Do you ever ask your new patients how they discovered your medical practice? In the past, new patients may have found you through word of mouth or by looking for local doctors in the phone book. Today, though, new patients probably tell you that they found you by searching on Google or Yelp. Wouldn’t you like to capture more of that business? Of course you would. A more prominent online presence means more patients, happier employees and a more secure future — but building that presence takes time.
This is our comprehensive digital marketing roadmap for doctors. When you finish reading it, you’ll have a thorough understanding of what it takes to build an online presence that consistently drives new business to your practice. Do you need help? Contact us. At Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, we are passionate about online marketing for doctors. In fact, it’s all we do.
Your Website Is Your Base of Operations
Your Website Pre-Sells Your Practice
If your practice doesn’t have a website, potential patients can still find you online. Websites such as Google and Yelp use public records and user submissions to discover local businesses. It’s likely that both websites — and other websites such as Bing and YellowPages — have entries for your practice. If you don’t have your own website, though, that’s where potential new patients’ research ends. A prospective patient who discovers you on Yelp has to call you for more information if you don’t have a website to view.
A website’s first job is to tell prospective patients about your practice. What are your qualifications? What services do you offer? What insurance plans do you accept? What are your hours? Your website can provide quick answers to those questions and help to convince a prospective patient that you are the right doctor for him or her.
Your Website Generates Free Traffic
Much of digital marketing for doctors involves paying for traffic, i.e., bidding to appear prominently on search results pages so people looking for a doctor in your area will find you. Paying for all of your web traffic is a marketing tactic that’s difficult to sustain, though, so it’s wise to also capture as much free traffic as you can.
Have you ever wondered why so many doctors’ websites have blogs? It’s not just because those doctors enjoy writing. In fact, many of them outsource the writing duties to digital marketing agencies such as Crystal Clear. Blogs exist because they help websites generate free traffic from search engines. As you publish more content, Google will index more different keywords on your website — and keywords are the basis of all search engine traffic.
Search Engine Advertising Drives Traffic to Your Website
Some search keywords are more likely to generate new business for your practice than others. If your office is in Pittsburgh, for example, the keyword phrase “doctor in Pittsburgh” would probably be quite likely to send new business your way. The problem, though, is that other doctors with more established websites are also targeting that keyword phrase. Until you can start to attract free traffic from that search phrase, search engine advertising allows you to pay for the traffic.
Landing Pages Turn Visitors Into Patients
Search engine advertising begins with a landing page on your website. You’ll create a page designed to tell potential patients everything that they need to know about finding a doctor in Pittsburgh. The page will also encourage visitors to schedule appointments by calling your office.
A great landing page:
- Explains that you understand the visitor’s search intent
- Assures the visitor that you can provide exactly what he or she wants
- Encourages the visitor to perform a target action — usually completing a form or calling for an appointment — immediately
Keyword Bidding Sends Traffic to Landing Pages
Once you have a landing page for your target keyword phrase, you’ll use the Google AdWords interface to bid for that keyword. Google will tell you how much you’ll need to bid to have your ad appear at the top of the results page for that keyword. Although the bid may seem high, remember that you’ll pay when people click your ad — not when they view it.
Since paying for traffic can quickly become expensive, the key to successful search engine advertising is to ensure that the campaign earns more money than it costs. You can do that in two ways:
- Research to find inexpensive but profitable keywords that your competitors aren’t exploiting
- Optimize your landing pages to make them irresistible to prospective patients
Business Directories Help New Patients Discover You
If potential patients aren’t using Google to find your practice, they’re using business directories such as Yelp and YellowPages. You need to ensure that all of the most popular business directories have listings for your practice and that the contact information in the listings is correct. If a directory doesn’t have a listing for your practice, create one. If a listing already exists, claim it. Add contact information, pictures, a description of your practice and your website’s URL. The website URL is particularly important because it gives prospective patients a way to research your practice further before committing to an appointment.
Many business directories such as Yelp, Google and Facebook allow customers to write reviews of businesses. In Yelp’s case, the review scores actually help to determine your ranking for searches such as “doctor,” so having a high volume of positive reviews can greatly help to send new patients your way.
Social Media Is Your Open Communication Channel
Creating profiles for your practice on social media websites can be a great way to engage your existing patients. It can also give your practice a friendly and upbeat online image that encourages prospective patients to call for appointments. If you don’t have the time to manage multiple social media profiles, we suggest beginning with Facebook because Facebook doubles as a business directory. People use Facebook to discover local businesses. If someone who searches for a doctor on Facebook finds your profile and sees that it is full of helpful and informative posts, you’ll give that person a very positive first impression.
If your existing patients become your followers on Facebook, you can use the social network as a means of increasing the number of average visits that you receive per patient each year. We’ll discuss that further in the next section of this article. The most valuable thing that you can do on Facebook or any other social network, though, is to post content that readers find valuable.
What content works best on social media? You should play to your strengths. If you are a cardiologist, post tips about how people can improve their cardiovascular health. If you are a pediatrician, write an article about how proper first aid can help prevent childhood bumps and scrapes from becoming infected or leaving scars. The helpful information that you post helps to solidify your position as an expert in your field. If you post content that’s very interesting, readers may share it with their friends — and content that’s shared will generate web traffic and increase awareness of your practice.
Email Marketing Makes Existing Patients More Profitable
As we discussed above, using search engine advertising to pay for web traffic is an excellent way to bring new patients to your practice. We also discussed that you can make your campaigns more profitable by bidding on less expensive keywords or optimizing your landing pages. There is actually a third way to make your campaigns more effective: Earn more from each new patient. If you can increase the average lifetime value of a patient, you can increase the amount that you spend to acquire the patient while remaining profitable.
Email marketing is a great way to keep patients coming to your office — even when they don’t need your services to resolve health problems. Using email, you can remind your patients to come in for routine procedures such as flu shots, yearly wellness checks, mammograms or prostate examinations. Each time one of your messages successfully convinces one of your patients to schedule an appointment, that patient becomes more profitable.
If you aren’t already collecting your patients’ email addresses, building an email list may take time. One easy way to begin collecting email addresses is to have your receptionist ask patients for their email addresses at your office during the intake process. You can also use a form on your website to request email addresses from online visitors.
Contact Crystal Clear Digital Marketing today to get started!