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.

How Digital Communication Plays an Essential Role in Lasting Consumer Relationships

How Digital Communication Plays an Essential Role in Lasting Consumer Relationships

The ways you do business, care for your patients, and market your practice have all changed over the last 9 months, thanks to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. While some of these changes might be temporary, such as travel restrictions or local lockdowns, others are not. The pandemic has forever changed the way businesses market their services and products, as well as how you interact with your patients.

The changes in how you engage with and market to your patients are not caused only by pandemic-era practices like social distancing; they are also caused by greater, more lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Many people’s livelihoods have been put in jeopardy, and people have a greater concern for personal and public health and wellbeing.

You may remember that in the early days of the pandemic, many companies sent emails to their clients to share their concerns about the virus, to update them on new practices, to make them aware of any business closures, and to inform them of their safety measures. (Your own practice may have even sent such an email!) Messages like these resulted in a 19 percent increase in email send volume in March over January 2020. With such a large volume of emails being sent, it is crucial that your messaging resonates with your clients and draws their attention.

To earn and maintain the attention of your audience, you must focus on customer-first digital communication and engagement. Customer-first messaging should take into account your patients’ concerns, desires, emotions, and needs. Here are a few important traits to focus on:

  • Empathy

Be aware of what your customer needs, and then support their needs, respect their decisions, and value long-term loyalty over short-term gains. In these unprecedented times, some people may be holding off purchases and controlling their spending more than usual. If you are able, consider offering additional options for need-based financing to assist clients who are facing financial hardships.

  • Trust

Trust has always been important for business-client relationships, but it is now paramount. Consumers are gravitating towards companies they can trust. Make sure you are one of those. Convey your messaging in honest, simple terms, prioritize building relationships with your clients over transactions, and communicate your business policies in easy-to-understand wording. As always, follow all applicable privacy practices.

  • Relevance

Relevance may be more difficult to achieve, but it can be done if you use customer data. Relevance focuses on providing your client with what they need when they need it. This may take into account factors such as location, recent activity, and current environment.

As you incorporate each of these points into your digital communications, remember that the goal is to build and maintain relationships with your clients. Engaging with them on a personal level is more important than ever. This may require you to reach beyond the forms of communication you have used in the past. Today’s digital engagement is accomplished via email, social media, and other marketing channels. You can also build trust with your clients through online reviews, which allow them to see what others think of your services. It may take some time to adjust to the new ways of digital communication, but it is certainly doable—and well worth it. To learn more about how digital engagement has changed in 2020 and how you can best attract new clients, we welcome you to contact us at AudiologyPlus.

The profound ways COVID-19 has changed digital marketing

3 Profound Ways COVID-19 Has Changed Digital Marketing

For a moment, think about your life just one year ago. December 2019—was it different from your life in December 2020? Thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that your life now looks fairly different from last year. You have probably seen changes in how you work, how you travel, how you interact with others (whether they are your friends or your patients), and almost every other aspect of your life.

With so many changes to our daily lives, it is no wonder that COVID-19 has affected marketing as well. So, do you plow forward with your marketing strategy that was established pre-COVID (and is now outdated for the changed world we live in)? Or do you scrap your marketing plans altogether?

The best answer is neither! You can still find effective ways to market your business; you simply need to take into account the changes that have impacted businesses, consumers, and the world at large in the past year. Consumers are still out there (in fact, consumer spending is booming and eCommerce sales are 30 percent higher than in 2019). Here are three big ways marketing has changed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and how you can make each one work for you:

  1. Take the “new normal” into account in marketing.

As mentioned above, almost everything about daily life has changed in some way due to the pandemic. Be sure to take this into account in your marketing. Adjust your messaging as needed to allow for precautions like social distancing, face coverings, travel restrictions, and more.

For example, you may be offering virtual audiology appointments and eCommerce to help limit exposure for both your patients and your staff. Highlight these options and the safety measures your practice has put in place to help patients feel at ease.

