Just like your patients need regular follow-up visits or checkups, so does your practice’s marketing strategy. Online marketing best practices are continually evolving to keep up with changes in search engines. If you aren’t taking the time to update your strategy, you could fall behind your competitors. In this episode, Michael and Scott explain why it’s important to do these regular checks, and what we look for when we do a marketing “checkup” for a practice.
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Michael: Welcome to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare, and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts here today with my co-host Scott Zeitzer. Today, we’re talking about why your practice marketing strategy needs regular checkups. So, just like patients need regular visits or checkups, your marketing strategy for your practice does as well. Online marketing best practices are continually evolving to keep up with the changes. Not only in search engines, but also so social media, review sites, all of these different things that are kind of changing in the landscape of marketing. And if you’re not taking the time to update your strategy, it’s really easy to fall behind your competitors, especially if you’re in a large market, if you’re in a really competitive market. So, in this episode we’re going to talk some about why it’s important to do these regular checks and what we look for when we do a marketing checkup for practices that we work with.
Scott: Yeah, Michael, I kind of wanted to add to that, competition too changes. So it’s not just your online marketing that’s going to change, but the boundary conditions may very well change as well. Nothing to do with the technology, but just, wow, there’s a new practice in town or the hospitals buying up tons of practices, et cetera. So that’s part to the conversation that needs to happen in your head when you’re thinking about how your online marketing is doing. There’s so much we could talk about with checkups. The first bullet point that always comes to mind is search engine algorithms are always updating. And it’s true. And for you folks out there, I just make that statement and then Michael pontificates for about 45 minutes with me when we’re out at a meeting somewhere about what Google’s doing, et cetera. But they are changing, correct, Michael?
Michael: Yeah, they really are. This is actually something where I don’t spend every day obsessing over this like I used to, but I mean, every time I get another newsletter coming in from somebody in this industry, it’s like, and here are the next two or three changes that are rolling out. And are you aware that in February they’re going to do this major thing for desktops and then it just keeps on changing. And so if you don’t have somebody that’s not keeping an eye on, and as you’re kind of coming back in and looking at it, whether it’s like every six months or whatever, you can fall behind kind of quickly and not understand that this is a new feature that you could have missed out on, or this is something that they’re really rewarding now for certain practices.
Scott: No doubt about that. And the other part about what’s happening online, especially with Google, is they add a lot of different little tweaky features that may not seem like a big deal, and sometimes they’re not at first and then they really gain in importance. The knowledge box, everybody that’s when you go to that first page, when you look something up and it’s in the right hand side in a box, and it’s got baseline information. And for a practice, and you need to make sure that your address is correct and your phone number’s correct, your business listing. And then they’ll add other pieces of information in there and even online reviews. So there’s other things like FAQs, COVID 19 info, all those things come into play. And man, that has been a critical win for a lot of our current practices, our customers out there taking advantage of those things. We’ve got quite a few doing that and really kind of getting a leg up on their competition. Correct?
Michael: Yeah. There are definitely people that maybe when we start working with them or when they start just kind of paying attention to this kind of stuff, they’re not aware that Google pools that review onto their listing. And so maybe it looks great for them, maybe it doesn’t. And we’ve seen some of both. And usually if reviews aren’t something that you’re paying attention to, you’re not pleasantly surprised. I would say there’s usually something on there that you don’t want to have there. And so think if you’ve only collected seven reviews in a year, and one of those was bad, it has a pretty significant weight, right? One out of seven is suddenly a much more nasty fraction to have to deal with than one out of 200 reviews or something more.
Scott: No doubt about that and what’s frustrating about that is most of the time that quote bad review is about somebody in the practice or a patient with very unusual expectations to be overly polite, et cetera, that could be handled so easily if you’re on top of it. And if you’re not on top of it, to your point Michael, it sits there and gains traction. As well, yeah, it’s heavily weighted because there’s only seven reviews like you mentioned. So something to really be on top of. The other thing, web standards are changing. I can’t tell you how many practices I’ve talked to, where they come and reach out to me and they’re like, hey, we’re not really doing well online. We need some help. And then I’m looking at their website and it was built back in 2010. And they go, well, that’s not that old, that’s only 11 years old, man, I got a car that old.
