At a Glance
- Independent practices need to refine their marketing strategies to meet evolving patient expectations, stand out from the competition, and grow their practices.
- Practices should take a data-driven approach to marketing by analyzing patient and marketing data to set growth goals and focusing their marketing budget on search ads and remarketing.
- Practices should also invest in long-term strategies like SEO, social media marketing, online reviews, and referral programs.
- By refining their strategy around these key areas, medical practices can more effectively promote their services, reach potential new patients, and fill their appointment schedules.
Most medical practices have at least some kind of marketing strategy. But in today’s competitive healthcare landscape, simply engaging in marketing initiatives isn’t enough. In order to grow, independent practices need to refine their marketing strategies to meet evolving patient expectations and stand out from the crowd.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can improve your practice marketing strategy to get more patients in the door and fill your calendar.
What is a medical practice marketing strategy?
A medical practice marketing strategy is a plan for how healthcare practices promote their services and attract new patients.
“The objective of a marketing strategy is to ensure that a practice is on track to reach its marketing goals, acquire new patients, and scale revenue. ”
A high-level medical practice marketing plan typically outlines a practice’s marketing goals, its target audience, and the tactics it’ll use to reach those marketing goals. A robust strategy should also cover timelines around implementation as well as the budget needed to execute the strategy.
The objective of a marketing strategy is to ensure that a practice is on track to reach its marketing goals, acquire new patients, and scale revenue.
Why refining a marketing strategy is critical for modern medical practices
Marketing goes beyond having a medical practice website and posting ads in a local newspaper — although those are certainly great places to start. Thanks to the dot com boom and the rise of social media, the way patients are searching for healthcare providers has changed drastically over the last decade. According to Tebra’s 4th annual Patient Perspectives report, 3 in 4 people look online to find medical care.
Of course, there’s still a place for traditional media and marketing tactics in medical practice marketing. But the increase in practice competition and the rapid digital shift means that modern providers need to be more strategic with how they acquire new patients and build a reputation.
Healthcare practices that refine their strategy to meet the demands of this new digital landscape will help set themselves apart and stay ahead of the curve.
How do you refine a medical practice marketing strategy?
When refining a medical practice marketing strategy, it’s important to look at the biggest areas of opportunity for your practice. There’s no one right way to approach marketing, but there are certain components that medical practices should focus on. So, what are the 3 components of a successful marketing strategy?
- Understanding and operationalizing your growth analytics
- Refining your search ads
- Investing in long-term marketing strategies
In the following sections, we’ll break down these 3 core areas of opportunity for healthcare practices and share some tactical ways to level up your marketing strategy in 2024.
Understanding and operationalizing your growth analytics
Most practices are already collecting data — whether it’s patient acquisition data or results from previous marketing campaigns. This information can then be analyzed to inform practice marketing strategies.
“A data-driven approach is the fastest way to marketing success and to uncover practice growth opportunities. ”
A data-driven approach is the fastest way to marketing success and to uncover practice growth opportunities.
1. Uncover what matters to your patients
Existing marketing and practice growth data is a gold mine of information about a practice’s patients and who they should be marketing to. When practices analyze this data — and collect the right data points — they’re able to dig beneath the surface and understand their potential patients.
For example, understanding click behavior on a practice’s website can provide insight into what content and information potential patients are reviewing before booking an appointment. Or, in the context of email, newsletter open rates can help uncover the educational content that customers care about.
This data can then be used to refine marketing messaging or even the overall strategy.
Let’s look at the previous example about website traffic. An increase in visitors to a page about online appointment scheduling could be a sign that a self-scheduling feature is a priority for patients, which practices should highlight in their marketing initiatives.
2. Set benchmarks and marketing growth goals
Benchmarking provides practice with a better sense of their performance today so they can set the right patient acquisition and growth goals.
However, it’s important to look beyond just booked appointments. There are other data points and benchmarks that can also provide insight into overall practice marketing performance.
“Practices should aim to have a firm grasp of the marketing channel mix so that they can set reasonable goals by channel. ”
A great example is website leads. Leads aren’t patients — yet. But practices that have a solid understanding of the rate at which leads convert into patients can set goals for acquiring leads, which can then ladder up into overall growth goals.
It’s also worth looking at historical data. Practices should aim to have a firm grasp of the marketing channel mix so that they can set reasonable goals by channel. This helps easily identify when and which channels are underperforming, as well as effectively allocate budgets based on each channel's contribution to the practice’s overall growth.
3. Create dashboards and reports to track
It’s clear that data matters when it comes to marketing. However, successful data-driven marketing relies on having the right data and analytics.
Marketing practices should build data dashboards and reports that automatically pull in insights from patient portals and marketing platforms. When data and reports are easy to access, it becomes much easier to pinpoint areas of opportunity. It also allows practices to quickly course-correct when they aren’t reaching the goals set out in their marketing strategy.
Automated reporting and dashboards ultimately alleviate the administrative burden of marketing analytics so practitioners can focus on what matters most — the patient experience.
Remember: healthcare practitioners should consider HIPAA compliance and other healthcare regulations that may impact how patient data can be used in marketing initiatives.
Refining your search ads
Traditional marketing mediums, such as TV or billboards, are still incredibly valuable. But they can be costly and take a long time to execute.
People are on the internet more than ever before, spending an average of at least 8 hours on digital media each day. Search ads and paid media are valuable real estate for helping practices get in front of new audiences.
“People spend an average of at least 8 hours on digital media each day. ”
Updating your practice marketing strategy to prioritize search ads can help you reach growth goals faster and more cost-effectively.
4. Target ads toward new patient booking
Marketing initiatives often put too much focus on building brand awareness.
