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!

8 Things Your Audiology Website Needs Right Now

8 Things Your Audiology Website Needs Right Now

Simply having a website is a great step towards helping your audiology practice grow. Now that you have a website, you should consider exactly what you put on your site. Here are 8 things your audiology website needs right now:
Great content
People come to your website looking for answers. It’s as simple as that. Your content should provide the answers to the questions they have.
Remember that people’s questions will vary widely, so your content should be broad enough to answer many types of questions. Consider questions you are frequently asked in your office or via the phone, and answer those questions are your website. These might include questions relating to hearing topics (e.g., “What is a hearing aid”? “Do I need hearing aids?” “What is tinnitus?”, etc.), as well as those relating to your office (e.g., “What are your hours?” “Where are you located?” “What are your qualifications?”, etc.)
Telehealth
While many offices were already beginning to incorporate telehealth into their practice model, the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns around the world have only highlighted the importance of telehealth.
Telehealth services like myVirtualClinic enable you to care for your patients without seeing them in your office. This can save time for your patients (and your staff, too) and can make it easier for patients to reach you.
Social media
Social media isn’t just for teenagers anymore! Businesses need a strong presence on social media as well. You should have a dedicated page for your audiology practice on all main social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. (You can branch out beyond these if you want to!)
Of course, it isn’t enough to simply create a social media page and abandon it. Patients (both existing and potential) want to see that you actually interact with your customers. Be sure to reply to any comments or questions that are left on your page, as well as reviews. It’s also important to post regularly so your practice is kept fresh in the minds of your patients.
Individualism
Unless you are located in a very small town, chances are there are multiple audiology practices in your area. This means that potential patients have a choice of whom they give their business too. In order to win their business, you need to stand out!
There are a few ways you can do this on your website. Include photos of your office and your team. Consider including biographies as well, so your patients can get to know your team before coming in. You might also want to showcase your practice philosophy online, which can highlight how you are different from the others. Positive reviews are another good way to feature what’s great about your practice and why patients should choose you.
Opportunities to sell
Although the optimal setting for selling a hearing aid might be at your office—once you have completed a hearing test and provided a professional consultation—you shouldn’t pass up on opportunities to sell on your website. This can be as simple as listing out (with images, too) the hearing aid tools available through your practice.
eCommerce can be powerful, too. This allows people to buy directly from your website rather than coming to your office.
Great imagery
The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is still true. Showcasing photos of your office and your team on your website can be a great way to help patients get to know you before they even step foot inside your practice. In addition, a website with eye-catching imagery is much more inviting to look at than one that’s only filled with 10 pt size type!
If possible, have some professional photos taken of your office. This can make a big difference in the quality of the photos and how they appear on your website. You can even have a “patient” (either a real patient or a family member of your staff) in the photos to highlight the level of care you provide.
Patient testimonials
You simply cannot go without patient testimonials on your website. One recent study found that 59.9% of patients chose their medical provider based on positive online reviews, and 60% said they have avoided a medical provider because of negative reviews.
Highlighting a few positive reviews on your website can do wonders for drawing new patients to your practice. If you don’t currently have any testimonials to showcase on your website, just ask your happy customers! Using a service like ReviewMe can also make it easy to continue gathering reviews.
Consistent branding
Have you ever visited a website for a business and wondered if that was actually their official website? You might not have been able to pinpoint the reason at the time, but your questioning was probably due to a lack of consistent branding.
The aim is to provide a consistent experience for your website visitors across your entire website—and the rest of your online presence as well, including your social media pages and any other online listings. This should include using the same logo and practice name. Make sure your office hours, phone number, and address are updated as well. You could even consider using colors on your website that are similar to the colors in your office for an especially consistent patient experience.
These 8 factors are essential to creating an audiology website that draws in new patients and helps your practice succeed. To learn more about how you can build your practice online, please contact us at AudiologyPlus. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, we have the experience and expertise you need to grow your business.

Increase hearing aid sales

Want to Increase Hearing Aid Sales? This Is What You Need to Know

As a hearing healthcare practitioner, your business depends on your patients. If your practice is like most hearing practices, you rely not only on appointments but also on sales–hearing aid sales. So, how can you increase hearing aid sales and therefore boost your business? Here are a few simple ways to increase hearing aid sales:

  • Listen to your patients’ needs.

