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A recent study completed by BrightLocal reveals that local business’s online presence has never been more critical to their potential clients’ perceptions, which means marketing your practice online is more important than ever.  86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses. Consumers are more likely than ever to trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, with 91% of 18-34-year-olds stating that they trust web reviews as much as word of mouth ones.  Older folks are more skeptical, but the study shows that they too are utilizing online review platforms in much higher numbers than previously.

This data makes it clear that internet review sites like Google and Facebook have become an essential component of attracting customers to your local business.  This includes medical practices, and in turn includes medical review sites like Healthgrades and Vitals in addition to Google and Facebook. As a medical practice, it is important to ask basic questions and challenge previous assumptions about how you’re marketing your practice online.

Where is our focus:  Review platforms or website?  Review platforms are the most important place you need to consider when dealing with online patient perceptions.  Read that as: your most important online presence is not your website.

This is due to how potential patients find you.  When a customer does a Google search or asks for recommendations on Facebook they are going to be directed to either your Google My Business page or the Facebook page for your practice.  It is from there that they will access your website by link. If your review page has really poor rankings, isn’t developed very well, doesn’t link to your website, or worse, doesn’t exist at all/isn’t claimed or managed by you that is a huge problem.  

Don’t get us wrong, having a good website is important, just don’t expect many people to visit it if you don’t have correctly configured and updated review pages.  Further, it is important to remember that lots of times potential customers will make their decision solely based off of a review page, without even clicking onto your website.  Having stellar review pages should be the top priority in marketing your practice online.

Are our review pages stellar? If not how do we get them that way? Managing review pages can be frustrating because much of what makes a page stellar is content produced by your customers.  There are some things that you can do to make the experience better from your end.

First, configure what you can, and do it right.  Having a description, the correct address, linked website, pictures, specified keywords, etc. can help both the review site and potential customers perceive you as more legitimate.  Google will even go as far as making your practice pop up sooner in Local Search results if your pages are configured correctly. Configuring review pages correctly is something that is in your power, not your customers’, take advantage of the boost it can bring your pages.

Second, manage the negative.  When a less than pleasant review pops up on one of your practice or doctor review pages, address the problem.  Post a public reply apologizing and invite the reviewer to move the conversation offline. Doing this shows other potential customers that you are attentive to the needs of your patients and that you care.  Moving the situation offline also makes it less likely for your practice or the unhappy patient to embarrass themselves, or commit a HIPAA violation (although, just moving a conversation to a private sphere doesn’t exempt you from protecting HIPAA information).  Handling a negative review situation well often means that the reviewer will end up removing the offending post.

Third, leverage the positive.  Up your intake of positive reviews from customers by making it as easy as possible for them to leave one.  This is called reputation marketing. As most patients leave practices satisfied with their care, utilizing their voices on review platforms can literally change the way potential patients view your practice and affect where your practice shows up in search results.

The reviews of online peers are more likely to be trusted than any marketing content your team can put out.  This is because customers are seen as being unbiased, unlike your marketing team that specifically puts out content to attract new patients.  This trend is confirmed by BrightLocal’s 2018 data which shows that the majority of people trust reviews to a certain extent.

Brightlocal surveyThat is the brilliance of reputation marketing.  Utilizing what potential patients see as peer voices gives review sites credibility that a traditional marketing campaign can never have.  It’s your job to make sure that those peer voices are telling the story your practices and doctors want being told.

Review platforms are becoming more and more significant.  Millennials, the champions of reading and writing online reviews, are only going to get older and become more and more relevant to medical practices.  The next generations will follow in their footsteps. Practices and businesses that don’t adapt will be left behind, and the sooner they have a structure for capturing this growing demographic, the sooner they can reap the benefits of speaking in the language their customers do.

SocialClimb helps medical practices easily manage and configure review site pages, manage negative reviews, and attract positive ones through prompted notifications–all from one place.  Let us help you both manage and market your online reputation. Try a free demo today!


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