The patient marketing cycle will create digital magic for your practice and attract more patients
All too often, a lot of money is spent on digital marketing campaigns and yet, a positive return on investment is not measured or realized. It is very frustrating to say the least. However, what if you could create a patient marketing cycle that was inexpensive, increased your search ranking and attracted the type of patients you enjoy working with the most? Sound too good to be true? Well, with some creativity, consistency and a bit of determination, this can be attainable.
Online organic (non-sponsored or non-paid) marketing can be a lot of fun, and the best thing about it is that it is essentially free! The cost is mainly the time to create content (assets) and the reward is that these assets can be placed on multiple social media outlets and be available for potential patients to access days, months and years later. Organic marketing is evergreen marketing and with proper optimization, over time, it will significantly boost your online reach and “searchability” by those who desire your services.
In addition, organic placement found during a search tends to be more trustworthy to those performing the search than paid advertisements on the same page. This is also true with regards to practice/doctor online reviews discovered during an online search by potential patients seeking the services you offer.
Increase leads by getting on the marketing cycle
Organic marketing can significantly increase your patient leads. For optimal success, there must be a way to capture these leads and a system in place for tracking them and nurturing them to become patients if appropriate. Your ideal patient cycle with any marketing tactic is to attract your ideal patient, build a relationship with them (online and offline), convert them to paying patients, and treat them well so they become raving fans and refer others to perpetuate the cycle.
The goal with this plan is to create a robust organic marketing system that attracts more patients to your practice from in and around your area via engaging optimized online assets.
Posts and pins can be a terrific means of communicating with your current and potential patients. As you know, in the world of social media, these are your followers. While random posts may seem easier, there is science behind the What, Where and When to post that will optimize your efforts and increase your chance of experiencing digital marketing magic. There is a bit more to this process of creating and posting content in a marketing plan, but the essential steps are outlined below.
There are many reasons why you need to create various types of posts in order to accomplish your goal(s). While I recommend a ratio of 80% education to 20% sales, every post should include some type of call to action (CTA) so patients know how to take the next step if they want to learn more about you and your services/products.
The primary reasons for creating posts for your practice include:
- Providing education/tips for success
- Sharing the up-to-date impact of research and what’s “in the news”
- Sharing healthy/easy-to-make recipes (always popular)
- Showcasing patient success (testimonial)
- Highlighting/promoting your services (new and existing)
- Highlighting your staff (new and existing)
- Inspiring your patients
- Sharing fun “happenings” in your practice Promoting events
The primary types of posts for your existing and potential patients include:
- Graphic/photo/inspirational quote
- Educational blog (including graphic)
- Vlog (video blog)
- Live post
The most popular posts tend to be videos and graphics (especially before-and-after photos of patient success) that include links where people can learn more about what you are discussing and what you offer. Fortunately, quality video creation nowadays can be accomplished with just your smart phone, an app or two and an internet connection. And for graphics, there are many easy-to-use programs out there, such as Canva, or programs within Microsoft Office that anyone can use.
I recommend that once a piece of content is created it is used in a variety of types of posts and social media channels for maximum impact, and be sure to use pertinent keywords and hashtags your ideal clients use in their search. For example, a live video/vlog/podcast can easily be transcribed into a blog post and linked throughout all of your channels with a searchable description rich with keywords and hashtags as appropriate.
Each social media platform has a following that may overlap with other platforms. To get the where correct, you need to know very specifically who your ideal patient is and where they hang out online.
The platforms I find currently working best for most practices (although it is an ever-changing environment) include Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. In addition, your website will keep them coming back if they return to it frequently to access things such as your blog, online store, a private membership site, online webinars and the like.
And don’t forget to use your online blog/educational posts and videos for added email/text engagement with your patients. In addition, be sure to link these assets within the educational section of any app you may have created or use for your practice.
Capturing the attention of your online customers isn’t always easy. Their feeds are filled with chatter and it’s hard to know what will show up when they do have time to sit down and look at their chosen social media accounts.
No matter how great your graphics and copy are, they are ineffective if no one sees them. When to post is a constantly changing target and changing platform algorithms muddy the waters even more. Opinions vary among marketing experts as to the perfect time to post your content and this seems to change constantly. From experience, two current trends reflect that:
1. Posts first thing in the morning and during off-work hours tend to reach more people since they are likely on their social media platforms at that time.
2. Posts will generally place higher in their feed if they show engagement. Thus, if a post has a lot of reactions, comments and shares it will be more visible online. This reinforces the need for engaging, pertinent and trending content.
The other factor that is critical when considering your ‘when’ is consistency. Once you select the platforms you will post on, you need to make sure you post something at least once a week, and I recommend more often, such as five times a week.
When done correctly, I have found that your online presence (YOU easily searched and discovered on the internet) can account for at least 30% of your new patients. This occurs if you dominate page one of an online search. Amazingly, these interested patients who get to know you and your practice online tend to come to you with a higher degree of connection, understanding what they want and a higher degree of desire to purchase your services. These individuals tend to know, like and trust you over your competitors and it’s a beautiful thing.
Karol Clark, MSN, RN, is the best-selling author of “How to Add Medical Weight Loss to Your Practice: 7 Steps to an Enjoyable Business, Healthier Patients and Increased Profitability” and owner of Weight Loss Practice Builder. She has more than 20 years of experience working with surgical and non-surgical weight-loss patients and assisting physicians to build an enjoyable weight-loss practice. She partners with Nutritional Resources (d/b/a HealthWise- healthwisenri.com) for creation of educational programs/articles for weight-loss practitioners.