Running your practice means your to-do list is never-ending. Maybe you’ve had a website update or a social media page on the back burner for a while, but you feel like it isn’t a priority for your business. Unfortunately, the digital world waits for no eye care professional; now is the time to acknowledge that when it comes to marketing your practice and finding new customers, having an online presence is vital.
We live in a digital age and we are more connected than ever before. When more people in this world own a mobile phone than a toothbrush,1 you know things have changed; unbelievable but true. Businesses that fail to participate in the digital world via websites and social media communication may run the risk of going extinct sooner rather than later.
To put a local perspective on it, 79 per cent of all Australian’s access the internet every single day.2 We have an entire generation of 20-somethings, referred to as ‘Digital Natives’, who were virtually born with a smartphone in their hands. This younger generation, who don’t know what life was like pre-Google, are your presbyopes of the future!
So where should you start? Let’s begin with your practice website. If you don’t have one, you don’t exist in the digital world. A website is now an essential business tool as it is effectively your ‘handshake’, introducing consumers to what you have to offer.
When more people in this world own a mobile phone than a toothbrush, you know that things have changed; unbelievable but true
We all use the internet to find products, information and services, mostly in our local areas. Did you know that at least 93 per cent of Google searches are for goods and services within a local area?3 And, amazingly, around 50 per cent of consumers who use a smartphone to do a local search will visit a local store within a day! So how does this relate to your practice? If your practice doesn’t have an online presence, you are clearly missing out on new opportunities in your local community.
Three Things to Keep in Mind
Whether you have an existing website, or you plan on having one soon, here are three things to keep in mind:
1. Look the Part
Your website is often the first time a consumer is introduced to your practice. Make sure it looks modern, clean and professional. It needs to reflect the patient experience in your practice too. Good website design builds consumer trust and adds legitimacy to your business.
2. Present Clear Information
Make sure that your contact details are visible, after all, you want people to make contact with you easily and quickly. Include all the services that you provide. Ortho-K specialist? Pop it on there. You utilise a Visioffice? Include this. It is a point of difference for your business and may be the intent behind an online search that brings someone new into your practice.
3. Link Your Social Media
Not only is it mostly free and easy to use, but it’s also an excellent way to communicate directly with new and existing patients. Not convinced? Read on!
The Beauty of Social Media
If you think that social media isn’t the business tool for you, think again! The beauty of social media is that nearly all of us are using it, and so are our existing and potential patients. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Facebook has nearly 15 million users in Australia; 55 per cent of them are female, and the average user is +45 years old. Relate this back to your practice and think about your average patient. This is the space that they are comfortable conversing in, so why wouldn’t you use it to begin that conversation?
From a commercial perspective, only 30 per cent of small businesses in Australia use social media to communicate, which means there is an opportunity for you to get involved and immediately start chatting in a space that isn’t overpopulated!
If this hasn’t convinced you, here are some interesting stats about Australian social media users:
- 32 per cent use social media to follow brands and businesses;
- 20 per cent use social media to access offers and promotions;
- 19 per cent use it to conduct research about the products and services they want to buy or use; and, lastly,
- Half of those researching products and services said they made a purchase after completing their cyber-sleuthing.
If your website is your handshake, consider your social media pages to be a great big hug! It’s a way to participate in your local community and engage people in a personal space. Be loud and proud with who you are and what your practice has to offer.
Interact directly with existing customers and entice new ones with your latest products, unparalleled services, and the latest practice news. Use social media to nurture established relationships with offers and incentives; this will work towards increasing patient loyalty too. Give people a reason to follow you, whether you’re funny, educational or informative.
If you are at a loss for content, share links, images, videos, eye care tips and educational information. The Essilor website has over 175 pages of content ranging from consumer-focused product information, to vision and general eye care education that you can share the link of on your social media platforms. Whatever you decide to post and share, keep it meaningful and use it to help improve the care you give your patients.
My Top Four Social Media Takeaways
1. Pick One
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat. There are so many to choose from, but you can’t use every social media platform. Choose one (or two) that you feel comfortable with and become a pro!
2. No Deal
Try not to explicitly sell on social.
It is a very personal space, and people don’t want to feel that you are constantly trying to sell them a set of steak knives. There is a difference between informing them that you have an offering and forcing your offering
3. Be Active
Don’t create a profile and then ignore it; it won’t feed itself with articles! Post regular and compelling content on your profile so people don’t forget you and what you’re offering.
Always post with intent. Think about what you want to achieve with your post: is it meant to be informative, educational, community-focused, practical or funny? Remember that you can’t be everything to everyone, so post content with your specific customers in mind.
Social media should not be used as a stand-alone tool; it needs to be used holistically and regularly with your website and any other online tools, like Google My Business and business listings such as Yellow Pages. If you update a phone number, update it across all your platforms! If you have a new product, announce it everywhere!
Don’t be afraid to move ahead by participating in this new, digital world. It may seem foreign to you; however, you will soon get the hang of it. Go slowly, and make sure you are focused on what you want to achieve.
Laura Boland is a digital marketing and online content specialist with over eight years experience in eCommerce. She worked for Clearly Contacts Australia/New Zealand and www.schoolbags.com.au
before joining Essilor Australia as their Digital Marketing Manager.