Pushy salesmanship does not earn repeat customers–and it rarely earns sales. Rather than pushing certain devices on your patients, listen to their needs. Listen to your patient’s preferences, difficulties, and interests. This will allow you to make better recommendations that better fit their particular needs.

  • Follow up with your patients.

Once a patient purchases hearing aids, be sure to continue following up. Make sure they know you have not forgotten about them or their needs. Follow up to make certain that their devices are functioning properly and that they know how to appropriately care for their hearing aids.
It can also be helpful to take the opportunity to remind your patients about follow-up appointments, routine maintenance, and regular fittings.

  • Offer financing options.

Do not let financing be the reason you miss out on additional hearing aid sales. If the hearing aids your patient needs are a little outside their price range, offer flexible financing options that fit their needs. Make it simple for every patient to afford the device that is best for them.
It is also important that the way you explain financing options is clear–and that every member of your team can also clearly explain the financing options. Confusion will only hurt your practice and your sales.

  • Get a modern website.

A modern practice needs a modern website. On your website, you can feature the hearing services you offer, including hearing aids. This helps patients (both current and potential) find the services and devices they are looking for.
With a website built to the latest specifications, your site will function and display optimally on all types of devices. This includes mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. You will also want to consider adopting telehealth to ensure you can serve patients who can’t easily travel to your office. You can troubleshoot and manage hearing aids over telehealth!

  • Focus on Local SEO.

Of course, a modern website will not do much to bring your practice more patients and more sales if people cannot find your website. SEO (search engine optimization) ensures that people who are searching for your services will find them. Local SEO is especially important for making certain that people in your area find your practice.

  • Highlight positive reviews.

In today’s world, reviews are an important part of choosing both products and providers. Showcasing positive reviews on your website can help potential customers feel more comfortable in trusting your services and purchasing the hearing aids you offer.
To do this, you need to gather reviews from your existing patients. Once you have a few glowing reviews, you can start to feature them on your website.
At AudiologyPlus, we have over 20 years of experience in marketing hearing healthcare practices, and we are dedicated to helping your business succeed. If you need help with a modern website, SEO, reviews, or other online marketing services, we have the expertise you need. We welcome you to contact us today to learn more about us and how we can help your practice grow.

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.

How to Succeed in a Virtual World as an Audiologist

How to Succeed in a Virtual World as an Audiologist

It is no secret that the healthcare field requires technology. Whether it be through testing or communication, technology is advancing healthcare business practices quickly. Traditional methods just don’t cut it anymore. So, how do you succeed in a virtual world as an audiologist?
Define Your Strategy
When you are considering telehealth, it is important to consider some key factors, like:

  • What services do you want to offer?
  • How do you want to process billing?
  • Are you going to handle a lot of the backend work or are you going to delegate it? And if you are, who is responsible for what?
  • Is the platform you are considering completely secure and HIPAA compliant? Can you offer it in your state?

All these questions should have firm answers that allow you to move forward with confidence.
Choose a Provider Who is Reliable and Efficient
There are a lot of free video providers (like Zoom, Skype and Facetime) and while those are great, they are not secure or compliant with HIPAA. We probably don’t have to stress to you the importance of security. You will want to find a provider (like myVirtualClinic) that can offer a secure portal, so the patient’s information gated and protected.
Commit and Train Your Employees
Whether you want to use this exclusively or delegate roles to people in your office, you will want to decide how you integrate the service into your business practice and integrate your employees, so they have a grasp on what is expected of them.
Test Out Your New Platform
Once your platform is live and you can poke around, make sure you set up mock appointments and have some employees test it out with you. You want to make sure you are completely comfortable with it and get any questions answered from your provider before you offer it to your patients.
Embrace Technology!
When you make the decision to offer telehealth services, that opens many more doors for you, including:

  • Treating more patients (expanding your reach to target more areas)

Rural areas lack audiologists and one study showed that more than half of all U.S. counties do not have any audiologists.

  • Limitless potential

Many hearing aid brands come with accompanying smartphone apps so a hearing care provider can remotely program a person’s hearing aids via the app

  • Support for patients who have limited mobility or cannot drive

A lot of older patients must rely on others to get them to appointments. This virtual option can be set up for them and give them more flexibility.

