How do you take your high level marketing plan and create actionable steps out of it? How to take your B2C Marketing SMART Goal – how to implement your patient acquisition ideas on getting more patients.
You will have your own set of goals, plans and accompanying steps to take. Let’s walk through the example shared before. Follow this example as a framework to set up your own marketing goals, plans, actionable steps yourself (as a team).
Here’s what we had before
- Show up on google search results via paid ads or SEO
- Show up as more trustworthy to patients by getting patient reviews
- Leveraging various technologies / software to enable near instant bookings from patients.
B2C Marketing – How can a medical practice show up on google search results?
You have two options
- Paid ads on google / PPC
- Search engine optimization/SEO
A quick primer on PPC
PPC is expensive, is getting more expensive and competitive by the day. However, done properly, they give you instant results. The day you stop spending on PPC ads, your results stop. This doesn’t mean that you just put up an ad on google and you’ll start showing up on the first 3-4 ad results. You have to work hard to show up on the top paid ad results. If your ad doesn’t get clicked on, google will slowly stop showing your ads.
SEO does not give you instant results but it does give you long lasting results. It takes dedication and daily/weekly work to show up for google search results (especially on the first page). However, as you keep working on it, the results are longer lasting. This does not mean that once you show up / rank higher on google search results, you’re forever going to be there. You still have to keep working on SEO to stay on the first page of search results.
Either way, it’s a lot of work and you need to put in the work needed. This is where most medical practices fail. They don’t realize that they need to work really hard towards achieving their goals, continue working on it even after they’re beginning to see results. They give up too easily.
No one said marketing is easy or a one time effort.
Paid ads / PPC on google
DO keep in mind that in many markets you’re going to be competing with ZocDoc’s ads. They spend quite a bit on paid ads, so make sure you understand that.
However, they won’t show just your medical practice’s name when they show their ads. They place ads to show up for term searches – eg “eye doctor Bronx” or “eye doctors near me”. Their ad will show up and if a patient clicks on their ad, they will be shown ALL eye doctors – not just you.
If you do want to attempt to have your own PPC ads, make sure you understand PPC well. You can easily spend a lot of money on PPC ads. Make sure you work with people that know how to utilize your ad budget properly. Either hire your own ppc expert in house or hire an agency or freelancer that has rock solid experience in running medical campaigns.
Levers to pull in paid advertising
There are small levers in PPC that can make or break your budget and campaign success. Make sure you hire folks that understand those levers.
As an example, if you’re located in Jackson heights / queens, you know that there’s no point showing ads to folks in Brooklyn or Bronx. Patients are not going to travel that far. That means, your PPC campaign has to be leveraging geotargeting / geofencing to avoid wasting money on ads shown to the wrong people. Make sure that whoever you hire, knows small things like these.
Another example is where you can use retargeting ads (RLSA) on people that have already visited your web page or website. Many digital marketers forget that. Retargeting ads are dirt cheap compared to ads for broader search terms and gives you a very easy way to brand yourself plus stay on top of your patient’s mind.
Keep one thing in mind – the biggest challenge you’re facing is that your prospective patient doesn’t even know that you exist. If they did, they’d book you directly.
Also, understand that your patient isn’t googling your services for fun everyday. By the time they have started to google, they’re ready to book you (or your competitors).
When your patient is on google, your competitors stand a chance to win your business (you have the same benefit as well).
Your goal is for the patient to think of your medical practice’s name when they need your services.. and not go to google.
In other words, you need to be “known” to the patient long before they actually need your medical services. Keep this in mind (aka branding) to decide your budget on getting your name out there as well.
So, divide your paid ads budget into
- Competing for patients ready to book now
At a minimum, these should be the ones you consider from the get go.
Facebook paid ads
Think of Facebook paid ads a bit differently from the way you’d think of google paid ads. On Facebook, patients are not actively searching for doctors or your medical practice per se.
Facebook is unique in the sense that it does give you much deeper insights into their users’ likes, dislikes, interests etc. You can very well use this information available to you via Facebook ads and target these users for your goals.
Targeting Facebook users for branding works well. What you’re really trying to do is to get your name out there and get people to click through and come to your website.
Once someone has visited your website, you can pretty much follow them around the Internet and retargeting ads work extremely well for these purposes.
You could also allow people to book appointments using your Facebook page “book now” button as well. However, always keep in mind that patients are not really actively searching for your medical services on Facebook.
One thing that works very well on Facebook is to get reviews from existing patients. Facebook allows you to upload your customer list (you can provide as little information as needed, to avoid violating PHI related concerns) and create a custom audience out of your customer list.
Once you have this custom list, you can boost (pay) your ads to get reviews from your existing patients. Keep in mind that google shows Facebook reviews when they show your practice search results on the right hand side of google search results.
A quick primer on SEO
Most medical practices (even larger groups) are told that you need a website, a blog, multiple social media channels etc etc.
We’re not contesting that you should, someday, have all those. But, here’s the reality – any online presence that you have, you need to put in a lot of work for it to generate any return on investment (ROI) for you.
What does this translate to?
Let’s say that you don’t have a website and a medical marketing agency or even your in-house marketing hire tells you that you need a website… they’re only partially correct.
Just having a website does NOTHING towards marketing your medical practice. The day you purchase the domain name and create a website – it’s just that. Only google knows about it.. because your team submitted the site map to google for indexing.
That’s about it. You are just one tiny sapling in an Amazonian jungle. Even your next door neighbor wouldn’t be able to find you on google unless they specifically type your business name and your business domain name on the browser.
Don’t get your hopes up nor skew your expectations just based on the fact that you now have a website.
You could have the most beautiful website or you could have the ugliest website.. it doesn’t matter to google unless it finds your website trustworthy enough to show your website pages in search results.
That’s the part most doctors don’t understand, nor do marketing agencies tell you.
So, would you not have a website?
That’s not what we’re recommending. Our point is that if you have a website of even one page, that’s better than not having one at all. But, what’s more important is that you have something to say, a point to make, something to give to your patients… without that, you’ll only be found when someone searches for your doctor’s names, or searches for your practice by name…
That’s really just branded searches 🙂 you aren’t being discovered by someone that doesn’t know about you at all.
Ok, so this does sound like a lot of work. Is there no way to even hope to win this game?
There certainly is!!! And the best part is that the bar is set really low in healthcare. You only have to do a tiny bit better than the next guy to win this game over them.
So, what are the immediate steps to take?
Definitely have a website created. You don’t have to spend a fortune on custom design for the website unless you really want to have your brand look and feel a certain way.
Create complete profiles for each provider in your practice. In the beginning, most of the google searches will be for provider names as they have “some” brand name with patients. Start being found for those doctor name searches.
Create location pages on your website plus have the google map of that location on the web page itself. This will help you being found for queries like “near me” for whatever specialty you’re in.
Have your business listed in relevant directories. Complete your profile on those business directories (listed below)
Business directories that helps medical marketing
Here are some directories to keep in mind and get listed on
Claiming a listing online verifies that you’re the owner of a valid business (your practice) and are authorized to maintain its presence on the web. Each online local business index has its own claiming process with unique steps to verify your listing.
Moz has a great step by step process and dos and don’ts in detail (read here)
By doing these things, at least you’re on the map.. These also help you to be found in local google searches. That’s critical.