Grow Your Medical Practice (summary)
If you’re in a healthcare-related business, your company’s focus is on how to provide the highest quality care. Helping people get better and stay healthy is an admirable mission. But in today’s highly competitive healthcare market, is providing good care enough to grow your practice?
Probably not. You must be actively marketing. Otherwise you risk missing out on attracting new patients because people don’t know you exist or aren’t aware of the full range of health services you provide.
“Your hospital, clinic, office or practice exists first on your potential patients’ phones, tablets and desktops before it exists as a brick-and-mortar location,” according to OneUpWeb in their Healthcare Marketing Manual.
Even in today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment, a provider’s success is largely dependent on patients choosing to see you when they need care. More and more often, that search for a doctor, clinic or medical practice begins online. Patients shop for medical providers in much the same way they shop for anything else. They start with a Google search.
You want to be sure prospective new patients find you online and like what they see. Use healthcare digital marketing to your advantage and get in front of the consumer when they’re at the point of decision!
Today’s healthcare market has an ever-increasing number of players. More doctors, more dentists, more medical practices and more alternative health providers — the list goes on — resulting in intense competition for patients. Consider these examples:
Healthcare businesses like physician practices and hospitals face a new reality: yesterday’s patient is not necessarily tomorrow’s patient.
Today’s consumers are taking a more active role in their healthcare decisions. They know they have choices, and they do their homework. They select their doctors with care. And they don’t hesitate to move their business to another provider if they’re not satisfied.
So what does that mean to physicians? To compete, you must promote.
As a healthcare provider, while retaining existing customers is important, you must also continually be marketing your practice to attract a steady stream of new patients. You can’t sit back and wait for patients to find you. And referrals are no longer enough.
Like any business, you must actively promote your brand if you are to grow. You need visibility, so that when someone has a need, your practice is the one they choose.
Every business in the medical arena needs a high quality website that builds trust in the eyes of the patient:
A website crafted by a professional copywriter and web designer will give you credibility in the eyes of prospective clients.
Your website should be one of your primary marketing tools. Use it to accomplish these objectives:
When people search the web, they’re seeking a solution to a problem. To be that solution, your website copy needs to tell the world what you do and how you’re uniquely qualified to offer that service.
Additionally, a well-written website for your healthcare practice should differentiate you from the competition. In other words, provide information that proves you’re the best solution.
By explaining what you do in detail, you’ll attract patients who are a good fit for your practice. And you’ll also make your current patients aware of the full range of your capabilities.
Before visiting a doctor, today’s healthcare consumers do their homework. They research their symptoms and treatment options after visiting a doctor as well.
They see healthcare as a collaboration between themselves and their doctors. They take responsibility for their health and the decisions that affect it. The doctor no longer has the only say on treatment, hospitals, specialists and medications.
According to Pew Research:
According to Think with Google’s The Digital Journey to Wellness: Hospital Selection:
What these statistics show is that as a physician or dentist, you need to have a quality web presence to attract new patients and grow your practice.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical if you want people to find your healthcare website. Let’s say you’re a family medicine practitioner in Orlando, Florida. If someone searches Google for a family medicine doctor in Orlando, ideally you want your website to come up on page 1 because, let’s face it, most people don’t bother going beyond page 1 or 2.
A professional copywriter knows what factors Google and other search engines consider when determining the rank for a medical practice’s website.
You can get on that first or second page with the right content. And whether you’re a cardiologist, dermatologist, pediatrician or urologist, that’s the type of free advertising that can deliver a steady stream of new patients and increased revenue.
In 2018 Google released a broad core algorithm update designed to improve the quality of its results. This is not an unusual occurrence, as Google has had many prior broad core algorithm updates. But this particular one, now being called the “Google Medic Update” for reasons you’ll soon understand, has special significance for healthcare practices.
Medical and health websites took an immediate hit as Google Medic updates began. Many previously high-ranked websites dropped significantly in the rankings.
What’s clear is that Google wants healthcare-related websites to prove their trustworthiness. Medical information should come from reputable websites/companies, and the content should be created with a high level of expertise and authority.
So what can you do to enhance that credibility and show Google that your website, and the people behind that website, are authorities in their field? Try some of these ideas or work with a professional copywriter to:
If your healthcare website is used to sell nutritional supplements, medical devices, or other health-based products or services, be sure to include plenty of relevant information that answer visitors’ questions and support the legitimacy of what you’re offering. Product reviews and discussions on your website or social media postings can also help to improve your credibility in the eyes of Google.
With regard to the Medic update, “Google’s advice probably is still the best advice on how to do better: build a site that people want to visit. A site that matches people’s search queries and their search intent, and you’ll do just fine,” according to Yoast SEO.
Your healthcare website and marketing materials need to be kept current. Change out anything that seems dated. To go even further, speak to trends happening in the industry.
As someone in healthcare, no doubt you’ve heard of the emphasis being placed on value. Value-based healthcare is a payment model that rewards healthcare providers for providing quality care to patients.
Under this approach, providers seek to achieve the Triple Aim of:
That value angle needs to be at the core of any marketing and copywriting you do.
A recent report from Hitwise states that in the U.S. mobile search is roughly 58% of overall search query volume; another 7% on tablets. And those numbers are growing.
Approximately 69% of smartphone users also say that they are more likely to buy from companies with mobile sites that easily address their questions or concerns (BrightEdge, 2017)
Get the picture? If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re going to lose prospects who can’t view your site correctly. And to add insult to injury, Google will also give you a lower ranking on the search engine. It doesn’t want to send searchers to a site that is problematic.
