Acquiring new patients is more competitive than it used to be. Gone are the days when you could rely on your current patients to spread the word or trust that recommendations from primary care physicians would fill your schedules. Those methods are no longer enough to keep your practice growing.
Maintaining your independence means attracting and scheduling profitable patients. And that means using proven, data-backed marketing techniques that will help you get seen and chosen by your preferred patients. You need to make sure you’re taking these seven steps to keep patients coming your way. Don’t let these reasons hold you back.
Problem: Patients don’t see you online.
When a patient needs to find a new doctor, they look online. These days, it seems like everything is online, so it makes sense that doctor-finding happens there as well. Let me throw a couple of stats your way:
- 3.5 billion online searches are conducted every day. (internet live stats)
- On average, people spend 6 hours 54 minutes on the internet every day. (Overlo)
- 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. (BrightLocal survey)
- 90% of patients use reviews to evaluate physicians. (SoftwareAdvice survey)
- 71% of medical consumers use reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. (Software Advice survey)
- 94% of consumers report being more likely to choose a business with positive reviews. (BrightLocal survey)
As a society, we clearly spend a lot of time and energy online. If you’re not showing up when medical consumers search online for a doctor, they won’t be calling you for an appointment. They will have found someone else.
Solution: Start with your Google My Business (GMB) listing.
Your GMB listing is the embodiment of low hanging fruit when it comes to digital marketing. It’s free, it shows up in organic searches, and you can easily control the information consumers see when they land on your listing.
Google will present search results for local business questions with a Google 3-Pack of GMB listings. You want to show up in that short list, and you can do that by making your listings look important and relevant to Google—by optimizing your listings.
Take the time to optimize your GMB listings, and that alone could move the needle for you on patient acquisition.
Problem: Your star rating doesn’t reflect your excellent level of care.
Your Google star rating, found on your GMB listing, should accurately reflect the high level of care you provide. For that matter, so should your star rating on Healthgrades, Facebook, Vitals, and other patient review sites.
Unfortunately, your star rating doesn’t always reflect your great care, and here’s why: If they aren’t prompted, patients generally don’t think to leave a review unless they are unhappy. That means that you could end up with a higher proportion of negative reviews than is fair, and that brings your overall rating down.
Solution: Ask for reviews.
Most of your patients are very happy with the care they receive. If you ask them to leave you a review, and make it easy for them, your star rating will naturally improve.
We have found that when we send patients an automated text or email review request within 24 hours of care, they are happy to leave a review about 10% of the time. As an added benefit, we can enable private reviews, giving patients the option of bringing up concerns privately so you can address issues before they take it to public platforms.
Sending out automated review requests will improve your star rating so it accurately reflects your patients’ sentiment.
Problem: You don’t have enough online reviews to help in acquiring new patients.
Having only a few online reviews may not sound like a problem, especially if the few you have are 5-star reviews. However, a few unanticipated consequences could smack you in the face.
- With fewer than 10 reviews, Google is less likely to see your GMB listing as relevant, so you are less likely to show up in their 3-pack of search results.
- If your few reviews are old, that will also affect whether or not Google sees you as relevant. You should be collecting current reviews.
- Patients read 10 reviews on average as they evaluate a new doctor. If you only have a couple of reviews, they may move on to a different doctor with more reviews.
- The more reviews you have, the more accurately they reflect patient sentiment.
Solution: Make it easy for your patients to leave a review.
Set up automated review requests to go out to your patients within 24 hours of care. It’s really that simple.
Yes, this is the same answer as to the previous problem. Asking for reviews and making it simple for your patients will get you more reviews AND make your star rating more accurate.
Problem: Other brands’ ads are sitting on top of organic search results.
Google is a business with a great marketing strategy. They create GMB listings for free because they want to control the information presented when people search online. They sell ads to make money.
When a consumer searches for “ophthalmologist near me,” their search results will likely include Google’s 3-Pack of Local Listings. And you want to show up in that 3-pack. (See optimizing your GMB listing above.)
Search results also often include a couple of ads on top of organic search results. If you have not set up any paid ads, another doctor’s ads will show up on top of these results. Since consumers generally choose from what they see on the first page of search results, it’s important to get seen on that first page more than once.
Solution: Set up your own paid advertising.
You should be setting up some inexpensive brand ads to secure your brand as well as ads targeted directly to high-value patients. Brand ads show up when a potential patient searches for a doctor or a practice by name. (Imagine a patient looking for you online, but they get distracted by the ad from another doctor!) These ads are relatively inexpensive because you own your brand. Read more about brand ads.
Targeted ads show up when someone searches for the type of care you provide. You can set up your ads to show up for high-value patients that meet a specific set of criteria. (It’s pretty amazing how accurate we can get.) Read more about targeted ads.
You’ve got a lot of options, but the point is, paying for advertising will help you in acquiring new patients.
Problem: You’re not getting in front of patients where they spend their time: on social media.
People spend a lot of time on social media. Know your patient’s demographics, so you can meet them where they spend their time. A Pew Research survey found that in 2020, nearly 80% of adults in the U.S. use at least one social media site.
Here’s a breakdown of Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. and the ages that spend time there:
- 70% of adults age 18-29
- 77% of adults age 30-49
- 73% of adults age 50-64
- 50% of adults age 65+
- 71% of adults age 18-29
- 48% of adults age 30-49
- 29% of adults age 50-64
- 13% of adults age 65+
Solution: Make sure you have a presence on social media.
The lesson here is that you need to know who you want to reach. If your patients are mostly older, make sure you have a strong presence on Facebook. If you see younger patients, you may also need to hit Instagram as well.
You can also set up ads on both Facebook and Instagram if you want to focus on attracting and not just engaging with patients and potential patients.
Problem: Your patients can’t schedule online.
We’ve talked a lot about the digital age we’re living in. Consumers expect the ease of setting up appointments online. Hotel and travel arrangements are made almost exclusively online these days. Restaurants and movies are not far behind. It’s happening in healthcare as well.
If you don’t already have an online schedule available to your patients, the time is fast approaching where you will need one.
Solution: Set up online scheduling.
You can set up an online scheduling link on your GMB listing, your website, and even your Facebook page. It’s time.
Problem: You don’t have a marketing strategy.
It used to be that healthcare advertising relied heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations. We’ve grown up and taken it to the internet. “If-you-build-it-they-will-come” mentality doesn’t work in healthcare any more.
Healthcare marketing these days is all about digital marketing, and if you don’t have a good marketing plan in place—one that takes advantage of the latest technology—you will become invisible. Competition is pretty fierce, especially for practices that want to remain independent. It is worth your time to put a strategic marketing plan in place ASAP—or partner with someone who can do that for you.
Solution: Invest in healthcare marketing.
Healthcare marketing DOES NOT need to be expensive, but it does need to be effective. That means using a proven strategy that will bring in patients and fill your schedules. One that disrupts the patient journey so you are seen and chosen by the patients that will help your practice grow.
Acquiring new patients is not as easy as falling off a log, but with SocialClimb, it’s close. You don’t need to be experts—we’ve got that covered. Set up a demo with one of our team members to see how we can help you in acquiring new patients to grow your practice.