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Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 06:07 by NancyRausman

In our last post we told you that Email Marketing offers the highest return on investment of any digital marketing channel. If you missed it have a look here. Now I am back with more tips on email marketing best practices so you can reap the biggest return from these benefits. 

Once you have your mailing list set up in an excel spreadsheet, database or automated email marketing tool, you have a couple of hurdles you need to clear in order to see the fruits of your efforts. First of all you want to make sure your email does not end up in the spam folder. The secrets here are to make sure the sender account is a professional, yet personal sounding address and that you don’t use strong “salesy” language in your subject line such as excessive punctuation or symbols or using all caps or abbreviations. You may want to set up a separate email account to send and receive marketing emails. 

The second hurdle is getting your audience to open the email. This success is largely dependent upon an engaging subject line. It may take you longer to write the email subject line than the entire email itself and that is okay.  A good subject is really what will make or break the success of your campaign.

Lastly, you need to provide value to the recipient so he will want to keep receiving your emails and won’t unsubscribe.

Here are a few ideas for the type of content your customers might find valuable and interesting.

  • Direct promotional emails: Tell about a new product, sale or event. Provide a special coupon or offer that can only be taken advantage of through the email.
  • Emails to new or existing customers: Keep in touch with your patients through appointment reminders, product notifications, birthday greetings and more.
  • Customer loyalty offers: Create a special offer for existing customers as a thank you and a reason for them to come in for a visit.
  • Newsletters: A Practice newsletter is great for patient retention. While you should keep it short and to the point, a brief update on what is going on in your Practice, along with some educational or entertaining content will provide value to the reader and maintain a connection.   

 When creating your email don’t forget the following:

  • Make sure you include a call to action whether that is a phone number, a link to your website or a sign-up form.
  • Track your data to see what works and adapt your strategy accordingly. See how many people opened the email, chose to unsubscribe, forwarded to others or listed you as spam.
  • Personalize when possible. A recent study by Experian claimed personalized promotional mailings had 29 percent higher unique open rates and 41 percent higher unique click rates.
  • Include a privacy statement and an unsubscribe form so readers know you are using their email address with integrity and that they are welcome to unsubscribe if they want.
  • Keep emails short and to the point. This also goes for subject lines, especially for mobile device users, try to keep subject lines to fewer than 50 characters.
  • Always send a couple of test emails to different staff members before you deploy the campaign to make sure it looks the way you want it to in email form.
  • Update your opt-out and bounced emails on a regular basis.
  • Think mobile. Reading email is the most popular activity on Smartphones with 91% of consumers regularly checking their email by mobile device. Make sure that you consider this when creating a campaign.

For more statistics on effective email marketing check out this terrific infographic posted on Click, VisionMondayhttp://www.visionmonday.com/click/newsletter/2254/content/38580/

By following these tips you can easily build an attentive list of consumers and engage your existing patients. We're here to help. If you've got questions contact Daniel at daniel@eyecarepro.net or 412-532-6542.

Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 15:56 by NancyRausman

Do you use email marketing in your Practice?

If not, you are missing out on the most cost effective and impactful way to reach your target audience that is out there. With all of the marketing and digital media options available what is so great about old fashioned email? Email marketing offers the highest return on investment (ROI) of all digital marketing solutions because it is the most direct route to patients and potential customers and is proven to increase engagement and revenue. A recent Direct Marketing Association study found email marketing has an ROI of $57.25 for every dollar spent, over 150 percent greater than the ROI for non-email online marketing. E-mail remains one of the best online marketing tools. - ClickZ

 

The bottom line is that unlike other marketing channels such as online advertising, social media or even off-line methods such as newspaper ads, email puts you in direct conversation with a target population that cares about what you have to say.  After all, they gave you their email address, right?

 

Email Marketing can work wonders for your Practice to drive up revenue, increase your customer base and create recognition and loyalty for your Practice.  Here are a few more reasons it is such an effective marketing strategy:

  1. Instant connectivity with target audience. Most people use email on a daily basis, which makes email marketing virtually instantaneous.
  2. Directly reach potential customers. Unlike your website or an ad, the recipients don’t have to take any action to get to you -you come to them by reaching out and contacting them.  Further, because you are working from a list of contacts you have obtained directly, you are focusing your resources on a target audience that is meaningful. Plus, since it goes right to their inbox, there is a much greater chance that the audience will see your communication than with any other medium.  
  3. Increase patient loyalty and retention. Since you are sharing information, a special deal or something of value with a select, directed group of individuals, you are engaging in a more personal interaction than indirect advertising. Particularly if you are sending personalized emails, this keeps you at the forefront of your patients’ minds and maintains a connection that leads to trust and loyalty.
  4. It’s cheap and effective. Email marketing costs are usually minimal. Even if you use an Automated Email Marketing Tool (such as DemandForce, Websystem3 or even Mailchimp or Constant Contact) to automate your efforts, email marketing is relatively inexpensive. And did I say it directly reaches your target audience yet?