  • Ease of use

Tele Audiology allows you to see more patients and process payments through the tele audiology portal securely and efficiently

  • People are shown to be receptive to Telehealth (or Tele-Audiology)

A recent audiology study, 20 participants with dementia were fitted at the university clinic with hearing aids, which were paired to a smartphone app, managed by their caregivers. Researchers monitored wearing time, program use, and the patient’s satisfaction in different real-world listening conditions. The staff could remotely change noise reduction and other algorithms and communicate through real-time video calls, as well as text and voice chat services. The results: Caregivers rated the participants “general comprehension” as 4.5 on average on a 5-point scale in the telehealth period, compared to 2.7 when they weren’t using the remote service. Caregivers said the remote service decreased their stress and improved the patients’ “alertness” and “awareness.”

  • Telehealth can potentially improve the Audiology field as a whole

The current goal of telehealth audiology is convenience but over time, it could bring down hearing aid prices. While regulations and insurance coverage vary by state, the trend is towards more coverage of telehealth.

  • Less overhead

Efficiency saves money!
Building a successful tele-audiology program includes these tips. If you have any questions about telehealth or adapting to technology as an audiologist, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at AudiologyPlus! We are here to support you.

How to Become a Telemedicine Provider

How to Become a Telemedicine Provider

Telehealth (or telemedicine) is completely changing the healthcare landscape and how practices offer essential services to their patients. By using telehealth, medical practices of all types and sizes can maintain patients’ health needs from anywhere, while generating more revenue and keeping costs down. And studies even show that telehealth is the type of service that patients increasingly prefer.
Get started with your telehealth plan by following the easy steps below:
Organize Your Goals for Your Practice
You should plan for and consider some key factors when moving toward a telemedicine program to ensure the transition is easy and successful. You should consider things like revenue, customer satisfaction, wait times, no-shows and cancellations, staff efficiency, patient retention, new patients, and any other measurements that are important for your practice.
Find the Right Partner
There are a lot of telehealth technology options available, but you will want to make sure you include things like:

  • HIPAA-compliance
  • Availability in your state
  • Automated appointment booking and reminders
  • Secure video and file sharing
  • Branding for your business

You need to choose a technology that enables your practice to deploy an easy-to-use virtual platform for a small investment. Just because you want to become more modernized, doesn’t mean you need to pay an arm and a leg!
Train Your Staff
Once you select your telehealth platform, you will want to train your staff and get them up to speed on the 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 the appointment scheduling portion while your office manager is responsible for the billing portion).
You can also easily test out the appointment feature with your staff so all of you are comfortable with the virtual platform.
Launch the Platform on Your Website
Whether you do a formal announcement or just add a link to your site, you will need to make the service available to your patients online. We recommend you add a link to the homepage, so it is easily accessible.
Release an Announcement to Your Current Patients and Market to Potential New Patients
You can do this by either emailing your current patients (if your records include email addresses) or you can add a banner image to your site. You will also want to post this update to your social media sites, as well. Any way you can spread the word!
While telehealth may be a new addition to your everyday practices, you may find that it is a very welcome option to ensure your patients receive the care they need. You will be more able to treat even more patients with ease.
To learn more about telehealth and video appointments, please contact us at AudiologyPlus!

Is Your Website Accessible to People with Disabilities? Here’s What You Need to Know.

As a hearing healthcare professional, you are fully aware that you regularly work with people with disabilities. However, do you ever think about making your website accessible to people with disabilities?
In truth, most people only think about creating websites for people with “normal” abilities. If your website is not accessible to people with disabilities, you may be missing out on patients who would help your practice grow.
In the United States, web accessibility is regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). So, if your practice is located in the United States, it is more than simply a good idea to create an accessible website–it is required.
In addition to being ADA-compliant, an accessible website allows you access to a large portion of the population who would otherwise have difficulty accessing your website. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly one in five Americans has a disability. By ensuring that your website is accessible, you gain access to another fifth of the population.
Here are a few simple ways you can ensure that your website is accessible and can be effectively used by people of all abilities:

  • Include text explanations for visual and video assets.

Website visitors with disabilities may not be able to clearly see, hear, or understand visual or video assets. As a hearing professional, you are certainly familiar with those who cannot clearly hear and understand video assets. By including text explanations, you can ensure that they receive the same information as a visitor who is not disabled.

  • Feature clearly written content.

Overall, your website content should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. When creating your content, it can be helpful to consider the following three types of disabilities:

  • Vision difficulty: Your content should be easy to understand when listened to aloud with the use of assistive devices.
  • Learn difficulty: Your content should be easy to understand.
  • Cognitive difficulty: Your content should be easy to focus on.

