Traditional marketing efforts are no longer enough to serve your business and impact your patient growth. In order to keep up with the ever-changing digital world, healthcare practices and other businesses—of any size—must pivot and adjust based on patient interactions and feedback. In fact, 96% of consumers agree that customer service determines their loyalty to a brand.
And beyond the patient’s experience over the phone or in person, the patient journey begins online. 90% of patients read online reviews before they select a provider. If your online reputation isn’t an accurate reflection of your in-person experience, you’re missing opportunities for patient growth.
1. Update your Google listings for every location
Google searches containing the phrase “near me” have increased by 500% in the last few years. More than ever, people rely on their phones and Google to tell them where to go for healthcare services and they expect excellent experiences across all touchpoints and channels. Showing up in local search engine results is a crucial point of a prospective patient’s journey to your office.
To rank well in local search results you need to provide as much relevant information on your Google listing as possible. And to increase your star ratings, you need frequent, positive reviews.
To begin, search for your practice or business via Google. If a listing already exists, claim it and update or confirm crucial information such as your phone number, business hours, website, services, pictures, and address. If your listing does not exist, create one through Google My Business. The more information you can provide for your profile, the easier it is for patients to consider you an option in their search for a healthcare provider.
Adding click-to-text features through Google Messaging or Apple Business Chat can also quickly turn consumers from your listing into patients. You can automate bots to answer FAQs coming in through text.
2. Pay for digital advertising
A clear path to patient growth is running paid Google Ads. But before you run ads, it’s important to define your overall goals, define your service and message, do your keyword research, and set a personalized budget recommendation for your ad. These best practices all boost the likelihood of consumers finding you on the web and converting as patients.
Behind Google, YouTube is the second most visited site on the web, with a daily average use of over 19 minutes. YouTube Ads connects you with a trusted independent party of your choice to create a completely custom campaign. Be sure to specify the following details:
- Campaign type: image ad or video ad
- Production budget: under $500, $500 – $5k, $5k – $10k, over $10k
- Service model: self-service or managed service
- Offerings: animation, motion graphics, voice over, filming, edit existing assets, stock images/video
- Turnaround time: minutes, days, weeks
As with other forms of digital advertising, a huge bonus of YouTube Ads is that you only pay when people choose to watch and/or engage with your ad. This could include watching an ad over 30 seconds, choosing not to skip, or clicking on a card or banner with a call to action. This way, you’re only paying for what is most likely to convert—when patients show interest and click for more information.
Facebook is another common place to advertise. And you don’t have to be a marketing pro to figure it out. The website will walk you through the basics:
- Choose your objective: What is it you’re trying to accomplish with this ad?
- Select your audience: Use specific demographics to target your audience
- Decide where to run your ad: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, other apps on mobile devices
- Set your budget: Set a time frame and a limit you’re comfortable with
- Pick a format: Video, banner ad, single image, slideshow
- Measure and manage your ad: Watch to see which of your ads are effective and how you can adjust them as necessary
As the #1 most popular social network, Facebook is a promising way to reach your audience of prospective patients and raise awareness of your services.88 Ways to Attract and Acquire New Patients
Whether your platform is Google, Youtube, Facebook, or even local television, paid advertisements are one of the surest ways to reach your ideal audience and achieve specific goals like driving traffic to your website, raising brand awareness, and boosting your search engine results.
Before you spend money on paid advertising, remember this: understanding your ideal patient will make your spending more effective. Start there first and then consider your paid advertising options.
3. Increase your social media presence
Social media also provides an excellent (and free!) platform to showcase your expertise and become an authoritative and personal source of information regarding current health issues, trends, and practices. And if you’re interested in paid advertising on any of your social platforms, improving your presence on the platform first will increase the effectiveness of your ad spend.
The average user spends almost two and a half hours every day on social media. And 88% of health consumers under the age of 40 reports that they will choose their next medical provider based on a strong online presence. A solid social media presence is a great way to reach and engage with prospective patients.
Additionally, content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less. Video content in particular is the reigning champion of generating new prospective patients and appealing to social media users. 66% of consumers prefer watching a video over reading to learn about a product or service. Though, keep in mind that 92% of consumers watch videos on mobile devices with the sound muted, so captions are important to get your message across.
