“Hey Siri! Find dentists near me.”
“Okay Google, what time does Denver Family Pediatrics close today?”
“Alexa. Remind me to call Missouri Heart Center at 9:00 AM tomorrow.”
Five years ago, virtually nobody thought we would be asking robots these kinds of questions. But today, everything has changed when it comes to how patients manage their health.
We are in the midst of a massive shift in the way people research their health issues, find doctors in their network, and engage with practitioners. Technology like AI voice assistants was once used for just sending a text in the car but it is now changing the healthcare industry and the way patients find their doctor. For a medical practice to succeed — let alone, thrive in this age of advancing technology — it requires a digital-first marketing approach. It’s essential to have a strong digital presence across several channels to help potential patients in their micro-moments of need. Doctors and medical marketers need to make sure their online presence is optimized for the intelligent future and leverage their assets in new ways so their practice can adapt to the evolving search ecosystem and online lead generation tools. If doctors fail to adopt the marketing tactics of today, the healthcare industry will continue to transform and leave them behind.
Digital marketing has rapidly become a vital element in marketing medical practices and it’s time to finally address your marketing strategy if you haven’t already. According to Hitwise, 68% of consumers start their mobile health research with a search engine.1 Ensuring that your practice is seen and heard on the web is vital to your success as a business and helps you stay engaged with your patients. A great digital marketing strategy will help you create a strong digital presence and can ultimately help you find an endless stream of new patients.
To make sure that your practice is getting the online visibility it needs to be successful, here are 5 helpful tips for marketing your practice online.
Tip #1 Design Your Website For Your Patients
As technology advances the medical field, patients have grown to not only expect but demand access to reliable information about healthcare. To fulfill that need, medical practitioners and marketers must create a purposeful digital environment for patients and give them the ability to educate themselves about their health, schedule an appointment, and easily communicate with their practitioner’s front office.
First impressions matter, your practice’s website should portray professionalism and establish a physicians credibility. 77% of patients have reported to researching prospective doctors online prior to scheduling an appointment, meaning that most of your patients’ first impression will occur before they even step foot inside your office.2 To have a successful website, make sure that your website scores a perfect 10 with our Healthcare Web Design Checklist. Just like in surgery, there is a zero margin for error and the same mentality should be used when objectively evaluating your current website and how it is perceived and used by your patients.
Venta’s Healthcare Web Design Checklist
Use Intuitive UX Design
Structure your website around the user’s goals and prioritize your patient’s needs first. Provide users with clear calls to action and an easy to use menu that helps them navigate around the site without getting lost in content. A pretty website is easy to build but great websites help users find answers to their questions with intuitive user paths.
Let Patients Schedule Appointments
Make scheduling appointments convenient for everyone with Gravity Forms and eliminate call to action friction.
Make Sure It’s Responsive
Your website must be responsive to mobile devices and properly adjust to different screen sizes. Failing to do this will result in penalties from search engines and users will not enjoy your mobile experience.
Test Your Load Speed
Speed is incredibly important and your site should fully load in 10 seconds or less. If your site fails to start loading in 3 seconds or less, users will abandon your web page. Check your load speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Get an SSL Certificate
Search engines are flagging and warning users if your website is insecure and does not have an SSL certificate. Thankfully this is an easy fix and your web hosting provider can offer a free SSL certificate 3 days or less.
Install Google Analytics
Don’t waste your time launching a new website if you’re not going to track its performance. Google Analytics allows you to see how many people visit your website, where they are coming from, how long they stay, what pages they visit and so much more. Start gathering this information and setup simple goals that allow you to track your website’s effectiveness and much more.
Create A Favicon
Favicons, aka the little icon in the address bar of your browser, is a great opportunity to expand your practice’s brand and represent your website.
Show Your Research
People want the facts when it comes to healthcare so make sure that your website content makes you sound like an authority on the subject matter and support it with cited information.
Optimize Your Content With Keywords
Optimize your web pages with relevant keywords so search engines can index, and understand who you are, what you do, and what your website is about. You can research the right keywords for your practice and find out what your follow doctors are using with free keyword research tools like SpyFu.
Support Your Content With Original Images
Healthcare-related stock images can only get you so far and they will leave your website visitors with a cold, distant impression of your practice. Schedule the occasional photo shoot and capture original images of your staff and patients so your website looks authentic and trustworthy.
