By Dominique Jackson
Like nearly everything else today, medical marketing has gone digital. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are the new focus groups. LinkedIn is the new business card. Search engines like Google have replaced phone books. Websites are your first impression.
What does this shift towards more modern and digital marketing mean for your practice? You now have more information than ever to reach patients. But the key is knowing how to utilize that information to your benefit. You can now make smarter decisions and make a bigger impact with your marketing.
Here are 5 things you absolutely have to know before starting your marketing campaign.
1: Where are your patients?
Knowing where your patients are located geographically will play a big role in your marketing efforts. Is the city you’re in big enough to just focus on that one area? Or will you have to try to reach 3 or 4 surrounding cities too?
You have to figure out whether or not it’s worth the effort to market to an area where people may or may not be willing to travel from to reach your office. How far out you want to market to will depend on a few factors:
Do you already have an established reputation in that area? (some people follow their doctors)
Is there a lack of your specialization in the area?
Are there other medical professionals in the area that could refer you?
2: Where should most of your budget go?
There are so many places to spend your marketing budget online that it can become confusing and overwhelming. Do you need to run ads? Should you outsource your social media? Is a PR firm necessary?
The good news is that marketing is becoming more of an integrated effort. For example, being active on social media can help improve your SEO.
To start, here are the top areas medical professionals need to focus on:
SEO: Your office needs to rank at the top of search engines
Online Reputation and PR: Online reviews can make or break your practice
Social Media: The benefits of social media are endless
3: Don’t expect immediate results
Marketing, especially online marketing, takes time. Your website won’t float to the top of search engines over night. Your marketing should be a long-term effort that changes over time and adapts to new technology.
There are a couple of exceptions. For example, paid ads through Google AdWords or Bing Ads could produce new clients quicker organic SEO in the beginning. But most marketing methods can take a little longer before you start seeing the fruits of your labor.
4: A big budget doesn’t always equal big results
Don’t fall for the myth that you need a huge million dollar budget to market your practice. There have been plenty of huge marketing campaigns that have completely flopped. The great thing about internet marketing is that it puts everyone on a similar playing field. What your office doesn’t have in funds, they can make up for in creativity.
For example, building up your office’s blog with interesting content that gets picked up in search engines could translate into more patients in your office. If you post something that goes viral on social media, you’ll be getting a ton of free publicity that’s just as good as spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a commercial.
5: How will you measure results?
Another way of putting this is how will you know if your marketing is working? The obvious answer is to track your increase in new patients. Of course that’s the ultimate goal, but there are other “wins” that will come along before you get new clients.
For instance, having an active social media account might not directly give you “x” amount of patients. But having people retweeting your tweets, liking your Facebook posts, and hitting the +1 on Google+ adds value to your marketing.
It builds trust, and helps you gain loyal patients. Imagine if one of your patients posts a review of your practice to 2,000 of their local Facebook friends. And then some of those 2,000 friends like the post so that their friends see it too.
Decide on what you want to achieve from your online marketing efforts prior to starting so that you have an idea of the progress you’re making and know when adjustments need to be made.
Having these 5 things figured out will save you money, and allow you to get much more bang for your buck with your marketing efforts.
Dominique Jackson is a SEO Manager at NOVA MedMarket, a leader in online marketing for medical professionals. He enjoys everything related to online marketing and social media. You can contact NOVA MedMarket at (703) 855-9641 or firstname.lastname@example.org.