We’ve said it many times before, and we’ll say it again: medical practice marketing is not a one-size-fits all approach. There are several factors to consider with your practice’s marketing, including your specialties, your location, your size, your competitors, and so on.
It may take some trial and error to find the right marketing mix for your practice, but it’s important to start with a solid foundation and work your way out through there. It’s also important to understand that your marketing mix will need to evolve over time. What you were doing even as recently as a year ago might not be the right mix for your practice right now.
With all of that said, we’ll go through the basics you need to know to nail your marketing mix: the must-have foundational elements you need to have, how to figure out your next steps, and how to reevaluate your marketing plans.
1. Build a Solid Foundation
Building a solid online marketing foundation for your practice includes four things: your website, unique content, local SEO, and reputation marketing.
Years ago, practices could get by with a basic website and maybe a little bit of content. That is no longer the case. You can’t just have any old website anymore, and minimal content won’t get you anywhere. Your website should be up to the latest standards, your content has to be unique to your practice and describe what you do, your online listings need to be up to date, and your online reviews need to look good.
Not sure if your practice has the right foundation in place? Ask yourself these questions:
- Is your website responsive? (i.e., is it easy to use on all screen sizes, including mobile devices?)
- Is your website fast enough to keep up with Google’s current speed guidelines? (run a speed test to find out)
- Does your website have an appointment request form or appointment scheduling option?
- Does your website make it easy to find the information your patients need? (If you are unsure, ask people unfamiliar with your site to find common information, like how to contact your practice or find and download medical forms.)
- Does your website have content about your key procedures and services? If so, is that content unique to your practice, and does it describe how your practice approaches each procedure/service? (Ideally, your content should set your practice apart and show what makes you uniquely qualified to help.)
- Are your online map listings up to date and completely filled out, starting with Google?
- Are your online review averages at 4 stars and above?
- Do you have a high volume of online reviews?
- Is your practice actively asking patients to contribute online reviews?
To have that solid marketing foundation for your practice, you need to be able to answer “yes” to all of the questions above. If you’re not there yet, you are certainly not alone–most medical practices that we consult with don’t have all of this down. However, we’ve found if you put your marketing efforts here first, it will make everything else you do that much more effective.
2. Figure Out Your Next Steps
Once you’ve built that online foundation for your practice, what’s next? You can start branching out into other areas of online marketing, if desired, but it’s helpful to have goals and a plan in place.
To figure out your next steps, it is helpful to determine your objectives for the next several months to a year. Though the foundational elements we discussed are critical, it can take several months to see the full result of search ranking improvements related to these changes, especially if your website wasn’t ranking very well before that. If you need to get things moving more quickly, you can leverage the foundation you’ve built with marketing efforts like paid search or social media.
If your goal is to attract more patients searching for certain procedures and services, you might want to give paid search a try. The caveat is that in order for paid search to work, patients have to already be searching for the procedures and services you are targeting. If you are trying to build awareness about a new procedure or service, social media may be a better option. There are advertising components you can use there also to further boost your reach and awareness.
Beyond different types of advertising and social media, you can also try developing other marketing materials like video, which can be used in a variety of channels, including your website, social media, and YouTube. Well-produced videos can be somewhat costly, but it’s worth the expense to hire a professional if your practice wants to try video. In a time when in-person educational events may not happen for a while, video can help add a personal touch to your online marketing that can further enhance your website and other online marketing pursuits.
3. Measure and Optimize
Whether or not your practice decides to pursue marketing beyond the foundational elements, it is not a “set it and forget it” process, and you might not nail everything on your first try (as with many things in life).
You have to continue to monitor your progress to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Though we have identified foundational online marketing elements that are important for every practice, there is no standardized pathway forward on how to implement each item because each practice and market is different. What worked well for one practice won’t necessarily be the best option for yours, so it is important to continue to evaluate your marketing choices so that you can make adjustments as needed.
Additionally, search engines and web standards are constantly changing; failure to regularly evaluate your online marketing could result in your practice falling behind on these standards. Even if you achieve all of the results you want, you may not stay in that position if you do not keep checking in.
If your practice is doing some sort of online advertising, it is especially important that you frequently check in on your results. With online ads, it is very easy to spend a lot of money quickly without reaching your objectives. If you don’t keep your finger on the pulse there, your ROI could be very low. (See our tips on tracking results and ROI.)
Nailing your practice’s marketing mix is, in fact, an ongoing process. The most important thing is to make sure you have the right mix in place for your practice’s current needs, and understanding that those needs may change over time due to both internal and external factors. Staying on top of your current results and the latest standards will help to ensure that you only have to make small changes every now and then, rather than a complete overhaul of what you were doing.