Eye care marketing: Mastering optical patient acquisition online
Patient acquisition happens in a number of ways. For example: through vision plans, via referrals from labs or other providers, or by word-of-mouth. The problem? You have limited control over those channels.
However, there’s one surefire patient acquisition strategy you have complete control over: A good marketing plan.
This is especially true for out-of-network practices. But, that doesn’t mean in-network eye care professionals can’t benefit from a strong marketing campaign either. A digital marketing plan will generate new appointments for any eye care practice.
Below we'll go over various digital marketing strategies for eye care professionals. Keep checking back as we post articles that expand on the topics discussed below!
Your eye care marketing plan
The nice thing about eye care marketing? Whether you’re crafting a marketing strategy for an optical shop, optometry practice, all-in-one or anything in between the basics are the same.
What’s going to change is who you’re speaking to and what you’re saying to them.
That’s where it begins: Your target audience. Your optical shop for children may have a Facebook just like the sports vision practice in the town over, but what you post will be completely different. Knowing who your target audience is and how they want to engage with your eye care business is step one toward developing an effective marketing plan.
With a clearly defined target audience you can identify the content and channels they prefer to engage. The sports vision practice might share a link to a story on famous athletes who got LASIK. A children’s optical shop, on the other hand, may share a children’s book about wearing glasses.
What you're saying to your audience depends, in part, on whom comprises your audience. But you should also mold your message around what sets your practice apart. What makes your practice special? What about your optical stands apart from the others? Most importantly: What can you offer patients that vision plans, private equity and online competition can't? Oftentimes you can build on your superior care to differentiate from the eye care behemoths trying to edge in on independents' business.
One easy way to differentiate from other opticals in your area is through your inventory. After all, eyewear is eye care. ECPs that carry independent eyewear set themselves apart from other opticals nearby by offering something that no one else does: Frames and lenswear that's not affiliated with vision plans and other corporate entities trying to take over patients' eye care.
We recommend adding independent eyewear to your inventory through Anagram Prosper. Our rebate offering sends cash back straight to patients' devices when they purchase qualifying eyewear from your optical. And it's free to join! It's a simple way to differentiate that won't cost your practice any extra money to implement.
Running an eye care website that ranks
Your online optical practice marketing starts with your website. This is a valuable resource for people looking for information on your eye care business story, the services or materials you provide, or how to get in touch.
And in order to ensure people find your business you need to show up in Google searches.
Why local SEO is important
This is where local SEO comes into play. Ranking on Google is hard. There are so many websites competing against you. However, Google frequently makes updates to localize search. And eye care businesses can optimize their web presence for local queries.
What does that mean?
There are plenty of optometrists online. But how many are there in your county? Or your town? The same goes for optical shops and all sorts of providers. Competition is minimized when search is localized, making it a lot easier to rank on Google.
By ensuring Google knows where your business is located and making sure to curate your local listings, you can lock in a top spot in the rankings.
Keep user experience top of mind
But what happens when people click through to your site? Is it a pleasant experience or a mish-mash of broken links and fuzzy pictures?
Website experience is critical to digital marketing success. It takes about 0.05 seconds for visitors to decide whether they’re going to stick around your site. A bad first impression will end any chance of converting visitors into leads or new patients.
Luckily, prefabricated website themes and templates are pretty easy to come by and eye care marketing companies can build new sites for ECPs willing to pay.
Your website doesn’t have to be too complex or fancy. Visitors just want something that looks nice and is easy to use. If you can keep them on your site you’ll be more likely to convert them into patients. Plus, you’ll show Google your site offers value; that will help your local search ranking.
Content marketing for eye care
A great website is one thing. But a website packed with helpful information that turns you into a trusted expert in your community is a powerful tool for practice growth.
One of Google’s most important ranking factors is EAT: Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. A number of signals tell Google’s algorithm how well your website content adheres to those guidelines.
If you’re providing EAT-worthy content to your website visitors, then you’re going to see that reflected in your presence on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
There are plenty of on-page SEO tips and tricks that you can use to tell Google how to read your site. But content that's helpful and trustworthy is the best way to start your journey toward the top of the rankings.
What sort of content should you provide?
