It’s hard to deny that your digital presence is important. What many companies fail to realize, however, is that this is just as important for organizations as it is for job seekers, and commitment to a cohesive presence is essential.
We wanted to dive deeper into this topic, so we got in touch with Katie Decker, Content Manager for Audiology Plus. Staffing Proxy founder Shadi Chakoutahi sat down with Katie to talk about what it means to have a digital presence, and how to upgrade yours, even when you’re on a tight budget. We hope this conversation gets you thinking about your own digital presence, and helps you start strategizing what your digital future might look like.
You can read the entire conversation below, which was slightly edited for clarity and flow.
Shadi Chakoutahi (Staffing Proxy): Ok, so let’s start by introducing yourself and what you do, Ms. Katie.
Katie Decker (Audiology Plus): I am the content manager for Audiology Plus. We work specifically with Audiologists and hearing healthcare professionals on digital assets like their websites, social media, business listings, reviews, and so forth; everything online we are happy to tackle for you. So, I do a lot of writing and posting, and anything content-related is my job.
I wanted to have this conversation with you to discuss digital marketing, digital presence, and brand. You understand the entirety of hearing healthcare better than anyone else out there. From our point of view, when we talk to employers and candidates, we see how significant brand presence is, but what does digital presence even mean? Can you tell us a bit of why that’s even important to a business?
So, I have a different understanding because I do so much behind-the-scenes work. A digital presence is a combination of assets online that represent your business, including your website, social media accounts, listings, reviews, and essentially everything. Anything you can see online is your digital presence.
That is so important to your practice because whether you’re looking for new business or new talent, your online presence is how these people will decide if you are the business with whom they want to associate. So, this is an excellent opportunity to reevaluate what your digital presence says about your business.
Is your website current or outdated? Are your online business listings accurate so people can easily find and contact you? Have you moved recently? Is everything up to date? Is your content bringing in the right kind of patients and talent? Do you have active social media pages, or do you have a current strategy for social media? What kind of reviews do you have online, and do you monitor reviews (because those can pop up anytime)?
All of this is so incredibly important and can make or break how your business appears online.
It’s so interesting that you talk about that because typically, an employer, before hiring or considering a candidate, goes and looks up their social media profile, and candidates surprisingly do the same thing for potential employers.
Many employers have this assumption that to manage those channels and have a clear and concise website, they have to spend a crazy amount of money and have a dedicated person. Can you talk to me about managing those resources? Because many of these individuals are small businesses, having a dedicated individual is not something they would consider. So, is that even possible?
Yes, I understand many small businesses don’t prioritize online marketing because it’s not their specialty. It can easily fall into this “I’ll deal with that later” category in terms of priority.
But tackling online marketing is way more important than they think. It is something to be incorporated somehow, and each small business is a little different and can include it in their own way. I realize that some companies are concerned with cost and think they can’t afford it, but there are ways to manage it, so it’s not overwhelming.
For example, some digital marketing plans cover certain parts of online marketing that may feel completely un-doable for a small business. Social media and pay-per-click campaigns can feel like too much because both take regular management. So, a small business can decide to delegate that while focusing solely on their website if that’s more of what they want to focus their time on.
Another good example is that many hearing healthcare professionals can use co-op dollars for online marketing goals. And they don’t realize that’s something they can utilize.
But honestly, the easiest and most seamless way to get digital marketing done is to have a digital marketing professional who specializes in hearing healthcare handle it all. There are many different companies out there, but I can tell you it is worth the money, so you don’t have to worry about it. You can focus on your patients.
One of the things that you said was, of course, not having to worry about it if you have someone else doing it. As a business owner, the most significant part is consistency. Content is delivered every week or every month whenever the cadence and I don’t have to worry about it. If I were going to do those things myself, it would never get accomplished. So, when I think about the cost, in the long term, it makes perfect sense to have a dedicated resource if I outsource it, especially if it is someone in the industry.
The specialty of hearing healthcare takes it over the top. They know what’s going on in the industry. They know what your patients want to read and learn about, so it makes sense. You’re investing in this messaging that you’re putting out there for the world to see. That makes it a valuable investment for you long-term.
I look at a private practice or an ENT practice’s website a lot of the time. I might, for example, see that the last time they had a social media message posted was last May during Hearing Health Awareness Month. If we are trying to tell a candidate about a fantastic employer, that doesn’t resonate with the candidate’s perspective because the digital content feels outdated. The company might be a great place to work, but their digital presence doesn’t line up with that.
So when you talk about managing content and everything being relevant, how easy is it to have social media content and everything tied into the website, and is that even doable?
Social media can feel overwhelming for many small businesses, including hearing healthcare professionals. I wouldn’t say there is an “easy button” to manage everything, but there are many different social media management platforms. They all vary in cost and capabilities, but those other social media management platforms help you plan. So it’s essential to strategize about the posts you want to put out there on your social media pages and plan for what your patients and potential patients want to see.
What do you want to put out in the world and have everybody see? What are your goals and your interests (what you want to convey that will differentiate you)? That’s something to keep in mind for social media because it’s all out there for everyone to see.
Another thing to keep in mind about social media is it’s all about quality over quantity. People have this misconception that you have to post a ton, and that’s not the case. If you post all the time and don’t have much substance, that will work against you.
Suppose you only post during October for national Audiology awareness month. In that case, your audience won’t be that invested because you don’t seem invested in offering other information any other time of the year, so they will be like, “Where did this person come from just popping up out of nowhere?” The moral of the story is you don’t need to post all of the time, but if you post good content once or twice a week, that will engage more people, and you can plan for that.
