No matter what industry they exist in, today’s businesses need to implement digital marketing strategies in order to maintain, if not increase, their client relationships. Medical practices are no exception, and today’s private practice marketing strategies employ a number of components. Such steps allow a practice to gain a competitive edge over their local competitors, increasing visibility of their services and reputation to prospective new clientele in search of healthcare providers.
Even today’s well-established practices agree that word-of-mouth referrals serve as their greatest means of acquiring new patients. However, “word-of-mouth” is a concept that has evolved over time. While it still exists in the verbal sense, the online equivalent has multiplied its reach exponentially. And while that, unto itself, is a major component of any digital marketing strategy, we’re saving that conversation for another day. Today, we’re going to talk about how clients can find you in the absence of a trusted referral.
The days of white pages, yellow pages, and other traditional marketing methods are behind us. As with any business, people are most likely to find you from an online search. Or (more specifically) they are most likely to find the practice that has the highest rankings on an online search, since most people don’t look past the first page of results. That said, you should ask yourself if you’re taking the right steps to ensure that your practice is among the top listings.
Your website is the foundation upon which your online presence is built. Once visited primarily on desktop or laptop, accessibility on smartphones and tablets have become crucial in recent years. In fact, a recent Google survey stated that 61% of people will leave a website immediately if it isn’t mobile-friendly. Responsive web design ensures that your site will perform consistently across all devices, making it a priority if you don’t want to lose potential clients.
Improve Your Rankings
First things first, it’s important to recognize that Google is responsible for a whopping 94% of all organic web traffic. As a result, 61% of marketers identify Search Engine Optimization as their top marketing priority, to grow their organic presence.
Google aims to create the most satisfying experience for its users. Why? Because a satisfied user will continually choose Google, empowering the company to gain unlimited ad revenue. Thus, Google employs an ever-evolving algorithm to identify content of value and prioritize it over lower-value content, asserting the superior content as an authority.
What does this mean for your practice? It means that you need to take steps to ensure that your website ranks as high as possible within applicable web searches. An S.E.O. strategy is neither a light switch or a magic wand, but the effects of a well-realized strategy can be felt immediately and feel wondrous, as it will increase organic traffic to your website…connecting you with more people in need of your services.
Catch the All-Seeing Eye of Google
It costs nothing to create a ‘Google My Business’ account but doing so will pay out in dividends. To put this statement into better context, GMB’s (by digital marketing standards) are as crucial to a practice’s visibility as a White or Yellow page listing would have been twenty years ago. They place the physical location of your brick and mortar practice on Google’s radar, thus making it visible to all directories and citations that link their services to the search giant.
Location, Location, Location
The points listed above provide a near perfect segue into the important role that locality plays in search results. Whether searching for a local practitioner or a conveniently-located specialist, approximately one-third of mobile searches will be initiated with proximity in mind. Considering that half of these searches will result in contact within 24 hours speaks volumes as to the important role that local S.E.O. and proper use of Google’s services will play in your continued success.
Invest in Relationships
Assuming that prospective clients are finding their way to your website, social media profile(s) and physical location, it’s important to reinforce your branding in order to maintain (and strengthen) those relationships.
For private practices, a major component of your brand image comes in terms of your experience, knowledge and communication skills. What better way to provide continual assurance of your credentials than proactively sharing those attributes through blog posting, sharing of applicable content on social media. Doing so increases engagement with both current and prospective clientele, reinforcing both your brand and those relationships. In fact, it’s estimated that business sites that blog 11+ times a month average 3-5 times more traffic than businesses that don’t.
Engaging Your Community
Speaking of relationships, their creation en masse equates to the foundation of a community. You don’t have to be a marketer to recognize that social media platforms are the best tool for communication with, and support of, a community…and yet, a surprisingly small percentage of medical practices put that tool to good use.
The ability to manage relationships with both discretion (as needed) and in the public eye (as appropriate) can do great strings to strengthen the bonds in any community. In this case, your practice is that tie that bonds. As such, the ability to interact with you and rely upon a response can assure patients of your responsiveness to their needs. If you don’t already consider it a priority, positive and organic social media engagement should rank among things you should begin focusing on immediately.
On the flipside, professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn can be a valuable tool in terms of networking and cultivation of both informative and shareable content. It all serves to strengthen the community that you create.
At the end of the day, it’s all still ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising, albeit in a new format supported by advances in technology. And the benefits are all there for the taking (unless, of course, you’re still interested in doing things the same old way and expecting new results).