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Technology Takeover: Marketing Your Practice Online

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 9:00 AM

Expert Advice

Written by: Carolyn Hooper

Carolyn Hooper
Manager, Marketing & Business Development

Today’s fast-paced, digitally connected world has resulted in many health care consumers feeling more empowered. In the past, patients often selected a medical practice simply because it was close to their home. Nowadays, patients are willing to travel farther to be seen by a doctor they feel will meet their quality of care expectations.

This shift among health care consumers can be largely credited to technological advances, allowing patients to form an opinion of a practice before ever stepping foot inside. Now more than ever, doctors must be where patients are — online. Changing patient behaviors and expectations, paired with our evolving digital times, have made it important for medical practices to adopt an online marketing strategy that is thoughtful yet adaptable. In fact, a recent doctor.com consumer survey found that 63 percent of respondents will choose one provider over another because of a strong online presence.

With Progress Comes New Challenges

At BSM, many of our clients face the challenge of remaining competitive online. They may have created a solid plan for more traditional marketing yet are uncertain when it comes to the complex online arena. To guide you, below are five steps to help you identify and implement your online marketing strategy — these principles can be applied to your broader marketing initiatives, too.

  1. Conduct an online audit.
    Audit your online marketing efforts to evaluate current initiatives and strategies while identifying areas of opportunity. A great place to start is by taking a close look at your website to find potential weak areas. Other platforms to evaluate are your social media pages and online directories. While this analysis may feel daunting, identifying your practice’s online strengths and weaknesses upfront will help you to focus your initial efforts on the most impactful areas.
  1. Evaluate your competition.
    In a highly competitive landscape, it’s important for practices to understand how their online brand sets them apart from others. As a starting point, conduct an online search that a potential patient would likely run, using key search terms based on your specialty and local market. This will help you identify your competition. Then, gather information about what your main competitors are doing in the online space. This should include evaluating the user experience, online features, and reputation. This data analysis will help you adapt your strategy to gain a competitive edge.
  1. Create a marketing plan.
    Based on the information you’ve gathered, create a plan that will successfully promote your brand while simultaneously addressing any weaknesses found during your audit. This plan should outline the initiatives to be implemented for each platform (e.g., website, Facebook, Yelp, etc.). For instance, one initiative might be to increase your page “likes” on Facebook. To achieve that, you could outline a creative Facebook theme/campaign that incorporates engaging content, advertising, and an intriguing call to action to compel your audience to click the “like” button.
  1. Implement your plan.
    Your online strategy may be stellar, but if you do not execute it well, you won’t reap the benefits of your efforts. Now that you have created a marketing plan, it’s time to develop an action plan that identifies team members’ roles and responsibilities and a timeline for completion. If you haven’t already, now is also the time to establish a budget to carry out your marketing plan. As your marketing and action plan unfold, conduct staff meetings (and necessary trainings) along the way to check-in with your team. This approach will keep everyone organized and on track, helping to ensure you meet your practice goals.
  2. Track your data.
    Many practices see the value in marketing and are willing to spend money, however they do not always track the results — they should. Interfaces such as Google Analytics and Facebook make it easy to monitor results on a regular basis. Track your online data before and after implementing your marketing plan. Focus on tracking data most relevant to your practice needs whether it’s social media engagement or general website traffic. This tracking will help you identify where you are succeeding and where you can improve, allowing you to adapt your online marketing plan accordingly.

Staying Ahead

While it may not be feasible to incorporate every aspect of the digital landscape into your marketing plan, it’s important to select a few key areas to implement. In doing so, you will stay ahead of the competition, attract potential new patients, and ensure ongoing customer loyalty.

YOUR TURN: What online marketing strategies are working for your practice? We’d love to hear them in the comment section below.

4 Comments

  • Ryan Miller, CEO of Etna Interactive said Reply

    This is great direction Carolyn! As a part of that online audit, we like to encourage our clients to also audit their assets and resources. Does your office have staff time to dedicate to social media? Have you accumulated a large list of email subscribers or thousands of followers on social media? By looking beyond the state of one's website in your online ecosystem you'll be better equipped to enter the planning at step 3!

  • Judy Williams, BSM President said Reply

    Awesome reminders Carolyn!

    In thinking about the online audit (#1) as a way to evaluate current marketing strategies and tactics, it is important to remember that this is best not undertaken in a silo. For example, no matter how well-thought-out the online campaign, identifying and addressing any issues of patient perception (by reviewing online provider rating portals or other online communities) will be key to tackle before investing precious marketing resources. This may also help to better assess the competitive landscape (#2), where patient perception of your own practice may be influencing others toward local alternatives.

    • BSMAdmin said Reply

      Thank you for your insights, Judy. You make a great point. Patient perception is the crux of any marketing plan and should be taken into careful consideration.

      Regards,
      Carolyn

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