First Impressions are Everything

If you think your website is just fine the way that it is, and it makes a great first impression read this to be sure.
It takes less than two-tenths of a second (that’s quicker than an actual blink of an eye) for a potential patient online to form a first opinion of your brand once they’ve perused your company’s website, according to researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. And it takes just another 2.6 seconds for that viewer’s eyes to concentrate in a way that reinforces that first impression. The researchers found that specific sections attracted the most interest.
The seven sections that sparked the most interest are below:

  • The logo. Users spent about 6.48 seconds focused on this area before moving on.
  • The main navigation menu. Almost as popular as the logo, subjects spent an average of 6.44 seconds viewing the menu.
  • The search box, where users focused for just over 6 seconds.
  • Social networking links to sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Users spent about 5.95 seconds viewing these areas.
  • The site’s main image, where users’ eyes fixated for an average of 5.94 seconds.
  • The site’s written content, where users spent about 5.59 seconds.
  • The bottom of a website, where users spent about 5.25 seconds.

A customer’s first impression of you and your business used to be via the yellow pages. Their expectations were fairly low and they were never really able to form an impression about your business. The Internet has changed the potential customers “first impression” experience, and more importantly, it has changed their “first impression” expectations.
What does all this mean? You need a website. But not only do you need a website, you need a well-designed website. And not only does it have to look good, it needs to function perfectly. Along with looking and functioning great, it needs to show a visitor what they want to know without the need to search for it since the researchers found that on average, a visitor spent 20 seconds on a site. And most importantly, you site needs to leave a fabulous first impression.
If it’s been a while since you really looked at your website, take a look. What is your “first impression”?

SEO vs. PPC: Choosing a Strategy that Fits Your Marketing Goals

Last week we discussed what SEO and PPC were, and a bit about their differences. Even if you understand the basics, it may be hard to determine which is right for your marketing needs. So how do you pick between the two, or must you even choose? AJ Kumar, in an Entrepreuner article, suggests to consider these three questions when deciding whether SEO or PPC are right for your business:

  1. How large is your website advertising budget?
  2. How high are the CPCs in your industry?
  3. How competitive are the SERPs in your niche?

Let’s break these three questions down and explain why they matter.

1. How large is your website advertising budget?

As we discussed last week, SEO is your “free” option when it comes to generating traffic, whereas PPC is the “paid” option. So in choosing between SEO and PPC, you first need to decide what size advertising budget your business can support. With PPC campaigns, we suggest at minimum a $5.00 per day budget.

If you have a very minimal budget to commit to advertising, you’ll need to stick with free SEO methods. But if you have even a little capital to invest in PPC advertising, consider giving it a try because it offers a number of benefits, as AJ Kumar explains, including:

  • “Faster testing. Websites should focus on achieving conversion, whether it’s selling products, signing up email newsletter subscribers or some other action. That means actively testing website variables to improve conversion rates. These tests, however, require traffic to generate data, so you might want to purchase traffic through PPC advertising to get faster results.”
  • “Protection from SEO algorithm updates. One major weakness of SEO is that algorithms change from time to time. When that happens, sites that have been optimized in one way can lose rankings — and profits — practically overnight. But when you pay for traffic, you’re assured a steady stream of visitors, no matter what changes Google and the other search engines make.”

2. How high are the average CPCs in your industry?

While setting your budget, also take a look at what others in your industry are spending on CPC, if possible.

PPC platforms typically allow users to bid what they’re willing to pay for a single keyword click — a fee that’s referred to as “cost-per-click” (CPC). In Google Adwords, for example, broader keywords and keyword phrases, such as “hearing aids,” require a much higher bid than more narrow-focused keywords or keyword phrases, such as “audiologist Bala Cynwyd PA”

If you wish to run PPC campaigns for very broad keywords and phrases you will need a higher budget to have a successful campaign.

3. How competitive are the SERPs in your niche?

Your strategy will also depend on how competitive your search engine results pages (SERPs) are in your industry. For example, if you would like to rank #1 for “hearing aids” you’d be competing with Starkey, Mayo Clinic, NIDCD, and ASHA. But the more specific the niche (specialties and areas) the less competition for top SERP rankings.

In the most competitive industries, you may find that results pages for your target keywords are dominated by authority websites. They can be nearly impossible to displace without a significant investment of time and money. In such cases, it may ultimately make more sense to pay for traffic via PPC promotions.

