To those newer to social media, marketeer Emily Ruse explains how to turn followers into paying patients
The fundamental aim of any business activity on social media is to build brand awareness and drive new leads, but far too often this gets lost in the noise. Many businesses forget that social media is just a tool, and it’s only one small element of a much larger picture. We obsess over our likes, followers, and views, and we miss the critically important concept that having thousands of followers is irrelevant if they aren’t willing to engage with your message and eventually turn into paying customers later down the line. Interestingly, around 25% of social media users follow brands on social media from which they might make a purchase.1
When utilised properly, social media allows a small business to create a significant presence within a very short space of time, and makes it possible for you to reach new audiences and connect with the most prominent figures in your field. It can accelerate the process of gaining credibility and trust – all for very little or no cost. But, to see the best possible results from your social media platforms, they should interface smoothly with your website, blog, email list and even other social media channels to connect with your prospective customers at every single stage of the buyer’s journey and successfully move them through the purchase funnel.
So, how do you break through the noise and start taking action that moves the needle in your approach to social media? Ultimately, it all comes down to strategy. Here, I outline some guiding principles to help strengthen your online presence, nurture your followers and have your target audience coming through your door.
To grow on any social media platform, you need a clear plan with goals that make sense for your business. Perhaps you’d like to build a community of engaged followers, or maybe you’d like your social media accounts to generate more leads and sales. Either way, the goals you set must be realistic, time-driven, and allow you to scale your social media efforts in a way that’s both reasonable and effective. Once you’ve established your social media goals, align them with your most important metrics and KPIs. Rather than on vanity metrics, such as followers and likes, look at data that aligns directly with your goals, such as engagement, click-through, and conversion rates (see Figure 1). By monitoring this data, you will be able to better understand what’s really moving the needle in terms of clicks and revenue.
Once you have a clear picture of your ideal patient, everything else will instantly start to become a lot easier. But understanding who your audience is involves a lot more than just knowing their age, location and gender. Ask yourself: what do they do? What are their interests? What problems are they having? What are the goals they’re seeking? What barriers do they face in reaching their goals?
The more detail you can go into, the easier you will find it to form genuine connections with them in your marketing content. The simplest way to gain insight into your target audience is to ask them! Conduct a market research survey of your existing customer database to learn more about their personal characteristics, needs, desires and goals. In my experience, surveys are a good form of qualitative research that ask respondents a short series of open or closed-ended questions, which can be delivered as an on-screen questionnaire or via email.
Social listening tools (a software that monitors and analyses online conversations about your brand) can be an excellent way to gather information, too. They give businesses the opportunity to track, analyse and respond to conversations and trends happening in their industry. By tracking and analysing keywords, phrases, and mentions, they can help to identify specific problems that prospective customers of your business are experiencing in the marketplace (pain points) and understand the goals or aspirations that they want to achieve.
Don’t forget about your own team in this process! Every day your team talks to real people who are either thinking of using your clinic or are already patients. They have a deep understanding of what your customers are trying to achieve by using your products and services, they know the questions they ask and what their purchasing barriers are.
Get to know your followers and customers as real people with real desires and needs, and you will naturally begin to attract them to your business through the social media content you create.
Words matter, and the words you use in your marketing communications, on your website, and in emails carry the deeper messages of your brand in many ways. If you’re aiming to attract more high-quality patients to your business, the first imperative is to make sure your brand message is clear, relevant, and focused.
Your target audience are busy people who are distracted and overwhelmed by the thousands of pieces of content that they consume every day. Stand out from the crowd by creating a consistent brand voice. You can achieve this by crafting a story that’s relatable to your audience. Tell people exactly what you do and how it can help them, so they don’t need to search for the answers. Talk about how your products and services can help them to overcome their problems. It’s important to consider whether the words on your website and within your content communicate that message accurately and well.
This may seem simple but infusing your content with stories is a great way to shed light into the behind-the-scenes of your business. Talk about the journeys you or your team are overcoming, past obstacles you’ve faced, something that’s inspired you, or big wins you’ve experienced. Ask your team to talk about their skin journeys and what they’ve learnt along the way. Talk about small everyday things, like what your conversation with your taxi driver taught you this morning. Storytelling is a powerful tool for capturing customer attention and persuasion but keep the stories you tell relatable to your business and your audience, so as to keep the line clear between being a friend and their doctor.
When we share our stories and experiences, it shows that you’re a real human being behind the social media account that they can connect with, and not just another business trying to make a sale. Far too many people overthink showing off the human side of their brand on social media. In my experience, business owners worry about what to say or how to look, but your audience want to see the raw, real and unfiltered pieces of your life. When we focus on showing up with authenticity and intention that’s when we really begin to build meaningful connections with others.
A lead magnet acts as an incentive to get your followers to hand over their email address and opt into your mailing list. Email marketing should form a significant part of your marketing strategy and your database should be nurtured regularly at least once every two weeks. Ignoring email marketing means you are missing out on potential business opportunities; it has been shown that people who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than those who do not.3
Driving your followers to an email list is a natural next step for those who aren’t quite ready to book an appointment or purchase your skincare but are highly interested in what you have to offer and want to keep hearing more. As a consumer, it’s much more interesting to get something in exchange for handing over your details. Provide value – something that’s enticing enough to grab the attention of your target audience and offer it in a captivating way that gets them excited to hear more from you.
Your lead magnet could be in the format of an e-book, video or checklist, but the key is that it needs to be informative and solve a problem your target audience experiences. Your incentive topic may be something like, ‘Six ways to take charge of acne’ or ‘How to find a reputable practitioner for your aesthetic treatments.’
If someone has subscribed to your email list (remember they must opt in as per the General Data Protection Regulations4), they’re highly engaged with what you have to offer. In fact, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than social media platforms combined.5 It’s very unlikely that someone will check your social media profile every day (and don’t forget that your content is shown to only a small portion of your followers), but 99% of us check our emails daily.5 So, if you have something important to share and want to make sure your audience receives it, an email list is an excellent means of keeping in touch. Once you’ve got people opting in, send them a thank you or a welcome email straight away. This can be set up automatically with most email providers.
Use your emails as a tool to allow your audience to know, like, and trust you on a deeper level. The most prominent ways to provide value to your subscribers is to show them how to overcome a problem, save time, or simply add joy to their lives in some way.
Social media can be a very powerful tool when it comes to attracting new leads to your business. Begin by outlining your goals and getting to know your target audience so that you can create content that engages and speaks directly to the people you’d like to attract. Ensure you’re talking about how your services will change their lives, provide call-to-actions, create an integrated follower-to-customer journey, share stories with your followers and encourage them to participate in conversations. Once they feel connected to your brand, they will readily turn into customers, as well as refer you to their family and friends.
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