7 Unexpected Things Influencing Your Customers' Opinions About Your Pharmacy
Having a recognizable brand can positively impact your pharmacy's growth. One of the best ways to foster lasting brand awareness is by cultivating a strong online presence that’s well rounded and consistently engaging. And the influence of your online presence on your brand has never been greater than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consumers are spending less time perusing brick-and-mortar stores and more time browsing businesses on their phone from the safety of their home. An April 2020 study found that 41% of consumers have shifted more of their shopping online.1 Meanwhile, the average American is now spending 82 minutes a day on social media, which is a 7% increase from 2019.2
Since this shift in consumer behavior, more and more independent pharmacies have been trying to connect with their patients through various digital channels. Yet, with so many different touchpoints to consider, there’s a good chance you may be missing out on some opportunities to amplify your brand online. Here’s a look at seven things that change the way your patients view your brand, along with simple pharmacy marketing strategies to turn unintended negatives into well-controlled positives. Addressing these issues now will not only help you with attracting new patients to your pharmacy, but also with developing long-lasting brand loyalty.
- An online experience that doesn’t match your in-store experience
To create a better independent pharmacy customer experience online, you first need to have a clear understanding of what sets your store apart in the real world. Your online presence should reflect that in every way possible—from the colors on your webpage to the tone of voice in your Facebook posts. The more you’re able to maintain consistency across touchpoints, the bolder your brand will be in the minds of your patients.
For example, if your pharmacy has a clean, modern look, then your online presence should feel clean and modern too. Likewise, if you greet every patient who walks into your store by their first name, make sure you address people by their first name when replying to social media comments or online reviews. These are the things that build trust over time and go a long way when it comes to keeping patients engaged between visits to your store.
- Limited activity on social media platforms that don’t fit your target
Making a good impression in the digital space is about more than just creating a social media account for your pharmacy. You need a long-term, strategic plan on how to improve your pharmacy’s online presence continually over time. You could set up an account on any platform in five minutes, but if you don't have a plan for regularly posting content and trying to engage your community, it won’t do you much good.
The first step is picking the right social media platforms. It’s important to remember that you don't have to be active on every one of them. You just have to be active on the ones where your target audience is spending their time.
Are your customers primarily parents with young children? Are they Medicare Part D eligible patients? If you don't know who you're trying to connect with or what you're trying to say to them, you're probably not going to reach your full potential online.
For example, if you need to connect with caregivers aged 45 to 65 based on the demographics of your pharmacy and you decide to focus solely on posting content on TikTok, you’re likely to find that engagement is very low among your target audience. Your best bet would be to focus on Facebook instead.
- Repetitive social media content that isn’t engaging
Once you're proactively engaging your audience on social media, don't just post bland status updates and move on. It could come across like you’re phoning it in out of obligation.
Measure the performance of your posts and determine what type of content sees the best engagement. Take some time, whether it's monthly or quarterly, to review how all your digital marketing campaigns are performing. If you notice things that aren't working, you may need to go back to the drawing board. If you see things that are working really well, take action to replicate that in fresh new ways.
You can use your social media channels to give your patients a glimpse inside your pharmacy at a time when they may be stuck at home. Give your hardworking staff a shoutout or show how alternative service operations like drive thru or curbside pickup happen behind the scenes.
And don’t forget, social media engagement is a two-way street. Ask your followers questions in your posts and respond to comments and direct messages to foster true conversation with your patients online.
- Negative online reviews that never received a response
from your pharmacy
Ratings and reviews are also important for independent pharmacies to manage. 93% of consumers read a review before making a purchase.3 That number is far too large to overlook, so it’s worth having someone on your staff regularly check online review sites and respond to new posts.
If a review is positive, thank the reviewer for their message. If a review is negative, you'll want to respond promptly and personably while trying to remediate the issue. This puts the power back in your hands, because addressing negative reviews in a professional way shows how much you care about your patients and want to make the situation right for them. That can make a huge difference when people are looking at reviews in search of a pharmacy that’s going to deliver the level of personalized care they want.
- Google advertising that isn’t compelling
Savvy independent pharmacies are taking advantage of highly targeted and low-cost advertising through Google Search and Google Display ads. In terms of return on investment, you get the most bang for your buck when your marketing budget is spent on online advertising versus more traditional forms like television, print or radio. On Google, you can compete with larger advertisers even when you have a small budget.
But just like you need to analyze how your social media posts are performing, you need to monitor your Google ads' performance too. This goes beyond simple clicks and impressions. If your Google ads are driving potential customers to a landing page that isn’t inspiring anyone to visit your pharmacy, your creative could be doing more harm than good.
Dig into what else your patients are doing. Examine how many phone calls you're getting as a result of your advertising, how many people are clicking through to your landing page, and how many people are clicking to get directions to your pharmacy. Look beyond just the click on the ad and finetune your creative to ensure you get the results you want, whether that’s more foot traffic, phone calls or visits to more engaging parts of your website.
- The lack of a mobile app
On average, consumers spend two hours and 11 minutes a day on mobile apps.4 This is another effective way of keeping patients engaged with your pharmacy in between prescription refills. A mobile app essentially puts your pharmacy in the palm of your patients’ hand right when they need it. But without one, you could be creating the impression that your pharmacy isn’t forward thinking enough to provide that level of support for your community.
If you’re able to, partner with a pharmacy mobile app provider or invest in the creation of a mobile app so your patients have an easy way to submit refills, transfer prescriptions, get your business hours and set reminders for when they're supposed to take their medication every day.
- Search engine local listings that have minimal or
Local listings are the panels of business information that appear alongside search engine results when someone types in your pharmacy’s name. These are crucial for serving your patients the details they need about your store right when they're actively searching for them, but local listings tend to be underutilized by independent pharmacies.
The most prominent local listing management platform is Google, which is well known for attempting to provide an immediate answer to whatever somebody is searching for. Sometimes independent pharmacies forget to maintain this data, or don’t even realize they’re able to in the first place, and that can leave a negative impression on consumers. Make sure you stay on top of it, especially when you need to make adjustments to your business operations.
When it comes to delivering a better independent pharmacy customer experience, it's important to look at all the different ways your patients are interacting with your business, whether it’s through Google, social media or your website. Each touchpoint should work together holistically to project a professional, caring, one-of-a-kind brand that your community can trust, and implementing the right pharmacy marketing strategies to address these seven potential issues will help you do just that.
Concerned your community is getting the wrong impression about your pharmacy?
1. Business Insider. Breaking down some of the biggest pandemic-driven shifts in consumer behavior. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-coronavirus-pandemic-has-shifted-consumer-behavior-2020-5
2. Insider Intelligence. US Social Media Usage. https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-social-media-usage
3. Qualtrics. Online reviews statistics to know in 2021. https://www.qualtrics.com/blog/online-review-stats
4. MobiLoud. People Spent 90% of Their Mobile Time Using Apps in 2019. https://www.mobiloud.com/blog/mobile-apps-vs-the-mobile-web