How Do Medical Marketing Consultants Help Grow Practices?
Medical marketing consultant teams and individuals grow practices by assessing business goals, creating a strategy, executing it, and then assessing the results.
You may be thinking to yourself that your in-house marketing team already does just that.
And you’re right.
However, there are a few key reasons why medical marketing consultants are a valuable asset to in-house marketing teams:
They have broader experience.
An in-house team only works on your business, whereas a consultant has probably helped hundreds of medical practices.
Therefore, while your team has an unparalleled understanding of your customer and company vision, a consultant has probably seen a wider variety of challenges and can help navigate you through difficult decisions. In fact, a good consultant has probably already helped another company through the exact issue you’re currently facing.
For example, if you’re struggling to drive conversions, your team might be thinking about running ads to a piece of content that already performs well (pulls in a lot of traffic). It’s a good idea, but a consultant might instead recommend running ads to a piece of content with less traffic that is more bottom of the funnel and will drive more conversions.
They have individual experts.
Most medical practices have a marketing team of just a few people. Therefore, it’s relatively common for one marketer to wear several hats. For example, the SEO specialist may also have to double as a content marketer or vice versa.
Unfortunately, this means that their expertise is spread thin and they may make more mistakes as they aren’t necessarily an expert in some areas.
Therefore, your practice will likely end up paying for a lot of failed experiments, and it will sacrifice your growth rate.
On the other hand, you may have an SEO specialist that refuses to go outside of SEO. Unfortunately, marketing strategies don’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, they all work together to help each other grow. For example, running Google ads to a page with poor SEO will never produce the ROI of a page with great SEO (and you’ll have to pay more to win the bid).
In addition, if you rely solely on SEO, you’ll be in trouble if a Google algorithm hits.
By hiring a marketing consultant in the medical field, you can bypass all of these problems as they can give you instant access to a team of specialists that most individual practices could never afford to hire.
They come with a full marketing stack.
Another often overlooked perk of hiring a marketing consultant is that they come with a built-in marketing stack.
Most practices don’t realize that the tools required for marketing and reporting are quite expensive. For example, Ahrefs, one of the most popular SEO tools, is about $100 per month for a basic plan. In fact, even for a basic marketing stack, you could easily spend anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per month.
In addition, most of these tools automate tasks that would take your team hours to complete manually. Therefore, an agency can make your team much more efficient than ever before.
Key Services Medical Marketing Consultants Offer
So now that you know a few of the perks of hiring a medical marketing consultant, what services do they offer?
While this depends largely on the consultant you hire, you should ideally look for them to offer the following services:
- Social Media
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
When a potential patient Googles a term relevant to your practice (like “foot clinic in Boston” or “athlete’s foot symptoms”), you want your practice to show up first in the search results.
This is because the top 3 Google Search results earn about 71% of all clicks.
So how do you earn the top position?
The answer is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a process that essentially enables your website to provide the very best answer to the user’s question and is therefore a combination of:
- Adjusting technical elements on your website
- Improving your content
- Earning industry authority
Let’s break these down briefly.
A strong technical foundation will improve the user experience and ensure that Google’s bots can crawl your website properly. In other words, if the technical aspects of your website aren’t up to scratch, it may eliminate your chances of ever ranking for any keywords, regardless of how wonderful the rest of your website is.
So while a strong technical foundation won’t necessarily make your website rank higher, it will at least enable your website to exist in the search results.
Here’s a brief checklist for your technical SEO:
- Improve your site speed
- Ensure your website is crawlable/pages are indexed
- Have an XML sitemap
- No duplicate content issues
- Use an HTTPS version
- Fix broken links
- …and more (that your consultant can help you with)
While technical SEO will give you a strong foundation, it won’t make you magically start ranking for keywords. However, creating content for keywords relevant to your business can help you rank for your desired keywords.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs for the keyword research process. The first step is to look at the most important pages on your website and see what keywords they already rank for, though they aren’t in the top position.
You can do that by going to the top pages report:
From there, look at the keywords your top pages rank for in positions 2-10. You can update those pages to include more detailed information and enhance the quality.
By simply making them rank higher for those keywords, you’ll generate a lot more traffic, and it’s much easier than creating an entirely new page.
If you don’t know what additional content you should include, perform a Google search for those keywords and analyze the information that top-ranking pages discuss that your page is missing.
