10 Sep Ultimate Guide on Growing Your Medical Practice Business
Therefore, if you work in the medical profession and you have your own practice, you should take the time to learn how to market your business and be aggressive about it, starting with figuring out your unique selling point, or USP for short.
Find out what you do better than anyone else:
Before you start marketing and telling people about your practice, you need to figure out what it is you do better than anyone else. In other words, why should a patient walk into your clinic rather than the one down the street?
You don’t have to have the answer right away; you might need some time to figure out your unique selling point. Instead, maybe you don’t feel that you have one, which is not a problem: You can always get one. For example, you could gear your practice towards maximizing patient comfort from the moment they walk into your clinic to the follow-up texts they get from you afterward.
What matters is that every aspect of your business has to be in line with your USP: It can either amplify it or at least reflect it. Yet, the last thing you want is for a part of your business to contradict the unique selling point. Going back to the example of patient comfort as a USP, having a system of sorts that minimizes waiting time in the lobby is a good idea, but having an antiquated system where each patient might have to wait an hour on average is a bad idea.
The importance of a USP cannot be overstated. Not only will it make you more competitive by helping you zone in on a particular target market, but it will also differentiate you from other practices, making branding your business that much easier. Best of all, if you have a strong USP, one that few others share with you, it can be the focal point of your marketing efforts, the thing you highlight the most.
So, how does marketing work?
In a very abstract sense, people make decisions in the following way: They become aware of something, they take interest in this thing, they make a decision pertaining to it, and they take action according to their decision.
Your job as a marketer will be to impact your patients’ decision making process at every step. For starters, you need to try to get them aware of your practice and interested in it, which is known as lead generation. Subsequently, you need to give them every reason to decide to walk into your clinic, and you need to make it easy for them to act on their decision, which is known as lead conversion. Finally, once you’ve started getting clients walking through your door, you need to make sure that they would like to come back because maintaining old clients is always easier and cheaper than getting new ones, which is known as client retention.
With all that said, let’s take a look at how you can generate leads, convert them, and retain your clients.
Start by understanding your customers:
One of the most powerful tools at the disposal of any marketer is placing themselves in the customer’s shoes. After all, a marketer’s job isn’t to intrude on the customer’s life but rather to figure out how they can help them and how they can integrate seamlessly into their everyday activities, and this is why knowing your customer’s journey can be valuable.
So, when a potential patient of yours starts feeling sick, what do they do?
Odds are, they start by googling their symptoms, trying to figure out what’s wrong with them and whether it’s a serious problem or not. Afterward, they try to see if they can get a quick, over the counter treatment, one that is cheap, quick, efficient, and convenient. If they can’t find such a treatment, they start looking for doctors in their immediate vicinity; a very important criterion for most people is trust, meaning patients ask themselves “Can I trust this doctor? And is this doctor qualified to help me?” Upon finding the right doctor for them, a patient will be ready to book and they’ll look for the fastest way to do so.
From the above story, there are a few things you should notice. First of all, patients have access to an abundance of information, giving them a lot of power they might not have had a few decades back. What’s more, this information is available instantly, making speed important for the average customer.
As a result, when you are coming up with your marketing strategy, you have to take into account both your patient’s journey and their concerns throughout.
Be present online, starting with SEO:
Seeing as the first thing a patient does when they feel sick is go to Google, you have to be there too. Put differently, when a potential patient searches for doctors near them, you want to be one of the first, if not the first, results they see.
This can be accomplished with the help of SEO, which is short for Search Engine Optimization. SEO helps Google realize your relevance to a searcher’s query and rank your business/ site accordingly. With that said, SEO matters in two different places: the local pack and the organic search results.
The local pack:
When a patient googles “chiropractors near me,” Google will return a list of four to five businesses, chiropractors in this case, and show them above the organic search results. Google will also give the phone numbers, addresses, and ratings of these businesses if available. This list is known as the local pack, and you want to be number one on it, especially for patients near you.
