Aesthetic healthcare practices lack the time and resources to communicate with patients or respond to leads But to the extent they do, email is the preferred channel, according to Patient Engagement for Growth, a study released on Thursday by eRelevance.
Of the practices surveyed, 70% use email. In contrast, 64% communicate via social media and 61% by phone. Texting is utilized by 41% and direct mail by 20%.
However, 68% say they either don’t have enough marketing expertise or don’t have it at all. Only 18% outsource their marketing.
Overall, 74% regularly communicate with patients, and the remainder do not. In addition, the study found that 30% send one email blast per month and 35% send more than one. However, phone was the top follow-up method, chosen by 59%. Email was second, with 32%.
eRelevance surveyed 149 aesthetic practice owners, operators and staff in the U.S. It fielded the survey after noticing that “some customers weren’t getting a good conversion,” says VP of marketing Michael Cohen. “We dug into the data within our system, and found that, on average, follow-up from leads was less than one touch per lead.” He adds: “That was, frankly, a little shocking. We wondered if this was consistent across aesthetic practices, which is why we did this research.”
The company found that half of the practices have a monthly marketing budget of under $5,000, while 20% have a higher one.
Yet 43% are unhappy with their marketing results, vs. 31% who are happy. And only 40% of the decision makers know that their staffs face challenges when following up on marketing responses.
What constitutes a decision maker? “The doctor could be the owner and decision maker,” Cohen says. “Oftentimes, the spouse of the doctor is the listed owner of the business, so they’re the key decision maker. Sometimes a business practice owns the aesthetic practice and employs the providers.”
In response to these issues, eRelevance has started a new service. When a patient calls a provider, eRelevance does “a warm transfer,” Cohen says. “We deliver them live to the practice — it’s a live handoff.” It uses the practice’s greeting protocols, he adds.
Virtually all of the respondents place high value on having a clean patient database, and 20% say it is very high. But only 60% use a system to achieve that.
Whatever the issues, the market is growing, and is expected to hit $26.5 billion by 2024, Cohen says.
One reason for this growth is the aging of baby boomers.
“Many people think the sweet spot is 30 to 50 years old, when in fact the population of people 65 and over is exploding and is consuming aesthetic services,” Cohen continues.
The biggest challenges from a staff perspective? Not enough hours in the day (56%) and not trained in marketing (24%). Overall, 60% of the staff people surveyed say it is a challenge to follow up on marketing responses.
Meanwhile, the practices say that providing great patient care is their top priority, followed by maintaining their personal/practice reputation, growing the practice and making more money.