Digital marketing 101 for pediatricians
Traditional approaches to physician practice marketing — word-of-mouth referrals, print advertising — are no longer enough to grow your pediatrics practice over the long term. To thrive, your practice must embrace modern, digital-first marketing tactics.
Digital marketing and advertising offers a wealth of benefits to pediatricians over conventional approaches, including enhanced customer targeting, control, and flexibility. The ability to set specific parameters for your marketing and advertising campaigns, and the option to quickly refine your strategies when needed, nearly guarantees a better return on investment (ROI).
Pediatrics practices of all sizes need to invest in digital marketing and advertising to attract new patients. Ideally, practices would complement those efforts with traditional methods that still work for them, such as direct mail, outdoor billboards, and print and broadcast advertising. But for independent practice operators with smaller budgets, traditional tactics are simply too costly – as well being difficult to track and measure.
That’s where digital marketing and advertising really shines. Here are a few key benefits you’ll find with a digital-first approach.
- Digital marketing is cost-effective. One of digital marketing’s greatest benefits is the ability to choose your budget, starting small if you need to. Unlike expensive print and broadcast advertising campaigns, digital marketing requires only a modest investment to get started. Product costs are minimal, and there are no costly, inflexible annual contracts. You set your investment, adjust as needed, and monitor your ROI in real time.
- Digital marketing provides actionable data and insights. As your campaigns progress, you’ll get at-a-glance information about what’s working and what isn’t. With these insights, you can easily evaluate your strategies and change course as needed. If a digital ad outperforms your expectations, you can easily scale up without losing momentum. Likewise, low-performing campaigns can be reworked before your budget is exhausted. You can even create multiple iterations of the same ad to see which performs best, gleaning helpful information about your target audiences as you go.
- Digital marketing offers maximum control and flexibility. Digital marketing and advertising give you a variety of options for control and flexibility. Sophisticated audience targeting lets you reach people based on key demographic information such as age and location, as well as interests or characteristics (think: pregnant women, youth sports clubs, or local “mommy-and-me” groups).
Content marketing strategies for pediatricians
Content marketing satisfies two key objectives for any pediatric practice: promoting your practice while offering practical, relevant information about pediatric care to current and prospective patient families. Strong, engaging content also delivers the added benefit of better search result rankings. Publishing relevant content on your website, blog, and social media accounts, can boost your web presence and result in a significant SEO and local search advantage.
Blogging, social media, and email campaigns all provide excellent content marketing opportunities that amplify your patient acquisition and patient retention tactics. In any competitive marketplace, high-quality content can really help you stand out among other pediatricians in your area.
Here are some top content marketing facts for your pediatrics practice:
- Blogging helps boost your SEO strategy. Publishing a blog on your website gives search engines additional content from your site to index, and increases the number of relevant keywords associated with your practice. You may not be able to list every condition you treat on your website; a blog gives you room to showcase your expertise in clinical areas that are important to your practice, thus connecting your practice to search terms that parents might use while searching online for pediatric care. A blog post about asthma, for example, might help connect you to a parent researching their child’s recent asthma diagnosis. Via your blog, you offer an additional opportunity for that family to find your practice’s website and book an appointment.
- Social media drives awareness and website traffic. About three in four people use social media regularly1, making it another great way for pediatricians to attract new patients and connect with loyal ones. Being active on social media, and engaging with families there, can help strengthen the patient-provider relationship and keep you top-of-mind for pediatric healthcare needs. Facebook is still the largest and most popular social media site, making it a great place to start posting information. Share content from your website and blog — this will help direct traffic back to your website. To increase your reach and visibility via social media channels, you can even invest in sponsored content.
- Email campaigns can offer patient convenience and boost loyalty. Email is the best venue for delivering targeted, relevant, timely information to families already in your network. For greatest effectiveness, segment your patient — for example, you can target families with school-aged children with a back-to-school email about vaccinations, or send first-time moms information about newborn milestones and developmental screening. By including convenient links to appointment booking, or to learn more about a topic on your blog, you give busy patients everything they need right in their inbox.
Still stumped? Here’s a list of common pediatrics topics to consider for your next blog post, social media posts, or email campaign.
Common pediatrics symptoms and conditions
- ADD / ADHD
- Ear Infection
- Strep Throat
Common pediatrics services, procedures, and treatments
- Adolescent Care / Adolescent Visits
- After Hours Care / Children’s Urgent Care
- Annual Pediatric Checkup
- Developmental Screening
- Family Medicine
- Lactation Counselor / Lactation Consultant
- Medical Ear Piercing
- Mental Health Services
- Physical Exams
- Pediatric Care / General Pediatrics
- Newborn and Infant Examinations
- Newborn Care
- Nutrition Consultation
- Sick Child Visits / Same Day Sick Visits
- Sleep Consults
- Sports Physicals
- Telemedicine / Telehealth
- Vaccines / Immunizations and Vaccinations
- Well Child Visit / Well Child Exam / Well Child Checkup
Reminder: As you include keywords in your content, your SEO strategy requires you to think like a patient. Use words and phrases your patients are most likely to use when asking a question, or when searching online.
