MARKETING TO A DIVERSE PATIENT BASE

Taking steps such as hiring a diverse staff, offering bilingual or in-language materials, and creating a welcoming environment for family members and friends are all great ways to improve current patient satisfaction. But how do you attract new, culturally diverse patients to your practice?

There are many strategies you can take to make sure your messages are reaching the right groups.

Whether it’s print or digital, finding the right mix of advertising to reach specific groups can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. You just need to understand what media your current – and prospective – patients are paying attention to.

It’s important to think locally when placing advertisements, considering half of ethnic minorities consider “proximity to work or home” as an important factor when selecting an eyecare professional. Identify the most watched channels and most popular local print outlets for each group before placing your ad. And don’t rule out non-traditional approaches such as advertising in local church bulletins or local, group-specific publications. 

Hispanics

When targeting Hispanics, you should recognize the importance of advertising in both English and Spanish. Just make sure your practice is prepared to answer any inquiries you may receive in Spanish!

Today, traditional media outlets – such as television, radio and print – remain viable choices for advertising. With almost all Hispanics online, the Internet is also becoming a must for reaching Hispanic consumers, especially when it comes to topics like family, personal health and well-being. 

  • 79% of Hispanics own a smartphone (vs. 71% U.S. average) (Nielsen, 2014).
  • Hispanics are spending 39% more time than the overall population watching video on their smartphone every month (Nielsen, 2014).
  • One in five Hispanics surf the web predominantly in Spanish, and almost one-third use Spanish and English equally (Nielsen, 2013).
  • Hispanics tends to watch TV with other family members, or co-view. They co-view nearly 60% of primetime programming in Spanish, and 48% of primetime broadcasting in English (Nielsen, 2013).
  • More than half read English-language magazines, while 1 in 3 read in Spanish.

African Americans

TV is the primary source of traditional media for African Americans today. African Americans watch an average of 218 hours of television a month, while Caucasians watch 155.3 hours, Hispanics watch 123.2 hours and Asian Americans watch an average of 92.3 hours (Nielsen, 2014). They are less likely than the general population to watch TV news overall, but more likely to watch local and cable news – making advertising during local news segments an important consideration (Nielsen, 2013).

African Americans are also more likely to get their news from the Internet and are less likely to read the newspaper. However, a print advertising strategy can work well when ads are placed in outlets such as church bulletins or local, African American-targeted publications.

Asian Americans

Like Hispanics, when targeting Asian Americans, it is important to consider advertising in English as well as other key languages that are spoken by your current and prospective patients. Consider that while 61% of Asian Americans speak English, 77% speak a language other than English at home. While they consume the same English-language media as non-Asian Americans, they have a strong preference for in-language media (Nielsen, 2013).

While the right TV placement can be successful, keep in mind that Asian Americans are the least likely demographic group to watch television – with household usage totaling just 3 hours and 14 minutes a day, versus the national average of 5 hours and 18 minutes. Online advertising for this group is becoming a major asset – since this group is the most active when it comes to personal computer and Internet use (Nielsen, 2013).

Don’t underestimate the role of mobile when targeting culturally diverse groups. In fact, smartphone usage is the highest among ethnic minorities (Nielsen, 2013). 

  • Smartphone penetration is higher among Asian Americans than the overall population. When it comes to using their phones, Asian Americans have the highest rates of any ethnicity for mobile video (33%), e-mail (65%) and mobile internet (72%).
  • Bypassing laptops and desktops in favor of mobile technology, Hispanics – after Asian Americans – are the most likely group to own and use a smartphone at 77%. They are also more likely to take advantage of mobile features. 81% use text messaging, 62% use picture messaging and 64% use mobile internet.
  • 71% of African Americans own smartphones. 

It’s easy to engage culturally diverse groups through mobile marketing – from simple text messages to remind patients to make their appointment, to full mobile marketing campaigns that promote eye health. Services such as Mobile Marketer can help with your campaign development.

With higher usage of smartphones, it’s also important to consider using QR codes on printed materials that link directly to your practice page or current promotions. There are several online services that allow you to create QR codes free of charge.

It’s evident that social media is here to stay. Today, about eight in 10 Hispanic, African American and white adults who are online use at least one of five social media sites – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter. Did you know that social media use is actually higher among ethnic minority populations? Having a social media presence is key when it comes to connecting with your existing patients – and reaching new ones, too (Pew Research Center, 2014).

  • Facebook remains the dominate player in the social networking space. While usage is high among all groups, Hispanics (73%) are on Facebook the most.
  • Instagram, the popular photo sharing site, is mostly used by African Americans (38%) and Latinos (34%).
  • Twitter has also remained popular among African Americans (27%).

You probably already have a database with all your current patients – but are you using it to reach out to them throughout the year?

Taking simple steps, such as sending out appointment reminders, can help keep your patients coming back year after year. Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 Americans say they didn’t schedule an eye exam within the past year because they forgot? Consider keeping in touch with your patients throughout the year to see how they like their glasses – or update them on new promotions or services available from your practice. 

As you continue to reach culturally diverse groups through your advertising and local outreach efforts, don’t forget to add prospective patients to your database. A great way to start is by simply mailing postcards to introduce yourself and what your practice has to offer.

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