Online Moves You Should Make TODAY That Will Help Grow Your Practice
by Bob Main - Web Presence Coach/Consultant
In talking with many ECPs around the country, it has become quite clear that most are not engaged (or very minimally engaged) in any type of social media or internet marketing program. The majority of ECPs I talk to say they know they need a better internet presence, but don't know where to start. They say their practice has a Facebook Page or maybe even a business website, but they really don't know how to use them to grow their business. If this sounds familiar, and you are confused on where to start, here are three suggestions that will at least get you in the game.
#1 Collect current customers email addresses
I am amazed how many ECPs are still not getting email addresses from their existing customers. Start today! Add this to new patient paperwork and make sure to get everyone’s email address when they come in for general eye exams. Even if you currently don’t have a clue what you will do with the email address, just start getting it. A patient's email address can be an extremely valuable asset. And if your practice is already getting email addresses, make sure when current patients come in for exams to ask them to confirm that their email address has not changed. Tell your patients that you want to start communicating with them via email about their eye health, eyeglass information, etc. Staying "engaged" with your patients between office visits and exams is critical in today's marketplace.
#2 Use In-office Marketing Techniques
If you do have a Facebook Page and practice website (however good or poor they are), let patients know about them. Post signs in the office to let patients know about your Facebook, Twitter or website address. Put social media connection information on office stationary and any direct mail pieces that are sent out. All printed materials should have this information. Consider creating a 3 X 5 “Connect Card” with your online information and give to patients as they leave the office (see example to the left). And be sure to add a link to your Facebook Page on email signatures. Make an all-out effort to encourage patients to get connected with the practice through social media.
#3 Start "Email Farming" and Internet Marketing
Okay, I know the term "email farming" sounds unprofessional, but it really defines the process very well. As new/prospective patients visit the business website or Facebook Page, it is important to give them a simple way to connect with the practice. The best way is to provide a place for them to enter their email address and name. A simple “sign up for a newsletter” or "join our eyewear club" is all that is needed for them to provide this information.
Two online companies that have all the tools needed to design, implement and track those that sign up are www.ConstantContact.com or www.MailChimp.com. It is important to send a “welcome email” when someone does sign up and these online companies have automated systems to do that automatically. Additionally, they make it really simple to design and send out quarterly e-newsletters to patients. These sites will help manage your email database and conform to anti-spam laws, which is important when sending out email to the entire patient database.
Okay, these are just a few things you can do to get started growing your practice by using the power of the internet and social media. At the very least, you should be doing these three things. These are just the beginning, but you can't get in the online race without a start.