Let’s face it…attracting new patients to your practice can become a huge, overwhelming challenge.
After all, you are running a business full-time, managing a host of other responsibilities, and just don’t have the time to develop, execute, and test a full-throttle marketing campaign that produces new patients month after month.
The problem is…you know you need to or you risk losing new patients to your local competition!
So what are you to do?
We know you’re a busy surgeon, dentist, orthodontist, or practice manager, so we will get right to the meat of it and give you 13 marketing ideas that will help you grow your healthcare practice by getting more “butts in chairs” or "heads in beds"…the Killer Shark way!
No fluff here. By the end of this article, you’ll have all of the ideas you need to create a killer digital marketing strategy that delivers more new patients than any of your local competitors.
Ready to get started? Let’s roll…
1: Anchor Blog Posts
If you’re reading this right now, then it’s proof that writing anchor blog posts work…because this is one of many anchor posts for Killer Shark. Anchor posts are the ONLY marketing we do and, collectively, they have produced several millions of dollars in client contracts since 2013. They work when done right!
Creating detailed, high-quality anchor blog posts for your website is one of the strategies that any practice should be using to attract more traffic (which will turn into more new leads and new patients) to their website…period.
At Killer Shark, we call them “anchors” because they provide your online marketing campaign with a steady, solid foundational pillar designed to attract more new patients.
The only problem? What business owner actually has time to sit down and write this kind of content?
We understand you are busy and do not have time to sit down and spend days/weeks putting together the perfect piece of content to use as an anchor post.
At Killer Shark, we do the research for you, and of course welcome your opinion on any content before it is published. In fact, we often conduct brief interviews with some of our clients in order to get key pieces of information without having to take a large portion of time.
The result? With anchor blog posts, your practice is genuinely able to show off expertise, thus becoming a thought leader in your market and standing out from competitors in a crowded online space.
Remember, the BEST patients aren’t just looking for a great deal or the lowest price; they are looking for the most knowledgeable healthcare provider who can solve their particular problem. By showing your expertise with anchor blog posts, that can be YOU.
2: Paid Advertising Part I: Facebook Ads
Facebook needs no introduction, as it is consistently in the top 3 highest trafficked websites in the world and an absolute goldmine for healthcare practices looking to get more new patients (if you know what you’re doing).
While having an active Facebook page is important, that’s not what we are discussing here. We’re specifically talking about running local ads that are targeted to your specific audience, which will appear in their newsfeed.
For pediatric practices, it's important to understand your target market. Obviously kids typically don’t schedule their own appointments so we are targeting parents of young children with these ads.
We create a series of ads targeting parents of toddlers, preschool-aged children, elementary school kids, etc. and create a message that resonates with this target market.
The best part is that, due to Facebook’s advanced demographics targeting, these ads only appear to parents of young children…the exact “perfect” audience for a pediatric dental office looking to attract new patients.
If you own or operate a medical practice of any type and aren’t using Facebook Ads to attract new patients, my only question is...why not?
3: Paid Advertising Part II: Google Adwords
It’s a fact: The best form of marketing is when new patients who are ready, willing, and able to pay for your services come knocking on your door, begging you to let them in.
What’s even better is when you can use one of the biggest websites in the world to attract highly-targeted buyers (i.e new patients) to your website, and have complete control over who sees your ad based on what they search for.
This is where Google Adwords comes into play. In the current search engine landscape, the vast majority of searchers are going to click on one of the top 4 results, which are now occupied by Google Adwords ads.
While Google Adwords certainly isn’t new, it is Google’s primary advertising platform that allows you to market your practice in front of a highly-targeted audience based on user intent (keyword search).
With the right Adwords knowledge and marketing budget, you can “turn on the traffic tap” and reach hundreds of potential new patients within a 10, 20, or even 50 mile radius of your practice each and every day.
For example, based on your campaign settings, if someone three miles from your office, who has never heard of your practice before, Google’s “orthodontist near me” your ad can show to that person, resulting in a booked appointment, a new patient, and predictable revenue for the next 10-20 years.
How cool is that? It’s several-thousand-dollars-in-new-revenue cool…
4: A Consistent Stream of Effortless, 5-Star Patient Reviews
Let me tell you the cold, hard truth…when it comes to attracting qualified new patients via the internet, you are only as good as your reviews.
It doesn’t matter if you have a better practice than the guy or gal down the street. If his or her reviews are better, his or her practice is better in the court of public opinion.
Take the example below— I’m sure you can relate:
You go to the web to buy a specific product. The product has 20 reviews and 7 of them are 1-star and so pathetic that you wonder how the company is in business.
