In a PatientPop survey conducted just over a year ago, 90 percent of practitioners reported they’re working in a competitive market, with nearly 40 percent defining their market as highly competitive. When competition is steep, a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy for your healthcare practice can not only help new patients find you — it can also help you maintain a strong connection with existing patients.
With dozens of potential marketing strategies to consider, it isn’t always easy to decipher which tactics can improve your healthcare practice’s business results. While many tools are aimed at either patient acquisition or patient retention, two strategies can move the needle at both ends of the patience experience loop.
These two, often-overlooked strategies — healthcare blogging and the use of social media — give private practices new opportunities to connect with patients in today’s digital world. By employing these two marketing tactics, your practice is better-positioned to bring new patients in the door (it starts with search engine optimization) and keep current patients engaged and coming back for appointments.
The benefits of blogging for healthcare practices
A blog is a powerful repository of information and insight that lives on your practice website. Designed to educate patients, and directly connect them with the services you provide at your practice, a blog serves many purposes for your business.
A healthcare blog can improve your practice’s search engine ranking.
Each blog post you create appears on its own webpage on your site. With each new page, your website is telling Google and other search engines that there is new material to find and index, about your specialty and subject matter.
Blogging tells search engines about your healthcare specialty, and your expertise on specific healthcare conditions and services. When it comes to local search, a blog helps satisfy top factors that affect search results — specifically, three of the top 15 local search ranking factors. Maintaining a blog increases your website’s overall volume of quality content (#2 on the list); it enhances the topical keyword relevance across your entire site (#4); and, it improves your domain authority (#7), an important score that drives site rank.
When focused and consistent, blog posts about your specialty and services can improve your website’s page rank, therefore increasing your visibility with potential patients.
A healthcare blog generates patient awareness and drives conversion.
Creating quality blog content can help convert website visitors into patients. A study from marketing firm Hubspot demonstrates businesses that blog have 55 percent more website visitors, with a 5x increase in the number of pages indexed by search engines.
Those sites also receive 97 percent more inbound links from other sites, which also help generate web traffic. An effective blog strategy involves the use of a clear call to action (CTA) for each blog post, driving visitors to schedule an appointment with your practice or perhaps sign up for an email newsletter.
Best practices for healthcare blogging
- Identify topic area(s). Select topics that tie into your practice and providers’ expertise. For example, if you run a radiology practice, your blog posts could highlight the latest imaging techniques and which conditions they’re used to diagnose and/or treat. The more you can share about your services, the greater chance you’re recognized as an authority by patients and search engines. Remember that it’s important to think like a patient in your communications, so consider the questions you hear from patients most often and start there.
- Focus on the right keywords. Try Google’s keyword planner tool to identify online search keywords for which competition is low, but action is likely. Following the radiologist example, if you have the only PET/CT in town, or are the only radiologist performing uterine fibroid embolization, focus on those topics and incorporate the relevant keywords into your headlines and copy.
- Create a schedule and stick to it. Develop an editorial calendar to keep you on track — the more you post, the greater potential impact your blog will have. By maintaining consistency, you’ll assure followers and patients that you are committed to sharing valuable information on a regular basis.
- Analyze results and adjust your goals.Track high-performing blog posts to learn which topics resonate most with your audience. Expand on those topics and/or repurpose those posts into additional content.
The value of social media for healthcare practices
Whether you use social media personally or not, it is a part of daily life for the masses, and growing. According to Pew Research Center, 3 of 4 people use at least one social media platform regularly. Its use to address healthcare concerns has grown by 621 percent over the past two years.
Adding social media to your marketing mix provides another channel to properly promote your healthcare practice. Unlike costly traditional outlets like print or broadcasting, social media can be highly targeted, and carefully tracked and measured. Most notable is that social media encourages participation and engagement with prospective patients who can get to know you and your brand online, in places where they already spend time.
A healthcare provider’s guide to social media
- Choose your platform(s). In the world of social media, you want to be where your patients (and prospective patients) are — and where you can stand out. If you run a plastic surgery or aesthetics practice, Instagram is a great place to post photos and engage an audience visually. If you manage a community-minded primary care practice, Facebook may be a better option. If you’re a specialist offering unique services, consider establishing a YouTube channel, where your providers can regularly share their expertise via video.
- Stay consistent. This is critical to any healthcare social media marketing strategy. Maintaining a routine presence keeps your social media followers engaged and your audience growing. As with blogging, develop a social media schedule to ensure you stay active. The rule of thumb is to post to each platform 3-4 times per week, adjusting to the best practices of each: for instance, a Twitter account requires more frequency than that, a YouTube channel, less. Make about one of every four posts about your practice/brand and keep the others more educational in nature. If you publish too often about yourself or your practice, you’ll risk losing followers.
- Be an active participant. Remember that social media provides the opportunity for a two-way connection, making it important to track activity, respond to comments, share your thoughts, and follow others. When possible, add links or invitations to participate. Most important, treat each person you engage with like a new patient lead. They’ve already shown interest in your content — they’re more likely to show interest in you or your practice, too.