2. Truth in advertising is paramount.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation about the virus was rampant. Misleading information was so prevalent that companies like Facebook had to step in to remove these claims from their platforms. Due to this and other misinformation that has spread throughout the year, many consumers are now hyper-aware of the importance of truth in advertising.

As a hearing healthcare professional, your marketing likely does not focus directly on the coronavirus. However, truth is still paramount. Be sure to maintain truthful, transparent marketing messages and build trust with your audience. One way to do this is to highlight reviews from real patients. This helps potential new patients see the high level of care you provide.

3. Take advantage of local advertising opportunities.

It would be an understatement to say that COVID-19 was not the only big news story of 2020. With so much going on in the country and the world, many people have paid more attention to the news—and they are focusing on local news outlets. In a survey conducted by Pew Research, 61 percent of respondents said they were following the news about the coronavirus, with 23 percent of them saying they paid more attention to local news outlets than national ones.

With such a focus on local news, it is the perfect time for you to explore local advertising opportunities. This is ideal for a largely location-based business, like hearing health services.

Daily may have changed drastically in the past year, but these changes have brought new opportunities for digital marketing. To learn more about these changes and how you can take advantage of them to grow your business, we invite you to contact us today at AudiologyPlus. From websites and SEO to online reviews and eCommerce, we are here to meet your digital marketing needs.

Responsive design & virtual options for audiologists

The Necessity of Responsive Design & Virtual Options

As a hearing professional, you have a lot on your plate—especially now. Of course, your top priority is still to provide the best possible care for your patients. You are also likely looking to grow your practice and attract new patients. As the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic continues and people continue to learn how to navigate the new “normal,” your strategies for finding and serving patients may be a bit different from the tactics that worked in the past.

One of the most obvious changes is that virtual options are now more important than ever before. In fact, they are not only important; they are crucial. These virtual options to offer your patients may include a website for your practice, social media pages, and online reviews. You may be focusing more on finding new patients online through targeted ads. And perhaps most important for your patients, you may be offering telehealth and eCommerce options that allow them to receive the care, services, and products they need from their home.

When considering virtual options, it can be all too easy to look at design as an added expense. However, you should consider it an investment in your practice and your patients. With many people limiting their contact with others—particularly if you serve high-risk communities like the elderly—your business is not the only one stepping up their game online. The truth is that customers have multiple options, so you need to make yours the best one.

One way to help your practice come out on top is to invest in the design of your website. Patients prefer options that are sleek, modern, and accessible. If your website is outdated, difficult to navigate, or does not function properly on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, you may lose potential patients before they even get to know who you are and what you offer.

The key is a responsive website—which means that your website design and formatting responds to the device the website visitor is using, whether it is a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This ensures that your website functions optimally, no matter how the potential patient accesses it. Responsive websites can also make sure that the most important information, including your phone number, location, and other contact methods, are presented prominently and clearly.

Once you have a responsive website, along with other virtual options like telehealth and eCommerce, is your work done? No! To ensure that you continue to bring your patients the best possible online experience, you need to continually reevaluate your online offerings and their performance. Do patients tend to spend a long time on certain pages? If so, make more like them! Do they hit the “back” button quickly on other pages? That page might not be presented optimally. Continue to make certain that it is easy for patients to access telehealth appointments and your eCommerce offerings. And of course, website design trends change every few years as well, so you cannot rest on your laurels for too long.

In a time when virtual options are essential, you can continue to grow your practice by prioritizing your online presence and offerings. At AudiolgyPlus, we are dedicated to providing you with comprehensive, streamlined services that make it easy for you to upgrade your practice’s virtual options. To learn more about what we offer and how our services can help your business grow, we invite you to contact us today.

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.

Digital accessibility

The Necessity of Digital Accessibility in the Pandemic Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essential Digital Marketing Strategies for COVID-19

5 Essential Digital Marketing Strategies for COVID-19

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

  • Revisit your business goals.

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

  • Avoid flooding your clients with outbound messages.

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

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

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

  • Test your online services and inbound marketing.

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

  • Prioritize analysis and measurement.

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