As technology has changed the way people receive information, it has also changed the way patients determine a care path for an injury or condition. Most significantly though, it has changed the way patients choose a specialist to treat their condition. Practices must adapt their patient acquisition strategies to reflect this more informed and more digitally savvy audience if they want to remain profitable in the coming years.
This is especially true for practices that wish to remain independent as hospitals and health systems continue to acquire referring practices, such as Primary Care and Family Medicine. However, too often practices do not understand the need to implement a cohesive digital strategy until they begin to see a decline in patient volume or an increase in competition. It is important to understand the impact the digital shift has had on patients and how to use it to remain profitable. Below are some of the basic strategies practices should be using:
A Mobile Responsive and Unique Website
Statistically, almost 70% of medical journeys begin online with patients searching for conditions and a provider to treat that condition. What’s more, 60% of all internet traffic now comes from a mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.). What this means is that the majority of potential patients are researching a condition or searching for a provider on a smartphone or tablet. This is where your practice’s website becomes one of the most important tools in patient acquisition.
By now most practices have a website – but that may not be enough. In 2014, Google began to penalize websites that did not meet the standards of a “mobile responsive” website. What this means is that the website had to be updated to use a theme or platform that automatically detected whether the potential patient was using a phone, tablet or desktop computer and automatically reformatted the layout and navigation of the website to ensure a better user experience. If your website does not meet these criteria, Google began to push your website further down in the results if a search came from a phone or tablet. If patients have to spend time pinching and scrolling to be able to read the content on your site, they are far more likely to leave your website and go to a competitors’ website to find the information they are looking for.
In addition to the mobile responsiveness of your site, Google bases your placement in search results based on the content within your site. Too often practices make the mistake of simply listing the conditions they treat or procedures that they perform. Not only does this lack of content hurt your placement is Google search results, but it also hurts your new patient acquisition.
In a world where a wealth of information on any medical condition is accessible instantaneously, the modern patient needs more than just a bullet point on your website to ensure that you are the right doctor for them. To increase patient acquisition, your website should have individual pages for each treatment you provide, condition you treat and procedures you perform.
A Google Pay Per Click (Adwords) Strategy
A Google Adwords Strategy gives your practice the ability to target your message to patients in your area looking for your services at that very moment. Google Adwords allows your practice to “bid” on relevant search terms in your area and shows your results at the top of the page. Google Adwords is statistically the highest ROI digital marketing effort a practice can utilize.
The most important aspect of Google Adwords to remember is that these ads allow you to outrank your competitors for only the most relevant searches and keywords related to the services of your practice for those searching in your area. Also, these ads are shown above the organic search results, so even if a competitor’s website outranks yours, your ad can be shown above their website.
But, running a Google Adwords strategy on your own may be more complex than it seems and can result in wasting a large amount of dollars if not implemented and monitored correctly. Knowing what kinds of phrases indicate a patient is simply doing research versus those terms that a patient is specifically looking for a physician can be the difference of hundreds or thousands of dollars in a month.
Social Media Marketing
According to a 2017 Pew Research Study, 67% of all Americans get at least half their news from Social Media sites. This represents a significant shift from print and TV being the primary news sources, but does not seem all too surprising considering that the average American spends almost two hours per day on social media sites.
The likely reason for these shifts is that social media sites like Facebook serve as aggregate news sites where users can get information from all their trusted news sources, from local newspapers to national TV networks, in one single place. Platforms like Facebook recognized very early on how to monetize the time users spent on the site or app by allowing for highly targeted advertisement being shown to their over 1 billion users.
In most cases, medical practices conceptualize social media as a place where people post pictures of their children, pets and food. While that may be what you see externally, internally Facebook and Instagram have an incredible amount of data about their users that can be used to target specific ads to potential patients in your area. These platforms track data points that include your age, gender, location, purchases you make, websites you have visited, interests you have and thousands of other data points. All of this data can be used to create a behavior profile of a patient that may be in need of your services and target them with ads both on social media and on other websites they visit.
Facebook and Instagram ads are imperative for brand awareness and have become the modern newspaper or magazine ads and are far more cost effective.
What digital healthcare marketing strategies are your practice implementing to help build brand awareness with your patients?
About the Author
Daniel Goldberg is the CEO of Gold Medical Marketing and has been a thought leader for almost a decade in the field of Healthcare Marketing. Daniel has also lectured at some of the most esteemed medical conferences in the country and has contributed to many healthcare industry publications on the topics of Medical Marketing and Direct to Patient Marketing. Daniel and his team at Gold Medical Marketing have helped practices around the country implement unique marketing strategies based on their specialty and unique patient demographics.