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Medical Practice Marketing: The Art and Science of Storytelling

Medical Practice Marketing: The Art and Science of Storytelling

Storytelling is an age-old means of transferring knowledge. Most stories we heard when we were children were passed down from our parents or grandparents and from one generation to the other. Storytelling is a great communication tool that has been used to impart valuable life lessons.

Stories touch emotions. One goal of storytelling is to persuade the audience. We have all heard of Noah’s Ark, The Odyssey and Shakespearean plays that discuss sentiments and moral values. Today, the same age-old storytelling is taking the digital marketing arena by storm. Putting traditional advertising strategies to rest, most businesses are telling their own stories, and healthcare is no exception.

Any business can benefit from storytelling in its digital marketing strategy. However, for medical practices, there is much more on the table. Storytelling engages patients at an emotional level. In medical practice marketing, storytelling humanizes a medical practice, builds trust and communicates values. By knitting the warmth of stories with knowledge, storytelling builds trusted brands and stronger relationships.

The potential of storytelling is no secret. Stories stimulate our brains. People remember stories and react to them. According to anthropologists, storytelling is a universal feature of every culture and country. According to OneSpot, Americans consume more than 100,500 digital words every day, and almost 92 percent of them want these words in the form of a story.
Why do stories encapsulate the mind?

A “story” and the art of “storytelling” each have their benefits. Here is why stories are more effective than plain data talk:

  • The human brain is designed to think in specific story terms. We understand experiences better when narrated in the form of a story.
  • Human memory is enhanced by the story. According to research, we tend to remember the information shared through a story than the one presented through points.
  • Stories create compassion.

The complexity of healthcare services, combined with the emotional suffering associated with illness and diagnosis, can be addressed through effective storytelling.

According to research, 78 percent of customers trust recommendations from family and friends, and 63 percent of customers believe healthcare information from friends is credible even if those peers are not experts. When these statistics are fused with an understanding of how our brain processes stories, it becomes apparent that information, when presented in the form of stories, can create real users of the products. Storytelling is the most effective strategy to build a lasting connection with a target audience.

Stories are easier to understand and remember because the emotional response helps the brain break down complex facts. The story acts as a medium to explain something much more complicated.

In the past, healthcare marketers have been hesitant to create stories around diagnosis and treatment options, thinking such topics are too serious for storytelling. They forgot that the heart plays a crucial role in engaging the brain. Stories take away our fear. People do not feel alone when they are listening to, or imagining, a story.

Storytelling as a strategic business tool

Storytelling for practice marketing is more than just an entertainment factor. If your patients cannot see themselves as a character in your story, they will not remember it or learn from it. If your patients can put themselves into the story, and feel the positive result played out by the characters, they start participating emotionally. Once they start participating emotionally, they become engaged.

Now, more than ever, there are tools and solutions available in the market to help healthcare marketers understand what makes patients tick. It is important to appreciate the needs, wants and habits of your patients in order to be relevant in an incredibly competitive marketplace.

In addition to boosting organic search rankings and engaging with your patients, storytelling is important to your medical practice marketing for a few key reasons.

Storytelling is a foundational aspect of your practice marketing strategy. Neuroscience indicates that storytelling makes things “click” for customers. Research has revealed that stories create stronger ties to influencing how customers act. All of this data points to positive outcomes in improving patient engagement. But how can you do it? What “stories” should you showcase?
How can you reach your target audiences?

Every day, medical practitioners are flooded with thousands of questions. The industry is growing, and the rules are changing. Most of you would agree there is an education gap. As a medical practice owner, you can use relevant incidents to help your patients understand his or her illness or treatment options.

Medical Practice Marketing: The Art and Science of Storytelling

How to tell better stories?

Anyone can tell engaging stories when he or she has the right tools, relevant information and enough support. Your healthcare facility can empower its storytellers by encouraging their talents, finding stories worth telling and removing barriers along the way.

1. Investing in talent: The first step to telling engaging stories is to empower your storytellers. You must invest time and resources in the storytelling process. You must have people in your facility with unique healthcare stories to share. However, do not expect them to add storytelling tasks to their already full workload. Successful storytelling takes time. A significant part of storytelling is an honest assessment of your team’s skills to identify where you may need help. In addition to quality content writing, good storytelling includes multimedia content. Whether it is graphics, images, videos or other engaging content, make sure your team members have the resources they need to tell great stories.

2. Finding stories worth sharing: The key factor is relevance. Your patients will not engage with your stories unless they understand how and why these stories matter to them. Your patients are not interested in listening to the kind of news that other healthcare facilities put out in press releases. Relevance is the overlap between what you want to say and what your patients want to hear. Relevant stories comprise a wide range of topics, including:

  • Informative material presented in thought-provoking ways
  • Actual engagements with staff and patients
  • Strong and useful points of view on controversial yet healthy topics
  • Brainstorming on timely issues
  • Patient-centric topics

3. Removing barriers to successful storytelling: Some barriers may keep coming up. Probably the most common concern is about patient privacy under HIPAA. Of course, patient privacy is important, and you must have permission before discussing their stories. However, many patients are willing to share their stories with the community, so do not hesitate to ask.

Another barrier to storytelling is approval. This is when a piece of content needs to be approved by so many people that it never sees the light of day. Simplify the approval process to as few people as possible.

In healthcare content marketing, your overnight success will take much longer than overnight. The purpose behind creating engaging stories is not to go viral, though it will be a bonus if it does. The aim is long-term relevance and reaching your business goals. Creating and distributing better stories can help you achieve those goals in the long-term.

How can storytelling help your practice grow?

The mission of medical practices using storytelling as a marketing tool should be to help patients relate the stories to the benefits of their services. Telling stories that do not connect to your brand or services will entertain, but it will not offer value or increase your revenue.

When developing stories, you must identify how your services help your patients. What problems do your products and services solve? What makes your practice different from the competitors? The answers to these questions will help you create compelling content that has business value.
Here are five of the most compelling advantages that storytelling brings to your medical practice:

1. Engages patients: If the story is good, you will have the listener’s attention. When you have their attention, you have almost won. With storytelling, each word can spark emotions. If you succeed in touching your patients’ feelings, you can also influence them to engage with your brand.

2. Is sharable on social media: If your patients read a piece of content that they connect with, they will share it on social networks, which will make your content more visible. By reaching people across your patients’ networks, your content can get more views, and your practice could acquire more patients.

3. Creates a connection: Every business has stories. By creating your content around an interesting story, you can easily relate to your target audience. When patients feel connected to your practice, you will gain their trust and loyalty.

4. Establishes authority: When you focus on storytelling and start creating relevant content for patients, you demonstrate that you share their concerns. Storytelling is 92 percent more effective than traditional advertising at increasing awareness and establishing authority. This is because when your patients have a problem, they think about you as their potential problem-solver.

5. Creates repeat readers: When patients like what they read, they are likely to come back for more interesting content. Repeat readers can help you establish patient loyalty as the online content acquires “followers” and subscribers.

Medical Practice Marketing: The Art and Science of Storytelling

Conclusion

Having said all that, how do you plan to embrace storytelling in your healthcare content marketing? We are not suggesting you revamp your blog or website. In fact, you can add storytelling techniques into your already established blog in order to enhance the user experience without tweaking your high-quality content. By making your content more relatable, you will give your patients even more reasons to come to you for their healthcare needs.

In healthcare, as in any other industry, there are plenty of storytelling opportunities. All it takes is a keen eye and a willingness to take the path less traveled. By sharing information in the form of a narrative, rather than a white paper, you will garner more attention, engagement and respect from your patients.

