Top Digital Marketing Strategies for Medical Practitioners in 2020
Just as it is in the case of most businesses today, digital marketing is an essential part of the overall marketing strategy for medical practitioners. A well-planned digital marketing strategy for medical practices helps achieve three major objectives:
- generate more qualified leads,
- connect with patients, and
- close more deals.
The growth of specialized digital platforms and social media networks have transformed the way patients search and choose healthcare providers today. In fact, 73% of consumers research healthcare providers on search engines and 83% first go through a hospital’s website before booking an appointment.
Would you want to risk losing all these people?
To prevent yourself from losing potential clients, it’s best to create a positive online presence and ensure that online searchers know what you are capable of.
Let’s look at some of the most successful digital marketing strategies that will surely help you boost your business in 2020.
Digital Marketing Strategies for Medical Practitioners
According to a report by Smart Insights, over 49% of businesses do not have a defined digital marketing strategy.
What does this suggest?
A) You are far behind in the competition because you don’t have a clear marketing strategy, or
B) You have ample opportunity to grow and attract online searchers to your website.
Since you do have an opportunity to grow, why not start implementing the following digital marketing strategies to see quick results in 2020?
Initiating an Outreach and Referral Program for Medical Practitioners
Medical practices majorly rely on referrals from local doctors, hospitals, local and online pharmacies, insurers, TPAs, etc.
In fact, according to Nielsen, there is a 4X higher chance of people opting for your services if they are referred by a friend.
Practitioners and healthcare providers can roll out outreach and referral programs through online networking, newsletters, and e-flyers to the members of the entire ecosystem. These referrals can be purely incentive-based.
A detailed report of referral sources should be created to optimally incentivize the respective referrers. Moreover, a report by Texas Tech suggests that 83% of satisfied clients are willing to refer your services to their peers.
Winning the Trust with Employees Advocate Marketing
Large hospital chains usually have tens of thousands of employees across different centers. If each employee refers their workplace to just a few of their family members and friends, the number of referrals can become massive.
Even smaller healthcare providers can leverage their workforce and groom them to become their advocates.
The first step towards an employee advocacy program is to make staff members aware of a medical practitioner’s or hospital’s successes and accomplishments. The next step is to encourage the workforce to share these accomplishments and success stories within their close network via their preferred social media channels. These leads convert 7X more frequently than those generated by other marketing channels.
Since 72% of adults engage on social media to discuss stories, you could definitely benefit from urging your employees to talk about you online.
Employees can also share these success stories and achievements with potential clients. This is a great way for hospitals to complement their overall social media outreach efforts.
Patient Referral Marketing Program to Reach a Wider Audience
Patient satisfaction should be your number one priority; not just because it is your moral duty but also because happy patients tend to refer your hospital to others in need.
The more satisfied the patients are, the more the chances that they will refer you to others.
Custom, as well as packaged patient-satisfaction software, can help doctors compile actionable data of patients that have expressed the strongest positive feelings and positive intent to refer.
In order to increase patient satisfaction, you must constantly communicate effectively through various digital channels. Make them feel cared for and welcomed.
Target all Generations with Social Media Marketing for Doctors
Social media marketing for doctors helps medical practitioners improve their online presence across social media, relevant digital platforms, and search engine results.
With over a billion users on platforms such as Facebook, it is quite clear that social media platforms can significantly help brands increase visibility, lead to greater engagement, and gradually, establish brands as a trusted source of medical care.
Creating social media accounts and maintaining them is important, but making people and prospective patients aware of your platform is important too.
Social media plays a great role in making people aware of basic healthcare requirements. Moreover, a study by Search Engine Watch reveals that more than 90% of millennials believe all healthcare related information shared on social media.
As a medical practitioner, you must include your social media handles on all your digital properties and third-party digital platforms.
On your social media channels, ensure that there is constant engagement. This can be achieved by adding engaging content, sharing best practices, answering questions to important questions, etc.
