Evolving Your Platform for the New Year

By Adam Haroun / 08 Dec 2021

Brand marketing strategist Adam Haroun explores the ways in which you can leverage the hottest trends heading into 2022 to set your clinic apart

For many aesthetic clinics, the last year and a half have felt much like a juggling act to consistently keep pace as marketing trends, pandemic restrictions, and consumer sentiment have been in a constant state of flux. As the modern patient navigates a world that shifts from digital to physical on a moment’s notice, to say ‘evolution’ is a key theme in many clinics’ marketing plans for the year ahead would be an understatement.

Among marketers, we have found ourselves moving faster than ever whilst keeping a sharp eye on the ever complex and rapidly changing trends within marketing to keep one step ahead. Looking forward to 2022, here are several of the most important trends your clinic can evolve into your platform to see better results from your promotional efforts in the new year.

Authenticity reigns supreme

Based on findings from Deloitte’s 2022 Global Marketing Trends research report, we are beginning to see an encouraging trend brand marketers have been increasingly aware of – authenticity is playing a more important role than ever before. Gone are the days of perfectly airbrushed, culturally homogenous models and messaging.1

As you begin to look at your social channels, in-clinic collateral, and online presence, be sure to authentically reflect a range of backgrounds and experiences in your messaging to effectively connect with future patients. As a starting point, explore different skin types, gender identities, age demographics and body types in your imagery. This is especially important for clinics who target a younger patient demographic, as these consumers take greater notice of inclusive advertising when making purchase decisions than older patients (ages 46 and older).1 Building on this trend, 94% of Gen Zs expect companies and brands to take a stand on important societal issues, with 90% saying they are more willing to purchase products they deem beneficial to society.1 A key question to ask yourself is what matters to your community? Are there causes that your patients really care about? If so, align your clinic with these and become an ally and advocate – from a simple Instagram post to matching donations your patients make; the opportunities to become a catalyst for change are abundant.

Consider what causes and groups your clinic can advocate for. Some of the causes I have supported are breast cancer awareness, supporting those experiencing homelessness, Alzheimer’s disease research, supporting women escaping domestic violence, medical missions in developing nations and animal rescue – to name but a few! Looking outside of medical aesthetics, many of the highest-growth brands are committed to achieving equitable outcomes across all areas of influence – workforce, marketplace, and society. Based on research from global consulting firm Deloitte, 57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities in their actions.5

Short form video is the new selfie

Short-form video (a video between 15 to 60 seconds in length) rose to prominence in marketing in 2020 with the rapid growth of TikTok; and has showed no signs of slowing down since. Although TikTok was the platform to pioneer this trend, and still leads as a short-form video platform, other social channels such as Instagram and YouTube were quick to adapt with their own short-form video features.

While it certainly takes creativity and time, investing in short-form video content is an excellent use of your marketing resources, and the data supports it. From a quick product review, to a short video dispelling a common beauty or antiageing myth with several key talking points – this content can be quick to create, yet yield incredible results. According to marketing software publisher Hubspot, for B2C (business to consumer) brands across all industries, short-form video content offered the second highest ROI for B2C marketers in 2021 behind influencer marketing.2 Despite being second for ROI, it’s the trend marketers plan to invest the most in 2022. Roughly 33% of B2C marketers already invest in short-form content, while one-third of those who haven’t will do for the first time in 2022.2 The key is to begin with something as simple as a video with your top three to five recommendations for a particular condition (such as acne scars) with clever editing and trending music can prove to be an incredibly helpful starting point.

Take ownership of your audience

Social media platforms play an important role in the marketing success of any clinic, however, the difficult reality is that they own your audience. Without the right safeguards, these audiences can be lost at a moment’s notice due to hackers or by having your profile shut down by a platform. By adding in the ever-changing algorithms of each social channel – you can get front and centre with your audience!

Thankfully, the best way to own your audience is simple: by creating an email database that draws your audience from social into your own ‘marketing ecosystem’. This being said, email marketing only achieves results when content is relevant, personalised and compelling. Segmenting your audience’s common questions and most in demand treatments by age group or type of concerns (preventing visible signs of ageing, restoring volume loss for example) can be far more beneficial than a traditional ‘one size fits all’ newsletter. Consumers have become increasingly selective about the data they consume, and their expectations for quality content are on the rise – gone are the days where emailing a scattered array of special offers and a featured product paragraph get attention. Instead, focus on timely topics (i.e. How to Set Your New Year’s Skin Resolution With an Effective Routine) that offer practical and tangible advice patients can take action on.