But it’s almost never necessary to make an “either-or” choice between SEO and PPC. When combined, PPC and SEO are powerful tools. By asking yourself these three questions above, you can begin to determine the optimal mix of PPC and SEO for your website.

Why is Emotional Marketing So Important?

In the book “Twenty Ads That Shook the World,” James Twitchell writes about N.W. Ayer & Son, an advertising agency with a serious problem. One of their clients wanted to sell colorless rocks. These rocks were good for almost nothing except drill bits. What was even worse, the darn things last forever and are found in tremendous oversupply in South Africa, Zaire, Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Australia, Siberia and Canada.

For N.W. Ayer & Son, it was a puzzle. Their client, DeBeers Consolidated Mines, had made some inroads with consumers after World War I by linking diamonds with engagement and marriage, but the idea wasn’t widely accepted. In April 1947, Frances Gerety, one of their copywriters, put her head down in exhaustion. How could she link romance, valueless crystals and human needs in a way that would move these stones? In an inspired moment she wrote “A Diamond is Forever.”

Look where diamonds are now.

Other Emotional Marketing Examples

Brands like GoPro, Coca-Cola, and Apple deliver campaigns that represent their company mission and vision. GoPro wants its audience to feel that they’re getting a product that will enhance their adventures and allow them to capture even the craziest of tricks, jumps, hikes, etc. Apple wants its audience to feel like they’re getting something that is not only innovative, shiny and new, but also useful—a tool that will make day-to-day tasks easier to accomplish.

They also want their audience to feel like they’re part of a lifestyle or community of thinkers and doers. They do this with commercials that represent people of all backgrounds. Pay attention to the look and feel as well: Crisp video and sound, soft glows, bright colors and happy faces; people doing everyday tasks in innovative ways.

Now, think of Coca-Cola. Remember those polar bear ads? You’ll notice a common theme many of us strive for and can relate to: bliss, enjoyment, happiness. The polar bears crack open a Coke bottle and look so overwhelmingly satisfied and happy that it makes us want one too. Those emotions are all deeply integrated in Coca-Cola ad campaigns because they’re also ingrained in Coca-Cola’s mission. Part of the reason why is because happiness represents one of many current cultural values.

Emotional Marketing, Explained

Emotion plays a critical role in guiding our instinctive reaction to events happening around us. We monitor our environment constantly and automatically, but with so many things going on around us, we need some means to determine what to pay attention to. From a psychological perspective, when we feel something, we think, “What can I make of this, what can I do about this?” The deep response often happens first and we then rationalize it and make sense of it cognitively. This can’t be a conscious process – it would take too long. So the monitoring process constantly references existing memories as those memories are spontaneously triggered by what is happening at the time.

It is the emotional properties of those memories that determine whether we pay attention or not, and how much attention we pay. The more intense the emotional charge of the associated memories, the more attention we pay and can lead us to a certain behavior—like word-of-mouth sharing or social media liking.

If the association is positive it is likely we will feel attracted to what is happening. If it is negative, we will feel repelled. This is an important reason why advertising that creates a positive emotional response performs better than an ad that doesn’t.

It is critical for marketers to understand the role of emotions in human decision-making and behavior. All human behavior is driven by emotional input derived from these stored visualizations. As a marketer, if you can tap into a strong, positive emotional response from your consumers – you’ve tapped a gold mine.

Do You Know the ROI of Your Website?

For a great deal of your website, much like public relations (PR), the return on investment (ROI) is not easily quantified. Metrics do exist, but for the most part they provide erroneous data.

PR should tell a story, lots of stories, ideally stories that are told and shared by one potential customer to another or by one satisfied customer to a potential customer. The value and credibility when one person provides information about your practice to someone else is immeasurable.

It is possible to use a page on your company website that replicates conventional “call to action” marketing pieces. The ROI of these pieces can be measured.

However, a portion of your company’s website pages should serve to replace and/or replicate your outbound marketing systems, for example:

Yellow Pages – “Googling” a business for their address and/or phone number has replaced the old yellow pages book as a source for directory information.
Brochure – Your website is an opportunity to provide information about your practice with the advantage of being able to present considerably more information than the average office brochure with the added ability of frequent updates and edits as your company evolves.
A customer’s first impression of you and your business used to be via the yellow pages. Their expectations were fairly low and they were never really able to form an impression about your business. The Internet has changed the potential customers “first impression” experience and more importantly it has changed their “first impression” expectations.