The local pack gets its information mainly from your Google My Business page, GMB page for short. Hence, you should check your GMB listing right now: Look at your business’s categories, your listed phone number, your business’s description, your address, your open hour, and your reviews.
There are several tools you can look into that will help improve your local SEO, such as Schema Generator, Local SEO Checklist from Synup, and Google PageSpeed Insights. Another thing you should research is geo-targeting.
Oganic search results:
Aside from the local pack, Google will offer searchers several results for their queries, also known as organic results, and it is here that SEO can help you shine.
In a nutshell, the best way for you to guarantee the top spots in the organic results is to optimize your site and to establish yourself as the authority on your medical specialty. This can be achieved in several ways:
• Optimizing your site:
For your site to rank high, it needs to be fast, secure, and mobile-friendly.
• Producing content your patients want to see:
Given that your patients will always refer to the internet as their main go-to place for information, you should be the one to produce the information they want, be it in the form of articles or as videos. If you want the maximum bang for your buck, you might want to look into starting a blog, a reason for people to visit your site time and again even if they aren’t sick. We’ll talk more about this later.
• Making use of keywords:
Another way to optimize your site is to incorporate the right keywords in your copy and your content. Keywords are how Google can tell what any given page is about and whether it is relevant to the searcher’s query. So, the next time you’re writing an article about something in your field, inserting relevant keywords skyrockets the chances of your article being found.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of keywords: head terms, which are short keywords with plenty of competition, medium tail keywords, which are longer words with less competition, and long tail keywords, which are long, specialized words with minimal competition. Ideally, you want to use medium tail words as head terms would be too competitive and long tail keywords wouldn’t bring in enough traffic.
If you want to find good keywords to use, there are several online tools, including some offered by Google, that can help you find out what people are searching for, hence allowing you to find your keywords. You can also use LSI keywords (LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing), which can be found at the bottom of the search results page in the “Searches related to…” section.
One word of caution, don’t overdo keywords. If you stuff too many keywords into any content, causing it to sound spammy, Google will find out and penalize your site.
• Getting relevant links from other sites:
One way Google discerns the authority of any page is by seeing how many other pages are linking to it as well as the authority of said pages. Ergo, what you want to do is to have your pages link out to authoritative sites and, hopefully, have some of these pages link back to your page.
• Hosting online events:
In the vein of establishing authority, you can host events online where you establish your credibility as well as expand your network.
The other half of being present online: Paid ads
Before Google displays either the local pack or the organic results, the company starts by showing its users ads that are relevant to their queries. With that in mind, seeing as you are trying to generate leads, you might stand to gain from nabbing up as much real estate space on that search page as you can. However, before you jump with both feet, you should look into the costs of these ads, which are calculated according to the number of clicks they generate or the number of actions they produce.
If, during your research, you discover that the cost of paid search advertising is too expensive for you, you should consider alternative means of digital advertising, among which are Google custom affinity audience ads, which target individuals that have visited similar sites to yours, Google’s custom intent audience ads, which target individuals that have searched topics that are relevant to your practice, and keyword-targeted display ads, which target individuals that are looking at pages with keywords related to your practice.
As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority is to produce excellent content that is ideal for your target demographic. This is known as content marketing, and it is integral to improving your SEO ranking as well as getting potential patients to know the extent of your expertise.
When writing medical content, you need to remember that whatever you write will be competing with other authoritative sites such as WebMD and Google’s Answer Boxes. Hence, you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd, be it by writing specialized content related to your practice or by producing high-quality articles exploring the latest research in the field. You can also talk about the industry itself so long as you include interesting facts, such as benchmark data: For example, you can write a post about patient volumes and how these volumes change seasonally.
You might be wondering where you can publish a piece once you’re finished writing it, to which the immediate response would be your blog. Blogging can be an excellent habit to get into, one that will grow your business in the long run. After all, a blog will usually refer people to your site.