By featuring clear and concise content, you can help to ensure that your website content is accessible to all people.

  • Ensure your website is accessible with all types of devices.

To conform to guidelines, all website content should be accessible on mobile devices and with assistive technologies. Every feature of your website should be easily used and accessed, no matter the disability of the user or the assistive technologies in use.
It is important to note that every part of your website must be accessible and should be changeable as technologies continue to advance. From the website coding to the design theme to the site performance, every aspect should be focused on usability and accessibility.
As you work with people with disabilities on a daily basis, do not forget to make your website accessible to them as well. Your practice should be accessible not only in person but also online. At AudiologyPlus, we are well versed in creating websites that are accessible to people with disabilities. To learn more about the importance of having an accessible website and how we can help you do this, we invite you to contact us today.

three people hover over a laptop

5 Features to Look for in a Digital Marketing Agency

The digital revolution has left no industry untouched. As the world continues to go online for everything from social connection and information to physical products, businesses have raced to have a presence online as well. Digital marketing agencies quickly formed to help businesses establish themselves online and reach their specific markets. In the face of an ever-evolving online landscape, professional help navigating its shortcuts and sure-wins can prove invaluable.
Digital marketing agencies typically provide clients with web development (including building and maintaining websites), digital ad creation and placement, search engine optimization (SEO), social media support, and a range of other services related to establishing a strong digital presence. Essentially, they help businesses reach new customers online.
And, not surprisingly, not all agencies are created equal. Here are five critical features to help you spot a great digital marketing agency:
They Have an Impressive Online Presence
Much like not wanting a doctor who neglects her own health, you should seek out a digital marketing agency that clearly knows what they’re doing by, well, doing it. Their website should be sleek, modern, and reflective of their brand’s signature style. It should also be replete with relevant and useful content since we know that the SEO landscape continues to revere “content as king.” They should have an active presence on some of the top social media sites, with content you can relate to and appreciate. And last, but most important, they should be easily found via a search on Google or Bing.
If an agency you’re considering is missing any of the above features, they still might be worth your time (especially if their pricing reflects these deficiencies). They could be a newer agency, which doesn’t immediately mean that they can’t garner you the results you’re looking for. Get clear in the beginning about who this agency is and if they have any proven successes under their belt yet.
They Are Specialized
Your digital marketing firm should be experts on who they serve. Having extensive awards in, say, beverage branding, doesn’t mean they can achieve similar results across industries. Digital Marketing is as nuanced as the people moving (quickly) through the online terrain. The specific language and visuals you choose to represent your brand in the digital world will either stop people in their endless scrolling, or have them swipe on by.
So take the time to find marketing experts in your field. Make sure they know your patient base as well as (if not better than) you do. Their marketing materials, strategies, and available tools won’t be useful if they don’t have an excellent handle on how your market reacts to online content and offers. If an agency has a list of clients from across industries, that doesn’t instantly spell disaster, but you’d be wise to look for any previous clients from your field to see what the company was able to pull off. In the end, your digital presence needs to do much more than “look good” — it needs to get results.
