Survey Reveals How Optometry Practices Can Optimize Their Digital Marketing
Have you ever wondered how your new optometry patients are actually finding you? We did! We were curious about how people are looking for eyecare providers in 2022, from the method they use to what information they’re using to make a decision. To find out, we polled a bunch of real, human patients about their experiences finding and visiting their eye doctors.
What did we find? You may have guessed some of the results, but chances are you’ll find yourself saying “I didn’t know that was important!” a few times along the way, too.
We’ll go over each of the questions, share the results, and discuss what they mean for your optometry practice. Once you know how patients are choosing an optometrist, you can make sure you’re marketing your business in the right places.
Here’s a sneak peek at the findings:
People are searching for optometrists online.
Out of everyone who completed our survey, 98% of respondents have seen an optometrist before. If you aren’t getting new patients, the problem might be that you’re just not turning up in their searches. At half a million average monthly searches for “optometrist,” you need to make sure you show up online.
Word-of-mouth remains king.
As important as online optimization is, your in-person interactions still matter. The majority of people ultimately decided on an eye doctor based on recommendations from a friend or family member. 74% of people trust a personal recommendation from a friend more than Google when choosing a doctor.
You cannot neglect digital marketing.
As important as your in-person interactions are, your online optimizations still matter! Google was second only to family and friend referrals as a deciding factor. People still depend on Google, even among other options including Facebook/Instagram, Yelp, and physician referrals.
Written reviews can tip the scales in your favor.
Over 76% of people reported that they check both star ratings and written reviews of optometry practices. Google reviews are CRUCIAL. Make sure you have strategies in place to incentivize written reviews. (No plans yet? Keep reading, we’ve got some ideas for you!)
Our independent research was designed to get at the source of universal marketing issues. We all have biases, but we wanted to see past ours. We did our best to make sure that our questions were written in a way that allowed responders to give their honest feedback.
Question 1: Have you ever had an eye exam by an eye doctor or optometrist?
Nearly 100% of survey respondents have had a professional eye exam at some point. First, this gives you confidence that the rest of the survey findings are relevant — we found out how people decide on an optometrist from people who have searched for and found an eye doctor.
More practically, this means that people are searching for optometrists NOW. The population searching for eye care services is not going away, so the only question is — what are you doing to get patients in your office?
Question 2: When is the last time you had an appointment with your eye doctor?
Most people (58.7%) are between six months and two years from their last eye doctor appointment. Perhaps there’s something to be said about people not following up on their initial exams, but the practical advice for you as a provider is about how to get those people in your office.
An essential part of digital marketing is the power to reach people whenever they’re most likely to act. Investing in digital marketing strategy (SEO, PPC, GMB/local optimization) will pay off.
Emphasizing your eye exams and other valuable offerings (in-office eyeglasses, for example) can be a successful way to get people back in the chair.
Question 3: Where did you first find your eye doctor?
If you aren’t showing up on Google, you might as well be invisible.
Google is the number one online tool people use to find their eye doctor. The only offline option that ranks higher is the advice of a trusted friend or family member. The good news? There is so much you can do to improve your ranking on a Google SERP (search engine results page).
SEO (search engine optimization) is the group of strategies for getting your web page on the first page of a relevant Google search (on the top of the SERP, ideally). How is your SEO? Take a few minutes to read our post on SEO for optometrists and schedule a strategy session with us ASAP.
Question 4: Do you look at ratings or read reviews when looking for a new eye doctor?
The vast majority of people look at star ratings AND read reviews when deciding on an eye doctor. If you think you don’t have any influence on whether or not someone writes a review, you’re wrong — and it could cost you, big time.
So, what can you do? Chances are you have a follow-up email you send to clients after their first appointment. Include two links in that email: one to click if the patient had a positive experience, and the other to click if they had a negative experience.. The link for people who say they had positive experiences should lead to your Google business profile. The second, for negative experiences, should take them directly to a private Google form where they can voice their woes directly to you, giving you the chance to address their concerns or rectify any problems that are easily fixed..
You may not be able to incentivize people to leave reviews, but you can make leaving a review convenient. And, sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Question 5: If you do read reviews, where do you find them?