Practices with a relatively higher marketing budget should also invest in paid social media PPC ads, particularly on Facebook.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Improve Ranking
The majority of patients check for a healthcare provider online before reaching a doctor. For a medical practice to be successful, it must be on the top of Google Search Results.
SEO is done to optimize organic traffic on your site driven through quality content.
Further, a robust SEO strategy for doctors entails identifying the best keywords. For most medical practices, the best SEO tactic would be focusing on local keywords.
You must optimize your website based on the name of the city where you operate and other specific location details.
What happens in local search is that Google scans searcher’s IP address and gives them local results of medical professionals in their area.
Also, having a Google My Business (GMB) profile can pay off well. Google features three Google My Business profiles on the map at the top of search results.
In addition, all the SEO best practices for on-page, off-page, and technical SEO need to be taken into account for an effective SEO strategy.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to Drive Leads
Today, nearly 1 in 20 Google searches are health-related.
Every year, several billion searches are done on healthcare-related topics, resulting in a few billion clicks.
Considering the intense competition, even for the paid Ads in the search network, SEM needs to be managed well.
Ad rank would depend on several factors:
- The maximum amount of money the healthcare provider is willing to pay for a click on their ad
- Quality of ads
- Quality of landing page
- Relevance to the search terms
- Provider’s physical location at the time of the search
- Type of device used (e.g., mobile or desktop)
- Time of the search
- Nature of search terms
- Competitiveness of the bid
A medical practice taking care of these variables would be featured and reap the benefit. If planned well, SEM can result in excellent ROI.
Community Outreach, Social, and Online PR for Increased Online Visibility
Staying active in the community by speaking engagements, traditional media, etc. is a great way to elevate a practice’s brand awareness.
If these activities are blended with social media and online PR, the effectiveness of community outreach can be increased manifold.
Practitioners can repurpose videos, interview, etc. and promote them via their social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Manage Business Directories and Appointment Platforms
Globally, there are over 1,000 doctor appointment booking companies. These online platforms enable patients to find health practitioners and book appointments.
Patients can also book remote video consultations with doctors through these platforms. With access to the internet and mobile devices, a large chunk of doctor’s appointments is being scheduled through appointment booking platforms.
In such a scenario, medical practices must be present on not just one but almost all the major appointment book platforms. And as is the case with Google or Facebook, the registered users must optimize their listing as per individual platforms.
Answer Questions Online
Answering questions on social media platforms, specialized question-and-answer websites such as Quora, or on a blog post on the practitioner’s website have an immense impact on SEO.
Search engines, such as Google, take into account social activities. If a website is linked to platforms with a large number of subscribers or followers, it automatically has a more positive impact on SEO.
Questions and answers on blog posts have similar benefits. In addition to the SEO benefits, active websites and social media platforms gradually establish the medical practice as a thought-leader in its domain.
Quora has over 20 million indexed pages and a global audience of over 300 million. One of the most common ways SEO digital marketers leverage Quora is by making it part of their comprehensive link building strategy.
Although nearly every external link generated on Quora has a no-follow attribute, medical marketers can attract large referral traffic from any of their question pages.
Managing Patient Reviews for Added Trust
Online reviews of healthcare providers or doctors matter a lot as patients make decisions based on these reviews.
As many as 47% of consumers say that a doctor’s online reputation matters.
For healthcare organizations, this calls for a step-by-step plan for addressing negative reviews. It would be a good idea to use a reputable online reputation management platform to help you.
Create Email Marketing Campaigns
Healthcare marketing falls into two areas: acquisition (getting new patients) and retention (turning them into regular patients).
Acquisition strategies often rely on online reviews, advertising, promotions, and social media to get new patients.
Email marketing is the best channel for healthcare providers to build long-lasting relationships with their patients and increase retention rates. Although some use social media to keep in touch with their patients, email marketing can be more personal, customized, and confidential.
In fact, over 90% of adults prefer a doctor’s office that communicates via emails!
Hence, despite the fact that providers can use various platforms to acquire and retain patients, the importance of email marketing in healthcare cannot be ignored.
