Top digital marketing ideas for optometry practices

A modern guide to attracting and retaining patients

When it comes to building their practice and getting more patients, optometrists face distinct challenges. Few people schedule routine eye exams every few years, much less annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 93 million US adults at high risk for vision loss, only half visited the eye doctor, and only 39 percent of preschool kids get their eyes checked1.

Those who do decide to have an eye exam may not seek a private optometry practice. They may visit the vision services department at a big-box store, especially if they think it’s less expensive. Worrying about the cost of eye care is a major issue facing patients, with just half of adults carrying vision insurance2.

Optometrists get an edge over the competition and encourage more patients to schedule appointments by creating a long-term digital marketing strategy. Considering 75 percent of people search online for doctors and medical information, digital marketing offers a cost-effective and successful approach to attracting new patients.

You can implement these online marketing and advertising strategies without taking time away from patients by using an all-in-one digital growth platform.

optometry

Integrate marketing with online services using a digital growth platform

A successful digital marketing plan requires several key elements. You need an attractive website design, online content that’s engaging and easy-to-read, and an active social media presence that fosters communication. Plus, organic search engine optimization (SEO) must be incorporated across all your online platforms.

These elements work together to boost your search engine rankings. As a result, you rise to the top of the list when patients search online for an optometrist.

An effective all-in-one digital growth platform integrates with your existing EMR, all the components of your optometry practice marketing, as well as online services that streamline your front office.

You can easily manage services ranging from online scheduling and patient satisfaction surveys to automated text messaging and telehealth options from the user-friendly dashboard. The dashboard does more than streamline your front office; it also provides the real-time metrics you need to evaluate and manage your practice.

An all-in-one digital growth platform puts key performance indicators at your fingertips. You can automatically track patient conversions, no-show rates, revenue rates, and patient demographics. The platform also provides real-time website statistics.

Armed with crucial metrics, you can focus your budgeting dollars to produce the best return on investment and seamlessly scale your advertising up or down based on the real-time performance of your marketing strategy.

Learn more about the PatientPop all-in-one practice growth platform here:
What is a practice growth platform and how can it help private practices achieve 2021 goals?
5 ways every healthcare practice can get more from a practice growth platform
How healthcare practices can benefit from daily use of a practice performance dashboard

Incorporate digital marketing strategies that work for optometrists

Optometrists gain remarkable advantages when with a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. With online marketing, you can pivot quickly, changing or adding information and fine-tuning your brand as your practice-building goals evolve.

All-in-one digital growth platforms support every element of your marketing plan. But before taking the first step — developing and publishing your website — optometrists should take time to define their brand.

Identify what differentiates your practice from competing optometrists. Maybe you offer specialized services for diabetic eye care or ensure patients have minimal waiting time or get personal attention from the front office staff. These qualities define your unique brand and should reflect in your online presence.

The best practices for digital marketing include strategies such as:

Building a captivating website

By the time people search for an optometrist, chances are they finally gave in and acknowledged a change in their vision. Or maybe their child needs an eye exam. Either way, now they’re highly motivated to find an optometrist and their first stop is an online search.

When searching online for an optometrist, prospective patients make split-second decisions about you and if they can trust you to treat their eyes. They want to learn about your credentials and experience. They also want to get a sense of your personality through a well-crafted bio and personable photos.

Your website design must grab their attention, give them the information they need, and guide them with visible cues nudging them to schedule online. Also, be sure your online performance meets today’s highest standards. For example, pages must load within seconds if you want patients to stay on your site long enough to book online.

Posting patient satisfaction surveys

Did you know that 74 percent of people searching online use patient reviews to decide if they will choose your optometry practice? Regularly publishing patient surveys gets more patients and also boosts your search engine rankings. Use your all-in-one digital platform to send out an automated text or email request for patient reviews after each visit.

Offering online services

Few services are as important to patients, such as the convenience of making appointments, registering, and paying their bills online. Routinely using text messaging for appointment reminders and confirmations is nearly guaranteed to grow your practice.

Today, 66 percent of patients prefer to communicate via text messaging. Since your all-in-one growth platform automates these online services, you also improve front office efficiency by reducing the time needed for tedious paperwork and phone calls.

Implementing telehealth capabilities

Telehealth has limitations for optometrists, but that doesn’t mean you should rule it out. As new technology reaches the market, you will discover more tools that help you assess vision problems online.

