The Best Way to Attract and Retain New Patients

by Diane C. Boland @ EarQ Group, Inc.


There’s one marketing technique that is growing faster and performing better than all the others: digital. Yet according to a benchmark study performed by Siemens Hearing Instruments (now Sivantos Group) in 2013, almost 60% of private hearing health practices don’t use Internet or social media advertising.

Why might this be? Is it because practices don’t believe their target market can be effectively reached online? Or perhaps they feel that they lack the time or knowledge to implement a digital strategy? Well, there’s good news: your target market can be reached online, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or knowledge to get started with digital marketing.

How many potential patients use the Internet?

According to a 2014 study by Pew Research Center, 87% of all American adults go online regularly. That’s a high number, but it may not surprise you much. What’s more relevant for private practices is that 88% of American adults between the ages of 50 and 64 and 57% of American adults above the age of 65 are regular Internet users.

That’s a lot of potential patients who use the Internet! Consider this: in one Pew Research Center study, 79% of Internet users over 65 years old agreed that “people without Internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” and 94% agreed that “the Internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.”

This means a great majority of older Internet users feel that it would be valuable for them to be able to find your practice’s location, contact information, and offerings online. That being said, it’s not just people without Internet access who are at a disadvantage; it’s also businesses without an Internet presence. If you’re invisible online, it’s likely that you’ll lose potential patients to those who are not.

How many potential patients look for health information on the Internet?

In a separate study released in January 2013, Pew also found that 59% of American adults had looked for health information online in the past year. 35% said that at one time or another, they’d gone online specifically to try to figure out what medical condition they or someone else might have. Half of health information searches were conducted on behalf of someone other than the person searching.

It’s clear that people are using the Internet to do research regarding their health. Someone who needs a hearing health professional, whether they know it yet or not, is likely to look for and find the information they need by using the Internet.

Pew also found that 30% of Internet users had consulted online reviews or rankings of health care services or treatments. This means that once they find information about private practices like yours, they’re looking for other information that will help them choose which one to visit. If your information isn’t there, what will convince these potential patients to visit your practice?

How do they find the information they’re looking for?

Pew reports that eight out of ten online searches for health information begin at a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Bing, so it’s relatively safe to assume that most potential patients will start there.

But there’s another piece of information that highlights just how important search engines can be for private practices: according to Google Trends data from March 2015, searches that include location qualifiers like “nearby” or “near me” (ex. “places to buy hearing aids nearby,” “audiologists near me”) have doubled in the past year. This means that people are performing more and more searches for local businesses.

What’s more, four out of five of those location-qualifier searches were performed on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. 54% of American adults between the ages of 50 and 64 own smartphones, and older adults are just as likely to own tablets and e-book readers as they are to own smartphones. So not only is search important, but mobile search is, too.

The one of the best things about popping up in mobile search results is that the person can easily call you on the phone right from the search result page. But in order for that to happen, you have to make sure that you do, in fact, appear in the results.

How can I make sure they find me and my practice?

Appearing in local search results isn’t as simple as submitting your name to an online directory and watching the patients roll in. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle when you’re trying to appear on the first page of search engine results.

You have to have a strong digital presence. You need to make sure that business listings like Yelp and Yahoo have your information, but the most important is the Google+ listing (this is one of the main places from which Google pulls details like your address and phone number).

Active social media accounts help build this digital presence as well. What’s more, your credibility increases when people leave you online reviews in places like your Google+ listing and Facebook page.

Perhaps most importantly, though, you have to make sure your website is optimized in such a way that search engines can easily read the content and decide if it’s relevant to a user’s search. A lot goes into this process, but one of the best things you can do is make sure that your site is designed for a great mobile user experience. In April 2015, Google changed their algorithm so that sites that aren’t optimized for mobile will show up lower in mobile search results.

To be mobile-friendly, we highly recommend a responsive design. This means that the site can tell what type of device a person is using and then changes the way the site appears so that the person can read it more easily. If your website visitors need to zoom in on your site when looking at it on their smartphones, it’s not responsive. Search engines know that people don’t want to struggle to read non-responsive websites on mobile devices, so they won’t put such a site as high on mobile search results pages as they might if it were responsive. Google also places a “Mobile-friendly” note on the mobile search results page to let searchers know before they visit a site. Because of all of this, mobile-friendly sites will capture potential patients’ attention first and help to win more of their business.

But what if I don’t have the time or knowledge to do that?

The prospect of building a digital presence and making sure that it’s comprehensive enough to be effective can be daunting. But there is good news: EarQ’s Iris program can help.

We can build you a website that’s unique, responsive, and optimized for mobile. We’ll make sure that it’s set up so that search engines can read the content and more online searchers can find you. We can also help submit your business to online directories and show you how to engage your followers on social media. Finally, we can set up paid search advertising campaigns so that your practice shows up more often in the search results, reinforcing your online presence.

We have multiple Iris packages and payment plans to fit your practice’s budget. For more information or to enroll in this program, call us at (866) 432-7500 or email us at


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