Essential Digital Marketing for           Healthcare Practitioners 

  

 
Table of contents
  1. Why Go digital?
  2. Having a website is not enough
  3. Important strategies for Healthcare Practitioners
    1. Taget Locally
    2. Become a knowledge source and thought leader in health
    3. Understand your target audience and typical patient
    4. Don't neglect mobile
    5. Utilize Data
  4. Most Effective Digital Marketing Tools for Healthcare Practitioners
    1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
    2. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
    3. Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  5. Conclusion
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Your goal as a healthcare practitioner is to guide others in their wellness journey. Although the path to health and happiness may not have changed much in the preceding decades, how patients find the trailhead certainly has. The key is to meet these potential patients where they are in their search for help. More often than not, this is online.

This means expanding your scope and presence across digital platforms so those in need of help can find you fast and find you first. These strategies will not only connect you with plenty of new patients, but help you stay connected and involved with the ones you treat already.  In this resource, we aim to help you help others — better, faster, and more effectively.

 
Why go digital?

Your patient records are no longer relegated to paper, neither should your outreach strategy. Not only will the strategies discussed below reach those in need of immediate care, and educate people in need, they are also a necessary and helpful lead generation tool for your business to acquire new and loyal patients.

To put the importance in perspective, Google alone receives 1 billion health-related searches daily – that’s an average of 70,000 searches per minute, or 7% of all Google searches! If you’re relying solely on personal recommendations and a listing in the phone book, your business model is not only prehistoric, it will likely meet a similar fate as the dinosaurs.

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Before we get into the technicalities of marketing tools themselves, let’s broadly identify and explain some of the most important strategies for healthcare practitioners. Afterwards, we will see how these can be used in conjunction with the most effective digital marketing tools. You will find helpful links embedded in the text that lead to relevant and thorough how-to articles throughout.

 
Having a website is not enough

We’re going to assume that you have a website. That’s a great start. If you’ve consistently updated the site since it was created in 1999, you’re getting closer. But there are a number of absolutely critical elements that must be present on your website today in order to make it perform at the level of care you provide. Here are a few elements you can accomplish yourself:

  • Find your Brand Voice. Be consistent and purposeful with how you engage your patients with your message.
  • Keep navigation simple. Have a logical tree- like structure, starting from the header menu options. This improves the user experience when pages and information are easy to find and exactly where they expect to find them. If users can’t find the information they need fast, they quickly abandon ship.

Below, find an example of a simple, logical site structure for a local practice:

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  • The aesthetics should reflect what a patient expects from a healthcare professional while being consistent with your brand voice. It should be clean, direct, and informative, while also capturing the personality of your practice. Give it a unified look and consistent feel. Utilize negative/white space and bullet points for readability. There is no need for fancy widgets that may distract and confuse.
  • Optimize for speed. Searchers expect immediate results. Today, when a site fails to load immediately, the user abandons the page for another. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for personalized tips. To emphasize these points, just have a look at the ‘bounce rate’ among mobile users in relation to load times:

     

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  • Include pictures and profiles of you and your team — this both humanizes your practice and puts the potential patient at ease. Original, high-quality pictures are also good for SEO (which we will touch on later).
  • Track all your website goals by creating end-to-end setup and set up via Google analytics. This ensures that marketing goals are quantifiable.[not sure this sentence makes sense, or maybe I’m too dumb] 
  • Have appropriate and effective call to actions (CTAs). Call to actions are prompts that encourage the user to take a desired action, such as ‘Book Appointment’ or ‘Subscribe’ to a newsletter.
  • Landing pages – First impressions are everything. If a user clicks onto your site and lands on a page that is irrelevant to their search inquiry or the ad/link they followed, they will most likely abandon you site for another with more relevant content.

 

Important Strategies for Healthcare Practitioners

1. Target Locally

This is arguably the most important part of your entire digital strategy as a practitioner. Since your business is limited to a specific geographi- cal area, so is your base of potential patients. In fact, 46% of all Google searches are local.

Marketing your business nationally, for instance, will be an unnecessarily expensive and time- consuming exercise that will most probably not yield customers from outside of your geographical area. Thankfully the tools discussed later make it easy to target exactly the right audience, in exactly the right geographical area.

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2. Become a knowledge source and thought leader in Health

As a health practitioner, you’ve made a career out of your desire to help. Your expertise puts you in a position to become a source of knowledge for the local community and abroad. This is often achieved by creating and sharing useful, relevant, and compelling content that is not only helpful for those who read it, it is useful on almost every level of digital marketing. Later, we’ll see how this content creation can be used as part of your digital marketing on every level.

Much more on this later in the section addressing Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) here. Becoming a thought leader can take time to cultivate, but once you put in the hard work, it will transform your practice.

