Tag Archives: digital

Increasing Engagement and Strengthening Patient Relationships

30 Aug

email_marketingA reliable marketing strategy relies on the use of multiple media resources. One of the best ways to reach the baby boomer generation (who may not even be home checking their traditional mail) is through email. Email is highly portable and as such can be checked from wherever they are, even via their smartphone.

In order to begin email marketing you must make sure you’ve been gathering email addresses. If you’re not already doing this, update your patient intake form or simply have your front desk ask every patient for their email address. One point of clarification before you begin–don’t send marketing related messages through your office email system (this includes Outlook or Gmail). These systems weren’t built for marketing purposes and your account will be marked as sending spam which will present business challenges for sending transaction related messages.

Here are some key points to consider as you start incorporating email into your marketing approach:

  • What is the purpose? The overarching intent for your email marketing program should be to build and maintain relationships with people in your database. If you aren’t actively engaging your database, you’re missing out on a major opportunity! Current patients, TNS/TNC, and those who have had an interaction with your brand but not come into the office yet (like those from a health fair) are all typically more receptive to your messaging.
  • Who is the target audience? Figuring out how to best segment your database is an essential first step of strong email planning.. Sending a “We Miss You” message may not be well received by your most active patients and you don’t want to alienate anyone. Consider your objectives first –monthly newsletters are a way to strengthen your position in the community and as a thought leader. Is there a benefit to your business by re-engaging your TNS and Cancelled/No Show prospects? Reaching the correct audience will ensure your success. If you’re using a practice management system like Sycle, your rep will be able to help you pull correctly segmented lists that include email addresses.
  • What is the message? And, how does it relate to your target audience? For example, do you want to send a birthday message with a small gift offer or are you trying to reengage TNS patients with a ‘quality of life’ message? One key to successful email messaging is to make sure that your emails sound like they’re coming from a friend, someone you trust. Tailoring the message to your recipients, developing relevant content for each database segment, and making sure your message isn’t too clinical or too sales-y is the best way to make sure your desired call to action is completed. You also want to make sure the subject line account is well thought out too. You want to aim for something between a very generic and boring “Office Newsletter” and the highly promotional “50% OFF TODAY ONLY” (which may end up in their spam folder). Subject lines are critical to your message and ensure your emails are well received.
  • Who is doing the work? There are a multitude of options when it comes to commercial email marketing platforms such as MailChimp (mailchimp.com) and Constant Contact (constantcontact.com). While these applications are generally user-friendly, someone still has to take the time to design, write, send, and track them. For a business owner trying to juggle all aspects of their practice, this may be one marketing initiative that source to a professional partner
  • How will it be measured? Tracking results is important for any marketing initiative but especially for email! By regularly tracking all of the behavior, like opens and clicks, related to your email campaigns, you can learn which emails are working and which list segments are receptive to the messages you’re sending. Also, since each email address is tied to a person in your database, your office staff can follow up with people who may have read a newsletter article then clicked through to your “Contact Us” page yet didn’t submit the contact form.

Email marketing offers a unique way to tailor your marketing messaging to the patients and prospects in your database and strengthen your current provider-patient relationship. As a hearing health provider who specializes in high-end, personalized technology, incorporating personalized email marketing just makes sense as part of your digital marketing strategy.

AHAA recently rolled out an email marketing program that features preloaded content and is executed by a digital marketing vendor and is something the AHAA Marketing team is happy to help you with!  We can also look over any proposals you may receive from local vendors to help evaluate exactly what you’re getting, what information you may have to provide, and how well it fits with your overall marketing needs.

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Top 3 Ways to Bring in Patients

22 Oct

I have spoken with numerous Associates who turn to AHAA for help because their current marketing “isn’t working.” When I ask what they have been doing from a marketing perspective, they typically mention direct
mail, newspaper and digital marketing activities. While these initiatives are certainly important, the strategy that goes into delivering them in a coordinated way is certainly worth your time and consideration.Top 3 Ways to Bring in Patients

In order to have a successful marketing strategy, three important elements need to be integrated into your practice’s approach:

1, Database Outreach

Why is this important?

Some practices only focus on bringing new people in the door, which while important, fails to consider the opportunities that already exist in your database. Consider the marketing dollars and time that you have already invested to build your current database. You’ll want to make sure you focus on existing customers just as often as you try to reach new ones. Current patients (not just those who are OOW) are not only more qualified leads, but they can also help build brand loyalty by being spokespeople for your services. Then there are “prospects,” the names in your database who did not make a purchase, but who responded to one of your previous marketing activities. Prospects have demonstrated some level of interest in either your practice or in addressing hearing loss depending on how they came to be in your system. Think about the different names you have on file – there are likely TNS, TNC and cancel/no shows at a minimum. Make sure you are continuously working on your relationship with all of them, customers and prospects alike!

How to implement?

First, you need to capitalize on EVERY opportunity that comes through your door. It’s important to track where the patient came from (direct mail, phone call, website and referral) and the result of their visit (tested with or without a hearing loss). These “opportunities” can also include referrals that canceled an appointment or those that completed a hearing evaluation and presented with a loss but did not purchase.  Remember, every customer falls into at least one category; and you’ll need to work to keep him or her tethered to your practice.

