There is a lack of awareness I see with many doctors, medical clinics and hospitals regarding marketing their practice online. Following are some of the questions and concerns doctors have when the discussion of marketing their practice online comes up:
1. Are people even searching for clinics or doctors online?
2. Why would people search for doctors online?
3. I have my website up for a few years and hardly have any visits or inquires through it.
4. Patients inquiring online are difficult to convert.
Let me answer these questions/concerns:
1. Today, millions of people are searching online for doctors. For eg: the word “Dentist” is searched more that 4 million times, and plastic surgeon close to a million times in a single month worldwide. And this is just one keyword; the number is much bigger when you add the searches for all the keywords (synonyms, specialties etc.) used to find a dentist or a plastic surgeon etc. This is not just restricted to dentists or cosmetic surgeons, but to all the fields in medicine.
2. People search online for doctors so that then can learn more about them before the visit. The Internet is a great place to read reviews about the doctors or clinics. Patients will obviously tend to visit doctors with good reviews. It surely beats going to a doctor unaware of his or her reputation.
3. Just having a website does not mean more visits to the site and inquiry online. There are hundreds of doctors (with the same specialty) with websites in your area, but only 10 slots in the major search results on the first page. As searchers don’t tend to go beyond the first page of the search result, most probably you are invisible to you potential patients.
4. Its not that patients online are difficult to convert, but instead, the strategy to convert an online patient is different from that of a walk in. Once doctors accept this, the process becomes simpler.
When you receive an inquiry online, be prompt to reply to it, if you take too long, the patient will go elsewhere. Follow it up with a phone conversation if number has been provided. Direct them to place where then their read reviews by patients about you.
So now that some of the concerns doctors might have are answered, what should the online strategy for doctors be?
Well, first, realize the fact that doctors/clinics need to be online and that the Internet is an alternate source of new patients.
Things you should do:
1. Build a presence online by building a website. A website is the best way to showcase your self and your practice. But don’t just stop there, hire an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) firm to optimize your website, so you appear on top of search results. Without optimizing your site, you will be invisible to patients.
2. Start a blog. Blog is another way to connect with patients. Discuss cases, latest technology you are using, events and trainings you have attended.
3. Social media – Stay in touch with your patients through Facebook and Twitter. Build a following and stay connected. This way, you can remind you patients and prospective patients that your practice is live and kicking and that you’re always there when you need them.
4. Take part in forums and answer patients concerns, this can be a great lead generator as well.
The whole point is to spread your reach. Don’t just depend on your website, use other forums to promote yourself. The patients are out there; all you need to do is, make yourself visible to them