Digital accessibility

The Necessity of Digital Accessibility in the Pandemic Era

It is certainly an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed everyday life and business for many people around the world. One shift that businesses and all types of organizations had to make quickly—or perhaps might still need to complete—is ensuring that their online platforms and digital assets are easy to use, simple to navigate, and work reliably.

This shift has highlighted the need for digital accessibility. People with hearing loss need particular accommodations to assist them, and that includes when using websites. Now, both during the pandemic and post-pandemic, it is even more important than ever before to consider those with disabilities or different abilities. In the pandemic era we live in, digital accessibility is essential.

During the pandemic, it became obvious to everyone how frustrating it is when digital assets do not work properly. In the height of widespread lockdowns, problems like websites or apps that did not work properly could mean the difference between being able to order meals, submit grocery orders, complete your work or schoolwork, keep in touch with friends and family, and much more. While many people became more aware of these problems during the pandemic, these issues have been problematic for those with disabilities for a much longer time.

Ensuring that online content is accessible means making sure that all people can read and understand the content—while taking into account any disabilities, different abilities, or assistive technologies they may have. These disabilities may include impaired vision, impaired hearing or deafness, motor difficulties, learning disabilities, or cognitive impairments.

People with disabilities who may have formerly relied more heavily on in-person interactions (in stores and banks, for example), now find themselves forced to navigate an online world that is not always designed with their different abilities in mind. Companies and organizations must take steps to ensure that all online content is accessible. A few simple steps toward accessibility include:

  • Ensuring websites and emails are properly displayed and easily navigable on a mobile device
  • Making certain that websites and emails can be easily navigated with a keyboard only
  • Creating PDF documents that can be read by screen readers
  • Avoiding text with poor color contrast

During and post-pandemic, these shifts toward accessibility can make a big difference for all people with disabilities. Making sure that online content can be consumed and understood by all people also complies with accessibility laws.

While email was a commonly used form of communication before the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly popular—even vital—to companies during the pandemic as they have been unable to rely on physical interaction. Many companies used email to convey their business continuity plans and health safety standards to consumers during the pandemic. However, a recent study found that among financial services firms, only 25 percent were testing accessibility in their software development process. This leaves room for incredible improvement in this sector when it comes to accessibility. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital content and communication, and it continues to showcase the need for accessibility. To learn more about how you can ensure that your digital content and online services are accessible, we encourage you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

COVID-19 & Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Strategy & Planning in the Age of COVID-19

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of our lives—from how we work to how our children attend school, and from how we shop to how we socialize with friends and family. The worldwide pandemic has also affected your business. You may now be using telemedicine more than ever before, and your practice may have new guidelines for welcoming patients into the office.
However, have you considered how COVID-19 has affected digital marketing? Just as in so many other realms, the pandemic has changed everything in digital marketing—and none of the rules we knew prior to COVID apply now. So, as a company that needs digital marketing, what does this mean for your business?
Let’s start with strategy and planning. Once you have adapted these to the new digital marketing landscape, everything else should become clearer. Perhaps most important is the need to be efficient and effective in your digital marketing strategy and planning. Here are a few simple tips to streamline and optimize:

  • Be able to connect what has been planned to what has been completed.

Measuring outcomes and analyzing spending and strategies are perhaps more important now than ever before. Marketers should be able to easily understand what has been planned and budgeted, the accompanying timelines and goals, and what has been delivered.
Once you are able to connect these data sets, you should be able to quickly assess spend, reach, and engagement. Based on the outcomes, you can adapt your future planning and budgeting to favor the most effective and efficient strategies.
Clear, transparent, and effective communication has become paramount in this age of remote work. This includes communicating about your digital marketing strategies, planning, outcomes, and insights.

  • Know how to optimize marketing strategy.

In the 2020 climate, you frankly do not have room to spend time and money on strategies that are ineffective. If a certain channel or campaign type is not bringing in a return or is not contributing to your goals, you need to reevaluate your marketing strategy.
Do not be afraid to optimize by revising your messaging on a specific channel, modifying your strategy, or even halting an ineffective campaign. Using the data mentioned above—connecting what is planned with what has been delivered—you can pace your campaigns to better meet your objectives.

  • Make sure your audience is seeing what you produce.

Put simply, you can have the best digital marketing products in the world, but if no one sees them, they will not help your business. Use verification and viewability metrics to ensure that your ads are being seen by your audience.
As part of this, it is important to ensure that any materials meet brand safety standards and to detect any fraudulent ad activity. Verification and viewability can be valuable in preserving and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy.
With these guidelines, you can ensure that your digital marketing efforts are both effective and efficient. To learn more about how digital marketing has changed in 2020, we encourage you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, we are ready to answer your questions and help you navigate today’s unique challenges.