And I’m always like, all right, well, 2010, the iPhone whatever came out and it’s like the iPhone four. I don’t know what came out in 2011. I actually have a list somewhere because it’s a better way of defining just how old that site is. Because are they mobile friendly even? Is Google really indexing it well? Are they what I think we in the geek world call responsive sites? Those are sites that respond to the machine that is surfing it. So is it a phone? Is it a tablet? Is it a desktop? Those things are important. Michael, you’ve heard me pontificate forever on ADA compliance. It’s common whether you like it or not. Correct?
Michael: Absolutely. Marketing really is this thing that you can’t just check that box and never look at it again. Right? So let’s jump in. What are some of the things that we really pay attention to if practices do work with us on any of these kinds of checkups, what they can expect when they go into this process. And whether you’re doing something like this with us or whether this is something that you’re thinking of with your own team, these are the kinds of things that need to be on your list, right? So let’s start with more of the geek side. Let’s get into some of that technology. Is it responsive? Can you read all the content on a mobile device, on your phone, without having to do the pinch and zoom? Can you look at that easily enough? And the kinds of warnings, the kinds of different alerts that we get from things like Google, things like other systems like that are, hey, maybe these elements are too close together.
If it’s an older site, we’ll see some of these kinds of alerts come in that you need to do something to change this because this is no longer at the standard that it needs to be. And so this is something that even if you’ve got a pretty site, even if you’ve got something that seems to work, this is something that you need to keep looking at. Are you placing calls to action throughout the site that direct patients to a phone number, to the right form they need? Are you making it easy for the patient, is really what it comes down to. Are you giving them those clear hooks of this is what you can do to get this process started? Site load times are one of those things that like, oh, this is already handled, right? Like people don’t still have this trouble?
Scott: Oh they do.
Michael: But oh my gosh, and we’ve all been to that major retail outlet, a major thing that you think, of course they’ll have a site that’s just good at this. And it’s such shock when it’s not. And this is something that we’ve been, I mean, people in this industry have been talking about how important load times are for 10 years, 15 years. I don’t even remember how far back you’d have to go, but it’s still a thing that you have to be on the lookout for. And then the last thing just from the technical side, do you have errors on your site? Do you have functionality that’s not working the way that you’d want it to, all of that kind of stuff. It happens. It pops up. You’ve got to be on the lookout for it and be proactive about it.
Scott: You know, one other thing I’ll add to that, Michael, is we’ve run into this a few times where the website was built a long time ago and they didn’t make it to, they didn’t have a SSL certificate, excuse me. So that’s a secure socket layer certificate. Why don’t you explain that one.
Michael: Yeah. It’s basically a way of just creating more security for people that are submitting information online. So you think about the kind of information that you’re sending, you want to have that information delivered as securely as it can be. And so this creates a more protective way of doing that, to put it in layman’s terms, as much as possible through all this kind of stuff. So, but you know, not only is it that you want the information secure for HIPAA reasons and for just ethical reasons and treating your patients right kind of reasons. But there are sites that haven’t been upgraded to that by now. They’re definitely getting excluded from listings at this point. Google’s not even pushing people towards it. Other search engines don’t as well. So that’s definitely the kinds of stuff that you want to be on the lookout for.
Scott: So we have this baseline of is your website built in a way that is searchable, frankly. And all those components we just mentioned really are what you need to be on the lookout for. And it changes, everybody. And it changes much faster than the newest kind of tweaky thing on this year’s car model. So it is important that you’re looking at it on a regular basis because it’s just, no one’s going to call you and tell you, I’ll tell that. Especially people on a mobile phone, if they’re trying to go to your site and it’s taking forever to download, they just leave. I mean, that’s what we all do.
So don’t get surprised if one of your prospective patients is going to do that as well. The next thing is site ranking and content, how well you’re doing for certain terms. And I know we’ve got a team of marketers that all work at the company, work for you actually, Michael, and your team actually looks at where they’re ranking well, comparing it to other practices, looking for gaps, that kind of thing. Walk us through that a little bit.
Michael: Yeah. So you think about how would you like your practice to be found? What are the things that are really going to align with what patients are looking for? So sometimes it’s something as simple as when I search for this particular procedure, do I find Dr. Smith or is Dr. Smith buried down the list? And one of the things that we’ll look for around ranking, and it kind of goes hand in hand with some of the other information that we’ve got later on about online map listings, but sometimes is the practice ranking well for particular procedures, when it comes to the map listings, when it comes to all that kind of stuff?
