Patients are looking to schedule an appointment with the best option, but they need a little help learning why your practice is the one they should choose. The healthcare landscape has become increasingly competitive. Before, practices invested in local print advertising, but now that it is commonplace to go online to find a provider, digital marketing is your strongest ally in claiming your share of the healthcare consumer market.
The prospect of digital marketing raises many questions among medical practices. “What do I need to do to get started? How much work is involved? What services should I spend my money on and why?” This collection of tips is designed to get you well acquainted with marketing your medical practice in the digital space.
- Build Your Online Reputation and Optimize the Patient Experience to Attract New Patients
- SEO That Puts Your Practice in View
- Tap the Power of Social Media
- Digital Marketing is an Ongoing Investment
Build Your Online Reputation
A recent Doctor.com report revealed that, “64.1% of patients have chosen one provider over another because they were rated 4 stars or higher.” This report also shares how referrals are now on the decline. Patients want to use the internet to vet providers on their own.
Rather than rely on friends, family, co-workers, or insurance to help them choose a doctor, they are looking up providers online and paying close attention to what patients are saying about them. The modern patient wants a preview of what it is like to be your patient, so they know what to expect when they visit your medical practice.
How to Make the Best First Impression on Prospective Patients
Building your online reputation begins with having a stellar website.
It should be eye-catching, easy-to-navigate, and it should reflect you, your practice, and the services you offer. Your website is the destination for the rest of your marketing efforts. These efforts include publishing blog posts and featuring your best patient reviews.
However, the most significant way to manage your online reputation is to curate new reviews from happy patients, and to moderate what is being said about you online. No, you can’t control what is said about you online, but you can control how you respond to it. But until you claim your online listings, you won’t be able to monitor your reviews online.
One of the key best practices of online reputation management is to reply to both positive and negative reviews, while maintaining composure with angry reviews. Sometimes you can remove reviews that contain sensitive information, profanity, or were meant for a different practice entirely.
Takeaways: Build Your Online Reputation
- Build an amazing website
- Claim your online listings and curate new reviews
- Respond to patient reviews in a timely manner
Optimize the Patient Experience to Attract New Patients
Once a patient arrives at your website, this is the time to guide them further along the digital patient journey. Can a patient easily find what they need? Does the content on the website answer the most frequently asked questions? To maintain a site that meets patient expectations, it helps to look at the user experience from the patient perspective.
If a task on a website is too difficult, visitors can be easily discouraged from staying on the website. When a patient is ready to book an appointment, the last thing you want them to do is change their mind because they encounter difficulty progressing to the next step. This can be hindered by poor UX design or a lack of ADA-accessibility.
Having your phone number at the top of the page with click-to-call functionality enabled are crucial inroads for taking that first step toward becoming a new patient.
Takeaways: Optimize the Patient Experience to Attract New Patients
- Phone number at the top of the page with click-to-call functionality
- Keep your website up to date and HIPAA-compliant
- New patient appointment request form on your home page
- Give your target audience what they need to best help them through the decision-making process
- Make your website ADA-accessible
SEO That Puts Your Practice in View
Medical practices know they need a great website, but some do not realize that further effort is needed to help patients receive its benefits. Having a website enhanced with search engine optimization (SEO) is a core strategy for being found by patients online. SEO includes a host of strategies that make your published content more likely to show up higher in search results.
Google wants to put the highest quality content on their search results page. Give reasons for Google to show your content to your target audience in search, you must publish original content that weaves in the right keywords. In addition to health topics, these keywords must also indicate your specific services and geographic location. Adding your city and state to your web pages, for example, is an easy and excellent way to appear near the top in local Google search results.
Google Business Listings are Indispensable for SEO
With the exception of telehealth-only practices, every practice needs localized SEO. This means that when patients enter certain terms, they will see local practices – for example, “bunion removal near me.” For this reason, all practices should claim and optimize their free Google Business Profile. In many cases, these profiles show up first in search results as part of Google’s map-enhanced directory.
Google’s directory is a can’t-miss SEO entry point, and it is likely that your competitors are there already. Once you claim your practice’s profile, you can optimize it by filling out location, hours, website, and other notable information. Your profile is also a reputation management opportunity as it can display any reviews left by patients.
SEO sounds simple enough, but there are many finer details involved that include robust keyword research, competitor analysis, and website configurations. Because of how complicated SEO strategy is, most businesses outsource this task to a digital marketing agency.
Takeaways: SEO That Gets You Noticed
- Publish original quality content
- Optimize your content with keywords that match what your target audience is searching for, including terms that indicate your location
- Claim & update your Google Business Profile and other online listings
- Enlist expert help
Tap the Power Social Media
Being active on Facebook isn’t just about doing what everyone else does. Social media keeps your practice top of mind between visits. Healthcare consumers are more fickle than ever, so when you can use social media as a tool to stay connected with your patients, this encourages loyalty. Responding to their kind comments and questions nurtures your long-term relationships with patients.
Facebook engagement can also elevate your appeal to prospective patients and job candidates. When a potential patient or employee is vetting your practice, Facebook is a reliable resource for learning more about your practice. By seeing how you engage your Facebook audience, those who are considering either applying for a career opportunity or becoming a new patient can get a feel for your practice personality, values, and patient sentiment.
Practices should approach social media from a business perspective meaning that you wouldn’t post like you would on a personal account – your practice needs a content calendar with a mix of post content: informational, inspiring, helpful, fun, and compassionate. Video content continues to be dominant on all social media platforms including Facebook, so it helps to post relevant reels or videos whenever possible.
You may also want to encourage existing patients to like your page to build engagement. A successful Facebook following can be very powerful in raising the profile of your practice brand and attracting new patients.
Takeaways: Tap the Power Social Media
- Optimize/update your social media profiles
- Monitor activity on your social media accounts
- Post often and consistently
- Include a mix of informative, promotional, and connection-focused posts
- Ask your patients to like or follow your accounts
Digital Marketing Is an Ongoing Investment
Because patients have changed, medical practices are adapting to this dramatic shift. The fact is that the modern patient journey and digital marketing have merged. Choosing to increase your digital marketing efforts is in direct response to patient expectations. What used to be seen as a discretionary expense has become vital to medical practice’s sustainability as they cope with new competitive threats, and scant patient loyalty.
It would be convenient for digital marketing to be a one-time expense, like buying new office equipment or paying for staff training, but the benefits of digital marketing must be gained over time. Not only do aspects of digital marketing such as SEO need ongoing adjustments, but a medical practice as a business must also be agile to changing trends.
When done with the right help, digital marketing keeps a medical practice profitable and in the best position for future growth, all while providing the patient experience healthcare consumers have come to expect.
Make the Right Decision by Making the Most Informed Decision
The more you understand digital marketing and its purpose, the more you realize that it is a complex part of business that is worlds apart from healthcare. Because digital marketing is an investment you want to get right the first time, iHealthSpot is here to provide you with all the knowledge you need to make the best decisions in unchartered territory. Dive deeper by reading our e-book download.