Welcome to part 14 of our Crisis Management, Marketing and Communications blog series. We are adapting to our new reality of assisted reproduction in the COVID era. I have focussed on all aspects of handling the crisis and its impact on the industry. We are dealing not only with the epidemic itself but the volatile economy that it has created. Our business is finding new patients for fertility treatment and having to rethink our marketing methods in order to reach them.
Today I want to focus on your website, this is after all your shop window to the world. There has been so much change in the world and we are all moving at a different pace as we come out of the first wave. In my 30-years of working in media and marketing there has been financial downturns and there has been health emergencies that have affected assisted reproduction. But there has never been the lethal combination of both at the same time!
In order to survive the crisis, IVF units have to change the way they are marketing and put across the best possible image to prospective patients. The first place a patient will go is your website, so let’s look at some key elements that can improve your brand in their mind.
Empathy and transparency
It is imperative that you convey that you are empathetic to the current situation. Patients were severely impacted when fertility treatments were suspended. While there is great relief that clinics have reopened their doors, there is also anxiety and fear over safety. Your website needs to reassurance patients that their safety is first and foremost when they visit your clinic. Transparency builds trust and this is key in order for patients to choose your clinic for treatment.
Dedicated COVID page
It is vitally important to have a COVID page on your site with links to it on EVERY page. No matter where a patient lands on your site, they need to know what measures you have in place for their treatment during the crisis. There are operational changes such as where telehealth will replace face to face.
If you staff are wearing PPE, if they as patients needs to wear PPE are all questions they need answered. Many countries have advised pregnant women to shield, explain to your patients why that is and how to protect themselves if their treatment is successful.
Share the local government advice in your country. Are hotels open? Is air travel restricted to international patients? Are you still in lockdown? Patients are trying to keep us with advice where they live so don’t presume they know what is happening in your country.
Are you running a COVID testing programme? Share the guidance from your governing body. Explain the different types of test that you may offer. Perhaps you are COVID testing for positive cases right now. Many governing bodies are asking for a risk assessment of patients. Explain that on your COVID dedicated page. Some clinics are offering antibody testing, explain what we know so far about antibody testing. If you say nothing about COVID it says your clinic doesn’t have any procedures in place!
Hard sell becomes a soft sell
Take a look at your website and ask is the messaging too direct? At the moment patients need information and your marketing needs to shift from hard call to action to soft. Make sure you are generating plenty of news. There is a wealth of information emerging daily on the impact of COVID on pregnancy, so far that has been good news. Make sure you are sharing that with your visitors. If you produce video and blog content on COVID safety, make is visible on your site.
Newsletter sign up
Now is great time to expand your newsletter database. Make it easy to sign up to receive your newsletter. There are many people who weren’t active online users pre COVID, use this as opportunity. We imagine that everyone under the age of 40 is active online, but in actual fact the crisis has seen a 70% increase in web use since March! Now is the time to capture that data and start a conversation with those potential patients.
Contact on home page
I am often astonished of how hard it is to find contact details for a clinic! Some clinics are guilty of focussing on a local market, using local dialling codes and have no email contact at all! Patients are petrified to make that first contact. They are worried about price; they are scared that they will get sold a package they don’t need or can’t afford. The beauty of email is that they can hide behind their computer. Even those new internet users are comfortable with email, make it easy to contact you.
Monitor changing behaviour on your site
Have you set up events in your analytics to monitor government announcements? If you are targeting patients in other countries it is important to monitor the situation in that country. For example, in the UK we currently have quarantine for incoming visitors, that includes nationals who have been abroad. You need to be aware of that, do patients need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in your country? Do they have another 14 days quarantine when they get home? If so, a patient could be looking at 6 weeks off work to undergo IVF in your clinic. Check which pages patients land on and which pages they exit on. What is the average time spent on your site? If patients are leaving after a couple of minutes, they didn’t find what they were looking for – that needs addressing!
Mobile friendly site
Prior to lockdown, 75% of visitors to The Fertility Hub viewed the site from their mobile device. During the full lockdown period, mobile usage dropped to 63%. This can be attributed to people not looking on their daily commute. Therefore, you should adjust your google ads on where your ads are being served and monitor that change as people start returning to the office. It is also important that your site is mobile friendly. Always test new pages on a mobile device to ensure they are displaying correctly.
How important is that little ‘s’?
Ensuring your website is secure is vital as a medical establishment. Nothing rings alarm bells more to me than when I go on a clinics website and get the pop up to alert me that the site is not secure! You must get a secure certificate that changes the http to https. If I was a patient, I would not be entering my contact details nor describing my medical condition on a site that isn’t secure. This small little ‘s’ is the difference between a patient making an enquiry or leaving your site before they even find out anything about your clinic. Patients also worry about their computer safety when using sites that aren’t secure. S stands for SECURE and that is how you want to make your patients feel!
I have been serialising these weekly blogs into a monthly seminar, please click here to register for the next one on June 30th 5pm UK time. This will cover protecting your brand, online marketing, online seminars and the power of newsletters.
I’d love to hear from you, so if you wish to discuss marketing challenges specific to your clinic then please get in touch.
Veronica Montgomery, Patient and Clinic Liaison Consultant
The Fertility Hub
Previous blogs in this series
Part one – COVID19 Crisis Management for IVF Clinics
Part two – Marketing and Communications During COVID19
Part three – Financial Implications of COVID19
Part four – The use of PR during the COVID19 pandemic
Part five – Protecting your brand during COVID19
Part six – Online marketing during COVID19
Part seven – Using online seminars to build trust.
Part eight – The power of newsletters during the COVID19 crisis.
Part nine – Video marketing tips during COVID19.
Part ten – Covid19 – The Indian Perspective.
Part eleven – The use of podcasts.
Part twelve – Cost effective marketing.
Part thirteen – Digital marketing during COVID19