Today, 5% of all Google searches are health-related. While this may not seem like a huge number, it shows that people are increasingly searching the web for health information. In fact, 80% of internet users, or about 93 million Americans, have searched for a health-related topic online, which is up from 62% of internet users in 2001. Since your target patients are searching online now more than ever, it’s imperative that you invest in medical practice marketing.
Because an increasing number of people are looking for health-related services and information online, the importance of digital marketing for medical practices will only increase for years to come.
Whether you’re a dentist, plastic surgeon, or OBGYN, now’s a perfect time to create a digital marketing strategy that will not only provide your potential patients with valuable information but also build patient trust and thus, attract them to your medical practice.
1. Leverage the Power of Social Media
Due to today’s digital-savvy users, the popularity of social media has grown exponentially. Social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn have billions – yes, we said billions – of users combined. This means that you have access to a huge audience, although you’d have to do specific targeting to get in front of the right audience.
Starting a professional Facebook page for your medical practice will allow you to connect with your audience and remind them of your presence. You can post tips, news, and other health-related information your audience can keep in mind whenever they need medical services. You can also use Facebook to promote your blog posts and drive traffic to your website.
Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are also opportunities for you to connect with potential patients. As long as you post frequently and consistently, you can build and maintain a successful online presence.
Anne Arundel Medical Center is a great example of a medical practice that used social media to connect with their audience.
To raise awareness for men’s health during November (or “Movember” or “No Shave November”), the medical center started a contest that involved users posting their best “stachie”, or a selfie with either a real or fake mustache. This campaign was effective because it used humor and targeted a specific audience – men. As a result, the contest drove traffic to the medical center’s webpage for Men’s Health.
2. Start an Email Newsletter
Drive more appointment requests and referrals with an email marketing campaign. You can get email subscribers from your existing client and referral base. You can also gain subscribers from your social media followers. If you have a website, you can create lead magnets such as gated content (i.e. infographics, case studies, ultimate guides, etc.) to entice people to sign up for your newsletter.
After you’ve built a substantial email list, create a newsletter template with an email marketing service like MailChimp or Constant Contact. Then, start sending out emails showcasing your latest work, health tips, different conditions you treat, articles from your blog, and events in the community.
3. Pay Attention to Your Online Reputation
The key to building trust with your target audience is to show them that your current and/or former patients enjoyed their experience with your healthcare brand. To do this, you need patient reviews.
You can ask patients to review your services and showcase them on your website. You can also use review sites like HealthGrades and RateMDs to establish your online reputation. And don’t forget about social media when trying to gain patient reviews.
As your patients leave reviews about the quality of care they received at your practice, potential patients will begin to trust you, which increases their chances of giving you a call or paying you a visit.
You might succeed in getting glowing reviews, but sometimes a few bad ones will crop up. This is where responding becomes so important. You want to respond professionally and sympathetically. Apologize for the patient’s negative experience and provide a way for them to solve their problem with you offline. Even though a review may be negative, if you respond promptly and with care, it may remove some doubts potential patients may have about your practice.
Don’t just respond to negative reviews. Respond to positive ones too! This allows you to engage and build relationships with your patients. You can either thank them for their positive review or start an interesting conversation.
4. Start a Blog for Your Practice
A blog is essential for your marketing strategy because many of your potential patients will be looking for health-related information, whether it’s for themselves or a loved one. By doing thorough research on your target audience, you can learn more about what type of content they want to consume.
Once you figure this out, it’s time to start writing and create a content schedule. Some blog post ideas include healthcare and injury prevention tips, innovations in healthcare, trends, and patient stories. You can also write up FAQs as part of your blog content, which will answer patient questions so that the information is readily available.
5. Create Engaging Videos
Healthcare can be complicated. Patients want quick answers that they can easily understand. What better way to educate them than through video? It’s an engaging content form that’s memorable and easy to consume.
According to a HubSpot survey, video is the number one type of content consumers want to see from their favorite brands. Also, nearly 25% of users that browse social media sites for health information stop to watch health-related videos.
Dr. Howard Luks, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, provides complete and valuable information through videos on his YouTube channel. Many of his most popular videos have over 50,000 views, including his 2013 upload “Why Does My Shoulder Snap or Pop?” This video gained more than 64,000 views. In the video, which you can check below, Dr. Luks explains the anatomy of the shoulder in 2 minutes and 43 seconds.
The video works so well because one, it puts most viewers at ease when Dr. Luks explains that the vast majority of shoulder popping is normal and two, because he provided additional details about several less common issues that can lead to a snapping shoulder.
Dr. Luks’ video was also successful because it was short and to the point. Video length plays a huge role in retention and viewers are more likely to finish watching a short video than a longer one.
6. Improve your Search Engine Optimization
Perhaps the most reliable way to drive traffic to your healthcare website is search engine optimization (SEO). That’s because you’re building your rankings in the search engines, which can increase the amount of traffic your website receives.
By implementing SEO best practices, you can improve your search engine rankings. From there, you should see more traffic and ultimately, more leads.
Below are a few basic SEO best practices to follow for better rankings:
- Create high-quality content that informs and provides value.
- Get rid of duplicate content.
- Avoid keyword stuffing.
- Use meta tags, meta descriptions, and image alt tags to help the search engines understand your content.
- Sprinkle high-quality keywords throughout your content. Use keywords that lots of patients are searching for. Also, use long-tail keywords that are more specific when possible.
- Shorten URLs and include your keyword when natural.
- Use header tags (i.e. H1, H2, H3, etc.), proper spacing, and stylistic elements (i.e. bold, italics, etc.) to break up content and increase readability.
Old SEO rules such as keyword stuffing and linking schemes don’t apply today. Content should be user-focused in that it creates a good user experience throughout. You may have heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Don’t write for search engines; write for humans. Google will reward you for it.
7. Start a Healthcare Podcast
Podcasts provide a great platform for you to educate your patients in an entertaining way. Today, there are more than 120 million people who listen to podcasts, with more than 44% of Americans who said they’ve listened to at least one.
Texas doctors, Kendall Britt and Amy Rogers, added a podcast to their marketing strategy when they created 2 Docs Talk.
In 15-minute episodes, the women discuss health-related topics. From diet (“Is Gluten-Free the Answer?”) to policy discussions (“Healthcare in a Donald Trump Presidency”) to serious health concerns (“Lyme Disease – What It Is and What It Isn’t”), the two doctors discuss a variety of topics in hopes of informing consumers so that they make smart healthcare decisions.
8. Invest in Google Ads
Search is the preferred way for patients to find healthcare providers online. For this reason, many medical practices are leveraging Google Ads to attract patients to their websites. According to Google, search drives 3x more visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search.
No matter your place or expertise in the medical field, you can greatly benefit from placing ads on Google. You can target popular keywords your potential patients are using.
For example, let’s say you’re a cosmetic dentist in Los Angeles. You can include the keyword “cosmetic dentist in Los Angeles” in your ad copy. This allows you to attract people who are actively searching for the specific services you offer. These people searching for such a specific keyword are likely ready to interact with your site and become a patient.
Written by Andrew Epprecht
As the Founder and CEO of Phase 5 Analytics, Andrew leads a team of healthcare marketers and consultants. He's been featured in publications like Forbes and Search Engine Watch. An entrepreneur at heart, Andrew started his first business in high school. While attending Duke University, he further developed his knowledge of online marketing and advertising. Today, Andrew uses these skills to help forward-thinking healthcare organizations attract new patients online.