By Dr. Greg Grillo
Marketing makes some doctors uncomfortable, but it may just be a matter of perspective. Many docs squirm when they think of ads, coupons, and mailers. But they don’t think twice about signing up for a PPO plan that’s ultimately just another form of marketing. Network plans deduct 15-20% from our fees in exchange for patients, and they tell their patients to seek out in-network providers; that’s a marketing strategy.
By contrast, another doctor might balk at a PPO plan, but they don’t blink at Google and Facebook ad campaigns. Marketing takes different forms, and we all have a strategy whether we realize it or not.
Patients enjoy a plethora of choices for their healthcare in 2021, meaning we can’t afford to try marketing by default. And the influence of online reviews and social media creates de facto marketing if we sit back and watch.
We can learn a lot by adopting some of the same techniques as the brands we all know. Amazon understands product reviews, and they’ve harnessed their power to help dominate the retail space. They know that when a product receives five or more reviews, its likelihood of purchase increases by 270% . Likewise, we should know that 93% of consumers read reviews before choosing local businesses. That includes reviews about you and me.
But healthcare isn’t a product, and it’s not a one-time transaction. It helps when we integrate marketing strategies that parallel big brands while including more subtle insights beyond another ad campaign. Consider these elements to build relationships through intentional marketing:
#1 Get Emotional
We know that Millennials value price transparency and Gen Xers appreciate convenience. But 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious and emotion-based at any age. Our relationship-based profession requires higher trust than when a consumer purchases a new Bluetooth speaker. When we intentionally design emotional hooks in our marketing, we’re amplifying any marketing effort we make. Consider this:
- Use testimonial videos from actual, unscripted patients on your website.
- Show before/after cases on Facebook (make sure you get patients’ permission and adhere to HIPAA standards).
- Share stories about life-changing cases you’ve delivered.
- Review website content for words and phrases that evoke trust.
- Bulk up your website bio with high-touch human elements.
#2 Personalize Communication
Our inboxes overflow with emails, and the open rate across most industries hovers around 21% . Emails remain a vital way to stay in touch with our patients and site visitors who give us their contact info. But if we blast generic emails, we may not engage the way we intended. A few tweaks can help us put emails to work as marketing tools that connect and convert. Try:
- Changing the sender to your name rather than your practice name could increase your open rates by 35% . For example, try a test with the sender as “Dr. John Doe” rather than “Doe Family Practice”.
- Segment your email campaigns based on interest or demographics. Millennials may respond to a blast about new financing options or a membership plan. Baby Boomers may engage with information about bifocals or dental implants.
#3 Maximize Google
Nearly 7 out of 10 online experiences begin with a search engine, usually Google. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something we all want, but we don’t always know how to get it. Like exceptional healthcare, it takes skills and rapid-fire attention to keep up with the algorithms that determine where we stand. But we can blend techniques that capture SEO and utilize some of the other tools Google offers:
- Use push-pull techniques to help site visitors return to our website and spend time there. Google considers these statistics in their mysterious formulas.
- Prioritize a top listing on Google Maps, especially with “Doctor near me” searches.
- Prompt patients to leave reviews on Google, a key tactic that feeds psychological and algorithmic components.
#4 Prioritize Word-of-Mouth
We know that people talk about us, and seeing referrals is like starting with the ball on the 40-yard line; we enjoy instant credibility and trust. If we provide the best experience in healthcare, people will talk about it over coffee and on social media. But we can set the stage for more organic chatter that drives the #1 source of quality new patients.
- Add even more reasons for patients to leave gushing about your practice. Pre-appointment comfort surveys elevate and personalize service. It doesn’t feel like marketing, but unabashed caring drives our story.
- Reinforce referrals by thanking patients who send their friends and family. Adding a gift card reinforces the “wow” factor a little more.
#5 Build A Landing Place
Once we’ve motivated a patient to click on an ad, post, or Google search results, they end up somewhere. Their next stop is critical; they’ll engage further or click away. While our homepage serves a primary role in that journey, customization can lead to more new patients. First, fine-tune general website features like mobile optimization, imagery, high-trust verbiage, and SEO. Then consider the profile of the site visitor and how they originated to focus their next step better. Generalized site visits work for “find a doctor near me” searches, but consider this for more specificity:
- Create single pages that nurture the motivation for the first click. For example, if a visitor responded to an implant ad, send them to an engaging landing page about implants.
- Include a clear Call To Action on the page, including online appointment booking.
- Use forms to capture contact information in exchange for more value, such as a free eBook.
- Add video to the landing page. Viewership continues to grow across all demographics, and 69% of people say they’d prefer to learn about a new product or service through video. Plus, it’s not just for Millennials; the highest increase occurs in people over age 46 .
Timeless Principles, New Strategies
When my dad started in dentistry in 1965, marketing meant excellent service, a Yellow Page ad, and sponsoring a local soccer team. Some of those fundamentals never go out of style. Serving people with excellence and supporting our communities remain a cornerstone to a successful practice.
But today, it’s not enough.
The real secret to healthcare marketing involves systems and resources that work while we’re in the operatory. Like our patients, we have options for marketing support. But integration, reliability, and results aren’t automatic. Legwork supports everything we need to make the secrets our regular mode of operation: campaigns, reviews, referrals, comfort surveys, landing pages, and more.
Want more tips for growing your practice? Download our free guide, 3 Steps to Growing Your Practice .