We also suggest that clients use their website to reinforce a sale after the sale has been made to prevent buyer’s remorse. You’ve just spent 60 – 90 minutes with your patient. Hopefully, but not realistically, you’ve answered every question they have and allayed every fear they may have after they leave your business. Your website can help to answer unasked questions and allay latent fears that any consumer, who just spent thousands of dollars, is bound to have.

4th Quarter Advertising and Marketing

We’re well into the 4th quarter of 2015. If you don’t have your advertising plan set through the end of the year (and a little bit beyond that) you better get started.

Timing

Advertising around the holiday season can sometimes before confusing. Should you advertise immediately before or immediately after the holiday? Too close and no one may be interested in coming in but if you aren’t running any ads, chances are no one is calling for an appointment either.

Generally speaking, any time in October up until the week in which Thanksgiving occurs is a good time to advertise. Historically our clients have found that advertising during Thanksgiving week has a less than desirable return on investment. Typically your customers are gearing up for the holiday and beginning to contemplate the holiday shopping season.

Resume advertising the week following Thanksgiving…excluding the Monday (Cyber Monday) immediately following Thanksgiving.

Themes

The upcoming holidays are all about spending time with friends and family. Here are a few ideas that center around that theme.

“This Holiday Season Give the Gift of Better Hearing.”

“The Perfect Gift for You This Year? Better Hearing”

Planning for the New Year

The end of the first week of January thru the end of January are great times to focus on

“Make Better Hearing Your New Year’s Resolution.”

The 4th quarter of every year tends to be a hectic time for everyone. But you still need to advertise. Take the next week to establish a game plan that will take you though the end of January. You’ll be glad you did.

The Oversell of Call Source Tracking

In theory, call source tracking is designed to allow companies to measure advertising effectiveness, increase sales and enhance customer service.  The customary method is to assign a phone number to each advertising and or marketing piece currently in use.  The premise is that you can better determine the effectiveness of each of your individual campaigns by better defining what made a potential customer contact your place of business.

Why this is all wrong.

Consumer Behavior

What influences you to purchase anything? Consumers are constantly evolving in their buying behavior based on their experiences. Consumer behavior is the process consumers go through when they make purchases and it involves multiple factors that influence their decision and usage.

The 5 Steps in the Buying Process

You need to understand these steps in order to properly move the consumer to the product and close the sale.  Take note, these steps do not need to occur in a sequential process.

Need Recognition

The very first step in the process is when consumers realize that they have a need for something. A need can be generated internally (I’m hungry and want food now) or externally (Your neighbor just got a new car, so you “need” a new car).

When consumers recognize an unfulfilled need and that a product will satisfy it, they have created a want.

There are three ways that consumers recognize unfulfilled wants.

  1. A a consumer becomes frustrated with the fact that a product he or she has is not performing properly. (the consumers own ears and hearing loss fall into this category).
  2. A consumer runs out of the product.
  3. A consumer becomes aware of a product that is better than their current product.
Information Search

After the consumer has developed a want or a need, he or she needs to start an information search about the different alternative selections that they can purchase to satisfy their need. The consumer will look both internally and externally for his information to help him make a decision. An internal information search consists of utilizing information from memory, such as past experiences with the product.

An external information search is the process of seeking information in the outside environment. They ask their friends and family about their experiences, what they purchased and where they made their purchase. They can also research public sources, such as consumer reports for information about a product.

Another external information source for the consumer are would be marketing-controlled sources, such as radio, television ads, brochures, etc. The amount of time dedicated to this step usually depends on the consumer’s past experience with buying the product, the risk involved and the level of interest.

Evaluation Of Alternatives And Purchase

After consumers have recognized a need, conducted information research and created a final set of choices, they then must make a decision.

In order to make the final decision, consumers usually decide on one product attribute that is the most important. It could be quality, price, store location, etc.  The role of marketing is communicate away any potential obstacles.

Our current economy is definitely a factor.  Economic issues have really affected the purchase outcome due to the recession. According to PewSocialTrends.org (a national demographic and trend survey company), only six percent of consumers have increased their spending since the recession hit in 2007. In fact, 62% of Americans said in the survey that they have curtailed their consumer spending amounts. In the survey, the respondents were quizzed about their future spending patterns once the economy improves; 31% say that they will spend less in the next few years.

