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For eye care professionals

How to successfully advertise your services as an independent ECP online

A guide to advertising your online services

When it comes to marketing your optometry practice, traditional methods may no longer suffice on their own. For example, the modern consumer might now find you in a number of different ways: from noticing a flyer at their local supermarket, or coming across your website, Twitter, or Instagram online. They might receive a letter in the post if you still find value in local flyering, or perhaps they’ll get an email in their inbox. 

Times are moving fast, and to keep up with the state of the industry and changing consumer expectations, an effective marketing strategy should now utilise both older methods of marketing, and newer digital ones. 

But this move can be a difficult one: where do you begin? What tools should you use? Here, we’ll touch on how you can modernise your practice’s online presence and successfully advertise your services online. 

The starting point: your website


The first point of call for any digital strategy is your website. Is it clear, modern, and informative? Is it usable? Think about how someone might go from A to B on your website: where will they find out about your services, your contact information, and how to book an appointment?

A useful starting point when gauging how easy it is to use your website is asking someone to go through it and give you honest feedback. Ask them to give you key insights to help you optimise your website for usability and experience. This can be something as simple as being able to book an appointment easily. There are loads of great tools around the web that can help with this, such as Silktide. You can have a look at their service here

There are certain elements that every practice’s website should have as standard. This includes:

•  Online testimonials and case studies to show people trust your services

•  A range of video, photographic, and written content to advertise your services and products
      •  When planning your content, think about how to best present your services and products
      •  I.e, if you dispense the Varilux X series lens, a video showcasing its benefits may be the best way of showing viewers why they might need a pair

•  Simple appointment booking feature

The question you need to ask yourself is: “Can a consumer use my website to get information relevant to their needs quickly and successfully?”. If yes, then great you’re doing a good job, so read on. If not, then give us a call as we can help you in this area through our Personalised Marketing service.

Funneling to your website


If your website is in good shape, now’s a good time to start thinking about how you’re going drive consumers to it. Think of this process as a ‘funnel’; a tried and tested marketing technique. At the top are consumers who don’t know about your practice, services, or products (but who you feel perhaps should); at the bottom are those who book an appointment. This is a basic example:

 

This funnel can be applied to any marketing goal and it’s your objective to draw people down it. Thankfully, you can apply a multitude of different digital marketing tactics to help you achieve it. 

Of course, that’s easier said than done, and consumers may need several exposures to your ‘message’ before they take any action. For example, they may not be due for an eye examination, or their current pair of specs or sunglasses may be fine. Yet, by implemented a dynamic marketing strategy that introduces your message, new products, and quality services, you can nudge potential new customers further down the funnel.

How can I do this? 

We’ve created content around why you should invest in digital marketing, here, so we’d advise having a read of that one to give you a good grounding in this area first. Here, we want to delve a little deeper. 


Social media: organic and paid advertising


The advertising element of social media can seem daunting at first, but it’s actually very simple once you get the hang of it. When you do, you’ll be able to market directly to your target consumer profile with the push of a button. It really is worth developing. 

There are multiple ways in how you can do this, however, and this is what we want to help you understand first of all. 


Organic 


Organic social media advertising is very simple. This is when you post something without putting any money behind. It could be, for example, an article on a new piece of technology or frame brand you recently acquired. You just share the content on whatever social platform you’re using, and that’s it. 


Paid


Facebook, for example, is primarily an advertising platform - it generates money by running ads. Therefore, it makes sense that paying for an advert allows you to put your services in front of a lot more people than just posting organically. 

An organic post is only put in front of a certain number of your existing followers (yes, not all of them). A paid ad, on the other hand, allows you to target customers right down to a specific postcode. This can, for instance, be as simple as ‘boosting’ that organic post on the new piece of tech or acquired frame brand. 

However, we know that platforms such as Facebook change and update their user algorithms all the time. This means that there are certain best practices to adhere to, and to keep on top of, if you want to maximise any organic potential you might have. This is unrealistic: you’ve got a practice to run and this takes a long time. So, to successfully advertise your services, you need to implement both.

Build your organic presence through sharing new content, customer testimonials, new products, new technology: anything that will enhance a consumer’s journey through your practice. Why should they come to your practice?

Supplement this by boosting/advertising the content you feel consumers need to read/watch/listen to in order to get them into your practice. Our Personalised Marketing service can help you put together complete strategies to achieve this.

Bridging the gap

Remember: your aim is to move the person from social media to taking an action on your website, making a phone call or even dropping by. So, as a rule of thumb, make sure to include clear call to actions in any social media posting you do. Something along the lines of ‘Visit our website and book your appointment today’; with a link taking them to a relevant website page. Encourage them to take an action through your content and the language you use in the advert. 

To increase the likelihood of someone booking an appointment, and to keep your brand fresh in their mind, ensure that the same messages run across all of your communication channels, on the front page of your website, on social media, and in your email newsletter. This is best practice for all types of marketing. 

Ultimately, the beauty of social media advertising is that it’s designed to be easy for you to implement. You may feel overwhelmed at first, but the best way to learn is to try it out. It’s vital to take traditional advertising lessons with you when you begin to utilise online, so make sure you’re clear about your target audience, and that you keep a tight geographic focus to ensure you are reaching the right people. Remember that it takes several opportunities to view your message before people take action, and to tie in online campaigns with the rest of your marketing. 

Quick wins 

Everyone needs a ‘quick win’ every now and again, and you can do this through basic pay-per-click marketing. Now, this is potentially a very expensive area of digital marketing to go down, and for sure you would need to bring in a consultant or give us a call to help you get started on it. It’s self-intuitive once you get to grips with it, but there is an element of training/consultancy that needs to happen first.

Pay-per-click essentially means that you can service an ad to someone who is actively searching for a product or service. So, for example, let’s say they type into Google “Optician near me”. We can assume this is a fairly common search term or many people looking to book an eye test. You can bid on specific terms such as the above through Google AdWords to help you appear in those advertisement slots you see on every Google search you make. 

Organic rankings (the search results that are not paid for) take a long time to come into effect, if at all unless your content marketing tactics are spot on, so this is an option that can lead to some quick wins in the short term. We’ve breezed over a huge digital marketing tactic there, but we wanted to bring your attention to it as something to start thinking about. We’ll be building out more information on this area for you. 

Google My Business

Something that you can easily do, however, is Google My Business. This links up your business into Google's’ business listings. By inputting your business name, location, service, etc, it allows your practice to appear in localised searches. For example, if you’re based in Maidstone and someone in Maidstone Google’s “Optician near me”, your practice can appear within the Maps section of the search result. You can build up an attractive profile with Google reviews, pictures, and information, too. It’s an incredibly useful tool that many businesses don’t take full advantage of it, so have a play around in it through the link above. 

To sum up, we’ve covered a lot of ground: the importance of generating relevant content, why you need to utilise social media, and how you can garner a few quick wins. But, we’ve only just scratched the service - there’s so much more information to serve you, especially around how you can begin to start setting up and implementing these tactics. For this, we advise heading to our Personalised Marketing service. 

If you want to find out more on digital marketing advice for your practice, then head over to Optical Industry Advice, our informational hub dedicated to helping you grow your business. Alternatively, if you want to speak to an Essilor Account Manager, you can do so through our dedicated Bespoke service page.

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