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Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

Digital marketing for physicians: A cheatsheet

By establishing a strong digital presence, providers can reach a wider audience and increase visibility to potential patients.

digital marketing for physicians

At a Glance

  • Physicians must embrace digital marketing strategies, which are essential for attracting patients and keeping up with competitors in the highly digitalized healthcare market.
  • Digital marketing, including SEO, social media, and email marketing, offers cost-effective, wide-reaching, and interactive ways for medical practices to engage with patients and manage their reputations.
  • Compliance with healthcare advertising regulations, along with effective use of various digital marketing tools, is crucial for medical practices to enhance visibility, foster trust, and meet the needs of their community online.

When physicians enter medical school, they often do so with a desire to help people. It can be hard for them to imagine that one day they may need to know not just the human body but also digital marketing strategies for medical practices. The truth is that the U.S. is the world leader in healthcare advertising expenditures, with an increase of 11.5% in advertising spend in 2022. To keep up with other practices and get more patients in the door, providers need to stay on top of marketing their practices.

Luckily, the days of relying solely on traditional — and often more expensive — marketing are over. While flyers, pamphlets, local newspaper listings, and billboards still have their place in a healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing is the way to go if practices are short on time and funds. The accessibility of digital marketing is what makes it appealing to burgeoning medical practices that want to fill their rosters. 

In this article, we're discussing some of the best digital marketing tools for medical practices.

Our ultimate guide to digital marketing for medical practices will cover:

  • Medical website SEO
  • Setting up a Google Business Profile
  • Digital patient reviews
  • Setting up paid search adsd
  • Using social media for physicians
  • Nurturing relationships with email marketing

Read on to get a digital marketing plan up and running — and get more patients through your door.

Patient Perspectives Report

The benefits of digital marketing vs. traditional marketing for physicians

Digital marketing is the art of promoting products or services using the internet and digital devices. It's about grabbing attention where people spend most of their time: online. From websites and social media to search engines and emails, it connects practices with their patients in the digital world.

Digital marketing offers numerous advantages for physicians compared to traditional marketing methods:

1. Cost effectiveness 

Digital marketing channels such as pay per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) are generally less expensive than traditional marketing avenues like flyers, TV ads, and billboards.

2. Larger reach and greater visibility 

In this digital age, people rely on computers and smartphones to find resources. Digital marketing gives many different touch points between a practice and a potential patient. By establishing a strong digital presence, providers can reach a wider audience and increase visibility to potential patients. Quite frankly, there is much less control over who sees a billboard or picks up a flyer and reads it.

3. Improved reputation management

Through digital marketing, practices and doctors can engage with potential and current clients on social media platforms, respond to reviews left on Google (either positive or negative), and share testimonials with permission. This engagement helps build trust and reinforces a practice's reputation. With traditional marketing, there is rarely an opportunity to engage with patients. It is more about broadcasting a message instead of creating relationships.

A very important note: It’s essential to keep in mind that healthcare providers must adhere to various regulations when advertising, including the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Stark Law, and Anti-Kickback Statute.

Medical website SEO

SEO focuses on improving a website's visibility on search engine result pages. For effective digital marketing for physicians, a practice will need to building a medical practice website designed for users and search engines. 

Here are the 3 key components of medical SEO marketing to incorporate so that potential patients can find you:

1. On-site medical website SEO

On-site SEO involves optimizing elements within a website to improve its search engine ranking. Here are a few key steps a practice can take to help its medical website SEO:

  • URL structure: Ensure the URLs are concise, descriptive, and include relevant keywords. Relevant keywords are the words a target audience would be searching for on Google. Practices will choose appropriate keywords based on their target market and services they provide.
  • Meta tags: Optimize the page titles and meta descriptions to make them compelling and relevant to the target audience. Page titles and meta descriptions will appear on Google’s search page and give the searcher an overview of what the website is about. This helps them decide if they are going to click on the website or not.
  • Site speed: Fast-loading websites enhance user experience and can positively impact search engine rankings. Reducing image sizes and any video size can often help drastically.
  • Blog posts/content: Create a healthcare industry blog with high-quality, informative content that aligns with the needs and search intent of the target audience, and includes relevant keywords — much like this article.