While practice recognition is important, practices should also prioritize lead generation and patient booking strategies that can help build the practice and drive revenue.
There are a few ways practices can reframe existing or new ads toward new patient bookings:
- Rewrite ad content and copy to focus on patient appointments and scheduling.
- Include direct calls-to-action (CTAs) that drive new bookings.
- Update messaging to highlight patient experience features that are valuable to potential patients.
5. Invest in remarketing tactics
Remarketing is when medical practices target ads to patients who’ve already interacted with the practice. This might include people who have visited the practice website or even patients who haven’t scheduled an appointment in a while.
Remarketing ads are often more cost-effective than broad search ads. For example, you might pay upwards of $2-$3 for a single pay-per-click (PPC) ad on Google Adwords, but less than $1 for a remarketing ad.
Of course, this can vary depending on the competitiveness of the targeted keywords. But as a general rule, remarketing strategies are often more affordable, which helps practices stay top of mind while maximizing ad spend.
“Because remarketing ads are targeted to an audience that has already shown some level of interest, they are often also more successful at driving bookings and conversions. ”
And because remarketing ads are targeted to an audience that has already shown some level of interest, they are often also more successful at driving bookings and conversions.
It’s worth noting that it’s vital to define the target audience prior to investing in remarketing.
While affordable, remarketing ads will not be as successful if a practice is simply using broad marketing content. The messaging should be carefully crafted to push potential patients down the funnel and get them closer to booking an appointment.
6. Leverage the patient experience in your ads
The patient experience continues to be a top deciding factor for patients when they seek new medical care providers. This means practices should adapt marketing messaging to emphasize the patient experience benefits that they offer.
There are 2 ways that practices can ensure they’re prioritizing the right benefits.
The first is leveraging existing data. Insights from top-performing ads, as well as patient feedback, can be valuable in identifying the most important factors for patients when evaluating a medical practice.
“Practices should adapt marketing messaging to emphasize the patient experience benefits that they offer. ”
The other is looking at industry benchmarks and insights to determine best practices. For example, a recent Tebra report surfaced some of the most important deciding factors for patients, including that 67.3% of patients want text messaging options and 37% of patients want a patient portal for making appointments. By implementing these patient experience features and highlighting them in marketing materials, practices can better appeal to potential patients.
Investing in long-term marketing strategies
PPC and paid ads are often great solutions for practices hoping to generate traffic and build brand awareness quickly.
However, not all channels can — or should — drive new patient acquisitions immediately. Practices often abandon marketing strategies that don’t show quick ROI, but many marketing tactics are actually long-term investments.
A holistic marketing strategy should encompass both short- and long-term goals. Here are some channels and strategies to help your practice scale over time.
7. Make SEO a priority
Google consistently ranks as one of the top places patients search for providers and provider reviews. Search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t always drive immediate traffic, but winning local search results is incredibly valuable for long-term practice success.
However, SEO is no longer just a game of blog posts and keyword stuffing. Search engines are prioritizing authoritative and valuable content, which is why practices should invest in creating educational content that’s both high-quality and relevant to their target audience.
“Practices should invest in creating educational content that’s both high-quality and relevant to their target audience. ”
Making SEO a priority means also being strategic with website content beyond blogs and long-form articles. Take the time to create and optimize landing pages based on the experiences and services that potential patients are looking for.
SEO also isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it marketing strategy. There should be a plan in place to distribute it, whether it’s through a newsletter or even social media. Ideally, practitioners should also contribute to established publications that can drive backlinks and improve the authority of the practice’s website.
8. Invest in content and social media marketing
Social media is a commonly underutilized resource for medical practices. It’s no longer just a tool that people use to connect with their friends and family; it’s also a key method of information consumption. People will often use social media to learn about new topics, watch reviews, or even find new service providers.
While social media may not be a traditional form of communication for healthcare professionals, it provides an opportunity for practices to connect with their audiences in a new way. Only 18% of respondents in the Patient Perspectives report currently follow their provider on social media, but 45% said they would follow their provider if they posted regularly.
“People will often use social media to learn about new topics, watch reviews, or even find new service providers. ”
Fortunately, there are many ways healthcare providers can use social media content to drive new patient bookings. Some practices choose to position practitioners as authority figures and publish educational and thought leadership content. Others may focus on the practice itself, creating content around services offered and the patient experience.
With social media being so frequently and widely used, practitioners can also use it as an informal communication tool to share office updates and other practice information.
9. Make the most of existing practice patients
Practices often forget to leverage one of their biggest marketing assets: existing patients. Patients who are already clients can speak to their own first-hand experience and serve as social proof for your practice.
Fortunately, nearly half (48%) of patients have posted an online review of a healthcare provider. However, practices can create a steady flow of practice reviews by automating patient review requests in post-appointment reminder texts or emails.
“A Tebra report found that 46% of patients select a healthcare provider based on online reviews, which means having a library of positive feedback can help practices acquire new patients. ”
But reviews aren’t the only way practices can engage their existing patients.
Referral programs are another way practices can acquire new patients while retaining existing ones. They harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing by incentivizing current patients to refer friends and family members. An oft-cited Nielsen survey found that 92% of individuals trust recommendations from friends and family over other forms of advertising, which makes referral programs an easy choice for fueling practice growth over time.
Refine your medical practice marketing strategy to attract new patients
At the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for refining a medical practice marketing strategy. However, taking the time to invest in the right tactics will help practices reach new patients faster, fill their schedules, and scale their practice.
Need more strategies for growing your medical practice? Read Tebra’s 2024 guide to attracting new patients to your medical practice.
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