The first and most important aspect of marketing for doctors is understanding what potential patients emotionally feel before ever searching for a doctor. What kind of worries or frustrations do they experience (unrelated to physical pain)?
These kinds of questions will likely come out during consultations. For example, if you have a patient suffering from tinnitus (a type of hearing loss), you might find that their biggest fear is actually losing their job. Online forums like Quora can also reveal pain points and fears unrelated to the ailment itself.
This will reveal how you can better direct the consultation conversation (and your marketing messaging) to show that you really understand the technical aspects of the disease and how it affects a patient’s life.
Once you understand their key pain points, how do potential patients search for doctors? Are they using Google, asking friends, or researching the ailment on their own?
Don’t forget to also ask patients during consultations how they heard about you and why they ultimately chose your practice. Specifically, try to tie it back to a particular action or marketing message. This will be a good indicator of how well certain aspects of your marketing is performing for your doctors office.
Build Your Personal Brand
Another underleveraged aspect of growing your practice is simply growing your personal brand. For doctors and similar practitioners, this is often overlooked when it comes to online marketing.
Note that this isn’t necessarily the same as growing your practice’s brand.
For example, Dr. Mike is a great example of how doctors can build their personal brands outside of their practice. With nearly 7 million subscribers and some videos pulling 20 plus million views, his channel has dramatically helped increase awareness for his practice.
These videos are typically a mix of entertainment and educational content.
For example, this video titled “SHOCKING Patient Story | It Started With Foot Pain…” is part of a series he does called Wednesday Checkup. While it is structured in an entertaining story format, it actually dives into a real medical issue he solved and shows off his own skill as a doctor.
Therefore, while most people think that getting on a TV show will get them more views, it’s actually much more likely you’ll get brand exposure by starting your own channel.
Fortunately, getting started isn’t that difficult. You don’t need a fancy camera or even great editing skills. As your channel grows, you may decide to upgrade or hire a cameraman to follow you around, but you don’t need any of that to start.
Just think about how you can provide a new perspective with an entertaining twist, pull out your iPhone, and start recording.
Even if you feel shy in front of a camera, you can still do this with a personal blog.
Most patients find doctors based on the recommendations of friends and family which is why it only makes sense that referral marketing should be one of your primary marketing strategies.
So how can you encourage current patients to refer your practice without sounding salesy?
First, check your state’s laws and regulations. Actively advertising to provide financial benefit for referrals may not be legal. However, you are allowed to offer discounted services to new patients, and you can also hand coupons to current patients. Most patients will choose to pass the coupon on to another friend rather than just throwing it away, and you remain within state guidelines as you’re not offering a financial reward– rather, it’s just a discount.
However, there are plenty of other ways to encourage referrals without providing financial benefit.
For example, when patients leave your practice, hand them two cards– one with your doctor’s name and phone number and the other is a business card. When handing them the first card, let them know that they are welcome to call if they need anything. As you hand them the second card, tell them that if they found the experience surpassed expectations, you’d really appreciate it if they would tell friends and family.
Usually, once you’ve had a live interaction with these people, they will be more than happy to refer you.
In addition, if they do send you a referral patient, be sure to send them a thank you card. A handwritten note from the doctor directly will leave a lasting impression.
It costs five times more to acquire a new patient than to keep an existing one. So rather than trying to find new patients, consider how you can retain your current patients.
The first step to improving patient retention is to track your current patient retention rate. If you don’t know what your patient retention rate is, it’s highly unlikely that you will improve it.
Once you know your patient retention rate, ask patients that left why they left and what you could have done differently to satisfy them.
From there, make some changes in your doctors practice and then try to win them back using this essential marketing strategy.
However, your biggest opportunity will likely lie in retaining current patients. Ask them questions like:
- How easy is it to communicate with our clinic?
- How easy is our patient portal?
- Do you feel that the staff cares for you?
- On a scale of 1-10, how much do you trust our physicians?
- Is there anything we can do to make you feel more comfortable?
- Have we made a positive impact on your life?
If you offer a truly outstanding patient experience, even the simple act of reflecting on your services will likely improve the patient’s outlook on your practice.
However, that also means that you need to provide a truly outstanding patient experience.
