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.

The 4 Best Audiology Website Designs That Will Help You Attract More Patients

Website design is crucial to the success of any business. This may seem obvious for other types of businesses–but what about audiology businesses and practices? Yes, even for those!
Of course, as a hearing healthcare professional, your area of expertise is audiology, not web design. That is as it should be. However, it is important for you to be aware of and understand the basics of good web design that will help your business thrive online.
Here are the 4 best audiology web designs that will help you attract more patients:

  1. Responsive Design with the Most Important Information First

Responsive design has been an essential feature of website design for several years now. Put simply, responsive design means your website will respond to the size and orientation of the screen it is being displayed on. This means that your website will always display optimally, whether it is being viewed on a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
Responsive design is an important part of making your website user-friendly. One of the benefits of using this type of web design is that you can easily present the most important information first. Rather than trying to display the full desktop version of your site on a small mobile phone, your website will adapt to show the viewer what is most important: your practice name, contact information, and services. You should also seriously consider adopting telehealth technology, especially now. Telehealth platforms have the capability of integrating into your current business practices, thus streamlining your entire service offerings.
2. Feature Real Patient Reviews
Did you know that in a recent survey, 82 percent of respondents said they use reviews to evaluate and select their doctor? So, you can assume that approximately 82 percent of people who find your business online will be looking for reviews to help them evaluate your practice and decide whether they want to become a patient. That is where real patient reviews come in.
While there are many third-party websites where patients can leave reviews, it can be powerful to feature positive reviews right on your website. In addition to having a webpage dedicated to those reviews, you may also want to select a few especially good reviews to feature on your homepage. This way, even if a website visitor does not click through to other pages of your site, they will still see the glowing reviews left by real patients.
3. AMP Pages for Easy Mobile Access
An AMP, or accelerated mobile page, is a stripped-down version of your existing webpage. Because it is simplified, the AMP can load faster than the original version of the webpage. This is especially important on mobile devices, where people expect fast turnaround and will click “back” if your website is taking too long to load.
With AMPs, you can improve the speed and reliability of your website on mobile devices.
4. Thoughtfully Chosen and Placed Images
When it comes to your website design, you never want it to be described as “haphazard” or “confusing.” One way to ensure that your website stands out and appears polished is by thoughtfully choosing and placing images.
In some cases, you may want to have professional photos taken of your practice. For other purposes, stock imagery can work well. Whatever you choose, make sure your images look professional and convey the message you are trying to send.
Of course, even the most well-designed website will not bring in new patients if it is not optimized to do so. With SEO (search engine optimization), your website will be found by the people who are searching for a practice and services just like yours.
At AudiologyPlus, we are dedicated to optimizing your site with local SEO that can drive online traffic, as well as real new patients, to your practice. We focus on staying up to date with the latest in website design and optimization to ensure that you are never left behind when it comes to online marketing. To learn more about our services and how we can help you attract more patients online, we welcome you to contact us today.