 

3. Understand your target audience and typical patient

With digital marketing you have to obtain a particularly in-depth understanding of your target market in order to communicate in a way that encourages engagement. Pin down your target customer by exploring not only why they need your product or service, but what motivates them in the form of social and cultural values.

This may be easier for the average healthcare practitioner than the typical business owner, as practitioners experience face-to-face, personal contact with their patients on a daily basis — learning about their health history, lifestyle, and preferences.

  • Create ‘personas’ for your typical patient types. What motivates them? What services does this persona typically seek? How do they reach out for treatment?
  • Find the most effective channels of communication for the particular group. A retiree with back pain will find your practice very different way than a millennial athlete would.
  • Speak to your patients in their own language and tone.
  • Connect on a personal level by showing cultural awareness.
  • Discover key influencers in the field, and establish partnerships.
  • Focus on what the specific end-goal of using your product or service (treating symptoms) will be.

 

4. Don’t Neglect Mobile

The importance of mobile as part of a digital strategy cannot be overstated. In 2016, for the first time, more people accessed the internet through mobile phones and tablets than desktop. By 2018 the mobile share of the market reached 58%, and continues to grow.

 

What percentage of online traffic does each device type account for?

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It is becoming normal for people to use their phones to search for restaurants when they’re already out the door, grocery stores when they’re on their way home from work, and services like doctors or dentists right when they need one. This creates huge opportunities to promote your practice.

Here are a few ways that you can use to take advantage of this new ‘normal’:

 

5. Utilize Data

The internet is vast ocean of data. Harnessing this data in the right way allows you make great digital strategies, as it enables you to analyze your campaigns to see what’s working and what isn’t. This allows campaigns to become more effective over time.

When planning a campaign, you need to be very specific about which metrics you will use to determine the campaign’s performance, so you can use the feedback quickly and effectively. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind which we will discuss more in detail later:

  • Monitor only appropriate metrics. With so much data available, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia.

Use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your campaign, but keep them flexible.

  • Determine intervals at which you will analyze data, interpret it, and report on it.
  • Understand how to drill into specific data when a campaign isn’t performing as expected.
  • More detail on these can be found in the specific ‘Tools’ sections, as well as in the provided resources. Let’s move on to these specific tools, shall we?
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Most Effective Digital Marketing Tools for Healthcare Practitioners – and how to maximize results

 

1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Bildschirmfoto 2019-08-20 um 19.21.20SEO is a set of practices and methods designed to increase your visibility in search engines. Search ranking is determined by a site’s authority and relevance to the searcher’s intent. The way to rank higher than competitors is to increase your site’s authority with a well-executed SEO strategy. Furthermore, research by our partner Hubspot shows that 75% of searchers never scroll beyond the first page. This is not surprising. When is the last time you scrolled through multiple pages, especially if you had a pressing health need?

 

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Target Locally - As far as SEO is concerned, local SEO is the low hanging fruit. This is because you are only competing with others in your area, rather than regionally, nationally, or globally. For example, it is much easier to rank for the keywords ‘Spine Doctor Birmingham’ than for the more general term, ‘Spine Doctor.’ In larger cities this will be targeted down to the particular neighborhood.

These area-specific search terms also indicate that the searcher is further down the sales funnel. They are looking for a particular practitioner to be treated, rather than general information about Spine Specialists, such as a Wikipedia entry.

There are a few quick ways that you can start increasing your local SEO presence immediately. These include:                               

  • Create local business pages on Facebook and Google my business.
  • Create and use content that is relevant to local events and news stories.
  • Get reviews from happy customers via platforms like Google Reviews.
  • Interlink your site with other, relevant, local businesses by writing a guest blog.
  • Employ local-targeted SEO by using geo- graphically specific keywords and site pages (i.e. ‘Best Dentist Dublin’).

 

Become a knowledge source - Content is a pillar of SEO strategy. In the old days of Wild West-style SEO strategy, many people would just stuff their website content with the keywords they wanted to rank for. As Google’s algorithm advanced, those days are over. This is great news for the consumer. Google now recognizes content that is useful, relevant, and reliable. A few ways to optimize your content for SEO:

  • You’re an expert in your field, so share your knowledge and expertise. Above all, Google ranks by relevance and usefulness for the searcher.
  • Use common problems or symptoms as topics for blog posts or videos. This will often attract people in need of your services and help many along the way. It is very helpful for specific down funnel searches i.e. ‘Lower Back Pain London.’
  • Write informed, engaging and emotionally appealing content.
  • Most users skim articles. Use bullet points and infographics to help them easily and quickly digest the information.
  • Create a ‘Pillar Page’ and then create more specific topics based around it. These should all hyperlink somewhere in the text to the lengthy and more comprehensive Pillar Page. This creates ‘topic clusters’ that help you rank in Google. Take, for example, this Pillar Page and Topic Cluster for a physiotherapist:
 
