There are multiple ways to promote your medical practice and acquire desirable new patients. Getting the right medical marketing strategy and then keeping it agile as platforms and technologies change can be a challenge for an independent medical practice. We’ve outlined the top six ways for you to grow your business and get the best return on your healthcare marketing investment.
Most of your patients very likely live within a 3 to 10-mile radius of your practice. Consequently, it’s imperative to reach your local community and take ownership of the market. Effective medical marketing strategies blend digital and traditional media tools to reach potential and existing patients by gender, age, socio-economic status and interests. You can achieve your growth goals by leveraging the following strategic methods:
Search engine marketing is the process used to get your practice website traffic to appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other local search engines. This method is used to draw traffic to your website to generate new patient leads. It includes both organic search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search engine advertisements.
Start With Your Website
Your website is the first place prospective patients go to learn more about your practice so it needs to be complete! Make sure you have an up-to-date, robust website that is also mobile friendly. You have the most control over patient experience on your own site so use it to your advantage. A well-built, optimized website can be costly, but it is absolutely critical to have and will be worth it in the long run. Keep it fresh by frequently adding new content (more on this later) and appealing images and videos. Answers to frequently asked questions should live on your website and link to quality content like “The best ways to deal with a cold.”
Choose a platform for health records that operates in a way that is easy for patients to use. Have a portal that provides patients an easy way to access their records and communicate with the practice. This technology ultimately can save your staff time while improving patient experience.
For an instant free SEO analysis of your site, click here.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
Simply submitting your site to search engines is not enough. Your website is never finished as it needs to be constantly updated and optimized to feature prominently in search results. Google rewards websites that frequently update and add new content, such as blogs and new photos. Location pages are also important to create for potential patients googling for “a practice near me.” Working with a reputable marketing company will help your website rise above those of your competitors. When a potential new patient searches for a medical practice in your area, yours should be the first result presented at the top of the results page.
For best results, you need to have a search engine marketing plan in place, which includes an editorial calendar consisting of blog posts, content creation, and creative informational downloads (like the one you are reading now). Perform regular analyses of statistics, traffic volume, search terms, key phrases and conversions to ensure your practice is on track to rise to the top of the search results.
Local Search Engines and Directories
Online search is the primary method used by patients when they are looking for a new physician. It’s vital to make sure your practice is listed in all the major local search engines and directories. You can submit your business to each directory manually, one-by-one, or enlist the help of a citation building tool which enables you to list your practice to hundreds of directories at once. It also keeps track of any changes you make, (new hours, etc.) with updates across all directories instantly. It also keeps your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone) consistent on all listings, which is a signaling factor for search engines.
Google My Business Page
It is imperative that you claim and verify your Google My Business (GMB) listing. For the best results, you need to fully complete that GMB page and add lots of high quality photos, posts and updates. Make sure this listing includes your phone number, location, and hours of operation. Remaining active on your GMB page is rewarded with better search engine results from Google.
- Retargeting enables you to “follow” users who indicate an interest in your product or service as they move around the web. By tracking them with cookies, you get to show your ads to them on public sites such as Google and Facebook. This brings qualified leads to your pages and gives you an edge over competing medical practices.
- Online display ads on platforms like Google Display, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram are set to target specific types of users. You can select the geographical location, demographic profile and areas of interest for your local target market. You pay only for the ads that members of your audience click on, and you can set a fixed daily value that falls comfortably within your medical marketing budget. If done correctly, this can be a great lead generator for new patients. If you do this incorrectly, however, you can drain your daily-allocated budget quickly with nothing to show except click-throughs without measurable results. Developing a strategy for your niche can be quite tricky without marketing proficiency. You may want to consult with a qualified expert to create a tailor-made, cohesive plan for your practice which includes properly aligned ads, keywords, search terms, landing pages and tracking mechanisms to ensure conversions take place.
Join directories such as the American Medical Association’s (AMA) DoctorFinder, which contains more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. The system helps match patients with the right doctor for their medical needs, and provides professional information on almost every licensed physician in the country.
Having an active presence on social networking platforms helps to keep your current and prospective clients informed and engaged while helping to build critical relationships.
Social Media Posts Build Relationships
Social media is one of the best ways to develop an ongoing relationship with your clients. Make sure you create a Facebook page, Instagram account, LinkedIn profile, or whatever social platform that best engages your target audience. TikTok might not be the right place to find new geriatric patients, but could be the perfect platform to attract new teens to your orthodontic practice.
Regularly posting on different social networking platforms helps to keep your current and prospective patients informed and enables you to engage with them regularly. Build up your online community with daily updates, based on medical news and developments, practice happenings, and featured events and activities. Invite your followers to share your posts and ask questions, and make a point of responding at least once a week.
