wondering how to know what kind of budget is necessary for a successful PPC campaign, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Do some basic math.

The most basic way to determine the right monthly budget for your PPC campaign is to divide your total budget by the campaign duration. For example, if you want to spend $15,000 on PPC in the first quarter of the year, it comes out to $5,000 per month. If you want to focus more heavily on the first month of the quarter, you could increase the first month’s budget to $7,000, leaving $4,000 for each of the remaining months of the quarter.

  • Set clear goals.

Your goals do not need to be complicated. Your goal may be as simple as increasing your practice’s revenue, improving awareness of your practice brand, or driving more traffic to your website or social media pages. Once you are clear on your goals, you can better understand where to spend your budget.

  • Define targets within your goal.

You are less likely to achieve a big goal, even if it is a good goal if you do not know how to reach it. That is why you should define targets within your goal.
For example, if you want to increase your practice’s revenue by a certain amount, break down how many new patients you will need to reach that revenue goal. This will give you a target number for how many leads you want to gain from PPC and your other marketing practices. Your target should be measurable and relatively achievable, yet still challenging.

  • Evaluate your past PPC efforts.

If you have run PPC campaigns in the past, use these to inform your current efforts. If you see that certain keywords, times of day, or other tactics work best, put your money there. If you do not have any past PPC campaigns to look back on, give everything an even scope at first and keep an eye on the results.

  • Track your results.

As you start seeing results from your PPC campaign, track the data and adjust your efforts accordingly. It is most effective to keep your data all in one place, such as a spreadsheet. There are templates online you can use to track your PPC data and more easily analyze it.

  • Keep it simple.

If you get too wrapped up in the minutia of PPC and budgeting, you will easily overwhelm yourself. Stick to the basics and try not to overcomplicate it.
Another great way to simplify the process is to get the right people on your team. At AudiologyPlus, we have years of experience in marketing for hearing practices, including PPC. We are here to make your job easier by handling the details of digital marketing to make your practice even more successful.
To learn more about PPC budgeting and our other services, we invite you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

Content Failures as Opportunities

How to Learn from and Prevent Content Failure

As a hearing professional, you know that gaining new patients—as well as keeping your existing patients—is the lifeblood of your practice. In this day and age, gaining new patients is not as simple as putting up your sign, taking out an ad in the newspaper, or sending out mailers. In this digital age, an online presence is key to growing your practice.
One of the most important parts of your online presence and marketing efforts is content. When done correctly, content can be a powerful tool for educating your audience, gaining online traffic, and converting web visitors into patients.
However, creating compelling, engaging content that drives action is not easy. While it does not necessarily need to be complicated, content creation is time-consuming. Furthermore, not every content campaign will be successful. While content failure is not a frequently discussed topic, it happens to just about everyone at one time or another.
For example, have you ever spent hours writing a blog article, only for it to get just a few views? Or have you written multiple drafts of various pages of your website and then received less-than-glowing feedback from your coworkers? Have you poured time and energy into content for your website, blog, and social media, yet seen a minimal effect on your online traffic?
If so, these might be seen as content “failures.” However, it is essential to see content failures as opportunities. Failure is an opportunity to learn what does and does not work, as well as how you can improve in the future. Here are a few ways to reframe failure as an opportunity and use it to your advantage:

  • Implement A/B testing: Testing different headlines, body content, or other pieces of content can demonstrate which one is more effective. This helps you to know not only what you should do more of, but also what you should do less of.
  • Analyze less successful content: It can be easy to focus on your top performers—articles, pages, and blog posts that get the most traffic and hits. However, also analyzing the less successful content can help drive better content in the future. You can learn which topics people do not read, which headlines do not draw clicks, and which formats audiences do not respond to.
  • Hold post-project meetings: Once a new content campaign has been completed, hold a meeting afterward to assess what went well, what did not go well, and what can be learned for the next campaign.
  • Acknowledge & learn from personal mistakes: Everyone slips up from time to time. You might accidentally send an email to all of your patients and then realize it has a typo, or you might realize that you included the wrong target URL on a social media post. Acknowledge these mistakes, correct them, and learn to avoid them in the future.

