A Guide to Digital Marketing for Optometrists
Why digital marketing?
We discuss digital marketing for optometrists because it’s what we know and do best. Why should you read what we write about digital marketing? Two reasons:
1) Digital marketing can be scaled effortlessly. While some front-end work is required, once you have ads, your website, and your content up and running, it’s easy to increase spending and get more (and more) results.
2) Measuring digital marketing is simple. The analytics involved in digital marketing allows us to get granular on what exactly is attracting the results you want. This provides extra confidence when increasing budgets because we know where to spend more and how it will affect ROI.
What are the methods used in digital marketing for an optometry practice?
As with marketing in general, the specific tools depend on your desired results. For digital marketing, the following tools/techniques are our main focus:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Social Media
- Pay-Per-Click Advertisements
Now, the full-suite of digital marketing efforts can’t possibly be narrowed-down into just three bullet points, but we want you to have a framework into which you can place information from this article.
All of these work together and, in some cases, are inseparable. We’ll define the specifics as we go, relative to optometry-related scenarios.
Read our post, 6 Optometry Marketing Tools if you want some help simplifying and accelerating your digital marketing!
Get More Patients in Your Office with Search Engine Optimization
This is the main thing. If you don’t have patients, you don’t have a practice. So let’s go over some of the ways to get more patients in your office.
Marketing is about getting in front of the right customer with the right message at the right time.
This is some of the best advice out there. It’s also the foundation of almost every marketing decision.
Optimizing for Intent to Maximize Your Marketing
Who is the “right customer” for you, when are they open to receiving information, and what message will you use to engage them? One tried and true schema for organizing and identifying your audience is “intent.”
Customer intent is essentially how ready someone is to spend money on a service of yours. High intent for optometry would likely be someone who is having trouble seeing at night when they’re driving. Low intent could be someone who hasn’t had an eye doctor appointment in years and doesn’t think they need to schedule one yet.
Side note: Google is without a doubt the number one place people go for answers. Regardless of their level of intent, we use Google Search to get the most results from digital marketing on a broad scale.
Marketing to People Looking for an Eye Doctor NOW
This is the first, but not the only, time to let SEO shine! If someone needs an eye exam as soon as possible, they
SEO’s main purpose is to get your optometry practice’s website to be the very first result for that search.
How does that happen?
It’s a mixed and heavy bag, but “keywords” are the focus. Perform keyword research to determine what people are typing when they need an optometrist. Once you have that information, you can inject those keywords into your website’s content so that Google provides your website as the best answer to a given search.
There’s a bit more to it than keywords–including backlinks and site architecture–but those are a little in-depth for the scope of this post.
Want to learn more about SEO for your optometry practice? Schedule a strategy session today and we’ll help it all make sense.
Get “On The Map” with Local Listings
If you haven’t set up your Google My Business account yet, please stop reading this and go do it. It’s just like making any other account, but be sure to enter your information exactly as it appears on your website and other client-facing materials.
Nice! Now you’ll start showing up on Google Maps when people search for businesses close to them. In the example of someone searching, “eye exam near me” Google can identify that the user wants to find a local business, so the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) will look something like this:
This goes for any type of business. If you have a physical address, you need a Google My Business account so you can be found by potential customers.
Using Pay-Per-Click Advertisements to Attract New Patients
If you want to target those “low intent” users or if there’s a lot of competition for eyecare in your locale, PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads might be just what you need. We’ve found that search-based campaigns are a great way to start. This method puts your keyword research to work again.
Google has a powerful advertising platform, Google Ads (previously, Google AdWords). Using Google Ads allows you to show up for searches even if your SEO isn’t great yet.
All you have to do is set a budget, write up some headlines and descriptions, and enter the keywords you want to show up for–or don’t want to show up for, those are called “negative keywords.” We recommend having a landing page with a clear “call to action” that’s easy to schedule from. That makes sure there are less barriers for your potential patient to become a real person in the examination chair.
Analyze User Behavior to Scale Effortlessly and Accurately
While Google is the most-used search engine, that’s not what makes their advertising platform so powerful.
It’s the data!
Advertising with Google Ads gives you access to information that makes it easier to market to your desired audience. Do people schedule from one page more than another? You’ll be the first to know, and can stop losing patients by redirecting people to the better page.
It goes the other way, too. If you find that some of your ads aren’t working, you can easily decrease the budget or pause the campaign until you better understand the data.