Populate your medical practice’s website with rich, engaging content. If your site hasn’t been updated in the past few years, it may have old, inaccurate information and a design that shows its age. Today’s consumers won’t be fooled, and they won’t contact you if your website lacks the information they need to make important healthcare decisions. They’ll just go elsewhere.
Post informative, well-written copy that positions you as an authority and also helps you stand out. And, as mentioned earlier, following that advice will also help your site in the eyes of Google’s recent Medic Update.
If your website reads like every other website in your field, you won’t wow the prospect. You must have a unique message custom tailored to your distinctive patient base and supported by helpful, professionally-written information.
Here are 10 of the most popular types of digital content healthcare professionals can create:
The internet has a growing influence over people’s choices in nearly every aspect of their lives. They look online for information on what to eat, how to dress, where to vacation and who to choose as their doctor. Healthcare providers must therefore be as thoughtful in crafting their online image as they are in decorating their office, hiring support personnel and interacting with their patients.
While your website should be a professional representation of your healthcare practice, it shouldn’t be formal or impersonal. After all, your patients want to know something about the doctor or dentist who will be treating them.
A well-written About Us page is a great place to give your professional background as well as some of your personal views. Perhaps you have an interesting story about why you got into the medical profession.
Or maybe you want your entire medical team to be recognized on the About Us page. Photos and brief bios can go a long way in helping patients feel they know you and can trust you.
A third-party endorsement can be extremely effective in getting prospective patients to choose your practice over a competitor’s, so why not include those testimonials on your website? Most patients will be happy to give you permission to use their sincere praise of your services.
The best testimonials include specifics. In other words, rather than quote a patient saying, “I like Gordon Dermatology. They provide good service,” have them briefly describe the problem you solved:
“I developed a stubborn rash on my arms that wouldn’t go away. For weeks I itched and wore long sleeves while I tried every possible over-the-counter remedy. Finally I went to Gordon Dermatology. Dr. Gordon was able to immediately diagnose my problem and prescribe a medication. Within days the rash disappeared. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Pretty compelling, right? So the next time you have a patient who “couldn’t be more grateful,” ask him or her if you can add their kind words to your website.
Want to take your healthcare marketing to the next level? Turn some of your most interesting testimonials into full-fledged case studies.
Longer and more detailed than testimonials, healthcare case studies are extraordinary marketing tools. They’re engaging in the same way that a story with a beginning, middle and end holds your interest. In case studies, the story takes the format of a problem, solution and results.
What makes case studies so effective is that they come across as informative, as opposed to “salesy.” They lay out the facts and allow the reader to draw the positive conclusion.
There’s also the human element. You’re talking about someone’s individual experience and possibly even using their own words as quotes. Ideally, your reader can relate to that person’s situation. When that happens, the reader’s thought process is likely to be, “Hmm, that’s similar to the problem I’m experiencing. If this healthcare product or service was able to help that patient, then it can surely help me. I need to contact this company.”
Good testimonials have the power to “unstick” reluctant patients and persuade them to finally book that doctor’s appointment or elective procedure they’ve been putting off, which is good for them and also good for your healthcare business.
Not every visitor has to enter your medical website through the home page/front door. Instead, visitors can come through whatever entrance best fits their interests.
A landing page is where visitors arrive after clicking a link from a search engine, online ad or other type of targeted promotion. And, while you can only have one Home page, you can have as many landing pages as you’d like.
Landing pages are highly specific, usually focused just one main subject. For example, if you have a dermatology practice, you might consider building individual landing pages for acne, skin cancer, psoriasis and general skincare.
If you’re a podiatrist, you might want to add landing pages for bunions, heel pain and plantar warts (eww).
Landing pages should be a part of your online marketing effort. Your content should be informative, not “salesy,” although there’s nothing wrong with including a call-to-action on the page, such as, “Contact us to schedule an appointment.”
Dedicated landing pages are more likely to rise to the top of search engine results because they provide a more relevant and detailed answer than general pages. For the same reason, landing pages are also better at conversion, persuading visitors to take action
Capitalize on the local nature of many healthcare queries. Google reports that 63% of searchers make their decisions based on the service provider’s proximity to their home or office. You want prospective new patients who live in your area to find you.
Do more than put your address on the Contact page. Your website should clearly state where you’re located and what areas you service.
Get listed with Google My Business. It’s a “free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Google Search and Google Maps,” according to Google.
It requires you to register your business online, then verifies that you are the owner by either calling you or sending some snail mail to your address.
If your healthcare organization has numerous locations, look into bulk verification for your local listings. “Bulk verification establishes your ability to manage information for 10 or more locations of the same business across Google products, like Maps and Search,” according to this Google help article.
Once you’re registered, you benefit by having your website appear in Google’s local business results for a given search term, such as “cardiologist Miami” or “children’s dentist Rochester” or “Los Angeles chiropractor.”
A professional website can be powerful. It can put you on the map and help you create a growing practice with unlimited potential. But to be effective, it must accomplish these objectives:
Creating a website to promote your healthcare practice is a priority. But your marketing shouldn’t be limited to one medium. Plenty of other opportunities exist to use good copywriting in explaining your services. Consider these marketing tools:
By consistently creating great written content, you’re more likely to get found by potential patients, all while building your brand and positioning yourself as a leader in your medical field.
Composing persuasive copy takes skill and experience. If you lack the marketing know-how and time to write your own copy, consider working with a professional healthcare copywriter.
A writer who understands healthcare subjects can create compelling copy that brings in potential new patients.
A healthcare copywriter can work with you or your associates to brainstorm ideas, develop concepts and copywrite content for all media forms including your website, blog, advertising, brochures, educational presentations, video scripts and social media.
Choosing to have someone else handle the promotion and content marketing of your medical practice allows you to grow your practice while you stay focused on what you do best — treating your patients.