2. Local SEO for medical professionals 

Healthcare local SEO focuses on optimizing an online presence to attract patients in a specific geographical location. This helps a local practice get noticed by local patients, not people who are across state lines. Some elements to consider are:

  • Search relevance: Ensure the website content and keywords align with the search queries potential patients may use when looking for healthcare providers in the area. For example: “medical spa offering Botox in Dallas Texas” is a keyword a medical spa that is located in Dallas, Texas, could use on its site to attract local clients.
  • Proximity or distance from the searcher: Optimize the Google Business Profile with accurate location information for better local search visibility.
  • Reputation: Establishing a positive online reputation through patient reviews, ratings, and credible backlinks can help improve a local search ranking.

3. Off-page SEO and backlinks for authority

Off-page SEO involves obtaining backlinks from reputable websites to boost a practice's reputation and authority in the eyes of search engines. Consider these strategies:

  • Guest blogging: Contribute informative articles to well-established healthcare industry blog websites, including a link back to the practice's website.
  • Local directories: List the practice in reputable local directories, ensuring the NAP (name, address, phone number) information is consistent across all listings.
  • Online PR: Seek opportunities to be featured in news articles, interviews, and authoritative healthcare websites to earn quality backlinks that will drive traffic to the practice’s website.
Use Tebra’s free SEO checklist for medical practices. Download the checklist.

Set up or claim your Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile is a free tool that helps practices manage their online presence and improve local search visibility. 

Here's how a practice or provider can set up and claim a Google Business Profile:

  1. Log in to Google Business Profile: Visit the Google Business Profile website and sign in or create an account.
  2. Add your business information: Fill in the practice's NAP and other relevant contact details.
  3. Select a business type: Choose the category that best represents the practice, such as "medical clinic" or "family practice."
  4. Enter the location and/or location targeting: Specify the practice's physical location and the areas it serves.
  5. Add contact information: Provide additional contact details like email addresses, website links, and social media profiles.
  6. Verify the business: Google will send a physical postcard to the practice's address with a verification code. Follow the instructions to complete the verification process.
  7. Optimize the medical practice profile: Enhance your Google Business Profile by adding high-quality photos, updating the opening and closing hours as they change, and regularly posting updates about the practice, such as special offers or events.
It's important to note that 32% of people trust Google Business Profile listings more than a practice's website itself. Optimizing your profile can significantly improve a medical practice’s online visibility.

How to get patients to leave reviews

Digital reviews shape patients' perceptions of a practice or a physician. For instance:

Online reviews are also a great way for practices to gain authority on Google. To encourage patients to leave reviews and manage the online reputation of a practice effectively, follow these tips:

Script: "Thank you for choosing [practice name]. We'd appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to leave a review of your visit on [preferred review platform]. Your feedback helps not only us but also others in the community seeking quality care. Thank you for your time and your trust in us."
  • Respond to reviews: Responding to both positive and negative reviews demonstrates a willingness to engage and address patient concerns. Craft empathetic and professional responses that show appreciation for feedback and a commitment to improving.
  • Using patient feedback: Use constructive feedback and insights from patient reviews to improve services, patient experience, and overall reputation.

It's clear that digital reviews influence patient perceptions of medical practices. By encouraging reviews, thoughtfully responding, and using feedback for improvement, medical practices can effectively enhance their image and strengthen connections with their patients.

Set up pay-per-click ads for doctors

PPC (pay-per-click) ads are targeted digital advertisements that can help reach a desired audience effectively. Key benefits of PPC ads for doctors include:

  • Cost effectiveness: According to Google, for every $1 a business spends on an ad, it generates $8 in profits.
  • Reach and speed: PPC ads offer a wider reach and faster results compared to traditional marketing methods.
  • Targeting capabilities: PPC allows businesses to narrow down their ad targeting based on factors such as location, demographics, and search intent.