Ecommerce & COVID-19

How eCommerce Is Revolutionizing Business in the Age of COVID-19

If you have seen the 1959 Cary Grant classic Operation Petticoat, you may remember the wisdom of Lieutenant Nick Holden: “In confusion, there is profit.” This phrase has proven to be true time and time again, and now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can see it being fulfilled again. In this time, a slight adjustment of the quote may be appropriate: “In crisis, there is opportunity.”
To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way you do business would probably be a huge understatement. However, those changes come with great opportunities. One of those opportunities lies in an aspect of business that many people thought was already well explored before COVID-19 hit. That aspect is ecommerce, or business transactions that take place online.
Gone are the days when young people dominated the ecommerce field as consumers, leaving older generations to shop in more traditional ways. Also gone is the time when consumers only looked to Amazon for ecommerce solutions. Now is the ideal time to seize upon ecommerce as a new opportunity that could yield immense profits.
Although many areas of the world are reopening in-person businesses, people remain cautious about returning to their old way of life. Many people are opting to avoid in-person shopping experiences whenever possible. This provides a perfect opportunity for you to meet your customers where they are: online.
Here are a few ways ecommerce is shifting thanks to the experiences we are dealing with due to COVID-19, as well as some tips for how you can succeed in this new business landscape:

  • Consumers want services and products that are easily accessible. Make sure that your website where your ecommerce services are hosted is easy to use and provides customers with a simple, fast transaction and a positive experience.
  • People are looking for businesses that connect with them on a personal level. This can be accomplished through content, whether on your website or in communication with your customers. Reconnect with them on a deeper level than simply trying to sell goods and services.
  • Show them how you can help solve a problem or relieve a pain point. This will set up an opportunity for a consumer to see your business as their solution. Be willing to adapt to their changing needs and grow with them.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people reevaluated their consumption habits, their values, and how they do business. While the pandemic seems to be easing in some areas of the world, people are not returning to their old habits when it comes to consumerism. Be authentic and show your customers that you share their values. Prove to them that you are a brand they want to do business with and support. Be trustworthy.

With all of the change that has already occurred in business over the last few months, even ecommerce will likely continue to see adjustments and shifts in focus. One thing, however, is for certain: this is a business trend you do not want to miss or adopt too slowly. The time to take advantage of this opportunity is now.
To learn more about the importance of ecommerce and how it is revolutionizing business in this crucial time, we invite you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. We look forward to hearing from you!

Essential Digital Marketing Strategies for COVID-19

5 Essential Digital Marketing Strategies for COVID-19

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been ongoing for a few months now, you may still feel uncertain about how to navigate certain aspects of daily life—including those related to your business. Should you give up on your business plans and goals? Or push forward? And whatever you choose, how do you do it most effectively for a solution that feels right for you, your team, and your clients?
Here are five key digital marketing strategies that are essential to consider as we continue to navigate life during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Revisit your business goals.

There is no denying that business is not going on as usual—for anyone. Reassess your business goals with the new reality in mind. As you do so, here are a few questions to keep in mind: What are your clients looking for now? How can you offer that to them? How do you let them know what you are offering and how they can access it?
Many businesses are finding themselves doing more online work and marketing now than ever before, so focus on how you can serve your clients online. You may also want to reevaluate your budget and allocate some funds that were assigned to in-person marketing to digital marketing.

  • Avoid flooding your clients with outbound messages.

Do your clients want to be kept up to date about your latest services and products? Yes! Should you message them if you are changing your services, hours, events, or other important information? Absolutely!
With that in mind, however, your clients probably do not want to receive an email from you three times every day. The pandemic should not be a marketing ploy. Message your clients when you need to, but avoid overdoing it. You should also use email list segmentation when needed so you can message only those for whom your message will be relevant and valuable.

  • Identify and use the strong points in your online presence.

As noted, your digital marketing efforts and online presence will now be more important than ever. Even in areas that have reopened, many people are still choosing to stay home whenever possible and opt for online services over in-person ones.
This makes it essential to use your online presence to your advantage. Perhaps you can offer extra perks or rewards to clients who purchase online services or products. Use analytics to identify your best offline clients, and nudge them toward your online offerings. You should also check your messaging to make sure clients are not being pushed to in-person services at this time.

  • Test your online services and inbound marketing.

Should you experience an influx of online business, are you ready to handle it? Test out your inbound marketing channels, including your website, links, any videos, brochures, etc. Make sure it all works as you plan.
This is also a great time to update your website content. If you have noticed your clients asking new questions related to COVID-19, add them to your FAQ. You can also analyze search data to see what clients are asking about most right now, and be sure you answer those questions on your website.

  • Prioritize analysis and measurement.