In fact, most patient grievances are unrelated to treatment. One study found that the most common grievances are:
- Communication (53%)
- Long wait times (35%)
- Practice staff (12%)
- Billing (2%)
Therefore, be sure to analyze your practices in the above areas.
From there, go above and beyond. For example, you might give the patient your personal cell phone to call with questions or send them a quick follow-up text to ask how they feel.
This added level of personalization will dramatically impact their view on your practice and help improve patient retention.
Invest in SEO
During the customer research phase of marketing, you’ll likely find that most patients find doctors through Google or other search engines.
Therefore, optimizing your website to show up first in the search results is one of the single most important things you can do to increase patient volume.
In fact, the top-ranking website in Google’s search results receives about 28.5% of all clicks, while the second result only receives about 15.7% of all clicks. It dramatically drops off from there, so it’s essential to have your website at the top.
While search engine optimization is a whole topic in itself, here are a few things you can do to optimize your website:
- Ensure your website has a user-friendly mobile version
- Ensure it loads quickly
- Include keywords in the headers, title tags, and naturally within your copy
- Improve the user experience (make it easy to navigate)
- Create valuable content that potential users are searching for
- Build links from other authoritative websites in your industry
Once you’ve optimized your website itself, be sure to optimize your local listing.
Your local listing should show up like this when people type in your practice’s name:
If not, be sure to fill out a Google My Business profile listing. Once you have filled it out, they will mail you a form to verify the physical location, and then you can create your profile with Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP), and images.
Now that you have a listing, optimize it for Google’s local search results:
To do this, start generating customer reviews to your Google local listing. While it’s illegal to offer financial compensation for reviews, you can make it as easy as possible for people to fill out the review by providing step by step instructions on your website like this one:
The other element of improving your local rankings is creating local citations. For example, listing your website on quality and relevant directories like Yelp can improve your rankings.
Start a Podcast
Podcasts have exploded in popularity over the past few years. In addition, podcasts listeners are high quality as about 45% of those that listen to podcasts have an income of over $75,000 per year– that’s 10% more than the total population that makes $75,000 or more. Therefore, plenty of innovative healthcare practices have seen the opportunity and are creating podcasts of their own.
Not only are podcasts a great way to show off your knowledge and skill, but most podcast listeners feel a direct relationship with the host as they become accustomed to hearing their voice every day.
A great example of one of the doctors that has leveraged podcast marketing phenomenally well is Peter Attia MD.
His podcast, The Drive, discusses a range of medical topics and has become wildly popular with over 4,000 ratings.
This is a perfect example of how a doctor can use a podcast to earn patient trust and increase patient volume.
Ideally, you should purchase a decent microphone such as the Blue Yeti, which provides the best balance of affordability and quality at $120.
As your audience builds, you can upgrade your equipment, though this is plenty to get started.
Be sure to also upload your podcast to iTunes (Apple), Spotify, and other streaming platforms to generate the most traffic.
While it may not seem like a marketing strategy to generate more patients, engaging with the community is the best way to let people get to know you and learn more about your doctors office.
As you can imagine, patients are much more likely to call a doctor they have already had a conversation with than someone that is a complete stranger. In addition, you may be rewarded with free press.
For example, one Chinese doctor provided free treatment to orphaned children with cerebral palsy, and it’s received a lot of media attention.
However, you don’t have to treat patients for free. It could be something as simple as giving a talk at a local community or even sponsoring a health and fitness event.
Even collaborating with local schools or community organizations that help low-income families is a great place to start. Not only will it build goodwill within the community, but you’ll also receive plenty of free brand exposure.
In addition to creating content for your own personal brand, you should also have a blog on your practice’s website.
When patients first feel symptoms that lead them to suspect a condition, most won’t immediately run to a doctor. Instead, they’ll probably do a quick Google search to learn more about the symptoms and how serious it is.
For example, if they feel a sudden ringing in the ears, they might Google something like this:
From there, they might Google something like:
Notice that as the searches become more specific, the major brands like WebMD and Mayo Clinic are replaced by individual practices that offer tinnitus treatment.
This is useful because if you are looking for tinnitus treatment options and read several posts written by Hear Again America (the first result), it’s very likely that you will call Hear Again America when you have questions regarding tinnitus. Ultimately, you may even become one of their patients.
That’s the power of content marketing for doctors.