Remove Broken Or Outdated Links
It’s a good idea to scan your website to check that all your links work because they can become outdated over time. You can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker for WordPress websites or any free tools like SEMRush.
Test Your Forms
Forms are a great way to optimize your website and it’s important to test your website’s forms to make sure that they notify you properly. If you have noticed a sudden halt in form submissions, check your website plugin for updates.
Tip #2 Improve Your Local Visibility
“In Yext’s recent analysis of 1,800 physicians and healthcare facilities across 15,000 listings, it was discovered that nearly one-third (31.5%) lacked an online, local listing. That’s 3.6 times greater than the unlisted percentage of other businesses (8.68%).”3
Today’s world of connected devices, search experiences, voice assistants, and AI has expanded your practice’s digital footprint far beyond your website. The facts about your business — from locations to hours of operation, to procedure information — now live in maps, voice search, conversational UI, knowledge cards, Google My Business, and so many other places that show intelligent and direct answers. All of these things add up to create your local visibility and it’s important to keep this in mind when patients are searching for physicians in their area.
According to Banner Health Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Alexandra Morehouse, “The number one onramp for finding physicians is actually mapping. It may be totally counterintuitive, but what consumers are doing is sitting in front of a browser and plugging in ‘pediatrician near me,’ ‘dermatologist near me,’ or ‘knee replacement near me.’” When patients use this local search method, they can evaluate the convenience factor, read through patient reviews, and assess any other key factors helping them make treatment decisions.
Patients not only want this information immediately but they want to make sure it’s accurate because they want to be well-informed before stepping foot into a doctor’s office. According to Yext, the global leader in location data management, 29% of healthcare facilities are missing accurate phone numbers and this result can lead to frustrated patients.4 The reality is that businesses are constantly changing and it’s crucial to keep your online information up to date. To keep your information current and your patients happy, improve your local visibility with Yext for Healthcare, Yext’s dedicated solution for the healthcare industry.
Let Yext For Healthcare be the source of truth for your local visibility:
- Improve the patient experience with accurate location data online, across desktop and mobile devices.
- Attract and retain more patients with a seamless journey from local search to an in-person appointment.
- Save time and money by eliminating the internal inefficiencies caused by misinformation.
- Ensure physician specialties, contact information, and facility affiliations are up-to-date.
- Eliminate duplicative or flawed content that hinders local search performance.
Tip #3 Share Your Expertise Through Vlogs
When a patient isn’t looking for a specific type of physician near them, their online journey typically starts with researching a symptom. The patient will turn to a search engine, like Google or a third-party medical website, such as WebMD, for information on how they’re feeling and what they should do. From there the patient will decide if they need treatment and book an appointment with the physician that appears most trustworthy or knowledgeable to them based on their search results. The most important types of information patients want to know are whether a physician can treat their symptoms with a high level of expertise, accept their insurance, travel to their office location within reason, and see if past patients enjoyed seeing that specific doctor. But what if you could speak to your potential new patient and prove that you’re prepared to handle their symptoms before they book an appointment?
Many doctors are starting to grow their social media presence and actually engage with patients on various multimedia focused platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Why? Because they want to be known as the expert in their field and want to use the highest performing medium available, video. People like Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, have taken advantage of this opportunity in social media and have developed an audience of 1.5 million YouTube subscribers by video blogging, or vlogging, about natural remedies and healthcare. By giving his patients and subscribers trustworthy information about their health through vlogs, Dr. Axe connects with more people and extends his practice’s reach, ultimately resulting in over 17 million website visits a month.
So why should doctors make time to vlog instead of treating patients? Well, we’re not saying that you should prioritize your videos over your patients but it is an important segment of your marketing strategy that you don’t want to overlook. Seeing is engaging and vlogs are an excellent tool for increasing patient engagement and building trust with your audience. It can be challenging to engage patients, and the unique attributes of vlogs overcome some of the barriers to engagement such as high treatment burden and a lack of the sense of community.
Venta Marketing provides a variety of multimedia services because no other medium can share a message quite like a video. With your goals as a priority, we can engage your patients with a unique and interactive video to showcase the best aspects of your practice. We provide the equipment and expertise necessary to script, shoot, edit, produce, and distribute your video effectively in a way that aligns with your goals.