Are the physicians themselves ranking well? So you’ve got these two different entities, the physician himself or herself, and then you’ve got the practice itself. And so, especially if you’ve got a lot of different providers, you’ve got a lot of different opportunities to kind of get more placement, get more recognition within search engines. So making sure that all of those things are receiving the proper amount of attention, that’s the kind of stuff that we’re looking out for. And how are your competitors doing in that same category?
Scott: We kind of call that branded terms, right, Michael, for what’s the doctor’s name, the practices name, that kind of stuff? And if you think about it from a word of mouth perspective, everybody, very often somebody will say like, you should go see Dr. Johnson. Dr. Johnson is terrific. They operated on me and did a great job. Or the primary care provider, rheumatologist, go see Dr. Johnson. And so the branding, your name or the practice’s name, very important. But there’s this other thing that a lot of people don’t think about, which is just, how am I doing for a particular procedure, for a particular term? And we usually focus, especially for ortho and spine and neuro, more on the procedures than on the pathology side of things. But that’s the kind of thing where man, you’re coming up well for your own name, but you’re not coming up as well for a particular procedure.
Michael: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, absolutely.
Scott: And what’s the number one reason? Content, right? Lack of real content. Michael, how many websites have you and I looked at over the years where there’s a bullet point that they do a total hip or total knee or something like that, but there’s absolutely no information there. Just trust me, I do a total hip. I am an orthopedic surgeon. I do the following procedures. I was trained here. I love my kids. I play golf and or tennis. Okay. That’s not making me come and visit you, but thanks for letting me know. So it’s really important to have good content on your site and we call it deep content. So that’s a critical win there. And we’ve had, Michael you and I have had multiple podcasts about that and you can look them up online if you want to delve into that. But I think the most important thing is, bullet point not good enough.
Michael: That’s one way of putting it.
Scott: That’s your takeaway. There we go. I think what’s really important about this and we have talked about this before, but I’ll just kind of throw it out as a reminder, is that there’s a level of professionalism, a level of proficiency that you need to bring to how you’re describing those kinds of things. But then you also need to see, what are your competitors? If they’ve done a far better job of explaining those things and explaining how their physicians are treating this particular thing, you’re going to have to up your game. You can’t rely on that one 600 word article or whatever piece of material you’ve put together. And the good news is that all of these things work together. None of these efforts are the single standalone thing that’s going to make or break your practice, but they all do need attention for sure.
P3 Pro Tip
Hey, this is Michael with your P3 pro tip for the week.
Does your practice’s website have an appointment request form? More and more patients are expecting online options to be able to contact their doctors. If patients have to call your office to get an appointment, you could be losing out in the long run. It may not be a make or break factor for already established patients who love your practice, but online appointment options are increasingly becoming a factor for patients searching for a new doctor. If other practices in your area offer these types of options and have an equally great reputation, patients may choose your competitors simply out of convenience. Patients that work during the day may not have time to call your office during your open hours so having convenient online options increase your chances of booking those patients. As an added bonus, appointment request forms can also help alleviate some of the burden on staff members answering the phones.Your forms can collect a lot of the key information you’d normally need to get over the phone. So calls back to the patient can be more efficient. And that way it’s a win for everybody.
Michael: So if you’re just joining us, this is the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. I’m Michael Roberts. Scott Zeitzer is with me and we’re talking through some of the process that we use to evaluate a practice’s marketing health. What are the things that a practice needs to be focused on? And so far we’ve kind of talked about sort of that high level of why we do it because stuff keeps on changing.
We talk about the site technology as a thing that we need to really be paying attention to. Is the site working as quickly and efficiently as it can, and still making it easy for patients? We’ve talked about having good content on your site. Review scores, we’ve kind of hinted at a little bit, but I don’t think, you just can’t get away from talking about it. It’s just something that you just have to pay attention to. It’s one thing to say that Dr. Smith is an excellent surgeon, but if you have everybody else saying that he’s not a good surgeon, or just that nobody’s agreeing with you, you’ve got a problem. You have to have that level of customer reinforcement or patient reinforcement that frankly people expect now.
