Medical practices new and old are discovering that acquiring and retaining patients is far different than it used to be. A changing insurance landscape, regulatory hurdles, and shifting demographics all play a part in the new healthcare outlook.
For healthcare professionals, this means that marketing is more important than ever.
Marketing for clinics can be as simple as creating a website or as complex as creating multi-platform ad campaigns. Sometimes, even investing in a better customer experience can boost patient acquisition and retention.
Before we get into the marketing essentials that every medical practice should have, let’s take a closer look at the link between marketing and growth.
How does marketing for clinics help you grow?
Healthcare is always in demand. However, this doesn’t negate the need for effective marketing strategies.
Marketing for clinics has multiple layers and uses. It can help your practice grow through indirect ways like acquiring new patients. It can make your name or practice more memorable to prospective and current patients. And tactics like publishing quality content over time can even build your authority and strengthen your long-term career.
“77% of patients search for their doctors online. ”
Digital marketing, in particular, works because patients actively use the internet to find new providers they trust. For example, Tebra’s Patient Perspectives survey discovered that 77% of patients search for their doctors online. Furthermore, 46% of respondents said that a healthcare provider’s online reviews are among the most important factors in their selection.
In other words, if prospects can find you online and your presence is positive once they do, you have a greater chance of turning them into patients.
8 essentials for marketing for clinics
Each practice will have a unique approach to marketing. But there are some areas with overlap.
Here are 8 of the core marketing tools any practice can use to accelerate growth:
1. Marketing plan
The first thing any medical practice needs is a plan. Unlike a business plan, a marketing strategy does not include back-office operations. It does, however, outline how you’ll interact with patients and attract prospects. It should also consider the regulations for handling Protected Health Information (PHI), such as patient names and emails. Under HIPAA, you need authorization to use this information for marketing purposes unless you are describing a health-related product or service. Include an authorization form during patient intake to streamline this process.
A marketing plan describes what channels or platforms you’ll use to reach your ideal patients, what type of content you will run, and how you’ll measure success. It often includes a timeline for your main marketing activities to make it easier to track results.
These plans don’t have to be long — just reflect realistic goals.
The present, and future, of marketing for clinics is digital. Every medical practice looking to reaffirm its credibility and highlight its expertise needs a website. Patients expect to be able to review your website before making an appointment. Not having one can make patients uncertain about your qualifications or reliability.
In other words, your website is your virtual resume.
Creating your website should be first on your to-do list after your marketing plan. If you already have one, review it to ensure it matches your goals and is accessible and easy to navigate.
3. Google profile
Next, set up your Google Business Profile. When a user searches for your practice, your name, or your specialty in their area, your profile should come up on the right-hand side of the Google results. It should include your address, services, specialties, phone number, website, social media links, and images of your practice.
Google is the top review site, so your profile will also include reviews. One study found that 65% of consumers post reviews on Google profiles. In some cases, patients will post negative reviews. But this isn’t necessarily bad. According to the same study, many patients consider profiles with only perfect reviews suspicious, but 45% will visit a business if it responds well to negative reviews.
Just remember: it’s important not to reveal PHI in your response to a review. Review these sample review responses to help you address patient concerns quickly and easily.
4. Social media accounts
Posting on social media is an effective way to drive website traffic. You don’t need to be on every single network. Depending on your target demographic, one platform may be better than another. It’s also important to factor in what kind of content you enjoy making. Do you like short or long videos? Pictures or graphics? Or just plain text?
Also consider how you will respond to patient comments or engage with other accounts.
In the first case, patients may ask you for specific advice related to their condition. Instead of attempting to answer, direct them to your website so they can book an appointment. If you have content related to their question, you can send them a link for more general information.
In some cases, you may see an account posting about a problem. For example, if you are a physical therapist, you may notice someone posting about chronic shoulder dislocation. You may decide to respond with a link to an article or podcast that relates to reducing shoulder pain or possible dislocations. Again, don’t give specific advice without meeting a patient.
The platform you choose should be one that your patients use and that you can easily manage. As your business grows, you can outsource this marketing tactic.
5. Online scheduling capability
Convenience is a key part of marketing for clinics. Lengthy phone calls or emailing back and forth adds friction to the patient’s experience. And it doesn’t help your staff, either.
Add an online appointment calendar to your website to make it a cinch for patients to book your services. All without extra work on your end.
6. Simple patient portal and online scheduling
In some cases, convenience can be a marketing strategy. For example, 67% of patients prefer online scheduling versus 33% prefer over-the-phone options. A patient torn between potential primary care providers will likely select the one that makes booking appointments and paperwork easier. And if you offer multiple ways to book, even better.
Once you attract a prospect to your website via social media marketing, advertising, or online content, easy scheduling can seal the deal. They will experience how easy it is to set up an appointment — as opposed to having to call your office during your business hours, spend time on hold, verbally share insurance information, and potentially follow up.
In other words, a superior customer experience can be the tipping point to attract new patients and stand out.
Similar to online booking, a patient portal adds convenience to your patient’s journey. A patient portal allows patients to submit intake information before their appointment, verify their insurance, review their labs, plan future appointments, and pay bills. And they can do all these things in their own time.
A patient portal also reduces the workload for your front-office staff. As a result, this not only acts as a subtle marketing tool but also improves your workflow.
7. Authority-building content
Create quality content in your niche to boost your authority and highlight your expertise.
There are several ways you can publish this authority-building content. You can write blog posts on your website, submit a guest post to a related healthcare organization website, or even pitch articles to a healthcare website, local newspaper, or industry magazine. You can even work with a ghostwriter to create a book published traditionally or an ebook that you self-publish.
But for beginners, blog posts are an easy place to start. And they work. Businesses that keep a blog get up to 55% more traffic to their website than those that don’t.
If the written content isn’t for you, there are other formats. Podcasts, TikToks, YouTube videos, webinars, and online courses are all ways to create high-quality content that reflects your credentials.
8. Demographics targeting for ads
Digital advertising can increase your practice brand awareness by up to 80%. And part of the reason is audience targeting. Using patient demographics to target your audience with ads is an affordable way to boost brand awareness, and you can do so on multiple platforms.
Targeted ads are shown only to individuals that meet certain criteria. For example, you can target specific cities or states, genders, patient income brackets, and even hobbies. A cash-only endocrinologist based in Los Angeles may focus on local zip codes associated with upper-middle-class families. A physical therapist for athletes might target people with middle-class incomes that are interested in sports or health-related activities.
Since your ads only appear to people who might be interested in your health services, you are more likely to attract more patients. At the same time, you are using your advertising budget more strategically than if you were targeting everyone.
Google Ads and Facebook are common platforms for creating these ads, but any social media network or search platform allows you to target specific demographics.
Get more insights to grow your practice
The best way to stay on top of your marketing is to know what your patients expect. In Tebra’s 2023 Patient Perspectives survey, 1,200 patients provided insight into their behaviors, including how they select their healthcare providers. Get the full 42-page report today.