Healthcare Marketing Strategy Step By Step Guide
How To Promote Your Medical Practice 8 Specific Areas for a Profitable Medical Practice.
Most of the practices have several areas to worry about. 1) Staffing of the practice, Medical Director and qualified staff – this is a also known as medical credentialing. 2) Legal requirements to provide medical services – there are specific laws to provide service to patients in every city, there are by-laws, permitting, specific requirements to operate a medical practice. 3) Insurance regulations and medical billing issues A.K.A Collections. Approx 81% of the patient billings have some errors. 4) Physical practice area – zoning, building and permits for medical practices, ADA requirements. 5) Medical equipment, lasers, machines for procedures, and licensing with each vendor. 6) HIPAA compliance and EMR. 7) Finances and funding of the operations. 8) Patient acquisition and patient marketing.
Many physicians also believe that by the virtue of 7 initial steps, they will automatically start acquiring new patients. Some also believe that by having a static, brochure website, patients will find them, and their calendar will start filling.
Each practice has to understand that times have changed. Every practice must advertise and marketing their services. Here we present specific techniques and strategies that have worked for hundreds of practices in USA and Canada. This is also available to you.
There are key strategies to help you. These are outlined in detailed below.
Strategy No 1 – Focus on Patient Care and Patient Trust
Practices who focus on high level of patient care consistently are more successful and profitable than the rest. Examples of clinics who pave patient centric view, seem to have their act together and they are winning patient’s trust and hence their business is more successful. They typically have learned the lessons in awesome patient service, and are operational savvy. It does not mean that they have no issues, they are facing the same issues as other medical practices, however they respond to issues with a focus on patients.
Patient Trust is the Foundation of Medical Marketing Success for Your Practice.
Provide excellent patient care and medical services to your target patients. Treat every patient like they are your first patient. Healthcare practices who focus on high customer/patient service have a solid foundation. From medical marketing perspective, Patient Trust starts from the moment they land on your website or read your online reviews.
Strategy No 2 – Focus on Offline Healthcare Marketing
Dividing your healthcare marketing strategy into 2 main areas : 1) Offline healthcare marketing. 2) Online healthcare marketing. Let’s discuss Offline healthcare marketing. There 5 specific areas to focus on offline healthcare marketing.
1. Referral marketing – Building a network of physicians, clinics and hospitals who complement your services. This has been the traditional foundation of healthcare marketing.
2. Local newspapers – Advertising in local newspapers will help you reach older population and also certain demographic of patients who do not use online resources.
3. High end paper magazines – Advertising in high end paper magazines can be effective. Glossy magazines and major publications focused on certain subjects hold a certain cachet that online doesn’t achieve. For example a luxury real-estate homes for sale can have an advertisement of a local plastic surgeon or a dentist specializing in Invisalign Clear Aligners.
4. Local events – Many of the successful practices have a presence in local events. For example an urgent care clinic hold regular blood drives. A pediatrician sponsors an event for new moms at a local hospital.
5. Billboards – Many of the successful practices have a budget for billboard advertising.
6. Bus advertising – Some of the successful practices have ads placed on buses, targeting commuters in a busy downtown city,
7. Other areas – There are many other ways to market and advertise your practice. However, as a business person, you will have to consider the ROI – Return On Investment for your healthcare marketing.
Strategy No 3 – Focus on Online Healthcare Marketing
Dividing your healthcare marketing strategy into 2 main areas : 1) Offline healthcare marketing. 2) Online healthcare marketing. Online healthcare marketing for physicians can be very complex and daunting. We will layout steps and key important areas for your success here.
No amount of investment can match the returns you will receive from a coherent and proven successful online marketing and Google focused SEO medical website.
Technique No 1 : Medical marketing website
Purpose of a medical website is to present your medical practice professionally and attract :
- Potential patients
- Existing and returning patients
- Search engines
There are 11 additional important aspects of your medical website
- Content of the website
- Structure of the website
- Conversion technology and tactics embedded in the of website
- SEO of the website
- HIPAA compliance of the website
- Interactiveness of the website
- Connectivity of the website to your practice – like phone calls, appointments
- Pages with specific information
- Mobile optimizations of the website
- Speech optimizations of the websites
- ADA adherence of the website
Technique No 2 : SEO of the website
You can have the most attractive and good looking website in town, but if it does not have excellent SEO – Search Engine Optimization, you will not see any ROI – Return Of Investment, from your pretty website. Here are some factors that will help you with good SEO for your medical website:
- Start with creating an account with Google analytics , very important your website’s pages should be accessible and readable by google search engine . Google search is the most accurate search engine, hence your online success depends on having success with Google search. Majority of the patients in USA and Canada search on Google
- Content of the website – Content is the the king and good useful content for your patients will also be loved by the Google search engine.
- Structure of the website – If the technical structure of your website is not accurate, you will spend a lot more time trying to achieve higher SEO rankings.
- Internal links inside and to the website – There should be links in your website to different parts of your website. You want to make it easier for patients to read and take action from your website.