As you can see, the importance of showing up on Google cannot be overstated!
Survey responders were encouraged to select all options that applied. Even when someone reads reviews from Yelp, Facebook, or a BBB listing, you can almost guarantee their next stop is Google.
That said, if you haven’t taken ownership of or created Yelp and Facebook profiles, you should. Having social media accounts and other review opportunities can pay off in the long run, as we’ll see in the following responses.
Question 6: Do you find ratings and reviews helpful when choosing an eye doctor?
With so many people saying they read Google reviews, we had to ask if people actually take those reviews into consideration. Turns out they do.
If you didn’t have the motivation to invest in SEO before, you might now. Plus, because we would never try to do an eye doctor’s job, we’ll do a shameless plug for our own services.
We’re always helping optometrists bolster or build their business with proven SEO practices. Get in touch today and get on track to seeing more patients and wasting less marketing dollars.
Question 7: Which of these do you trust more when choosing a doctor?
Most people trust a personal recommendation from a friend over online reviews. Does this negate the impact of digital marketing? Nope.
If anything, it’s even more important to have digital marketing strategies in place — especially to get new patients. You can’t get people talking about you to their friends without seeing them in the office first.
Digital marketing exponentially increases the positive effects of word-of-mouth by allowing you to get your practice in front of more prospective patients.
Question 8: Did you review the practice’s social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tiktok) before booking your appointment?
Your social media accounts can be a pivotal piece in attracting new patients and keeping current ones. It is worth having social media accounts representing your optometry practice, because 70% of people may be looking at yours before booking an appointment!
Make sure that you are consistent, relevant, and educational in your social media presence. Consistent posting helps prospective patients see that you are indeed a real, active business. Relevance proves to search algorithms and people that you know what people looking for in their eye care needs. Posting educational content establishes your practice as the local expert in your field.
When you come across as a reliable, in-touch expert in everything that has to do with eye care, people will notice.
Not sure where to start with social media marketing? Allow us to guide you through the process with our Social Media Marketing Guide for Optometrists.
Question 9: Are you willing to pay more to see an eye doctor with better reviews?
Regardless of where people are reading your reviews (Google, Facebook, Yelp, BBB), people are overall willing to pay more to see an eye doctor with better reviews.
Having a great online presence actually allows you to charge more, meaning you make more money on the same number of patients. So if you’re thinking about raising prices (to keep up with increasing labor and other expenses), then you want to have great reviews displayed.
Do you have a strategy in place for getting reviews? Make sure you do!
Question 10: If you use reviews, do you look for a company’s response to negative reviews?
It’s definitely worthwhile to respond to negative reviews. More than 80% of people check if a practice responded to negative reviews, then proceed to read those responses.
If you don’t respond to those negative reviews, you may be missing out on a large number of patients. People generally don’t mind if a company has some negative reviews, but they do want to see that an optometry practice responded to those negative reviews in a calm, professional manner.
If you’ve gone through your reviews, you might find some that are from people who have never even been a patient in your office. It’s okay, and can even be beneficial, to mention that in a response Just make sure you’re right!. As always, make sure you respond compassionately and professionally. Give people an option for contacting you directly, too.
You can have a form for people to list their grievances through, or list your office phone number and encourage people to call so you can understand their experience and improve it next time. You won’t always be able to fix their problems, but most disgruntled patients only want an opportunity to be heard.
Question 11: Did you look at the company’s website before calling?
With over 90% of people looking at your website before calling, you need to make sure your website is optimized for user experience in addition to SEO.
When people land on your page, what do they see? Can they easily view your site on their mobile devices? Your practice’s website needs to be simple to navigate and able to be viewed on a phone.
If it isn’t, or if it takes too long to load, you may be giving up an opportunity to convince prospective patients that you’re the best option for eye care.
We’ve talked at length about where your website ranks on a SERP and whether or not potential patients are looking at your reviews. All of this can be done without actually visiting your website, but you can’t stop there.
Your website is where SEO and user experience (“UX”) come together. Finding the balance of these two will set you apart from the competition, especially considering local businesses.
Question 12: How did you book your last appointment?
The vast majority of people (77%) are still calling over the phone to schedule appointments.
