Collecting statistical data on patients for marketing may not be something they taught you in your OD program, but understanding the demographics of optometrists’ client groups is critical to developing a winning marketing strategy for your independent practice.

Marketing to more patients doesn’t automatically translate into more revenue. It’s the quality of your marketing that matters. You want to reach more patients, sure — but mostly, you want to reach the best and most profitable patients for your practice. You also need to reach them at the right time, with the right message, using the right medium. 

To do that, you need to know who your patients are, how they live, and what they need. This will enable you to use your marketing budget cost-effectively, wasting fewer marketing dollars and generating a higher return on investment.

Segment Your Patient Base

The first step to understanding your patients is to segment them based on the following characteristics:

  • Demographics: You may already collect some of this information in your patient intake forms, such as age, gender, address, and vision problems, but make sure to expand the questionnaires to include more details such as income, education, marital status, and occupation.
  • Psychographics: Use every chance you get to ask patients about their hobbies, interests, attitudes, and general lifestyle. This will allow you to tailor your marketing message and services to their values and ways of life.
  • Geographics: Optometrist practices are physical businesses, so you need to know your neighborhood. Make a habit of talking to local business owners, workers, and residents to understand the community’s needs. You can also check online resources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for free demographic and public health stats on your town, city, or county.
  • Behavior: Understand the how, what, where, when, and why of patient behavior. What are their non-medical and medical eye care needs? How often do they visit their optometrist or ophthalmologist practice? Do they like to splurge on fancy eyeglass frames, or are they looking for economical, no-frills solutions?

Some of these data points will be easier to collect and measure than others, but they are all essential to segmenting your patient base properly and understanding your ideal client.

Tailor Your Messaging and Services to Your Patients

The next step is customizing your messaging and services to each patient group. You can segment patients into multiple categories: age, income, occupation, family status, eye condition, and more.

If a patient segment is at higher risk of an eye health issue, such as dry eye, eye surgery, binocular vision, or macular degeneration, provide them with free materials on prevention, diagnostics, and treatment. Email newsletters, brochures, and blog posts are great tools to educate patients and elevate your brand from a regular optometry practice to a trusted healthcare guide.

For instance, African American patients are more likely to develop some types of eye disease than other demographics. Over 825,000 Black Americans currently have diabetic retinopathy, and some 190,000 have low vision. Likewise, girls aged 6-18 are more likely to need corrective lenses than boys the same age. 

Another factor to consider is your patients’ age. If you serve senior patients, you’re unlikely to reach them on Instagram — but good old radio and newspaper ads and direct mail should do the trick.

Similarly, if your clients are trendy young professionals with disposable incomes, expand your eyeglass frame range to include higher-price-point products. It’s also a good idea to offer evening or weekend appointments to accommodate your patients’ busy schedules. This tech-savvy demographic should also appreciate digital services such as making contact lens orders and filling out patient forms online.

In contrast, skilled laborers will likely seek sturdy, budget-friendly frames and other affordable products. Families with children will be looking for kids’ frames and a child-friendly practice environment.

All this may sound overwhelming, but you don’t have to develop specific messaging and service offerings for each segment — focus on your top two or three most profitable patient groups.

Tap Into Additional Demographics 

Never put all your eggs in one basket. Even if you’re happy with your current client base, don’t stop exploring additional income streams for your optometry business — especially in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 took a heavy toll on the optometry industry, with many eye care practices experiencing lower profits, budget cuts, and reduced staffing levels. The American Optometric Association reports that many optometry practices stayed open during lockdown at a great financial cost just to provide emergency vision care and divert patients from overburdened emergency departments. 

Fortunately, the trend seems to be turning. 

According to our 2021 Optometry Healthcare Business Insights Report, 85% of patients today feel safe visiting a healthcare clinic in person, and 70% plan to schedule a non-emergency healthcare visit in the next three months. Optometry practices are picking up on this, with 77% reporting they see opportunities to expand their patient base.

You don’t want to lag behind the competition. People who couldn’t or wouldn’t get an eye exam during the height of the pandemic will do so now, and many undiagnosed or untreated eye problems will come to the surface. Make the best of this opportunity by attracting more patients and tapping into new demographics.

Two great ways to do that are to get more involved in your local community and offer new, unique tools that will streamline your optometry services and delight your patients. 

Build Strong Relationships in Your Local Community

Your community is the best source of new patients for your practice. All you need to do is stay top of mind with the locals — but that doesn’t mean bombarding them with ads. There are subtler tactics. Examples include:

  • Join local clubs and associations: Participation in charities and sports clubs is a great way to increase exposure and create strong relationships.
  • Frequent local businesses: Support your local businesses, and they’ll support you. Even something as simple as hanging out in the corner coffee shop goes a long way.
  • Partner with other health and eye care providers: Look into setting up a referral scheme with opticians, physical therapy centers, nutritionists, and other local health care providers.
  • Sponsor local events and organizations: Consider sponsoring schools and sports events to get your logo out there. 
  • Host special events: Hip events such as practice open houses or promotional events for new eyewear lines will get people talking about your brand. 
  • Talk to the locals: How can you know patients’ needs if you don’t ask them? Every once in a while, chat with local residents, business owners, and workers to get their perspectives.
  • Offer neighbor discounts: Many small businesses don’t offer vision insurance, so they’ll likely appreciate discounts and refer more people to you. Local bartenders and baristas wearing your trendy eyewear essentially serve as free, walking advertisements.
  • Meet patients where they are: If you work with kids and senior patients, organize events on the importance of regular eye examinations in schools and nursing homes. 
  • Make your credentials visible: Do you have certifications from professional or academic bodies such as the American Board of Opticianry & National Contact Lens Examiners? Display them in and outside of your practice to boost your credibility in the local area.

 

Offer Unique Tools To Attract New Customers

Like any healthcare professional, you probably often browse Google Scholar to keep up with the latest in vision science. That’s great, but you must also stay on top of technological innovations. Modern software solutions like our platform Weave offer unique tools for your practice that can attract more customers and boost your profits. 

Weave is an all-in-one communication, payment processing, marketing, and online scheduling system. You can use our platform to communicate with new and current patients, receive and send payments, request and manage online reviews, and impress patients at every turn. 

Here are just some ways in which Weave can level up your optometry practice:

  • Web scheduling: When customers call in, you immediately know who they are and whether they have an appointment or need to schedule one. You can also text them instantly to remind them of an appointment, set up a new one, or inform them of a change.
  • Text-to-pay: Weave has a secure payment processing solution that supports multiple payment types. Patients can pay using their preferred method, whether they’re in your practice or out of state. They can make one-off card payments or keep a card on file, or you can text them a secure link to pay online from any device.
  • Online reviews: Our platform’s built-in review management tool makes it super easy to collect and monitor patient reviews on Google and Facebook to promote your optometry practice and win more business.
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Understand the Demographics of Optometrists’ Client Segments with Weave

Whether you’re a prospective optometrist fresh out of optometry school or have an established private practice, our platform can help you better connect with your patients, create tailored messaging and service offerings, and generate more business.

Get a demo to see how Weave can transform your practice into your area’s trusted eye doctor and leading vision therapy service.