10 best marketing tips for medical and dental practices
Physicians in today’s fast-changing digital world have more responsibilities than ever. One of the most important is marketing, in other words attracting new patients and retaining existing ones. Just like any other business, the practices that invest in marketing tend to thrive, while those who don’t fall behind.
The digital marketing landscape can look horribly complicated to the uninitiated. On the bright side, adopting a handful of proven, practical marketing tactics can quickly boost your medical practice both online and offline.
First, though, let’s look at what marketing actually means for a medical practice.
What does marketing mean to medical practices?
Advertising and marketing are different. Advertising means getting your brand out there, building it up and boosting brand equity: ‘the commercial value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a particular product or service, rather than from the product or service itself.’ In other words, advertising is a subset of marketing.
Marketing involves PR, planning, media, SEO, market and consumer research, social media, mail campaigns, email campaigns, special promotions, communications and more, basically covering everything you can possibly do to join up potential customers with your services, including advertising.
Marketing is a journey, not a destination, especially online. SEO, for example, is an ongoing process that takes place against a landscape of perpetual change. You’ll find that you’ll have to adapt your tactics to changes in your sector as well as broader changes online, in the search space and elsewhere. Marketing is also an investment, and a powerful one, which means you don’t just broadcast outwards, you also need to track and analyse the results of your hard work.
Marketing is about facts, about telling the truth. When a great level of clinical excellence is reflected in everything you say and do, your practice will grow in a sustainable way. When you focus on successful outcomes and on improving every aspect of your practice, you have what it takes to create a potent, highly effective marketing strategy.
Last but by no means least, marketing represents a many-sided conversation between you and your patients. This means you need to know what makes your audience tick, whether they happen to be patients, your fellow doctors, or both.
Top ten tactical tips for medical practice marketing
It may sound simplistic, but your first task is to build a website and get your practice online if it isn’t already. This is the single best way for current and potential patients to find you in the digital world. There’s no need to learn HTML coding. Today there’s a huge choice of excellent Content Management Systems (CMS) and site-building tools that make it easy for you.
Wix and Squarespace are very simple and WordPress, the world’s favourite Open Source (free) CMS, is a pleasure to use even when you have no experience at all. Freelance support is widely available from website design agencies and via Gig Economy websites like UpWork and Fiverr. It all depends on your own graphic design and content writing skills, and the amount of time you have spare to focus on building a website.
2. Start a blog
A regularly updated blog remains the simplest and most effective way to keep a practice website up to date, fresh and current. Search engines like Google appreciate new content because it proves your website is alive and well, and you care about it. Potential customers love a blog for the same reasons, and also because they find all the information they want there.
Once you’re posting articles to your blog you can share them on social media, reaching more people and potentially being given links back to the posts, another thing search engines appreciate. It helps services like Google understand how useful people find your site and how popular it is. All this is the essence of content marketing, one of the most powerful digital marketing techniques there is.
Our 4 top tips for writing blog posts?
- Write about the things potential patients and patients want to hear, not what you want to say
- Write the way you speak, simply and clearly without jargon. If you can’t avoid jargon, explain the meaning of it in plain language
- Split posts up with sub-headers to make it easy for people to find the exact information they want
- Use relevant keywords in your posts to help search engines understand what the posts are about
How about blog post subjects? Here are some ideas. Common questions patients ask, explained in detail. Related subjects that patients might also find interesting. Patient reviews, case studies, treatment trends, new technologies, videos, the latest research and scientific developments, news about you, your staff and the practice, and patients’ own stories, either written by you or even by the patients themselves. If anyone else at your practice has a talent for writing, that’s great – the more different voices talking to prospects and patients, the better.
3. Share blog posts and other content on Facebook
With 2.45 billion monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2019 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/), Facebook is the world’s biggest social network. Most of your target audience will be there, but Facebook is also where business happens, with millions of businesses using Facebook advertising to get their message in front of intelligently-targeted audiences. It’s all about making connections and building trust.
Create a professional-looking Facebook page that’s separate from your personal Facebook pa. You’ll soon be in a position to contact your audience in a way they enjoy with marketing messages, whether it’s tips, news, special offers, new staff or anything else that will interest them. And this is just one place where you can share all that wonderful blog content you’ve been creating. The more people enjoy your page, the more they’ll like and trust you, and the more likely they are to put you first when they next need medical attention.
