These can be very challenging times for modern medical practices. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes health insurance available to more consumers, but individual practices must still motivate individuals to become patients. A cost-effective marketing plan needs to be set in place to catch the attention of prospective patients.
Basic advertising is losing its effectiveness because of its inability to target a specific demographic at the precise moment someone is searching for a medical practitioner. More successful physician marketing strategies are incorporating online tactics to capture as many of these leads as possible. The top five online strategies include:
- Revisit Your Web Pages: One of the first places today’s prospective patients will check when they are searching for information about potential medical partners is the website. Your website must be clear and easy to use, and contain information that will help the patient form a positive opinion regarding your practice. It must contain keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes so your site will show up in search results on Google, Bing and Yahoo. It needs to be constantly updated so that it continues to attract the attention of the search engines.
- Increase the Number of “Touches”: This marketing term translates into the number of times prospective patients see or hear something about your medical practice. If they see your sign when driving by your office, that is considered one “touch.” They can be touched again when a friend recommends your practice. Generally it takes five or six “touches” to motivate an action. This can best be accomplished by increasing your social media presence. Increase the amount of outbound communications from your office so it remains top-of-mind when they are ready to make a decision.
- Targeting with PPC Campaigns: Properly targeted AdWords or pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can give an extra boost to your physician marketing strategy at the exact moment a potential patient is searching for medical services. If they see that your practice is advertising itself as offering exactly what they need, they will be more likely to click through to your website instead of proceeding with their search process.
- Communicate with Current Patients: Even as your practice is improving its online strategies, it is highly likely that your local competitors are also increasing their marketing efforts. It is necessary to maintain a constant stream of communication to keep the patients you already have. Use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, email and e-newsletters to keep in touch and remind patients why they want to stay with your medical practice.
- Build Your Referral Network: You always want to ask patients for referrals, but physicians in specialty areas also need to communicate with other doctors to increase referrals. These communications can be more targeted regarding your specific services, but they need to occur on a regular basis. LinkedIn can be a valuable resource when trying to grow your referral network.
Online marketing, when properly implemented, can make a huge difference in your practice’s ongoing ability to retain and attract patients in the age of ACA.