Ideally, healthcare marketers should have a hunter’s mentality. This means they must be quick and shrewd enough to attract and retain new patients in order to successfully compete in this challenging medical practice marketing landscape.
Medical practice owners spend hundreds and thousands of marketing dollars building strategies, writing content, attending local networking events – all with the primary aim of attracting new patients. They make reminder calls, send mailers and promote services on different platforms just to attract patients. These time-tested tools have been serving healthcare marketers pretty well. But now, the times are changing. Now, people are ready to research online, seek referrals from family and friends and even hop from one practitioner to another until they find what they were looking for.
Why Your Practice Needs a Strong Online Presence
Because having an online presence can make or break your medical practice, especially small local practices. Because if a potential patient is able to find your website and all the service information effortlessly, he or she will be happy to book an appointment with you. Having an online presence is not only beneficial for your practice – it is also one of the best things you can do for your target audience.
While it is true that many small practices do not have a ton of resources to spend building a robust online presence, having no time should not be one of those problems. A robust online presence includes a simple website that has original and relevant content, a few social media profiles to alert your patients about updates, a blog where you can write every week and an updated business listing on Google My Business. The time dedicated to building and maintaining an online presence for your practice is time well spent.
One of the biggest reasons for building an online presence is that your competitors are probably building one, too. If a potential patient is trying to Google your practice in your city or area and you are nowhere to be found, then he or she will have no way to contact you for an appointment or with an inquiry. Even worse, the searcher may come across your competitors’ websites and contact them instead.
While the online search might be a quick way out for your potential patients, being found online can be a challenge for healthcare marketers. This is because marketers have to compete with hundreds of similar local medical practices vying for a place on the first page of search engine results. Unfortunately, simply building an expensive website and waiting for patients to break down the door of your practice is not enough anymore. Your brand name must appear on the first page of search engine results. But how can you do it?
Make Your Practice Easy to Find Online
When potential patients are searching for a new healthcare practice online, you want to make sure you are at the top of that list.
Your online presence is comprised of three factors that determine how potential patients find you in a search:
1. The content you create, including social media posts, blogs and a website, and that gets displayed as links in search engine results.
2. User-generated content such as patient reviews and testimonials on third-party sites such as Healthgrades and Yelp.
3. Social mentions of your medical practice.
Here are four simple tips to help you ensure that your existing and potential patients can easily find your practice online.
1. Build (and Update) Your Website
Keep your website simple and to the point. Simplifying your healthcare website will make it easier and more efficient for searchers to find details about your practice, such as an address, business hours, contact details and services offered.
Your website is one of many tactics to help promote your practice. And if your practice does not offer online sales, there’s no point in making potential patients spend more time on your website than it takes to find out your contact information and the services you offer.
The next step to being found online by prospects is making sure your website is SEO-friendly. It is important to cast a wide net with a lot of informational content about who you are, what services you offer and why patients should come to you.
Having an FAQ or blog page is a great way of capturing a lot of keywords naturally. Often, potential patients will conduct a search using the same question as keywords that you might have on your FAQ page. That’s emotionally intelligent SEO – it is about creating content around situations that your target audience cares about.
Another crucial step that can make it easier for potential patients to find your practice is making sure your website is mobile-friendly.
2. Invest in Advanced SEO Activities
The majority of online searches start with entering a keyword in a search engine. Even if your services are of high quality and your prices are low, if potential patients cannot find your medical practice online, then you practically do not exist. You will never be able to grow your practice.
SEO is a selection of techniques that can be used to get your medical practice website ranking higher on search engine results. The majority of potential patients only consider the first two pages of search results when searching for a new healthcare provider. If they do not find what they are looking for on the first two pages, a sizeable section of your potential patients will try a different search term, or maybe they will find your competitors.
Effective SEO ensures that the right elements and relevant content are in the right places on your website, including titles and meta-descriptions. If a potential patient does not know your website URL or your practice at all, embracing effective SEO techniques will give you an edge over competitors. Investing time and effort to embrace SEO will reflect in your page views and, ultimately, your bottom line. The more eyes you can get on your practice website, the better.
3. Strengthen Social Media Presence
Based on your healthcare marketing strategy and the nature of your practice, decide which social networks you will use. When creating profiles on social networking sites, including in-depth information to make them effective, your social media marketing strategy will make your practice name easily recognizable with higher chances of turning followers into patients.
You can also strengthen your social media presence by providing patients more than necessary information about your practice and services. By posting on your social media profiles, you can give a taste of your core values, personality and wellness goals for patients. This will help turn website or social profile visitors into patients. In addition to social media networks, you can consider building a presence on online reputation management sites such as Yelp and Healthgrades. Your existing patients can post reviews of your services on these sites and help potential patients learn more about you.
4. Acquire Online Patient Reviews
Online reviews are one of the best ways to boost your online presence. Anything your existing patients are saying about your practice will carry more credibility than what you say about your own brand through paid media. Encouraging online reviews is an excellent way to promote your services and increase your credibility. Your practice may get less-than-positive online reviews from time to time, but you must regard reviews as valuable feedback and an opportunity to improve your services or the patient experience. There are sites such as Google My Business and Yelp where you can list your practice and acquire online patient reviews.
Many small medical practices were already established long before the search engines and thrived purely on word-of-mouth and referral business for decades. Why would they make an effort to establish an online presence?
Well, some practices may not have changed over the years, but patients – and the way they search for healthcare facilities – have changed drastically.
When a new patient finds you through a search engine, when potential patients see engagement on your Facebook page, when a prospect subscribes to your email list or when someone finds out about your practice through word-of-mouth, you know you are doing something right. Maintaining a strong online presence is worth the effort because it pays off in many attainable, measurable ways.