Mobile Marketing: Text Messaging is Hot

More and more consumers say they want to get information via phone or tablet. Use texting to promote your practice to potential patients and to make frequent touch points with existing patients. As more of our patients rely on text messaging as their primary means of mobile communication, it may be time to consider this a viable communication channel with our patients.

Multiple texts can be sent at no additional cost, as opposed to just one postcard. The message stays on the recipient’s phone, not discarded in the trash like postcards. Your office could also send a text for other uses such as notifying a patient their order is ready to be picked up or a post-purchase thank you. While e-mail remains an effective communication channel for many businesses, its effectiveness is limited by low open rates. Texts have a 97% final open rate, compared to e-mails which have a final open rate around 20%.  Many of us simply delete e-mails that we deem unimportant or spam, never reaching the intended recipient. 

Motivate Patients to Sign Up for Texts

One of the most exciting business aspects of building a database of opt-in mobile contacts is the ability to integrate a concept known as mobile marketing.  Offer patients something of value in exchange for permission to send them a text. This could be a simple coupon, discount or promotion attached to the text message. Mobile coupons have been shown to have a 10 times higher redemption rate than print coupons. This is sent right to their phones which is typically near them at all times. When combined with recall it’s being sent at exactly the time they are due for an exam and possibly needing new eyeglasses or contact lenses. Coupons should always provide a clear offer and expiration date. This creates a powerful call to action for patients to schedule an appointment with your office in a timely manner.

You could also implement an SMS text marketing campaign where people sign-up to receive texts in exchange for coupons or promotions. This could be advertised in print ads, on your web site, Facebook page or most other places you would typically market. People can opt-in by texting a keyword to a short-code (i.e. Text SIGHT to 95462 to receive 25 percent off all kids frames. Exp. 5/31/12), scanning a QR code to receive the offer, or filling out an online sign-up page on your web site or Facebook page. As you grow your database of contacts, you can send occasional coupons or promotional texts to the entire list. This is a targeted and cost-effective way to market your practice.

Mobile Marketing Action Plan

If you choose to add SMS text as a patient communication channel, you will need to use a third-party text messaging service to enable your office to send bulk texts. One company, iMobile Communications, offers this service, as do companies like eztexting.com and izigg.com.  Most of these services are very affordable (subscriptions typically start in the $50/month range) and are easy to use with minimal training. Many current patient communication and recall systems have this capability built into the software. Due to the low costs of sending SMS texts, an effective mobile marketing strategy can potentially provide an impressive return on investment.

To recap, successful implementation of a mobile marketing strategy with SMS text requires patient permission (opt-in), contextually relevant messages (sent when the patient requires your services or products) and customer value (offer a financial incentive).  This combination can be a powerful call to action improving patient acquisition, recall and retention.

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How Much More Do Male Optometric Office Managers Make than Female Counterparts?

The average male optometric office manager earns an annual salary of $68,563 while his female counterpart earns $49,779-an $18,784 differential, according to Local Eye Site’s and Jobson Optical Research’s 2011 ECP Compensation Study. Optometric office managers at independent practices earned annual salaries of $50,359, while those working in corporate optometric chains earned $63,675 annually. Optometric office managers in the Northeast reported the highest salary at $61,263, while those in the South earned the least, at $47,042.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces anti-discrimination laws and related regulations. You must know that it is illegal to adversely treat employees on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, genetics, military duty, national origin, race or religion.

Use this checklist to make sure you do not discriminate in:
•    Hiring
•    Firing
•    Compensation
•    Bonuses and Benefits
•    Promotions
•    Disability leave
•    Use of practice facilities
•    Training
•    Layoffs

In today’s world, it is a valuable exercise to have an attorney or a professional human resources group review your employment practices. Any time you are hiring or, more importantly, firing, then you must consult professionals in this area to make sure you are following the rules.

% of Frame Market Dollars Spent Among Optical Practices

Some 49.6% of the $8.365.9M frame market dollars spent in the US last year were spent at independent practices, including those owned by ODs, ophthalmologists and opticians, according to the Vision Council’s VisionWatch December 2011 Consumer Barometer report. Some 27.9% was spent with corporate-owned retailers, while 11.5% was spent with mass merchandisers; 4.9% was spent at optical centers in department stores; and 6.2% was spent  with unnamed “other” retailers.