As a starting point, consider creating email content for the broader age ranges you see coming through your clinic doors, such as millennials, patients over 40, and perhaps content catered towards your male patients. While this will take time and is far from an overnight process, even a small step to segment your audience can create substantial improvement in your click-through and email open rates. Aim to segment one audience per quarter as a starting point and build from there!

Embrace the transformation of digital analytics

Until recently, tracking users across the web was essential to many advertisers and businesses – including medical aesthetic clinics. However, user privacy concerns have become more important to many internet users. With the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), consumers have become more aware of their online privacy. Currently, there is an option for consumers to opt-out of the third-party cookies and tracking, but digital advertisers are searching for ways to change their tactics. Concerns have been raised over tracking cookies, text files dropped on to browsers that are able to record data about the consumer, from their actions on the site and geographical location to what they buy, often without their consent or knowledge.

This change in user preference is so dramatic, in fact, that Google announced that it would end all tracking cookies in 2023.3

Instead, zero-party data collection is transcending the loss of cookies and traditional analytics for marketers to gather information about your audience and patients, and provide relevant advertising to facilitate conversion online.

Zero-party data has been gaining more and more momentum. In brief, it refers to the data which is given directly by the consumer to a brand, and in this case, the information your patients provide directly to your clinic. It can be collected via a survey, a ‘gamified’ online experience that feels more like a game or fun quiz than an intake form, or a simple consumer/brand interaction online.

To harness this evolution, take a close look at how your digital systems integrate – do your marketing tools integrate with your marketing and patient management tools? Aim to ensure you seamlessly use your platforms together to understand both your existing patients and those prospective patients who have come to your website. Having a CRM (customer relationship management) system that integrates with your patient records is an excellent start – and if these systems can integrate with your marketing tools, that is even better. A conversation with your software vendors can prove incredibly insightful and ensure you are making the most of the tools you invest in for your clinic.

Quiet is the new loud

In line with the evolution towards authenticity, clinics (and brands across all sectors) look to stand out from crowded advertising channels. Subtle marketing tactics are playing an intriguing role in getting your message across. Low-key marketing strategies that are less interruptive and, ideally, more organic are being tested with exciting results. From a patient advocacy programme to ‘native’ content that appears more organic than a blatant advertisement (such as a guest blog series by an influencer, or a creator who does a mini-documentary series about their experience at your clinic) will capture patient attention in the months to come. While influencers continue to play a key role in your clinic marketing efforts, I invite you to consider a new term: the key opinion customer (KOCs) – highly engaged, everyday patients of your clinic.

Following the other evolutions, this concept of subtle marketing is part of the continual shift away from a traditional approach of selling, towards so-called ‘stealth’ marketing, where advertising appears intuitive and enjoyable across platforms – rather than coming across as marketing.

Stealth marketing is making more of an impact as people are becoming overloaded with paid media. Screen fatigue is also increasing: 75% of respondents surveyed in January 2021 by the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) said they were paying less attention to online ads.4 That’s not to say you should abandon your digital efforts – far from it – but instead lead with creativity and focus on what information and content your KOC is seeking and providing to their own network. The concept of the KOC first rose to prominence in China, and has now found rapidly-growing success in Western markets.4

Unlike traditional, sales-oriented billboards and sponsored social media posts, the primary objective of stealth marketing is patient advocacy and retention. True loyalty to your clinic is the end goal as it leads to customers believing they’re part of an exclusive group.

Kickstart your marketing!

As with everything in today’s world, marketing is in a constant state of change – but rather than shy away from it, I urge you to embrace it. Indeed, being one step ahead with trends ‘levels the playing field’ for your clinic to harness patient attention and gain an advantage over clinics that may be more established or have a larger marketing budget. With so many exciting evolutions ahead in the new year, the opportunities are limitless.

Upgrade to become a Full Member to read all of this article.