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Video: A Winning Online Strategy for LASIK

by Brian Forrester   |   Mar 06, 2019

On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, Google and Workshop Digital co-hosted an exclusive digital marketing webinar for LASIK practices with current trends, insights, and best practices to help them find more patients online. With many prospective LASIK patient segments generating ~10% growth in online searches in the last year alone, having an optimized presence online for LASIK practices is of the utmost importance for growth in this competitive industry.

New Business Manager at Google, Alex Atilano, and Co-Founder of Workshop Digital, Brian Forrester, teamed up for a jam-packed webinar where viewers came away with important strategy and execution tips to ramp up their digital marketing plans right away.

Check out the video or transcription below to start learning or get a refresher!

[ALEX]: Thank you all for joining our webinar today.

A lot of you, if not all of you, are in the business of laser vision correction, or are interested in learning more about the field. So creating a winning strategy for LASIK patients is rooted in the understanding of what it means to be in this age of assistance.

What does this age of assistance mean? Well, as marketers we have the responsibility to do right by our customers, and it means playing an assistive role in these moments of intent to address those specific needs.

You know that you want to drive more patients. And the fact that you are all here today to learn more about how to do that is the first step to getting more patients to either fill out a form, or call you for a consultation. So thank you all for being here and for recognizing that, and for deciding to spend the next hour with us. So I'm here today with Workshop Digital. They are a premier partner of ours and they've launched successful campaigns in the laser vision correction space. I'm really excited to be partnering together with them today, to bring you this webinar.

So, just really quick intros for you to get to know more about us. My name is Alex. I am a New Business Manager in the Google Marketing Solutions team. I have seven years of digital experience working across different agencies prior to Google. And now that I’m at Google, my focus is to help small and medium businesses, such as yourselves, to grow and thrive in the online space. A part of what I do is in digital education and recommending digital solutions that are specific to the vertical. So today my focus is all on laser vision correction.

You have Brian here as well and I'll have Brian speak briefly about himself.

[BRIAN]: So, I'm as you mentioned, Brian Forrester. I'm the co founder of Workshop Digital—we are roughly 30 people here in Richmond, Virginia. We are a digital marketing agency, focusing on the healthcare vertical, and we have experience in the LASIK industry specifically that we're going to be talking about later today. And I thank you, Alex, for your time and for Google for the assistance that you provided in this presentation.

[ALEX]: So today, our agenda is to give you the lay of the land—so, digital practices trends that we're seeing in the space that can help benefit for you as you start thinking about your strategy for clients: The age of assistance— I'll walk you through exactly what that means—[and] LASIK search trends. At Google, there is a lot of data that we get access to specifically about how people are searching, how the trends are year over year, so I will share that with you today. The empowered customer: so I'll walk you through the different qualities of the customer, if he or she is curious, demanding, and impatient. And there are lots of really interesting things here about how they search. The rise of your “near me” searches and mobile adoption. So we'll end with a case study that Brian will walk you through and Q&A, if you have any questions.

So first, connectivity has changed everything. And I'll start with a question here.

How often do you check your phone?

Just think about it for a second.

So maybe two, three times.

The interesting stat here is we check our phones, 150 times in a day is the first thing you reach out to when you wake up in the morning.

We search on it.

And it helps us throughout that kind of assistance when you're looking for something. Say you're searching for a restaurant, you're looking for what to eat. You call a specific business to learn about opening hours. So that is something that we should consider when we're thinking about the laser vision correction.

So, we don't just go online, we live online—and technology has helped us achieve that.

Focus on the user and all else will follow.

So, as you think about your own mobile behavior today, and how it has assisted, you think about it within the realm of LASIK.

Why would you search for LASIK? What questions do you need answered to feel comfortable about going with one service over the other? At Google, one of our key principles is to focus on the user and all else will follow. The increase in connectivity is having a dramatic impact on how customers behave. So this customer centric approach has really enabled us to design specific products and services that are customer-first and we encourage all businesses to do the same.