Even if you (understandably) prefer the accuracy and personal touch of in-office eye exams, you can use telehealth to intervene and help patients who may use devices without the benefit of an optometrist. One of the latest trends is a device that attaches to a smartphone and measures refractive errors, giving patients the ability to buy their eyeglasses online.

If you choose to include telehealth in your digital growth platform, you give patients a quick and convenient way to connect with you (and become a new patient) before they spend money on eyeglasses that likely don’t meet their vision needs.

Telehealth is a great service for attracting new patients that you may be able to treat online, such as red, itchy eyes. Additionally, telehealth gives you the ability to communicate with existing patients, whether you want to do a quick follow-up after treating an eye condition or make sure they don’t have problems with new contacts.

Increasing search engine rankings

Every part of your digital marketing plan is designed to increase search engine rankings. You could have the best website ever created, but it won’t bring in new patients if it’s not noticed by search engines, especially Google. The key is search engine optimization, so let’s look at that in more detail.

Optimize SEO to outrank the competition online

As Google and other search engines crawl through the Internet, they identify keywords that match a person’s online search request. Effective SEO ensures that your website is found by the search engine, ranks high on Google’s first page of search results, and generates leads to your website.

A solid digital marketing strategy includes proven SEO strategies such as:

Keyword optimization

To optimize SEO keywords, your web pages should include the words or phrases potential patients will use when searching for an optometrist online. They may search generically, simply using a specialty such as “optometry.” In some cases, they may search for optometrists in a specific city. But if they don’t, the search engine automatically brings up local results based on their computer’s location.

Many people also search by symptoms and conditions. The best approach, and one that ranks high in Google, is to create separate pages on your website that focus on vital SEO phrases like “eye exam,” “eyeglasses,” “red eyes,” “blurry vision,” and “cataracts,” to give just a few examples.

As you choose the keywords for your SEO optimization, remember that patients don’t search using medical terms. When you develop web content, think in consumer terms like “eye allergies” rather than “ocular allergies.”

Updated content

You lay the groundwork for your website by initially publishing specific service pages. But you can’t stop there. To get noticed by search engines and maintain a high search engine ranking, you need to regularly publish new, informative content.

Updating your website content with monthly blogs is more than a great SEO tactic. Websites with an active blog bring more visitors, and allow you to communicate with your audience. With each new blog, you can explore topics that draw new patients in, inform people seeking information about eye conditions (with the potential to become new patients), let people know about new technology and treatments, and advertise your expertise and practice.

Ready to learn more about SEO optimization? Here are good starting points:
Medical marketing advantage: 3 SEO strategies for healthcare practices the competition may overlook
Helping healthcare practices get found online: Search ranking factors and trends from SEO experts

Magnify your web presence with tested techniques

Websites with fresh content lay the foundation for top search engine rankings. However, you can rise higher and fly above the competition with digital marketing techniques that enhance your web presence and help people find you online.

Complete your business profiles

Online business profiles have a big impact on your visibility and search engine ranking. Claim your business profile on listing sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, Vitals, Citysearch, and WebMD. If you only complete one profile, make it Google My Business. SEO experts believe it’s the most influential online strategy for ensuring excellent local search rankings.

Here are a few tips for optimizing business profiles: Complete every field, include professional photos, and add links to your online scheduling platform. It’s also essential to keep the information up to date.

Optimize your web site for mobile devices

You would expect Millennials and GenXers to rely on smartphones for online services. But even 85 percent of Baby Boomers wish more businesses had digital options3.

Optimal online performance depends on content designed to work with mobile devices. Your website is carefully designed to be mobile-friendly when it’s part of an all-in-one digital growth platform.

Implement a long-term social media plan

Seventy percent of adults use social media to connect with people, get news, and share information4. Facebook and YouTube claim the most users. Nearly half of Facebook users visit the site several times daily, with another 22 percent checking their Facebook page once a day5.

Your active presence on social media exposes you to more potential patients, maintains communication with existing patients, and boosts your search engine rankings.

These articles offer more information about the marketing power of enhancing your web presence:
How to increase your practice’s online presence: 5 tips from our live learning session
3 ways healthcare providers can build online presence
Optimizing your healthcare practice Facebook presence in 5 easy steps

Roll out these advertising approaches for optometry practices

Depending on your marketing budget and goals for attracting new patients, you may decide to use other digital advertising venues beyond your website and social media. Search advertising, video advertising, and social media sponsored content are just a few options for driving more people to your website.