They Have Industry Experience
This one takes the previous note about specialization one step farther. Working with marketing professionals who have actual experience in your industry can provide you with a wealth of advantages up front. For instance, it’s not unusual for a marketing firm to spend the beginning of your time working together on gathering market data and field reports. This strategizing phase is important, but can be a lengthy process if an agency is “getting up to speed” with the details about your market.
Working with a company who has been on the inside of your industry changes all of that. Sure, there might be some relevant reports and strategy sessions in the beginning, but the entire phase of planning your approach is much more directed towards the actual execution of that plan rather than researching for it. The hearing industry itself is a unique (and rapidly changing) one, where overlapping scopes of practice, a limited number of manufacturers, and atypical patient behaviors create unusual factors to consider when marketing. Finding people who understand these aspects can be a huge time-saver, and promise better results in the long term.
They Keep You Informed
The entire purpose of hiring a digital marketing firm is to improve your reach and realize results in your business. You could try the DIY method, and devour an endless array of digital marketing articles, podcasts, and books yourself, but hiring a professional likely seems like the smart thing to do. And it is — so long as that agency returns your good faith with detailed communications about their activities and their results.
Not only should your digital marketing agency be measuring the efficacy of your online marketing campaigns, website traffic, and overall rating online, but they should also be clear in their communications with you. Sending you jargon-laden reports that you need to use an online marketing dictionary to decode is not clear. Providing you with abstract statistics and graphs without a thoughtful explanation is also unhelpful. Your marketing agency is responsible for collecting relevant metrics for your online efforts and then explaining what it all means to you. They should empower you to decide whether or not your combined efforts are proving to be worth their cost or not.
They Have a Reputation for Excellent Service and Support
You’ll have trouble finding an agency that doesn’t claim to offer great customer support, so this one requires a bit more digging to find out. Look for reviews for the digital marketing agency you’re considering in some of the most popular places: Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. Look for information regarding an agency’s track record for helping clients troubleshoot issues and the overall level of satisfaction from previous clients.
An online reputation is much like a personal credit score: not having any reviews is nearly as bad as having negative reviews. A firm without reviews is either too new to have gained reviews yet or isn’t delivering strong enough service to prompt their clients’ to review them. If there are negative reviews online, look for reasonable replies from the agency to get both sides, as some people are impossible to please no matter how excellent the service. In the end, the quality of customer support you get from your digital marketing agency can make a world of difference as you zero in on the perfect marketing strategy for your business and local market.
The need to get your business online is an undeniable one, but many people gloss over the need to be found online. Simply having a website (no matter how well-designed) won’t suffice as there needs to be specific ongoing activities to make it visible to prospective patients looking for your services. Hiring an agency to help you acquire patients online doesn’t have to break the bank and, when done right, will pay for quickly pay for itself.
With over 20 years in the hearing industry and a world-class team of digital marketing experts, we help our clients quickly realize the results they’ve been hoping for. From modern websites to complete SEO and digital advertising services, we have everything your business needs to get found online. Contact us to learn how to acquire new patients online.