So thanks to this increased connectivity, today's customers get what they want, whenever they want. They are empowered. We're all customers, so this applies to all of us. There are many opportunities to connect with these customers to tell exactly what they want and help them achieve the need. Every day we turn to our devices to know, to go, to do, and to buy—or, in this case, to call for LASIK consultation.

So it's crucial for us to understand these key moments of intent.

As marketers, it is our responsibility to assist them, not just to drive transactions, but to be there, be valuable, be quick. So if there are three things to take away at the end of this presentation, think about that: be there, be valuable, be quick. If you do this, the customer will reward you with their business.

And given the life cycle that we've seen of LASIK customers, it's not just a one and done thing. They come back for for a checkup. It's important to gain their loyalty, encourage retention, and influence referrals.

So what is assistance? In its kind of general form, it's helping people get things done.

But in marketing-speak, it's driving growth by anticipating and satisfying intent throughout the customer journey. So, we call these moments of intent “micro-moments,” and they're these short bursts of when people are looking for certain things. They are telling you what they want. They're searching for it, and it's our job to drive them to a relevant service—in this case, yours.

60% of smartphone users have discovered a new business or service when conducting a search on their smartphones. So hopefully you know within that search, you're at the top of the page, or your easily discovered and visible to them.

Diving even deeper into the laser vision correction space, queries grew 9% last quarter, with 58% of these searches being on mobile. And to help you understand the scale of this growth of 9%, that's 35 million searches every year, within the laser vision correction theme. That's about 2.9 million per month that they are searching. So it's important to be present, where this is happening.

So diving even deeper into mobile. This is what the trend looks like for the rising queries for laser vision correction.

Kind of going along with the age of assistance and how mobile is a great enabler for this age of assistance, it's more important to be there and be visible, especially when you think of the behavior when someone's on their mobile phone, the screens are a lot smaller. So it's even more important to come up in the first three positions for that visibility and discoverability.

I thought this was pretty interesting too and we dove into the seasonality of it because with every vertical, the seasonality is quite different. And what we've seen here is that it peaks in January. So, really happy that you are here today, and you're interested in growing your digital presence for your LASIK clients, because we need to be present now. If you want to capture demand in January, you need to start being visible now.

So we've seen that assistance is the new battleground for growth.

And it's important to be there for that customer when she is searching on her phone and looking for solutions for astigmatism for her vision, and looking for where she's going to do that.

There are several services online, so your competitors are already in the space. It's important to be there, so that you get more calls and more form fills and more customers.

So three key principles to recap here: be there for your customers throughout the entire purchase journey, be valuable by offering meaningful experiences, and we can show you how we can do that with paid search, because there's a great deal of customization and personalization that you can do there, and be quick. So delivering on customer needs in real time, when the search occurs.

So I’ll walk you through the components of the empowered user. And this is kind of a good, new empowered user because technology has really afforded us a lot of luxuries and conveniences that wasn’t exactly the case maybe 10 years ago, or more.

She is curious, what are LASIK customers curious about? So when we dug into the top of 100 searches, these were the themes that were constantly coming up.

There's effectiveness—they're asking questions like “does LASIK work?” “What are the success rates?”

Costs. “How much does it cost?” “Are there any coupons or discounts?" "Anything that I can take advantage of to get a good deal out of this location?"

“What are the laser surgery centers near me?” So, it's even more important to have a regional strategy.

“And what do the reviews say?” So the process: “What is the procedure?” “Am I in the right age for LASIK?”

And risk: “Is it safe?" “What is the recovery time?”

I know personally when I was doing research on LASIK—I am a potential customer for LASIK—and I was doing research on the procedure, and there were certain ads that were coming up that had pages designed to show me the process and the procedure. It really lends credibility, the more articles that you have on those searches and working with an agency like Workshop Digital will help you understand the common themes that are constantly turning up in the clicks that you're getting on your site, based on what they search for. So think about the value proposition that your facility has to offer.

And think about the website experience, and the richness of the articles that you have in your pages because that's going to help your paid search and your organic growth as well.

Which regions are most curious about LASIK? So this is just the regions that have high volumes of searches for laser vision correction. So you can see, Oregon, New York, Hawaii index pretty high on those searches.

