As a doctor, you’re so busy doing what you do – seeing patients, prescribing medicine, juggling appointments – that you lack the time for other stuff.
Yet it’s that other stuff – such as building a website, or, in this case, marketing your practice – that’s going to help you grow your business. Expand your reach. And, in turn, ensure that an even wider audience of people can have access to the quality healthcare you provide.
Just like the web design for your doctor’s website, marketing is important. But how do you do it? Where do you even begin?
Below, we’re walking you through our answers to your big questions. What is digital marketing for doctors? What are the different channels and approaches you can tap into – and what are the benefits of getting the word out about your practice?
Then, we’ll unpack our top eight tips and strategies to help you promote your practice (and in a way that comes across as helpful – never salesy or overbearing!). From defining your goals and understanding your audience to personalizing and paying for your marketing, we’re starting at the beginning and finishing at the end: the start of an awe-inspiring, actionable marketing strategy for your practice.
Digital marketing refers, broadly, to the online tools, strategies, and channels a business can use to extend its reach, generate leads, and raise awareness of its services.
Digital marketing channels include:
- Content marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Influencer marketing
For doctors, digital marketing provides a way to promote your medical practice, reach out to patients, and enhance the overall online presence – and reputation – of you as a healthcare professional.
So – what are the main benefits of digital marketing for doctors, exactly?
- Increased online visibility: with digital marketing, you’ll be able to expand your practice’s reach among your target audience. Boosting your profile and credibility – both as a practice and a professional – by ensuring your website dominates Google’s rankings. And making it easier for patients to find you online.
- Better patient acquisition and retention: through publishing valuable, engaging content on your website, you’ll be able to resonate with the pain points and personalities of your patients. And, through targeted ads and strong social media content, you can engage with your desired demographics – helping you attract, and retain, your patients.
- More cost-effective promotion: many forms of marketing – such as content marketing, SEO, and email marketing – don’t come with many (if any!) costs. This – along with tools that help you set budget limits, track your campaigns’ performance, and optimize your advertising strategies in real time – helps make marketing more affordable than it’s ever been.
Using digital marketing to promote your practice should be a no-brainer. How to start, though – and which tips and strategies to use for maximum reach and reward – will require a little more gray matter.
That’s why, below, we’ve put together our top eight marketing for doctors tips and tricks. It’s not a step-by-step guide, per se, but the processes below are in chronological order. This is why we’re starting at the beginning – by defining your marketing goals!
1. Define Your Marketing Goals
All good digital marketing strategies start with one thing – planning.
But before you can start planning out your campaigns and settling on an approach, you’ll need to first figure out exactly what you’re trying to achieve. That might be:
- Growing your practice’s online presence
- Generating leads
- Building up a mailing list of existing and prospective patients
- Engaging your audience with regular, relevant content
Of course, these are just a few examples of what your marketing goals might be. So, how do you settle on objectives that work for your practice? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Make your goals SMART: that is, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By attaching specific success metrics to each, you’ll ensure you’re able to know whether they’ve been successful – and which goals need more attention!
- Zero in on specific marketing goals: above, we highlighted some top-level goals your marketing strategy might include. But you’ll need to hone in on some exact figures. Are you keen to generate 100 new patient inquiries per month? Reach 1,000 followers on Facebook? Increase patient satisfaction scores to a particular threshold, or consolidate your practice’s presence in a particular suburb? Time to start thinking about it!
- Prioritize your goals: having 20 goals is fantastic. But without a sense of which ones are the most important – that is, which ones are going to have the biggest impact on your practice’s brand and bottom line – you’ll struggle to implement them all effectively. So order your marketing goals by priority – and work on achieving them in that order.
2. Do Audience Research
It sounds grim, but it’s true – without a proper understanding of your audience, the best marketing in the world is doomed to failure. Because there’s no point getting the what, the when, or even the why right – if you don’t know who it’s all for!
That means you need to do your research – your audience research. Here’s how:
- Define your target patient demographics: between age, gender, location, occupation, income level, healthcare needs, and more, zero in on the specific characteristics of your ideal patients. These are the ones you’ll be marketing to!
- Gather existing patient data: comb through the non-sensitive information in your records of current patients to identify trends and patterns. Common demographics? Appointment frequency? Preferred services? All provide vital insights not into who you’re serving right now – but who, with good marketing, you could be!
- Conduct patient surveys: a little market research into your own patient base can help you understand their healthcare needs and preferences – as well as their current levels of satisfaction with your service. You can also gather important information about the communication channels they rely on most, plus the factors that influenced their decision to choose your practice.
- Analyze online reviews and feedback: social media and healthcare-specific review websites are rich mines of information about how patients perceive your practice. Pay attention to the good, the bad, and the ugly – and use this feedback to identify areas for improvement, and to understand the perspectives of your patients.
3. Research Marketing Methods
Next, you’ll need to settle on which marketing methods are right for your practice. As we mentioned earlier, “digital marketing” is a bit of a catch-all term that includes a whole bunch of different strategies and channels. And, unless you’re the Mayo Clinic, you won’t have the cash or the resources to focus on them all!
Here’s where you’ll need to bring the focus back to your goals – and what success metrics are most important to your practice. With this knowledge, it’ll be easy to choose the right marketing method for you. Choose:
- Content marketing for educating and engaging with your audience
- Email marketing for staying top of mind, and building patient loyalty
- Search engine marketing for immediate visibility – and the quickest results
- Influencer marketing to generate warm, relevant incoming leads
For more advice to help you research and select marketing methods, dive into our top digital marketing tips.