Understand your target audience and patient - The content should be both relevant and written in language that is accessible to your readers. Moreover, all of the points established in the strategy section for this section apply.
  • Speak to your patients in their ‘language’ and tone.
  • Connect on a personal level by showing cultural awareness.
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  • Discover key influencers or other practitioners in similar domains, and establish partnerships – you can do this by offering free tailored content on their sites that link back to yours. This is great for your SEO value and for reaching new readers.
  • Focus on what the specific end-goal will be of using your product or service (often treating symptoms).

 

Don’t Neglect Mobile - With mobile now capturing the majority of searches, Google has implemented mobile first indexing. This means that rather than only judging sites by their desktop versions, mobile versions sites are now accounting for a large proportion of ranking decisions. There are a few ways to make sure that you’ve addressed this.

  • Use Google’s mobile-friendly test to determine how mobile friendly your site currently is.
  • Use responsive design. This ensures that your site adjusts intuitively to any size screen.
  • Don’t use Flash. In tech time, Flash is older than the dinosaurs. It has been phased out of best practice years ago, is slow to load, and is bad for SEO.
  • Make sure relevant metadata is present for both desktop and mobile versions of the site.

3. Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

PPC advertising (most often Google Adwords) are those ubiquitous little ads that show up on the top of the page after a search on Google (or similar). These appear above what are called ‘organic searches’ (non-ad results) which are determined by SEO value.

Of the 1 billion healthcare-related searches daily, nearly a quarter are resolved in a click on a relevant PPC ad.

Utilize Data

  • Data tells the story – track metrics like site visitors, conversions, and bounce rate over time.
  • Track all conversions and the effectiveness of Call to Actions through your analytics.
  • Track relevant keyword rankings and your site’s rankings with tools like AHREFS, SEMRush, or similar.

Target Locally - Google Adwords makes it easy to target your audience geographically. This means that your ads will be shown only in the cities, neighborhoods, or regions that you dictate. Common sense and practice shows that the closer a customer is to your practice, the more likely they are to choose to visit your practice.

Once your campaigns are successful, begin to expand your targeting locations. You will discover a point where you are not seeing enough returns to justify continued expanding of targeting.

 

Become a knowledge source - In general it is not recommended to use your informative articles in your PPC campaigns unless you have a large budget, and are focusing on brand awareness. The reason for this is that people searching for informative articles are higher up in the buyer’s journey. Doing this means that you have just paid someone to read an article that you are offering for free. A click on an ad directed to an informative article will convert far less often than to one linked directly to a services/ treatments page for specific symptoms with a ‘book appointment’ option.

 

Understand your target audience and patients - Once again, most of the key ideas in the strategy overview above apply. Primarily for PPC, the most important is focusing your ads on spe- cific end-goals of your primary patients. Know- ing the issues that they are trying to resolve, and focusing on bottom-of-the-funnel searchers (those actively seeking treatment) is key.

 

Don’t Neglect Mobile - With the majority of searches now being conducted on mobile, be sure that your PPC ads are optimized across numerous devices. This means:

  • Enabling mobile specific extensions on your ads that offer more information, and allow users to interact more easily on their mobile devices. Extensions only show when you have a high enough ad rank, so be sure to pay attention the quality score of your ads.
  • Direct users on mobile to pages of your site that provide a great mobile experience.
  • Tailor your ads to mobile users by including IF functions.

 

Utilize DataNot all of your ad campaigns will be equally effective. Luckily, the Adwords platform provides comprehensive reporting. That should help you tweak and optimize your campaigns for the best performance. This should be done often and thoroughly.

• Make notes of what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your bids accordingly. Invest more in reliably high performing ads and reserve some budget to test new campaigns. You can segment your audience based on demographics like age, gender, etc. to find your perfect audience.

 

A/B testing - A/B testing allows you to test the performance of two slightly differing ads to see which performs better. This is a great way to optimize your conversions over time and end up with the very highest performing campaign.

Negative Keywords – Sometimes, the keywords you don’t show up for are as important as the ones you do. If a campaign is losing money, see if there are negative keywords that you can remove. For example, if many clicks are coming from “Free Dental Care Atlanta,” and this is not something you provide, it would be wise to add “Free” to your list of negative keywords.

 

Ad rank and quality score – Ad rank and quality scores are directly related. If you have a high- quality score, you will rank higher and pay less than competitors for the same spot. Check your ad rank and your quality scores often for the best results. This system prevents a single advertiser form simply buying the best rankings.

