Digital marketing specialist Dave Baldwin explains his top insider tips for making yourself stand out online
Why focus on digital? In short, it’s where your patients are! Even on social media alone there are currently 53 million active users in the UK, which is 77.9% of the population.1
This shouldn’t be surprising, considering how websites, streaming, social media and online purchasing have changed, even in the last five years. It’s this increase in choice through better technology and availability of information which empower consumers, and why aesthetic businesses must take notice.2 This changing landscape can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how prepared you are to meet the challenge of presenting your brand and your business in the digital age.
Whilst word of mouth may still be an initial driver for many, your first impression with new patients will not be in person, but instead be likely through your digital presence. This is supported by Allergan’s 360 Report data from 2019 which looked at a survey of 14,457 aesthetic conscious consumers worldwide and found that 37% of consumers search online, 37% receive a recommendation from a friend/family/co-worker and 33% receive a recommendation from their existing physician.3
Another key driver of how quickly things can change has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Those early digital adopters that were conducting virtual consultations, receiving online reviews, and developing their email and social media channels before the pandemic may have benefited over those who focused more on traditional marketing activities. Insurance provider Hamilton Fraser’s recent survey of 1,360 UK practitioners concluded that whilst the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the aesthetics specialty are unclear, practitioners should strive to offer a high level of service through their digital channels especially when social distancing may mean aftercare must be conducted virtually.4 This not only shows the importance of incorporating digital tools, but how to use them effectively.
There has been an increase in openness in discussing aesthetic treatments on social media channels and review sites, with 82% of consumers believing that injectables are socially acceptable, and 71% willing to see a professional.3
Whilst in the past, a simple website and a consistent social media presence may have been sufficient, now businesses that are not investing more in their digital presence will fall behind.
The consideration stage of the patient journey is key because it’s when people start to develop their initial consideration set or evoked set of options. These can come from internal sources such as family, friends, co-workers and external sources such as search engines, websites and social media accounts. Nearly 70% of brand choices are made at this point, the beginning of the journey, when a consumer is first triggered.2 So where should aesthetic practitioners place their emphasis and what are a few of the key things to consider?
One of first very simple things you can do with your marketing team or agency partner is to implement a Facebook Pixel on your website.5 The Facebook Pixel is a small piece of code you can setup in your Facebook business manager account and place on your website. Your Facebook business manager is the ‘hub’ where you access all of your Facebook and Instagram pages and ad accounts. So, what does the Pixel do? Imagine eight people have visited your clinic left saying they would ‘think about it’. The Facebook Pixel helps to bring those potential customers back to your website by tracking actions taken on the site, such as browsing certain pages, or purchasing products. These actions are linked to users Facebook accounts and for up to 180 days after the action, meaning these potential customers could be targeted for up to six months. When setting up your Facebook business manager and Facebook Pixel make sure you remain the owner of the page, not the person managing it, as this may cause issues with account access if you change your staff.
Another advantage of the Facebook Pixel is the audience data you collect can make your social media ads strategy more effective through a lookalike audience. How does a lookalike audience work? It uses Facebook’s algorithm to select people that have similar interests to those found in your pixel data.6 This means you are focusing your initial advertisements on potential patients that are more likely to be interested in your products or services. As you run Facebook ad campaigns over months or even years, this data gets richer and ultimately improves your click through rates and conversions. A key thing to note is that lookalike audiences can be used to reach people with specific content across all Facebook channels including Instagram. LinkedIn also has a similar feature which can be useful if you are trying to reach a business-to-business audience, for example aesthetic training academies.
It’s a good idea to invest in a videographer or utilise a modern smartphone, a one or two-year-old iPhone or Android should do the trick. Capturing great content starts with you and your team, for example recording videos explaining the treatments and services you offer. Be sure to cover the key points of your ad within the first few seconds and keep videos short. Sharing results is a great way to engage potential patients, however Facebook will often block before and after photos from paid promotions so using patient testimonies is a great alternative. Once you have your footage, you can develop bespoke ads with a designer. iPhones are great for informal social media stories, but to achieve high-quality results in the right format a videographer or marketing professionals is a must. There are a number of freelancer websites such as Fiverr.com or upwork.com which can help you choose a local videographer or designer with the right experience and fees for your budget.
Have you heard of the three second rule? If your site doesn’t load within three seconds, you are likely to lose that customer.7 Furthermore, if your landing page isn’t attractive with engaging content (preferably video) and easy to navigate with clear calls to action then your campaign performance will suffer. Test your page with friends or co-workers to see if anything could be easier to use, and research A/B testing. This is where you create different versions of your pages to see what generates the most engagement. If you are interested to learn more, Hubspot’s blog is a great resource.8
We are all impatient when searching online so your site must be very fast, and mobile optimised. This means your website should be able to adapt to the screen size of a computer, tablet or smart phone, which two out of three of your customers will be using.9,10 Most site builders are now mobile ready, even the free ones, and you will also get no favours from Google in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) if your site isn’t mobile optimised.
86% of people read reviews for local businesses, and 40% of consumers only consider reviews written in the last two weeks.11 This means potential patients will be looking for reviews, and recent ones. This can be easier to manage when they come from the guarantor review sites such as Trustpilot. They provide potential patients with useful information during that consideration stage when they are comparing their options, and now Google is getting in on the act.
Google ultimately exists to provide the user with the best results based on what they’ve searched. For a small fee, sites like Trustpilot, or RealSelf now have a useful piece of code you can include in your website to display your rating via the platform. Trustpilot provides a full overview on their features and pricing on their business site. Google will now consider reviews within the great many other facts that determine SEO.12 This can be used to your advantage, as these sites tend to have many visitors and strong SEO profiles. By aligning your site and your reviews with the provider, Google will reward the site with a more favourable listing compared to smaller review providers. An alternative to the subscription review sites, which I would highly recommend to clinics of all sizes, is a Google My Business page. This is free to setup with Google and will have a great SEO benefit whilst providing another outlet for patients to leave reviews on your services.13
Almost everything that you do to enhance your digital presence can be tracked, measured, and optimised to improve performance. This is a big advantage over traditional marketing channels regardless of your clinic’s size and budget. But this is only the case if your tracking and campaign strategy has been planned and implemented correctly. If you are a solo entrepreneur or a smaller clinic with no internal marketing team, find a professional/agency who comes recommended who understands the market. This will allow you to prioritise budget, give your team more direction and develop a clear list of deliverables to be more successful in developing your digital presence.
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