4. Join the dots with more social media networks
Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, SnapChat, they’re all there for you to use, but it makes sense to choose the social networks where your prospective patients are the most likely to be. You can also join online doctors-only networks, for example, Sermo, set up to help people like you network with fellow professionals around the world as well as demonstrate your expertise. If you can, post on social media a few times a day. It’s the best way to grow a strong network quickly and enjoyably.
5. Collect and use patient reviews
Your patients and referring doctors represent marketing gold dust. Thanks to them you can collect reviews through a patient-trusted platform, such as Doctify, and use them as powerful mini-marketing tools. Patient reviews really are a mirror for the health of a business. Happy patients are pleased to provide reviews. If anyone is unhappy and leaves a bad review, it’s not a bad thing. It is a fantastic opportunity to improve things so the problem can’t happen again, and it’s something valuable to talk about in your blog and newsletter. As every good marketer knows, solving a problem for someone makes them more loyal to you than if they never had a problem in the first place. No wonder so many top practices appreciate negative reviews as well as enjoying positive ones.
6. Create an email newsletter
Bearing in mind any Data Protection laws and regulations you might need to comply with, gathering contact data from patients and prospects lets you build a database of people who are interested in what you have to say. Regular emails drive traffic to your website, blog and social media presences, reminding people you’re there, attracting referrals and appointments.
Take the time to write and design a good-looking, interesting newsletter that follows the same rules as those we provided for writing blog posts. Remember to focus on what patients want to hear, not what you want to say – it’s all about them. There’s no need to spend a fortune. Use a simple, low-cost mailing service like MailChimp or Constant Contact.
7. Become a trusted source for the media
You want to grow your reputation and get exposure. There’s no better way than becoming a trusted source of the truth, someone the media relies on for commentary, quotes, expertise and insight. It’s common for journalists to team up with a medical professional to provide context and legitimacy. Does your local radio station, TV station or newspaper need a partner like that? You might want to suggest creating a health column or program to position yourself as the go-to expert. Online services like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and ProfNet are also great places to start, allowing you to suggest story ideas of your own to journalists.
8. Become a contributor to industry publications
Medical journals like to hear from doctors about their experiences and expertise, and doing so boosts your profile and reputation amongst your colleagues and fellow doctors, which can mean valuable referrals. It’s a reliable way to grow your own personal brand, which in turn benefits your practice. What do you have to say that will inspire the readers of your own sector’s top journals?
9. Grow your professional profile
People like to find doctors online. The better your online profile, the more likely people are to find you, trust you and come to your practice. LinkedIn, Doctify, your social media activities, your blog, your PR work, it all contributes to a lively, detailed professional profile that showcases you in exactly the right way – verifiably. Remember, always place a link back to your website and social media accounts whenever there’s the opportunity. The better connected all your online presences are, the more powerful your profile will be.
10. Know your SEO
Search engine optimisation involves helping more people find your website and blog online. Let’s explain keywords. Imagine you are a GP in Dubai. Someone searches Google for a ‘GP in Dubai’. Google’s algorithm looks for web pages including the words ‘GP in Dubai’, and surfaces those pages on the first page of the search results.
That’s what you want to happen. Every time a person makes a search that is relevant to your practice, you want the web page you’ve created about it to be visible in the search results. As you can see, the principle of on-page SEO is fairly simple. When you use the words that people are most likely to use when looking for a practice like yours on a web page, search engines are likely to put that page in front of them. It’s completely logical.
Off-site, there’s more SEO to take into account. You can make sure you perform well in local search, in your area, something that makes a lot of sense for medical practices with local audiences. Including keywords in blog posts also helps, as do the links from other websites through social media. You can exchange guest blog posts with other professionals. And simply being active on social media helps raise your visibility in the search results, because search engines ‘notice’ the activity and reward you for it.
The total is more than the sum of the parts
Individually, any of these tactics will help you attract more patients and keep those you already have. But when you embrace digital marketing fully and carry out all of the above, and do it in a planned, sustained way, together they have a powerful impact.
Interested in joining Doctify? Click the button below to find out more.