If the idea of running ads and managing campaign spend is overwhelming, that’s okay. Hiring an ads manager to tackle this side of digital marketing for physicians is very common, and can be affordable. It's essential to consider the following factors when hiring an agency to run a practice's PPC campaigns:

  • Knowledge of the healthcare space: Ensure the agency understands the unique challenges and regulations that healthcare providers face.
  • Understanding targeting: An experienced agency should be able to develop a targeted strategy that aligns with a practice's goals.
  • Measuring success: The agency should have the ability to track and measure the success of PPC campaigns. Regular reporting and communication are key.
Did you know? On average, a medical practice PPC campaign generates a click-through rate (CTR) of 3.82% and a conversion rate of 2.4%. The cost per lead (CPL) for the average healthcare provider is approximately $125. These statistics highlight the effectiveness of PPC advertising in attracting patients who conduct extensive online searches before booking appointments.

Use social media for physicians

Social media consists of a group of digital technology platforms that allow the sharing of ideas and information through text, images, or videos on virtual networks and communities. Social media platforms can play an important role in digital marketing for healthcare practices. Consider the following strategies for effective social media:

  • Choose the right platforms: Time is tight for many practice owners and providers. When planning a digital marketing strategy, identify the platforms that are most relevant to the target audience, such as Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), or LinkedIn.
  • Create engaging content: Share informative posts, medical news, patient testimonials (with permission), and educational videos to engage with the audience and drive interactions.
  • Leverage social media advertising: Use targeted advertising options available on these platforms to reach a wider audience and attract potential patients. Evaluate the organic content that has already performed well in deciding what to put money into for ads.
  • Educate patients: Share educational content to empower patients and position the practice or provider as a trusted source of healthcare information.

Using social media can be a beneficial move for healthcare practices as a way to educate and engage with patients, enhancing their presence in the digital healthcare community.

Nurture relationships with email marketing

Email marketing is a marketing channel where businesses can inform their email subscribers about their services and offer education to gain their trust and drive sales. It’s a marketing tool that can nurture patients over a longer period of time.

Email marketing is a powerful tool for patient communication and engagement. Consider the following tips for effective email marketing campaigns:

Build a permission-based email list: Practices must obtain consent from patients before including them in their email list.

Create engaging newsletters: Craft newsletters with valuable content, such as health tips, educational resources, and updates about the practice.

Use personalization: Tailor the emails to include personalized subject lines, greetings, and content based on patients' preferences and previous clicks.

Good to know: 59% of respondents in a Salescycle study said that marketing emails influenced their purchases.

By focusing on consent, engaging content, and personalization, practices can use email campaigns to provide valuable information and maintain a meaningful connection with their patient community.

Patient Perspectives Report

Grow a practice with digital marketing for physicians

Navigating the world of digital marketing is an important step for medical practices in our online society. The transition from medical training to understanding marketing may seem challenging, but it’s manageable and accessible. By leveraging tools such as SEO, Google Business Profile, digital patient reviews, PPC ads, social media, and email marketing, medical professionals can enhance practice visibility and connect more effectively with patients. 

Digital marketing [...] is about not only attracting more patients, but also fostering trust, managing a good reputation, and delivering healthcare services that resonate. ”

These digital strategies offer efficient, extensive outreach opportunities that go beyond what traditional marketing methods can provide, creating a unique avenue for growth and sustainability.

Digital marketing for physicians and medical practices is about not only attracting more patients, but also fostering trust, managing a good reputation, and delivering healthcare services that resonate with community needs. With this comprehensive guide to digital marketing, medical practices can confidently approach the digital domain, ensuring they stay connected, accessible, and well-regarded in an ever-evolving online landscape.

Increase practice visibility with Tebra’s practice growth solutions

Elevate digital marketing for physicians with a powerful combination of engaging social media posts, relevant healthcare industry blog content, and paid search advertising — tailored for you by a team of experts at Tebra. Learn more today.

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Jenn Green

Jenn Green has been a freelance writer for 8 years. She is a certified digital media marketer and an expert at SEO and building email marketing strategies. Her passion lies in writing engaging and impactful content for organizations.

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