Stories are not a waste of time. They are good for practices like yours. Identify the stories in your practice. You can choose to promote the stories behind your patients and their recovery, the stories that connect your values to your business goals. Unique stories and effective storytelling are at the heart of medical practice marketing, doctor marketing and physician-patient relations. In order to experience successful practice marketing, tell better and unique stories. We help medical practices uncover and communicate unique stories. Are you ready to share yours?

Medical Healthcare Marketing

8 Healthcare SEO Tips to Keep Medical Practices in the Game

8 Healthcare SEO Tips to Keep Medical Practices in the Game

Healthcare marketers are beefing up their investments in content. However, in order to leverage those investments, they will have to put some time and effort into learning the new rules for SEO, or search engine optimization. The days of driving traffic to your website by attractive headlines with keywords are long gone, experts insist, and the new SEO rules revolve around another big-money marketing focus: user experience.

Historically, the experts have been recommending that people focus on keywords. However, search engines are more intelligent now, and content creators have less control over how and where their web pages are appearing in search engine results and what words they are showing up for.

According to Search Engine Journal, SEO leads have a close rate of 14.6 percent, while outbound leads such as emails have a close rate of only 1.7 percent. Are you still questioning the importance of SEO for your medical practice? Almost 56 percent of the American adults are smartphone users, which highlights the importance of ranking high for searches that potential patients might be making from their mobile devices.

Organic visibility is a challenge for most industries, but it is especially challenging and competitive in the healthcare industry. This is because if potential patients cannot find you when they are searching for a provider, you have missed your opportunity to get that conversion. Not only do you have to develop relevant and helpful content, but it has to be optimized so that searchers will see it in the search engine results.

Here are eight SEO tips for healthcare providers that will help you grow your organic search volume, make your sales funnel more efficient and help you grow revenue.

8 Healthcare SEO Tips to Keep Medical Practices in the Game

1. Optimize for local search: Managing your local presence is the most critical task for any healthcare provider. According to Google, almost 73 percent of all online activity is related to local searches. Your medical practice, for the most part, relies on people who live in or near the same area where you are located. For instance, when a potential patient searches for “physician in Edison” on Google, various options come up on the first page of search results. If you are a physician in Edison, then you will want your medical practice listing to appear in the top few positions in the search engine results. Correct?

According to a survey from Search Engine Land, 50 percent of customers who searched their mobile phones visited the store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on their desktop did the same. This means the ranking has a direct influence on in-store traffic.

Google My Business is Google’s business listing service. This service allows you to develop a page where you can add vital information about your medical practice that people are searching for, including your address, work hours, phone numbers and services. Another helpful online tool for local search is Moz Local. You can use this tool to create and maintain business listings on various websites and online directories that factor into most of the search engine results.

2. Encourage online reviews: Positive patient reviews are an essential element in establishing the quality and trustworthiness of your practice. According to a study by Moz, the most popular review sites for medical professionals are Healthgrades, Yellowpages, Yelp, Yahoo Local and Google+ Local. Do not hesitate to ask patients for reviews. Satisfied patients will be more than happy to oblige. Here are some ways you can encourage patients to review your practice online:

  • If you send out a newsletter, you can ask your patients to review your practice on Google or Yelp.
  • You can place a sign in your office, with detailed instructions on how and where to post online reviews for your practice.
  • You can place links and call-to-action on your website, encouraging visitors to review your practice.

3. Choose relevant keywords: The most important thing to decide is what keywords you want to use. These keywords will help Google know what your website is all about. You should compile a list of keywords that patients often use related to your specialty. A good way to do this is to think of all the questions they might ask. For instance, if you are a pediatrician in Queens, what might your potential patients ask Google? They might search for “best pediatrician in Queens.” Picking the most relevant keywords can be tricky. Creating content around relevant keywords will increase your chances of showing up in search results. You can also consider hiring an SEO professional if you do not have time to research keywords.

4. Optimize title tags and meta descriptions: You must fill in metadata on the administration side of your practice website. The metadata consists of a title, description and tags. The title tag acts as the title of the web page at the top of the browser and in the blue text in the search engine results. The title tags tell the search engine what your website is all about, and it should not exceed 60 characters. Make sure to include relevant keywords. A meta description describes the content of the page and should be written with an aim to provide more information about your website. You should try to keep it short, concise – under 160 characters. The idea is to answer the questions entered by potential patients in the search engine. In addition to using keywords within the content on your website, you must be sure to use relevant keywords in meta data.

5. Publish unique content and update regularly: There is no substitute for engaging and unique content. Useful content attracts and engages website visitors, and the more qualified traffic your website has, the more authority you are likely to have in search engine results. You can include content on your website a variety of ways:

  • Blogs, guest articles and white papers
  • Videos and podcasts
  • Infographics and slideshows
  • eBooks, calculators and apps
  • Conferences and seminars

While an effective SEO strategy must be implemented when creating website content, never compromise good writing with matching keywords. Remember that your readers are your patients, not search engines. Regular content updates play an integral role in improving the relevancy of a website. Although individual factors will determine the frequency of updating your website content, it is a good idea to update your website at least once a week.

Blogging is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your website updated with information that your patients will find interesting.

6. Select trusted inbound backlinks: Inbound backlinks have a significant influence on your organic rankings. These are one of the key factors used by search engines in determining your website’s authority. The more authority your practice website has, the higher it will rank for keywords. While the number of links is important, it is not everything. Ideally, the linking site should be relevant to your website. This is the biggest reason why link farming does not work. Just having random websites linking to your practice website is a trick that the search engine algorithms have learned to work around. Therefore, your backlinks should originate from sites that are trusted by search engines. By creating valuable content, your inbound links will increase over time and help your website strengthen its position for relevant keywords.

7. Be active on social platforms: If you are creating and publishing quality content, then make it a point to share it via social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Did you know that as of 2014, YouTube became the second-largest search engine? Therefore, when you choose social platforms that align with your target audience, you increase the likelihood of them noticing your brand. You can add a Twitter feed to your website or embed YouTube videos. These strategies will not only help attract visitors to your website but also provide a great link-back potential. Embedded videos and social feeds are a great call-to-action that can encourage visitors to stay loyal to your practice.

8. Optimize for mobile devices: Being mobile-friendly is just as critical for healthcare websites as it is for other businesses. According to a recent marketing study, 51 percent of time spent on the Internet in the U.S. is on mobile devices. In addition, 62 percent of smartphone owners use their devices to look up online healthcare-related information. Furthermore, Google considers mobile-friendliness as a factor that will determine how your website will rank in mobile search results. Therefore, if your website is not responsive, you could be losing out on organic traffic.

Your practice, SEO strategies and competitors

One of the biggest ranking factors in 2017 is personalized marketing. If you run a medical practice in a competitive city, like many other readers of this blog, you will need to localize content to your target audience while keeping an eye on competitors.

Your competitors will be conducting similar strategies to achieve better search rankings. The front page of Google, therefore, is constantly shifting and moving.

You must start optimizing your website for greater online visibility. By now, hopefully, the complexity and depth of SEO are clear. You must remember that SEO is an ongoing process, and not a quick-fix solution. However, the goal is to create a seamless and valuable experience for your patients.

It is understandable to expect overnight results, especially with the time, effort and investment you might be putting into your digital marketing strategies. However, it will be unrealistic to expect overnight changes, and you will be in for a frustrating experience by wasting time and money on implementing the cheap and easy tricks.