 

The most important thing you need to get started with email marketing is a database of email addresses of current, past and potential customers.  If you aren’t already collecting email addresses, make sure a reliable system is put in place. Set up a procedure for your administrative staff and add sign-up forms on your website. From there you can begin to reach out and connect with this audience through emails providing Practice news, valuable information, personal greetings or even entertainment.

 

Stay tuned for our next digital tip which will detail some best practices for email marketing. In the meantime, if you have questions, we are here for you as always. Just contact Daniel at daniel@eyecarepro.net.

 
Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 10:46 by NancyRausman

 

April marks the last month of Seeing is Believing 2014, which goes "offline" on May 1st, bringing its 90 Day OnDemand period to a close until next year’s conference.  The event brought some of the industry's top speakers to laptops, desktops, and mobile devices across the globe to discuss the latest developments in clinical eye care, innovations in Practice Management and even staff focused tracks.  SiB2014 also brought online education for opticians with insightful talks from Mark Hinton, Cathy Ives and Jody Shuler.  

While Mark joined SiB for his second year, discussing Social Proof and Say This and NOT That, this was a first for Cathy and Jody to step up to the virtual podium.  Both are certainly no strangers to educating in a virtual setting, though, as regular contributors to the Optical Vision Site blog.  Indeed, you can read Jody's latest post discussing how to do sales without being a sales person here: (http://www.theopticalvisionsite.com/sales/selling-without-selling/#.U0EBZfldVuM). Cathy and Jody didn’t fail to impress with their topics for this venue which included, How to Compete with Online Eyewear and Secrets to Making your Practice Exciting.  

We caught up with Jody Shuler, wherein he discussed how he found himself joining the eye care world, his thoughts on education, and what he believes is the most important thing you can be doing right now to survive in the industry.  

#1.  You had an interesting entry into the industry at a young age, namely as a lab technician in your hometown, La Fargeville, NY.  How did that come about and is it a path you would recommend for others?

"I started working as a lab technician about 6 months out of high school, which was a job I knew I could do because I enjoyed working with my hands doing technical and mechanical things.  My brother had started in the field a year prior to me.  I found myself there for 15 years, with the better portion of my career there spent learning the trade.  

It is absolutely a path I would recommend to others.  I enjoy teaching and helping people learn the trade correctly.  I have been at an independent Practice for a little over 7 years now, near my hometown.  It's very much a small, community practice; we've been here 100 years with a strong base, quality customer service, and quality client care.”

#2.  What do you like most about working for an independent Practice?   

"My Practice is the same one I had gone to as a young child for my first pair of glasses, Meade Optical in Watertown, NY.  I did previously find myself working at a Lenscrafters for a year and knew that I wanted to be at an independent Practice that would allow more flexibility, the ability to change products, and to create and do things that an independent has the freedom to do.

There are many memorable experiences.  We fix problems.  My interaction with clients consistently opens up my eyes to the quality of products and top dollar lenses.  Being able to help people and doing it right the first time stays with you.  "  

#3. What are the secrets to surviving in today's optical landscape?  

“We need to not only hand-off inventory, but knowledge.  Help your clients to better understand the products you offer them, which means that you must always educate yourself.  Taking CE courses helps, as well as going to annual meetings and possibly even smaller venues that your state program may offer.  Forums like ODs on Facebook and others help me to stay abreast of technology.  Always research products, engage with others in the industry, and talk to the labs.  I'm always willing to listen to get a different view point.  I'm just a small oval that doesn't fit inside the box of the traditional lens idea that has been around for 20 years. I ask, ‘If it's worked for 20 years, what can we do differently?  Is there something new?’  Always research the details and know who you're buying from: who owns them, what they do, how they do it, and how it helps you as an independent. “

“Strongly educate yourself and your clients.  That’s really been my mantra for years.”

#4. What are some innovations you're looking forward to this year?  

“I look forward to seeing what we can do as skilled opticians and what comes out of the design market, and the next level that physicists and tech experts are bringing to the market, too.  In particular, digital design lenses have been my passion for the last few years. “

#5. Any further words for other optical professionals out there?

“Do your best.  Offer the best.  Don’t ever assume that somebody doesn’t want the best products that they can get.  Always educate yourself as to what’s available in the industry with regard to lenses and frames.  Be consumed in your trade.  It’s a trade, not just a job.”

For more great advice from Jody, all SiB registrants are invited to visit his full lecture "Three Secrets to an Exciting Practice" OnDemand to learn more about what you can be doing now to build enthusiasm for your optical dispensary.   

