The internet is increasingly able to provide patients with answers to all their healthcare questions instantaneously, making the healthcare landscape even more competitive than it already was. If you’re in the healthcare industry, it’s important to have a well-thought-out healthcare online marketing strategy to foster loyalty to your practice and continue to grow.
A strong online presence adds visibility and credibility to your business. By enhancing your visibility and credibility, you are making it easier for people to visit your website and move forward with an appointment.
By making it easier for your target audience to find you, more people will visit your website. Now you can set expectations for the experience they will have once inside your front door by showing pictures or, better yet, a 3-D tour of your office. This is just one (often-overlooked) strategy that makes a considerable difference in getting website visitors to book an appointment, rather than simply visiting your site. This alone can take you to a new stratosphere in your healthcare online marketing strategies. Here are the 9 keys to making this happen.
1. Implementing Proper SEO Practices
There are several ways to tackle your healthcare online marketing strategy, beginning with making your website more visible in online searches. By implementing Search Engine Optimization tactics, or SEO, you can improve your website’s ranking, thus bringing it up higher on the search results page.
Start by doing a simple search for your office using a variety of search terms. If you search the name of your practice, it is likely you will show up as the first result in Google. However, if you are a podiatrist in Los Angeles for example, and search “podiatrists in Los Angeles,” wherein the rankings do you show up? Without optimizing the copy on your website to naturally include popular search terms relating to your business, you likely won’t see very much traffic.
It has been reported by Moz, an SEO software company, that as high as 92 percent of all clicks come from the first page of search results. Another way to look at it is that only 8 percent of people even bother going to the second page of results. This proves just how vital it is to work relevant keywords into your copy (without keyword stuffing- which can actually hurt your rankings), in addition to links to other pages on your site, as well as backlinks from credible third-party sites. Claiming and updating your Google My Business page is yet another aspect of SEO that can drive up your website’s search engine rankings.
2. Establishing a Social Media Presence
Some of the best online marketing strategies for small businesses have been through social media campaigns. There are virtually no start-up costs (the accounts themselves are free), and the various channels are all relatively easy to use. By implementing social media as part of a healthcare online marketing strategy, you can create a more personalized connection to your business.
Don’t make social media all about you though- make it about your patients and followers! The biggest benefit to social media is that it allows for you to have two-way communications with your target audience in real-time. It is critical that you answer any questions and respond to comments- both positive and negative. Not only will you create a more loyal fan base, but you can also potentially turn unhappy patients into your strongest supporters! Here’s a link from Hubspot on expectations for social media responses- https://blog.hubspot.com/service/social-media-response-time
In regards to the content you post, make sure it is original and attractive. It should have a consistent look and feel to the rest of your online marketing, but the specific imagery you choose should be different in order to provide real value. We also suggest considering paid advertising features within each of the social platforms as well; if done properly it can provide a great bang for your buck!
By targeting the niche segment you’re looking to attract to your front door, you will get your message, and business, in front of those most likely to actually interact with it. Continue to keep up to date- new social media trends and channels are constantly emerging. Early adoption of innovative digital communication tools can go a long way in establishing and enhancing your online presence.
3. Don’t Tell Them You’re Amazing, Show Them
As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. What your website looks like should be an extension of what patients can expect from your practice. If your website is outdated, limited in information, slow to navigate and isn’t visually appealing, patients will likely leave your site relatively quickly to find a more reliable and professional provider.
Think of your website as part of your overall brand, so the effort and money you put into perfecting it will be critical. Another vital component of your website will be its responsive design, or how it will appear when viewed on a mobile device or tablet. With the number of searches being performed on mobile devices outweighing the number done from a traditional desktop computer, it is important that all of your content, images, and forms display properly when viewed on a smaller screen.
4. Create a Resourceful Blog
Blogging has become increasingly trendy these days, perhaps because they are a more informal way to build connections. Many times, people prefer to seek out blogs because they share personal opinions on insightful topics rather than straight selling like a website does. This has resulted in plenty of new online marketing ideas that focus specifically on this trend.
Blogs are definitely a trend that is here to stay and should be embraced as part of your online marketing strategies for small businesses.
Show that you are the expert in your field by providing answers to frequently sought-out questions or fears.
Make it a fun resource for patients to turn to.
Either way, it’s a great opportunity to build rapport with potential patients. Plus, you can boost both your online visibility and credibility.
Be sure to link back to your blog on your website and your social media channels, which provides an additional boost to your search.