Engage in Content Marketing
Content Marketing involves the creation, curation, syndication, distribution, and analytics of content. For medical practices, just like many B2B businesses, content marketing is an extremely effective tool.
New age medical practices must continuously create and repurpose content in various formats such as videos, case studies, ebooks, research reports, blogging, etc.
Even the long-form content formats, such as webinars and podcasts, can be included in the overall mix.
Research reports are very frequently quoted by other healthcare professionals and doctors. And every time someone quotes the research finding, they need to backlink it to the source. Reports can be repurposed into infographics that are often embedded into several relevant websites. This is a great way of building quality backlinks.
Videos are the most consumed content formats. An active YouTube channel can be a great source of information and a qualified lead for most medical practitioners. Weekly podcasts on specific domains can work wonders with regards to audience engagement. And as content marketing, in general, is a knowledge-based approach, this automatically establishes the medical practice as the industry thought leader.
Go Blogging and Guest Blogging
Although blogs are another format of content, they need special mention for several reasons. Doctors and other specialists should continuously post guest blogs on relevant websites and utilize influencers of the medical industry to create guest posts for their own websites.
Medical practices have thrived on referrals for ages. And when industry influencers talk about specific medical practices, they act as solid referrers. On the other hand, when medical practitioners post on other platforms, they get a quality backlink instead of the post.
Every business, irrespective of the industry they represent, must write weekly blog posts. Blogs are the best ways companies can address a critical search engine criteria of relevance and recency.
Develop a Personal Branding Strategy
Every core team member of medical practices should be nurtured as a brand. Every digital marketing strategy that can be adopted for a commercial brand can be applied to individuals.
Additionally, you can contribute to various industry publications, participate in industry events, maintain a personal blog, and creating a website along with the full profile and credentials of a doctor.
Steve Jobs, for example, was as effective as his brand – Apple. A lot of patients visit healthcare providers, not because of the commercial brand but the personal brand that a doctor has established over the years.
A digital marketer working on digital marketing strategies for medical practices in 2020 must focus on creating personal brands as well, in addition to the commercial brand.
Now that you know the top digital marketing strategies to establish an online presence for your services, you must also know how they would help you.
The Benefits of Digital Marketing Strategies
Digital marketing has been instrumental for medical practices in terms of increasing patient engagement, conversion rates, patient loyalty, brand perception, patient retention, brand awareness, and overall inpatient experience.
Easy Audience Targeting
With digital marketing, it is easier to target the right audience. For example, one healthcare provider might offer world-class treatment for several ailments. But sending out generic communication as a mass-marketing campaign may not yield the best results.
The provider must reach out to individual patients looking for specific treatment with a laser-sharp and extremely targeted communication.
With Google Ads, similar networks, and social media ads, healthcare providers can reach out to their target audience with the utmost precision.
Cost-Effective Marketing tool
The majority of medical practices fall into the SMB category. They are constantly competing with larger players that attract a large chunk of patients. Large healthcare providers advertise heavily through traditional channels such as newspapers, billboards, TV, radio, etc. And now all of them have started investing heavily in digital marketing as well.
Although smaller medical practices do not have the kind of funds large providers earmark for marketing, digital marketing has leveled the playing field to a great extent. A well-designed digital marketing strategy can help medical practitioners attract tons of local patients regardless of their size, budget, or location.
A well-planned knowledge-based digital marketing approach utilizing content in formats such as whitepapers, research reports, case studies, videos, blogs help medical practices establish them as thought leaders.
Not just content formats but the distribution channel of content also plays a crucial role in establishing thought leadership.
YouTube, Quora, personal blogs, etc. allow engaging directly with patients and answer their queries.
For a more personalized response, emails play a crucial role.
Top digital marketing strategies for medical practices in 2020 must include the basic traditional strategies of SEO, SEM, SMM, and email marketing. Strategies specific to medical practices would be referral programs, employee advocacy, patient referral marketing, managing patient reviews, optimizing for doctor appointment portals and directories.
If implemented effectively, digital marketing for medical practices is the only way that levels the field for smaller medical practices vis-a-vis larger hospital chains.