10 Ways To Grow Your Private Healthcare Practice
Digital Catalyst CEO Dhiraj Mighlani shares his expertise on how to take your medical practice to the next level.
You’re a doctor, not a marketing expert. What you do best is treating patients, not worrying about search engine optimisation and fresh content. And yet if you don’t build and harness a smart marketing strategy, in today’s digital world you could find that your potential patients are choosing other clinics.
Marketing is messaging and whether you know it or not, you are doing it all the time. So forget flying blind. Make your messaging conscious, clear, and on-target. Here are 10 musts for growing your private practice.
1) Build and maintain a cohesive brand identity
It’s difficult to overstress how crucial it is to have an informative, engaging and up-to-the-minute web presence these days. At the same time, when people are trusting you with their health, there is no replacement for ‘in person’ interaction and personal recommendations. So what you want is a joined-up approach that marries your web presence with your ‘real world’ practice, which together make a consistent voice – a brand.
What sort of impact do you want to make on potential patients when they first encounter your practice, virtually and in ‘real life’? You need to decide on your core message and then make it the central thread that runs through all your communications, both digital and non-digital; have it in mind when you’re designing logos and brochures, looking at stock photos, writing web copy, and even posting on Facebook. Medical marketing can vary notably according to what kinds of ailments a doctor treats. The branding of a gynaecology clinic is likely to differ considerably from that of a sports injury centre, for instance.
2) Tap into local SEO
To make sure you can be easily found on Google, you absolutely must master local search engine optimisation (SEO). These days, people’s smartphone searches are increasingly linked to Google maps. What’s more, when they are looking for medical help, people tend to tap in phrases like ‘best London IVF clinics or ‘Bristol pain clinic’. Research will uncover what search terms your potential patients are keying in in your geographical area of reach.
Local SEO is influenced by what we call both ‘on page’ and ‘off page’ factors: keyword-optimised copy, local reviews (yelp, google and so on), etc. Your local reviews will impact on how Google ranks you so it really is worth going after some reviews. In addition things you might think are fairly elementary, like local NAP consistency (Name, Address and Phone Number), and getting yourself a Google My Business Page, are essential for local SEO – a practice owner forgets them at his/her peril. And never underrate the content factor in local SEO. You want engaging, informative copy that Google can recognise and match to the suitable search terms.
3) Invest in a little paid advertising
It feels like an expense you could do without but in fact, a few paid advertisements are a very cost-effective way to kick-start things. Even the best SEO plans need months to wholly take effect. So in the meantime, you should think about investing in a few Google Adwords adverts.
If it’s done properly, you will feel the effects. Plus, platforms such as Adwords allow you to track your outcomes, noting the numbers of people responding to the ads and the ways in which they are doing so. This data then provides intelligence with which to hone your digital marketing strategy.
4) Get social
Regular and relevant social media posting is a must for any private practice. People don’t normally ‘convert’ through these social channels but having a presence is essential for brand recognition with would-be patients. If you add an effective social strategy with good paid ads, you should see more people visiting your practice site.
5) Check your mobile compatibility
Nowadays most web browsing is done on smartphones – it is absolutely vital that your site is fully mobile compatible.
6)Generate a continual flow of fresh, informative and engaging content
Poorly-written content can really affect how your brand is perceived, even if everything else is polished – so this is not an area to cut corners in. What’s more, your site will go up in Google’s rankings when more people link to your website. Therefore, the more interesting, on-topic content you put out, the more inclined people are to link to you, and the more likely Google is to spot that your site has what people are searching for.
When doctors write, they tend to write for other medical professionals. If you want to appeal to people, you must be engaging and straightforward – think like a layman but write like a pro. Therefore at Digital Catalyst we always advise commissioning pro medical journalists to write your content. It really is invaluable, and you will see the difference in the way potential patients respond.
7) Look for PR opportunities
It isn’t just celebrities that bother with public relations; actually it can enhance any business. PR contributes to your brand recognition without being advertising as such. Smart PR will look for platforms outside your business media to tell people who you are and what you do. Sending out focused press releases, lending your specialist knowledge to local or national media on a given topic, delivering lectures, commenting on a trending subject, penning an advice column, are just some of the ways you could harness PR to raise awareness of your medical practice.
8) Pay attention to the phone lines
This is an oft-neglected aspect of private practice – perhaps because it appears so obvious. Because medical issues are highly important and personal, potential patients often use the web to find a practice, and the phone to determine whether they’ll actually make an appointment. Usually when you are handing over money for a consultation, you want to hear a friendly voice on the end of the phone beforehand. It’s imperative to create a ‘busy’ message for the practice when all lines are tied up, or when it’s out of hours. This message should offer some brief practice information and let the caller know that they will get a call back from the clinic (confidentially obviously) within a single working day.
9) Find a really good practice manager
Never underrate the value of a caring, engaging practice manager who knows their stuff. Essentially they are a human window facing your would-be patients, and the person who they’ll call when they have follow-up queries. A good practice manager will be super-organised and able to swiftly convey questions to consultants when it’s needed. They’ll also be good at booking appointments, converting query calls into consultations.
10) Analyse your results, re-evaluate, analyse again
Effective marketing should be a dynamic process, and never more so than nowadays. You should repeatedly revisit your aims, tracking your click and conversion rates to determine what works and what doesn’t. Both conversion and general brand awareness are crucial to your long-term success, so your goals should cover both of them.
New platforms, apps, modes of communication and searching habits are developing all the time – that’s why if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you hire experts.
To take your private practice up a notch, call Digital Catalyst full service marketing agency on 020 7118 0410.