The social media platform(s) you choose might vary based on the type of practice you have and the audience you’re trying to reach. (Tik Tok might not be the platform to reach people searching for nursing homes, but Facebook might be.) Each social media platform has its own benefits and audiences you can reach. After defining the demographics of your target market, some options to consider might be Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, or Youtube.
No matter what platform you choose, however, some strategic points to keep in mind with your business’ social media page are this:
- Provide value in every post or interaction
- Be clear about your services or offerings
- Engage with local communities and other brands for more awareness
Social media serves as a highly public place to raise awareness of your services in an authentic way that current patients can participate and share within their social circles.
4. Start a blog
As popular as videos may be, blogs are still a valuable resource to provide information at a glance that consumers are seeking anyway (at a rate of over 1 billion health-related Google searches a day). Starting a blog can improve your SEO visibility and broaden your reach online.
Search engine results are based not on the amazing in-office care you provide or your credentials, but by the number of “indexed pages” your website has. Every blog you publish on your website boosts that number. Companies that utilize blogging have an average of 434% more indexed pages. This directs more people to your site who are likely to convert. Blog posts also provide content to share on your social media platforms and increase patient trust by 78%.
Blog topics can include tips for health and wellness, reports on the latest health trends, and answers to common questions and concerns. Furthermore, addressing specific topics in long-form provides an opportunity to reach niche audiences and queries, and generate 9x more leads than short-form content. From there, patients can be as close as one click to scheduling an appointment or requesting more information through your website.
Consider researching local SEO terms that would benefit your business. Create clusters or multiple blogs around a specific topic and you’ll increase your chances of showing up in the first-page search results.
5. Ask for reviews
Positive public reviews are crucial in the process of patients choosing their healthcare providers.The more quality reviews you can generate and respond to, the better. It’s no longer enough to provide the best care possible—now, your reviews have to prove it if you want to acquire more patients.
You can ask for reviews in a variety of ways: automated text messages or emails, direct mail cards with instructions on how to submit a review, a phone call, or even social media direct messages. However you do it, make it part of your patient experience and standardize it so you have the opportunity to capture a review from every patient who will write one. And take note, you might have more luck if you ask via text message—open rates are as high as 98% for texting vs. 20% for emails.
6. Set up a referral system
Word-of-mouth testimonials are not a thing of the past. 91% of consumers agree that family members and friends are important resources when researching a new product or service. And 83% already report making a recommendation to family or friends. Personal reviews or recommendations made on social media can still function as word-of-mouth marketing, as many recommendations are moving digitally.
The reward for referring a friend or for being referred to your clinic will likely vary based on industry practices and local regulations, but it’s an important way to let patients know that you appreciate their support.
Setting up a referral program doesn’t have to be challenging. Decide on your parameters for a referral, select the specific reward, and alert your patients to your new program. If you already have a communication channel open with your patients, like text messaging for feedback and scheduling, use it to deliver the details of your new referral program.
7. Reach out to the community
There are multiple opportunities and strategies to reach out to your community and boost awareness about your practice or clinic. Some ideas include:
- Host an educational health webinar
- Sponsor a future community event
- Send a newsletter to surrounding businesses
- Provide scholarships to students in the fields relating to your practice
- Cross-promote with a local grocery store
- Facilitate virtual healthy living challenges
- Give away free swag through a local radio station
Patient trust has been declining across all industries. Reaching out to the community is a simple way to demonstrate that you care and that you are a company people can trust.
8. Optimize your landing page with web chat
After a prospective patient lands on your website, they’ve already virtually raised their hand to say, “I’m interested in what you have to offer.” Be sure your website is prepared to help potential patients find the information they need to make a decision. Your website should be easy to navigate, clearly ask patients to make an action (like call or click here to make an appointment), and offer an easy option to connect to your office (like web chat).
As soon as patients land on your website, web chatbots can act as personal agents, answering questions and providing relevant information when patients are ready, not just when your staff is in office. And, with the right web chat platform, you can convert web conversations into text conversations—an on-the-go solution for busy patients.
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- Save time – manage all communication channels and separate systems through a single, secure platform.
- Convert leads – attract the right patients with higher local search rankings and relevant reviews.
- Delight patients – a multi-channel, frictionless patient journey from first impression to post-visit.