When I started running my own practice in Bunbury, Western Australia 16 years ago, we were a team of just three and most of our marketing was in patient recalls.
Having worked in the optical industry since 1997, in independent practice, optical dispensing, and in territory sales manager roles, I had arrived at my new practice armed with a treasure trove of knowledge about different businesses. I had experienced how they interacted with their customers, what worked and what people wanted. I understood the importance of marketing and how it transforms businesses.
People notice when you go the extra mile, and that’s why we pay very close attention to the small details in our marketing and in how we interact with patients
Over the last 15 years, I have applied that knowledge to expand our own marketing efforts. Today, we are a team of 11 across two stores. I credit that in large part to wonderful staff and professional service, but we have also poured a great deal of time and resources into marketing our business well to get people through the door and further enhance our customer experience – and it has paid off.
I believe we all benefit when knowledge is shared, and while plenty has been tried and tested in our practice, here are some of the most successful marketing initiatives we have adopted, that have played a key role in our growth.
Leveraging the Power of Google and Social Ads
While we have a great website, investing the time and resources to establish a strong presence across Google searches has been hugely beneficial. We do this by encouraging patients to review us on the Google My Business page, which helps our search engine optimisation and gives people confidence when looking for eye care providers.
We have also invested heavily in Google Adwords. The ads drive people to our website, and we are then able to track how many people convert to a booking. If they make it to our website but don’t book, they are retargeted using Facebook marketing, where our ads constantly pop up. Understanding these journeys, and reaching our customers where they already are on social media, is a very effective tool for attracting new patients and understanding what content resonates.
Creative Social Content
We are a very active business across all major social media platforms, with a focus on Facebook and Instagram, and the feedback we receive from our local community is always positive. Our main goal across these mediums is to reach current and potential customers, educate them, and let them know about us as people. In a service-based industry, we believe it’s important to share the faces behind the business and promote the knowledge we bring. We post images and videos about our staff, new products, new devices, and technologies available to customers, and plenty of information about eye health. We also recently launched a YouTube channel Eyes@Australind with short expert interviews on topics such as what diabetes has to do with eyes. We create a blog on our website with the videos embedded to further promote this.
In recent times, we have become more targeted and creative in how we follow-up with patients. This year, we started using Podium software to bring all patient communication into one place and allow us to contact people across multiple touchpoints. Today, after each consult, patients are marked with different categories that allow us to easily follow-up with personalised content. For example, we use SMS marketing for anyone who has purchased glasses, to offer them a free contact lens trial. This gives them another reason to come back to our practice sooner, instead of waiting for their next eye test in two years.
Event and Content Support From the Zeiss Partner Program
Each year, we map out a 12-month calendar of key dates such as Macular Month and Glaucoma Week, which allows us to educate our patients about different issues, promote eye exams and relevant products, and hold in-store events. This is very important in building our reputation as eye health leaders. We are fortunate to be supported in these efforts by the Zeiss Partner Program. With each upcoming activity, we can pre-order new point of sale, relevant products, and customised information with social media assets to match. The Partner Program is also helps us promote our Zeiss equipment like the Visufit1000, by making it easy to customise Zeiss’ existing content and create our own videos about the technologies.
Paying Attention to the Small Details
People notice when you go the extra mile, and that’s why we pay very close attention to the small details in our marketing and in how we interact with patients. In store, we include lots of little add-ons, like giving away Zeiss lens wipes with each purchase, and creating a loyalty card to go with it. It’s amazing how many customers return to restock on lens wipes and stamp their card, who otherwise would not have returned for 12-24 months.
We also add a referral card into all jobs to actively encourage locals to refer us to their friends, colleagues, and families. When a referee is noted on a new patient form, we send them a ‘thank you box’ which includes Zeiss lens wipes and other goodies. We believe that a ‘support local’ message helps our business while also allowing us to pay it forward.
Creating an Experience for Every Customer
Effective practice marketing is not rocket science, but it does require resources and planning to ensure the way we present ourselves is current, makes it easy for patients to find us and get to know us, is relevant to their eye health needs, and personalised for each patient. After all, every little interaction adds up to one great customer experience.
Belinda Musitano is the owner and director of Eyes@Australind, in Bunbury Western Australia.