Once you’ve updated those pages, find new keyword opportunities by using the Content Gap tool in Ahref’s keyword explorer. This will show you keywords that your competitors rank for that you don’t rank for:
From there, create content for each of those keywords.
Earn Industry Authority
Once you have a solid technical SEO foundation and have improved your keyword rankings, the final major SEO component is establishing authority. You can do this through link building.
Link building is essentially when one website links back to you from a piece of content on their website. When Google sees that many websites link back to you, it assumes that you are a trusted and popular source of information, and they will often give you the benefit of the doubt and begin to steadily rank your website higher.
However, not all links are equally valuable. For example, a link from a medical website or Harvard is much more valuable than a link from a blog unrelated to healthcare or a personal blog with few followers.
While SEO is a great long-term strategy, it takes a while to start generating an ROI from it. Therefore, you will likely need to combine it with a PPC strategy. In fact, the trajectory often looks like this:
Therefore, once you have some pages on your website that convert fairly well, your medical marketing consultant can set up a PPC campaign to increase traffic to pages that already convert well.
Social media has an incredible amount of attention, which medical facilities can leverage. In fact, about 41% of patients say social media impacts their choice of doctor, hospital, and medical facility.
Therefore, if you don’t use social media, you’re leaving a lot of untapped potential on the table.
However, just because social media has a lot of potential doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically start generating patients. In fact, most organic social posts only generate a few likes.
To generate more engagement, a marketing consultant can help you optimize your posts by:
- Posting natively to the platforms (rather than just dropping links)
- Using the desired medium (such as video on Facebook and Linkedin)
- Optimize for a balance of conversion-focused content and engagement-focused content
For example, this post is natively posted to Facebook and has a great backstory to engage the reader and increase engagement. It also has a quality image and is overall a very well-optimized post.
In this case, a marketing consultant can help you decide what kind of story will drive the most engagement, how to construct the copy, and what kind of media to use.
Due to the abysmal reach of organic posts, you may choose to use paid ads for some posts. A medical marketing consultant can help you define the best target audience and evaluate which posts are worth boosting. For example, should you boost the post that is generating the most engagement or try to boost the post that is generating more sales?
The answer will be different depending on your goals.
A marketing consultant may also analyze your competitor’s posts in the Facebook Ad Library to see what kinds of posts performed well in the past and how they can optimize your ads before ever launching them.
When people first suspect they need to see a doctor, they usually Google their symptoms to see how serious it is and whether or not they need to see a professional.
For example, if a patient notices that their vision in one eye is becoming progressively worse, they might Google something like “blurry vision in one eye.” If you treat issues that cause blurred vision, writing an article on it will bring your target audience directly to your website:
Once a patient has read a few of your posts and learned about their symptoms through your brand, they will be much more likely to become a patient as they now trust your brand.
The tricky aspect of content marketing is choosing a relevant topic. Once you’ve decided on a topic, you also need to ensure that your post is better than any other information available on the topic.
To decide what you should write about, consider what services your ideal patients purchase. For example, it might be cataract surgery. Once you have a list of your top services, work backward through the buyer journey.
For example, here’s what the buyer journey might look like for cataract surgery.
While you can probably put together a simple funnel like this, you might find that there are also more advanced questions that many patients ask.
Therefore, it’s important to do thorough customer research during the content ideation phase and learn what patients really want to know. You can do customer research by:
- Asking physicians what frequently asked questions pop up in consultations
- Surveying past and current patients
- Searching online forums
- Listening to common themes in patient calls and messages
Once you have a few content ideas, a quick Google search will quickly reveal that your competitors also have a post on the same topic. So how can you ensure that your post is better than theirs and will rank number one?
Use this quick checklist:
- Does my content provide as much depth on the topic as the other posts?
- Do I offer a better user experience? (my content is more skimmable with headings, bold, images, etc.)
- Is the content easy to read? (anything above a 6th-grade reading level is too difficult)
- Do I offer any unique viewpoints on the topic? (this could be a doctor’s quote, a patient interview, etc.)
In general, the best way to ensure you have the best content is to simply do a Google search and look at the posts that currently rank for that topic. Ask yourself how you can produce a piece of content that is even better than their content (by using the above checklist). Once you have the answer, it’s not too difficult to outrank them.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
If you want more patients, you can either increase the number of patients coming to your website, or increase your conversion rate. In general, it’s a lot easier (and cheaper!) to increase your conversion rate rather than increasing traffic.
