By Rick O’Neill, FRSA. Digital Consultant to Aesthetic Clinics & Pharmaceutical Companies.
In recent years, Blogging and Email Marketing seem to have been somewhat overlooked by the behemoth that is Social Media. It’s time they had a bit of a Renaissance, and I’ll explain exactly why and what they can deliver to you and your Aesthetics business.
Amongst all the hype of Social Media (and I say this as someone who spends a lot of time consulting on Social Media for global companies), it’s important to remember just how powerful blogging and email marketing are and some of the reasons why they are so important. As an Aesthetics business owner you (presumably) want to grow your business and hit milestones, as well as wanting to invest in your digital marketing in a smart way that delivers a return. Blogging and email marketing can get you there, but let’s start with the basics.
What actually is a blog?
A blog is a regularly updated website or webpage, typically one run by an individual or small group. Typically a blog would be between 700 and 1000 words and focus on one very specific topic or one particular keyword that potential patients or customers might be searching for.
Why should we blog?
Higher chance of ranking on Google.
According to a study from TechClient, a website has a 434% higher chance of ranking on page one of Google if you have an active blog. Think about that, You have a four to five times higher chance of your website, your business, appearing on page one of Google if you’re running an active blog.
Increased enquiry levels.
Another study by HubSpot, determined that those websites that have a blog receive, on average, 67% more enquiries than websites without one.
Become the trusted expert.
If those eye-widening stats weren’t enough to persuade you to start taking blogging seriously, consider the fact that blog authors are more likely to be viewed as subject matter experts, with a HubSpot survey seeing blogs as the 5th most trusted source of information.
Become Google Famous.
The studies and statistics above suggest that in order to be ‘Google famous’ (for search terms relevant to your Aesthetics practice, and in relevant geographical areas), and be viewed as the subject matter expert (and therefore more likely to be trusted), you must blog. Why is trust so important? Because that’s one of the three critical things that must be in place before a patient will book with you – They need to know you (i.e. find out about you), like you (be attracted to your approach and your results), and critically to trust you (to feel safe in your hands).
Beat Social Media.
Now, this may be a controversial statement, especially coming from a social media consultant, but blogging beats social media in a number of ways. Not only can it ‘feed’ your social media, with your blogs being repurposed as podcasts, pull quotes, tweets, Instagram Stories, your next YouTube video, the theme for your next Live video etc, but it also has a much longer lifespan than any item of social media content.
Create ‘evergreen’ content.
Blogging is ‘evergreen’. Once you’ve posted a blog, it’s there for life. I posted blogs in 2004 that still get traffic. You do not get that with an Instagram post. Tweets live minutes, Instagram and Facebook posts live 24 to 48 hours (unless they’re part of a paid campaign), blogs can live (and deliver traffic) for decades (and counting).
Be found by Alexa.
Blogging can help you feature in voice search results, such as Alexa. The long-tail terms and questions used in a well-optimised blog article play to the way in which people tend to use voice search (“Alexa, where can I find an Aesthetics Practitioner in London?”).
Appear in the Google Map Results.
Blogging, if it’s optimised well for the town or city that you’re in, will also feed your local rankings and provide signals to Google that your Business Profile should appear in the Map results at the top of page 1 on Google.
What should You blog about?
Everything is content. Everything you do is content. Every treatment you do is content. Every treatment you offer will typically have 10 to 20 questions that patients always ask, giving you 20 blogs per treatment that you could be publishing and optimising. For even more inspiration, visit AnswerThePublic.com, put in your top treatment(s), and it will show you ALL the questions people ask Google about that treatment – et voila, a list of blogs to write for the next few months!
How should You blog?
When it comes to choosing a platform for your blogging (which should be integrated into your clinic’s website), WordPress (which now powers over 30% of the entire internet) is consistently shown to be the best option in terms of flexibility, speed and search optimisation. Keep things simple, have your blog live at /blog (this is where Google expects to find your blog articles). I don’t recommend distinguishing between blogs and news. Some websites do this, and past experience of SEO projects shows that this can just confuse matters with Google and have a negative impact on your rank positions.
WordPress works well with SEO because it has a number of tools that you can add to it for which help you with your SEO. One of the most impactful in my experience is YOAST. YOAST is a plugin that you add inside the WordPress content system, and that provides you a simple check list and traffic light system to help you ensure that every element of your page or blog is Search Engine Friendly.
How can you ‘optimise” a blog?
Let’s say you intend to write a blog about facial fillers. One of the key search terms (which you can learn from AnswerThePublic.com or Google Keyword Planner) might be ‘facial fillers consultation’. When publishing the blog, there are several elements that need to be optimised around that search term to ensure that Google position it in the results when people search for that particular phrase.