Scott: I agree with that. And it’s not just the surgeon. I really do want to reiterate this over and over. It’s the practice. So I can’t tell you how many, listen, everybody’s listening to this. We’ve all gone to see the doctor. We’ve all gone to see the surgeon, blah, blah, blah. Sometimes you come back and go, man, that was great. But oh my gosh, it was so hard to actually get an appointment. Oh my gosh, do you know how long I had to wait on the phone? Oh my gosh, the billing people never even explained to me that it was going to cost me a thousand dollars out of pocket, whatever it is. All those things become part of that review. And it’s the surgeons that do a good job of listening to those reviews, because I’ll say it, no one’s going to have a conversation with an orthopedic surgeon about their chamfer cuts.
They’re done, the implant is in. But they are going to have a conversation, and sometimes not with the surgeon, they’re going to just put it online because they don’t want to talk to the doc and hurt his feelings or her feelings. They just will put something up there like man, those billing people are mean, or I had to wait forever, et cetera. That’s the kind of stuff that you were talking about earlier, if that’s one of your seven reviews that you have online, that is going to weigh you down and you are going to look like you don’t care. And you don’t even know that happened, if that makes sense. Because you’re not looking. So reviews are very important, online reviews, so important.
Michael: Yeah. And one of the things that we’ve been trying to push for practices that we work with is not just sheer volume of reviews, not just sheer number of stars to demonstrate how good you are. But one of the things that we’ve seen practices benefit from is when patients do take the time to actually write in some information and they get some sort of prompting to help them understand what kind of content to be writing on these reviews. But you can ask the patient, as you’re going through this process, can you tell us some about the process of getting the procedure done, what to expect before? And so you’ll see patients talking about, I had this procedure done, the practice was very attentive to me all the way through. They helped me understand what was coming. I was back on my feet again in this amount of time. All of that kind of stuff starts to weigh into some of these other factors that we’re talking about.
Some of this stuff shows up in the knowledge box. We’ve seen different times, and Google’s always testing out different features around this kind of stuff, but we’ve seen things like “patient review mentions this particular procedure,” mentions this kind of thing. There’s a lot of opportunities for wins that may not be readily apparent when you start looking into this. And so, again, we’ve kind of talked about this a little bit, but there’s kind of this brand of the practice. And then there’s this brand of the physician. But are you getting those reviews across both of those entities? Are you kind of maximizing every opportunity that you can? Because if you are, again, if you are in a very highly competitive market, really maximizing every physician’s reviews, everything for the practice itself, this is going to be the little things that you can do that will really help make a big difference.
Scott: Without a doubt. And people who have good insurance or are willing to pay out of pocket, believe me, they’re going to be researching you. They’re going to be taking a look at your site. They’re going to be reading the content. They’re going to be looking at the reviews and they’re going to be making decisions accordingly. It’s not like the old days everybody, “oh, well my doctor said to go see Dr. X so that’s where I’m going.” It’s like, nope, no, that’s not what’s happening anymore. So I think that’s a critical win there. And again, better payers are more discerning, there’s no doubt about it. I want to ask you a little bit, it is a boring subject to me, but it’s a hypercritical subject, which is online map listings. Which I always explain it, Michael, to my customers like primer before you paint. It’s not that exciting, man. But if you don’t put the primer down, your walls aren’t going to look that good. So walk me through, what is an online map listing? Why is it important and what do we as a team look for?
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, online map listings, we’ve all gone on and we’ve all looked on Google maps. We’ve looked on Apple maps, whatever system it is you use to find what you’re looking for. I think the things that I really want to kind of call to people’s attention is the frustration that you experience when it’s not right. When the hours are outdated, especially during COVID times. Every time I look at any map listing online, I kind of almost dismiss their hours as yeah, that’s maybe a suggestion of what they used to do, but who knows what they’re doing now, if anybody’s paid attention to that or not. Have people really taken the time to put in enough description around what the business is, why you should be looking to this business? And then I think the thing that people don’t think about with all this, the thing that’s not readily apparent when you look at something like map listings, is the level at which these map listings kind of feed off of each other.
You’ve got Google, you’ve got Apple, you even have Bing, you have all these other systems that are out there with their own directories, but there’s a lot of like, sort of, I’ll say informational warehouses almost, that you need to kind of really be looking to and making sure that you have correct information in those so that the correct information continues to get disseminated downwards. Because if you have the wrong information in those kind of high level warehouses, so to speak, it can start conflicting with your map listings that you’ve done correctly. And so there are some different tools out there that’ll help you overcome that, but that’s definitely something to be looking out for.
