The introduction of the Affordable Care Act is bringing many more consumers to the medical market, purchasing health coverage and choosing providers for the first time. These new consumers will consider providers and coverage on price, quality, perceived value, and services available. So while there are plenty of new potential patients, the level of competition between providers is also increasing. So you need to demonstrate your skills, services, knowledge, and experience through a marketing strategy designed to attract new patients and keep existing patients.
Why online marketing is so important?
Online marketing is one of the most effective ways to get your message in front of potential patients. When someone is looking for a general practitioner, dentist, or gynecologist, they will Google search for the best provider in their area. Your website is one of the strongest tools available to you. Your website must provide interesting and engaging information, encouraging visitors to respond to your “call to action”. Good web designers can make your site look appealing and make it easy for patients to contact you through book online buttons or click to call options.
In addition, your website content must adhere to SEO (search engine optimization) best practice. When a person types a query into Google, bots search the web looking for matching keywords and for location keywords in the content of websites. Videos and photos are also helpful for keyword tagging. The more high quality matches your content has with a query, the higher your website will appear on a search engine rankings page (SERP). Most users will only look at the results on the first page, and in some cases at the top the first page, so you must do everything you can to make sure that your website ranks highly.
SEO isn’t everything. When you are selling the same services as the provider down the street, you must use every tool in your arsenal to make your website the first to get the attention of a new patient. Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are online advertising that puts your website high on the SERP. It can also supplement the organic click through rate from a well-designed and optimized website. There are plenty of reasons to invest in PPC. First, you only pay when a person clicks through, so your investment pays only for actual visitors. Second, you can set your budget and control what you are willing to pay on a daily basis. PPC also tends to be quicker than organic growth. You can also customize when your ad appears and if you have several ads, which one appears at specific times. Research into consumer habits will help you to make these decisions and data from PPC will help you to identify which keywords are converting into the most new patients or inquiries.
Online marketing, like all marketing efforts and campaigns, takes a little time for the full effectiveness to realize. While instant results would be wonderful, it typically takes about 60 days to see results, with full effect taking between 6 and 9 months.
Even though online marketing can take some time to become fully effective, it is still essential to track the effectiveness of your campaigns. There are a number of tools you can use to keep an eye on the effectiveness of your marketing. Google and other organizations offer analytics tools to track the effectiveness of your SEO and you can check your SERP ranking periodically. You can also use tracking URLs to check the exact number of visits and leads from a specific campaign page. You can incorporate a tracking URL into your PPC, email marketing, or any opportunity you give a visitor to your website an opportunity to click for more information. If you offer book online or click to call buttons on your website, you can also track how many new appointments are booked through those mediums.
Tracking what online marketing efforts are and aren’t working helps you to use your budget wisely. If you see that some of your keywords in your PPC advertising are more effective than others, then you can edit your PPC. If your website’s position on a SERP isn’t improving or high enough, you know to review your content and make sure that SEO best practice has been incorporated, then edit as necessary to stimulate the online development you need to attract new patients and grow your practice. There’s no point in throwing money away on campaigns that don’t work. So while patience is necessary, once you start to see the effect, you can gather data to further tweak and improve on your efforts.
Once your online marketing takes effect and new patients are making appointments, it might be tempting to stop spending the money on marketing and advertising. Don’t do that. The new competition in the healthcare field is not going to go away and you will have to maintain your efforts to keep your practice at the top the search engine results page.
Keep your team involved
Your marketing messages must be consistent. If you are advertising a promotional offer for new patients or encouraging patients to come in for their annual flu shot, your in-office team needs to know what is going on. Imagine if a new patient calls to take advantage of an offer you are advertising on your website or in a PPC campaign. If your staff doesn’t know what you are offering, it can hurt your reputation. You want every opportunity for a patient to contact your practice to have the same knowledgeable and welcoming message. Inconsistency can make your business look disorganized and that is the last adjective you want to describe your practice.
Take the plunge into online marketing. Do research and ask for help. Getting support from experienced online marketers. There are marketing agencies that specialize specifically in marketing and online marketing for healthcare providers. Make the investment, financially and with your time, and you will reap the benefits.