March 7, 2012

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March 7, 2012

March 7, 2012

7 Ways to Improve Your Medical Practice Marketing (and Stop Wasting Dollars!)

Developing a plan that will help improve your practice’s bottom line and financial stability is essential to your long-term success. To help you start off on the right foot, here are seven ways to help you stop wasting marketing dollars in 2012 and ensure that your practice is bringing in a steady supply of new patients and revenue.

1. Set realistic goals
Do you have a marketing budget or do you simply keep adding to your existing marketing? Most practices do not have the tools or time necessary to develop a strategic marketing plan, but this initial step is crucial. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you get there? Take some time to think about your goals for your practice this year. This one simple step will give you and your staff direction and focus as you map out your marketing strategy for the remainder of the year.

2. Examine your marketing effectiveness
Once you have set goals, examine your current advertising and marketing to see what’s really working and what’s not. Are you asking your patients how they heard about you? Failing to track and monitor your marketing channels is the #1 way to unnecessarily waste marketing dollars. You can avoid this easily by implementing the right tools and using dedicated phone numbers to track the origin of calls to your office from every source – Internet, social media, print advertising, referrals, etc..

3. Embrace the Internet
Many practices have relied on patient referrals and yellow page ads for decades. But today, most patients are taking to the web to do their own research online. Make sure that you have more than a basic presence. Do you have someone to do real SEO for you? Is someone managing your pay per click ads? Who is handling your social media channels? These are all essential questions that you must ask. Statistics show that 80% of Internet users look online for health information – numbers you cannot ignore.

4. Manage your online reputation
The importance of managing your online reputation cannot be stressed enough. There are now at least 15 websites including HealthGrades, Vitals, Google RateMD, Citysearch and Yelp that you must consistently monitor. Your patients are becoming more web-savvy medical and dental consumers who are interested in your background and services. One bad online review has the potential to influence a potential patient’s decision-making process. Be proactive by using outlets like organic SEO and social media to your advantage. When you do receive a negative review, do everything possible to remedy the issue or correct the problem with that patient.

5. Manage your staff
If you are a plastic surgeon or have a med spa, it is your staff’s job to get as many qualified leads as possible scheduled into your practice. It then becomes your job to close the sale. Getting them into the office initially is the hardest part though. Make sure you spend adequate time training your staff on handling patient inquiries. If your office personnel does not have the right phone skills or isn’t asking the right questions, you may be losing a number of appointments and patients every day.

6. Nurture your “leads” (think patient inquiries!)
and turn them into patients. When an inquiry comes to your website via a phone call or form submission, it is important that you obtain an email address. Email is a cheap but effective way for you to stay relevant with your prospects until they are ready to become paying patients. We find that most practices send an auto responder that says “thank you for your request and someone will call you soon.” That is NOT marketing. It’s just an annoying email that offers no relevant information to inquirer’s needs. Instead, you should implement an email campaign. Your email-marketing program should have 4 to 5 emails for each procedure or service that you offer. Each email in a campaign should be time released to provide procedure-specific information over time to segmented groups of potential patients. The goal is to remain in front of these prospects, engage them with useful content and establish trust, so that when they are ready to schedule, your practice is fresh and foremost in their minds.

7. Get everyone involved
Hold a group session with your staff to help everyone understand your goals and what your lead management cycle will entail. Your marketing effectiveness is only as strong as your weakest link, so you must ensure that your marketing sources, your front desk, your email campaigns and your social media are all aligned with each other in a cohesive effort.

myPracticeBuilder is a unique practice management system developed to track 100% of your marketing, track and improve your staff’s performance and completely automate your email marketing program. For more information about staff training, mystery shopping and automated patient acquisition/satisfaction and ROI tracking systems, call Practice Builders at 800.679.1262.

7 Things You Should Know About Pay-Per-Click Marketing

If you are like most healthcare practitioners, you are short on spare time, spare cash and patience for achieving results. You want more bang for every dollar you spend to attract new patients. You may have heard about “pay per click” advertising, and you might be curious about how it can work to your benefit,

Pay-per-click (PPC) is one of many forms of Internet advertising. You may have noticed every time you’ve done a web search of your own that two kinds of results come up on search engines such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing. The paid results are typically listed first or highlighted down the right side of the search page, separate from the unpaid results.

1. How does PPC work?
PPC is all about keywords. When you set up your account with Google or another search engine, you choose keywords or phrases related to your services. You then create a simple ad with a title or headline, a subheading and a short description of your service. When someone searches using one of your selected keywords or phrases, your ad is displayed. The position of your ad is determined by how much you bid for the keywords.

2. How much does PPC cost?
Each time someone clicks on the paid results at the top or the right hand side of the search page, the advertiser is charged a fee. Fees are based on the number of keywords you use and the bid price you pay for each keyword after bidding against other advertisers. Some search engines also charge a set-up fee for your PPC account. Otherwise, you pay only your pre-set bid price each time someone clicks on your ad. PPC also makes it easy for you to budget – you specify how much you want to spend on PPC each day.

3. What if I’m on a tight budget?
Unlike many other forms of advertising, PPC gives the small advertiser a chance to compete with and even beat the bigger spenders. The more specific your keywords, the less expensive they will be and the more targeted your traffic will be. For example, if you have a gastroenterology practice don’t buy the keywords “digestive disorders.” That’s way too general to be successful. Instead, use something more specific to your services, such as “upper GI endoscopy.” You’ll get more relevant click-throughs.

4. Should I advertise online?
Yes. Most PPC services offer what’s known as geo-targeting. In other words, you can restrict your PPC ads to local areas from which you typically draw most of your patients. Geo-targeting is perfect for most medical practices who expect to draw patients from a particular area or region, or are interested in attracting patients from an area outside their local target.

5. Will PPC work along with other ads?
Yes. PPC is one of the most easily controllable forms of online advertising. You can turn it on and off quickly and easily to match your needs and your ability to fulfill new patient inquiries. It is flexible enough to be turned on and off and help you fill typically quiet or slower periods in your practice.

6. How do I know that PPC is working?
You will know immediately which ads are delivering results. You will know from your search engine reports how many people have clicked on your ads. If you track visitors to your website, you will also see if they went on to make appointments, too.

7. How do I begin with PPC?
Start with the search engines you are familiar with – Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter are among the most popular ones. You can try a small budget on each one and then compare to see which yielded the best results.

To learn more about PPC advertising and other forms of Internet marketing, including SEO, web hosting and social media programs, call 800.679.1262 today and speak to a Practice Builders consultant.

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