8 Healthcare SEO Tips to Keep Medical Practices in the Game

Do not forget:

  • SEO is a long game.
  • You will need to invest money and time.
  • Continual re-evaluation of strategies is common.

Do you have any questions about SEO for medical practices? SEO is just one of the many practice marketing techniques we use to help medical practices become reputed and profitable. You can contact us to learn more about how we use practice marketing solutions to attract new patients, improve online reputation and improve your bottom line.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

As a marketer, you must have invested a lot in marketing strategies in order to boost your website traffic. After tremendous amounts of content creation, social engagement and paid media, you think of celebrating because your website is finally able to pull in thousands of unique visitors every week. However, if your conversions are not picking up and growth is slow, then this is not the right time to celebrate. While it is critical to attracting more visitors to your website, those visitors are of no significance if they are not resulting in appointments. Unfortunately, website visitors do not grow your practice. Patients do. And if your website is not helping you improve conversion rates, it is not serving you well. This is where conversion rate optimization can benefit you.

Instead of attracting more visitors to your website, conversion rate optimization focuses on making your website more effective so that your existing visitors feel motivated to convert to patients.

No doubt, conversions are difficult to achieve. According to research, strong conversion rates hover in the range of 3 percent to 5 percent, depending on your specialty. The medical industry is tricky because your potential patients have a lot to consider before converting. Before getting into further details, here are a few points to get you thinking:

  • Typically, you will get merely five seconds to make an impression using a landing page. After five seconds, most of your visitors will leave.
  • Approximately 96 percent of your website visitors are not ready to buy.
  • The more landing pages you have, the more leads you are likely to attract.
  • A one-second delay in your website speed can cause a 7 percent reduction in conversions.
  • A/B testing is the preferred method that can help you increase the number of conversions.

If you too are struggling and looking to improve your conversion rates, you must look beyond the traditional tips and suggestions for bottlenecks.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Here are seven key healthcare website design principles to help you achieve better conversion rates:

1. User-friendly, responsive website design: A user-friendly web design is easy for visitors to navigate. If your website is too difficult to follow, visitors will become frustrated and will be less likely to convert to patients. Your website should also include your practice’s phone number, email ID, address and location in the footer. Ensuring that vital information is clear and prominently displayed will result in a higher conversion rate. Also, visitors may be accessing your website on whatever device they are using.

According to SmartInsights, more than 80 percent of people use smartphones as their primary method for browsing the Internet. It is important to be mindful of this trend because 30 percent of mobile users are likely to abandon a website if it is not optimized for mobile browsing. By having a responsive website, you place your practice in the best position to connect with highly engaged potential patients.

If your website is not using a responsive, mobile-compatible design, then it is time to upgrade your website. Failing to do so will not only make you lose potential patients but will also cause a significant drop in search rank and organic traffic.

2. Make your unique value proposition (USP) clear: There are plenty of healthcare providers out there, so it may become difficult to differentiate yourself from the pack. While the unique aspects of your practice may be known to you, conveying a clear value proposition to your visitors is vital to your conversions. Your visitors should clearly see on your landing page why they should come to your practice and what unique services you offer. What are your main selling points? Do you claim to provide the best services using the most advanced equipment? Do you offer discounts? Your landing page or homepage should address the top questions that potential patients may have about your practice. You are likely to increase your chances of converting a visitor into the patient if you have a clear value proposition that encourages the visitor to take action.

3. Test your calls-to-actions (CTA) buttons: What is the purpose of each page on your website? After a visitor reads a page, what is the action that you hope they will take? Do you expect the visitor to make an appointment or contact you for more information? The easiest way to accomplish your goals is to add a call-to-action button at the end of each page that prompts visitors to take the desired action. The CTA buttons are an essential element for influencing your visitors and should be easily visible. Make sure strong calls-to-action buttons are present on all pages and stand out from the other information on the page. According to research, changing your CTA buttons from green to red can increase conversions by as much as 34 percent. Also, using encouraging language like “Click to see pricing plans” can help increase conversions by 252 percent. Placing the prominent CTAs, such as ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Request an Appointment’ inside a circle or button, can make them stand out from other elements on the page. Make it easy for the visitor to complete the action.

4. Test your headlines: The headline can make or break your patient conversion rates. The first thing a visitor reads on your website is your headline. The first impression is formed within the initial few seconds, and the headline plays a major role in shaping that opinion. It is important to know what resonates most with your visitors. While there is no magic wand to help you find the way, there are a few guidelines that you can follow.

If your headline is unclear or mysterious, you confuse your visitors into leaving. On the other hand, a well-written informational headline can encourage your visitors to take a closer look at your services.

Having a clear headline with a unique value proposition is critical. You can consider adding discounts or free services in your headline in order to attract more eyeballs. You will need to test a couple of ideas and see what works. Be creative with your headlines and inform the visitor of your USPs. The goal is to serve them useful information in a creative way that pushes them one step closer to converting.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

5. Try to shorten and simplify contact forms: Limit the forms only to the necessary number of fields. How many times have you been willing to sign up for a service, continue and see more than 25 fields to fill in? Will you not just leave the site? Respecting visitors’ time is critical. If you have managed to encourage the visitor to sign up, it is important that you do not make him or her drop off because your form is too long.

If your aim is to convince a visitor to fill a form, make sure the form is small. Ask for the information that you really need. For instance, in an appointment request form, you should include fields for the patient’s name, email address, location and maybe the current illness.

Build short forms, and only ask for what you need. Try not to include optional fields such as username, birthdate, security questions and verification code. In fact, do not force your visitors to create an account, even if they are coming for the first time. You will end up interrupting their conversion process.

6. Use video content to engage visitors: Videos are far more engaging than static text content and can help you build an initial human connection with potential patients when they are seeking a new healthcare provider. According to a study, one out of every three healthcare customers is actively searching for healthcare videos online. Before uploading video content, think about the needs of your potential patients and what they are hoping to find when they visit your website. Most potential patients want to feel a connection with a practice they entrust themselves to and want to feel cared for in the process. Video content is a powerful way to convey that message and bring more patients through the door.

7. Offer live chat: Implementing a live chat feature is believed to increase signup form fills by almost 31 percent. Many websites use chat tools to generate leads and convert them to customers. A website visitor is more likely to turn into your patient if he interacts with a person, and this is what a chat box does. Visitors can directly click on the chat box and ask questions to the patient care representatives at the other end. With a chat box, you will also understand what your potential patients need or want from your medical practice, and this insight can help you enhance your services.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Your website is the online face of your medical practice. By stepping back, taking a consistent look and implementing these seven key tactics, you will be able to elevate your website from a mere online brochure to a lead-attracting and converting tool. The healthcare industry, as well as the preferences of patients, have changed drastically over the past few years. It is time for your website to do the same.

An excellent healthcare website design should strike a delicate balance between conversion goals and esthetics in order to sell your services. Your website should be striking enough to grab the attention of visitors, yet useful enough to convey the essence of your brand. An effective healthcare website will let the content stand out without the distraction of visual elements.

These healthcare website design tips will not only improve conversion rates, but will also help you attract more qualified traffic.

At Practice Builders, we have specialized in medical marketing and healthcare website design for over three decades. This singular focus gives us the expertise, data and the insight to build healthcare website designs that provide one of the best conversion rates in the industry. Contact us for a free consultation and quote.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

As a medical practitioner, your ultimate goal of having a website is to provide patients the information to learn more about your practice and services. Hopefully, those informed patients will make an appointment or contact your practice, resulting in a consultation.

