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Is Pinterest the Future of Shopping and E-Commerce?

If this article were to list everything that has changed in our day-to-day lives between January 2020 and now, it would be an unending article. (And you probably don’t have time to read that!) So, let’s start by getting right to the heart of the matter at hand: the retail industry during and after COVID. It is undisputed that 2020 brought many changes to the retail industry and consumer behavior. What role will Pinterest play in the future of shopping and e-commerce, and how can you harness its power?

First, let’s review what Pinterest is and how it works. Although arguably less popular than other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Pinterest boasted an impressive 459 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2020. Pinterest works differently from other social media platforms. While you can still add friends and follow their posts, you are not sharing details of your life, recent activities, videos of yourself dancing (as is popular on TikTok), or “throwback” photos from your pre-COVID travels.

Instead, Pinterest allows you to share links from things you like around the internet. Pinterest calls itself a “visual discovery engine,” focusing on helping you find inspiration in images and links. Some of the most popular types of “pins” (or posts) on Pinterest include recipes, home decor, fashion, and more.

How does all of this play into the changes in the retail industry and consumer behavior in 2020 and beyond? Pinterest also facilitates online shopping. When you see a pin of something you like (whether it’s a sweater, a bookshelf, a hairstyling tool, or a lawnmower), you can click on that pin and be taken to the website where you can purchase. Brands can also purchase ad space on Pinterest, with the type of ads shown being tailored to each user’s preferences and behaviors.

Although Pinterest included this e-commerce functionality pre-COVID, the platform saw a huge increase in its use in 2020. In the first half of the year, Pinterest saw a 50 percent increase in users who visited places to shop on the platform. Pinterest knew they couldn’t rest on their laurels there—to continue to grow and provide the services their users need, the platform needed to continually adapt to new user behaviors. As explained by Milka Kramer, country manager UK and Ireland at Pinterest, “It is crucial for brands and marketers to align their efforts with this customer behavior and adapt their messaging. Many industries will see permanent changes in consumer behaviour after this period so the critical nature of insights will remain into 2021 and long after this is behind us.”

So, what is the future of shopping as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and eventually move past it? Kramer believes the key will be to merge the best of in-store and online shopping experiences. E-commerce will continue to grow, and consumers will look for a shopping experience that is more than scrolling through products. Consumers are looking for inspiration and connection, and it is up to your company to give them that experience. To learn more about the future of e-commerce and how social media platforms like Pinterest can play a role in your company’s marketing, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, we are ready to help you grow your business.

ecommerce is a must for audiologists

E-Commerce Is a MUST for Hearing Health Professionals

What do you think of when you consider e-commerce? Your first thought is probably of e-commerce giants like Amazon. However, e-commerce is an important business opportunity not only for sites like Amazon, Walmart.com, and Target.com, but also for hearing health professionals like you. In fact, e-commerce should not be regarded as simply a good opportunity for hearing health professionals—it should be seen as a MUST.

E-commerce provides endless opportunities to your hearing health practice that you cannot afford to miss out on. Here are only a few of the reasons you should invest in e-commerce:

  • No need to refer elsewhere, which increases patient satisfaction.

Referrals are a normal part of healthcare. Dentists, medical doctors, and of course, hearing health professionals—all of them use referrals. But what if you could reduce the volume of referrals you give?

First, you would be keeping more business for yourself. By offering e-commerce products at your practice, you can increase your revenue by selling products you previously did not offer. Second, your patients will appreciate being able to meet more of their needs in one place, without the need to go elsewhere. Not only will this boost patient satisfaction, but it can also increase patient loyalty to your practice. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that customer loyalty is increasingly associated with online purchases—if you can make the experience personalized and streamlined.

  • Your patients already trust you, so allow them to trust you for their purchases, too.

Your patients come to see you for their audiology needs because they trust you as a healthcare provider. You likely know from your own experiences that finding a healthcare provider you trust is not always easy. So, since your patients already trust you, they would prefer to be able to feel that same sense of trust when they make their hearing health-related purchases.

Because you, as their hearing health professional, already know their specific hearing health needs and preferences, you can also personalize the e-commerce experience to them. Enabling your patients to buy directly from you will increase their sense of trust and satisfaction.

  • Prepare for over-the-counter hearing aids.

You are already aware that over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids will soon be available. This means that patients will not need to see a hearing health professional, like you, in order to purchase hearing aids. Do not wait until OTC hearing aids are available to begin reacting to this change—start preparing now!

Establishing yourself as a leader in your area in both hearing healthcare and e-commerce can set your practice apart when it comes to consumers’ options for purchasing hearing aids. To do this, you need to offer the products your patients need and demonstrate the value of your professional care. Show your patients that not only will you provide the products they want via e-commerce, but you will ensure the proper fitting and adjustment, which they will not receive with OTC devices.

To learn more about the importance of e-commerce in hearing healthcare and how you can get ahead in this essential field, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. We are eager to help your practice succeed.

