by Joe Lugara, CEO of Audiology Plus
2020; the year that will live in infamy; the year that no one expected. 2020 taught us so many lessons, including how to create goals for the future. You may just be hoping things can return to “business as usual” but as time passes, the things we were forced to adopt due to COVID-19 are now considered “business as usual.” As the world collectively (both professionally and personally) looks to the future, hearing professionals are also trying to navigate these challenges and forge ahead.
“Unlearn” What You Think You Know
2020 was so unpredictable that any typical chatter about 2021 trends is non-existent. No one is daring to make any assumptions about 2021 – and maybe that is for the best. All we can do is take any lessons learned from 2020 and try our best to embrace it. To help you move forward, we can review some facts about 2020 that can help you prepare for the year ahead.
If you want more patients, you should know that traditional forms of marketing like direct mail, print advertising and radio ads are a thing of the past. All your opportunity for reliable growth is online. Did you know that patients perform an average of 175M health-related Google searches per day, with 75% of all clicks occurring within the top 5 results?1 That is a lot of traffic! If you aren’t prepared and don’t have the appropriate measures in place to support your practice online, you can assume you missing out on several ways to grow your business.
We hope that if you remember anything from this article, it’s this: uncomfortable changes can translate into big opportunities.
Hearing Professionals Must Market Themselves Based On Many Changes That Occurred In 2020
Looking back Pre-2020, life seems so much easier and straight-forward. From a digital marketing perspective, you knew you needed some core components to ensure your business was found online and patients had an easy way to contact you. Bare minimum, you needed a nicely designed website and some digital ads. If you know more about digital marketing, then you may have been aware of more advanced efforts such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, which also enhanced your online presence. A modern website with SEO and some PPC campaigns delivered a well-balanced approach to get patients’ attention online.
But now post-2020, SEO is a mess, pay-per-click is temperamental, and your website needs a lot more virtual accessibility.
Consumer behavior completely changed due to the pandemic, so SEO you had in place pre-pandemic is probably no longer serving you. And you need to consider what kind of changes you made to your business to adapt to the demands of COVID-19. Did you start seeing patients using telehealth? Did you change your business hours to accommodate higher-risk groups? Do you have certain requirements to accept new patients? All these things are very important to how SEO is conducted. Plus, you need to also think about if you added these changes to your website, did you add supportive information in anticipation that these changes are permanent, or are you changing the content regularly? All these things (and more) are so important to patients who are looking for hearing health professionals online.
Google advertising through pay-per-click ads used to be a reasonable investment for hearing practices, but things have changed. Consumers are now engaging more on social media to identify businesses in their area. Combine this with rising costs and shrinking returns for traditional search engine ads, social media advertising is proving to be a better way to target your audience.
Virtualization for hearing professionals was always a non-issue pre-COVID because no one needed to perform any of their in-person services through the internet. But again, in order to adapt and forage ahead with your business, it is crucial to incorporate virtual tools so you and your patients can easily connect.
Remote audiology care actually reduces overhead and can save 10 hours of work time/year, resulting in an average of $150k of net revenue.2 With many audiology patients in higher risk categories due to their age and health conditions, so many hearing professionals have successfully transitioned their parking lots, curbsides, and offices into managed-risk environments, while also seeing patients virtually to conduct consultations or follow-up appointments.
Data Is All Over The Place But New Models Will Help You Gauge What Is Important
All these consumer behavior changes have upended a lot of data we are used to relying on as a gauge for online success. And with each state having different regulations and orders in place during the pandemic, it just makes old behavior models inaccurate and unreliable now.
No digital marketing expert can predict what will happen in 2021 in a single model; nor can anyone guarantee you will receive any kind of specific result from their digital campaign. But what digital marketers can do is help you understand what to look for as we learn about consumer behavior.
What you can do is explore new data models. Some key metrics you should use now are through social media management and social media ad campaigns. These are incredibly useful tools to get accurate data. During the pandemic, consumers moved away from traditional ads and flocked to social media to learn any immediate need-to-know information from businesses.
Utilizing Non-Traditional Tools To Thrive
There are new tools available to hearing professionals that can completely revolutionize how you do business. It may be a bit intimidating to think about steering yourself away from the traditional ways of performing hearing services, but remember, big opportunities come out of change.
E-commerce is one huge opportunity that has come out of the pandemic. Consumers want easy access to the things they need and getting products directly from your practice would be an easy decision for them. Plus, the global healthcare e-commerce market is expected to grow to $435.8B by 20253, making e-commerce a no-brainer decision for you to implement in your practice. You can look into creating an e-commerce store for your practice, or you can seek out a pre-loaded solution that is ready to be added to your website.
In addition to e-commerce, social media delivers a wide gamut of opportunities. Did you know that over 80% of Facebook’s 2.7B users are looking for information about a specific doctor or health professional?4 And knowing that, you should examine your business’s social media accounts. How active are you on social media? Do you have a plan in place to deliver quality content on social media? Who is responsible for posting on your social media accounts?
Social media has become an incredibly important tool to not just deliver important information to current and new patients, but it’s a critical resource for information to learn about your audience.
Be Open To Change And Embrace The Process
All great things must start somewhere. And while we are all being forced into changing our behavior, we should really be looking at this as an opportunity to start anew.
To anyone who is looking for help with their practice – Don’t hesitate anymore – just do it. Ask for help and do it today. There is so much opportunity in this information. What are you going to do with it?
- Derek Anderson, Dialog Tech (2020), 23 Statistics Healthcare Marketers Need to Know in 2020. https://www.dialogtech.com/blog/health-care-marketing-statistics/
- OrthoLive, (December 13, 2018) Top 10 Benefits of Telehealth for Patients and Doctors. https://www.ortholive.com/blog/top-10-benefits-of-telehealth-for-patients-and-doctors/
- MarketWatch, (November 6, 2020) Healthcare E-Commerce Market 2020 Overview by Upcoming Trends, Type, Application, Healthcare Facilities, Growth, Investment, Customized Features, Key Players & Forecast 2025. https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/healthcare-e-commerce-market-2020-overview-by-upcoming-trends-type-application-healthcare-facilities-growth-investment-customized-features-key-players-forecast-2025-2020-11-06?siteid=bigcharts&dist=bigcharts&tesla=y
- Christopher Warden, Liquid Lock Media (19 Oct) 30 Facts & Statistics On Social Media And Healthcare. https://www.liquidlockmedia.com/30-social-media-and-healthcare-statistics/
About the author
Joe Lugara is the CEO and Founder of Audiology Plus. A digital expert with over 20+ years of marketing and hearing healthcare experience, he pushes the boundaries of technology to create innovative solutions that empower hearing practices to thrive in an increasingly virtual world. Joe was born into the hearing industry and has long sought to propel it into the modern age. From E-Commerce to Search Advertising, he has grown countless hearing businesses by empowering them to accept technology rather than fight it.