No matter what type of paid online advertising you use, your website is ultimately where you convert online searchers into patients. People take a few seconds to decide if they want to read more and follow a call to action or click away and look for another optometrist.

Your website should make a compelling case for why and when people need optometric services and the value you bring to the table. The best way to do that (beyond your basic web content) is by regularly publishing a blog.

Use your blog to tell people about new treatments or technology, or to explain optometry and eye care information that most people don’t know. For instance, few people know that you can diagnose systemic conditions during an eye exam.

Your blog campaign may include topics such as:

  • Untreated lazy eye in children causes vision loss
  • Comprehensive eye exams reveal chronic health conditions
  • How to prevent vision loss due to diabetes
  • Progressive eye disease doesn’t cause early symptoms
  • Regular eye exams prevent the vision loss from chronic eye conditions
  • Optometrists treat a range of eye conditions
  • How to choose eyeglasses that express your personality
  • Information about who qualifies for extended wear contact lenses
  • Annual eye exams are essential if you have diabetes or glaucoma
  • Replace OTC reading glasses with presbyopia-correcting eyedrops

Every year, 31 million adults with presbyopia bypass optometrists and buy over-the-counter readers. That’s 800 people for every optometrist, according to the Review of Optometric Business6.

These same patients also have a higher risk for glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, and ocular surface disease. With approval for presbyopia-correcting eyedrops on the horizon, you stand to gain many new patients if you use your website and blogs to inform them and convince them to schedule an appointment.

Find more on advertising strategies here:
Two overlooked strategies to expand your healthcare practice
A step-by-step tutorial for creating paid branded medical ads

Build and maintain a solid online reputation

As a medical practitioner, you depend on your reputation in the community to get more patients. The same holds true online, which is why reputation management is an essential part of your overall marketing plan.

Once you engage in digital marketing, you will receive positive and negative comments. Some patients will post on their own social media platform. However, your online reputation primarily comes from patient satisfaction surveys and the way you respond to them.

Whether your review is positive or negative, it’s important to reply as quickly as possible, at least the same day. Nearly 60 percent of patients are satisfied when they get a prompt response.

Acknowledging a negative review helps you retain that patient and turns a negative review into positive by revealing that you care. Proactive reputation management addressing positive and negative comments gives you a strategic advantage over the two-thirds of medical providers who think they can ignore reviews.

The best way to build a solid reputation online is to be sure patients enjoy their experience in your office. Take a hard look at every aspect of your practice. Do front office staff smile and greet each patient right away? Is the waiting room inviting and clean? How long do patients wait? Do you take a few minutes to talk with each patient before moving into the exam?

Learn more about managing your online reputation here:
Creating and maintaining a 5-star reputation for your healthcare practice
The risks and potential rewards of negative patient reviews
The doctor’s guide to responding to patient reviews and other online feedback

Support your digital marketing with targeted content

The content created for your service pages, blogs, social media, and email campaigns highlight your skills and experience while revealing personality and details about your practice. Content marketing gives you the chance to target specific age groups and conditions, as well as the primary concerns facing your patients.

When developing your website and online content, focus on this list of optometry-based keywords:

  • Eye exams
  • Comprehensive eye exam
  • Glasses / eyeglasses
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Designer eyewear
  • Contact lenses
  • Sunglasses
  • Optical services
  • Pediatric eye exam / children’s eye exam
  • Emergency eye care / urgent eye care
  • Astigmatism
  • Amblyopia
  • Myopia
  • Myopia control
  • Color blindness
  • Eye diseases
  • Computer vision syndrome
  • Ortho-k / orthokeratology
  • LipiFlow®
  • Diabetes
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Dry eyes
  • Floaters
  • Blepharitis
  • Eye infections
  • Keratoconus
  • Strabismus
  • Eye allergies
  • Macular degeneration

This list isn’t comprehensive, but it gives you a solid summary of the numerous topics that support an effective content marketing strategy.

Get more ideas for content marketing here:
7 blog post types for healthcare marketing

Build your practice with the PatientPop all-in-one practice growth platform that coordinates all the pieces of your digital marketing strategy on one platform. Visit the PatientPop website to see how it works, schedule a demo, or call today.

1Keep an Eye on Your Vision Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2The Vision Council VisionWatch U.S. Consumer Study – Q1 2020
3The Rise in Digital Adoption Among Baby Boomers, Mobiquity
4Social Media Fact Sheet, Pew Research Center
5Social Media Use in 2021, Pew Research Center
6Presbyopia eye drops, Review of Optometric Business

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