Any business that wants to succeed online must have an established reputation, and medical practices are no exception. While much of that reputation depends on the quality of your services, the first step is simply making sure that people know your medical practice exists. To do so, a successful Internet marketing campaign is key.
People want to know as much as possible about a practice and doctor before making an appointment, and many use the web to find the information they need. If you’re not promoting your medical practice online, you’re not only missing an opportunity to find new patients—you’re missing an opportunity to build trust with them.
At WebFX, we specialize in creating Internet marketing strategies that help our clients connect and build trust with potential patients. Call 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about how we can help you reach your marketing goals, or keep reading to learn more about why Internet marketing is so important for medical care providers.
Today, you need an online presence if you want your practice to grow. Here’s why:
Whether they use Google, Bing, or another search engine, people use the Internet to look for doctors and specialists. Your name and contact information should be visible in Google My Business so that you are easily and conveniently available to patients that need your services.
Today’s consumers look to the Internet for information on just about everything, including medical services. An informative website gives your practice more credibility and allows prospective patients to learn about your staff's education, experience, specializations and hospital affiliations, which will help you build trust with them before they even visit your practice.
Before the Internet, a prospective patient might get recommendations from friends and family. Now, they can get hundreds from fellow web users. When you’re active on social media and review sites, you give patients a forum to talk about your practice and potentially catch the attention of new patients.
Bill Craig WebFX President
Maybe you’re already perfectly happy with your patients and revenue. That’s great! But we believe that Internet marketing can still benefit your practice. Here’s how:
Online transactions happen quickly. An automated email regarding annual checkups can be sent and answered in a matter of minutes, and a scheduling tool can help dozens of patients to book appointments in the time it used to take to book one. This will not only make your employees’ lives easier, but will also make your patients happy.
If you’re currently using traditional marketing methods for your practice, you may want to consider making a switch. Traditional marketing not only takes more time than Internet marketing, it also costs more. If you’re trying to build a new practice, this is especially important, as you probably don’t have a lot of money to invest in direct mail or print ads.
Traditional advertising can reach a lot of people, but not necessarily the people you want. For example, if you buy a billboard on a busy road, lots of people will probably see it. But if your target demographic is elderly patients, who may avoid highway driving, is it really doing your practice any good? Internet marketing removes that question by allowing you to market to users based on factors like age, gender, location, and interests, among many others.
Now that you know why online marketing is so important, how can you get started? The Internet provides a wide range of channels and tactics, but some are more effective for medical professionals than others, such as:
Before visiting a doctor, many people consult the Internet to see if they can diagnose their own illness. You can provide helpful information through blogs and other content. The more helpful you are online, the more potential patients will trust you when they finally have to consult a professional about an issue.
When people are looking for a professional, they may choose a local directory over a search engine. Make sure your practice is listed in these directories. Include your website, email address, location, areas of expertise, education and other details about your practice. Keep this information consistent from one directory to another, particularly the name of your practice, or users may have a hard time locating you elsewhere.
The goal of Internet marketing is not only to generate traffic, but also to build relationships, and social media is a great way to do so. Whether you share your latest blog post or a reminder to get a flu shot, a post on Facebook or Twitter can spark conversation. If you do start a conversation, make sure you reply quickly so that you have the chance to show a more human side of your practice.
One of the biggest advantages of email is that you can use it to specifically reach people who have already expressed an interest in hearing from you. Take advantage of the invitation. Don’t just use it to reach out to email subscribers and past website visitors—use it to stay in touch with current patients regarding upcoming appointments, test results and reminders about things like annual checkups and prescription refills.
As your practice’s home online, your website needs to be professional, informative, and user-friendly.
If your site doesn’t match that description, the first step to reaching patients online is to find a designer who specializes in healthcare web design. All of your other Internet marketing strategies will drive potential patients to your site – so if users don’t like what they see, you won’t see the results you want.
Your priority should be creating a site that provides visitors with all of the information they need about your practice. This includes your location, contact information, hours, and all of the services you provide.
Then, you need to make sure that all of that information is easily accessible. Create a straightforward navigation system and include a footer with links to your most important pages so that visitors can find what they need in one or two clicks from your homepage.
Once you have a helpful, user-friendly site, you need to make sure that your potential patients can find it. The best way to do this is with search engine optimization, or SEO.
Medical SEO involves identifying the keywords and phrases people use to search for the services you offer, then incorporating them on your site where relevant. Then, when someone searches for those keywords on a search engine like Google, they can navigate to the appropriate page on your site.
Traditional advertising methods require you to choose where you want to promote your business based on the target demographics of different media outlets. For example, you may choose to run ads in your local paper, on your local TV news station, or in a magazine related to your industry.
Unfortunately, you have no way of knowing who really sees your ads – or if they pay any attention to them.
With pay-per-click (PPC) platforms like Google AdWords, however, you choose your audience based on the words and phrases people search. If you’re trying to attract patients to your family practice, for example, you could run advertisements in the search results for “family doctor in Harrisburg.”
This way, you can invest your marketing budget in reaching the people who’ve already demonstrated interest in your services. Plus, with the PPC model, you only pay when someone actually clicks your ad and visits your site. So if a user sees your ad but clicks a different result instead, you won’t pay a cent.
Consumers aren’t likely to trust businesses that don’t have an online presence, and that certainly includes medical practices. Internet marketing might seem like a complicated task, but it’s essential if you want to develop a sustainable practice and loyal patients.
If you need help marketing your practice online, feel free to contact us. Our dedicated team has all the knowledge and experience you need to start using the Internet to grow your practice.
Ready to start your local SEO campaigns? Call 888.449.3239 or contact us online today to learn more about how WebFX helps Central Pennsylvania companies with their SEO challenges.