According to Pew Internet, almost 72 percent of Americans search online for health-related information. This means that the first point of online contact, the physician’s website, must be optimized to convert visitors into new patients.

An optimized website helps increase patients’ trust in you and your services, attracts visitors to provide contact information for mailing lists and enhances the ROI of your online marketing efforts. No matter how many people visit your website, if it is unable to attract new patients or if your website conversion rate is less than 5 percent, it is time to optimize your medical practice website. After all, according to an industry report, increasing conversion rates by just 1 percent can reduce your media costs by almost 33 percent.

While it is critical to increasing traffic to your website, that traffic may not be helpful if it is not resulting in appointments. So, in addition to trying to increase the amount of traffic to your website, you should focus on making your website more effective and user-friendly so that most of your website visitors get converted to new patients.

If you want to optimize your current website and improve conversion rate, here are a few things to try:

  • Begin with the end in mind

    In other words, what is the goal of your website? Fuzzy phrases such as, “We want to provide information to patients,” will most likely lead to failure and frustration.

    WHY? Because you failed to define the ultimate goal and purpose of your website. What goals are you trying to achieve? While patient education and satisfaction are high goals to ponder, they are difficult to measure.

    How can you measure?

    Through Google Analytics and other online analytic tools, you can measure and track your website’s performance, which is usually discussed regarding metrics. Your basic site metrics should include the number of unique visitors, the total number of visitors, page visits, the amount of time spent on the website, bounce rate and conversion rate.

    Here, the conversion rate is the ultimate metric because it measures the number of email inquiries or phone calls received by the practice directly from the website.

    For instance, if you get 100 unique visitors in a month, with ten email inquiries or phone calls to the practice, your website converts visitors into new patients at a rate of 10 percent. This is a good conversion rate.

    A knowledge of what to measure and how to measure will make you feel motivated as well as help you make the necessary adjustments required to improve the conversion rate.

  • Make your website mobile-responsive

    The data for healthcare customers and the way they are using mobile devices is quite compelling. One of the most impressive statistics is the conversion rate of mobile users. According to studies, 44 percent of patients who searched for medical websites for information went on to make an appointment. This fact points to the importance of an engaging experience for mobile users. In addition, Google’s algorithm penalizes websites that are not mobile-responsive. By having a mobile responsive website, you allow your practice to connect with these highly engaged healthcare consumers.

    Instead of building separate websites for desktop and mobile users, Google suggests healthcare marketers build one website that can scale up and down to fit the different screen sizes, thus making it responsive. This means your practice website will automatically change the dimensions to fit the screen of the device being used to search. According to Google’s study, nearly 65 percent of searches began on a mobile device. The inability of your website to automatically adjust to devices will create a negative user experience and may result in significant revenue loss for the practice.

    How to check if your website is mobile responsive?

    You can test the mobile responsive functionality of your website in a few seconds. Open your website in a browser, and using the mouse, grab the right side of your browser window all the way to the left until you cannot shrink it anymore. How does your website look? Does it look proper or is it cut off on one side? If your website is cut off, content is not readable, or your website looks distorted. This is an indication your website is not mobile-responsive.

    With technology constantly evolving, it is suggested to check up on your responsive design at least biannually. This will give you an opportunity to identify any potential issues with your website and make necessary updates.

  • Do not compromise on content

    The first step toward establishing a patient-converting website is attracting relevant visitors. To do this, you need to follow two fundamental rules: Create content that your target audience is seeking and promote that content consistently.

    These rules work best together. You cannot follow one without the other. This is because creating great content may attract target audience to your website, but without consistency, your audience will lose interest. Similarly, quantity is not an alternate for quality. Stuffing your website with run-of-the-mill content may help you attract a few visitors, but they will quickly spot a lack of substance in the content, and your practice reputation will suffer as a result.

    What makes good online content?

    Good content is what your target audience wants to consume. When you search Google for anything from flu to insomnia, Google uses its index of keywords related to your search and returns websites that fit your query. The fundamental principle here is that the more frequently a keyword appears on a website, the higher that website will rank in relevant search engine results.

    For your website content to be useful, it must be engaging. Engaging content may include images, graphics and catchy headlines. The most important function of a website is to convert leads to new, paying patients. To achieve this, it is important to serve potential patients the information they are looking for. In addition to other forms of content, these new patients are looking for clear and easy guidelines to connect with your practice. When potential patients want to make an appointment, they do not want to search every page of your website trying to figure out the process to schedule a visit. In all likelihood, if they cannot find that information easily, they will just give up. To handle such situations, put your phone number on both the header and footer of each page.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – the most important strategy

    There are hundreds of books and blogs written about SEO, and there is no way to do justice to the benefits it offers in a few paragraphs. To summarize the objective and benefits of SEO: If you are looking to attract, serve and retain patients, then SEO is one of the most important strategies for your medical practice.

    SEO impacts your website’s ability to be found on the Internet. Backlinks, meta descriptions, keywords, title tags and local listings – all these factors impact SEO. However, effective SEO requires dedication and effort. If you want your website to be found online by potential patients, you will need to address two key areas:

    On-page SEO: This refers to everything within your website and includes indexable content, crawlable links and URL structures, and optimized pages, meta-descriptions and title tags.

    Off-page SEO: This refers to external SEO opportunities and includes various ways to attract attention to your website through link building, sharing content and optimizing for mobile search.

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  • A clear, simple and user-friendly website is the way to go:

    Generally speaking, the best websites are those that are easy to navigate, informative and appear to be credible. Conversely, visitors tend to avoid sites that are confusing, require too much time and seem unreliable. Luckily, there are easy ways to ensure your website falls into the former category, not the latter.

    Be sure your website is scannable. This is because visitors rarely read the text closely. To make reading a breeze, make the headlines’ font larger, and break the smaller text into digestible pieces. Headlines should also contain search-specific keywords, which will enable visitors to find what they were looking for, and improve your search engine ranking.

    Successful websites also feature images that lend a human face to the practice. You can post pictures of your staff and virtually welcome patients into your office. According to research from KissMetrics, adding images to a webpage can increase conversion rates by 95 percent. Video content can provide a significant boost, as well. According to Animoto, nearly 73 percent of U.S. adults are willing to make purchasing decisions after watching an online video.

    Look at it this way: Unless the online experience exceeds the office experience, the visitors will continue their Google search to the next medical practice.

    You must remember website development is a dynamic process. While certain rules remain constant, the technology and user behavior are always evolving. Effective website design must include the ability to measure what’s working and what needs improvement.

Bottom line

Having a website is critical to being successful in the healthcare community. However, a brochure site will never take you places. As a medical practitioner, it is your duty to empower your patients and to be thought leaders in your industry. An investment in your website design and content will pay dividends in the form of new patients and improved online visibility. You will experience increased traffic, better conversion rates and increased revenue.

For most healthcare providers, it all starts with belief. If you believe that with the right focus, technology and expert guidance, you can attract more patients to your medical practice, then we can show you how. Schedule an appointment today, and experts will help you design a new website or upgrade your existing one. We can help you increase traffic, attract new patients and grow revenue. At Practice Builders, we look forward to serving your practice.

