In podiatry, moving from traditional and referral-based marketing to digital strategies can help boost long-term growth.
Digital marketing and advertising strategies aren’t new. But they are often underused by medical specialty practices, which have spent decades relying on primary care referrals or word-of-mouth recommendations.
Why? Patient behavior has changed. They’re savvy consumers who want to choose their own doctors, and do the research to find the right provider for their needs. 62% of respondents ranked “available appointments when I need them” as the most important thing they want from a healthcare provider, apart from quality care.
3 ways to grow your podiatry practice
Many physicians looking to grow their podiatry practice focus on attracting new patients. However, acquisition is only one component of sustainable practice growth. Any podiatry practice needs to employ 3 critical strategies:
- Attract new patients: New patients are critical to achieving practice growth goals. Podiatry practices aiming for consistent new patients should develop a comprehensive patient acquisition strategy with realistic targets.
- Retain existing patients: Smart business owners know it costs more to attract a new customer than to keep one. For that reason, and to encourage current patients to share their positive experiences, implement a patient engagement and retention strategy.
- Drive productivity and practice efficiency: Automation and digital tools can help podiatry practices grow without adding staff or straining resources. Modern practice management tools also improve the patient experience by making it more convenient for patients to connect and do business with your podiatry practice.
By expanding your podiatry practice growth strategy beyond patient acquisition, you’re more likely to achieve your business goals.
7 steps to attracting and retaining podiatry patients
1. Build and maintain your practice website
Your website is a prospective patient’s first impression of your podiatry practice and can influence whether they book an appointment.
Make sure your site is easy to use, loads quickly, looks and works great on mobile devices, and tells patients what they need to know about your podiatry practice. Include information on your providers, your services, and your location and office hours.
Finally, use online scheduling to make it easy for any site visitors to become a patient. 68% of patients are more likely to choose providers who offer the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online, according to a report by Zippia on online booking trends.
2. Expand your online presence
Although it’s the foundation of your online brand, your website is just one element of your web presence. Look beyond your URL to attract new patients by claiming and optimizing your online profiles on listing sites such as Google Business, Yelp, and WebMD. Wherever your prospective patients spend time online, find a way to be there via paid search, digital advertising, blogging, or sponsored social media posts. These strategies will help you generate awareness and connect with more new patients.
3. Develop a social media strategy
Social media content can help podiatrists cover a lot of business ground online. A regular output of social media posts can inform and attract new patients, reinforce your brand, boost online presence, build practice and provider credibility, and enhance your online reputation.
According to Forbes, people in the United States have an average of 7.1 social media accounts. Facebook is the most popular, commanding 53% of all social media visits in America. That said, Twitter and LinkedIn can also be good outlets for podiatrists to connect with referring providers.
Regardless of the channels you use, keep in mind that video is a highly effective tool on social media, with US adults watching nearly 50 minutes of content on YouTube every day, according to Oberlo.
4. Focus on SEO
Ensuring patients can find your podiatry practice is one of the most powerful marketing tools in which to invest. Since most patients look for healthcare providers online, your practice must show up in search results toward the top. If not, chances are you’ll be out of the running with prospective patients.
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps you connect with patients by using the content and information offered on your website and other locations to increase website traffic and drive practice awareness. By including keywords that relate to podiatry (e.g., foot/ankle pain, hammertoes, bunions, flat feet), and highlighting your key services, your website and online profiles can help your practice rise to the top of search results.
5. Implement a local search strategy
When looking for a business online, all searches are local. Google knows users don’t want to travel far for a grocery store, gym, or doctor’s office.
In response, search engines will serve up results that fall within a geographic area within close proximity to the searcher. While you can’t modify your practice’s physical location, you can help to ensure your practice shows up in local search. Make sure your practice name and address are consistent online, including across your website and profiles. This will improve your chances of showing up in the Google Local Pack, the most prominent placement in organic search results. This presence will drive more traffic to your website and help you attract more new patients.
6. Build a stellar online reputation
Your podiatry practice’s online reputation is word-of-mouth for the digital age, and its power can’t be underestimated. 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians, according to Healthgrades.
To improve your online reputation, consider implementing a comprehensive reputation management program that begins by deploying automated patient satisfaction surveys.
Improve your Google rating by amassing recent reviews, offering exceptional service, and delivering the modern conveniences that today’s patients want: online scheduling, telehealth, and text messaging.
7. Strengthen the patient-provider relationship
The patient-provider relationship is the cornerstone of effective healthcare. In a list of what patients want most from their healthcare providers, patients prioritized a short wait (52%) only second to their doctor being a good listener (67%).
Podiatrists who focus on improving the patient experience while building patient rapport and engagement can drive loyalty and improve retention. As part of that, streamline the patient experience by automating appointment reminders, and then offering a link in those reminders to digital registration and intake paperwork.
To signal that you’re listening to your patients, implement automated patient experience surveys. Other strategies include text messaging and regular email communication, which can keep your practice top-of-mind between visits.
When used together, these podiatry marketing strategies can help practices achieve their full growth potential — without spending a fortune on traditional marketing and advertising tactics, or adding new staff. You’ll not only connect with more new patients, but keep current patients satisfied and coming back.
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Learn how to create a seamless patient experience that increases loyalty and reduces churn, while providing personalized care that drives practice growth in Tebra’s free guide to optimizing your practice.