Another place you can post your content is on other blogs, which is known as writing a guest post. Simply put, with the permission of other blog owners, you can expand your reach and communicate with patients you might not have otherwise reached. Furthermore, you can use a guest post as an opportunity to link back to your site and have a little extra traffic come your way.
Moreover, you can share your content on social media, which can be a very powerful tool if used correctly. As a matter of fact, if your post is interesting enough, you won’t have to share it on social media; your readers will do it for you.
Drawbacks of content marketing:
With all that said, it is worth knowing some of the drawbacks that come with content writing. For starters, it is a very time-consuming exercise, one that takes commitment and patience. And, if you don’t have the time to produce engaging content on a regular basis, you really can’t hand this task off to your receptionist. Consequently, it might be better for some of you to outsource this task to a specialized content creator.
Another problem is that it may be difficult for you to measure the effectiveness of a particular piece. You can think of it this way: You will invest a specific amount of time in writing a post, and this time is worth money. However, since you have no exact way of telling the extent of the post’s reach, you can’t measure your return on investment, also known as ROI.
Content marketing’s younger and more popular sibling, video marketing is becoming more commonplace today than ever before. In fact, a video has a much better chance of ranking organically in comparison to a page filled with text. This is not to mention that, during 2019, around 85 percent of online traffic in the US will be attributed to video.
Hopefully, you are now excited by the prospect of producing videos, wondering what sort you should shoot. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
• Welcome videos for your website:
Videos can be excellent to send across a ton of information in a short amount of time. So, why not use it to let patients know who you are, what you do, and why you’re the best at it.
• Review videos by patients:
One of the most important tools in any physician’s arsenal is the reviews of his former patients. Having them written is good, but taking the time to record a patient’s review on video is divine.
• Overviews of procedures and treatments:
Patients about to undergo procedures are bound to feel anxious and concerned. One way to help put their minds at ease is to let them know exactly what to expect from the procedure as well as what life will be like after it.
• Educational videos that tackle FAQs:
Patients are bound to have a ton of questions, plenty of which you can answer through video.
• Educational videos for your fellow practitioners:
If you work in research or have access to the latest findings, you can share these findings by posting videos on your site, hence cementing yourself as an authority in your field. Additionally, if you can add value to other physicians, they won’t hesitate to refer some of their patients to your practice when the occasion arises.
Social media marketing:
With almost a third of the world using social media and three out of every four Americans owning a social media profile, it should come as no surprise that you should be marketing yourself there aggressively.
You can use social media to connect with potential patients in a way that wouldn’t be feasible through other means. For instance, you could retweet and favorite things posted by your followers, or you could comment on posts that grab your attention. In other words, whereas the internet allows you to have a one-way relationship with your audience where they listen to what you have to say, social media enables you to have a two-way relationship with others where you can interact with them.
However, similar to content marketing, managing your social media presence can be time-consuming. Fortunately, there are many tools out there, such as Hootsuite and IFTTT, that can save you time by automating mundane activities. These tools are ideal if you want to post to several platforms simultaneously, to schedule your tweets and posts, to track any mentions of you, or to analyze your social media efforts.
Another thing you should look out for is claiming you practitioner profiles on most of the relevant social media platforms out there. In other words, just as you need to update your Google My Business, you should establish profiles on sites like Bing, Foursquare, and Healthgrades. Controlling your listings on these sites will not only help you manage your reputation, but it will also boost your SEO ranking.
The paid side of social media:
Even though social media is a great way for you to interact with people, you will only be able to get real exposure if you are willing to pay for ads. That said, physicians are at a disadvantage when it comes to posting ads on Facebook as medical advertising can be more intricate than other forms of advertising thanks to restrictions on the healthcare industry regarding who they can target.
Whether you’re looking to manage your social media presence or to put ads online, you might benefit from hiring an experienced marketing agency, such as redwagon.agency, that can facilitate the entire process for you.
