The Power of Social Proof: Using Testimonials and Reviews to Boost Your Practice
According to a National Harris Poll survey, 80 percent of Americans seek recommendations from others before making a purchase, making social proof one of the most effective marketing strategies out there. Ironically, it’s the one type of marketing you can’t create, as social proof usually only develops organically over time. But Dr. Anthony Favale of Jacksonville Eye Care Center has found the perfect blend of strategies to get the most out of the buzz around his practice. Join us for this Practice of the Month as we explore leveraging the power of patient’s voices to drive new patient growth with Dr. Favale.
Jacksonville Eye Care Center, a Practice for the People
Dr. Favale is the shining example of a self-made eye doctor. Originally specializing in engineering, he decided he wanted to do something that would help people. So he changed his career to optometry. It is these principles of hard work and selfless care that has driven his work ethic since 1993 when he first went into practice. There is nothing Dr. Favale won’t do to provide the best care possible for his patients, even if that means learning a new vision specialty from scratch.
These days, Jacksonville Eye Care Center is one of the premier practices in the region for its work with scleral lenses, but just six years ago, Dr. Favale had never even heard of them. “I had a patient. I was no longer able to give her satisfactory and comfortable vision,” Favale said. So he took the next logical step in his mind: He taught himself a new way to treat his patients. He read up on scleral lenses, and offered to provide the patient with the new service if she was okay with him learning as he went. She agreed, and the treatment became a fantastic success.
Dr. Favale’s entrance into the world of scleral lenses was what first brought the concept of using social proof in marketing to his attention.
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The Word Around Town
Shortly after treating his first scleral lens patient, Dr. Favale discussed his success with a corneal specialist. Suddenly, more patients were showing up on his doorstep looking for specialty treatment. “I was seeing, one, or two, or three a week. As the years went by, I got really good at it and now I’m seeing eight, or nine, or ten a week,” Favale said. His new patients continued to grow as more and more people began seeing him, and his reputation exploded. Doctors and patients alike began referring other patients to his practice as the power of social proof took full effect. “Now we’re renowned in the region,” Favale said. “My average scleral lens patient commutes four hours one way to come see me.”
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Harnessing Social Proof
With peer to peer recommendations for Jacksonville Eye Care Center spreading like wildfire, Dr. Favale was faced with a new problem: How to keep up the momentum. Wanting to recapture the initial excitement of his unintentional word of mouth campaign, he opted for a two pronged strategy.
First, he would get as many positive Google reviews as possible. Second, he would select a handful of exemplary patients, and have them speak directly to his potential customers.
Reaching for the Stars with Google Reviews
“[My patients] are driving 45 minutes to an hour to come see us, and they’re driving past 10 or 15 other optometrists...just because of our reviews.”
– Dr. Anthony Favale
According to a recent study, 91 percent of shoppers will read reviews before making a purchasing decision. Yet reviews are often completely neglected by most practices. Dr. Favale figured out early that reviews were necessary for significant practice growth, and made it a priority to ask as many patients as he could. He acknowledges that not everyone he asks will make the trek over to Google, but he estimates that he has a success rate of about ten percent.
Even if only one in every ten people has written a review, the impact it’s made has been phenomenal. As of this writing, Jacksonville Eye Care Center is sitting at a whopping 4.9 star rating on Google with 592 total reviews. Dr. Favale’s website has risen in ranking on Google search as a result. The more reviews he gets, the more patients find him online and the more people he can ask for reviews. “Each review gets more reviews,” Dr. Favale said.
Testimonials Bring Patients Together
While Google reviews put Jacksonville Eye Care Center on patients’ radar, it’s the video testimonials that dispel all doubts. Dr. Favale has continued the success of his scleral lens word of mouth marketing campaign with a series of 25 testimonial videos on his website. It’s through testimonials that he captures the real success stories of each of his patients. “I always tell patients who are going to come in for their initial evaluation to go look at the testimonial videos, because they’re going to find someone who will remind them of themselves there,” he said.
The short, one to two minute unedited videos are a raw window into the patient experience. For those exploring their eye care options, the testimonials provide reassurance and hope that Jacksonville Eye Care Center can help them get their lives back.
A Word About HIPAA
Testimonials, by their very nature, include sensitive, identifying patient information you’ll need to get permission to disclose. This goes for Google reviews too. To ensure you’re compliant, EyeCarePro recommends issuing a standard HIPAA waiver to any patients you collect testimonials from. You can download one for free by filling out the form above.
Social Proof of Concept
Continuing with our theme of social proof, we thought it only fitting to post a testimonial of our own. Dr. Favale has worked with EyeCarePro for years to grow his practice. Central to that effort is the constant support from the marketing expert personally assigned to take care of his practice, Marc Wolfe. Here’s just a few of the things Dr. Favale has to say about EyeCarePro and Marc.
“What I recommend to any eye care professional is that they need to have someone like EyeCarePro on their side. I consider Marc as part of my staff. I actually include him in the staff section on my website. When I think about having Marc, and his team and all of the expertise that they possess, and getting that for a mere $750 a month, it’s a bargain. They’re cheaper than any employee I could ever have, and you get a full team of marketing experts that are only a phone call away. I have no doubt in my mind that my business has grown exponentially because of the work that EyeCarePro has done.”
– Dr. Anthony Favale