More on content marketing
7 blog post types for healthcare marketing
Social media for healthcare providers: 9 statistics you need to know
Two overlooked strategies to expand your healthcare practice brand
Best practices to boost your web presence
The first step for pediatricians to improve their online performance is to ensure their website is optimized for search and patient usability. A modern, appealing website design can convert casual online browsers into patients by offering convenient digital tools, welcoming practice information, and useful content about pediatric care.
Your website should be mobile-optimized, including one-click contact buttons for mobile users to call your office directly. Online appointment scheduling is essential, a preference for families juggling home, work, and school calendars. Digital intake and registration tools offer additional convenience, inviting parents to complete forms and questionnaires online, on their own schedule. This helps reduce their time stuck in the waiting room with wiggly toddlers, high-energy elementary schoolers, or impatient teens.
Your website also needs to make an excellent first impression on prospective patient families. To stand out from the competition, include provider bios and photos highlighting specific areas of expertise; helpful content about common childhood illnesses or even rare conditions important to your practice; and positive patient reviews and testimonials.
All of the above helps improve your website and the online experience your practice delivers. But enhancing your web presence requires thinking beyond your website. Thriving pediatric practices deploy a range of tactics to improve their online performance, stand out in search results, and increase conversion. Here’s a quick guide:
- Make the most of online directories. Your pediatric practice is already listed across dozens of business and healthcare online directories, some of which you may not even be aware of. You have an opportunity to optimize your presence across those sites, especially more popular destinations like Google, Yelp, Vitals, and Healthgrades. By claiming your professional profile on each site, you can ensure your practice information is accurate, and add details and photos that give your listing more personality and appeal to prospective patients.
- Engage with current and prospective patients on social media. Social media helps amplify your online presence and expand your market reach. Each channel is also another platform on which to showcase content that links back to your website. As you share more information across social media, your activity plays a role in improving the “relevance” score search engines use to determine your local search ranking.
- Manage your online reputation. Implementing reputation management strategies is another key way for your practice to improve your search engine ranking and attract new patients. The goal is to encourage a steady stream of online reviews, building upon the total number of reviews and the average star rating. A 2021 survey by PatientPop found that 74 percent of patients ranked online reviews as “very important” or “extremely important” when choosing a healthcare provider. The more patient reviews you can collect, the higher that average star rating can climb, influencing more discerning patients seeking care.
- Implement search engine optimization strategies. SEO is all about surfacing the right website based on factors that determine that website as a trustworthy and relevant authority. Search engines will check out your website to see if it’s mobile-friendly, well-organized, and fast-loading. Google and others will find content on your site and across the web to see how well your content can answer particular search queries. The more content that search engines find — blog posts, social media activity, online directory profiles — the more information there is to index, the better chance you have to surface in search results.
Get your pediatrics practice on Page 1: Local search and SEO basics
You may offer the best pediatric care in the world. But if prospective patients can’t find you online, you’re unlikely to continue building your patient base successfully in an increasingly competitive marketplace. As referenced above, search engines like Google look for certain factors when determining what to serve up in search results. Winning that search engine optimization begins at the local level, as Google prioritizes businesses that are geographically close to the person searching.
Even as search engines continuously evolve their SEO algorithms, these proven effective strategies hold up. Implementing these tactics can help put your pediatric practice near the top of local search results.
Optimize your web presence. Upgrade your website design and usability with mobile- and user-friendly features, claim your practice profiles as discussed above, and add details to your website and blog about the exceptional pediatric care you provide. Be sure to highlight specific procedures or clinical interests that set your providers and practice apart. When focusing your time and resources, be sure to prioritize your Google business profile (via Google My Business). Google is the top search engine out there by far, and its “local pack” — a breakout list of search results displayed on a map above organic search results — is prime real estate for businesses.
Use content marketing to drive website traffic. Compelling, informative content on your website, blog, social media channels, and email marketing campaigns all work to drive more visitors to your website. In turn, that can improve the relevancy ranking search engines use to determine which sites to include in search results. By making smart use of keywords in all your content marketing (i.e. using the same language parents would when researching pediatricians), you help bolster your searchability and SEO performance.