Do you buy the product?
Absolutely not. In fact, if you are anything like we are, you know that online reviews are one of the top factors individuals consider before making a purchasing decision or choosing to visit a local business.
How many reviews does your business have? How many positive? How many negative?
At Killer Shark, we have a built-in process that we share with our clients that shows them step by step, how to get their patients to leave 5 star reviews. If your practice is getting a handful of 5-star reviews from patients month in and month out, you’ll soon find your practice as one of the most trusted practices in your local area.
5: An Updated, Responsive Website That’s Faster than the Flash
This isn’t 2011 when many companies were still “ironing the kinks” out of their website. In 2016, your potential new patients expect your website to load extremely fast and display perfectly, regardless of what browser, device, or operating system they are using.
If your website isn’t there yet, you’re behind the times (site speed and user-friendliness are actually now a major part of the ranking algorithms of popular search engine like Google & Bing).
If you’ve recently heard anything along the lines of, “Your site doesn’t work. I can’t pull it up on my phone,” then it’s time to get serious about improving the speed and performance of your current website.
At Killer Shark, we live and breathe code, and thus, stay updated on all of the latest design and development protocols to ensure our client's websites are always up to date and patient friendly.
If your website isn’t where it needs to be, new patients will simply go somewhere else.
6. An Active Social (Media) Life
You probably heard that you’ve got to be on social media in order to grow your practice.
That’s not wrong per se, but it’s what we call a “half truth.” Sure, there is tremendous opportunity to grow your practice with websites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (primarily Facebook), but the key is to have an active and engaging presence.
To be perfectly honest, this isn’t necessarily something you should outsource…it needs to happen in-house if possible. You need someone at your office at least a couple of times per week who is taking pictures of your staff, patients, etc. and sharing them on popular social media channels.
While we touched on reviews earlier, it’s also important that you have someone monitoring your Facebook and Google My Business pages for negative reviews. Even if you have the greatest practice around, you’ll eventually get a negative review online. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
While preventing negative reviews with outstanding patient care and service is the first step, handling any negative reviews you receive with class will show potential new patients that you accept responsibility for any shortcomings your practice displayed in a particular situation, and are committed to “making things right.”
7: Professional, Custom Photography (Avoid Poor-quality Photos When Possible)
Have you ever rented a vacation condo because the pictures looked absolutely stunning? I’ll bet you have.
The exact same principle holds true when trying to “sell” potential new patients on visiting your practice.
At Killer Shark, we have all of the data in the world showing that healthcare websites with high-end, custom photography simply attract more new patients. It holds true with Every. Single. Client.
Obviously, hiring a great photographer isn’t cheap, but it’s an investment that you will make back many times over for the next 10+ years. In fact, we know that custom photography is so important to the success of your digital marketing efforts that we don’t work with clients unless they already have great pictures, are willing to hire a top-notch photographer, or agree to license premium stock photography that will help their practice stand out from the competition.
An investment in great photography for your digital marketing campaign is something you will never regret.
8: Use Attractive, “No Brainer” New Patient Specials
New patient specials are a great way to get people to book an appointment, and more importantly become patients for years to come (which equals more revenue for your practice of course). Some of the specials that we’ve successfully run with our clients are things like:
• $500/off Invisalign treatment
• Free b12 shot with each procedure
• Botox & filler "happy hours"
You get the idea.
Even though the special must be attractive to potential patients, the reality is that the most important component is promoting the special effectively. This means it needs to be visible on your website first and foremost, and also promoted via other channels such as Google Adwords, GMB, and Facebook Ads (see point 2 & 3 above for more info on this please).
9: Update Directory Listings for a Consistent Online Footprint
Online directories such as HealthGrades, Vitals, Wellness, RateMDS and others have always been somewhat important for healthcare marketing, but now they are very important, and up-to-date listings on these and other websites should be a serious component of any successful new patient attraction plan.
Why are directories so important? It’s twofold:
First, each directory where your website is listed counts as a citation for your business online. Citations are important because they are a critical component of the ranking algorithm, especially within Google My Business (formerly known as Google+ Local or Google Places).
It is imperative that your name, address, and phone number are consistent around the web, as this is a sign of credibility with Google; and they reward those practices that have consistent NAP information.
Let’s say that on directory A your business is listed as “Boise Dental Design.”
On directory B, your business is listed as “John Doe, DDS: Boise.”
In the eyes of Google, those are two completely different business names, even if the information is really talking about the same dental practice!
This is a big no-no and is one of the issues we work on correcting when cleaning up a client’s NAP profile.
