Marketing has changed a lot in the last few years: Your patients are bombarded by advertising everywhere they go, both online and offline, and it’s hard to stick out from the crowd. Not only are you competing with local and national retailers, but there are also other surgical practices in your area pursuing the same audience.
Here are seven ways to ensure all channels are working at their best to promote your surgical practice:
Ensure your website is optimized so patients can find you
With more and more daily interactions occurring on smartphones, it’s critical that your website is optimized for desktop and mobile viewing. You need to ensure your website is just as intuitive and user-friendly on mobile as it is on desktop. This will usually entail a slight adjustment in the design to enable all the information to be stacked for easy scrolling. Mobile sites should be easy to navigate and all basic information like opening hours, phone numbers, and access to patient portals need to be clearly visible.
But having a beautiful website doesn’t automatically guarantee the right people will find it. You need to ensure your site is optimized for SEO. This means ensuring there are H1s and meta tags assigned to each page, including relevant keywords on leading pages, adding new content on a regular basis, and linking to other sites.
2. Google Ads
A must-have these days
These days, running Google Ads is almost essential to any company’s Marketing Plan. For those of you who are new to this domain, Google Ads is a system run by Google that allows you to pay for your website to appear at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). You’ll bid for certain keywords, such as “surgical practice Atlanta.” You’ll be shown exactly how much each keyword costs per click. Then, if someone runs a Google search for those keywords, a clickable ad for your practice will appear at the top of the page – and send them to your website when they click. You’ll be charged only when someone clicks through the ad. Google ad campaigns can be very successful, but it’s important to choose the most relevant keywords and to monitor the campaign to be sure that your money is well spent.
3. Online local listings
Get your practice listed on small local business listings
Claiming your website on local listings sites is a basic, yet critical, step in your marketing campaign. Start with the basics by marking your practice name and location in the major platforms: Google My Business, Yahoo, Yelp, and Bing. But don’t neglect smaller, local business listings. Take the time to find the local business listings sites for your area. Local listings are often trusted more by your potential patients and bolster your local SEO ranking at the same time.
It can get tedious to re-enter the same practice data again and again into multiple listings sites. To make your life a little easier (and more efficient!), use a tool for location data management, like Moz Local or FMG Local Listings to automate the process. A good location data management tool will also monitor your listings and let you know when you need to update or if you have a broken link.
4. Social media
Choose social media platforms that are relevant for your target audience
It’s important to be active on social media, but it can also very overwhelming to maintain. Don’t try to be ever-present on every platform. It’s best to choose just one, two, or three social media channels and focus on providing excellent customer service and valuable content on each one. The platforms you choose should be based on the audience you are trying to target. So SnapChat is probably not going to make it to the top 3!
A Facebook page is an excellent way to share information about your opening hours, and different services you offer. It can also be a great place to start a conversation and get customer input (and hopefully positive reviews).
Make sure staff reply promptly to direct messages. This will ensure a good reputation for responsiveness. Also, don’t be afraid to think out of the box – platforms like YouTube and Tumblr can be very effective marketing channels, since your practice won’t be competing with as many other voices.
There are social media platforms like Hootsuite that allow you to post across multiple platforms, and set the posts in advance according to whatever time frame you assign. There are also inbuilt metrics so you can measure the reach of your posts – which is important when trying to determine how effective social media is as a channel overall.
5. Review websites
Respond to negative and positive reviews
Online reviews are extremely important. Patients read these reviews and are influenced by their recommendations. So it’s important you encourage your patients to post reviews after their (hopefully positive) experience at your practice. But these days, receiving negative reviews is just part of doing business. You’re simply never going to make everyone happy. However, it’s the way you engage and respond to negative reviews that is imperative. First off, it’s very important to reply to negative reviews (as opposed to ignoring). You can often redeem your reputation by responding in the right way. The issue addressed by the reviewer should be acknowledged in a respectful manner, and some sort of consolation should be offered. By replying to both good and bad reviews, you show readers that you care about their opinion.
It might seem daunting to keep on top of your reviews, but there are a number of very effective tools that can help you with this task. Tools like Social Mention, SentiOne, Review Push, and simple Google Alerts make it easier to monitor online reviews.
6. Local publications and radio ads
Paper ads and publications are still surprisingly effective. Flyers with information about your services can be placed in community centers and shopping malls, bringing you a lot of visibility. Local newspapers and magazines reach people who live close to your practice – likely your target patients.
Although music has gone digital, radio is still a surprisingly effective way to promote your practice. 90% of the US residents still listen to the radio, with most people staying loyal to just one or two stations. Choose your local station and/or the one that is most popular with your target age and gender demographic, and keep your practice ads short and to the point. And remember, jingles can still be very memorable and effective!
7. Word of mouth
Keep your customers happy and they’ll do the talking
Word of mouth is the best advertising you can have. Increase your word of mouth advertising by asking existing patients to recommend you to friends and relatives. The happier your patients are, the more likely they are to recommend you to others. So do your best to provide a welcoming, positive, and pleasant patient experience.
Track your success
Tracking the success of each marketing channel you use is extremely important. This way, you will know which channels bring in the most patients and are worth focusing on. Read our next article in this series to learn how to track your marketing activities.