Dr. Matt Geller, OD, founder and CEO of CovalentCareers, joins Kevin Wilhelm of Marketing4ECPs to discuss the necessity of clear branding and using digital marketing to attract the perfect patients for your practice.
The power of digital marketing
Now more than ever, prospective patients have the power to pick their practitioner. In order to stand out from the crowd, Kevin Wilhelm, president and co-founder of Marketing4ECPs, says that the first step is to review your practice’s website and “make sure it’s more than just a website — it’s actually a sales tool.” Marketing4ECPs aims to help private practices lower their cost per acquisition, and on average they see a cost of roughly $15/lead.
“Your website never calls in sick, never takes a day off, always says what you want it to say … it’s your best salesperson.” With that in perspective in mind, it becomes inarguable that a website is an essential piece of a successful practice.
If you're getting started on building your brand, check out our guide to marketing your optometry practice!
Many practices in the eyecare industry have not yet fully embraced digital marketing as a tactic, and instead, rely on more traditional marketing efforts to get patients in the door. When building a strategy to market a practice, Kevin Wilhelm suggests taking the time to evaluate exactly where that business stands up against its competitors.
Private practices aren’t just competing with the other three practices in their neighborhood anymore; private practices are competing with large corporate brands, online retailers, and even other private practices just outside of what would once have been considered a local area. By surveying Google’s overall statistics on eyecare-related searches, Marketing4ECPs has found that there are roughly 5000 Google searches being conducted monthly, per private practice, for their products and services.
The question to ask then is “If there are 5000 people near my practice, and they are undecided about where to go for their eyecare needs, how do I make sure they are coming to me?” A practice’s website serves as the first point of contact with a prospective patient, and it should shine! An easy first step that you can take that can dramatically improve a prospective patient’s experience on your site is decreasing your site’s load time!
Kevin recommends checking your website’s load time by going to testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com to see just how long your patients may be waiting for your page to load. Here a few things you can do today to improve load times:
- Make your image files smaller
- There’s no need for enormous, print-sized professional photos on your site as they increase the time it takes to load. Keep your professional photos but shrink the file size. They’ll still look great!
- Remove image sliders
- Slider galleries can also slow down load times for the same reason that large images do; the site is trying to load a lot of information at once. If you use slider galleries your website will have to load in multiple images at the same time and delay loading.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity
While this cliche may not be entirely true, it has a kernel of truth to it for ODs looking to market their practice. Most marketing tactics have gone digital; having a great website and a strong social media presence are important tools in 2019, but that isn’t to say that more traditional marketing tactics are dead and gone. Marketing4ECPs has met with doctors who are immediately dismissive of advertising in print ads, but at the end of the day, all aspects of marketing must be analyzed.
Set a baseline for how much you are willing to pay to acquire a single patient and evaluate all of your marketing efforts based on that metric. You can easily compare your efforts on a platform by platform basis and determine which channels are the most profitable. From there, you can reallocate money into the most profitable avenues and spend less in others.
How can I use paid ads?
Paid advertisements online can be some of the most cost-effective marketing tools available when they are done properly. While they will take some fine-tuning to get paid ads “right,” you should:
- Bid the right amount
- If you’re paying too much for paid ads, you can plaster your brand everywhere, but that might not mean the right people are seeing it at the right time. If you pay too little, you might not get enough exposure. It’s a delicate balance that you have to work toward.
- Use the right keywords
- What are people typing in online when they’re searching for your practice or things related to your practice? Including the right terms in your ads can increase the likelihood that they're shown off to your audience.
- Consider geographic area
- What areas are you focusing your ad to? If you’re a local private practice, keeping your focus just on your town might be too narrow, but expanding to the full tri-county area may be going a bit overboard. Identify where your existing patients are coming from and go from there.
Paid ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube allow for even more targeted advertising as well as more visual-form ads. YouTube especially allows advertisers to focus on specific geographic locations as well as target audiences that are viewing specific types of video.
Ballin’ on a budget
New practice owners don’t have the luxury of cash flow to invest in marketing. When you’re deciding what needs attention and budget allocated to it, set aside a small bit for advertising costs. If that isn’t a luxury you can afford, there are definitely ways to advertise that are free (aside from your own time dedicated to managing them).
Take the time to create social media content or write a few short blog posts. Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase your practice and engage with your patients because you’re able to curate a gallery of your practice, your optical, your team, and everything in between!
Here's a list of some amazing eyecare Instagram accounts that are making a splash in the industry! Take a look to get your ideas flowing.
Another powerful (and low-cost) tactic is to continue to build your network. Reach out to other local healthcare professionals to create a referral network. You can build relationships with other ODs nearby who may specialize in areas that you don’t; you can help refer patients their way, and maybe you have extensive glaucoma training that they’re not as comfortable with.
By the numbers
By now you should be ready and raring to go. New marketing ideas are cropping up left and right, but diving into marketing without fully understanding the analytics behind your new strategies can lead to a lot of wasted time and money. The two most important numbers that you should keep in mind when determining new marketing tactics should be:
- Average revenue per patient
- This one should already be pretty familiar to you. How much money are you making per person that comes into your practice? This can help you to determine how much you can comfortably spend to bring in more!
- Conversion rate
- The rate at which you are turning prospective leads into patients that are coming to see you also plays a major role in determining marketing spend. There are some tools available such as call tracking software for people calling into the practice that can help you to better monitor how many people are reaching out and how many of those are actually becoming patients. The same idea can (and should) be applied to folks that are clicking around your website. Make sure you’re keeping informed!
When you’re properly armed with the right information, marketing tactics can become as intentional and directed as any other business decision. Knowing where and how to spend your marketing dollars will come with time, but the right strategy can lead to enormous gains.
What frog do you have to eat?
The question comes from the book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. Your “frog” is the most daunting task set ahead of you, something that is tedious or difficult, but it’ll be worth it to get it out of the way. For many practices, before making a push into digital marketing they must stop to consider what they are doing differently that doesn't require advertising.
Kevin of Marketing4ECPs quotes Robert Stephens of Geek Squad in saying that “advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.” There are elements of every practice that make it unique, and those elements should shine. You’re remarkable. Be remarkable! “What are you doing that makes your patients drive by six other optometrists or optical stores that will make them choose you?”
Marketing takes time
For those that feel like they can’t spare a moment to dedicate to new marketing efforts, Marketing4ECPs is available to strategize and execute digital marketing strategy. They can work with anything from building a practice’s brand and developing their website to working to generate profitable leads, creating content for the brand, and marketing automation. You can reach the Marketing4ECPs team at their website, Marketing4EPCs.com to get started!
Proper marketing in the eyecare space is rare. Regardless of your time or budget, you can begin to build a marketing strategy that showcases your amazing practice and all it can offer. The smallest of steps can lead to big gains over time, so eat that frog and get hopping!