When analyzing your database and determining how to communicate with the different types of customers, begin by segmenting them into different groups. Develop relevant messaging that’s specific to the needs of each segment and determine the best way or ways to reach them – via letter, phone call, or both! Database marketing tends to be one of the top opportunity drivers – since the customer is already somewhat familiar with your business – and typically results in a higher percentage of hearing aids sold.

2. Referral Programs

Why is this important?

Many practice owners express hesitation about asking for referrals because they don’t want to be thought of as “pushy.” Consider this: if a customer has a positive experience, why wouldn’t you encourage them to tell others about it in order to potentially help more people hear well? Similarly, if a physician is concerned about a patient’s hearing, why not become a trusted referral partner to offer excellent care? Plus, referrals afford your practice the opportunity to educate more of the community on hearing health and conservation.

How to implement?

For patient referrals, the process is fairly straightforward – ask every patient if he/she knows anyone who can benefit from a free hearing screening. Then, obtain contact information and follow up with a phone call to schedule a free hearing screening. We also recommend handing out referral cards to patients and ask that they pass them along to others. This type of outreach – word of mouth – is an age-old form of marketing and it’s free!

Physician referrals, on the other hand, can be more time consuming. We recommend having a dedicated physician liaison on staff to visit local doctors on a consistent basis to establish and maintain relationships. Practices with a personal connection to local physicians enjoy a more active referral program over time. Some support tools for your physician liaison include educational handouts on hearing loss and referral slips for physicians to distribute to patients.

3. Marketing & Advertising

Why is this important?

While I have touched on the value of leveraging your current database, it is also crucial that you continue marketing efforts aimed at getting new people in the door. Before you can acquire those potential customers they have to know your practice exists. Building a content-rich website, sending out direct mailers, employing a telemarketer and running ads in the local newspaper all help to build your brand and encourage new patients to utilize your services (note: including a call-to-action and offers within these tactics increases response rates). This type of advertising also helps educate your community about hearing health and wellness.

How to implement?

Those tactics can get costly, so you’ll want to have a well-planned strategy. Develop a plan that reaches your target audience through a multi-channel approach. As you execute your plan, it is vital that you effectively track the results and review them frequently to course-correct where needed. If you are going to invest time and money in marketing your practice, you’ll want to make sure your budget is maximized! If you don’t know where to start, ask us. AHAA has helped many Associates overcome marketing inertia.

When all three approaches – database outreach, referral programs, and marketing & advertising – are integrated into your practice, you will be amazed by the results. Do you want to start driving more opportunities into your practice today? Call your Associate Manager or contact AHAA Marketing – we’ll work together to develop a customized plan for your practice.

Plan to Measure & Measure the Plan

18 Nov

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As 2014 is coming to a close (we can tell by the plethora of holiday décor in every retail store), we want you to seriously consider your marketing strategy for 2015.  If you don’t already have your plan in place – and some do – you may not be sure where to begin.  Our number one recommendation is to look backward before looking forward, meaning assess your marketing efforts from 2014 and how each one contributed to the bottom line before embarking on a plan for the next 12-months.

Two AHAA colleagues recently co-authored an article in Hearing Review that sums up this idea perfectly: Know Your Marketing; Know Your ROI.  By having a defined marketing plan and tracking its efficacy (plus course correcting along the way), you’ll be able to capture beneficial trends from your data and eliminate wasteful spending.

But first, you have to actually develop the plan.  After allocating 10-12% of your overall budget towards marketing, we recommend:

  • Using a targeted multi-media approach with frequency and consistency (including direct mail, print and digital media)
  • Ensuring you are communicating with both your current customers and prospects via mail, telemarketing, etc.
  • Creating messaging that resonates with your target audiences; i.e. speak to individuals about what matters to them via their preferred communication channels – email, print, text, etc.

Once your plan is up and running, track the results.  As recommended in Know Your Marketing; Know Your ROI, many computer programs are available to facilitate and simplify tracking (AHAA has one), but typically a person(s) in your office must physically input the response data.  It’s important to consistently gather this data because you will use it to calculate your return on investment, or ROI.

Once you gather the data, then what?  AHAA recommends a quarterly assessment of all marketing initiatives to analyze trends, assess the performance of the plan, and ensure marketing dollars are being spent wisely.  Some key metrics to pay attention to: number of calls (how many times did the phone ring from each initiative), number of appointments set and number of hearing devices sold.  The aggregate of these metrics will contribute to your ROI calculation.  To discover how to properly calculate ROI, click here.

Remember, marketing 101 tells us that developing a plan and working that plan frequently and consistently yields success; couple that with tracking your results, calculating ROI and analyzing those results in order to tweak your plan will put you on a successful marketing trajectory.

 

For questions or a free 30 minute marketing consultation, contact Keara M. Piekanski, AHAA Marketing Manager at kpiekanski@AHAAnet.com.