It is important to know that failure will happen from time to time—it’s simply an inevitable part of life and business. When it does happen, use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
In addition, you can minimize mistakes by getting the right people on your team. For example, hiring professionals to take care of content for you can prevent failure and maximize your success. Our team at AudiologyPlus has over 20 years of experience in online marketing, and we are dedicated to helping your practice succeed. You can learn more about us and how we can help you prevent content failures by contacting us today.

Lessons learned in 2019 to apply to 2020

The Top 5 Marketing Lessons We Learned in 2019

As we are beginning in 2020, you are probably reviewing and reworking your marketing efforts from 2019. You can learn from both your successes and your failures—what worked and what did not. Now is the time to leave the mistakes of 2019 in the past, while bringing the successes of the year with you.
In reviewing 2019, five particular lessons in digital marketing stood out. These can be useful in driving your marketing in 2020 and beyond:

  1. The numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Of course, it is valuable and recommended to analyze data from your past marketing efforts and use that data to inform future campaigns. However, not everything can be measured in numbers.
For example, just because one social media network outperformed another doesn’t mean that the other is not useful to you—it may simply mean that you have more competition there. Numbers may show that a certain keyword campaign was not very successful, but the data does not show why it wasn’t successful. That is where you and your marketing team come in. Pay attention to more than what the numbers say.

  1. Keep a consistent brand story across channels.

Your brand should appear consistent to everyone who encounters your practice online, whether they find it on social media, your blog, your website, or a PPC ad. While you will likely need to adjust how your brand is presented for each channel, the overall story should be consistent across your marketing efforts.

  1. Your marketing strategy should be fluid and flexible.

If you have spent a lot of time and effort analyzing what works best for reaching your target audience, that’s great! You have likely found a few different tactics that work best. However, you cannot simply set this strategy in stone and walk away. Your target market is made up of real people, and people can change. Continue evaluating your audience, as well as your marketing strategy. Keep it flexible to keep up with your audience.

  1. Each social media platform is unique.

You have probably been told more than once that your practice needs to have a presence on social media. However, you cannot use the same profile and posts across all social media platforms and expect incredible results. Each social media platform is unique, and your presence there should be tailored to the platform.
For example, a post on Twitter will be different from a post on Instagram, which will be different from a post on Facebook. Make sure your message fits the platform it is published on.

  1. “Best practices” may only be a starting point.

If you have been researching “best practices” for digital marketing, you are headed in the right direction. Learning about the best ways to do things is valuable and important. Do not forget, however, that best practices can still be modified.
Use the best practice as a template, and adjust it to fit your own unique needs. These will likely change over time as you see what works best for your target market.
As you incorporate these marketing lessons into your strategy for 2020, you are certain to see success and growth. To learn more about how to boost your digital marketing strategy in 2020, we encourage you to contact AudiologyPlus today.