By now, you should be able to generate a ton of leads, but having people visit your site or watch your videos is not enough: What you need is to convert the leads you’ve generated into paying customers.
In order to maximize your lead conversion rate, you should follow a methodical process, one that helps you know what you’re supposed to do at each step. Here is such a process:
1. Track the number of leads you are generating:
To start with, you should have a way of keeping track of the different leads you are getting as well as where they are coming from. For example, a lead that visited your site is different than one you’ve been interacting with online.
2. Find out how many of these leads actually book an appointment:
Out of the leads you are getting, how many of them are actually booking appointments, whether through the phone or through your website.
3. Find out how many booked appointments actually show up:
Until an appointment shows up, you have not turned your lead into actual cash, meaning that you haven’t converted them yet.
Once you know the three numbers above, you have an idea of what your sales funnel looks like. With that in mind, you need to start thinking of optimizing each part of it. For example, when looking at the number of leads that book appointments, you should start by finding out which leads book the most appointments: Are they the ones that come from your site or the one who saw your videos on Youtube? Afterward, you should think about how you can make that group’s process of booking appointments even easier and faster in the hopes of enticing them to book more appointments.
Here are a few other ideas that can help you increase your lead conversion ratio:
Your website is key:
If someone takes the time to visit your site, then they are already interested in what you have to offer. Your job now will be to keep them interested and have them book an appointment while the iron is still hot.
So, how do you keep your potential patients interested?
Well, the first thing you should understand is that first impressions matter, and patients will be judging the quality of your practice from the quality of your site. Accordingly, you always want to put your best foot forward and offer your leads a seamless experience that gets them one step closer to your clinic.
On that basis, you want to offer your patients everything they could possibly want from your website. For example, many patients would like to have access to their medical records from your website. Also, in the name of convenience, you should look into offering virtual health services to those who would prefer so. And, most important of all, you need to make booking an appointment and paying for it online as easy as can be. You should also go the extra step of sending people who have booked an appointment digital reminders. In short, contacting you should be a cinch, and your site can help with that.
Along with all the features mentioned above, your website should be fast and secure: A slow website may cause potential patients to hit the back button, and an insecure website is no place to handle sensitive information such as your patients’ medical records. Your site also needs to be mobile friendly because more than two-thirds of smartphone users will check up your site through their phone when the need arises. Furthermore, the site should be easy to navigate, which can be achieved with a simple and clear layout.
Now, one thing no medical website can do without is the all-important call-to-action. You should make sure that each page on your site has a clear C2A, one that leads your visitors to getting in touch with you or even booking an appointment. But, you also want your C2A to stand out while not coming across as too obtrusive.
In addition to all of this, there are a few extra touches you could do that would help give your site that extra edge. A case in point is putting a smiling image of yourself in your site, something that could help put visitors to the site in the right state of mind and helps them trust you. Also, as any good salesman knows, you should try to address any concerns your potential patients may have, and your website is an excellent place to do so.
Track the number of users your site gets:
Using web analytics programs, you can observe the behavior of the people who visit your site as well as where these people came from, i.e. did they come from an organic search or did they click a link in an article? You will also be able to see how long they stayed on your site and which pages caught their attention. And, for an even more comprehensive picture, you would do well to track your phone calls.
There are several reasons you’d want this information. For one thing, you’ll be able to tell which pages keep leads engaged and which pages are turning them away; accordingly, you’ll be able to tweak the pages that aren’t doing so well in order to optimize them. For another thing, you can try to gauge the results of any promotional efforts you do, including offering a free consultation or writing a guest post.
Most important of all, when you track the numbers that are coming in, you’ll be able to experiment more freely with your marketing efforts. For instance, you’ll be able to carry out an A/B test to see which promotion resonated more with your target audience.
Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that you could overdo it and end up with too much data that you have no idea what to do with. This is why you need to stay focused and be able to distinguish the data that matters from the data that doesn’t.
