Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand

How Digital Marketing Holds the Key to Success for Healthcare Practices

As a healthcare provider, it’s as important to have a digital marketing strategy in place as for any other component of your marketing plan. While setting up 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 ignore the fact that these strategies are very effective ways to reach and share information with new and existing patients.

Digital marketing can help you:

  • Acquire new patients
  • Engage with your patients
  • Increase patient loyalty
  • Capture information about your patients’ preferences

1. Make yourself “findable”

An increasingly popular way most people look for services is through an “organic” online search — from the comfort of their own device — using a search engine like Google to locate companies that offer what they seek. In order to be found in the organic search, a website must employ the appropriate terms and phrases — known as keywords and keyword phrases — in the correct density throughout.

The shrewd healthcare practice will hire an expert in search engine optimization (SEO) to review their website content and ensure that it has the terminology and analytics in place that enable it to be found in an organic search. Because, if people can’t find you, well, they can’t find you.

2. What people say about you matters

Word-of-mouth is still an important means of referral for new patients. But word-of-mouth doesn’t necessarily mean that a prospective new patient gets a recommendation from a family member, friend or neighbor. Many times, the recommendation comes from someone they actually do not know.

Research shows that people who search for products and services online are particularly interested in reading what other consumers have to say about those products and services and the companies that provide them. These reviews have the power to influence the potential new customer’s decision.

By allowing patients to rate your practice in reviews via your website and social media, your organization can reap some very positive benefits:

  • Online reviews can help boost your search engine visibility, meaning that more potential new patients can find you.
  • Being able to comment on personal experience and offer feedbackhelps create patient satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Patient satisfaction increases when feedback is well received and a response is given in a timely manner.

So, what about negative reviews? Let’s face it, the reality of doing business means that not every comment will be positive. However, negative reviews are valuable in two ways:

  1. You can improve your practice by acting on valid criticisms and suggestions from patients.
  2. You can create goodwill by thanking the reviewer for their feedback and addressing their problem.

Remember, it may not be as much fun to respond to negative reviews as the positive ones, but it’s equally — or maybe more — important. A negative review is really an opportunity to gain insight into the patient experience.

“…90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”— invesp

3. Engage With Social Media

It’s becoming more and more difficult to ignore the importance of social media as a marketing tool. Social media reaches a wide audience and is growing as a preferred method of communication between businesses and customers.

A recent report from market and consumer data provider Statista found that:

  • 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 (i.e. website, print advertising and word of mouth), the wise healthcare practitioner will view social media platforms as valuable tools that give them access to their current patient base as well as potential new patients. Some savvy providers are using social media to generate interaction and dialogue with their local community. Some examples include:

  • Promoting an event, such as a 5K race/walk
  • Offering a healthy rewards program
  • Sponsoring a competition such as weight loss among coworkers

Additionally, social media offers an avenue for healthcare providers to inform and educate people. For example, a specialist can upload a video to YouTube that explains a new medical procedure, or a hospital can use Facebook to publicize a class for diabetes education.

4. Starting (and Maintaining) a Blog

A blog — a sort of online “journal” — is another effective way to reach and generate interaction with clients. Why, you may ask, would people want to read a blog? Marketing software manufacturer DOZ shares five of the top reasons:

  1. Convenient information seeking. Blogs that are regularly updated are quickly found by search engines and allow the reader to find current news about a particular topic at any time, wherever they are.
  2. Aversion to traditional media. In this age of “fake news,” many people have become disenchanted with mainstream news sources. A blog offers a fresh source of information.
  3. Expression/affiliation. Readers can become a “member of the club,” identifying with a community of people who share a specific interest.
  4. Guidance/opinion seeking. People seek out expert knowledge on topics of interest.
  5. Personal fulfillment. Many people read blogs because they are enjoyable and informative.

For healthcare organizations, a blog is an excellent tool for building trust with patients by sharing information in a conversational format. Yes, it takes some time and attention to maintain a blog, but the results are worth it.  A well-written blog with regular entries can:

  • increase your SEO ranking, thereby raising visibility of your website in online searches
  • drive new viewers to view your website, resulting in potential new patients
  • help build your reputation as a trusted healthcare provider

So, don’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to digital marketing. For healthcare providers, the implementation of digital strategies will enhance your outreach and communication with patients, position you as a knowledgeable and trusted resource in your community and, ultimately, improve your bottom line.

Christina Hawkins

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