5 Fundamentals for Building an Effective Medical Practice Website

Medical Healthcare Marketing

The Fundamentals of Medical Marketing: Why So Many Practitioners Struggle to Create Profitable Practices

The Fundamentals of Medical Marketing: Why So Many Practitioners Struggle to Create Profitable Practices

When you are running a medical practice, you are no longer just a physician – you are also a businessperson. And any business needs a way to promote itself, find new customers and make your brand known in the marketplace. In short, promoting and marketing your medical practice is a fundamental part of your overall medical marketing plan. People who know about your medical practice are far more likely to be turned into patients. And happy patients grow your practice.

You may have a great patient base and experienced staff and offer excellent services. However, if you want to expand your services and grow your practice, you need to start thinking about your marketing strategy. This means putting some serious thought into who your target audience is, how you plan to increase your revenues and how you attract more patients. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of cases or qualified leads do I want to attract?
  • Which new services or products am I aiming to break into?
  • How are my existing services different from my competitors?

These questions will help you narrow down your potential market and find a niche. A clear focus on niche audience will enable you to tailor your services and implement marketing strategies accordingly. This may also require taking a step back from the day-to-day business and applying an entrepreneurial mindset. By thinking like a business owner, you can evaluate what you are good at, what your patients demand and what your competitors are doing. This can be achieved by implementing a technique called SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis of your medical practice will enable you to explore internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. Read more about SWOT Analysis here.

The Fundamentals of Medical Marketing: Why So Many Practitioners Struggle to Create Profitable Practices

Fundamentals of medical practice marketing

Taking time out of your busy schedule to think about your marketing strategy is important for the growth of your practice. The strategic analysis will help you understand your practice, look for new avenues to growth, explore potential partnership opportunities and show how you can make the most of them. You will also need to focus on improving the marketing of your services and growing your patient base. Here are the fundamentals of marketing your medical practice:

Website: Your website is the first impression your patients are going to get of your practice. It is also the anchor to which most of your marketing efforts will point. The most effective way to generate a steady stream of new patients is to build a professional website that has lead generation, effective copywriting, SEO and lots of useful content. Your website should reflect the personality of your medical practice. You must try to drive as much traffic to that website as possible on an ongoing basis using online and offline marketing strategies. Keep in mind a website that is more than a year old may be out-of-date in terms of content, branding and technology. An annual inspection can identify faults and flaws. Besides, a website with outdated content appears neglected and may slip lower in search engine visibility.

Social media: Medical professionals are all over Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. These social media sites offer a host of advantages for medical practitioners. They allow potential patients to get to know you before seeing you in the exam room. In addition, social media sites make great public forums for sharing health information and special events. As a physician, you can use social media to ask basic yet insightful questions about your services, staff, procedures or general improvements. However, when posting on Facebook, try to be brief and concise. This is because according to Facebook, posts that are 250 characters or less in length tend to attract 60 percent more likes, comments and shares than long posts. You can engage your fans and followers by asking for their ideas and opinions. If you are on Twitter, you must tweet often enough to be seen. While there is no proven formula, three or four tweets per day should keep your posts visible.

The Fundamentals of Medical Marketing: Why So Many Practitioners Struggle to Create Profitable Practices

Blogging: Blogging is an effective way to engage your patients and, if done right, it can take your marketing strategy to the next level. If you blog multiple times a month, not only does Google rank you higher than your competitors, but other websites or journals will publish snippets of your content and give you attribution. Not just this, according to some recent studies, more than 60 percent of patients made an appointment based on a blog post that they read. When you consistently write informative articles, it enhances your credibility and builds trust between you and potential patients. All that you need to do is write a new blog every two weeks, share it on your social media profiles or send it out in an e-newsletter. The best part is that you can reuse your blogs over and over again. However, it is essential to develop a posting schedule and adhere to it. Keep the tone of your blog conversational, and do not make them too lengthy.

Referrals: Most practices need a referral base in order to thrive. Getting a new patient referral from another doctor requires relationship building. The first step is to identify which doctors will recommend your practice to their patients. You then have to plan a strategy to build and maintain relationships with those doctors. Attend conferences and meetings to seek networking opportunities. You must try to make yourself available to your referring doctors’ patients for any emergency visits. You can also ask your existing patients to refer your practice to their friends and family. You can also consider promoting your referral program on your website, through emails and posters in your office.

Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is all about searching the most relevant keywords for your medical practice. To choose the best-suited keywords, you will need to get into the minds of your patients. The more relevant keywords you pick, the more relevant patients you will attract. Other than keywords, another factor that can affect SEO is your website speed. A website that loads quickly can boost your SEO efforts, whereas a website that takes a longer time will fail to engage visitors. Also, quality content should be at the core of your SEO strategy. You can create content to inform patients about your practice, services and office hours. Quality content plays a significant role in search engine ranking.

Patient review sites: According to a survey by Software Advice, more than 77 percent of patients use online reviews as the first approach to finding a physician. The survey also revealed that almost 47 percent of patients would go out-of-network for a doctor who has more favorable reviews. These review sites can open the door for you to engage with your patients. Online reviews are being increasingly utilized by existing and potential patients. Your practice will have a better chance of serving your patients well if you can use the power of online reviews for marketing your medical practice.

Online local directories: With the majority of patients using search engines to find local practices, getting listed in local directories is critical for the growth of your medical practice. These directories can improve the visibility of your medical practice and can take it to the next level. While some of these local directories, such as Healthgrades, Vitals and ZocDoc, are specific to the medical community, other directories such as Google+ Local and Yahoo! Local are not industry-specific.

Email marketing: Collecting e-mail addresses of your patients is a vital tool to a successful marketing campaign. This is one of the best ways to remind patients of their upcoming appointments. You can schedule follow-up emails for three to five months after each appointment to ensure your patients do not miss their annual checkups. Through emails and newsletters, you can also update existing patients with healthcare tips, seasonal offers and discounts and updates about your practice. It is surprisingly easy to kick-start your email marketing and start attracting more patients.

The Fundamentals of Medical Marketing: Why So Many Practitioners Struggle to Create Profitable Practices

Final thoughts

The goal is to increase your profits, grow your practice, establish your brand and be rewarded for all the hours you have spent in your practice taking care of patients. Remember, your competitors are evolving for the better, so why shouldn’t you grow as well?

So, does your medical practice have a marketing strategy or a plan for execution? At Practice Builders, we help medical professionals get smarter in the way they manage their practice. We assist them to build websites, write meaningful brochures, provide staff training and create healthcare marketing plans to promote their excellence in patient satisfaction.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice

Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice

Most of the choices we make as customers are based on effective branding. In most cases, we tend to go with brands we can relate to or associate with quality. Developing your brand is a critical component of your marketing strategy. A brand defines the core values of a business and promises a unique experience for the customers who connect to that brand.

When you hear the word “branding,” your first thought may be a logo or an ad. However, branding is much more than that. Your brand defines your business as a whole. Branding is the association that is attached to a business and its customers. The ultimate goal behind every branding exercise is to get potential customers to know, like and trust your business so that when the need for your product arises, they think of your business first.

So, how does this relate to a medical practice?

Your medical practice is a business, too, and in order to grow, it needs branding. In fact, if you do not focus on building a unique brand, your patients will create it for you, and it may not be the way you wanted it to be. For your medical practice, the brand is something your patients feel, hear or see when they visit your office, interact with you or deal with your staff. It includes your office décor and the usability of your website. It also includes the promotional material you provide to patients, such as brochures, leaflets, etc.

Why is branding important for your medical practice?

Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice

Simply because your brand is your reputation. All businesses benefit from great branding, but it is more critical in healthcare. Why? Because the decisions we make concerning our health are the most significant. You will buy a couple of tacos from a vendor you hardly know, but cardiac surgery? No. You must trust your healthcare providers, whether you know them or not.

