While optional in the past, increased competition and the number of users finding doctor information on the web has changed the game to mandatory. Today’s healthcare and insurance systems have fostered an environment for the healthcare consumer to take control of how and where they spend their healthcare dollars. More and more of these dollars are coming out of the consumer’s pocket and that gives them more decision-making power.
Healthcare decisions look more and more like retail decisions as patients search for information on quality, cost, availability and product proximity. Optometrists must be prepared to translate the experience they provide - your brand story – into readily accessible information that addresses the healthcare consumer’s search needs. Here are 6 areas to consider when marketing to this information seeking healthcare consumer:
- If you only had three words, which ones describe your Practice. You’ve just made the first step in communicating your unique optometric brand. Once you’ve settled on your three words, check that all of your marketing conveys these ideals.
- Make sure your site is mobile responsive. According to a recent Pew study, 52% of consumers are now searching for health-related information through a mobile device. Make sure your Practice website is formatted so that consumers can quickly and easily get information they need.
- Go comprehensive. Web marketing is important but it should work hand in hand with an offline marketing effort – community outreach, press releases, newspaper ads, business-to-business partnerships. The majority of patients (84%) conduct research both online and offline. How patients search for healthcare information should be considered when planning out your marketing messages.
- Conduct traditional SEO (search engine optimization).Imagine millions of points of data and information at your fingertips. That’s the web and that’s why consumers love it so much. Make sure your website knows how to be best friends with all of the top search engines. Most consumers, 77%, are finding the information they need through the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Take a look at our recent article on tracking your traffic from Google.
- Know your audiences. The emphasis is on the “s”. Most optometrists see their market as a singular entity, “my community”. In fact, it is made up of specific smaller audiences and each want to know that you are speaking to them – pediatrics, seniors, busy professionals. Make sure your brand story reaches these audiences and that it is recognizable.
- Measure and evaluate. At least twice each year, stop and evaluate the marketing activities you are conducting. How many new patients have you seen in the past few months? Have you seen sales growth for a product or service you are marketing? Are they giving you real results (i.e. revenue well above what you spent on the marketing activity itself)? If so, do more of that activity. If not, cut it out of your marketing plan.