It is a tumultuous time for physician practices. On the one hand, there is incredible opportunity: the internet allows for an incredible amount of exposure, and the ability to reach your patients like never before. If you have your ducks in a row you can capitalize on the huge amount of information people are looking for regarding their conditions. However there are also significant threats: consumers now have more power than ever – a disgruntled patient or employee can ruin your online reputation in days, and they have much more time to spend on it than you do.
We pulled together a list of tried-and-true tools that we’ve used for our physician clients in the past to help them grow their business and protect their reputation online. Regardless of if you are a small private practice or a large department of a hospital, you can use the tools below to improve the effectiveness and return on your marketing dollars:
- Website Redesign – When was the last time your website was redesigned? In just the last 2 years we’ve had 3 HUGE Google updates (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) that have revolutionized best practices for web design and content. Now there are huge opportunities to beat your competition (HTML5, Mobile Optimization), but also harsh penalties if your website isn’t optimized.
- Google Adwords – Google Adwords has been around a while, so how can it still be a tool for crazy growth? For one, many physician practices still aren’t using the gold standard for finding qualified patients. Why is Adwords considered the “gold standard?” In a nutshell, it’s the only consistent way to capture people that are ready to make a purchase decision. In your case, that means it’s one of the only reliable ways to directly connect you with someone at the time they are looking for a practice to visit. Of course the best way to connect with a patient is before they even have an issue. By being a trusted source of information, patients won’t even look anywhere else when they have a need – they already have a relationship with your practice!
- Social Media – Social media, besides creating entirely new media that changed the way people interact with brands, has also begun to upend other industries. For example, did you know that social media signals are some of the most important ranking factors that help your website show up in search engines? So now, in addition to being a powerful venue for communication in-and-of-itself, social media is now a huge influence in search rankings. What’s more, the advertising options within social platforms allow for entirely new targeting parameters to find and reach your audience. For example, by using Facebook Advertising we can target people within 10 miles of your practice, who are connected to people who already like your page (so there is powerful social proof), within a certain age range. You can’t do that on Google Adwords!
- Patient CRM – You are already managing a database of patients that you have, but what about people that never became patients? Are you staying top-of-mind so that when they do need help they come to your practice? If you aren’t measuring and managing people in the different stages of the consumer decision-making process, then you are not going to have powerful and targeted communications.
- Email Marketing – Strongly aligned with your CRM (above), even a simple email marketing program can achieve incredible results. It is by far the cheapest way to reach your audience, and they all have some degree of a relationship with your practice already, so your messages have higher engagement and attention. Best of all, companies like MailChimp are user-friendly (and they also have a free version), so pulling together a campaign is pretty straightforward.
- Physician Directory/Listing Sites – This is probably the easiest tactic for you to set up in the short-term, and one that will reliably return new customers with almost no investment on your part. Simply apply to list your practice on sites like ZocDoc and HealthGrades, go through the approval process, and sit back and enjoy the new patients! Ok, so there is a little more work involved than that, but it’s mostly just keeping your information up to date, and proactively getting your happy patients to write reviews so that people know you provide quality service.
Now that you know the tools at your disposal, you need to use them! Depending on your practice’s situation, certain tactics will be more important than others. If you don’t know where to start, run our free website analysis, where we give you insight into the search engine optimization, technical underpinnings, social media impact, online reviews, and other aspects of your online presence. Or, if you have any specific questions just shoot us an email here. Good luck! Let us know if you have any questions or comments.