Digital marketing is talked about constantly but rarely clearly defined in plain English.
So here it is: Digital marketing is the way businesses connect with potential clients on the Internet and through the use of technology. It utilizes a well-built website, search engine optimization, content marketing, marketing funnel, social media, online advertising, email marketing, online reviews, and reputation management.
I’m going to break down digital marketing and explain what each facet is and how a doctor can use each one to help acquire new patients and grow their practice.
- What Does Digital Marketing Encompass?
It sll dtarts with your website. Most digital marketing efforts will drive potential patients to your website. Do you have a website that will help potential patients feel comfortable with you as the healthcare provider? Does your website make them trust you for the medical care they need? This is extremely important.
If your marketing efforts are successful in driving traffic to your site, but it doesn’t convert visitors to patients, you’re wasting your money on advertising and marketing. And your website is not well designed!
A well built, deeply researched, and well-written website will improve the success of all of your advertising. If you also participate in traditional advertising like TV, radio, postcards, etc. Many of those people will go to your website before calling to schedule an appointment.
Review your website with an open mind. Is it informative? Does it show that you are a capable, caring, and successful doctor without verbalizing it...nobody likes a boaster. Visual marketing is very important. Here’s a good example of a site that does this very well: Carolina Pure Wellness
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is an important component in low-cost patient acquisition. Having a website that converts visitors to patients is a big step in your success, but if no one can find that site... what good will it do?
Having your site well established in the search engine ranking pages (or SERPs) for relevant and well-searched terms will bring you some of the least expensive and most well-qualified visitors possible. Think about the type of person that finds you in the SERPs. They went to the Internet to find a solution to a problem and found you. You are not trying to find them with some type of advertising and then convince them that they should come to see you for care. They searched for a doctor in your area to address a healthcare concern that you are well equipped to treat.
A recent study done by Pew Research stated that 8 out of 10 (of the 90 million people in the United States) that use the Internet start with search engines when they seek information on health-related issues. Are they finding you? If they aren’t, they’re finding and likely going to, one of your competitors.
- What is Content Marketing?
Content is really important. Well researched and well-written content will create new patients. The content on your website must be very informative and written in such a way as to entice visitors to become appointments and ultimately, patients.
Website content is not the only content that you should consider. Content marketing is talked about as part of most digital marketing strategies.
A well-written piece of content can go viral, and that can bring many new patients to you...even some from far away. A doctor that we work within Texas has had patients from as far away as Saudi Arabia and sees patients from other parts of the US fairly often. Part of this success comes from her content being found far and wide on the Internet. This site sees more than 3000 visitors monthly, and the flow of new patients is nothing short of incredible.
Content marketing for a doctor takes several forms. The one that most are familiar with is accomplished using social media, which we will talk more about below. Imagine a video of a person talking about his or her experience with your care. He or she will talk about how it helped heal them and got rid of the pain they suffered from a torn rotator cuff.
A story is told. The story starts at the beginning with how active the person was before the injury. The patient talks about how he or she loved to play golf and play in the yard with the grandkids, but couldn’t do any of the things they loved after the injury. Sleeping was near impossible, and even getting dressed was extremely painful. Then the patient met you! The story turns to a pain-free life where the patient enjoys golf and playing with their grandkids again, etc. Potential patients can relate to the person in the video and are likely experiencing similar pain and suffering that they would love to address successfully. This can be far more effective than the doctor talking with them about their issues. The right content marketing strategy can be gold. This content will also work very well in your marketing funnel - we’ll look into that below.
- Social Media Marketing
So many people simply post on the practices Facebook page, and maybe Instagram, and think they are social media ninjas. They sit back and wait for the newly found patients to swarm the practice. But...crickets...like a hot summer night in the country...not much going on.
Social media posting is awesome, but how many people are actually seeing the post? And are they becoming patients? For most practices, the answer is few see it, and they are already patients.
Social media marketing means more than posting. It often includes low priced Facebook ads to grab attention and capture people that have what we would call “mild interest” or top of funnel content. This means raw, slightly qualified traffic. Let’s be honest. These people weren’t looking for a doctor like you. Most likely, you popped up in the middle of them looking at funny cat videos or their friend's pictures of grandkids on vacation. This doesn’t mean that the person may not be a prospective patient. It just means they will need a little work. That work can be accomplished with a well-designed marketing funnel.
- What is a Marketing Funnel?
A funnel is a follow-up program, and this is one of the biggest things missing in most medical marketing strategies. In fact, it's missing in most digital marketing strategies across most industries. Here’s how it works. You have visitors coming to your website from SEO, Facebook ads, and Google Adwords - it doesn’t matter where they come from. A certain percentage of those people will become patients on the first visit to your site. A successful site will convert 10% of search visitors and 3-5% of visitors from ads. Unfortunately, most sites convert 2% of search traffic and 1.5% of traffic from paid ads. This leaves many people behind that could be patients but are not yet coming to see you. These numbers are why many doctors have had bad experiences with marketing. Too many people didn’t convert!