Listen to Jody along with 26 other informative and inspiring speakers before time runs out.  Even if you weren’t registered to attend the live conference, you can still register here. We’d love to hear your thoughts about the event at sib@eyecarepro.net or through our attendee survey at www.sib2014.com/attendee-survey.

 

Posted on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 05:43 by Nancy Rausman

Despite some opinions out there that suggest you don’t need a website for your Practice, for most ODs, a website is an absolute must. If you don’t have a website because you just haven’t gotten around to it yet, you are showing how out of touch you are with the times. If however, you are thinking that having a presence on other online channels such as Yelp, Facebook and other social media is enough, read on before you jump to this rash decision.

Want to start with some statistics? According to a recent PEW Internet and American Life Study, 80% of U.S. Internet users have searched for health related topics online, that’s up 62% from 2001. And with the increased use of mobile technology, these numbers are just expected to grow.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, here are seven crucial reasons you need a website for your Practice’s online presence:

  1. Create and control your image. Unlike other places your Practice will be found online, your website is the only location you can completely control how you want to present yourself to make the first impression. Your website is essentially your online office, where you will create the feel and the image you want to show to your potential patients. In fact, this is the only place where others can’t chime in, so take the opportunity to put your best foot forward and make an impressive, unique and lasting first impression.
  2. Another piece of the puzzle. Now-a-days consumers refer to multiple sources before making a purchase decision. If you are looking to buy a new camera you would look at the company’s website as well as reviews on Amazon.com or consumer reports and you might also ask friends on FB for input. Just like the camera manufacturer, an OD should want to make his voice part of the big picture of information consumers are getting.  
  3.  A central hub to funnel all of your online efforts. Everything, and I mean everything, that you do online (and offline) should be connected back to your website. This allows for a single, consistent and well-planned message that you want to spread among any potential clients. This branding focus will also help to give you control over your online image by continually pointing back to the impression you want to portray.
  4. Your professional side. While much of social media has a more casual tone, which reveals the friendly and fun side of your Practice, your website presents the professional side of your Practice. The website is your destination to provide the important facts people will need, practical applications and educational content to show your expertise. These critical details may or may not be found on other online locations but users will know to rely on a website for thorough information. While you can use social media to educate as well, you have the ability to offer more value and deeper information on your website. 
  5. Getting found on the search engines. If you want to show up high on search results, you will need more than a Facebook page. From an SEO perspective there are certain factors you can’t obtain without a website which help Google determine whether your practice is relevant to be returned in a search query and be ranked high in organic search. However, if you have a Facebook page, a Twitter stream, a Yelp page, Yellow Pages, Google+, Google Places, and a website, you can dominate organic search results and ensure that users can find you when they are searching online.
  6. People expect it. It's that simple. If you don’t have a website, people will either never find you (because they assume if you exist you have a website) or think that you are still in the dark ages. A website gives your practice legitimacy and shows that you are up with the times.
  7. "All" small business are doing it. This includes your competitors. And if you aren’t there with them, you are giving your competitors a huge advantage over your Practice. It means more advertisement and a larger presence for them with out you in sight. People are looking online, so you want to make sure you are part of the picture.

If you need a website or a website facelift, contact us for a free website consultation with one of our website professionals. 

 

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Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 06:33 by Nancy Rausman

Don’t forget! Seeing is Believing 2014 is running OnDemand until May 1st.  Registration is open and provides full access to the courses and Exhibit Hall. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear SiB’s fantastic speakers provide valuable insight on the topics that interest the modern OD and optical staff. We have 11 continuing education COPE approved courses, in addition to excellent lectures on Practice Management, developments in clinical treatment, educational tracks for Staff and Opticians and more.  

Check out the full list of sessions, available here. (Click on “Sessions in the above link.  All CE courses have a red COPE ID number.)

If you haven’t already registered and attended SiB, register here.

Some CE related questions are answered here already in our COPE FAQs page, but if you have any further questions feel free to contact Amelia Yzaguirre, SiB’s coordinator at amelia@eyecarepro.net.

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Daniel Rostenne Daniel Rostenne is a leader in the online optometric community and has made a career of creating and promoting effective web sites for optometric practices. He is a COPE educator, editor of Optometry Web, a regular speaker at eyecare events & conferences and has been widely published in Optometric e-zines. Daniel is an expert in Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Optimization, in particular as it relates to best practices for Optometrists. You can sometimes find Daniel daydreaming on Google+.

Contact Daniel: 866-886-4442 or danielr@eyecarepro.net

Nancy Rausman Nancy Rausman is the managing editor of the EyeCarePro blog and Optometry Web Newsletter. She is responsible for providing ECPs with educational content that helps them advance their practices through technology, management strategies and digital marketing.

Contact Nancy:nancy@eyecarepro.net