 

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3. Social Media Marketing (SMM)

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SMM is a strategy of leveraging your presence on social media platforms to reach new and existing patients. A focus is placed on creating shareable and useful content on these platforms. Almost all social media platforms offer their own PPC services to promote services to a wider audience.

In fact, in a recent survey nearly one third of respondents indicated that they have used social media platforms to find health-related information, and express their opinions on practitioners, treatments, drugs, and more. Fourty-one percent of these consumers used social media platforms to inform their decision in choosing medical care, such as a particular medical facility or doctor. The opinions of peers can be powerful. As with any of these online tools such as PPC and SEO, SMM is more suitable for certain situations, goals, and target demographics.

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Target Locally - Like PPC, social media allows you the ability to target your audience to a large degree. Targeting on social media allows for a wide range of options whereby you are able to construct different audiences that perfectly match your advertising goals. Targeting locally is by far the best strategy for health practitioners, given that you will only be targeting neighborhoods within a certain radius around your practice.

The best strategies you can use when targeting locally on social media are:

  • Target demographically. Platforms like Facebook allow customers to share information publicly that can help you target the right people every time.
  • Target the right interests. Interest targeting focuses on consumer and lifestyle categories such as fitness, health, or yoga. By addressing these interests, you are able to reach an audience of people you know has a higher likelihood of interest in your practice.
  • Target connections. You can build an audience of consumers who have already interacted with your social pages, website, or health app. This will be your strongest target audience, because they have already previously showed interest in your practice.

 

Become a knowledge sourceNow that you have an SEO optimized article, why not share it on your social media platforms? This is high quality, engaging, and helpful content that your followers will be interested in. However, becoming a thought leader on social media is more than just sharing articles. As a health practitioner, you must know what people want to read, and HOW they want to digest information. Keep these tips in mind.

  • Visual content is great. Include eye-catching images, as well as ‘behind the scenes’ photos of you and your staff happily working. This helps the customers feel as though they have a greater connection to you.
  • Videos are a great tool. Include live videos and Facebook/Instagram stories to your social feed to give an added layer of personality and connection to your clinic.

 

Infographics. This content is especially handy, because it breaks down large chunks of information into digestible bits, and explains it using visuals. Your information should be understood and accessible to everyone, because the more people understand your service, the more likely they are to seek it out.

 

Understand your target audience and patient - Social media is an ever-evolving tool that changes every time a new topic trends. Plat- forms are user-dominated and therefore your customers demand the type of content they want to see, not vice versa like several decades ago. Because companies are not in control of how much or how little information about their product they want out there, you must be selec- tive with the content that you put out online.

  • Be transparent. One way or another, your patients will find the knowledge they want. Be sure that you are open with them so that YOU are the source they turn to for honest information.
  • Be genuine. Users of social media appreciate authenticity above all else.
  • Be creative. Even though it can seem impossible to be original with content online, a unique perspective and fresh creativity can go a long way with your patients.
  • Be engaged. Respond to your ‘fans’ and followers to earn their trust and prove that you are listening to their needs.

Don’t Neglect Mobile - Social media was born in the era of the smartphone, meaning almost everything you do on these platforms will be intuitively integrated from desktop to mobile or vice versa.

Having your mobile device close at hand can also make your job easier

  • Mobile makes it easier to update your business social media from anywhere in the world, which means your world of content can be endless if you utilize your smartphone!
  • You have a camera and a video recording studio in your pocket — use it! Take videos and pictures in your clinic to share on your platforms.
  • Download Ads Manager app that allows you to post and control ads wherever you go, on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Turn your notifications on so that you don’t miss any opportunity to respond to a question or comment from a potential patient.

Utilize Data - Where social media is concerned, platforms have built-in metrics to choose from that make determining a campaign’s success easy. Keep these things in mind when creating a campaign:

  • Set your goal first, then choose a campaign type that suits your goal best. Facebook will suggest metrics that measure your success automatically depending on what you choose.
  • Test ads against each other to see which one performs best. This gives you a clear indication of what resonates with your audience.
  • One of the most important things to keep in mind when creating conversion campaigns is your Average Patient Value (APV). This will help you to determine the success of a campaign.
 
Conclusion

Some form of digital marketing for your practice is no longer a choice. A listing in the yellow pages or word- of-mouth, while potentially useful, will no longer cut it to grow your business in the digital era.

Start small and scale up if you need to, and reach out for external support if necessary. Hopefully this guide and the resources provided are enough to give you insights into how to initiate new strategies of patient outreach or optimize the ones you already have.

At the end of the day, a better outreach strategy makes you a better.

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