Second, directory websites typically carry a lot of weight in Google, meaning they can show up on page 1 for a variety of search terms. So, it is important to have current information and to make sure you're gathering reviews that can be distributed to these websites (as we mentioned above).
10: Track Phone Calls & LISTEN to Them (HIPAA Compliance)
Practices that measure and understand what is happening when a potential new patient calls their office book more new patients…period.
99% of the time, the first in-person interaction a potential new patient has with your office is their initial phone call with your receptionist. If your receptionist doesn’t understand how to handle these calls correctly and convert more phone calls into booked appointments, your practice will suffer.
We provide all of our clients with detailed call reports, where they can listen to each and every phone call that comes into their practice from the Internet. Our phone call tracking and web forms are also HIPAA compliant, so you’ll be able to get the data you need to improve your call-to-new-patient conversions stats, while at the same time follow the letter of the law.
We’ve had many practices who didn’t know they had a front desk issue that was causing them six figures per year in revenue until we pointed it out to them. If you’re not utilizing HIPAA-compliant call-tracking to turn more inquiries into appointments, we can implement a turnkey system for you just like we’ve done for the rest of our clients in the healthcare industry.
11: Offer LiveChat on Your Website
Sometimes potential new patients have a quick question and the first practice to answer it books the appointment and gets them as a new patient. Even though picking up the phone or sending an email is easy, many people, especially from the 40 & under generation, love to use tools like LiveChat to get their questions answered quickly.
At Killer Shark, we’ve installed LiveChat on many of our clients’ websites. Those practices that dedicate a person in their office to monitor their LiveChat and field questions from potential new patients in real-time have experienced incredible success.
The good news is that most of your competition probably isn’t using LiveChat yet (it’s very common in B2B selling, but doesn’t have much of a footprint in the B2C marketing world yet), and therefore you have the advantage of being an early adopter and gaining a leg up on your local competition.
So, our challenge to you today is to find a quality LiveChat provider that works with healthcare professionals, sign up with them, and make a commitment to actually monitor and use your LiveChat each and every day on your website. The results may surprise you!
12: Know Your Numbers to End “Spray and Pray” Marketing for Good
When it comes to digital marketing, you’ve got to know your numbers.
One of the most common complaints we hear when doctors come to us is that they’re doing a little bit of everything, but really have no idea what is working.
When you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t, then you really have no idea where you can afford to cut your marketing spend and where you should increase your spend. If a particular new patient acquisition channel is yielding positive results, you need to know that so you can “ramp it up” and increase your ROI.
On the flipside, if you’re investing in a marketing channel that isn’t getting results, you need to know that, too, so you can cut the cord and avoid wasting money on ineffective marketing tactics.
While we’re not writing this blog post to toot our own horn (although it is our blog, so no harm in that…right?), the majority of our clients are blown away at the reporting they receive from us. Where many companies give a general overview of “web hits,” we actually dive deep into analytics to show you all of your key performance indicators such as:
• Total website traffic
• The % of your website traffic that are new visitors
• Your top traffic sources (in order, with exact stats for each)
• The pages and/or blog posts on your website that receive the most traffic
• The number of phone calls & email leads your online marketing campaigns are generating
• Where the calls & leads are coming from
And much more. With our advanced HIPAA-compliant call-tracking solutions that are tailor-made for practices that want to stay fully compliant, you can actually take it one step further and listen to phone calls between your staff members and patients!
13: Stand Out from the Crowd with a Bulletproof USP
The unique selling proposition is a statement that completely separates you from your competition. A good example of a USP: “We are the only dental practice in (insert city) to offer Same Day Veneers!”
The major problem we see when practices try to craft their USP is they usually confuse the unique selling proposition with trite, boring phrases such as, “We offer great customer satisfaction and have the highest rated customer service.” Those words are all too often misused, and the general public has gotten smarter and smarter. When people hear phrases like, “We offer great customer service,” or, “We have the lowest prices,” their eyes just glaze over.
Those things are a given. Think about what REALLY separates your business and focus on that!
For instance, one of our clients has had over 300 doctors come to him for a particular procedure that he offers. Having testimonials from 300 doctors when you are a doctor? Now that is a unique selling proposition that potential new patients will salivate over. In the business world, CEO’s focus on their USP (unique selling proposition), or competitive advantage, and THAT is what they scale. As a healthcare provider, you need to focus on the same exact thing.
All of these ideas are great…but what now?
By this point in time you’ve probably realized there are a lot of things your practice could be doing to consistently attract new, qualified patients and increase revenue month after month.
Well, helping implement the above systems and solving the new patient dilemma is exactly why Killer Shark exists. It’s what we’ve been doing since 2009.