Post-Purchase Behavior

After a consumer makes a decision to buy a product, they expect satisfaction to occur from the purchase. If the product does not meet their requirements, then dissatisfaction can occur and the consumer will talk poorly about the product publicly, return the product and also possibly not be a repeat buyer. A smart marketer will make sure that their consumer is completely satisfied and does not develop any negative post-purchase feelings. There is a difference between failed expectations and “buyer’s remorse” be aware of and understand how to address both.

What Should You Take Away From All This?

The big problem with call source tracking.  It’s an easy way to for you and the staff to check off the “how did you hear about us” box without worrying if the response is an accurate assessment of path the patient took to end up at your office.

Call source tracking identifies the method that the consumer used to make the call.  But in no way shape or form does it identify the path that the consumer took to arrive at that juncture.  Quite possibly, they read a few of your blogs, saw a few of your ads, or attended a consumer seminar you gave 6 months ago.  Eliminate any of those methods and quite possibly the same patient would’ve ended up in your competitors office.

Track your marketing results the right way…ask questions.  “How did you hear about us?”,   “Have you attended any of our seminars?”, “Did you see us online?”  Probe a little for a reponse, guaranteed you’ll be surprised at the answers you get.

Or create a checklist that includes all of your marketing activities and request that they check all that apply.  Leave a blank line for them to fill in.  If want to better understand the final catalyst then by all means use call source tracking.  Just don’t rely on it to when it comes to planning your marketing.

 

 

 

Creating an Effective Patient Recall Program

Patient recall programs are activities that bring the patient back into your office on a routine basis.  The program should be directed at both active and inactive patients.

The Method

The only effective method for activating inactive patients is to have a well-trained person from the practice initiate telephone calls.  Even for someone who is effective at this task, it’s probably their least favorite thing to do.  Knowing that up front means it is important to set goals and monitor their activity, both in terms of time allocated and the successes they are having.  Attaching incentives for the person charged with this activity can only improve performance.

It is important to differentiate between patients who should be followed for medical reasons and patients who are being recalled to maintain their active status within the practice.  A determination needs to be made at the end of the initial office visit which category the patient will fall into.  For existing patients where the determination was not made at the initial visit the staff needs to be given the criteria and the chart should be reviewed prior to making the call. Again, you will be calling three types of patients.  They are: 

  • Patients who purchased hearing aids from the practice but are no longer active.
  • Patients who were tested and did not purchase.
  • Patients were seen for medical reasons and were not candidates for hearing aids, but who should be monitored.

Each month your files should be reviewed and patients who need to be recalled should be identified.  You can contact them with a reminder card and then follow-up with a telephone call taking the same approach above.  Your staff should have a much higher success rate with the active versus inactive patients.  There may still need to be some prompting on their part but the majority should make appointments.

Why is a patient recall program a good idea?

  • By updating your files, you eliminate mailing correspondence to patients who are inactive.
  • You will increase the opportunity to provide existing patients additional products and services.
  • The value of your practice will increase based on the active number of files you have, should you decide to sell it.
  • You have an opportunity to reclaim patients that may have switched to a competitor.
  • You can eliminate an unhappy patient making negative comments about your practice.

Not sure how to get the ball rolling?  Call us.  We can help you to identify and to train the right person in your practice.  A effective patient recall program is an ideal way to lessen your reliance on advertising to meet your monthly goals.

 

 

I Have No Idea How I Got My Newest Patient

When I ask the question, “Tell me the top 5 ways you get a patient through your door? If just once, someone would be honest with me and say out loud, “I have no idea where my patients are coming from” I’d probably keel over on the spot.”  Invariably the answers I get range from, “Well I’m pretty sure they’re coming from…or “I’ll have to try to figure that out.”…or the always popular Well it varies.”

If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re wasting your advertising and marketing dollars.  You need to understand not only what draws patients to your business but what doesn’t.

Ask your patients questions.  I don’t mean strap them to a chair under a bright light and threaten bodily harm if they don’t come up with the right answer.  I mean be genuine.  “Mr. Patient, we really value your business and we would love to have more patients just like you.”  “Can you please tell me how you first heard about us?”

If they answer, the yellow pages, or online, or any other non-specific response, it’s okay to dig a little deeper.  “Hmm, interesting, were you looking for us or did you just stumble on our page…or our website?”

