Many hearing care professionals count email among the mediums they utilize to reach out to physicians and build their referral networks. But many fail to fully capitalize on the power and reach of this important marketing tool, according to email marketing expert Brad Dodson.
Dodson, who is vice president of sales for ClearSounds Communication, shared his hearing care-specific advice in “Communicating with Physicians and Their Patients,” a free webinar hosted by The Hearing Review and sponsored by CareCredit.
“You guys are already using digital technology in your everyday outreach and marketing efforts to patients, and I’d like to bring some of that now into working with your physicians and your local community,” Dodson said, referencing a recent Pew Research Center study. The study found that there are about 224 million smartphone users in the United States—about 80% of the total population—and that 80% of those users check email before their first cup of coffee.
Flexibility and Diversity
Dodson cited several compelling statistics from a recent “Medical Technology Marketing Industry Trends” report produced by MedData, which included:
- 62% of physicians and other healthcare providers prefer communication via email over direct mail, phone calls, and in-person visits.
- 75% of physicians use smartphones and tablets for professional reasons, and “checking email” is the most popular reason.
- 40% of healthcare companies have yet to create a physician-targeted email marketing strategy.
“Multichannel” marketing—which could include email as well as print advertising, social media outreach, SMS text messaging, and word of mouth—is the best way to communicate your message to physicians, Dodson said.
“You need to be flexible and diverse in order to reach your audience. ‘Build it and they will come’ will only get you so far. Today, it’s more about the right ad at the right time. You have to engage with your audience multiple times in order for them to purchase a product or service from you.”
In-person visits remain an indispensable component of a multichannel campaign, Dodson added, but they need not be limited to the person whose name is on the office door. He recommends sending monthly emails to physicians as well as physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners in your area.
Noting that recipients may be less likely to recommend hearing care if they don’t believe their patients can afford the cost of treatment or hearing aids, Dodson recommends including some mention of financing options such as CareCredit.
Refining Your Message
To be sure your message about audiology is heard, Dodson stressed the need to refine your “call to action” (or CTA) so that it can be quickly read and understood. He shared several pointers, including:
- Keep your CTA short—five words or fewer should suffice;
- Communicate your practice’s value proposition;
- Create a sense of urgency;
- Give your CTA prominent placement,
- Include no more than one CTA per email.
Physicians are most likely to read content that is “valid and creative,” Dodson said. Including a “takeaway,” such as a link to download a published study, helps keep recipients engaged and should improve your open rates. Using dizziness as an example, Dodson suggested writing about lesser-known symptoms of disordered hearing to present yourself as a resource for helpful information.
“Marketing to physicians is no easy task,” Dodson said. “Not only are they hard to reach, but they have limited attention spans for content that doesn’t immediately resonate with them.”
Geofencing and Analytics
Imagine a technology that could share your marketing message with anyone belonging to a predetermined age group whenever their smartphones enter a predetermined geographical area. Well, that technology is already here, and it’s called “geofencing.” Marketers are using it to drive in-app advertising for clients in any number of industries, including audiology.
“Spending on in-app advertising is expected to reach $17 billion by 2018,” Dodson said, citing a report by Juniper Research. “This amount is up dramatically from about $3.5 billion spent in 2013 and makes in-app advertising the fastest-growing segment of the advertising market.”
In addition to targeting smartphone users who cross into your geofenced area (“location marketing”), marketers can produce leads based on places they have visited (“behavioral targeting”). If you wish to target people 55 and older who have visited a Costco pharmacy, for example, geofencing can help.
Whether you rely on email, location marketing, behavioral targeting, or some combination of the three, “you need to be focused on what’s being delivered,” said Dodson. That’s where analytics come in: By tracking, collecting, and parsing out the data that shows which media generated the most leads and which emails are resonating with physicians.
By adding the “digital layers” of more effective emails, geofencing, and analytics, Dodson concluded, you can help ensure that more patients get the expert care they need.
To listen to the webinar in its entirety, click here.