According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation of optometry is projected to increase by 18% between 2016 and 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent. The rise in optometry can be linked to various population and aging trends, as well as changes in healthcare. From a business’ perspective, larger market share means greater opportunities for growth and profit. To capitalize on this, optometrists must be prepared and diligently plan their optometrist marketing efforts to secure their share of this incredible opportunity.
Many optometrist and professionals alike consider marketing as simply advertising to attract new customers, including newspaper ads, billboards, print ads, and email campaigns. In reality, marketing should go far beyond these simple methods and basic collateral.
Why is Online Marketing Important for Optometrists?
In the modern business world, your online presence and branding is one of the most important aspects to securing new patients. In the digital age, clients no longer simply see your building, walk in to learn more, and schedule an appointment. In fact, 92% of healthcare consumers aged 18-34 said they go online for research, before a visit or call. Closely following, 86% of consumers aged 33-55 said the same. Even when your practice is referred to them by a friend or family member, their first step will often still be to visit your website for a first impression. If your website and digital material is outdated or poorly presented, they are far less likely to trust you with their optometry needs and will perhaps move on to a practice with more online authority. With so much importance placed on online presence, practices must commit the time, effort and cost to professionally present themselves and maintain their reputation online.
The Most Important, First Step for Optometrist Marketing
The most important thing your practice needs to do when approaching their marketing efforts is sit down and create a detailed 1-year marketing plan as well as a 5-year marketing plan. This will ensure your efforts are specifically linked to your desired outcomes and can be managed, benchmarked and easily recreated / streamlined if successful. When creating your marketing plan, start with an overarching goal for your practice. Each practice is different and their marketing plans should follow their specific vision for the future.
Leveraging Social Media Marketing
In the sphere of social marketing, opportunities exist across many platforms and can be fine-tuned to specifically target key demographics.
To begin, Instagram is typically used by a younger demographic and specifically for photo sharing. This can play a role in your marketing by sharing aesthetically pleasing images that garner a sense of community or support around your practice. These can include client testimonials and photos or new products.
The next social platform that can be utilized for your marketing efforts is Twitter. Twitter’s most used function for businesses is answering questions and providing quick, public responses to their customers. With skilled customer service representatives, this is a great way to show the care you have for your current or potential patients and prove your professionalism with an emphasis on transparency.
The third social platform that optometrists should be leveraging is Facebook. Facebook is the largest of the social networking sites and includes a much larger age range. This is especially important for optometrists as the average patient is likely older than Instagram’s average user. Facebook can be incredibly successful for sharing updates, blog posts and targeting potential clients with location, interest(s) and age parameters.
Quick Marketing Strategies Optometrists Can Start Immediately
Before creating your detailed marketing plan, the following are quick tips to improving your digital marketing efforts that can have incredible, lasting results:
- Provide detailed and helpful links, articles and resources directly on your website. This will establish your practice as a trusted expert in your field as well as a leader in the industry. This can be relevant research articles, health tips, and any other information to show current and potential patients you truly care about their wellbeing.
- Encourage current patients to write online reviews for your practice. The power of peer reviews cannot be overlooked- many times it’s the deciding factor for consumers and is also a very quick and inexpensive way of strengthening your practice.
- Send regular, monthly communication to your patients. Newsletters are a great way to strengthen your customer relations and increase patient loyalty. It is important to provide your patients with the information they want like interesting health tips, exciting news, etc. Practices should be careful not to overload their patients with solicitations or sales, but rather information they will value and potentially pass along.
- Lastly, be sure your website is mobile-friendly. 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. Getting new visitors to your website is extremely important and with nearly 50% of online traffic done on mobile phones or tablets, a mobile-friendly website is now an absolute necessity.
A Summary of Optometrist Marketing
With the incredible projected growth in the ophthalmic industry, if your practice is not actively trying to increase your online presence, you will likely be overshadowed by those who are. By creating a 1-year marketing plan and a 5-year marketing plan, you will have clear and measurable steps to achieving your goals. If your 1-year plan isn’t adding up to your 5-year plan then adjust it accordingly and continue to plan and act toward your long-term goals.
In addition to high-level planning and thinking, you should also be leveraging the many social platforms available to businesses and build your online community. You should also produce content to attract new patients and optimize your website to best present your practice. Consumers’ online expectations are steadily growing in all sectors and if you want to grow as well, you must plan and evolve your online presence.
Thanks for reading, and we hope you now have a few good starting points for better marketing your optometry practice. If you are looking for assistance with your growth, PECAA’s optometry marketing support can help!