Contact form on your website

Contact Forms: Optimize Your Approach to Patient Inquiries

Chances are your website has some version of a contact form on it. Regardless of where it’s placed on your website, contact forms make inquiring for more information streamlined and efficient for prospective patients.
But the truth is, it’s easy to forget about the details around these forms. In fact, business owners often spend so much time focused on the outreach side of their digital marketing efforts that the question of how to handle leads once they actually arrive at their door (aka their website) ends up being an afterthought.
Successful digital marketing strategies follow the patient acquisition process from start to finish. As a busy healthcare professional, running your practice means wearing multiple hats. You’re giving patients the care they need while also managing the billing, accounting, staffing, and marketing needs of your business. It’s easy to see how the details about how your form submissions are being handled each day can quickly get obscured.
The best way to optimize this element of your digital marketing plan is to standardize your approach to patient inquiries as much as possible. This is especially true if you rely on front end staff to respond to inquiries, as it’s important that everyone is delivering a consistent brand image from the very first interaction.
Take note of the following four tips successful practices use to achieve attractive conversion rates on their patient inquiries.
Reply Quickly
Perhaps the most important tip of all, your replies to form submissions (as well as emails and calls) from inquiring patients must be done quickly to capture their interest. In fact, studies suggest that if you respond to queries within an hour of receiving them, you’re seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with your lead, effectively increasing the odds of him or her making an appointment.
The logic here is simple: impressions fade as quickly as they come while perusing options online. Unless you’re without any local competition, it’s important to reply to your inquiries before your competition captures their loyalty first. Installing an office policy of making inquiry replies a top priority can mean noteworthy changes to the number of conversions you see each month.
Brand Your Replies
Branding your communications with patients, prospective and existing ones alike, means much more than including your logo in an email header. In fact, proper branding can even be done over the phone. While the visual elements of your brand are important, branding is really more about what you’re known for.
The question you must answer is this: What message are you trying to convey with all of those visual elements anyhow? That your practice is friendly and inviting? Warm and engaging conversation, even in written form, can convey that. Or maybe you want to communicate your professionalism and state-of-the-art approach to treatment. Clear communication with references to your practices would help cultivate that impression. No matter what your overall messaging is, it’s important that you reiterate it in various ways with every interaction you have with your patients — from the very start.
Note the Details
When prospective patients inquire about your services, especially via a contact form submission or email, there are usually several details shared about what they are seeking. Any details shared about their condition, symptoms, or concerns should definitely be addressed in the initial reply.
It’s good business, but even better caregiving, to acknowledge the needs of your inquirer. Regardless of whether you can offer services for them or not, simply empathizing with their situation is enough to help them feel heard.
Track Conversions
We see many practice owners skip this step, despite how valuable it can be. Tracking your conversions on inquiries can yield decisive information about your marketing efforts and internal office procedures. It doesn’t have to eat up much time either.
Simply knowing how many inquiries result in a new patient appointment and how many don’t is enough information to work with. If you have the ability to go deeper, collecting information on your office’s response time, details about each inquirer’s needs, and how they found your services can also prove useful.
Encourage Your Newsletter
If a patient inquiry yields an email address, such as from your contact form or an email dialogue, then even those that don’t choose to make an appointment (just yet) aren’t a lost cause. Email addresses are their own type of currency in digital marketing, as building a loyal clientele relies heavily on being able to communicate with your audience on a regular basis. It’s why we encourage our clients to use email newsletters to bolster their appeal to current and potential patients alike.
A word to the wise here: you’re legally allowed to invite people to subscribe to your newsletter, but cannot simply add their email address to your list. Making a standard practice in your office of sending out a simple invite to your newsletter could very well mean that a patient who inquired long ago is enticed to make an appointment after getting to know you and your practice through your newsletter. It also helps keep your services top of mind in case hearing healthcare is something they’re simply putting off.
 
The big picture is this: Your practice thrives off of every effort you make to be more visible, engage inquiring visitors, and deliver exceptional service to those who choose you. From start to finish, your patient acquisition efforts are always at work.
The most successful practices are using digital marketing to expand their reach farther than any other marketing route can offer. Standardizing your contact form submission reply process is an integral part of this strategy. If you’re spending your time, energy, and money on getting visitors to your website, having a standard approach to engage those who inquire is a wise move.
Still waiting to use digital marketing to realize your own practice’s potential? Contact us to find out just how easy — and rewarding — it can be.
 

Person looking at graphs and tables about their website's traffic.

6 Website Traffic Metrics Worth Paying Attention To

Your website is the cornerstone of your efforts to be found by prospective patients online, and understanding how it’s performing is essential. Without analyzing the amount of traffic, page views, and patterns of user activity on your site, your marketing and content choices would essentially be a guessing game. With the ever-increasing, versatile analytics tools available (many of which are free), there’s no reason not to use this handy, behind-the-scenes information to your advantage.
While many tools specifically designed for detailed website analytics exist, we’ve focused on one of the most popular and approachable analytic tools available: Google Analytics. It’s free, informative, and easy to use, making it the obvious first choice for most website owners who don’t have the time, interest, or budget to master a more robust program.
The metrics offered by Google Analytics are more than enough for making effective marketing and SEO choices for your business. Below are the top metrics we recommend paying attention to for optimizing your digital marketing strategies.
Number of Sessions
Digital marketing is an effective tool for increasing your presence online. More specifically, it’s aimed at increasing your website’s visibility online. One of the clearest ways to measure the effectiveness of any digital marketing campaign (such as a series of pay-per-click ads, for instance) is to look at the overall number of sessions (aka visits) your website received while a campaign was active.
Tucked beneath the total number of sessions your website had is the percentage of new sessions, which reflects the number of new visitors to your website. This figure gives you insight into whether your ad is attracting new attention and also whether your website offers enough value to bring previous visitors back.
Traffic Source Channels
If you’ve been investing in getting paid traffic to your website, then the channels metric might end up being your first stop in Google Analytics. This dataset is located by scrolling down on your homepage “dashboard,” or by clicking on “Acquisition” and then on “Overview.” It’s where you can see a clear breakdown of how people are finding your website. By default, it organizes your website traffic into 8 channels:

  • Direct
  • Organic search
  • Referral
  • Email
  • Paid search
  • Other advertising
  • Social
  • Display

Your percentage breakdown of traffic will only reflect the channels which have actually sent users to your site. You can get a more detailed picture of exactly which websites and ad campaigns are directing traffic your way by clicking on any one of the channels (highlighted in blue text).
Bounce Rate
The percentage of sessions that involved a visit to only one page of your site before the visitor left is called your “Bounce Rate.” It can be found on your homepage dashboard and, once clicked, will give you a more detailed graph and analysis. Your bounce rate reveals several aspects of the user experience on your website: Is your homepage attractive and easy to navigate? Is your content interesting, relevant and engaging? Is your page navigation menu easy to find?
Naturally, website owners want this number to be as low as possible, but it’s important to realize that many website visitors may simply be visiting your site for your contact information. This will often lead them to one page and have them on their way to, hopefully, be calling or emailing you directly.
Audience Engagement
Knowing how well your website is engaging and holding the attention of your visitors is helpful for analyzing the overall appeal of your content and your website in general. It also helps reveal how effective your audience targeting efforts are for your various marketing campaigns. For instance, if you specialize in treating tinnitus and have included several helpful articles on your blog specifically about tinnitus, but are seeing low engagement with that content in general, you might consider whether your marketing targets are not, in fact, tinnitus sufferers before you overly critique how helpful or engaging your content is.
By clicking on “Audience” (in the left menu column) and then clicking on the “Behavior” drop-down menu, you’ll find the “Engagement” dataset. There are multiple layers of user behavior that you can focus on to get an idea of overall user engagement. Looking at the session durations will tell you if your pages are holding visitors’ attention. Page depth will give you a sense of how many pages are being visited in a session. Ideally, you’d want to see your visitors exploring your website’s pages and spending a reasonable amount of time on those with engaging content.
Site Content Breakdown
If you navigate to the main “Behavior” menu on the left-side column, you’ll find a drop-down menu titled “Site Content.” This is where you can learn which pages on your website are the most popular, and how long visitors are spending on each page.
If you’ve been creating your digital ads with a link to a specific page on your website, it can be invaluable to know if people are spending much time on that page at all. You can also set up tracking to monitor conversions on that page if you’d like to find out if people are taking any action (i.e. clicking) on that page. You would set that up under “Goals” in the “Conversions” menu. In general, having a good sense of which pages are the most popular on your site can be helpful when designing new marketing campaigns.
Desktop Vs. Mobile
Surely, by now, you’ve heard us (and many others) strongly encourage you to have a mobile-friendly website. With statistics across the board letting us know that the world is going mobile, 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.
Beyond these future projections, however, is more specific data directly from your website visitors themselves. When you click on the “Audience” menu on the left-hand column and navigate down to the “Mobile” drop-down menu, you’ll get a clear picture of the percentage of your visitors who are looking at your site on a mobile device (either a phone or a tablet).
Data showing which devices your visitors are on can be helpful for understanding whether their experience of your website is either bolstered (i.e. mobile optimized) or hampered by the smaller screens they’re using. After all, the best marketing strategies combine efforts to get new visitors to your site with those aimed at retaining visitors already there. Ensuring that your content and office information is easy to find and read on any device is an important first step.
 
Using Google Analytics to keep track of your marketing efforts and overall trajectory of your website is completely free, and set-up is as easy as entering in your website’s URL and waiting a day for your first set of data. By following the metrics we highlighted above, you’ll be on your way to tailoring your digital marketing efforts for your most successful campaigns yet.