Hearing professional reaches out to a happy patient

Why Patient Satisfaction is More Important Than Ever

Hearing care professionals practicing independently are facing a rapidly changing landscape for themselves and their patients. People have more options for hearing devices today than ever before, from the severely discounted over-the-counter (OTC) hearing instruments at big box retailers to finding them even cheaper online.
The convenience of selecting hearing aids without the detailed guidance of a hearing care professional is both the appeal and the weakness of these newer avenues. While some customers prefer the directness of the “find your own” option, many are recognizing the need for help with such a significant and individualized decision. A couple of returns later (or worse, getting stuck with instruments that can’t be returned) is driving more than a few former-OTC hearing aid shoppers to local private practices for the hearing care they need.
The personal attention, knowledgeable guidance, and precise testing that hearing care professionals provide their patients cannot (and will never) be replicable with pre-programmed OTC hearing aids. The definition of such hands-on care is outside the scope of the direct-to-consumer model of OTC devices. And while an individualized approach to hearing care might not be the “most efficient” path to better hearing, it will likely always remain the most effective.
Ultimately, the success of any hearing care practice rests upon this effectiveness and, more precisely, the patient satisfaction that it creates.
Ask any hearing professional if their office uses a patient-centered approach to hearing care and the vast majority will tell you, unequivocally, “yes.” It’s a common phrase seen in marketing materials and websites across hearing practices, but in reality, it’s often loosely defined.
The truth is, licensed hearing care professionals of all stripes practice across a wide spectrum of standards. So wide, in fact, that the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) have been striving to implement their “Best Practice Guidelines” for the last 20 years in an effort to create a common ground for patient-centered care. At its core, these guidelines rest on dispensing hearing aids using evidence-based assessment, measuring, and validation methods for utmost patient satisfaction. According to the lead author of those guidelines, implementation of them occurs in 20-30% of offices, at best.
With the evolution of access to hearing devices underway at this very moment, revisiting the topic of patient satisfaction as a means to practice success is worthwhile. As digital hearing technology continues to unveil faster, cheaper, and smarter instruments, the only way for hearing practices to differentiate is to deliver exceptional personalized service. Below are the four cornerstones of delivering what your patients want.
Personalized Care
However obvious it may be, offering personalized care means that each patient gets detailed attention and care. Personalized care steps beyond individualized care by including a customer intimacy element where provider and patient have some quality face-time to communicate needs and potential solutions. For older patients, especially, getting to spend a few extra minutes with a hearing professional wholly interested in their unique needs and limitations is enough to stand out among the numerous other health care providers they see who rush in and rush out.
Personalized care steps beyond the main caregiver, however, and must include the entire customer-facing team. Everyone in your office must share and exude the ethos of patient-first if the patient is to experience being at the center of the care team. Specifically with treatment protocols known for arousing resistance in patients (e.g. those awkward first few weeks with new hearing aids), increasing the amount of face-to-face communication with your patients has been found to significantly improve patient compliance with recommendations and, ultimately, patient success.
Comfortable Environment
A warm, welcoming environment is essential for patient satisfaction and retention. While it’s easy to imagine what kind of creature comforts would be useful for this goal—such as refreshments in the waiting area, comfortable chairs to relax in, and easy-to-use testing gear—the heart of a comfortable environment is the people working within it.
Beyond the foundations of personalized service, as detailed above, are the softer elements of patient care, often found in the details. A warm rapport for phone and in-person greetings should be tailored with the unique patient population in mind. Training all of front office staff on how to speak and enhance communication with the hard-of-hearing is essential, as is creating communication strategies if any of the common reactions (i.e. avoidance, denial, even hostility) are encountered when working with them as they come for appointments.
Like any business, the more you can cater to the specific needs of your customers, including personalizing them by name, the better their experience will be.
Engaging & Knowledgeable Staff
The personalities and skill of every person on your staff not only conveys the warmth and welcome you want in your office, but also helps your patients overcome any doubt and confusion they might have. Your patients can express their concerns and questions at any point in their journey through your office, be it with a receptionist, assistant, or you.
Offering information to help them better understand their own situation, warmly and empathetically, can go a long way in making them feel supported and well-guided by your entire team. You want your patients to know that they can reach out at any time and to feel confident that they will get the answers they need.
A Brand Centered on You
Remember, the evolving hearing market means that you and your services are now the main attraction. Trying to compete with the price points of local big-box retailers is likely a viable option if you intend to continue offering the standard value-add services for the hearing aids you sell. Differentiating yourself from those large retailers isn’t difficult when you emphasize your personalized and knowledgeable services. Patients value your professional opinion and experience, and recognize that a higher price point is a part of that.
As you design your marketing materials for this new marketplace, be sure to highlight the results you and your office help patients easily achieve. Enjoying natural-sounding results, through a smooth and simple process, is often what OTC hearing aid buyers are longing for. Keep those customer desires in mind as you create your messaging for prospective patients.
The rise of increasingly accessible hearing aids is a positive direction for the hearing market as a whole. As more people wear hearing aids, the more “normal” it will seem, and the stubborn resistance to them will continue to fade. Ultimately, the value of personalized, hands-on service cannot be understated, and the awareness of its value will rise in the contrast of purchasing devices without such care.
Capitalizing on this shift of patient perspectives means paying close attention to the patient experience in your office. Sending a follow-up patient satisfaction survey, or even just a simple email asking how they are feeling about your services, can help you gather important feedback. As you continue delivering excellent services and putting patients first, you will maintain a strong local reputation to continue driving patient inquiries as the market grows.
If you think your practice could be reaching more prospective patients online, consider getting professional help through our wide array of services. Like you, we also make customer satisfaction a priority and consider your success our success. Contact us to get found by new patients online.
 