Does this mean you can ignore online marketing? NO.
Remember the last question? People are going to your website before they call. The key takeaway from this question is to make sure you include a click-to-call button on your site.
A potential patient may be looking at your practice and two other eye doctors. Instead of copying and pasting the other office numbers, tapping a button to call is way more convenient. This can be the difference maker for whether or not someone schedules with you.
Question 13: Do you wear glasses or contacts?
Nearly 80% of survey respondents reported that they wear some form of vision correction (either glasses or contact lenses).
Knowing this might help guide your content creation strategy on your site. Do you offer an eye prescription update special? Put it on your site!
The most beneficial use of this question is as a lead-in to the next one…
Question 14: If yes, where do you buy your glasses or contacts?
You should probably be selling eyeglasses and contacts in your office. A substantial majority of people are wearing glasses or contacts, and over 50% of those people are buying glasses at the same place they get eye exams.
The 18% of survey respondents who buy their glasses or contacts at another location made us wonder… ”Why?”
Perhaps this is an opportunity. There’s a chance people aren’t buying their contacts or glasses from the office where they have their eye exam because that office may not sell glasses or contacts in the first place.
Question 15: How do you prefer that your eye doctor follows up with you with questions and appointment reminders?
Based on the data from our survey, we recommend using a phone call as a backup for patients who don’t schedule right away.
For instance, if someone schedules another appointment through a text, no need to call. If a patient hasn’t interacted with your text or email, definitely give them a call. There’s a good chance they didn’t see your text or email.
The big takeaway here is that human interaction goes a long way. Many patient-facing actions are becoming automated—and some patients can tell.
We’re not saying to avoid automations. In fact, we love them! Automated follow-up texts and emails can save you time and ensure that each patient gets a follow-up. But a phone call can make it through to a patient who may be overwhelmed with texts or emails, or who is just more likely to answer the phone than to use another method.
Question 16: Did you feel that all costs and fees were accurately explained to you before your exam?
Over 90% of people said they felt that the financial aspects of their appointment were properly discussed before their exam.
What does this mean for your practice? Don’t slip up! This is a good metric, and hopefully it’s emblematic of your office, too.
For healthcare as a whole, financial and billing issues are some of the most damaging for patient relationships. No one wants to be surprised, so make sure you go over the specifics before your patients’ appointments.
Question 17: What is most important to you during your exam?
More people selected that they want all of their questions answered than getting their vision corrected.
What’s the point? Again, this information is helpful for securing more positive reviews. Also, if you can frame your practice in this light online, you may find that more patients come to you in the first place.
This is super helpful information. Keep this front-of-mind during your patient interactions. You have extensive (and expensive) education that gives you a window into your patients’ lives. They are looking to you for answers more than anything.
The data isn’t saying that people don’t want their vision corrected. Of course they do! But the strong positive response illuminates how people want to be treated as they get their vision corrected.
Question 18: Do you trust that your doctor cares about you?
People trust their eye doctors. You’re doing great work making sure that people are cared for, helping them see better, and improving the way people interact with the world.
Your online presence should reflect your reputation! It’s one of the best ways to bring in more patients. Plus, it’s just good optometry marketing — accurate representation to give people the best possible healthcare experience.
Optometry Survey Results in a Nutshell
If you skipped through everything and landed here, we’d encourage you to go back and read what you missed! There are some really valuable insights above.
But here’s the nutshell version of everything we just went over:
As the healthcare marketing landscape changes and becomes more digitized, leveraging human interaction remains most effective. For the best chances of getting more new patients than your competition, prioritize these actions:
Apply SEO best practices to ensure you show up and show off when people search for vision care.
Remember that every patient can write a review, and most new patients are reading them. (In short, provide excellent customer service!)
Use social media to your advantage by being consistent, showcasing your team/staff, and connecting with patients/prospective patients.
It’s probably not a surprise, but the first action is the most important. With so many people using Google to find an eye doctor, it’s more important than ever to have a website that represents your office well and ranks high for relevant searches.
Need help marketing your optometry practice or optical?
We can help! Schedule a free strategy session and get individualized advice on how to be successful in the increasingly digitized market of optometry.