In this always-plugged-in era, if you need a reputation for your practice, then you need branding too. Why? Because like other businesses, doctors are providing a service, too. When a patient hears your name, what do you hope he or she says about your practice? Branding will not only differentiate your practice from your competitors but will also instill trust and confidence in your patients. Active branding is necessary to ensure your medical practice is perceived well by your patients.

However, branding does not stop at establishing an identity. Ensuring consistency throughout all correspondence will increase brand awareness and eventually brand recognition. When patients see such consistency, their confidence and trust in your practice and services will begin to grow. Your practice will become more personable, which will result in happy and loyal patients who will want to come back to your practice again.

Establishing a brand will help propel you forward with the same uniqueness you handle your patients.

How do you brand your medical practice?

When you think of branding, you probably imagine a business logo, vision and mission statements and promotional material. While these items should be a part of your overall branding strategy, they are not the only elements you should focus on if you want to create an effective brand for your practice. Instead, you must ask yourself, “What sets my practice apart from other medical facilities? Do I have any specialty? Do I use any specific treatment techniques that result in higher success rates than others?” These things cab set you apart from other physicians. You must find ways to incorporate a unique value proposition (USP) as this will strengthen your brand identity.

If you are creating a branding strategy for your medical practice, follow these steps:

  • Identify your USP: To be successful in today’s competitive landscape, you must give patients a unique reason to choose you over your competition. Identifying your USP is one of the most crucial factors in branding your medical practice. Your USP gives you an edge and sets you apart from your competitors. You should take a step back and analyze what positive attributes you have within your practice that are working in your favor. Now, think of ways you can promote these attributes into the consciousness of your patients.
  • Define target audience: The demographics of your target audience can help you create an effective branding strategy that will catch the attention of prospects within that demographic. You may need to research in order to understand what factors drive patients to select a medical practice over its competitors in your area. Once you have your target audience identified, direct your branding efforts toward addressing their pain points.
  • Create visual branding elements: Visual marketing elements such as a logo and tagline are an important part of your branding strategy. These visual elements must convey the same feeling that you want patients to experience when they come in to your office. For beginners, your practice should have a logo that you can use on your website, business cards, brochures and any other promotional materials.
  • Use SEO to drive traffic to your website: Your branding strategy will not be able to work its magic unless potential and existing patients can find you online. Including relevant keywords in website content is one of the best ways to ensure your brand remains on top of search engine results. You can use keywords or phrases directly on your web pages or your blog.
  • Build a strong online presence: Your branding strategy depends on your ability to create a solid online presence across all media. You must utilize a consistent tone of voice and carefully selected text to portray your medical practice in the best light. Your message should represent your practice as a reliable and dependable medical facility that provides a positive experience for every phase of a patient’s journey. You can leverage social media platforms to interact with your patients and portray your practice as an industry leader.
  • Communicate your USP to patients: Now it is time to deliver your message and USP to your target audience. This process involves intricately weaving your USP with text and visuals throughout your online and traditional marketing campaigns. Now take a step back, look at your practice website and ask yourself, “Does this convey what I want it to?” If the answer is no, it is time to go back to the storyboard.
  • Position your brand as an industry leader: Strong branding helps raise your practice above the competition by highlighting your USP. With time, current and potential patients will gravitate toward your practice’s presence upon encountering advertisements from your team. You should continue maintaining your website and social media accounts to help your practice attract new patients and retain existing ones.
  • Monitor patient experience: All of the elements stated above tie in to the patient experience. You might be doing your best to foster your brand, but your brand image ultimately depends on how your patients feel and how they perceive your practice. If you are failing to give them the experience they expect, you are downgrading your brand. Instead of guessing or assuming what your patients want, just ask them. You can request them to fill out a patient satisfaction survey after the appointment and monitor online reviews on sites like Vitals, Yelp and Healthgrades. Online reviews and patient surveys will give you a better idea of what patients want and whether you are on the right track.

Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice

“Why you?”

Once you have successfully positioned your brand, you will need to deliver on your promises every single day, and not just in your promotional messages. Remember, your brand is an aggregate of what your patients experience with your practice, which is larger than your mission or vision statements. To put it differently, you can only position your practice, but your brand is essentially an emotional response you are working to establish.

When looking to build your brand, you have to make sure every element of your branding strategy is closely tied up – the way your phone is answered, appointment times, waiting room décor, bedside manners of your staff, technology, location, parking, treatments that you promote and much more. If you aim to be the “leading healthcare provider in town,” you cannot afford to have substandard facilities and long waiting hours.

It is possible to create the brand you want for your practice, but only if you remain consistent in your efforts. It is going to require hard work and dedication, but the result will be in the form of an established brand that your patients have confidence in.

In closing

Your brand is a unique entity that makes an unspoken promise about the quality of care that can be expected from your practice. You will be able to create a strong brand when you choose to promote a facility or feature that makes you different from others. So, call your team, and embrace the creative ways your employees can come together to nurture your brand. Keep the quality consistent and patients will happily spread kind words about your brand.

If you are ready and looking for a partner to put all the pieces of the branding puzzle together for your medical practice, call Practice Builders at 855.898.2710 or reach us online. We can help you create an effective brand for your medical practice.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

10 Cost-Efficient and Effective Ideas to Market Your Medical Practice

10 Cost-Efficient and Effective Ideas to Market Your Medical Practice

Marketing your medical practice is an art as well as a science. This is because marketing requires inventing innovative strategies, and artistically executing them, and effectively connecting with target audiences. However, some strategies may yield better outcomes, depending on how you implement them and who your target audiences are.

With the wide variety of marketing channels available for marketing your medical practice, it is not surprising to feel stumped. Keeping this in mind, we have put together some of the most cost-effective yet efficient marketing ideas for your medical practice. You may have already heard of these ideas but dismissed them as outdated. However, even top-notch medical professionals engage in marketing tactics and see their medical practice grow and thrive. Read on.

Why must you market your practice?

According to various studies, patients are always looking for healthcare providers online. In fact, as healthcare shifts from a provider-driven system to a patient-driven system, patients are increasingly looking for providers who can partner with them and advise them.

Marketing is an influential way for you to show your skills to your target audiences. As you establish yourself as a healthcare expert, it becomes imperative to build a level of trust between your practice and your patients. Through your various marketing efforts, you can demonstrate your commitment as well as your passion for serving the community.

Effective strategies that will not cost a fortune

Content marketing. Website. Social media. Email marketing.

Email marketing is still a top choice for personalized communication. It is cheap, easy and quick. You can use it to stay in touch with current and potential patients. You can send individual mailers and newsletters. You can also send messages to targeted groups and still personalize them for each patient. Email has proven to be perfect for sending appointment reminders.

