How To Spend Your Marketing Budget EffectivelyRead Time: 7 minutes
With expenses increasing, reimbursement staying stagnant or decreasing, higher malpractice and more competition, physicians are often wondering how to effectively attract new patients. Budgets are limited and learning how to make the use of marketing dollars to grow a practice or patient base is often a conundrum. In the complex world of marketing there are many places to spend money and to make the best choice consider the long effects of advertising.
How People Find A New Doctor: The New Standard
Traditionally, when a person is looking for a new healthcare provider, hospital, pharmacy or surgery center word of mouth was how many people found the answer. While location and insurance carriers continue to play an essential role in gaining new patients, a robust online presence is crucial. Technology has changed the game in healthcare, and with many people choosing to self-insure, a physician being on an insurance carrier’s approved list of providers is less critical than in the past. People no longer stay at jobs for long periods. The Gen X and Millenial generations, job and city hop frequently. These people turn to technology to find everything from restaurants, dry cleaners, grocery stores, and, yes, to healthcare providers. Having a strategic digital marketing plan is the best use of marketing dollars because physicians will be able to provide valuable information to these potential patients. People trust brands that feel connected to and giving a prospective patient useful information is the quickest way to gain trust online.
How Much Does The Internet Matter?
Today, when patients are seeking a new healthcare provider, an internet search is often the first step. For example, someone who has just moved to a new city and needs a new primary care provider may open a web browser and search for primary care providers who have offices nearby. The practice locations which are ranked the highest and are most easily found have the highest chances of getting these new patients.
Your Website Is The Place To Show Off
Think of a website as having a full-time employee who can answer all the questions a potential patient may have from specific procedures to training to philosophies. So just having a website with correct and current information is not all that is needed. Today’s web presence should be updated at least weekly and contain the areas of expertise the healthcare provider wants to highlight. Patients also commonly will browse a site to understand the provider’s treatment philosophy and approach. Many hospitals also provide Google virtual tours of a place to ease a patient’s concern over an upcoming procedure.
How To Grow Your Patient Base
While attracting new patients is important, retaining those patients is just as crucial to a medical practice’s success. Having an active website that clearly and regularly communicates the practice’s philosophies and specialties don’t merely attract new patients; a clean, secure, updated website can attract the right patients.
Increase Web Exposure Through Social Media
Many people think of social media as a way to connect with friends and family. Today’s social media channels are the way businesses can casually interact with customers or patients about services, experience, and objectives. A strong social media strategy can set a hospital or doctor’s office apart from the competition. When posting to social media, medical practices should aim to provide valuable content instead of merely adding to social media noise. Providing value can range from sharing seasonal tips for wellness that are specific to a particular community to broadcast medical awareness dates to regular updates on common healthcare problems.
Planning Your Social Campaign
The key to social media is consistency and timing. Posts can have more or less engagement depending on the platform, day of week, and time of day of the posting. Creating and planning a social media strategy helps determine what types of posts will get the most engagement. The use of a marketing agency that can provide regular social media posts and fresh content will allow a physician’s office or clinic to stand out as an authority in a particular specialty or subject matter.
Blog As An Expert In Your Field
Bite-size articles on common health conditions are a fantastic opportunity to set a medical professional apart as an expert. The way these articles are perceived has evolved over the years. Today, many healthcare providers have blogs to provide informative, educational, helpful content that directly relates to the practice’s target patient-base. Many people search online for specific medical conditions, symptom lists, or tips for being healthier before making an appointment with a healthcare provider. A medical practice’s blog post that directly addresses the question can set that practice apart and attract a new patient.
Pros and Cons of Paying For Ads
Using Google Ads is a quick and easy way for a company to gain exposure for the keywords a company would like to rank well for in search engine result pages (SERP). This is an instant gratification scenario for anyone with the budget and expertise to effectively run a Google Ads campaign. Google Ads will provide first screen ranking for specific keywords. The upside to Google Ads is this strategy works quickly. The downsides to Google Ads are numerous:
- An effective Ad strategy will cost upwards of $2,000 monthly
- The ad campaign needs to be analyzed and tweaked constantly
- Many people have become immune to ads
- Once the Google Ad budget is depleted, this money is gone.
- If the consumer lands on an outdated, slow, or poorly designed website, the message may be lost.
So while there are many situations while Google Ads is a great solution, there are several things to consider before spending money on a campaign.
The Long Tail Effect Of Content Marketing
The upside to investing in content marketing is that as a website continues to serve the community with useful information, the E-A-T score of the site continues to grow. Blogs tend to have a long tail, compounding effect meaning a higher ROI for most practices. Blog rankings typically grow in usefulness up to 25-30 months with a peak around the 22-24 month period. Continually referencing these blogs, receiving backlinks and social media will all drive more traffic to a healthcare website, which in turn increases domain authority and positioning in SERP.
Effective Marketing Strategies Attract Patients
Although many physicians regularly provide content to magazines, studies or social media, the majority of healthcare providers do not have time to keep current with effect SEO strategies. Choosing a digital marketing company that specializes in healthcare can take the headache out of maintaining a website. Using an agency to provide the content that shows up when potential new patients are searching on keywords to find a new healthcare provider allsows doctors, surgeons, and hospital administrators to continue focusing on the most critical thing: caring for those patients. Start the conversation today about how stronger digital marketing can help find and keep new patients.