4. Publish Great Content
There’s an old adage in the marketing industry, and it goes something like this:
Content is king.
Today, that’s truer than ever – so what do we mean by “content”? And how does it help your practice?
“Content” for marketing purposes can include:
- Blog articles
- Ebooks and whitepapers
- Social media posts
Essentially, it’s anything created by your practice, for your audience. And herein lies the key to good content marketing. That it’s for your audience – not for you. Because, while you’re ultimately creating content to market your business, it should never feel that way. Instead, the focus should always be on how you can educate, inform, engage, and entertain your audience.
But wait, you ask. How do I know which types of content to publish – and how often?
Here’s where the content marketing pyramid comes in. This stately shape lays out all the different types of content your practice should be looking to create – and offers a handy guide as to how frequently we recommend publishing it.
5. Get Active on Social Media
Facebook. Instagram. LinkedIn. Even Twitter – all offer the chance to get online and speak to your audience in the language, and on the platform, they’re most comfortable with. On social media, you can run ads, post thought-provoking content to pique your audience’s interests, and provide updates about your services. For instance, if you’re adjusting opening hours for the holidays, or want to offer discounted rates for particular patients.
If this sounds like the right avenue for your practice, check out our guide on creating a social media strategy to help you get started.
6. Leverage Paid Ads
Content marketing and SEO (which we’ll get to in just a second!) are examples of the long game. To be successful in these forms of organic marketing, you’ll need to build up your bank of content over time, while also remaining engaged with your audience.
In other words, it takes effort – and time. Paid ads don’t.
With SEO, you earn high rankings on search engines naturally. With paid ads, you simply throw money at Google – to achieve the same thing. And, while it can be a bit of a budget-drainer (particularly in the competitive healthcare market), a solid SEM strategy is worth its weight in gold.
That said, paid ads won’t be right for all practices. So remember, again, to come back to your goals. If those are driving incoming leads to your practice, paid ads will be an effective short-term strategy. If, by contrast, your key objectives involve building up your practice’s brand – engendering loyalty, and cultivating a strong identity – you’re better off investing more heavily in SEO. Speaking of which…
7. Do Website SEO
Somewhere between an art and a science, SEO is the practice of setting your practice’s website up for success in the hotly-contested space of search engine rankings. It’s about tweaking and training your website to perform well in Google, Bing, and Yahoo! – giving it the best chance of being seen by the audience you want to engage with most.
Need some SEO tips? We’ve got a whole SEO checklist to follow, but here are some key points to get started:
- Optimize your website for search engines: this involves finding keywords relevant to your practice, industry, and target audience – and implementing them throughout your website. Make sure these keywords appear in your page’s titles, headings, meta descriptions, and liberally throughout your website copy.
- Think about local SEO: to pick up all those web searches that say “doctors near me”, you’ll need to invest in your local SEO strategy. This is all about targeting patients in the specific geographical area you serve. To do this, create a Google My Business profile and fill it with accurate information – including your opening hours, patient reviews, and practice information.
- Set your site up for mobile: most web users aren’t accessing the internet from their desks anymore, but on the go – from their smartphones. To ensure their experience is a slick one, be sure to optimize your site for mobile users.
8. Personalize Your Marketing
Our final tip? Personalize your marketing – because no one wants to feel like a number!
On a basic level, this can be as simple as ensuring your marketing emails begin by addressing the recipient by name (or even in the subject line!). On a more detailed level, marketing personalization could include creating patient personas – fictional archetypes that represent real patients, as well as their pain points, goals, needs, and demographic information – or using more personal channels. (SMS and personal social media messages work for this.)
Perhaps the most effective way of personalizing your marketing, though, is by placing your relationship with your patients at the heart of everything you do – then, nurturing these relationships. That could be as basic as following up with a patient after they see you – sending a post-visit email or calling to check in – or texting your patient ahead of time to remind them of their appointment with you.
Remember – the more personal, the better!
- Interview with Speak with Stephanie: We spoke to Stephanie Jeret, a speech-language pathologist, about promoting her practice online
Want to kick your practice’s marketing off – or simply kick it up a notch? Here are our top tips and strategies to help you advertise and engage your audience:
- Define your marketing goals
- Do audience research
- Research marketing methods
- Publish great content
- Get active on social media
- Leverage paid ads
- Do website SEO
- Personalize your marketing
As a reminder, what works for one practice won’t necessarily work for another – and what works for a neighboring doctor won’t always work for you. All practices are different; all practices require differing marketing strategies. But, by starting with your goals and a thorough understanding of your audience, you’ll be able to build a marketing plan that isn’t cookie cutter, or “one size fits all”, but one that works for you.
Plus, even if you’re not fussed about your practice in Google (although you should be!), websites serve as a powerful trust signal. Like patient reviews, they serve as an important piece of social proof: that you exist, that you’re legitimate, and that they should place their faith, as patients, in you. They’re putting their health in your hands, after all – the least you can give them is the peace of mind a website provides!
Website builders are platforms via which you can create a thriving, functional site. While many providers offer free plans, we’d recommend a paid plan to unlock more advanced features. (And stop unwanted ads clogging up, and compromising the professionalism of your practice’s site!)
For the best overall website builder, try Wix. Otherwise, Squarespace offers excellent value for money, while GoDaddy remains the fastest way to build a website – period!