Happy New Year! We understand that owning and managing a medical practice is stressful, busy, and full of never-ending paperwork and billing. This means that most medical practice owners don’t put much time into their marketing strategies, and the little time they do have leaves them feeling frustrated and confused about what works and what is a waste of resources.
That’s why RUNNER Agency specializes in medical practice marketing — we know what works, and we love to help grow practices through proven, cost-effective digital marketing strategies that drive real results.
Digital Marketing New Years Resolutions for Medical Practices
With the start of a new year, we hope that you’ll have an opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day rush and think about the last 12 months of your business.
- Were you profitable?
- Are you too reliant on referrals to gain new patients?
- Did you struggle to attract new patients? Did you have too many patients?
- Did you try anything new that worked great? That didn’t work out?
- What is your biggest business opportunity for the next year?
Once you know where you’ve been and the challenges you’ve faced, you’re ready to look ahead to 2020.
Although every practice is different, here are four ideas that could benefit every healthcare service provider, no matter where you are in your business’ growth cycle.
1. Test the Patient Experience
Time and time again, we talk to medical practices that have no idea what their patients experience when they interact with their practice. The easiest thing you can do to improve your digital marketing is to better understand what a patient goes through when they search for your business, read your website for the first time, call your office, or schedule an appointment.
Sometime in January 2020, try this simple exercise: set aside one hour to put yourself in a prospective patient’s shoes. Search Google and Bing for your business name. Try to find your practice on Apple Maps, Yelp, or Facebook, then use the directions from multiple tools. Visit the homepage of your website, imagining that the first few sentences were someone’s very first impression of you and your practice.
Next, actually reach out to your own business. Call the number that is listed in your Google My Business profile and on your website. See who answers, and listen carefully for how they are speaking to prospective patients. Listen to the voicemail inbox greeting after hours. Use your website to fill out a new patient form and see how long it takes to receive a call back to schedule.
After all of this, ask yourself: Is this process easy and intuitive? Does everything — from your home page headline to your outgoing voicemail message — communicate with empathy to the patient’s needs?
If so, great! If not, it’s time to make a plan to develop new, cohesive messaging that puts the patient experience at the forefront of your marketing efforts.
2. Start Advertising with Search
We know that advertising is often the key to increasing leads, but it has to be targeted toward those who are most likely to convert. We also know that people in need of medical care tend to want help quickly, and many are bypassing their primary care doctors and researching options on their own. (According to the Pew Internet Project, 80% of Americans used the internet within the last year to research topics about their health, including doctors, hospitals, conditions, and treatments.)
This makes search marketing an essential tactic for medical practices — someone who searches something like “IVF cost” or “spinal stenosis treatment” is someone that is looking for answers and is likely to convert once they believe that they have found one.
Because search is so important to a patient’s journey, you need to understand how your practice is appearing in relevant search results. Again, you should actually use Google to search for your practice and see how you are being displayed to the world. Is your website showing up when you look for need-based terms that a patient might search for? Is your business profile on Google correct?
You should also strongly consider starting to use search engines to advertise your healthcare business in 2020. Using Google and others, you can pay to make sure that your website shows up first when people are searching for relevant terms within your local area. This is an essential piece of any marketing strategy — because if you’re not buying those keywords and showing up in searches, your competitors certainly are.
3. Increase Your Medical Practice’s Reviews
We spend a lot of time and energy building beautiful, high-converting medical practice websites, content, and advertising. But we also know that online reviews are still one of the most trusted and frequently consulted sources for patients.
In 2020, you need to stop leaving patient reviews to chance. Instead, implement a thoughtful marketing strategy to get more reviews in places that are meaningful to prospective patients. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Automate Email Requests For Reviews
The best way to automate review collection via email is to use a customer relationship management system to create a workflow that will send an email request to patients individually after an appointment.
Use Your Office
Instead of trying to follow up the next day (or week, or month) after the appointment, use a tablet to collect reviews right away. Set up a tablet on a stand in your office and have the request to review pulled up in the browser. Remember, though, that it’s not enough to just add the tablet; make sure you include a sign to call out the purpose of the tablet, or have your front office let patients know it’s there.
Get Creative and Tell the Best Stories
Review sites aren’t the only way to tell your patients’ success stories. Pick a few meaningful patients and ask them if they can share their experience in a variety of engaging ways — create short videos for your website and social media, publish blog posts, do a PR campaign, add quotes to your website. People love to hear stories about other people who have overcome the struggles they’re currently dealing with, so be creative and get those stories out there!
4. Measure, Measure, Measure
All marketing requires an investment, and without a clear plan for how to measure the results and return, it’s difficult to justify the effort. The time and money you spend on digital marketing in 2020 need to be measured so that you can track exactly what return you’re receiving from your investment. Then, you can expand on what’s working well to bring in new patients and lower the priority of what’s not having an effect on your practice’s bottom line.
It can sound daunting, but there are really just a few key steps that you need to take in order to establish a foolproof measurement plan.
First, implement the technology needed to track your results and make sure it’s set up correctly. You or someone on your marketing team needs to set up goals in Google Analytics, conversion tracking for your ad campaigns, and call tracking so that you can know who is coming to your practice and how they got there.
Next, define key performance indicators. This doesn’t have to be any more complicated than three numbers: traffic (how many people visit your site), leads (how many people reach out to your practice, through calls or forms), and patients (how many people actually show up for an appointment).
Finally, set up a regular cadence for reporting and make the time to talk about results every month with the key members of your team. Try and make sure everyone in leadership understands how patients are finding you and what tactics are working the best.
Develop a Digital Marketing Strategy that Will Get Results in 2020
Creating a digital marketing strategy that consistently delivers a positive return on investment isn’t always easy, but it is worth the investment of time and other resources so that you can attract new patients and provide more billable services in the coming year. Every minute and dollar that you spend growing your traffic and converting leads into patients will result in positive outcomes for your business.
So, make 2020 your year to implement new digital marketing tactics! And, if you want to know more about how RUNNER grows medical practices, contact us here. We love to show people what we’ve learned in the last 10 years of healthcare marketing and learn more about how we can help leverage that experience to help you.
We also want to hear from you about how you’re using digital marketing to grow your business — what new tactic or tool are you going to try out in 2020? Let us know in the comments below or connect with us on Facebook to continue the conversation.