I took this data from Google Trends, you can actually access that yourself as well. If you go to Google Trends, you can see the top searches within laser vision correction, and the regions that index high on those searches, so just interesting to see.

I talked about personalization. This is key, especially for local practices. So we talked about the different themes that people are searching. If someone searches for a keyword, like LASIK coupon, and they're in California, someone's going to click on an ad, that is, the more personalized the copy is, the more likely it is that you're going to get more clicks to your page—your ad, and your page. So I've just given examples here of what that could potentially look like, and you don't have to worry about this too much. If you work with Workshop Digital, this is something that you can partner together on with myself included.

There are tons of Google audience targeting that we can do, looking specifically at the region and the keyword intent. We can help craft copy that will be as personalized as possible, so you get as many clicks to your site as possible and consequently more calls and form fills.

What we've seen here too, is if you have paid and organic search, working in tandem, the results are so much better. So when a brand name appeared in both organic and paid search results, the brand attracted 92% of total clicks. When the brand was only in the organic results brand only got 60% of clicks, so this is just a quick breakdown of what the search engine results page looks like. What you see there at the top highlighted in green is the paid search ad, and you'll notice that because it has that little button that says Ad on it. And the links that follow that are organic.

So, these ones are generated through a different approach. Workshop Digital also has an organic search team that can help you with that. With paid search there's a lot more level of customization that you can do. And they also have a team that is specifically designed to give you the best performance, like bang for your buck for your paid search dollars.

So the next thing I'm going to get into is the demanding consumer and what that means. Mobile searches for “open,” “now,” and “near me” have grown by over 200% in over the last two years. Looking specifically at “LASIK near me” terms, increased by...you can see here it's about 4,800% for “LASIK eye surgery near me” so near me searches are huge, especially with mobile phones just traveling everywhere, like on their person.

So it's even more important to make sure that you're bidding on terms like “near me” and anything that's localized. So specific searches on maybe LASIK, if you're based in Texas “LASIK Texas,” or whatever region it is that you have your facility and the specific city. Your customers are looking for local businesses online. So, four in five customers conduct local searches on search engines. 88% happen on smartphone, 84% and a computer or tablet, which makes it even more important to leverage paid search to tell them exactly where to go.

So this is what we mean by having an assistive experience, because not only have they indicated a need to correct their vision, and they're considering LASIK, but they have so many options that you need to help them figure out that you are the best person, or the best facility to have this operation.

Google My Business is one of the features that we have that we use in paid search to help fill more real estate on the search engine results page but also to help provide that information. We know that four out of those five customers find value in information and are conducting those searches on localized businesses. This is your way of telling them why they should go with you. So you can see here as an example, there's the address, there's the hours that it’s open, their reviews—there are tons of ways that you can customize this, but definitely think of your value prop and make sure that that's highlighted within your Google My Business listing. So if you have any questions on that, feel free to reach out to me or Brian at the end of this webinar.

So just to drive this home. 70% percent of consumers who have used ad features say it's important to have location information in ads. So things like having a call button, a phone number, an address, directions - tons of things you have to consider, but if you work with an agency like Workshop Digital, we can help make this easier for you and make sure that we're on top of everything.

The last pillar that I wanted to go through is the impatient customer.

53% of visits are abandoned, if a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load. So when we say this person is—this customer is empowered, and that applies to all of us because we're all customers—were curious, we're demanding and we’re impatient. You want it now, we want answers now, and your mobile site needs to load very quickly because our attention spans are very short.

Fifty seconds is the time it takes for an average mobile page to fully load. Best practice, you need to be under three seconds. If you need to find out generally how long your page takes to load, we have a tool for that. Our tool that helps evaluate or count your page speed is the speed scorecard. So you can go to this website now or later in the webinar, and we'll send you the link to that. But if you go to the speed scorecard, what would happen here is you would type the name of your domain, and it will tell you generally how fast it takes for a page to load. So under three seconds is gold, that's what you should be striving for.

