When it comes to marketing a physician’s office in the age of the internet, it is crucial to have a well-defined strategy in place. There are three prongs to a successful program which can help to engage patients, provide educational information, and motivate a desired action. Some are controllable, while others can be directed but not controlled.
- Controllable Physician Marketing: These are all of the digital marketing tactics over which the physician’s office has complete control. This includes maintaining a practice website that is viewable on desktop and mobile devices, providing a constant stream of communication through an engaging blog, and communicating with prospective patients through a structured social media program. The primary purpose is to engage, connect, and build a relationship. These efforts must be conducted with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind, in order to garner positive search engine rankings so patients can find the practice when first searching online.
- Paid Physician Marketing: These components are controllable in the sense that they can be purchased, but the opportunity may be limited by the size of the practice’s marketing budget. Since the internet offers so many advertising opportunities, physicians need to be selective in devising a targeted local marketing strategy. Paying for online views by internet users who have no geographic likelihood of ever becoming a patient is simply wasting money. The most effective approach includes adding Paid Search Promotion and Directory Submissions to search engine optimization. Paid Search or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a strategic method of leveraging keywords and advertising to catch the attention of prospective patients at the precise moment they are searching for a specific medical solution. Directory Submissions are used to insure that a practice is listed on all local online paid and free directories in case the prospective patient chooses to search there first.
- Word-of-Mouth Marketing: The most effective form of marketing is still a word-of-mouth referral, but these come in many forms in the digital world. Today getting a Retweet, blog repost, Facebook “like” or positive review is just as important as receiving a positive referral. They give the impression of approval to a wider circle of potential patients than the practice may have initially targeted.
Does physician marketing work? MD Connect conducted a study to determine the answer to this question. The U.S. Physician Practice Marketing Audit is a study of the marketing investment and return of 219 physician practices conducted in cooperation with and published by a leading medical study. The report studies the media most utilized by local practices, along with their relative return on investment. Most importantly, correlations are drawn with how these investments impact practice revenue.
Results show that there has not been a diminish in marketing spending by physicians. In fact, resurging competition may have made it more necessary than ever. The approach to devising a successful marketing strategy that will make a practice stand out must include a studied combination of online and social media marketing channels.