Michael: So these are all the different things that we’re looking for. These are kind of like the boxes that we’re checking off as we’re going through and doing these evaluations. But we definitely find outliers. We find things that we didn’t necessarily set out to look for, but hey, this particular practice is in this particular circumstance. So you definitely need somebody that kind of has that mind towards marketing to be able to look for those things. But all of that done, we get all this information, we deliver it to the practice and sort of a set of recommendations. And Scott, how do you like to try and share this information with practices? Because there are so many things practices can be focusing on.
Scott: Yeah. I tend to, I think it might be my EMT background a little bit, that’s how I made my way through college and in grad school, I was an EMT. And they always taught you ABCs, airway, breathing, and circulation. That’s why we kind of focus on hey, website, content on the website, reputation, marketing. And then we put it together in a PowerPoint presented online, walk them through what’s working, what could use some help. And then we treat, we talk about like, these are the mission critical things that need to get done and try to put some sort of cost around it because you can’t make good decisions without good context. Part of that context is just, hey, how important is it? And how much is it going to cost? It’s like anything else. And I think that’s really what’s been helpful for most of my conversations is just getting back to basics so that everybody kind of is on the same page and then presenting it from a triage perspective. I think that’s usually the most helpful.
Michael: Yeah. And we definitely see a variety of ways that practices try to solve these problems. We see sometimes it’s practice manager, go find people that might be able to help us with this. And so we’re trying to explain it. Sometimes it’s like, whoever’s most recently joined the practice, you go figure this out. Or sometimes it’s because the physician that’s joined most recently does know what kind of difference a strong web presence can make for their practice. So I guess in terms of that, if you’re looking at designating this off to the new guy or the new lady that’s joined the practice, kind of talk through, maybe, Scott, if you could talk through some of how practices have to kind of reconcile these decisions. So, the one person comes back with like, hey, they said all this stuff’s an issue. What do we do about that?
Scott: It really is about having a good con… A lot of this stuff starts out with technology, and really ends up with like, hey, but you know, who’s going to do it? And there are some practices where everybody’s pointing a finger saying, I don’t want to, not me. There’s some practices where there’s some people who are really into it. There’s some practices that can afford, have us do it, or somebody like us do it. But I just try to walk them through how much lifting is involved. It’s very similar, Michael, we always talk about when you drive your car into the shop, you got some stuff that you need to repair. Some people, hey man, I want it perfect. I have all the money to fix this. I don’t care. Just make sure it’s perfect. And then other people come in and they’re like, I can’t afford this right now, so just tell me what I need to do to move on.
I think other conversations that we have, I can tell you, there was one practice, we’re talking about everything and the doc says, “I’m 74.” Why didn’t I ask that first? And he was like, “I love doing work, but I’m retiring this year.” And I’m thinking to myself, why, what did I? And that’s perfectly fine because you may make a decision that, I get it, it’s not that great, but I’m retiring in a couple of years or I plan on getting bought out, whatever that is. There’s a lot of reasons. But if the practice really does want to improve, I go back to, look, this is where you can get the most bang for your buck. This isn’t that expensive. You can either pay us to do it or if you take the time to learn it, you can do it. But it really is about listening. It really is about listening to what the practice needs.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And to run the risk of being a little bit more self-promotional, even than we normally are on this kind of thing, if you are a practice or if you work with a practice that you think could benefit from a marketing checkup, we do offer this service for free. You don’t have to be a client. You don’t have to be somebody who’s ready to just drop money as soon as you talk to us about these kinds of things. You can send us an email actually at updates@P3inbound.
We also have the email address, P3 Practice Marketing, but you can go with P3inbound.com and use the word checkup in the subject line and our team will definitely reach out to you about coordinating that. We’d be happy to help kind of walk you through what your practice needs, where you have areas where you can be improving and where you can continue on with the things that your practice is doing right. Because that is a big part of this too, is like, keep doing what you’re doing here on this and this, but here’s where you have some opportunities for growth.
Scott: Yeah. It’s something we do quite a bit and love to do it.
Michael: Awesome. Thank you so much for listening everybody. Have a great week and we’ll talk with you next week.
Announcer: Thanks again for tuning in to the Paradigm Shift of Healthcare. This program is brought to you by Health Connective, custom marketing solutions for med tech and pharma. Subscribe on Apple podcasts, Google play, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.