Man contemplating information on computer - Shift in consumer behavior due to Covid-19

The Pandemic Forced a Shift in Consumer Behavior

As a business owner, you know that due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, it has not been “business as usual” for nearly a year. With widespread lockdowns across the world, consumers and businesses alike have had to increasingly turn to digital solutions. This can be seen in lifestyle shifts like increased usage of meal delivery and grocery pick-up services. While these particular changes might seem small, the truth is that the shift to digital business models has been revolutionary for companies worldwide.

While businesses around the planet have scrambled to adjust their business models and find solutions that work for today’s reality, one form of marketing has proven time and again to be both efficient and measurable: search engine optimization (SEO). Both Google and SEO grew immensely during the last financial crisis. Here are just a few reasons why SEO is indispensable in the age of COVID-19 and beyond:

  • SEO reflects the voice of the customer.

If you track and measure the searches that bring visitors to your website, you will see which search terms and phrases are being used most often and how well your website answers those queries. This gives you valuable insight into what your customers are looking for. Put simply, they search for what they need.

For example, if you notice that searches are increasing for how to fix a damaged hearing aid, or how to adjust a hearing aid’s volume, you can take this as a cue to play up these services and highlight them both on your website and in your practice. Few other forms of marketing provide you such a direct glimpse into the voice, needs, and desires of your target market.

  • It is cost-effective.

While some people might think that SEO is completely free, it often is not. For maximum optimization for your hearing healthcare website, you will likely need to work with a professional who knows all of the ins and outs of SEO for fields like audiology. Certain search marketing tactics cost as well, such as Google Ads. But while SEO might not be totally free, it is cost-effective. When done right, SEO can give you a huge return on a relatively small investment.

  • SEO is constantly evolving.

Yes, this is a pro, not a con! The world of SEO is always growing and shifting to better meet the needs of consumers. Of course, this means that you cannot have SEO “done” for your website just once and then leave it be for years. SEO is fluid and, as noted, responds to the voice of the consumer.

These constant shifts allow for greater opportunities. New technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), is moving into SEO to give better responses to customers’ queries. Because SEO will always respond to consumers, you will have frequent opportunities to sharpen your blade and make changes to your website and optimization efforts in order to gain new customers. For more information about the recent shift in consumer behavior and business marketing, and how you can take advantage of these changes to grow your hearing practice, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus.

YouTube and Audiology - how to utilize this virtual tool

The Importance of YouTube in Audiology Today

Allow me to share a brief personal experience. I recently wanted to learn to arm knit a blanket. I had learned traditional knitting in the past (although that was nearly 20 years ago), but I had never tried arm knitting. I started on YouTube, where I simply searched for “how to arm knit a blanket.” Just 45 minutes later, I had successfully made a small blanket.

This type of experience happens for millions of people every day. YouTube is no longer reserved for humorous videos and music videos—it is the second-largest search engine behind Google. While people certainly do still watch humorous clips and music videos on YouTube, the content featured on the platform has grown to include nearly every topic you could imagine. This includes not only knitting how-to videos but audiology content as well.

In this day and age, your online presence as a hearing practice cannot be limited to your website, or even to a business Facebook page. Your patients—and potential new patients—are looking for you to share your expertise on multiple platforms and in various media, including YouTube videos. This is an incredible opportunity for your practice to stand out from the rest and to bring unique value to your patients.

YouTube videos are a great investment of your time and marketing budget, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play out worldwide. Lockdown measures are still in place or have been reinstated in many areas, and even where lockdowns are not enforced, many people are voluntarily staying in more. One activity people have spent hours on while staying home is watching YouTube videos. According to Ofcom’s Media Nation report, a survey conducted among online adults during lockdown found that 42 percent had used YouTube in the last seven days.

In addition, many people are avoiding in-person contact when virtual options will suffice. For some, this includes avoiding in-person appointments with health specialists like hearing professionals. You may also be limiting your hours based on the restrictions in place in your local areas, your personal level of comfort, and the level of risk among your team. Telehealth appointments are an excellent way to meet with your patients without the need for in-person visits, but YouTube can also have a place here.

You might have seen in the news that many people turned to online haircutting tutorials during lockdown—and the same is happening in many other fields, including audiology. Imagine if your practice’s YouTube channel became the go-to resource for people looking for how-to videos such as “how to clean your hearing aid,” “how to troubleshoot your hearing aid,” “how to adjust the volume on your hearing aid,” “how to support a loved one with hearing loss,” etc.

Now is an ideal time to demonstrate the high level of value you provide to your patients by offering relevant, useful content on many channels, including YouTube. And do not worry about whether you are a great actor—YouTube statistics show that when choosing which video to watch, whether a video relates to a viewer’s interest is three times as important as whether the video features a famous actor.

To learn more about how you can use YouTube and other social media platforms to reach your patients in new ways, we welcome you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. We are ready to help you grow your practice.

Social media 2020

What You Need to Know About Social Media in 2020

Social media is not new, nor is its importance in the business world. If your practice has an online presence, you likely have social media pages created for your practice as well, such as a Facebook page. In 2020, however, there is much more you can do for your business using social media than simply having a Facebook page.
This year, there are many new features and formats to watch for on social media. These features may be able to help your practice reach more people in new ways. Here are some of the top social media trends and features to be aware of in 2020 that could impact your practice:

  • Facebook
    • Groups

Groups are now more important than ever. In early 2019, Facebook even announced that they intended to make Groups a central focus on the platform. Facebook Groups are a way for you to build a community around your practice and engage with your patients and potential patients.

