There was a time when medical marketing consisted of billboards, magazine ads, and flyers. These tactics still exist in today’s marketing climate, but they’re no longer your best option for a few reasons.
For one, traditional marketing can be expensive. In some regions, a billboard can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $23,000 for 4 weeks of exposure, according to telecommunications company Grasshopper. Even a direct mailing campaign can cost up to $7,200, according to digital marketing company WebFX.
With traditional medical marketing too expensive for many smaller practices, what are you to do? Medical online marketing is just what the doctor ordered.
Medical online marketing: the key to growing your practice
Online marketing — also known as digital marketing — has taken the medical marketing world by storm, and for good reason: It’s affordable, accessible, and allows for targeting at every stage of the marketing funnel.
Let’s first break down online marketing.
What is medical online marketing?
As the name implies, online marketing is any form of marketing that’s done online. Medical online marketing, like traditional medical marketing, comes in many forms:
- Content marketing: Any type of content that offers value to a patient while also promoting or building a brand is content marketing. Blog posts, infographics, and videos are all popular forms of content marketing assets.
- Email marketing: Email marketing is the practice of sending branded emails to prospective patients or current patients. These emails often promote new services, offer information on your medical practice, or advertise sales.
- Social media marketing: Social media marketing is the act of using any social media website — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — to promote your medical practice. Social media marketing for doctors can be used to keep patients and prospects informed about new services, practice updates, and otherwise stay in touch with your community.
- Paid advertising: Paid advertising is any paid ad you see on Google or any site you’re visiting. This can also take the form of social media ads. Paid advertising for healthcare has a lot in common with traditional medical advertising tactics, but features advanced tracking that’s not possible with traditional advertising mediums.
The perks of medical online marketing
Medical online marketing has some key advantages over traditional medical marketing tactics.
- It’s less disruptive than traditional marketing. Traditional marketing relies on interference in many cases, whereas online marketing can seamlessly integrate into a user’s experience.
- Medical online marketing is cheaper than traditional medical marketing in most cases. Remember the cost of those billboards? If you go the digital route and instead pay for Google ads, the average cost-per-click in the U.S. is between $1 and $2, according to online advertising company Wordstream. Not only is this a much lower cost of entry, you’re also paying for an actual response, and not just the chance someone sees your ad.
- It’s easier to reach specific audiences. With online marketing, you have advanced targeting, tracking, and audience information at your disposal. This allows you to fine tune your marketing efforts so they can be more effective, and it allows you to re-market to those you missed.
- It’s easier to measure your return on investment (ROI). Tracking the performance of a billboard or newspaper ad can be difficult. With online marketing, you have numerous analytics and tracking measures available. This allows you to see who converted into a paying customer, which ad sold them, and so on.
- Online marketing is more interactive than traditional marketing. Beyond clipping out a coupon or calling a number, traditional marketing doesn’t involve the user to a great degree. Online marketing can give users the opportunity to supply feedback, interact with your brand through quizzes or surveys, and more.
Outpacing the competition in 5 steps
Online marketing might have a lower entry cost than traditional marketing, but because of this it’s also competitive. Facebook ad spending alone has increased 62 percent year-on-year as of 2018, according to Econsultancy.
With more people buying ads and investing in online marketing, you’ll need every edge you can get to outpace the competition. Here are five steps to help you gain the lead on your competitors and get the most out of your online medical marketing efforts.
1. Enhance your web presence
A strong web presence is key to any online medical marketing strategy. Make sure your web presence is up to par by claiming your practice listings on any local business and healthcare directories. If your site is already listed, audit them to ensure accuracy.
You also want to ensure you’re using high-quality photos on your listings. Provide an even better experience by offering one-click booking for appointments.
2. Build an optimized website
It’s not enough that you have a website in today’s marketing climate. You need to have an optimized site. This means several things:
- Your site needs to be mobile-first. Mobile users account for more than 48 percent of all online traffic, according to Statista. Mobile-first sites display properly on mobile devices, while older, unoptimized sites can display incorrectly. This can result in visitors missing important information or leaving your site entirely.
- Your site must be optimized for search engines. A site that’s easy for users to navigate is important, but your site won’t be discovered if it isn’t optimized for search engines. Make sure your website is up to date and follows current search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Otherwise, it can lose out to better optimized competing pages.
- An optimized site should convert visitors into patients. When filling out your pages and designing your site, think about whether it will lead visitors through the marketing funnel and turn them into patients. A site that doesn’t convert prospects isn’t worth the investment and upkeep. Be sure to feature patient testimonials and important information about your services and credentials so visitors can book appointments with confidence.
Related: 5 pages your medical website needs
3. Offer online appointment scheduling
Plain and simple, you should be offering online appointment scheduling. It’s convenient for patients, and it can act as a selling point for those torn between two practices. If that’s not enough, nearly half of the people we surveyed in 2016 said they want online appointment scheduling to be offered by the practice they choose.
4. Drive online patient reviews
Online reviews and testimonials can do wonders for your practice. According to BrightLocal, 91 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
To help build your online reputation, ask your patients to review your practice, and share their experiences online. Automating feedback collection will take the burden off your staff, and allow you to quickly review feedback.
Search engines also use reviews to determine rankings, so having a strong online reputation is paramount to success.
5. Publish great content
Writing quality content and sharing it on your site and social media sites can help your practice in many ways.
- According to Google, 75 percent of people who find useful information in a search are more likely to visit the physical location of the company afterward. Great content on your site can translate into more patients coming to your practice.
- Regularly publishing high-quality content can establish you as a thought leader. This can lead to guest posting opportunities, speaking engagements, and, in general, position your practice as a place is prestige.
- Sharing content on social media gives you the opportunity to engage with current and future patients. This can help with retention, boost the possibility of word of mouth, and put your practice in the minds of future patients.
For more helpful information on the topic of medical online marketing, check out our webinar “5 ways your practice can outpace the competition.”