Gone are the days of announcing the arrival of new providers in the local newspaper. Online marketing is the new king when it comes to spreading the word about your medical practice. Marketing your practice online has the potential to put your providers’ names in front of significantly more patients than print marketing ever could.
While digital marketing is not new to healthcare, it is rarely applied to its full potential. In this article, we’ll talk about the basics of online marketing and how even the smallest marketing budget can fund an effective digital marketing strategy.
Create A Budget For Digital Marketing
Digital and online marketing is the way of the future. My professional recommendation is to commit 90% of your current marketing budget to digital marketing. The remaining 10% of your budget should be reserved for the occasional print ad or mailer that would advertise a new provider or service being added to your practice.
While committing 90% of your overall marketing budget exclusively to digital marketing may sound extreme, you have to remember where most of your patients are looking for information these days. 3 out of 4 prospective patients search for a new medical provider online. Referring providers are also turning to online directories to search for quality specialists to care for their patients. You simply can’t afford not to advertise online.
Top 5 Digital Marketing Strategies For Medical Practices
1. Leverage Free Online Business Listings
The easiest and most straightforward free marketing opportunities are online directories. Online directories serve essentially the same purpose that phone books did back in 1980, but are all digitally available and can include more information about a listing such as office photos and patient reviews.
When signing up for online directories, always add as much information as possible. Be sure to go in a couple times a year to verify and confirm your information is accurate. This will be a top way for new patients to find your contact information, so make sure the phone number you have listed goes to a new patient line!
Some of the top online business listings for medical offices include:
- Google My Business
- Doctor Finder
2. Invest In A High-Quality Website
A word of warning – good websites are expensive! If you’re not familiar with the website industry, then the initial quote may take you by surprise. However, having a well-built website that looks professional and is easy to navigate will give patients a wonderful first impression of your office.
An average website build for a small to medium size practice will run about $8,000-$10,000. Building a website can be labor intensive for both the website designer and you! Be prepared to offer a lot of information such as services, clinical information, provider bios, operating hours, and photos of your office.
A website designer can only work with the information you are willing to give, so set aside a decent amount of time to ensure your money goes towards a fully customized website with a lot of content about your office!
3. Improve Your SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your website content to make it rank higher in the search engine results. Specific content can be created for your website that help it to rank for relevant keywords. Helpful content that encourages patient engagement can include:
- medical blog posts about specific conditions you treat
- informational posts about a service you offer
- photos of your office or staff
- videos showing an exercise related to your specialty
Start out content marketing by digitizing information you would normally hand to your patients in office. This information is directly relevant to what your office offers. SEO can be a highly effective marketing strategy to increase your practice’s online visibility to potential patients.
4. Market On Social Media Platforms
Some medical practices steer clear of social media, and I do understand the sentiment behind that with so much drama surrounding some platforms in recent years. However, social media marketing can be a helpful and low cost addition to your digital marketing efforts.
Choosing the right platform for your target audience is key to a successful social media campaign. Once you’ve identified your patient group, sign up and create a profile. Include images of your staff and office to show patients what they can expect.
Make sure you add as much accurate and relevant information you can to make your profile as informational as possible. Any content posted on social media will need to be reviewed prior to posting to ensure there is no unintentional sharing of personal health information.
5. Use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC is an advertising model in which the customer who is advertising will pay a fee for every click their ad receives. The ad will be shown when an internet user types in the keywords that were bid on for the ad. The higher the competition for those keywords, the higher the cost per click will cost.
PPC advertising does take a little knowledge up front to make sure you’re running a campaign that is effective and makes financial sense for your budget. PPC advertising can also be outsourced to agencies who specialize in this form of marketing.
If you serve a large region with more competition, PPC advertising may be a good method of digital marketing for your practice. Alternatively, if you are in a small, less competitive region, you’ll likely be able to get away with good SEO practices and not have to pay for a PPC campaign.
Digital Marketing For Doctors And Providers
Doctors are able to market themselves both as a qualified healthcare provider as well as a personality. Digital marketing can be a highly effective method for offering more information on a doctor’s personality and bedside manner that could be a competitive edge over other same-speciality providers in the area.
Make sure your practice’s website has a page dedicated exclusively to your healthcare providers. If you have ultrasound techs or specialized nurses, it is a good idea to include them as well.
Avoid professional headshots, and instead choose tasteful photos of them in a casual setting with their dogs or family. It is important to personify your providers so patients feel like they’re meeting with someone more personal than just a clinician.
Make Digital Marketing A Part Of Your Marketing Plan
Digital marketing for medical practices is the marketing plan for the future. If your office has not already invested in marketing online, this year is the year to do it. As medical marketing continues to grow and evolve, it will take place online. The bottom line is – if your practice’s marketing strategy is not digital, you will fall behind the competition in coming years.