- Select a website framework to speed up your development. We recommend using wordpress.org
- Every page on your website must have a purpose. For example do you have a page on how to “Contact Us” and “Services” on your website?
- Mobile responsiveness is the first step, you need to check every page and see how it loads on a mobile device. Every image on mobile device should be reduced in size for faster load times.
- Relevancy score – How pertinent is the information on the website compared to the “category” of the website – Every website has a “category” in Google’s index
- Domain Age, URL and Authority
- Business Information accurate and matches on Google Business page, Facebook business page and Yelp business page
- HTTPS pages
- User experience
- Social Signals
- Page speed and AMP
Technique No 3 : Conversion on the website
What is A/B Tested Website For Doctors and Medical Practices?
In world of data driven strategy also known as evidence based marketing or ROI based strategy, the computer scientists start with a known hypothesis (A) and compare with it with a variation (B) to see if the B setup produces better results.
This process is also called Split-Run tests. It is a derived from the field of statistics where statisticians (these days also known as data scientists/statisticians). When applied to Websites, PatientGain.com tests different variations of websites and calculates the results based on patient behavior and eventually a conversion from the website. This constant variations and testing produces results from actual patients and helps us produce best conversion website design for doctors.
For example, in case of certain practice areas, we discovered that 82 percent of the patients are visiting a website from mobile phones, rather than laptops, i-Pads and full computers, we placed “click-to-dial” at the proximity of a user’s fingers to make it easier to dial the clinic’s number. We saw 13% better conversion. There are hundreds of detailed analysis is performed to achieve optimal results.
In a 2nd example by placing a clinic’s services with highest margins close to the top of a page, we saw 4% increase in conversion for higher margin procedures.
There is a lot more that goes into creating optimal websites for doctors and healthcare practices.
Healthcare Marketing Conversion Websites are different than informational websites. Here are 8 examples of characteristics for medical marketing conversion websites
Your conversion websites should:
No 1. Your medical website should have useful information for a patient visitor to easily contact you multiple ways. This includes
1. Click to Dial – Phone
2. Fill out an Appointment Request
3. Find Directions
4. Find Medical Services
5. Send Secure Message to Medical Provider.
No 2. Intelligence so Information is captured securely in a HIPAA Compliant database
No 3. Tracking software so source of your leads is captured so you can easily measure the ROI of each advertising medium
No 4. Promotions and Offers should be included predominantly
No 5. Tracking of Phone calls is very important
No 6. Ability to respond automatically ( Auto-Responders ) should be built into your medical marketing conversion website
No 7. A/B Tested layout for best possible patient experience and results
No 8. Your medical marketing conversion website should not take the user away from your primary focus. For example, if your strategy is to capture patient information from a landing page, keep it simple and to-the-point. Do not offer any other offers so the patient is tempted to click on another area and leave your website.
Technique No 4 : Online advertising for your medical practice
Every day millions of potential patients are searching online for their medical needs, and are using the web to find their local healthcare providers. Yellow pages, bill-boards, local newspapers are outdated advertising mediums; they simply lack the instant accessibility and depth of information that a website and combination of online advertising can provide. Online advertising is by far the most effective way to attract new patients, acquire them, and ultimately retain them. Due to its preeminent importance, many clinics to focus their online advertising strategy solely around having a website. However, having a website is really only the first step in creating an online presence that will effectively attract and generate patients. Executing a successful online advertising and patient acquisition strategy requires much more than a website. In order to increase your clinic’s patient count, and the revenue from each patient you service, you need intelligent software behind your website, and a strategy that’s proven to be successful for healthcare clinics across the USA & Canada.
Technique No 5 : Social media for your medical practice
As social media and specifically Facebook becomes more important for users all over the world, businesses need to do more on Facebook. How do you stand out from thousands of other businesses who are advertising and working to get the attention and “Likes” of targeted users? The first step in answering this question is to look at the leaders in your space and your industry to see what they are doing on Social Media, and more specifically, on Facebook. PatientGain.com’s Facebook apps platform provides you with a competitive advantage. Here 4 major ways to get more “eyes” on the social media. More people should “follow”, “friend” & “like” you on different social media platforms.Starting with Facebook is recommended, as majority of of your patients are on Facebook, compared to other platforms. Also note that most people who spend a good amount of time on Social Media have more time than money, so generally leads generated from social media have less quality.
- Using your time, skill and content, add content to your Facebook business page. If you are on Instagram, add more visual content.
- Using your offline marketing, mention the Facebook business page address – For example if you have a print campaign, add your Facebook business page address
- Run ads on Facebook to promote your services, your events and you can even “boost” your posts.
- Post of Facebook with content related to your services.
8 Important elements of your medical website:
1) It must be mobile optimized – Beyond mobile friendly.
2) It must be optimized for conversion.
3) Content must be fresh, relevant, non-plagiarized.
4) SEO Optimized for Google search engine.
5) Based on WordPress (or other proven platforms).
6) Secure and HIPAA Compliant.
7) Should promote and build your brand.
8) Must be pretty, attractive and branded with your own brand.