You will never know for sure if the answer they give is really the “correct answer”.  But I guarantee what you will uncover is a potential market you didn’t know existed.  Maybe a neighbor really is raving about you and sending links from your website to her friends.  Yes, they found you online, but it’s because Linda sent them a link.

Ask the right questions, track the responses and hopefully you’ll be spending your advertising dollars on financially rewarding opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

 

Newspaper Advertising Did Not Die

The key to increasing profits in an audiology practice is in not having an occasional great month but having consistently good months. An effective advertising program is an important tool for generating a constant flow of new patients.

Today audiology practices can choose from

many mediums when it comes to advertising. They also have many messages to present to the public. How do you choose your message and your medium? 

According to a recent Pew Research study 72% of adults over age 40 follow their local news.  And of those 32% say it would have a major impact on them if their local newspaper no longer existed.  In other words, your demographic is still buying and reading the paper. If purchased properly it can be one of the most inexpensive mediums for getting your message out to the public.

Advantages to Newspaper Advertising
  • Inexpensive when compared to other mediums in terms of readership
  • Short lead times for running ads
  • Can be adjusted based on patient flow in any given month
  • You can recycle effective advertisements
  • You do not have to invest your monthly advertising budget in one promotion
  • You can use the newspaper to deliver inserts inexpensively to specific zip codes.
Disadvantages to Newspaper Advertising
  • It can be more complicated to prepare a newspaper advertising campaign than other advertising mediums
  • It can be more complicated to track individual ad results if you are constantly changing the advertising message
  • It can be expensive if not purchasedproperly
Keys to Creating Effective Newspaper Ads

The most important step in developing an effective newspaper advertising campaign is to make sure your message is seen. If you have to choose between four small ads or one large ad we would always recommend choosing the large ad. This also comes into play when selecting which section of the Newspaper your ad will run in. If you had to choose between a small ad in a section that appeals to our demographic or a large ad in section that might not be as suitable, again, as a general rule we would recommend the large ad.

If your budget allows, run what is referred to as a “page buster ad”. A page buster ad is one that is large enough so that no other ad can dominate the page. As a rule, page buster ads are slightly larger then ¼ page. In theory the newspaper could run a ¼ page ad and a ½ page on the same page but they very seldom do that for fear of upsetting the advertisers.

Be sure to have a strong call to action. We are not fans of “top of the mind awareness” type advertising. Our patients are for the most part, reluctant participants in the rehabilitation of their hearing. It is unlikely that the average patient wakes up one morning and says, “I think I will go and get my hearing checked today”.

If that were the case then top of the mind awareness, which is essentially running small ads that only list your practice name and services over and over might be effective. What probably happens in the majority of case

s is that a significant other sees an ad with an offer of some kind and says, “You are making an appointment today”.

Effective marketing and advertising promotions are part science, part art.  You have any number of methods at your disposable.  It’s just as important to embrace the newer methods (online marketing) as it is to recognize that the older methods can still provide a hefty return on investment.

Reasons to Track Your Return on Investment

Here’s how the conversation went, “Have you tried any direct mail or newspaper inserts lately?”  The answer, “We tried both, they didn’t work.”  Next question, “What was the (return on investment) ROI for each?”  The answer?  “I don’t know.”

If you don’t know where your patients are coming from and how much it cost you to get them in your door, then you have no idea if your advertising and marketing campaigns are worth repeating.

Advertising and Marketing tend to be costly items in everyone’s P&L. Ideally you want to spend as little as possible to get the number of patients needed on a monthly basis.  Too often you run ads, inserts, email campaigns, open houses, etc. with little thought as to why a prior ad piece or event was or wasn’t successful.

Experience may teach you how to better manage the event, but tracking the results in as many ways as possible will allow you to make better decisions about where to put your marketing dollars.

A minor change to an ad piece can significantly impact the ROI of any ad.   For example, the same ad run on a Monday may have a better or worse response from the public than an identical ad run on a Friday. Another example might be an ad that you ran in color.  You may end up with a lower cost per lead even though the ad was more expensive.

Investing time in establishing a tracking system will pay dividends in the long run in other ways.  Each month when you start putting your advertising and marketing plan together you’ll have historical information that will make planning your marketing and advertising strategies quicker without sacrificing quality.

Patterns will develop if you carefully cultivate and store information from the patients who respond to your advertising and marketing, particularly those who purchase.  After all, they’re the ones you want to make sure keep coming in your door.