Put simply, you won’t know what’s working and what isn’t if you don’t measure it! Data analysis and reporting are crucial during this time when you are learning again what your clients want and need. Pay attention to search terms they use, which pages they visit most on your website, and what services and products they purchase most frequently.
All of this data can help you fine-tune your marketing and offerings. If you find that a certain type of messaging drives the most engagement, use that as a guide to inspire new messaging of the same type.
While the COVID-19 business world is new to all of us, these key strategies can help you navigate your business with purpose. To learn more about online marketing at this time and how AudiologyPlus can help your business grow, we invite you to contact us today.

Brand messaging on social media - COVID-19

Brand Messaging on Social Media During a Time of Crisis

It is no secret that a lot has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Around the world, people are staying home and practicing social isolation in order to curb the spread of the disease. Fewer people are going to work every day as they instead work from home, with their children home from school as well. Healthcare practices like your hearing practice are taking extra measures to ensure the safety and health of both staff and patients.
Limiting the number of patients who come to your office is likely one of these measures. You may have restricted your office to emergency or essential appointments only. With all these new guidelines and restrictions, it is important to recognize that your goal in using social media is now different than ever before.
Prior to this health crisis, it was essential to maintain a strong social media presence and to create a brand that attracted the notice of your target customers. Once they noticed your brand, your social media was one of the ways they could learn more about your practice and eventually become a patient. While you can still use social media to bring new patients to your practice, its role is different than ever before.
In this time of uncertainty, when their everyday lives are disrupted and they may have loved ones who are suffering or at risk for the virus, people want to see kindness and compassion. Take this opportunity to showcase that your practice truly cares for your patients. Share messages of encouragement, hope, and compassion on your social media pages.
Take steps to ensure that your patients feel cared for. If patients are canceling or rescheduling their appointments, consider waiving any usual fees for these changes. Be flexible with rescheduling, especially as most cities, counties, and states are uncertain of when “stay at home” restrictions will lift. Be compassionate, understanding, and accommodating when emergency situations arise.
Offer options to keep your patients cared for while in-office visits are limited. Telehealth technology is one way to ensure that your patients can still receive high-quality, personalized care while staying home. This form of healthcare utilizes telecommunications technology to allow you to see, talk to, evaluate, and care for patients without meeting them in person.
Since this can be done in most cases using a computer (laptop or desktop), tablet, or smartphone, most patients will have access to this type of appointment. For your patients who are unfamiliar with telecommunications technology (such as senior patients), be sure to provide clear, simple instructions and be ready to patiently answer questions.
Now is the time to use social media to offer genuine empathy and real value to your patients. When this time is over and life becomes more normalized again, you want your patients to remember your practice as one that truly cares. To learn more about how you can take advantage of tools like telehealth during this unique time, we invite you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today.

Important Announcements from Google and Yelp

Important Announcements from Google and Yelp – Coronavirus and Your Business

Google and Yelp are actively adapting their services to better support businesses during this difficult time. If you have visited Google My Business or your business’s Yelp page, you may have noticed some changes but may not understand why things have changed. We’ve included a summary of these important announcements below:
Google
Google published a new help page on Friday, April 3, 2020, titled “Limited Google My Business functionality due to COVID-19” to address their services that businesses rely on (like reviews and business listings) and their rapid reorganization of priorities.
At this time, Google has determined that they will disable:

  • Reviews, and this includes new reviews and the ability to reply to reviews
  • The ability to post new Question and Answer content

Google chose to disable reviews because their plan is to “prioritize critical services.” Google explains: “We are currently focusing on the quality and reliability of information on Google Search and Maps, ensuring that users and business owners have access to essential features like whether the business is open and/or has special hours.”
And their priorities are also focused on additional support to the healthcare space. Any new listings in healthcare, as well as new claims for existing listings, will be subject to manual review; other new business listings and verifications may be delayed as health-related listings are prioritized.
Read Google’s post in its entirety.
Yelp
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman published a blog post on Friday, April 3, 2020, as well, to report details on Yelp’s crisis response and discuss how their efforts are supporting businesses. These new applications will help businesses to better communicate their available services to their local community. These offerings include:

  • “Contact-free” delivery options that are available in the Yelp app, via a partnership with GrubHub, which will start next week.
  • A new feature that lets restaurants specify that they are open but only for pick-up and delivery.
  • The ability to add a banner alert to the top of your Yelp profile to announce any special circumstances. Yelp has also released tools so businesses can mark themselves as temporarily closed.
  • A showcase of virtual services, like online classes and telehealth capabilities.

In addition to new features, Yelp also suspended any ad fees for small businesses and detailed a new set of special review content guidelines, including “zero tolerance for any claims in reviews of contracting COVID-19 from a business or its employees, or negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.”
Yelp didn’t offer a date for when these features will be available, but you can expect these updates to be ready very soon. Read Yelp’s blog post in its entirety.
These added services should help businesses better communicate with their customers and the community. If you have any questions or need to reach out to AudiologyPlus, please feel free to contact us.