5. Invest in Digital Advertising Campaigns
The best online marketing strategies for small businesses include digital ads in their budget.
If done correctly, you can verify the return on your investment.
Since Google is the place that most people begin their search, using their Pay-Per-Click (otherwise known as PPC) advertising is exactly as it sounds, you only pay for the ad if it is clicked on by a visitor.
The best-crafted healthcare online marketing strategy will include both Pay-Per-Click and display advertisements. These can direct traffic to your website or generate leads.
Advertisers control who sees their ads on Google. They can run multiple ads simultaneously, allowing them to test and decide which ad is more effective. This leads to more people preferring digital ads over traditional advertising mediums (i.e., magazines or billboard ads).
While Google handles the majority of online searches in the US, but there are other options available. With display ads, you can reach people after they search for your services on Google. Placing your ads on display sites means they will show up when people are searching on relevant websites (other than Google).
You can handpick which sites you want your ad to be served on. Since you know those visitors are further along in the research process, they tend to be very effective.
6. Promote Patient Testimonials
Sharing what others have experienced when visiting your practice is another key component of your healthcare online marketing strategy. Personal referrals (word of mouth references) are one of, if not the most important reason, someone tries a new company or practice.
Request that patients who use your services become your best advocates! Ask them to fill out a survey. Or leave comments on your website, write a review on your social media channels or any other relevant review sites.
Search for yourself on websites like healthgrades.com or vitals.com. Doing this will let you see if people are reviewing your services (sometimes without you knowing). Encourage patients to leave their feedback on these sites as well.
The higher the number of positive reviews you have, the more credible your practice will be perceived.
And the more likely new patients will be attracted to your practice.
7. Leverage Video Content
Visuals are highly stimulating. They’re also a way to show potential patients exactly what they can expect when choosing you.
By sharing videos, you can provide potential newcomers an idea of how well organized and trustworthy your practice is. Patients will feel familiar before they even step foot inside your practice. Videos of your office, staff, or explanations of your procedures and services are truly appreciated by new and long-time visitors. It can also make them feel more comfortable- and take away any fears of trying new providers.
Something as simple as a one-minute interview with each of the professionals in your practice can go a long way to securing new life-long patients.
In addition to your own website, share these videos on channels such as YouTube and Facebook! This way, they can be viewed and shared with others quickly and conveniently. This will also help boost your search engine visibility.
8. Seek Out Third-Party Publicity
Another way to build authority within the healthcare community and online is through third-party endorsements. People will listen more if someone else is saying you are the best doctor, versus you saying you are the best doctor.
Depending on the services offered, see if you can invite in journalists to experience one of your treatments firsthand. Not plausible? Try keeping an eye out for interview opportunities in which you can be listed by the writer as the expert on the subject matter.
Contributing to other reputable blogs or writing LinkedIn articles that can be shared by a multitude of people can also strengthen your visibility online.
Third-party endorsements from people known in your community can go a long way (depending on the kind of practice you have), as they tend to feel more personal to the audience.
Sometimes, celebrities or popular social influencers are used in marketing campaigns. If you decide to go this route, make sure they’re the right fit for your brand as well as the target demographics that will help your practice.
9. Track, Measure and Adjust Your Strategy
How do you know what is working for your business if you’re not constantly evaluating it? Any new online marketing ideas that you implement should be tracked, measured and constantly adjusted. It is also important to track and measure the return on investment from a budgeting perspective.
It can make sense to start with spreading your investment into various channels (i.e., Google + Facebook + Instagram) when launching your first campaign. This allows you to analyze the effectiveness of each channel, then funnel your advertising spend into the area that produces the greatest results. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to continue investing in an advertising campaign that isn’t yielding a high return for your practice!
Since trends can change overnight, you should have the flexibility to stay on top of, or better yet, ahead of them.
You want your content to feel fresh and up to date, so you should monitor and make adjustments constantly.
Overall, your healthcare online marketing strategy should be carefully planned- in advance. Focus on these nine key components. If you implement proper SEO practices, establish a social media presence, build a visually appealing website, create a resourceful blog, invest in digital advertising campaigns, promote patient testimonials, leverage video content, seek out third-party publicity and then track, measure & adjust your strategies, you will be able to connect with patients most likely to use your practice and stay ahead of your competition.
Stay consistent and committed to your healthcare online marketing strategy.
The investment will pay off many times over in so many ways.