Creative vs logical content

The Interplay Between Creative Content & Logical Content

Black and white. Full and empty. Happy and sad. Light and dark. Forward and backward. Love and hate. You probably picked up on this pattern of opposites pretty quickly. But does this pairing fit the list? Creative and logical.
This particular word pairing might be considered opposites in certain contexts, but it should not when it comes to content. In fact, the combination of creative content and logical content can bring about one of the greatest, most powerful content strategies possible.
What comes to mind when you consider creative content? You might think of content that makes creative use of media like images, graphics, and video. Perhaps you think of innovative layouts and ingenious branding. Maybe creative content means brilliant writing and persuasive calls-to-action.
When done properly, logical content does not curtail or stifle creativity. At its best, logical content showcases the creativity of the content and improves the user experience. In this context, logical content typically refers to content types (like blog articles, emails, eBooks, etc.) and models that work well together to provide the most useful, relevant content to the user.
For example, many websites and blogs feature articles about various topics. Somewhere on the webpage, whether it is on the side or at the end of the article, it is likely that the site or blog suggests other relevant articles.
As a hearing specialist, your website probably focuses on content about hearing problems and conditions, devices, and other treatment options. If you were to select a page on your website about noise-induced hearing loss, what type of related articles would you expect to see? Perhaps you may be directed to an article about how to reduce your risk for noise-induced hearing loss or a page about hearing aids.
However, what would you think if the suggested “related” articles were about medications used with premature newborns resulting in hearing loss? While an interesting topic, it is not strongly related to the topic you originally selected. Because the suggested content is not relevant, you, as the website visitor, are less likely to continue reading additional articles. A website visitor may even completely miss other articles with relevant information that they would find extremely helpful and could lead them to contact your practice.
That is where logical content can come into play. Logical content focuses on promoting content that is most useful and relevant to the user. Logical content also includes formatting and layouts that will be most user-friendly and familiar to the website visitor.
At its peak, logical content would ensure that your website visitor who reads about noise-induced hearing loss is led to the most relevant, useful content for their needs and interests. When logical content works properly, your website visitors will have an enhanced experience on your site and will be better served by your existing content.
Does a focus on logical content mean that creativity is neglected or stifled? Of course not! Pulling the most relevant, useful content to your website visitor does not mean you cannot feature creative content or that you should sacrifice the quality of content. In fact, logical content may even help the most creative content gain more views by bringing it to the right viewers.
To learn more about how you can find the right balance between creative content and logical content, we invite you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

Audiology & Public Health

How Does Audiology Fit Into Public Health?

When you think about “public health,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of immunization programs, community health centers, or healthcare designed for underserved populations or low-income groups. Perhaps you think about the responsibility to provide clean water and safe environments.
How does audiology fit into public health? Although you may not immediately think of audiology as a core component of public health, you certainly know, as a hearing healthcare professional, that proper hearing healthcare is essential to the health of the community.
The necessity of audiology in public health is largely due to the fact that hearing healthcare impacts so many important aspects of an individual’s life and directly affect their contributions to society. A person with untreated hearing impairment is less likely to succeed in education settings or to have strong future employment opportunities. Those with untreated hearing loss also typically have a lower overall quality of life. Individuals with hearing loss may experience social isolation, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and more.
It is also important to note that untreated hearing loss is linked to a number of other health problems, including dementia and cognitive decline, falls, depression, and anxiety. Untreated hearing loss and insufficient public access to quality hearing healthcare can lead to further health problems, poor education, limited employment opportunities, lower economic status, and a withdrawal from social activity. Hearing loss can also cause issues in friendships, family relationships, and marriages. All of these relationships and establishments are important to the overall community and can lead to broken links in society.
The strong connection between audiology and public health has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). In May 2016, the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution called on the WHO to prepare a World Report on Hearing (WRH) for the 73rd World Health Assembly. In addition to highlighting any shifts in global hearing loss distribution, the WRH is expected to bring attention to priorities and best practices for ear and hearing care. One goal is to bring a greater focus to guiding public health efforts in addressing the need for advocacy of ear and hearing care.
The 73rd World Health Assembly will take place in May 2020. Until then, it is unknown which particular points will be brought forward in the World Report on Hearing. However, it is certain that the WRH will address how audiology fits into public health and how greater access to quality hearing healthcare care can impact global public health.
As a hearing specialist yourself, you understand the strong link between hearing health, overall well-being, and public health. With a focus on high-quality, individual patient care that is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, hearing healthcare professionals will certainly play a growing role in ensuring public health.
To learn more about how audiology fits into public health and how you can establish your practice’s role in improving public health and awareness, we invite you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today. We look forward to helping your practice grow and succeed.