10 Cost-Efficient and Effective Ideas to Market Your Medical Practice

  • Useful content is still the king. Creating quality content about your specialty and products is a tried and tested way of marketing your medical practice. Scalable and rich content will add value to your brand name. Good-quality content plays a significant role in search engine ranking. Search engines are intelligent enough to understand whether or not you are providing relevant information. Therefore, stuffing your website and blogs with well-known keywords may not work for long. Instead, when you focus on creating well-written content with accurate information, search engines will spot it and reward you with a higher ranking.
  • Email marketing is one of the best ways to remind patients of their upcoming appointments. You can schedule follow-up emails for three to five months after each appointment to ensure your patients do not miss their annual checkups. Through emails and newsletters, you can also update existing patients with healthcare tips, seasonal offers and discounts, and updates about your practice. It is surprisingly easy to kick-start your email marketing and start attracting more patients.
  • A website is an extension of your practice and a reflection of the skills and attention you provide to patients. Not only is it important to have a website, but it is also essential to make it look welcoming and informative. According to Pew Research Center, almost 72 percent of U.S. adults search for health information online. Therefore, if you want to market your medical practice, you will have to be present online. While you may be using several ways to market yourself online, all of your marketing efforts must point to one central location – your practice website. If you already have a website, you must upgrade to a responsive, mobile-friendly site. This is because non-responsive websites may not rank well in Google search results.
  • Print and electronic media are still an excellent way to spread the word about your medical practice. Traditional media can help you attract a large volume of patients and improve the brand image of your practice. You can consider billboards, TV and radio commercials, and print ads for marketing your service to your target audience. Print and electronic ads are a great way of promoting an upcoming event or if you wish to announce your new location or addition to your medical practice. Press releases are also an effective way to get the word out about public events such as a seminar on general health, an open house on diabetes care or a health fair.
  • Social media platforms are a great tool for connecting with your patients and advertising your medical practice. Nearly 40 percent of social media users manage their health based on the information they receive through social media platforms. Millennials are twice as likely to have online discussions regarding health issues. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great for engaging your patients by regularly posting health tips and news related to your practice. You do not have to be present and active on every social platform. Just make sure that you are posting regularly in order to attract more followers. You can decide to make a posting schedule to help you stay on track. However, using social media infrequently, or using it in the wrong way, can do more harm than good.
  • Customer review sites such as Yelp and Healthgrades are becoming popular among patients. These review sites can open the door for you to engage with your patients. Online reviews are being increasingly utilized by existing and potential patients. According to a recent survey, more than 28 percent of potential patients regularly search third-party customer review sites. Online reviews are great tools that can help you ensure the quality of patient care. Your practice will have a better chance of serving your patients well if you can utilize the power of online reviews for marketing your medical practice.
  • NAP stands for name, address and phone number of your medical practice. It is critical to be consistent with this information every time you use it. This means every time you create a social media account or get your practice listed on an online directory, you must use the same NAP. You must mention accurate NAP on your practice website, social networks and local online directories.
  • Referrals and partnerships can trigger the growth of your medical practice. Industry experts believe that referred patients are more loyal and profitable than regular patients. This means that building referral programs and developing cordial relationships with fellow physicians is essential for every medical practice. A successful referral program can create a continuous stream of new patients. Moreover, once your partner physicians start referring patients to your practice, brand awareness and reputation are apparent benefits. Physician referrals are a critical component in growing your practice and attracting new patients.
  • Online local directories are essential for the growth of your medical practice. With the majority of patients using search engines to find local practices, getting listed in local directories is critical. These directories can improve the health of your medical practice and can take it to the next level. While some of these local directories, such as Healthgrades, Vitals and ZocDoc, are specific to the medical community, other directories such as Google+ Local and Yahoo! Local are not industry-specific.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about selecting the most appropriate keywords for your medical practice. To choose the best-suited keywords for your practice, you will need to get into the minds of your potential patients. You may need to consider all the possible keywords that your patients may type into the search engine in order to find a new doctor in their area. The more relevant keywords you pick, the more relevant patients you will attract. Other than keywords, another factor that can affect SEO rankings is how quickly your website loads. A website that loads quickly can boost your SEO efforts, whereas a website that takes a longer time will fail to attract and engage visitors.

Effective marketing strategies will increase ROI

The success of your medical practice depends on your marketing efforts. In today’s competitive landscape, you cannot increase ROI simply by employing a tailored marketing strategy.

So the next pertinent question is: Are there any tips for attracting new patients and growing your practice? There is no “one size fits all” formula to market your medical practice. Strategies for marketing your medical practice may vary from one practice to another. A strategy that may work for one practice may not work for others. You will need to focus your marketing efforts on your skills and specialties, along with referrals from patients and other physicians in the area. Knowing your niche and marketing your medical practice is critical to your success.

Over to you

If you are still not sure how to market your medical practice online, Practice Builders can assist you. Our marketing specialists can develop a custom campaign unique to your needs. For more information, contact a representative.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

OU Medical System moves forward without management partner

The Oklahoma University Medical System soon will operate without a hospital system manager for the first time in 20 years after its affiliation deal with SSM Health fell through.
Modern Healthcare Breaking News

A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices

A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices

Instagram’s exceedingly visual interface has taken the social media marketplace by storm since its launch in 2010. The recent addition of a stories feature has crossed 100 million daily active users in just a matter of months. Not only has it been able to change the way people communicate and share information online, but it has also become one of the key platforms for product promotion and customer engagement.

When it comes to customer engagement, Instagram is better than all other social media platforms. No wonder more than half of the world’s best brands are on Instagram. Instagram is a very efficient way to promote your brand in front of thousands or millions of potential customers – even if you are running a medical practice. Because your potential patients are on Instagram, you should be here as well.

User base

Instagram’s user base is primarily comprised of millennials. Almost 90 percent of its 500 million active users are under the age of 35, which means to be successful on Instagram, medical practices need to shift their focus to a younger target audience. For instance, if you are a dentist, you will need to focus on teeth whitening and braces rather than on dentures.

In case marketing to a younger audience is not your focus, or if your services are not appropriate for millennials, do not ignore Instagram just yet. While the vast majority of users are millennials, there is still much scope for increasing your online presence. A substantial online presence means higher search engine rankings, building trust in the eyes of your patients, and a stronger authority in your field. Don’t forget, Instagram can work wonders in creating your brand awareness and general credibility among patients.

What makes Instagram different from other social media platforms?

The visual nature of Instagram is its competitive advantage. Humans are primarily visual creatures, and the ability to be a part of a platform that provides a never-ending feed of visually pleasing content can feel like a vacation from the thick walls of text-based information we receive on other platforms.

Visuals are known to invoke emotions, which allows medical practices to create deep connections with their target audience. Also, given the fact that Instagram users are allowed higher levels of anonymity as compared to other social networks, they feel free to like, comment and engage with posts more freely without the fear of being judged publicly. The feeling of anonymity is one of the reasons Instagram enjoys such enormous popularity and serves as a medium to explore issues that one might be cautious of on other social media platforms.
A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing for Medical Practices

What kind of content to post

When deciding what to post to Instagram, do not forget that Instagram is a more personal app. Usually, posts that are too technical and promotional in nature are not welcomed by the users as much as personal posts are. Instagram users are more inclined toward viewing lively pictures related to events, informational material, customer engagement and events happening around the community.

For instance, if you are having a holiday party, you can post a picture wishing your patients a happy holiday. Alternatively, if your practice is involved in charity events, your Instagram followers will be glad to know and participate. You can let your followers find out when you bring a new physician on board by posting an individual or a group picture with an interesting caption.

Also, posting images and content that are in tune with trending topics will never go out of fashion. You must keep an eye on current trends and topics, even if you happen to choose “Throwback Thursdays.” You must try to participate in as many events as you can, and always use the appropriate hashtags. Make sure to keep your practice values in mind before participating in the latest trends and topics. Above all, always maintain a consistent style and tone in your Instagram posts.

Want to get noticed? Use #Hashtags

While it is important to post high-quality content regularly, merely doing this may not be sufficient. You will need to make sure your posts are being viewed. There are many ways to get users to notice and read your posts, but the easiest way is by using appropriate hashtags.