From our end, when we have a job posting on our website, we can see what percentage of candidates leave our platform or click on the links we have posted. Somewhere between 70 to 72% of candidates leave our platform and go to the employer’s website before applying for the job. It’s less clear from this data if that person decides they simply don’t like the job or if they thought the employer’s website was not presentable, but these numbers tell me that job seekers do care about the media presence of a potential employer.
We ask employers to give us their logo and their colors, because that helps with consistency. But what about articles or blogs? When we talk to candidates, many come from different industries and ask us where they can get some information, and it would be great if an employer had great educational content on their website.
We have talked to many of them about this, and they usually say, “Oh, that’s something that I cannot afford, and I don’t have the time.” Is there an alternative for them to outsource the content writing? You have a ton of clients, so what are some of the options out there?
Website content is one of the most critical parts of digital marketing and digital presence. What you write and publish on your website determines how well your website performs. When potential patients or people are looking for jobs, your website is the first thing they see. Pages on your website could work for you or against you, including what you’re saying in your blogs.
Blog articles are also significant because Google will reward quality content. The reward is optimization and ranking, so you can easily plan a posting schedule around topics that serve your hearing business and your patients. The content should include organic keywords and words that cover what you’re talking about to have a complete content strategy. That takes a lot of thought and a lot of time.
You want to dig deep and think about what your short-term and long-term goals are. What do you want people to feel when they arrive at your site? They will read about your practice, what you do there, your priorities, and maybe even what you specialize in. But you can also think about what type of content they would like to read. What is the format, and what is the topic? What is the overall message I want to convey?
If you wish to hone in on everything, you can even consider your market’s age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Because the more detailed you can be about who you are marketing to, the more you can tailor your content to reach and engage them. This is the definition of content strategy, and every piece of content should be a part of that strategy.
The time it takes is something to consider, because some people like their messaging and want to be involved in it and tackle it themselves, and some choose to outsource. I highly recommend reaching out to a business that does digital marketing but also focuses on this specific industry.
You mentioned the brand, and one of the other things that we see is lacking on these businesses’ websites is that tagline. Candidates want us to tell them about the employer, so we ask the employer when we first meet them to tell us about themselves. But before we ask this, we have already looked at their website to see if we could find their “about us” section, and oftentimes that section of their website doesn’t even exist.
How complicated and expensive is it to redo the website, and how often does it need revamping?
I cannot speak to the cost, because it varies depending on who you decide to use, but the short answer is: It depends.
You can look at your website and decide for yourself if it is outdated. When was the content written and put online? Do you need to update your brand logo to a more modern look? You can do a quick audit of your site and think, “Oh, this doesn’t work, and this does.” Or you can reach out to a website professional for their opinion.
A more extended version of the answer would be that it depends on how you define revamp. One big question you should ask yourself is: Is my website attracting the right people to my practice?
Many hearing healthcare professionals think that just having a website is enough. Unfortunately, that is not true. The website might be stale and outdated and have irrelevant information. Your brand might come across as old and not innovative. Hearing aids are becoming more innovative, so you want to align with what you are promoting. Your website may have broken links and navigation problems, and people could get frustrated going through your website and trying to find the information they want.
Even if you have had a website for a long time, things change regularly in search engines, optimization, and how Google ranks things. All of this takes monitoring and managing. You don’t want to lose opportunities because your website is set-it-and-forget-it, when the digital ecosystem isn’t really a set-it-and-forget-it thing. So behind-the-scenes website management is crucial.
In a way, it’s very similar to social media. You shouldn’t just create an account because everyone else has one.
One last question about the website: I’m seeing more and more businesses having a button for purchasing hearing aids, so, basically eCommerce. Can you tell me a little more about that?
About eCommerce? Yes, eCommerce is something we all use in some form or another.
Hearing healthcare is a shifting industry, and I’m thinking that the pandemic forced the change to happen even faster. So, Audiologists and hearing professionals are realizing, “Hey, I can sell a lot of these products I tell my patients about through my website.” And with over-the-counter hearing aids on the horizon, and other manufactures stepping in like Bose and Walgreens, hearing care professionals are thinking, “Hey, I’m going to have to get on this eCommerce train and bring it into my website.”
If you adopt eCommerce, you can learn how to use it and when over-the-counter hearing aids become available, and you can soon put those on your website and allow people to buy them through you. At this point, through the research I’ve done, I don’t think over-the-counter hearing aids will harm the industry. I believe there are still so many people who need support from a hearing professional to show them how to use hearing aids and get them fitted. Even some younger people don’t know how to use the technology, so I believe there is a good chance that over-the-counter hearing aids will enhance their business, not necessarily threaten it.
Many people in this industry are coming to terms with forced change, realizing that this is a unique opportunity.
I could not agree more. So, if someone reads this and says, “I want to talk with Katie about getting some help.” What do they do?
Yes, we are happy to help anybody with their digital marketing, big or small. You know we are glad to talk to you about your specific concerns, things that maybe you’re curious about and want to learn more about; we are very easy to contact, and one of many ways is through our website.
Thank you. This conversation has been so refreshing, because we get a lot of feedback from candidates who research the companies they want to work for. It’s always a benefit when those companies have a significant digital presence.
Any other comments, Katie?
I would reiterate that digital presence is significant. People used to look up services in a phonebook, but now everything is done online. If you have an old website or have incorrect information, you could lose potential business. People don’t want to have to work hard when they’re looking for the information they want online. They want it to be easy and efficient to find the information.