Embrace patient reviews and use them to your benefit:
The internet is all about reputation, and converting a lead is all about getting them to trust you. Putting those two things together, you will realize that patient reviews can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Consequently, you need to get a handle on your online reputation and make sure you get excellent patient reviews.
First off, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask your patients, specifically the ones with whom you have a good relationship, to leave you a review online. Subsequently, you should take the time to respond to these reviews as it makes you seem more caring and empathetic towards your patients, two qualities that are ideal in any physician.
As for negative reviews, it is important for you to field them because they can scare leads away. And, if the negative review appeared because of a problem, taking the time to resolve it could cause that negative review to turn into a positive one.
Use lead magnets whenever possible:
As the name may suggest, a lead magnet is any tool that attracts your leads to do what you want them to do. For example, if you want visitors of your site to leave their details, you can try to entice them with a free consultation, or if you want people to book online, you can offer them a discount. The bottom line is that by giving your patients something in return for details about them or actions they perform, you both could win in this exchange.
Email marketing can be very rewarding:
Once you’ve collected your leads’ personal information, you can send them emails filled with relevant information to them. This, in turn, will allow you to remain top of mind. So, the next time they get sick, you’ll be the first thing they think of.
At this stage, you should be able to attract potential patients and turn them into paying customers. What’s left for you is to learn how to hold on to them and keep them loyal to you. In light of this, here are a few ideas that can help you:
Nurture your relationship with your patients:
Like most things in life, your relationship with your patients needs work. To begin with, try to be amicable and empathetic at all times; research shows that patients with empathetic doctors tend to get better faster than patients being treated by cold physicians, all things being the same. Also, it is advisable that you spend a little time getting to know your patients and learning things about them other than their medical history.
Not only will a healthy relationship help you maintain your current client base, but it will also give you a solid footing to reengage your past patients. You can think of it this way: patients are likely to feel good about a “We Miss You” email from a doctor they like, whereas they might not be so receptive if that same email came from a doctor who was very dry with them.
Improve your communication with your patients:
A survey once showed that patients who suffer from chronic conditions would like their physicians to stay in touch on a regular basis so as to keep them up-to-date on their condition. Bearing that in mind, the question you should be asking yourself is how can you stay in touch?
The simplest answers to that question are email, messaging, text, patient portals, and phone calls. In fact, keeping a line of communication open between you and your patients is an excellent way to increase their trust in you and helps them feel valued, causing them to want to visit you again.
And, as we talked about earlier, tracking your efforts and their results is the key to knowing what works best and what could use some improvement.
Branding your practice:
Branding is all about being recognizable; it’s about conjuring up a specific image in your client’s mind the minute they think of you, which can be good for you should you manage to bring forth the right image.
Therefore, you should be looking to use every tool in your arsenal so as to cement your brand, starting with a logo. On the one hand, a logo will help you stand out instantly from your competition. On the other hand, a well-designed logo can be an excellent opportunity to evoke the right emotions in your customer base. And, best of all, logos can be very cheap to come up with: You can pay a freelance graphic designer five dollars for the task.
Putting it all together:
Throughout this article, we’ve covered plenty of ground, so it is okay if you want to revisit certain sections. However, if you take away anything from this article, let it be this:
• Marketing is about integrating into your patients’ lives rather than intruding on them:
When marketing, you should try out several different tactics and keep the ones that are the most cost-effective. However, seeing as consumers today have much more power than any time before, all your tactics have to aim at building healthy relationships with your patients and at trying to help them instead of just grabbing their attention.
• Your staff is integral to your marketing:
Given that how professional your staff is will reflect on your practice, you need your marketing efforts and your staff to sing the same tune. So, if you’re all about comfort, then your staff has to be in on it and they have to act accordingly.
• Marketing is a consistent job not a one-time thing:
Marketing is one of those things that pay more dividends the longer you do it. That said, there will never be a point after which you don’t have to market yourself: You always need to work at it. But, it does get easier with time, and the more you do it, the less time it will take you.