We also have an impact calculator, so that you understand the relationship between your page speed, and what you can get in terms of revenue. So you put in your domain name, the current speed so say if it’s six, or maybe three seconds, your average monthly visitors from what you know about your business, and your order value. So, in this case, how much you would be to set up a consultation. Add in your conversion rate, and then you can see here if you toggle from left or right. As your site speed increases, your revenue decreases. So, he is you just need to get that mobile page under three seconds. Six seconds is okay too, but it does affect what you see performance-wise, all of this works together in tandem.

So we talked about the age of assistance. The customer is curious, demanding, and impatient, and mobile is the enabler of that. Three things to take away from this: be there - so you've seen that there's a rise in searches for laser vision correction. There are 3 million, approximately, searches that happen monthly for laser vision correction. Making sure that your personalized and you’re localized is extremely important, so that goes into be valuable. Not just making sure that you appear in the search results, but that you're catering to the exact need.

The great thing about paid search is people are literally telling you what they're looking for. So make sure that the ad that you're showing, and the landing page experience that you deliver addresses that specific need. And lastly, be quick. Deliver on those customer needs in real time. We've seen that there's a lot of searches around “near me.” People are more demanding and impatient, so you need to make sure that your website loads, really quickly. All of that all together will be your winning strategy to drive more people into your laser eye surgery facility.

So I've talked about the age of assistance, and all the digital trends that we've seen the space. There's a lot that we can accomplish together. We've done a lot of awesome things with Workshop Digital, and achieved a lot of great results. So now, Brian will speak to you about successes that they've seen and how we can help you after this webinar.

[BRIAN]: Thank you Alex, can you hear me okay? Yes. Okay, great.

I appreciate you walking us through all of the changes in the online space. And particularly in the mobile space, we know that how online users are interacting with LASIK practices has changed considerably over the last five years or so, and it's always great to have the perspective of Google and the large volumes of data that you have to help us understand better how we can communicate with prospective patients online, and that's what we're going to do here today.

We've got sort of the high-level overview of a case study that we put together for one of our local LASIK clients here in Richmond, Virginia. And as you mentioned earlier, you know, be there, be valuable, and be quick: I think those are important—if not over-simplified maybe a little bit—takeaways. However, this client was missing all three of those when we first inherited that account. And so that was a really great place for us to start and, and most of the points that you touched on in your presentation we're actually touched on a little bit during this case study. We did inherit this client’s Google AdWords account and were to conduct an audit. And one of our lead analysts on our team, Allison, was the one that conducted this audit, so she's really the one that gets all the credit, I just get to brag about it and talk about it a little bit today! But her findings were that the account was really poorly structured and consistent basically at one campaign covering the full range of LASIK keywords.

So, the account wasn’t optimized for performance. It was actually structured to spend money on people that were relatively high in the marketing funnel targeting is “what is LASIK surgery.” And while those keywords may be valuable and you pointed this out earlier, we need to personalize our ads and our ad campaigns to match the user intent.

And that was not happening with this LASIK account when we initially assessed what was going on. There was also interestingly enough, very little ad spend on keywords that are more likely to convert, such as those keywords associated with people that are actually looking for a LASIK doctor near them (and you had a couple of examples, a screenshot of those queries). Those are buying intent keywords. We know that those are prospective patients that are actively looking for a LASIK doctor in their vicinity. Those typically convert at a higher level, yet there was no ad budget allocated to those keywords so two sort of glaring issues right away.

Another thing of interest was our client’s brand name was not being protected. As anyone on this webinar who owns a LASIK practice understands, the number of competitors in the online space has increased—including large, regional, and national players that are spending a lot of money and often bidding on your LASIK practice’s brand name. This client had no protection there, and was actually, as you mentioned, on a mobile device, not even above position three for their own brand—so they weren't as visible as their competitors, which was a big issue.

We also uncovered that they did not own their Google Ads account—that their provider, prior to us, was the one that owned the account. So, when they left that provider, we were basically starting from scratch.

On the Google Analytics side, we could see their data, but we could also see all of the other ad agency’s data, which is not necessarily a best practice. But more importantly, the client’s most important conversions—which, in this case, were appointments booked online through their appointment scheduler—were not being tracked in Google Analytics at all. So they didn't have any knowledge as to how appointments are being generated and what was the source of that traffic including that paid spend. I think an important thing to note is when investing in Google Ads, Google advertising, you want to be able to allocate conversions that happen as a result of that spend, and that was not happening.

