The uptick in mobile search and the increasing interconnectivity of phones into our daily lives is a disruptive force for healthcare practitioners to reckon with.
Rapid technological innovations change the way people find and evaluate their healthcare providers, radically altering the healthcare landscape for patients and providers alike.
For healthcare practitioners, the message is clear: new approaches are needed to attract and retain customers through a digitally enhanced delivery of care. Clinics that catch the wave and integrate new marketing strategies will thrive, while those too slow to react will lose out…or be forced to HMO.
Driving Growth Through New Approaches to Healthcare Marketing
In order to grow your practice in a mobile-first market, you need more than the digital marketing fundamentals. A strong website, a company blog, and a social media identity are all crucial to your overall marketing strategy – but they are no longer sufficient means for connecting with your target audiences and offering them the type of care they rightly expect.
Practitioners and digital health marketers that want to get serious about growth need to explore additional approaches that better reflect the changing nature of patient search behavior and, as a result, drive tangible growth. Here are three strategies that are proven to do just that, together with questions to ask yourself to help mobilize action:
1. Reputation Management
Check these facts on local consumer trends uncovered in a Bright Local survey:
- 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as a friends recommendation
- 10 is the number of reviews a consumer wants to read before they can trust the business
Clearly, the importance of online reputation management cannot be understated. This is especially true for doctor’s offices, dentists, and specialty care facilities because so much of an individual’s experience is interpersonal. If your patients like your practice, they will be proud to say it on social media and in Google reviews – and this is marketing gold.
The only problem? It’s hard to collect and manage an online reputation. Innovative healthcare marketing companies like PatientPop do the heavy lifting for doctors, collecting feedback and pulling in survey data from patients about their experience. The result is a wealth of valuable review material that increases patient trust and drives booking rates like nothing else can. Doctors that make their digital reputation a priority will see outsized returns; those who neglect will slowly fade into obscurity.
2. Automated Booking Services
While social media is one arm of the technological disruption happening in healthcare services today, the other arm is the automation of tasks. Advancements in app development make it possible for clinics to implement a digital booking platform that can be shared with practitioners and patients, making it easier for patients to book and manage their appointment schedules.
In this new digitally connected relationship, patients can take initiative for their own healthcare needs in the following ways:
- An ability to book and confirm appointments from their phones
- Access to medical expertise when needed through a messaging app
- Enjoy a holistic and customized healthcare experience (as scheduling can be confirmed across multiple providers, at different locations, for reasons that can be specified within the platform)
These benefits increase the likelihood of patient retention, which is one of the most valuable metrics of marketing success for clinics.
3. Focus on Local Search
Finally, healthcare practitioners need to account for their presence in local search results. Although this might not be as much of a new approach as the others mentioned in this list, I’m including it here because a lot of doctors do not take local search seriously enough.
Consider the research. According to Hubspot, 46% of all Google search has local intent. Going beyond the search engine results page, another study found that 50% of searchers who performed a local search visited the store within the day.
The implication is that getting found in local search can be incredibly lucrative. So what does local search optimization look like for clinics?
Local search is all about capturing local intent – but in order to do that, your clinic needs to appear on the first page, above the competitor. It requires a comprehensive approach to your business identity that includes a keyword strategy, a content marketing plan based on local search intent, optimizing location information on Google Maps, submitting location and business information to local business directories, collecting customer reviews, and more. As healthcare practitioners work out of a physical location, clinics that invest in local search can expect to see long-term growth benefits because they are connecting with a broad local audience of searchers that are often seeking an immediate solution to their healthcare needs.
Taken together, these marketing strategies are proven to help healthcare practitioners better connect with their target audience and grow their patient base. As the digital landscape for healthcare services continues to develop, practitioners need to jump on board with these new approaches or risk wallowing in obscurity.