Whatever you post on your website, link to it on your social media as well. From blog posts to video clips, publishing content on your social networking profiles gives you the chance to reach audiences on these sites without additional expense.
Build your social profiles by posting regularly, commenting and engaging with your followers and friends. Use the same keywords you use in your blog posts as hashtags when you update social media. This makes it easier for the search engines to find you on these platforms.
An approach like developing a positive Facebook page is a great strategy for creating and maintaining valued relationships and also a way to attain new satisfied patients.
The second highest factor to increasing your local rankings is by collecting positive reviews. The right patient experience can translate into new patients when raving reviews are left on your company’s Google page or your practice is recommended on other sites. We can create review request campaigns for you to generate a flow of 5-star reviews.
Nextdoor is a digital form of word-of-mouth advertising. Incorporating Nextdoor into your healthcare marketing strategy helps you grow a word-of-mouth referral network. The stronger and more trusted your relationships are with customers, the better business can be. Make sure you claim your free Nextdoor business page and regularly post and interact with your area neighbors. Make it easy for your patients to submit testimonials or reviews via a form on your website. Post positive reviews and testimonials on social media and your website to show prospective clients how happy your existing patients are with your practice.
Reputation management is very important. Having a reputation management tool to help you display positive reviews is incredible for boosting your SEO. Make sure you respond to both positive and negative feedback or reviews. Don’t ignore any comments. Potential patients will see how you respond to either type of feedback and will notice that you took time to address concerns in a thoughtful manner. A marketing partner can discover where your online reputation needs a boost and take action on negative reviews faster so you can convert an upset client into a long-term one.
Use Medical Review Sites
Sites like HealthGrades and RateMDs are becoming increasingly popular for people looking for a new practice. They will often check these sites when researching a new doctor. Make sure you have a presence on these types of sites and collect positive reviews to post there.
Network with local providers, daycares, churches, and anyone else aligned with health care to build your list of contacts and referrals. Join local community organizations and network with their members whenever you can. If any non-profit organizations or community groups steer local residents towards health care, it offers opportunities for you to be of service, and get in front of new patients.
Get Involved In Your Community
Whether you donate your time, services, or money to a local charity or sponsor an area school team or event, make sure people recognize your practice as being involved in the community. You can attend local health fairs and offer free screenings or other services, or participate as a speaker in other related events.
Groups to Join
Some organizations found in most communities include:
- Chamber of Commerce
- Junior League
- Shriners, etc.
It’s useful to network with local churches and other religious organizations that you belong to, as they are often in a position to direct others to care and to greet new faces in town. If there’s an opportunity to sponsor a local school event or sports teams, take it if it fits in your demographic audience. If you have an orthodontic practice, a high school sponsorship ties in with students at the right age for possibly needing braces.
Seminars and Webinars
Offering to present talks and seminars at meetings covering health care issues is an excellent networking option. Prepare handouts on the content of the talk or seminar and make sure these contain your contact information, website and physical address. Be sure to video the event so you can add the clips to your website as multimedia content.
Webinars are the digital version of seminars, whether they are live or pre-recorded, and can support your online reputation and credibility as an expert in your medical specialty.
Network with local care providers, such as an obstetrician, if you are a fertility doctor, or connect with dentists that can refer patients to your orthodontic practice. These can be a valuable source of referrals, particularly in specific, niche markets.
#5: Create Content and then Create more Content!
Populate your website with strong content that offers solid information of value to users, whether they are existing or prospective patients.
Starting a blog on your site is one of the best ways to increase your search rankings. Your blog gives you the opportunity to regularly publish updated information developed around specific keywords you are trying to rank for. It’s also good to note that Google rewards websites that consistently add new content and images, so your website can rank higher on search engines as a result of frequently adding new blogs.
Blog posts should be informal pieces written from an analytical or opinion viewpoint, covering personal experience, health issues or news stories. They typically employ a conversational tone and are not marketing-focused. Make sure they read like a valuable article vs. an advertisement.
Video content attracts a lot of attention online and can benefit your medical practice marketing by providing free material on almost any health topic. Embed footage into your website content, link to videos published by other healthcare providers, or make your own clip using a webcam, smart phone or video recorder.
Video clips for your site should be short and to the point. They don’t usually require expensive actors, props or scenery. For example, a two-minute film of a physician giving details of a procedure or explaining the diagnosis of a specific condition is valuable content for a medical practice website.
YouTube is the second most popular search engine, with a huge selection of videos to choose from. Create a YouTube channel and share your videos with health tips and explain certain procedures or go over the special services you offer. Let viewers get to know you and become a thought-leader in your particular specialty!
Build up your email lists and keep current and prospective patients informed on what services you offer, new developments around your medical field, and any updates to your hours or overall practice changes, such as introducing a new doctor or nurse to your location. You should also use emails to send out appointment reminders and confirmations.