You have a few eye care topic ideas: Do you know how you’re going to cover them? You don’t necessarily have to write a blog. For example, you can shoot a video featuring you explaining a specific topic. Then add the video to a blog post and include a transcript below.
The transcript will function just like blog post copy. And Google loves to see video embedded on your website because people love to watch it!
Find the content best suited to you and your audience. That’s how you’ll make sure it’s engaging and informative.
It's much easier to rank for localized searches.
Optimizing for local search
We mentioned local search earlier. But how do you optimize for local search?
The easiest steps you can take are on your website. Include your business address in your contact information and add an “About Us” page that describes your history in the area. Small updates like these will tell Google where your practice is located.
Include this information on your social media profiles as well. Like your website, these social media signals will show Google where your business is located and tell the algorithm to include it in localized searches.
But if you have nearby competition that won’t be enough. That’s where local business listings come into play. These profiles are often people’s first impressions of businesses—even before the website!
Your Google My Business page and similar local listings
Local listing profiles are an indispensable resource for nearby leads. Once you start generating appointments through these localized pages it will be hard to go back.
Today 20% of desktop searches and 50% of mobile searches have local intent. What shows up when people enter localized queries into Google?
Listings such as Google My Business and Yelp. It’s no surprise that more than 63% of people read a business’s reviews on Google before visiting it. Your Google My Business profile is where they’ll find them.
These one-stop-shops for business information can instantly capture your eye care business a spot atop the SERP. Keeping these listings updated is as important as maintaining a current website.
Your social media marketing plan
Like most other things marketing, social media is about targeting your message—and even the platforms you join—to your preferred patient.
Are your patients most likely to be on Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? And which posts do they prefer to engage?
The keys to organic success on social media are posting on a regular basis and fostering interactions with your followers. The regular posting will improve the likelihood you’ll show up in their newsfeeds.
Your posting should be consistent with your brand and remain on topic. As your profiles become reliable streams of information about your business or eye care in general people will continue to come back.
This will develop relationships between your business and followers, and, ideally, a steady stream of engagement. The more engagement your posts receive, the more people see them in their newsfeeds. These connections will help you build a more approachable brand.
However, you can also pay for clicks on social media and elsewhere.
Pay-per-click campaigns can help you make sure your ads get seen by the right people.
PPC: Paying for clicks or impressions
Organic social media engagement is important, but it’s difficult to come by and even harder to translate into appointments and new patients. That’s why some ECPs use pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to supercharge their advertising. Facebook and Google Adwords are two of the best PPC campaign tools for businesses.
Each charges a price to ensure your posts or links are seen by a large number of people. These paid marketing campaigns are priced per click—or in some cases impressions or other metrics.
If you’re able to build the right audience in Facebook or target the right keywords in Adwords, you can ensure your ads and website are shown to the people most likely to convert. Revenue from these new patients and appointments should be enough to pay for whatever you’re investing in your PPC campaigns.
Your email marketing strategy
People still use email. And it's still a crucial component of any small business’ marketing strategy. That includes optometrists and opticians. ECPs who aren't using email to stay connected with patients should consider starting.
Over 90% of people 15-and-older send and receive emails. And McKinsey and Company found that email marketing is over 40 times more effective than promoting your business via social media. Out of everything we’ve discussed, building a list of patients and engaging them via email is still one of the most effective ways to stay connected and generate appointments.
Write short and sweet emails that get to the point and include a clear call to action for patients:
- Set your child’s eye exam before Zoom lessons start!
- Use your insurance benefits before they expire!
We haven’t seen you in awhile. Would you like to set an appointment?
Experiment with subject lines, email templates and send times. When you land on the right combination you’ll maximize open and click rates—meaning more conversions per email.
Put your eye care marketing plan into action
The marketing strategies mentioned above will help you scale your practice through patient acquisition and a growing online presence. You don't have to employ each and every tactic listed. But by working a few of them into your practice marketing plan you'll begin expanding your practice brand online.
Of course, there’s so much more we can say on the topics discussed! And we’ll revisit each of these strategies to help you build an effective marketing plan for your eye care practice. With the information above, you can start developing next steps for better patient acquisition.