It’s the best way to introduce your brand to people suffering from ailments you treat. Not only are you providing the value they need, but you’re also building trust and a one-on-one relationship with the right audience at scale.
To find the topics that patients are searching, refer back to the customer research phase and pull common questions that patients ask during consultations. You can also use forums like Quora to help you discover more questions.
Maintain an Active Social Presence
Similar to creating content, you should also have an active social media presence. However, sharing blog posts and writing helpful tips likely won’t generate much traction.
To really take off on social media, you’ll need to provide a mixture of educational and entertaining content with visual elements.
According to Convince and Convert, the hospital with the highest social media engagement is the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Some of their posts are informational like this one:
Though others are more touching stories like this one:
As you can see, each of their posts receives a lot of engagement and is written in an entertaining format that shows off their treatment standards.
Therefore, consider how you can show off your staff’s skill, how you deliver a personalized experience, and how much you care about your patients.
The key to building a strong social media presence is to remain consistent with your posting schedule and ensure that your content makes your practice appear human.
Social media and content expert, Mark Schaefer, championed the idea that the most human company always wins, and this is particularly true with medical practices.
In addition, be sure to provide a variety of images and videos and avoid dropping links. Not only are links a poor user experience, but social platforms will be reluctant to share your post as they don’t want to lose attention on their platform.
Finally, if you’re going to use the same post for various platforms, be sure to post natively to each platform to ensure the content is appropriate. For example, sharing a Twitter post to Facebook will likely feel a little thin ask Facebook users are accustomed to reading story-based copy rather than straight text.
Develop Industry Partnerships
If you’re a specialist, creating industry partnerships is crucial to your clinic’s success.
Start by creating a list of general practitioners in your area. From there, reach out to them (preferably via phone) and present your specialties and some of your success stories.
In fact, you can even just use this phone script below when reaching out:
Once you have the right person on the phone, you can use this pitch:
Ideally, try to meet with them in person to create a solid plan of how the partnership will work.
As roughly 43% of providers don’t know the physicians they refer to very well, setting up a meeting to discuss details will set you apart.
During the meeting, provide an easy method for them to transfer private patient information to your clinic and establish any value exchange before the end of the meeting.
Even after the meeting, be sure to follow up with your new partner to ensure that they remember you exist. In addition, you should try to send them potential patients whenever possible.
Use Analytics to Re-evaluate
While all of these tactics will help increase patient volume (and quality), they will likely only be minimally effective if you don’t have analytics in place to track each tactic’s progress.
Some channels tend to work particularly well for certain doctors practices, but without analytics, you won’t know for sure what is working with your marketing strategy.
Therefore, start by setting up Google Analytics. While this won’t be able to track offline marketing efforts (such as community engagement or industry partnerships), it will track most of your patient’s online activities.
For example, you’ll be able to see which pieces of content lead to the most conversions and which social media channels are most profitable for your business.
To do that, you can use this guide to set up goals in Google Analytics.
From there, you can track specific actions, like a thank you page for an email sign-up.
From there, you can track specific actions, like a thank you page for an email sign-up.
This will help you see what sources send the most traffic to your website and which sources send the highest quality traffic (have the highest session duration and lowest bounce rate).
However, you should be wary when looking at your analytics.
You’ll likely notice that some sources, such as paid ads, produce immediate results while other channels, such as SEO, don’t provide an immediate ROI.
Therefore, be sure to stick with each channel you choose to experiment with for a good amount of time and research the average time it will take to see results from each channel.
Once you have about a year of data, re-evaluate your strategy and see which channels are producing the best results and which ones are failing.
While the number of tactics and strategies you can leverage may seem overwhelming, you don’t have to use every single one of them. Start by choosing just a few and give them some time to really start working. For example, SEO and content marketing likely won’t produce noticeable results for about a year. However, once you have built some traction, they will compound over time with little additional effort.
Above all, continue talking to your patients to ensure you produce the best patient experience possible. Survey them after every visit and re-evaluate how you can better serve your patients and make them feel comfortable. At the end of the day, the best marketing strategy is simply incredible service delivered in a personalized manner.
If you need more help with your doctors marketing strategy, you can always reach out to us here at Stodzy, and we’d be happy to go over your marketing strategy.