Tip #4 Stay In Touch With Your Patients
It’s hard to believe that in 2019, there are still doctor’s offices that don’t use digital marketing to communicate with their patients. But this is because they do not understand the power of content when it comes to educating potential and existing patients.
The doctors that are embracing the digital age of communication are elevating the standards of physician etiquette by connecting with patients even after treatment has ended. But how are doing this? They are using email marketing strategies to keep the lines of communication open with their patients and turning them into life-long audience members. You may think that your staff doesn’t have the capability of executing an email drip campaign but there are several, powerful and affordable tools that will help you tackle all things email marketing.
As email marketing has become more popular, automation tools have become less expensive, faster, and their tracking is more powerful than ever. Some of our favorite tools, like MailChimp and Emma, will help you create your templates, send and track your opening, bounce, and engagement rates so you know exactly how your patients are interacting with your emails. The success of your email marketing campaign should be broken down in two parts: educating your future patients and maintaining contact with your existing patients. Stay in touch with all of your patients by sending a variety of emails like appointment reminders, updates on healthcare industry news, quarterly office newsletters, and physician staffing announcements. Using automated email communication in local health care practices have many effective uses and it is essential for communicating with the technology savvy patients of today.
Email Marketing Creates More Opportunities For Your Practice By:
- Maintaining a high level of awareness with both future and existing patients.
- Automating appointment follow-ups with existing patients.
- Automating appointment confirmation for new patients.
- Educating new patients on your procedures and advancements in your practice.
- Demonstrating care and knowledge through the use of newsletter marketing.
Tip #5 Leverage Your Loyal Patients & Their Testimonials
72% of patients say their first step in finding a new doctor is checking online reviews.5
Third-party reviews sites, such as Yelp and Google My Business, have a growing influence on physician reputations and have the ability to attract or deter patients from your practice. According to Todd William, Founder & CEO of Reputation Rhino, “I think it’s clear that the internet wields tremendous influence over people’s choices in all areas of their lives. From where to eat, what to wear, where to travel and who to choose as their doctor. I believe health care professionals must carefully curate their online image with the same thoughtfulness and intentionality as their bedside manner or office decor.” The number of people who use online review sites is growing by the day and that means doctors who have a just a few positive reviews or worse, a negative testimonial, could be missing out on hundreds of new patients each year.
Negative reviews are incredibly difficult to combat and responding to them in a public forum is a tricky science. Patients find a great deal of value in reviews but they see even more value in how a business responds to average or negative reviews. Responding to your reviews with an authentic and timely reply can make all the difference but be careful not to share too much about your patient’s medical history. Your online reviews fall under HIPAA compliance and keeping your patient’s medical history private is of the most importance. It has been said that if you spend 10 minutes a week managing your online reputation then you can reduce your impact of receiving negative reviews by 70%.6 A healthy online presence is crucial for your practice and an available history of positive patient testimonials will show future patients that you are a trustworthy practitioner.
Extending the reach of your positive reviews through video is another great way to find new clients. Videos have some of the highest engagement rates and assembling your raving fans for a testimonial video will create trust and increase awareness with your potential patients. Positive patient reviews that are highly visible through videos can even attract out-of-network patients and help you grow your business.
Interested in improving your online presence? Consider these tips for managing your reputation:
- You have a lot of patients walking through your doors every day so make time to comb through their reviews regarding treatment on a frequent basis. The most efficient way of doing this is by designating one administrative staff member to monitor and respond to your online reviews on a bi-weekly basis.
- Respond to every review with an authentic and HIPAA compliant response in a timely manner. If you can’t respond properly in a public facing forum, recommend that you take the conversation offline in your response and deal with the patient’s review privately.
- Keep the current patient and your future patients top of mind. It’s okay to have semi-rehearsed responses but think about what they would want to read and take empathy with them while addressing the review’s key points.
- Consider investing in a CRM designed to support medical professionals and their marketing strategies.
Don’t Know Where To Start?
Let us help you! Venta Marketing is redefining what it means to be a digital marketing agency for the healthcare industry by becoming the most trusted digital agency. We help grow our client’s practices and manage their digital properties through honesty, clarity, and boldness. Venta Marketing and our strategic partners help businesses around the globe facilitate better digital interactions that boost brand awareness, drive web traffic, and increase revenue.