With a properly designed marketing funnel, we capture the email address of a percentage of the people that didn't convert to patients. We do this by offering an irresistible piece of content that they can’t resist and are willing to trade their email address for. The funnel then goes to work. It emails very specific information to the potential patient at designated intervals until they either become a patient or we reach the time that we decide they aren’t ever going to convert and remove them from this campaign. We do this through what is called a drip campaign.
The drip campaign is extremely extensive as it may contain 30 to 100 emails or more. The funnel is built to react to the behavior of the recipient. If the person opens or clicks on the link in email one, they will continue to receive this email sequence that is specific to their interest. If they don’t open or click any email until... let’s say email 5...they may be moved to an entirely different string of emails that aligns more with the interest that we uncovered by their behavior. Marketing funnels and follow-up programs are one of the most effective digital marketing strategies a doctor can utilize.
- Digital Advertising
We touched on Facebook ads above, but Google Adwords, and in some cases, Microsoft ads (formerly Bing ads) can work very well. The key to success if offering something better and more compelling than your competitors are offering. And, I’m here to tell you that doctors are competitive. Don’t forget, the way to make all of your advertising and marketing more effective is to get the people that don’t immediately convert into your funnel.
- Email Marketing
Be honest, how many times do you email to your patient list? It’s a well-known fact in business that the easiest people to sell a service to are people that already have done business with you. We work with many doctors that have recently gotten into some new form of care. They have a good sized patient base and do not want to wait until the patients next appointment so they can share their new services with them.
You can add your current patients to a separate drip campaign in your funnel and email them regularly. This does several things:
- You are not just there when they have a healthcare issue and this helps with patient retention.
- You are helping your patients with information that may help them avoid an issue in the future...again, excellent patient retention strategy.
- You are creating opportunities to bring these patients in for new services that help them with healthcare issues and increase your revenue. Everyone wins!
Patients can be segmented in the drip campaign to narrow down the content of interest to them. They don’t all have to get one standard email sequence. If you know a patient has a back issue - they will receive emails about back pain relief. Patients with shoulder pain would get shoulder pain content, and candidates for aesthetics may get emails about non-surgical facelifts or wrinkle reduction. Everyone would get your major announcements and Holiday greetings etc. This is all done without you having to be involved or worry about it in the least.
- Reviews and Reputation Management
Everyone knows how important good reviews are online, and we all know how a bad review can seriously hurt you. So be proactive! I’m not saying that your front desk team says, as the patient departs… "Don’t forget to give us a Google review". This isn’t going to generate more than a scant few reviews annually. One doctor had his staff hand every patient a card with instructions on how to review them. The funny thing is, that the happy ones lost the card but the unhappy seemed to find it every time. This was a bad strategy.
A proper strategy to get reviews will give you control. We give our clients that participate in this program, a Chromebook loaded with an automated review program. The staff makes sure the patient is happy then asks them to spend a moment with the staff member doing a review. The staff assists the patient. This is critical. The review goes through the system before it is posted to check for accuracy, no foul language, etc. When all is approved, it is posted on your website and online.
There are many ways to do reviews, but this one really works. It works for several reasons.
- The process is controlled.
- These reviews are posted on major healthcare review sites like HealthGrades, Vitals, Wellness.com and more. This is a critical component of your success.
- Many people search for healthcare review sites before selecting a doctor so they can see what others have to say about that doctor.
These reviews often come up when a potential patient searches the provider's name online. They have a tendency to come up above other sites that may have negative reviews. Thus the reputation management component.
Here is a little background on Just Click It Digital Marketing. We are one of the largest and most successful digital marketing agencies for the medical community. Our senior staff speak at healthcare conferences monthly and teach doctors how to acquire large numbers of patients that are prospects for the services that they provide.
This is what we do daily to bring in new patients at a reasonable cost of acquisition for the practices that have selected us as their digital marketing agency.
Best Digital Marketing Agency For You Specializes in Medical Marketing
There are many digital marketing agencies for you to choose as the agency for your practice. The best fit for a medical practice, or any business for that matter, is an agency that understands your goals. The perfect agency may even help you establish those goals and understands your area of practice. The best digital marketing agencies specialize in a niche. No agency can know all things about all types of business. An agency that specializes in your industry knows what you need to be successful. They can create the best content and marketing funnel for you because they do it for many others and know exactly what works and what doesn’t. They have researched your industry so well that when they speak, you know they know your area of practice. They can bring you creative ideas that are proven to work...not just a hypothetical.
At Just Click It Digital Marketing, we specialize in digital marketing for healthcare practices. We are happy to share samples of our work with you and offer you the opportunity to speak with doctors that work with us before you decide if we are the right digital marketing agency for you.
Call us at (727) 777-7266 and let’s talk about what might help you reach your goals this year, next year, and years down the road.