As a healthcare provider, having a digital marketing strategy in place is just as important as having any other component of your marketing plan. While creating and maintaining an up-to-date website, blog, email, and social media campaigns may seem daunting at worst and time-consuming at best, you cannot afford to overlook the fact that these strategies are very effective ways to reach and share information with new and existing patients.
Digital Marketing can Assist you in the following ways:
- Acquire new patients
- Engage with your patients
- Increase patient loyalty
- Capture information about your patients’ preferences
1. MAKE YOURSELF “VISIBLE”
Most people are increasingly looking for services through a “organic” online search from the comfort of their own device, using a search engine like Google to find companies that provide what they seek. A website must use the appropriate terms and phrases known as keywords and keyword phrases in the appropriate density throughout to be found in organic search.
A wise healthcare practice will recruit a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist to review their website content and ensure that it contains the terminology and analytics that will allow it to be found in an organic search. Because if people can’t find you, they won’t be able to find you.
2. What People Say About You Matters
Word-of-mouth referrals are still an important source of new patients. However, word-of-mouth does not always imply that a potential new patient receives a recommendation from a family member, friend, or neighbor. Many times, the suggestion comes from someone they have never met.
According to research, people who search for products and services online are especially interested in reading what other customers have to say about those products and services, as well as the businesses that provide them. These reviews have the potential to sway the decision of a potential new customer.
Allowing patients to rate your practice in reviews on your website and social media will reap some significant benefits for your organization:
- Online reviews will help increase your search engine visibility, which means more prospective new patients will be able to find you.
- The ability to comment on personal experiences and provide feedback contributes to patient satisfaction and loyalty.
- When feedback is well received and a response is provided in a timely manner, patient satisfaction rises.
So, what about the negative feedback? Let’s face it: the reality of doing business dictates that not every comment will be favorable. Negative reviews, on the other hand, are useful in two ways:
- By acting on legitimate criticisms and recommendations from patients, you can improve your practice.
- You can build goodwill by thanking the reviewer for their input and addressing their issue.
Remember that while responding to negative reviews isn’t as much fun as responding to positive ones, it’s just as if its not more important. A negative review is actually an opportunity to learn more about the patient’s experience.
“…90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business. Furthermore, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviewers as much as they take personal recommendations.” — Anonymous
3. Engage With Social Media
It is becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the value of social media as a marketing tool. Social media reaches a large audience and is becoming a popular way for businesses and consumers to communicate.
Statista, a market, and consumer data provider, discovered in a recent report:
- Facebook had 2.2+ million users worldwide.
- YouTube had 1.5 million users.
- Instagram recently topped 800 million monthly active users.
- Twitter had 330 million users.
- Pinterest and LinkedIn each have more than 200 million users.
In addition to traditional methods of communication (such as a website, print ads, and word of mouth), the prudent healthcare practitioner would view social media platforms as useful tools that provide access to both existing and potential new patients. Some astute service providers are using social media to foster interaction and dialogue with their local community. Here are some examples:
- Promoting an event, such as a 5K race/walk
- Providing a healthy incentive program
- Organizing a weight-loss competition among coworkers
Furthermore, social media provides a platform for healthcare providers to inform and educate people. A specialist, for example, could upload a video to YouTube explaining a new medical procedure, or a hospital could use Facebook to publicize a diabetes education class.
4. Start And Maintain A Blog
A blog, which is similar to an online “journal,” is another effective way to reach out to and communicate with clients. Why would people like to read a blog, you may wonder? DOZ, a marketing software maker, shares five of the most important reasons:
- It is more convenient to look for information this way. Blogs that are regularly updated are easily found by search engines and allow readers to find current news about a specific topic at any time and from any location.
- Dislike for traditional media. Many people are dissatisfied with mainstream news sources in this age of “fake news.” A blog provides a new source of information.
- Affiliation/expression. Readers may become “members of the club,” identifying with a group of people who have a common interest.
- Seeking advice/opinion. People seek expert advice on matters of interest.
- Personal gratification. Many people read blogs because they are entertaining and educational.
A blog is an excellent tool for healthcare organizations to use to create trust with patients by sharing information in a conversational format. Yes, maintaining a blog requires time and attention, but the results are well worth it. A well-written blog with frequent updates can:
- Increase your SEO ranking, thus increasing your website’s visibility in online searches.
- Drive new viewers to your website, resulting in potential new patients.
- Help build your reputation as a trustworthy healthcare provider
So, when it comes to digital marketing, don’t stick your head in the sand. Implementing digital strategies for healthcare providers will increase your outreach and communication with patients, position you as a knowledgeable and trusted resource in your community, and, ultimately, improve your bottom line.