Improve your online reputation. The more reviews Google can find for your practice, the more relevant they assume you are in the community. That’s one major reason to undertake strategies that increase the frequency and volume of your practice’s patient reviews. Consider sending each patient an automated patient satisfaction survey following a visit; patients who are asked for feedback are 2.3 times more likely to submit a review, based on patient survey data from PatientPop. As part of that feedback process, it’s imperative for your pediatric practice to respond to negative feedback promptly. Also be sure to monitor your incoming reviews and keep a close watch on your Google star rating. That single line of stars gives prospective patients one of the quickest looks at your overall online reputation.
More on search engine optimization
Page 1 potential: 5 tactics to get your healthcare practice toward the top of search results
Helping healthcare practices get found online: Search ranking factors and trends from SEO experts
Pediatrics patient acquisition and retention tips for practice growth
To grow your pediatrics practice over time, you need to balance both new patient acquisition and patient retention strategies. An all-in-one practice growth platform will help you check both boxes: guiding you to implement modern marketing and advertising strategies that attract new patients, and enhancing your patient experience to strengthen patient loyalty for families who already put their care in your hands.
Smart practice growth doesn’t just happen on its own. Pediatricians need a plan for growth, with metrics to gauge their performance, spot trends, and identify areas for improvement.
Listing and monitoring your practice’s key performance indicators (KPIs) help you stay on track to meet your goals. For instance, following the volume of new appointments at your practice is one reliable way of measuring patient acquisition. Tracking your no-show rate can help you spot signs of patient attrition or waning loyalty. Your search results rankings and Google star rating are other critical pieces of data to watch as you adopt new strategies for practice growth.
Here are some best practices for patient acquisition:
Expand your reach further with digital advertising. Paid search advertising (also called pay-per-click or cost-per-click advertising) and sponsored social media content let you target prospective pediatric patients with options to customize for interests, attributes, and demographic information such as age. With paid search, you pay only when someone clicks on the ad to visit your website, so you don’t waste your budget on people who have no need for a pediatrician. Sponsored social media posts give you an additional platform to reach prospective patients who don’t already follow you online.
Optimize your web presence to help prospective patients find you in an online search. A first-rate website design, updated and detailed online business profiles, and a savvy social media presence can all boost your online performance and ensure search engines know your practice is relevant and worth a top search ranking.
Maintain a stellar online reputation to lead more families to find and choose your practice for pediatric care. More reviews means more online visibility. The number of available online reviews and your overall star rating are more than just key SEO factors — they also influence patient decision-making. Sixty-nine percent of patients say they won’t choose a practice with a rating lower than four stars. Furthermore, without that 4-star minimum, your practice won’t show up in Google searches that include ‘best’ in the query (e.g. ’best pediatricians near me’). In general, when parents see that others have had a great experience at your practice, they’re more likely to take the next step to book an appointment.
Focus on: Patient retention for your pediatrics practice
Over the years, research has shown that it costs anywhere from five to 25 times more to gain a new patient than to keep an existing one2. Prioritizing patient retention just makes good business sense, and positions you to capitalize on each patient’s lifetime value (LTV). LTV is the amount of revenue generated by all visits throughout a patient’s “lifetime,” or in the case of pediatrics, their childhood.
Loyalty is perhaps even more important at pediatrics practices than other specialties: as a family grows, so does your prospective patient base. Here are three top tips for patient retention at your pediatrics practice:
Keep an eye on patient satisfaction and listen to feedback. In a 2021 PatientPop survey, the majority of patients listed being a “good listener” as the most important quality in a healthcare provider. By using automated patient satisfaction surveys to solicit feedback, you can keep your finger on the pulse of the patient experience and signal that you care. Negative feedback is inevitable — how you handle it can make all the difference between retaining a patient or watching them leave your practice. Without a response, an unsatisfied patient remains unsatisfied. In turn, more than 80 percent of patients report being satisfied when they receive a response to negative feedback from the practice.
When addressing negative comments, be sure to let your sincerity come through. Sometimes, patients just want an acknowledgement of their bad experience. However, practice operators still need to address criticism with potential improvements in mind, and be ready to enact meaningful change. Constructive feedback about long wait times or communication problems can bring about positive improvements for patients.
Once you have determined a remedy or response, share with the patient who offered the feedback that they helped you improve your policies and procedures. Then, if warranted, share the change more broadly on your blog, social media accounts, or even in an email campaign. That’s a great way to keep other patients in the loop and demonstrate that you’re responsive to their needs.
Use digital tools for patient convenience. Patients have come to expect convenient options for just about everything they do in the consumer world. In healthcare, that translates to online appointment scheduling, digital intake and registration, easy access to medical records, automated appointment reminders, and online bill pay options from their pediatricians. According to PatientPop research, more than half of patients prefer digital tools for each of those interactions over traditional methods.
