Many independent optometry practices face serious challenges when it comes to attracting new patients and retaining loyal ones. Competition for patients is fierce, especially with large national retailers, like Target and Walmart, offering optometry services in-store. These large stores use innovative and aggressive marketing tactics to entice customers away from independent optometry practices. Any optometrist that wants to survive in today’s competitive world must employ effective marketing techniques. You have to differentiate your services from the big box retailers and provide patients with a compelling reason to choose your practice. Here are five things that optometrists often miss when it comes to choosing the right medical marketing strategies.
#1 A Custom Website is Essential
Do you want to not only survive in today’s competitive optometry landscape but thrive also? If so, then do not underestimate the importance of a custom website design for optometrists. You have to engage patients and appeal to their needs to get them in the door. Many patients search for an optometrist online to set up an initial appointment. Your optometric website design is often the first impression that patients receive of your practice. It is a powerful tool that can be used to appeal to encourage new patients to schedule an appointment with your office. On the other hand, a website that is poorly-designed or unprofessional can drive patients away very quickly. Custom websites appear high-end and are personalized for the users versus template-based websites, which are often used by many different practices. A custom website design firm employs specialized knowledge and skills in website design to ensure that your website will convert visitors to new patients.
#2 A Template-Based Website Costs More Than a Custom Site in the Long Run
You have several choices when it comes to setting up a website for your practice. You can choose a custom website that is designed by a professional that is knowledgeable in website design and development. Another option is to go with a template-based website. Many optometrists choose a template website as these sites have a lower upfront cost. This is often a mistake as template-based websites usually offer a lower ROI than a website that is designed specifically for your practice. With a template, you simply choose a design, and your information is put into the template. Templates use a cookie-cutter approach to website design.
Although templates are cheaper initially, many of the companies that offer them do not offer transparent pricing. They might charge a low initial fee but then stick you with a high fee every month. Also, many are offered based on a lengthy contract, sometimes as much as two or three years long. If you decide to break the contract, you will be stuck with stiff fees. With a custom designed website, you pay an upfront fee that is initially higher, but you get a website that is custom designed for your practice. This usually will attract more patients, offering you a better return for your advertising dollars.
#3 Front Desk Etiquette Affects Conversion Rates
After your website, your front desk is where most patients interact with your practice. No matter how competent of an optometrist you are, if your front desk staff badmouths patients, spends too much time on social media or is rude, you will not entice patients in returning. Some of these issues, such as talking about patients in front of others, can lead to a violation of HIPAA and cost your practice thousands in fines and a ruined reputation. So, what leads to these issues and how can you remedy them?
Depending on the size of your practice, your front desk may handle dozens or hundreds of calls a day. Also, they often have to gather insurance information, check-in clients, reschedule appointments and answer questions from patients. Some front-desk staff is also responsible for billing. One way is cut down on the demands to your staff is to offer online appointments on your website. This can lead to fewer calls to your office and reduce the stress of busy front office staff, reducing the likelihood that they will let their frustration shine through in their interactions with patients. A custom website can allow your patients to set-up new appointments online and even receive appointment reminders.
#4 You Need Support Even After Setting Up Your Website
As an optometrist, you are faced with enough challenges to your productivity without having to figure out how to get help when you have a problem with your website. If you choose a template-based website, you can expect minimal support and keep in mind that many companies that provide templates do not have any incentives to offering excellent support and service as you have likely already signed a contract with them. On the other hand, when you choose a dedicated optometrist marketing firm to design a website for you, you can count on receiving personalized service. A designer will work with you to design your website to match the needs and goals of your practice. Most firms offer a guarantee on their services and only get paid if you are satisfied. That is why you have a better chance of getting concierge-level service and advice.
#5 Being Listed on an Optometric Directory Won’t Help Your Web Presence
Many optometrists do not create the content that patients see when they visit them online. They leave the job up to insurance and optometric directories. The problem is that you do not control what information is listed on these sites. Also, the information listed in directories is often limited. It will not help you establish a web presence. Having no reputation on the internet can be problematic as optometry is very personal. Potential patients want to feel like they know the professional that they are entrusting the care of their eyes to. Therefore, it is important to humanize your practice. If you do not have a web presence, many patients will simply choose another provider that they are more comfortable with. You can use your online presence to establish your brand, educate and inform your patients and bring in new leads.
Don’t miss the importance of the five things listed above when it comes to medical marketing strategies for your optometrist practice. Consider utilizing the services of a medical marketing firm like Optimized360 to help ensure that your marketing game is on par with the competition.