Also, as you mentioned, Google My Business is an important component, particularly for location-based businesses. And in this case, our client had multiple Google My Business listings with inconsistent information which was confusing to Google and confusing to end users—and that was negatively impacting their organic visibility as a result of that as well. So we took over the account, we did build out a new Google Ads account from scratch, and we initially decided they were going to break this account into multiple campaigns, ad groups, and ads that were focused on where the user is in the funnel, so that we could customize our marketing message to match their search intent.

There were informational searches such as “cost of LASIK” and “I'm a candidate for LASIK,” which we targeted, so we treated those differently with different messaging, so I think that was an important part of your message during your presentation—to be valuable. And I think for us, being valuable means creating relevant information based on their search query. So we were able to do that for this client particularly and see great results.

We also created a campaign devoted to brand keywords, which are relatively low cost but were able to afford us the ability to get back into that 1-2-3 position for brand related keywords, push down some of those competitors, and recapture some of that traffic that was rightfully our client’s.

We were also able to get Google Analytics configured properly and collect all that valuable website data. We were able to track the source of conversions from their website, which is very important for them so that they can figure out where they could best use marketing dollars to get the best return. We also set a phone call tracking. As we know, for websites that are lead gen-based websites, phone calls are a really important metric to track. So we were able to set that up for the client, so that we were able to paint a more well-rounded picture of where their marketing dollars were being spent and where the leads are coming in and interacting with them.

We analyzed website data and highlighted trends that were happening based on keywords, ad copy, website content. For example, people showed a large interest in if LASIK is covered by insurance or not. So, we increased the website content on that topic, and expanded our keyword list in Google ads. Again, looking to be more relevant based on this user search query. And as a result, if you click to the next slide you can share with everyone the result.

Pretty impressive results, and this is just in one year. The most important one being that top headline there: we were able to create 103% gross revenue growth for this client. We were also able to increase organic traffic by 52% in one year, and leads by 23% in one year from organic traffic. Landing page traffic, which is the traffic that was being sent from paid search to specific landing pages increased 102% and paid leads increased 39% year over year. We also improved the conversion rate to 16.25%. I believe they were well below the industry average prior to us taking over the account, but you can see the industry average, 3.27%, and through testing and iteration we were able to get that account to 16.25% conversion rate. And conversion for us is from a click to a lead, so we were able to track that improvement.

And then the impact for the client is definitely shown in this quote from the client. They've been significantly busier than they have been in the past and I believe last we spoke with them, they're actually considering expanding their office if they can handle the increased patient flow. If anyone on the webinar is interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to me directly, that's my email there, brian@workshopdigital.com.

[ALEX]: For those of you who joined us on our webinar, thank you so much for being here. It was a pleasure to talk to you guys about the age of assistance and LASIK trends. If you have any more follow-up questions at all, feel free to reach out to Brian.

portrait of Brian Forrester

Brian Forrester

Brian has spent over a decade in digital marketing. He is most passionate about building a sustainable business with an emphasis on culture, community involvement, and the development of our number-one resource, our team.

Since his days at James Madison University, Brian has always sought to give back to the community. Brian now sits on the Executive Advisory Council for JMU’s College of Business, Marketing, the FETCH a Cure Board of Directors, and sits on the IMPACT Awards Selection Committee. Brian’s agency is also a 4-time winner of Generosity, Inc., an award celebrating top charitable corporate givers in Richmond, VA. Brian is also on the Board of Directors at Northern Neck Insurance Company, in Irvington, VA.

During Brian’s time as Co-Founder of Workshop Digital, the agency has won numerous awards including the 2016 Richmond Chamber IMPACT Award, 2017 & 2018 Virginia Best Places to Work, 2017 & 2018 Outside Magazine Best Places to Work in the U.S., and 3-time winner of the RVA25 Fastest Growing Companies in Richmond. Brian was also selected for the Style Weekly 40 under 40 list in 2017.