Social Media Marketing with Interruption-Based Advertising
Interruption-based advertising can be performed with display and social media ads on Google search and social media platforms.
What is it? Interruption-based ads appear on a user’s screen regardless of their intent to see them. Those annoyingly good-looking Instagram ads you always find in your feed are a great example of these.
Besides social media platforms, Google Ads has an option for creating display ads that will appear on sites and searches.
This kind of advertising can be a way to focus in or expand on your currently targeted audience.
Build Your Brand in the Community
This is the second step for a reason: once your ads and SEO-ed website are gathering conversions and getting you more patients on their own, you can work on developing your optometry practice’s “brand.”
But what does it mean to develop a “brand?” Your brand is the complete sum of how people think, feel, and experience anything related to your business. More practically, here are some examples of when you might be “building your brand:”
- When someone first sees your ad, you are building a brand.
- When they fill out a form to contact you, you are building a brand.
- When the phone rings and no one picks up, you are building a brand.
- When the receptionist is rude or short with a customer, you are building a brand.
- When your office is running late and doesn’t see a patient on time, you’re building a brand.
- When the patient can’t get a clear answer on their bill or insurance, you are building a brand.
The magnitude of each interaction can’t be measured in the present. You and your staff have to be willing to treat every customer as if they’re about to walk out and immediately write a review about their experience.
This doesn’t mean you can’t mess up! Some of the best, most converting reviews involve the way mistakes are handled by a business.
Reputation Management and Responding to Reviews
Remember that Google My Business account? That’s not only how you’ll show up for Maps searches, it’s also where you’ll accumulate reviews.
Reviews add much to your brand. They also give your company credibility in the eyes of Google and prospective patients. Think of reviews as your reputation, and you’ll likely want to respond to them.
Our research shows that Google does factor the responses a business gives to reviews in their determination of a website’s page rank for searches. So, if for nothing else, do it for the rank.
You’ll probably find that you enjoy interacting with patients, anyway. But even when you don’t, it’s important to remember that you are managing your online reputation even when you’re responding to one person (who may not have ever set foot in your clinic in the first place…)
So, encourage patients to review your practice! Incentivize them to do so, if necessary! And make sure you have someone assigned to the task of responding to those reviews on a regular basis.
Drive as Many Return Visits as Possible
If you only see new patients you’ll run into problems keeping the lights on. More importantly, holistic vision health is not achieved in one day, is it? Here are some ways to ensure your patients receive continuous healthcare.
Ask for Contact Information Before the First Visit
This is already something you’re doing, most likely, as it’s necessary to be able to contact your patients. This contact information can be doubly helpful by way of automations.
Automating some of your marketing efforts reduces the chance of “missing” a patient and increases the likelihood that your patients will continue to schedule appointments. If not scheduling appointments, these automations can help with word-of-mouth marketing by being on the forefront of patients’ minds when their friend or family needs eyecare.
Emphasize the Importance of Follow-Ups During the First Appointment
During the appointment, make sure you verify receipt of email and phone contact information for your patient. You might be tempted to encourage them to follow your social media accounts, and that’s fine. However, you’ll get more direct contact from text or email communication than trusting yourself to Facebook’s algorithm.
The first visit is also when you need to crush it from a customer satisfaction perspective. Remember that people are mostly likely to recall how you made them feel. Listen! Your ears are your best tool.
Optometrist actively listening to a patient
Establish yourself as an expert by asking questions that allow you to provide expert answers. Discussing why it’s important–no, crucial–to have a regular eye exam will help your patient see the light and think, “Oh! I’ll schedule a follow-up on my way out.”
Take Every Opportunity to Connect After the Visit
No matter how good the first session is, you need to be obsessive about connecting with patients. Birthdays, holidays, season changes, anything goes for reasons to reach out. Don’t forget to continue to maintain your expertise through regular email communication and website content, either.
A personal touch through text or email can remove barriers to patients coming back after a first visit. And guess what! These can be automated too! As long as you get as much information as possible on the first visit, these kind of personal touches can be plug-and-chug for your patient communication processes.
Want more guidance on marketing your optometry practice?
We’re here to help! Schedule a private strategy session today so we can get started.
You can also read our Optometry Marketing Ultimate Guide for step-by-step instructions and explanations for mastering your digital marketing.