The following is a guest post from Ray Weinstein of Audiology-Online Ltd. They are supplying an online audiometry test and lead generation service. Enjoy
By Ray Weinstein
Dispensing private hearing aids is an increasingly competitive business and finding ways to encourage new customers to choose you for a test (as opposed to the NHS or one of your competitors)) is an endeavour best undertaken thoughtfully, creatively and frequently.
Historically, lead generation activity falls broadly into two categories. Long established short term initiatives such as newspaper advertising, open days, radio advertising and buying leads enable dispensers to both measure success and generate an immediate response. Predictability and flexibility is comforting but there are disadvantages. They are all transient in nature which means timing is everything (somebody who probably doesn’t know anything about you beyond what they have just read must be sufficiently impressed to take action immediately which in turn mean luck enters the equation since catching somebody who has been in denial for the last seven years at exactly the right time isn’t a matter of judgement) and, in the case of advertising, expensive, because advertising only works well if done regularly.
Longer term initiatives such as investing in High Street premises, forging links with local medical centres, securing referrals, giving talks to clubs (Rotary, WI etc), working with local charities, securing PR etc do pay dividends but take time. The downside is that this is less immediate but the upside is the enquiry is often stronger because the enquirer already senses a connection with you and has taken the initiative to contact you themselves.
Balancing short term and medium term lead generation activity is key to building a steady flow of enquiries. It’s interesting to note that much like audiometry (which some of you may recall was invented 65 years ago) all of the lead generation activities mentioned so far are similarly antiquated.
A modern medium which has not yet been mentioned is the internet. There are now a number of web based hearing checks available and if they are accessed via a link from a dispensers website it’s fair to surmise the person taking the test has a better than passing interest in trying to find out how well they are hearing. Some will have a loss and know it whilst others will be somewhere in the seven year denial phase. A decent online hearing check gives you the opportunity to proactively encourage people into a hearing screening programme and something extra to talk about.
It also gives a visitor to your website something of interest for nothing without any of the cost, time, expense or embarrassment of arranging a test with a professional. None of these checks should be designed to do anything other than encourage somebody who might have a loss to book a test with a professional and if they do that everybody wins. People who need help are alerted to the problem earlier and the people who are qualified to give that help generate extra business.
There are a number of online checks which can be added to a website. Some are questionnaire based, some use speech in noise and some use pure tones with varying degrees of sophistication. Some require your visitor to leave your site and go to the site of the organisation offering the test whilst others are embedded in your site. Some capture customer data and some don’t. Some deliver a very basic result and others try a little harder. One can even be branded to look and feel like an integral part of your site.
Thoughtfully integrated into your website an online hearing check that complies with a few basic rules can be a very cost effective way of generating warm leads when compared to the cost of advertising and whilst an ad comes and goes a check sitting on your website is available and working for you all the time.
The ideal online check needs to:
Capture data so you can glean customer intelligence as well as demographic data
Be designed to encourage a visitor to want to book a test with you by offering the chance to book a test/demo at the click of a button instead of having to fill out a form and wait for somebody to get back to them.
Look and feel like an integral part of your site thus creating a bond between you and your visitor
Offer your customer something that will impress them
Be quick, simple and easy on the eye
Help realise the full potential of PPC and keyword advertising
It should not require your hard won visitors to navigate away from your site and it should not confuse your customer.
A number of manufacturers offer hearing checks which can be installed onto individual dispenser sites. Another you may wish to check out is at www.audiology-online.co.uk
The Audiology Online test process differs significantly from others available due in part to the individuality and uniqueness of the look and feel of the product when deployed on more than one Companies’ website and also the interactivity of the client with the process during and after the test itself.
For the host Company, what could be better than an online hearing test which looks and feels as if it was designed by your Company and belongs to your Company? With the Audiology online process, that’s exactly what you get. The ‘test engine’ sits ticking over quietly in the background, whilst at the front end, the test looks like whatever the host Company wants it to look like. Even the method of testing, (traditional up/down, counting, response, sliding scale etc), is decided (or designed) by the hosting Company.
For the client, as an inducement to part with their contact information, they are, after registering, emailed a summary of their hearing loss with an attached personalised report containing an in depth analysis of their hearing, based on the hearing test/check undertaken. The report also contains information about the sending Company which informs the client about the Company and its products, build rapport between the Client/Company and can contain an interactive inducement offer. The PDF attached to the email summary, is complete with functional ‘call to action’ buttons embedded within the PDF report itself, such as ‘I want to book a hearing test, I would like more information, I would like a demonstration of a particular product’.
All client information gathered, including test results as a visual audiogram and a loss classification, referable questions/other questions etc are accessed by the dispensing Company via a password protected administration panel.
The process employed by Audiology-online therefore has two levels of lead generation.
Harvesting in depth client information for onward marketing, (similar to placing a response advertisement in a newspaper/magazine), but with a lot more client information to work with.
Direct access to clients wanting to be dealt with, (akin to receiving a call or a shop walk-in’s).
The Audiology-online product is the subject of a patent application due for publishing in September and is continuing to be refined and improved with help from Southampton Solent University.