Woman selects from digital projection

Does Your Practice Need Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing and outbound marketing share the same goals, but quickly part ways thereafter. Outbound marketing, including its traditional routes like TV ads, print ads in magazines and newspapers, radio ads, and mailers, does exactly what it sounds like it does: it reaches out to potential patients to inform them about your services or a special offer you have.
While there’s nothing specifically wrong with an outbound marketing approach, it is no longer the leader in conversions. People have changed the way they shop for goods and services, and they certainly aren’t relying on advertisements on the radio or newspaper to find out what’s available.
Outbound marketing is a tactic of scale – the more people you can reach, the better your return will be. At its best, it’s letting the right people know about a great offer or service a the right time. At its worst, it pushes unwanted and intrusive ads onto people who weren’t interested in the first place.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, naturally targets those who are expressly interested in what you have to offer. The foundation of inbound marketing is helpful information, otherwise referred to as “great content.” By creating and sharing freely useful and highly-targeted content (typically through a newsletter, blog, or social media platform), you attract people interested in your topics and perspective to your website, social profiles, and email list.
Imagine this: you write a long article, or even an e-book, on how to navigate the endless array of hearing aid models currently available. Maybe you even go a step further and hire a graphic designer to put together an attractive infographic to summarize the topic. People find value in the work you put into it, share it to their own networks, and begin to pay more attention to your articles in general. They follow you on Facebook and even subscribe to your monthly e-newsletter. By simply creating useful content geared specifically to those interested in or in need of your services, you can cultivate a tailored audience of people to share special offers with or, to simply remind them of your products and services.
You see, outbound marketing’s greatest weakness is its reliance on cold leads. Sure, you could place print ads in a local Senior Living publication and, at best, call them “lukewarm,” but the truth is, you don’t know what that readership needs. You wouldn’t know if your ads are only going to be seen by people who already have hearing aids, or who aren’t looking for them at all.
Where outbound marketing is weak, inbound marketing is strong (very strong). It allows you to target the specific type of people you want simply by choosing the appropriate topics for your content. And when you aim that content to location-specific online channels (i.e. promoting your content on social media and location-targeting your audience, building a locally-oriented email newsletter list, etc.), your leads are as hot as they come. They’re basically knocking on your door saying, “We like what you’re doing and we want more.”
But creating hot leads is only where inbound marketing begins. Take a look at what else it offers your business as an effective marketing strategy:
Unites Sales and Marketing
Most businesses tend to either have separate sales and marketing branches or, if a small business, wear entirely different hats when engaging in either. While this makes sense from an operations perspective (as they’re two distinct steps in your sales process), it often creates a gap that prospects can fall through before fully converting.
In fact, marketing research tells us that “Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 20% annual growth rate, and companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.” The prevailing theory behind these findings is that consistency in your brand’s messaging in both marketing and sales is key to prospect acquisition and conversion.
In hearing practices, often the person involved with selling hearing aids or delivering hearing services is the same person handling the marketing decisions. Inbound marketing asks that person to be in charge of the content creation that effectively is the practice’s ad content. Instead of hiring out to produce sleek graphic ads for a mailer or print ad, you would be the one drawing on your own extensive knowledge about what patients want to know about before purchasing services and goods from you. When you write about those topics (or create videos on them), you’re aligning sales and marketing within your practice, and chances are, you won’t regret it.
Increases Your Credibility
One of the strongest shifts we’ve seen in consumer behavior over the past few decades has been an increasing distrust of old school marketing tactics. Current trends show people are more apt to turn to online reviews to learn about a local provider, for instance, than to simply trust that the favorable radio ad they hear is all there is to know.
Inbound marketing allows prospective patients to get to know you first and, as you consistently deliver useful information to them, increasingly trust you as an authority on topics related to hearing health. In a way, this approach to getting the word out about your services is akin to a free consultation. While your content can’t give specific feedback to a potential patient, it does let them know about your specialties, approach, and even your personality. The people who appreciate your content stay connected with you and are precisely the people you want to see your offers when they arise.
Boosts Your Visibility Online
These days, your hearing practice needs a strong online marketing approach to gaining new patients. Increasing numbers of people are going online to research local providers before calling or visiting them, and you want them to find you during those searches. Inbound marketing is an essential part of your overall digital marketing strategy, as it offers a significant boost to your website’s visibility online.
Posting useful articles and videos on your website, and sharing them across your social networks, is the first step of this visibility boost. It draws in attention, and perhaps even gets you a few shares on other people’s social networks. But more important than that is the effect that your keyword rich content has on your website’s ranking in search results. With the top 5 search results on Google getting at least 75% of online traffic, paying attention to your ranking for hearing health related searches is critical to make your online presence worth its cost and effort.
In short, because inbound marketing involves the creation of search engine optimized (SEO) content and a social strategy to amplify it, it offers a better shot at getting found by people looking online for your specific services.
Combine all of these benefits with inbound marketing’s impressive conversion rates and return on investment (ROI), and you’ve got all of the reasons you could ask for to see why it’s a worthwhile strategy for your practice. You know you need to be online, and you have an immense amount of helpful information to share, so why not leverage it to create a successful inbound marketing approach?
If you’re ready to take your online presence to the next level and get found easily online by more patients, consider how we can help. Our 20+ years in the hearing industry and proven digital marketing expertise can make your path to a steady flow of new patients easier and much, much faster. Contact us to learn more.