All web pages, and blogs, can have a Meta Title tag, which is the blue title usually shown for your page or blog on the Google search results list.
H1 & H2 Tags
Depending on how the styling is setup for your Wordpress site, H1 should be the largest/most prominent heading style, and H2 a smaller, sub-heading style. These tags are crawled by Google to gain an instant understanding of what the page or blog is about.
This is the web address for the page or blog article. Usually something like www.yourwebsite.com/blog/title-of-blog
For maximum rank with Google, and the best chance to convert a reader into a patient, your website and your blog content MUST be optimised for a great mobile experience. If it isn’t, the reader is going to get fed up with pinching and zooming to increase the text size, or functions not working etc. They’re just going to leave. As for Google, if they identify your site as not being ‘Mobile Friendly’, then they are unlikely to position it in search results at all.
Use imagery to highlight your points, pull out key quotes, break up the paragraphs with sub-headings and bulleted lists etc, make it easy for the reader to navigate and ‘rest’ their eyes now and then.
Your website and blog must load quickly. This is one of the key factors that Google monitors before deciding to place you in front of their users, and it’s a key reason why users might ‘bounce’ from your site if they have a frustrating experience with a slow loading website. Check how your website scores using Google’s ‘Page Speed Insights” testing tool.
Your blog images are also ‘SEO fodder’. You can optimise your blog images so that people searching on Google Images can find your blog through the tags that you add to the images. Each image needs to have an ‘Alt tag’ so that rather than Google seeing it as image one, image two, etc, it will know that it’s a photo of a facial filler consultation.
Whilst maintaining informative and readable content, it’s important to be including your key phrase (e.g. ‘facial fillers consultations’) in the Meta Title, H1 and H2 Tags, in the URL, and within the body of the blog at least once per paragraph. In addition to this, your entire website should be optimised in a similar way towards your geographical area that you serve (e.g. Brighton), so that when someone searches “facial fillers consultation in Brighton”, your website optimisation plus your blog optimisation gives you a pretty good chance of appearing in the top search results.
And what about email marketing?
Email marketing is a massive topic, but I think it’s important to cover it here, at least at a high level, because blogging and email marketing are a marriage built to last.
I believe Social Media is sometimes seen as the ‘Silver Bullet’, and so it’s easy to put a more traditional approach like email marketing on the back seat. That, plus the emergence of GDPR laws, have put many small businesses off of email marketing altogether. Yes, you do have to do meet certain criteria with data, obtaining consent, and allowing patients to manage their data preferences etc, but there are systems that make this simple and convenient, so there is no reason you can’t be enjoying the results of a strong email marketing strategy.
What makes for good email content?
The good news is, all your new blog content will feed your email marketing. For example, once you’ve written a few blogs, you’re ready to send out an email newsletter to your mailing list. But not only that, when you harness the power of automated email too, you can engage patients in a highly personalised and targeted manner, sending them pre-written content to engage them, bring them back to clinic, refer their friends, leave you reviews, and inform them of complementary treatments.
What are the advantages of email marketing?
For a start, email still has a far greater organic reach than Instagram or Facebook do. With Instagram, you might have 1,000 followers or you might have 10,000 followers, but every time you post something only 10% of that audience will see it, if you’re lucky. Whereas if you’ve got a mailing list, 100% of them are going to get your email. Not only that, but ROI (Return On Investment) is far greater from email marketing than it is on Social Media according to a recent report from HubSpot, with the average ROI from email being 3800%, meaning for every £1 spent, £38 is made. Being smart with your email campaigns pays dividends too. CampaignMonitor reported in 2019 that Marketers using segmented campaigns (where emails are highly personalised according to patient history, demographics, etc), see as much as a 760% increase in revenue. And lastly, it’s the communication method of choice for billions of people. HubSpot report that 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email.
Blogging and email marketing are far from over. In fact, whilst your competitors are obsessing over their Instagram feeds and worrying about the Facebook algorithm, now is the time for you to double-down on your blog content and email marketing strategy to engage patients in a smarter, more personal and effective manner. I look forward to reading your next blog, or receiving your next email.
Rick O’Neill, FRSA, is a digital consultant to the medical aesthetics, cosmetic surgery and pharma sectors. With over 20 years’ experience in digital marketing, O’Neill is the founder and owner of the award-winning digital agency ‘Look Touch & Feel’ based at Silverstone Race Circuit, a founding partner of The Aesthetic Entrepreneurs, investor and advisor to several other digital businesses (including EOOVI Consult – a video consultation software platform) and is currently digital consultant UK & Europe to Allergan Aesthetics.