Person evaluating their marketing data

How to Prepare for Your Best Year Yet

The strength of a business can be measured by its capacity to adapt and rapidly respond to the shifting needs of its market. We see this across every sector, in every era of marketplace history. And it’s no surprise—people choose what they like, and their likes change. These days, in the Digital Age, it seems like consumer preferences change more rapidly than ever.
Fortunately, as a hearing healthcare practice, your services will never be unnecessary. With a record number of people with unmet hearing care needs, you certainly don’t need to worry about your “target market” disappearing anytime soon. But you do need to consider if this large population of potential patients is discovering what you offer—and if they’re being enticed to inquire further. Your practice thrives on a specific threshold of new patients each month, so your main task is to ensure you’re getting in front of fresh eyes on a regular basis.
Yes, this is Marketing 101, and surely comes as no surprise. What is surprising, though, is how few practice owners take the time to thoroughly review their marketing strategies. In fact, many have yet to put a thorough marketing plan together at all. If you fall into either of these camps, but only because your practice is too busy with new patients to afford you the time for such luxuries—well then, you’re doing just fine. For now, that is… as the vast majority of hearing healthcare professionals will attest to the famed “patient plateau” that occurs eventually in most hearing practices. Having a successful marketing strategy in place before that plateau hits means you likely won’t ever see it in your practice.
So what does an effective review of your marketing plan even look like? Perhaps you have already set up specific metrics for tracking the success of various marketing campaigns or tactics you’ve used this past year. If not, there are several simple ways to analyze whether your current strategy is working for you or not. At the end of the day (and certainly by the end of the year) any time, effort, and money you put into spreading the word about your services should be getting paid back to you—in surplus—by the new patients you’re acquiring as a result.
The Past 12 Months
To begin this review, you need to select the time period you want to analyze the strategies you’ve used so far. As the end of the year (and the financial quarter) approaches, this is an excellent time to review the past 12 months. Didn’t have any marketing strategies or plans in place this year? Or maybe you only had them active for part of the year? Lucky for you this 12-month review is useful in either case.
If you haven’t implemented any targeted or intentional marketing tactics (i.e. postcards, special offerings, digital ads, online review management, search engine optimization/SEO for your website, etc), then you will make this review your baseline to compare all future years against. It will provide you with valuable data about what was happening organically in your practice—that is, without any concentrated marketing efforts on your part—to what happens when you do concentrate your attention on marketing your services.
If you’ve only applied marketing strategies for part of the last year, this review is useful because it has you review your patient data month by month. It gives you a chance to begin the comparison process by looking at your data from months without marketing efforts in place and watching for any changes in that data as you applied different strategies or campaigns.
Key Patient Data
While you can get as granular and detailed as you want with analyzing new patient data (depending on how much information you collect from each patient), the most important details you want to gather for each of the past 12 months are:

  1. The number of patient inquiries (by phone, email, or in person) you received
  2. The number of new patients you began seeing

Another very helpful piece of information is how patients (inquiring or new) found your practice in the first place, but not every practice asks this on their intake forms or in their communications. If you have this data, definitely track it. If you don’t, consider making it a standard question for all new patient forms, or emails and calls responding to inquiries. This single metric is the best way for you to track the effectiveness of your outreach efforts.
Lay it All Out
Your approach to laying out your month by month comparison will be largely determined by your own preferences. You can get as fancy and graph or chart oriented as you’d like, but the basic approach is to create a grid (or a spreadsheet). Title each column as a month from the previous year and label the rows below that header with the data categories your practice has been tracking (i.e. New Patients, Patient Inquiries, How They Found Us). Next, simply add the numbers you’ve collected. If you want to look at your conversion trends (the percentage of inquiries converted into new patients), simply divide the number of new patients by the number of inquiries. When finished, your grid will look something like this:
Compare Marketing Streams
Once you have this base data in your grid, you can add information to each month for any marketing efforts you had actively in place. If you sent mailers out in February, you’d mention that in the February column. If you invested in proper SEO for your website in March, you’d place that effort in March and every month thereafter (since it will only continue to increase traffic to your website). Word of mouth (WOM) should always be an organic source of new patients, but if your practice created a referral incentive at some point, you’d definitely want to note that in the month it began, and all months thereafter.
By having your marketing efforts listed alongside your new patient and inquiry data, you’ll get a quick and clear picture of the overall effectiveness of your strategies. You would need information from new and inquiring patients about how they learned about your practice to be able to compare the effectiveness of each marketing avenue independently, so it’s worth collecting that information sooner than later.
Taking the time to clearly lay out your practice’s history of attracting new patients offers a clear picture of the direction your business is heading in. Perhaps your numbers show that a more comprehensive marketing plan would be beneficial. Or maybe this process will encourage you to collect more data for the year ahead. No matter where you’re at right now, having this information gives your practice a launchpad to leap from. The Internet has made reaching a large audience easier (and more cost-effective) than ever. Never before has marketing been so accessible. Why not take advantage of all it has to offer?