Off-Line/Traditional Marketing Checklist For Doctors and Medical Practices
Based on hundreds of practices in USA & Canada, we have found that these tactics are typically employed by many practices.
- Newspaper ads
- Direct mailing to people living in a certain town, radius or locality
- Local bus ads
- Ads in local movie theaters
- Billboard rentals
- Discount coupons
- Product sampling
- Frequent Buyer program
- Hosting special events – for blood drive / AARP meeting
- Radio advertising
- TV advertising
- Advertising in local school’s publication targeted for parents
- Co-advertising with another physician who compliments your services.
- Sidewalk Advertising – attention grabbing person stands with a sign of your service or clinic
Physician Marketing for Medical Practices Can Be
1. Offline Traditional Marketing
2. Internet or Digital Marketing
We highly recommend digital marketing for 99 percent of healthcare practices. Both of these approaches have merits and limitations, costs and ROI (Return On Investment) is not the same.
13 Examples of offline advertising for physicians:
1. Newspapers (see list of top newspapers in USA)
2. Yellow pages (see list of Yellow pages in USA)
3. Billboards : Out-of-home advertising – Out-of-home (OOH) advertising or outdoor advertising, also known as out-of-home media or outdoor media, is advertising that reaches the patients while they are outside their homes.3. Referrals from peers and other entities like hospitals.
4. Networking with other physicians – This has been traditional way to expand. For many specialties, this still works. Building a nice referral network of providers who do not compete with you, will always benefit you. This is also known as “influencer marketing”.
5. Printed flyers – This has worked for physicians since late 1800’s. For example for a 5000 print run, 8.5 inch by 11 inch full color both sides, tri-folded on 100 lb gloss paper will cost you approx $492.48. Then delivery cost is extra. For example to mail this to 5000 residents close to your practice will be extra cost. Some techniques used for delivery are direct-mail, packaging inserts, point-of-sale display, leave behinds and sales helpers.
6. Business cards & event marketing – This approach has been very successful for physicians who offer a complex service. For example a medical practice that offers medical weight loss program. The practice may decide to offer a 2 step process. In the step 1, a free seminar is offered and promoted. And in steps 2 the attending patients are “sold” the package. Consider costs below: in this example you print 1000 flyers and distribute them to many places. Design setup $500, printing $172, distribution $500. Total costs $1172.
7. Indirect messaging / co-branding – Using this strategy, some physicians have seen very good results. For example, the manufacturer of CoolSculpting offered you a co-branding campaign. They pay a part of the marketing costs and you pay a part. The end result is that both parties benefit.
8. TV Ads – These ads work. Digital Ads for specific medical procedures are on the rise. However cost can be much higher that other mediums. Ultimately, the ROI from each medium determines the value.
9. Radio Ads – Physicians who use radio advertising to promote services over the radio, typically in 30 or 60 second spots. Radio can be more expensive than some newer advertising methods, but it is a very strong medium, reaching 93% of American adults weekly according to Nielsen data. With an adequate marketing budget, you can use radio to work for your medical practice. Radio advertising costs can range from $2000 to $5,000 per week depending on your location. You will also need to factor in the cost of producing the commercial, including copywriting, voice talent, and audio / visual editing, which is additional costs.
10. Magazines – Marketing and advertising in magazines has been effective to create awareness.
11. Car Wraps – Cost of full wrap is between $2,500 and $5,000. With proper messaging and exposure, compared to other outdoor advertising, your vinyl car wrap pays for itself within the first few months on the road! However this type of marketing is not for every medical practice.
12. Local movie theaters – This has been effective for many providers. However it is difficult to measure the net impact. Local movie theaters marketing costs $1000 to $4,000 per month depending on your location.
13. Mail drops – Still the easiest way to be placed in your local patient’s mail boxes, marketing costs $500 to $1,000 per mail drop per 10,000 residents, depending on your location.
Online Advertising can be further divided into sub areas:
- Search or PPC ( Pay-Per-Click ) Advertising – Google, Yahoo and Bing are very common examples for this type of advertising. Some physicians equate this to Search Advertising. There are hundreds of variations within this category alone.
- SEO – Search Engine Optimization – This refers to techniques and content placed of your website so search engines like Google can find you and rank you higher for specific keywords. Consumers (your patients) use mobile devices and computers to type in phrases like “Medspa Near Me West Palm Beach FL” and search engines display relevant listings. More and more patients are speaking to devices rather than typing text. This is call Speech Based SEO.
- Display Advertising – Interest Based Advertising – there are many variations.
- Video Advertising – Advertising on YouTube for doctors can be effective.
- Social Media Advertising – Interest Based & Demographic Advertising. Can be visual, textual, video based.
- Mobile Advertising – Based on mobile ads and user’s location.
- Geo-Targeted / Geo-Fenced Advertising – Used by Apps, Search, Social Media and Location Aware apps, among others.
- Re-Marketing – Based on a User’s Past History, Past Interests and Predicted Behaviour.
- Similar Competitive Interest Based Advertising
Some physicians consider SEO (Search Engine Optimization) a part of Online Advertising. There are dozens of other variations based on these 6 major types approaches.