Therefore, CRO should be one of your top priorities.
When you hire a medical marketing consultant to help you, they should have a CRO specialist who can collect data on key pages’ performance and then run tests based on the data from those pages.
For example, they might install heatmaps to discover where people are clicking and at what point they exit your website.
The software company CrazyEgg famously did a study where they increased conversion rates on their sales page by 363% simply by hiring a CRO expert and running key tests.
Some key on-page elements that a great CRO specialist will test include:
- Font, color, size
- CTA positioning
- Copy length
- Video vs. text
- Removing/adjusting the menu
However, CRO isn’t limited to just on-page optimization. A great CRO will also test your funnel structure. For example, they may test:
- Checkout process (1 step vs. 3 steps)
- CTA (“call for consultation” vs. “talk with a doctor free”)
- Adding/removing Middle of Funnel content to shorten/lengthen customer journey
Email marketing has a remarkable ROI, with some studies estimating that every dollar spent on the channel can yield $42. In addition, it’s perhaps the cheapest marketing channel to get started with as you only need a decent copywriter, and most email marketing software is free for the first several thousand subscribers.
So how should you set up your email marketing strategy?
First, segment your email list. For example, patients that signed up for your email list on a page about cancer treatment options shouldn’t be lumped together with a patient that signed up on a knee surgery page. Some of the most popular segmentation ideas include:
- Interest (knee surgery vs. cancer)
- Funnel stage (researching symptoms vs. pricing)
- Existing patient vs. new patient
Once you have everyone segmented, map out how you can nurture them down the funnel to eventually purchase. For patients that researched more top-of-the-funnel content (such as early symptoms), you’ll probably need to send more educational content before they convert.
Once they are solution aware and familiar with your brand, then you can make them an offer. However, it’s essential to avoid selling them too quickly. An example of a funnel might look like this:
The final major element of email marketing success is the copy itself. For example, what kind of tone will you take? Will it be mostly text-based, or will it be image-based?
From there, how often should you be sending emails?
There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions as it depends largely on what kind of services you’re selling and who your audience is. Therefore, these are key questions to ask a medical marketing consultant. A consultant should also be able to write the copy for you so that you don’t have to find a copywriter.
How to Choose The Right Medical Marketing Consultant
Once you decide you want a medical marketing consultant to help you with the above strategies, how do you know which partner to choose?
A quick Google search will reveal an overwhelming number of options:
Here is a checklist you can use to find the best match:
Do they have case studies of how they helped practices in the same or related fields?
While plenty of people will tell you that they have helped other healthcare practices, only high-quality consultants will be able to show you case studies and results they have produced for those practices.
As they explain the case study, ask how the project led to results that directly impacted the business’s revenue. For example, many consultants can show that they increased traffic or rankings, but driving low-quality traffic that doesn’t convert is still a waste of your money.
Are they communicative?
Hiring a consultant that is communicative and responsive is essential. For example, if you decide to make last-minute adjustments to a project, they must respond promptly to hit the deadline and keep the project on track. Essentially, a marketing consultant should be an extension of your marketing team, so you should be able to access them as easily as you can access any of your team members.
Do they ask about your overall business goals?
A medical marketing partner should be a supplement to your business rather than existing with a different set of goals. Therefore, they should do a discovery call with you to better understand your overall business goals and how they can create a marketing plan that will reach those goals.
If they don’t ask questions about your business’s current state and don’t understand the full picture of how you want your business to change, it will be virtually impossible to meet your goals.
Therefore, avoid any marketing consultant that offers strictly cookie-cutter packages.
How do they set expectations?
If a potential partner says that you’ll see results overnight, it’s a good sign you should run. Marketing and building a real brand takes time and effort. Therefore, a quality consultant will tell you that results will take X months, and they might give you some benchmark KPIs to track along the journey.
The marketing consultant you hire will be a partner in your medical business, and you should treat the process the same way you would hire any full-time employee. Therefore, take your time to evaluate multiple consultants and use the checklist above to ensure that you’re choosing the best partner for your goals.
If you need help with your marketing, contact Stodzy today, and we will be happy to discuss your business plans and goals at length.