When it comes to appointment reminders in particular, text messaging is key. Two-thirds of patients want to receive a text reminder about an upcoming appointment, and nearly 60 percent prefer a text reminder when it’s time to book their next appointment.
Keep in touch with patients through email. Email marketing campaigns can effectively keep your pediatrics practice connected to patients between appointments. Focusing email content for specific groups within your patient database can even double email clickthrough rates3. As an example of patient targeting, you can group patients by age to send out immunization reminders. You can segment groups by diagnosis or condition to send out relevant health-related information and tips. However you segment, always include a way for patients to take immediate action: links to book an appointment online or send your practice a text message, or a click-to-call to contact your office directly.
More on practice growth
What is a practice growth platform and how can it help private practices achieve 2021 goals?
Key performance indicators that help reveal and define practice performance
How healthcare practices can benefit from daily use of a practice performance dashboard
Making your healthcare practice a thriving business: Four must-haves for a technology platform
Building your pediatrics practice’s online reputation
Your online reputation is a key factor in attracting new patients to your pediatrics practice, as reviews are the most influential aspect of online information for people seeking care. Your average star rating on Google is particularly critical.
As mentioned above, PatientPop research indicates that nearly 70 percent of patients will only consider healthcare providers with a rating of 4.0 or higher. Further proof that patients are becoming more discerning is that nearly one in five say they won’t consider a provider with a rating lower than 4.5 stars.
Fortunately, a comprehensive practice growth platform gives pediatricians key insights into their online reputation. With that information, they can identify areas of improvement and implement strategies to boost patient satisfaction. Both actions, in turn, can help improve online reviews and ratings.
Beyond delivering an exceptional patient experience, many healthcare providers believe they don’t have much control over their online reputation. In fact, there are simple, proven tactics that can help improve the entire review landscape for providers. At minimum, pediatricians must take on the following at their practice:
Solicit regular patient feedback. Sending automated satisfaction surveys after each appointment opens up a dialogue between your pediatrics practice and the families you serve. Not only does it show you care, it also gives you valuable qualitative feedback into the whole patient journey. Many factors influence the relationship between patients and providers, so it’s important to understand how patients and their families feel about various aspects of your practice. That includes operational factors such as wait times and ease of scheduling, and interactions with staff and other healthcare professionals at your practice. The feedback you receive can help you enhance both your practice operations and patient satisfaction.
Monitor online reviews and respond to concerns. Regularly review the feedback you receive on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and other provider rating systems. Check for any trends, respond when needed, and monitor your overall performance. Diffusing negative feedback with a thoughtful response extends well beyond your relationship with that specific patient — many prospective patients will see that interaction, appreciating that you took the time to respond.
More on online reputation management
Creating and maintaining a 5-star reputation for your healthcare practice
The risks and potential rewards of negative patient reviews
Ways to manage your reputation during COVID-19
A pediatrician’s toolbox for building a strong brand
Effective branding can help your pediatrics practice stick in people’s minds. When they need a pediatrician for the first time, or are thinking of switching practices, they may think of you first.
Good branding is all about communicating your identity through the words and images and words you use across all your practice’s platforms and materials. Consistency and clarity are key for people to instantly recognize and relate to your brand.
Here are some proven tactics to build a powerful brand for your pediatrics practice:
Consider your brand identity. Every healthcare practice should be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors. That’s what needs to be articulated in your brand identity. Through that differentiation, you can move beyond the services you provide to showcase the why behind patient care — your personal approach. Phrases like “innovative, comprehensive pediatric care” or “supportive healthcare for happy families” can help tell a story that resonates with prospective patients and can make a powerful first impression.
Establish guidelines for imagery. The photos and graphics you feature on your website, blog, and social media should align with your identity and contribute to your brand story. As a pediatrician, you may choose kid-friendly graphics featuring cute animated children; perhaps, you’d prefer lifestyle photos of happy kids enjoying childhood. Whichever angle fits your brand, just be aware that the imagery you use matters. Even a single image or photo contributes to the first impression you make on prospective patients and their families.
Make sure your logo is well-designed. Your logo should have visual impact and clarity, with a simple typeface and vibrant graphic elements. To build your brand visibility, it should be used consistently across your website, digital assets, print materials, and physical signage. If your logo is messy, cluttered, or outdated, it’s time for a refresh.
Choose an appealing color scheme. Your logo’s colors should be the centerpiece of the color scheme you use on your website, in print materials, and inside your practice. A coordinated palette of two to four colors helps emphasize your brand identity and is pleasing to the eye, both online and at your office.