When it comes to the often convoluted world of online marketing, it is easy for anyone to become overwhelmed with systems and media channels that seem to push a new and more complicated profit model every other day. Of course nobody expects a medical practice to have much in-house expertise in this area, but the reality is that the perception and branding that marketing creates is nonetheless a key factor in the decisions of prospective patients. Word-of-mouth is a great medical advertising tool since it is backed by real experience, yet when it comes to the intangible digital word, too many physicians are guilty of some serious gaffes as they try to navigate the gulf between their practice and someone’s screen. Lets take a look at 6 common online medical marketing blunders:
6) Not Encouraging Patient Reviews
The most basic of mistakes, and one that completely forgets that online reviews today are, in essence, targeted word-of-mouth advertising. For the vast majority of prospective patients, online reviews are the only relatively objective measure of the quality of a physician or practice. And don’t think for a minute that people don’t read reviews, recent surveys have indicated that about 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. No matter how great a doctor may be, if there aren’t at least a handful of people willing to say so on Yelp or Google+ Local, most people will not give them a second look.
Don’t let patients leave your office without at least the promise of a review! Have a tablet in your office connected to Google+, Yelp, etc and encourage your patients to leave a review (be sure to set up an IP proxy however, as Goggle and the like can see when reviews all come from the same place). You can also give special discounts and promotions to patients who post a review. Consider putting together and printing out a simple online reviewing guide and hand it to patients so there’s no confusion as to what to do. And don’t forget about also getting some reviews on the many medical industry sites like HealthGrades.com or Vitals.com, as these too can play a decisive role in patient decision.
The bottom line is: GET THOSE REVIEWS! High Volume even works against negative feedback, easily drowning out any occasional bad reviews.
5) Not Blogging
You don’t have to be a great writer or spend hours on research in order to generate blog content, and even posting a couple of posts a month yields enormous benefits as opposed to staying quiet. Regular new content is favored by Google, acts as a resource for patients, builds good will and brand value and enhances social reach! The topic can be as simple as your medical opinion on some new product, an interesting story affecting local patients or a comment on an industry-relevant news item.
While the most effective path to take is to hire an expert firm like RX Medical Web to write regular, relevant and SEO optimized medical content for your practice, why not start out by instructing office staff to dedicate an hour or two out of the month to blogging? You really have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by the simple act of creating something of informational value, which leads us to the next big marketing mistake…
4) Not Creating Diverse Content
Today’s online marketing mantra is “Content is King” and for good reason. Google has made it clear that it is constantly refining its algorithms to find and reward fresh content while competitor Bing has explicitly included a Facebook interface into its pages. Here is where search integrates with the social realm to use social sharing and engagement as a me sure of quality of content. Basic blogging is a necessary start, but only the start. A physician committed to a dynamic online marketing plan must generate content for all kinds of audiences and platforms. Youtube marketing is one great way to get attention and doctors should always try to have a camera handy for testimonials, before & after shots and even for recording some procedures (with the patient’s consent of course) for the benefit of fellow medical practitioners.
Besides video, medical practices can also use images to engage their audience. Posting pictures of new equipment, facility renovations, new staff members, office events, patient success stories, interesting industry info-graphics and even simple daily funny or inspirational images can make any online persona come alive and generate much more interest than someone repeating the same boring promotional messages. Ultimately, the goal is for all of these elements to work together (for example medical videos and images embedded into blog posts) to create rich content that can then be shared in the social sphere to multiply its reach.