Email marketing systems like MailChimp or Benchmark allow you to target your audience so you only send emails to the people who can use the service or information you are delivering. You can also automate your email messages so the process of sending them out is not such a time-consuming burden.
Curate news articles about health, medical issues, technological advances and general wellness information from mainstream sites such as WebMD, and other reputable medical journals. Publish the headline and a short description of the article, followed by a link to the rest of the piece. This avoids duplication of the article and the risk of plagiarism, but still provides content for your site, keywords for search purposes and information for your readers.
A good content marketing strategy will help build the reputation of your practice as a resource for valuable information. This will generate traffic to your website, promote your services among your patients, and secure your position as an expert in your field.
#6: Traditional Marketing and Branding
Last but by no means least, the need still exists for traditional marketing such as brand development, print materials, press releases and direct mail campaigns. Although it’s more difficult to measure the results of traditional marketing, research shows 38% of respondents are more likely to find advertising credible if they see it in print, as opposed to online only.
Develop, design and print direct mail pieces, brochures, referral pads, business cards and educational booklets and display them in your practice as takeaways for patients. These enable existing patients to spread the word about your services without needing to use digital technology.
Offering this option is useful for older people who may not use smartphones or be online 24/7. It also gives you something to hand out at networking sessions, events, or at local festivals and trade shows.
If your practice is located in a busy area, you may want to consider buying space on a billboard. Strategically-placed billboards along major thoroughfares and highways increase the possibility of being seen by a great number of potential customers throughout the day. It will also create awareness for your practice if it is placed within a close proximity to your location.
Podcasts, Radio or Spotify
Contact your local news media and try to become their “go to” medical advisor for any health-related issues in the news. Build up a relationship with the local radio personalities, or relevant podcast hosts, so they know who to turn to when they need a guest for a show or an expert on a particular topic. Use the resulting content on your website, in your social media and your office. Or, consider sponsoring a podcast with topics that relate to your speciality or buy targeted Spotify ads.
Got anything newsworthy to report? Write a press release and let the local media know what’s happening at your practice. Do an email blast and promote it on your different social media channels. Make time for interviews with the local press so you can get exposure in your community.
A brand design and logo for your practice is as important as the type and caliber of care you provide. It should make your practice easily recognizable. A good brand design is your corporate face and the primary recognition factor that drives new patients to your door. Branding is the process of utilizing that logo, along with a myriad of other tools, to strongly position your marketing. Your branding should extend out to the look and feel or your facility and waiting area. Develop a consistent image across all areas of your practice, using the same colors, design, etc.
- Go Local. Build up your medical practice in the geographical area you serve by taking ownership of the local market. Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that incorporates multiple types of traditional and new media.
- Fortify your reputation as an expert. Become a resource for valuable information and advice, which will differentiate you from other medical practitioners in your community. Think about how your patients would try to find information about your services online, then create content to become a resource for them in all aspects of their quest for material regarding their issue.
- Open the lines of communication. Send out regular email blasts with valuable information and updates to your regular patients or prospective new ones. Your existing patients can be the key to gaining new ones by recommending you on Nextdoor or giving you 5-star reviews on Google.
- Be visible in the community. Consider sponsoring events such as public school fundraisers or athletic teams, produce free seminars, go on a podcast as an expert or submit articles to local news or reputable online forums regarding current events in healthcare.
- Don’t underestimate the power of blogging. A blog or timely article can be a traffic-generating machine to your website. Blog with a purpose and a strategy to get the most “bang for your buck.” Or task a marketing partner or professional writer with a healthcare background to help you create this content.
- Your brand matters. The foundation of a good marketing campaign is branding. Take time to solidify the look and feel of your brand, as well as create complementary messaging. Be consistent with your branding and messaging on everything related to your practice.
Benefits of Using a Marketing Agency for your Healthcare Marketing
All of these methods combined may seem overwhelming, and for the average practice owner or administrator it’s really too much for one person to achieve. The good news is you don’t have to go it alone. By connecting with a qualified marketing partner who can work with you to develop a plan, you minimize the pressure on your existing staff to implement it.
Marketing doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg and can be achieved by allocating a small percentage of your annual revenue. Depending on the maturity of your practice, we typically recommend:
- Growth/startups should assign 8-10% of annual revenue to marketing
- For moderate, ongoing growth, marketing budgets should be 5-6% of your annual revenue
- For mature practices who just want to maintain patient relationships, 3-5% of annual revenue should be sufficient
Define a comprehensive marketing program that focuses on results and ROI, fits into your existing budget, and provides you with an understanding of what you pay to acquire and keep a patient.
If you’d like to more effectively promote your local practice and acquire new patients, set up a free 1-hour consultation. We’ll analyze your business and share more ideas on what will work best for your independent practice.