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Cover Focus | Jan/Feb '14

Top Five Digital Trends Affecting Your Practice

Surgeons often find it a struggle to keep up with all of the changes taking place online and how to best leverage the Internet to grow their practice. Our online digital presence has skyrocketed in just the last few years; we even see the emergence of “digital seniors,” a description to account for the 34% of senior citizens who are texting!

In fact, the virtual customer experience is just as important as the physical experience patients have when in your presence. Look at your own behavior on your smartphone: Where to vacation? Trip Advisor. Where to eat? Yelp. What to play? Angry Birds.

Below are the top five digital trends you need to consider going forward.

1. Mobile Responsiveness

Make sure your website functions equally well on a laptop, tablet, and smartphone. A great patient experience means that he or she should be able to look up your address, review your biography, and press a button to call you right from the website, regardless of the device.

2. Email

Email is ubiquitous as a communication tool among peers, but it is often overlooked as a marketing vehicle that can be used to reach patients. One practice, Atlantis Eye Care, found that investing $1,500 in an email campaign generated more than $120,000 in revenue. That’s a monster return on investment. You can use email to target and promote the right message to the right segment of your patient base. The best news: It’s all measurable.

3. Location-Based Marketing

If you want to get a quick SEO boost and have patients be able to “check in” with you when you’re nearby, make sure you get listed in all of the directories that are online. Patients’ smartphones will often ask if they can use the current location, and that’s how they find you! These include Yellow Pages, Superpages, Citysearch, and Google Places. It’s estimated that businesses lose more than $10 billion per year by not taking advantage of location-based marketing.

4. Social Media

Participating in social media has been free so far, but that is not going to last much longer. All of the main platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ are figuring out how to monetize these platforms. You need to participate in order to better engage your audience, increase loyalty, and get that word-of-mouth coming into your practice.

5. Video

Finally, you need to incorporate video in everything you do. Videos should not only be on your website but also have other uses beyond this, such as being embedded into emails and used in your office. Use Instagram for brief videos up to 15 seconds long and Vine for those up to 6 seconds. The time constraint forces creativity and clarity of your message. Use those videos as testimonials and, more importantly, to allow your patients to tell a story.

That’s it. Make sure you subscribe to my blog at www.premiumexperiencenetwork.com for more insights into the customer experience.

Shareef Mahdavi

Shareef Mahdavi is the Founder of SM2 Strategic and Chief Marketing Officer for ALPHAEON.

Alex Lopez

Alex Lopez is the Director of Practice Marketing Solutions at ALPHAEON and previously was Chief Operating Officer at Atlantis Eye Care in Orange County, California.