  • Messenger Ads

Although Messenger Ads first launched in 2016, the product has undergone many upgrades and changes in recent years that make it a powerful tool in 2020. Messenger allows you to deliver ads in a way that is more likely to drive engagement.

  • Instant Experience Ads

Instant Experience ads are full-screen takeover ads that load instantly and are mobile-optimized. This format ensures that you capture the full attention of the viewer.

  • Dynamic Ads

Dynamic Ads are Facebook’s machine-learning ad unit. This ad format delivers a personalized experience to each person who views it, based on the type of ads they are most likely to respond to.

  • Instagram
    • Story Ads

Another format that is not new in 2020, Story Ads first launched on Instagram over two years ago. Story ads perform very well, with Instagram reporting that 500 million accounts use Stories. Due to the success of this format, Instagram recently announced they were experimenting with increasing ad load on the platform.

  • Shoppable Posts

This feature enables users to make purchases from their feed or Story content without leaving the app.

  • IGTV

IGTV is a hub for creating and watching long-form content. Unlike Stories, IGTV videos do not disappear after 24 hours. This format allows you to create content for your followers that they can watch at a later time and engage with your audience.

  • Twitter
    • Hide Replies

Twitter users can now hide replies to tweets, giving you more control over the conversation. This can help your practice by allowing you to weed out any spam replies.

  • Greater Video Focus

In the last year, video ad formats were the fastest-growing ad format on Twitter. Video content is becoming a more and more important and integrated part of the platform.

  • Snapchat
    • Dynamic Ads

One of the benefits of Dynamic Ads is that it reduces the amount of time and effort required to create and maintain product ads on Snapchat. Snapchat is particularly appealing to a younger demographic, so this is the ideal place to reach younger potential patients.

  • YouTube
    • 15-Second Non-Skippable Ads

In 2019, YouTube made 15-second non-skippable ads available to all advertisers. This enables you to place 15-second ads that the user will not able to skip.

  • Intelligent Ad Tools

YouTube’s intelligent ad tools include a range of machine-learning powered tools that make it easier and more accessible to create ads for the platform.

  • Pinterest
    • Catalogs

Pinterest’s new Catalogs are a way to showcase products on the platform. You can upload multiple product images, organize the products by category, and turn the images into dynamic Product Pins.
With so much to watch for in 2020, it is certain to be an exciting year in social media. To learn more about how you can utilize social media to grow your practice this year, we invite you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today.

Communication Skills Training

The Importance of Communication Skills Training (Even for Hearing Professionals)

Patient communication is something you deal with every day. You communicate with your patients as you discuss their issues and concerns, assess their hearing, provide treatment recommendations, and follow up on treatment outcomes. Since patient communication is such an essential and integral part of your day-to-day work, you probably do not give it much thought.
However, perhaps you should give patient communication more thought, precisely because it is so essential. Although you practice communication on a daily basis, you may want to consider some additional communication skills training. Communication skills training focuses on optimizing clinician communication skills. The goal is to better meet patient needs, priorities, and values.
In recent years, communication skills training has become more and more of a priority in health care. Despite the focus on communication, however, few healthcare providers properly acknowledge the importance of hearing and understanding in medical settings.
As a hearing healthcare professional, you are likely familiar with this issue. Unfortunately, to medical professionals in other healthcare fields, the importance of a patient’s ability to hear and understand may not seem so obvious and essential. Much of communication skills training focuses on enhancing the healthcare provider’s communication skills, but even a clinician with the best of skills will not be able to effectively share information with a patient who cannot hear well.
In fact, recent studies have found that patients with impaired hearing are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged. Researchers believe this is because patients with hearing loss have difficulty communicating with their doctor or other medical personnel. One recent study found that patients who reported trouble communicating had an average of 32 percent greater likelihood of hospital readmission. Another study discovered that patients with self-reported hearing aid use had a reduced incidence of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and nights spent in the hospital.
Studies have also shown that patients with compromised hearing status had lower treatment adherence. These recent studies make clear that a patient’s ability to hear and understand their healthcare provider is critical to optimizing communication. As a hearing professional, you can assess a patient’s hearing ability and tailor your communication to fit their needs. You can also recommend hearing aid use to improve their understanding and enhance overall patient communication.
Although your profession in the hearing healthcare field makes you familiar with problems that may arise when a patient cannot hear or understand well, it is important to keep these issues in mind as you communicate with your patients. As you share information with your patients, be sure to check that they understand you. It is also important to leave time for silence, during which time the patient can raise any questions or concerns they may have about the information you have provided.
You can also use your specialized knowledge and understanding of patients’ hearing difficulties to raise awareness of these issues among other healthcare providers. In addition to seeking communication skills training of your own, you can become an advocate for communication that includes an understanding of the patient’s hearing ability.
To learn more about the importance of communication skills training and other ways you can enhance your hearing practice, we welcome you to contact AudiologyPlus today.