In case you are wondering, a hashtag is a phrase or a keyword that is preceded by the pound sign (#). Hashtags are critical because they turn into links, which allow the users to see every post that the hashtag was used for. For instance, if you use the hashtag “#braces” in your picture caption, anyone searching for that hashtag will see your image.

Hashtags help Instagram users search for content. The correct hashtag, or a combination of hashtags, will expose your medical practice to a wider customer base. By making your medical practice more discoverable, you will have a better chance of attracting followers, getting more content shares and increasing patient engagement.

In fact, according to social media experts, posts and images with at least one hashtag result in 12.6 percent more engagement than those without a hashtag. Here are some tips for using hashtags on Instagram:

  • Use as many hashtags as you can as this will maximize the exposure of your post. However, Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post.
  • Use some of the most popular and trending hashtags on Instagram. Including popular hashtags can give a little more boost to your posts. However, be careful as using too many hashtags can also increase spam activity on your profile.
  • Keep an eye on all the hashtags that your competitors are using.
  • If you want, you can hide all or some of your hashtags to give your posts a cleaner look. Using too many hashtags may make your posts look like spam or congested. If you want, you can include your hashtags in the comments below your post. This will still allow your post to be seen for all the selected hashtags.
  • Always add location tags to enable potential patients to find you when searching for your practice.

How to improve your Instagram strategy

With more than 500 million active users, Instagram is a growing social media platform buzzing with potential patients to engage with online. Since an increasing number of customers are following their favorite brands and businesses on social media, having a presence on Instagram is essential to connecting with your target audience. It also makes your medical practice more relatable as you share relevant experiences, showing your followers “behind-the-scenes” pictures and providing valuable advice on trending topics.

Here are some of the proven ways to help you leverage Instagram to boost customer engagement, grow followers and capture more leads into your sales funnel:

  • Make use of Instagram marketing tools: There are many Instagram tools designed to boost your online presence and make your marketing efforts more efficient. There are apps to help you edit images, provide analytical data, help you find influencers, schedule your content and manage your followers. For starters, you can pick one or two apps that work best for your practice and goals.
  • Use Instagram Stories to connect with your followers: According to research, users spend triple the time watching live video on social media than a prerecorded one. Considering this, social video can be an effective way to connect with your followers. Instagram Stories is one of the latest features and practices can “go live” and convey their message using video. While there are many ways to include a live video in your Instagram strategy, hosting live Q&A sessions where you answer your followers in real time may prove to be highly effective.
  • Hashtags are crucial: Hashtags are critical to your Instagram posts as they allow users to find you even if they have never heard of your brand before. Hashtags let you reach a wider audience by increasing your content exposure. One of the best ways to simplify hashtags is to observe what your competitors are using. You can see what is working by understanding the level of customer engagement they are generating.
  • Host contests: Online contests are an excellent way to get your followers involved in your content while making it interactive. Hosting contests will create buzz around your brand and will have a significant impact on increasing followership. You can host simple contests such as ‘Like this post to win’ or ‘Share this post to win…’ The information you gather will allow you to analyze customer engagement levels to find the best time to post in order to grow your audience. According to experts, the best times to post your content on Instagram is on weekdays between 12 pm and 1 pm. However, to understand the best times for your audience, you will need to collect and analyze some data.
  • Include visuals in your blog posts: Instagram is the fastest-growing social media platform to drive new eyeballs to your blog posts. Even though Instagram only allows you to post clickable links in your profile, you can still promote your blog post by sharing visuals in your Newsfeed. You can consider using text-based images that highlight key points in your content. Alternatively, you can consider complementing your content with an illustration. This is an excellent way to drive traffic and improve your SEO ranking.

Conclusion

Instagram is a proven platform to execute content marketing strategy for your medical practice. Implementing the tactics mentioned above will foster your social media goals while strengthening your presence on Instagram. If all of these tips and strategies seem overwhelming to you, you can begin with

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Does Your Medical Practice Need a SWOT Analysis?

Does Your Medical Practice Need a SWOT Analysis?

It seems like every marketing book provides a different understanding of the essential elements for building a successful medical practice. While some experts suggest quick-fixes, others advice a more “how-to” approach. Business books are often aimed at MBAs who understand corporate jargon, but not hectic medical practices. As a result, you may juggle and jostle to follow the next steps needed to grow your medical practice and attract new patients.

While your medical practice may have survived so far by acquiring a great location, hiring trained staff and delivering excellent patient experiences, the “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” method will only carry any practice so far. Sure, hard work is an essential for any medical practitioner, but flourishing in today’s ever-evolving environment requires strategic planning.

How can strategic planning help you strengthen the success of your medical practice while meeting patients’ demands?

Why do you need SWOT?

Strategic planning not only helps you look for opportunities to expand your medical practice, it also makes you analyze your current condition. A good strategic plan includes a mission statement, which leads to planning, documenting and executing all the milestones that will be met.

Strategic planning for your medical practice is similar to driving a car across the country. You must be aware of where you are, critically examine your present condition and set milestones in order to reach where you want to be. It can be achieved by implementing a technique called SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis allows a medical practice to explore internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats.

What is a SWOT?

A staple of strategic planning, a SWOT analysis is often used as a basis for business strategy. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative information, this analysis will help you assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in your medical practice.

The data gathering process and performing a SWOT analysis may vary, and there is no single correct method. The size of your medical practice, the frequency of planning meetings and the changing markets are significant factors that affect the process.

What makes a SWOT analysis essential for medical practitioners is that it can help you see opportunities that you can exploit, understand weaknesses that you can manage and acknowledge threats that you may have overlooked.

SWOT analysis: Begin with the end in mind

For a driver to plan the fastest route, he must know his destination. Similarly, you must initiate the SWOT analysis by visualizing a destination, or an end point. To plan your “destination,” you will have to define success as you see it, both as an individual and medical practitioner. You must be specific about your aims and goals and must have a clear vision of your practice. To be effective, your SWOT analysis must be based on a vision that emphasizes your strengths and matches how you see yourself.

Essential SWOT elements

You can use a SWOT analysis to assess resources and capabilities with regard to the competitive environment in which your medical practice operates. Your findings will guide you in deciding the future course of action of your practice. You can consider the following elements:

Strengths: The idea is to identify your strengths and leverage their power to establish your brand. You can quickly identify your strengths through your dialogues with staff. Your internal strengths may include skilled staff, few bad debts, a strong brand name, niche patient base, excellent location, etc.

Some of the questions to be answered are:

  • What inspires new patients to come to your practice?
  • What advantages does your practice have over local competitors?
  • Do you have access to any unique resources?

Weaknesses: A SWOT analysis is your opportunity for tackling underperformance in your practice. It is often difficult to recognize management and personnel weaknesses, except with hindsight. While assessing your weaknesses, it is advisable to be realistic and form a strategy to address your challenges. You will have to dig deeper into how your patients perceive your practice. Some of the typical examples of weaknesses in medical practices include a shortage of staff, waiting time, bad financial management, high staff turnover, poor location, shabby premises, outdated equipment and inability to attract new patients.

Some of the questions to be answered are:

  • What factors cause you to lose patients or keep you from attracting new ones?
  • How do you measure up against competitors?
  • How do your patients perceive you?

Opportunities: One of the most efficient approaches when looking at opportunities is to analyze if your strengths present any opportunities to your practice. Alternatively, is it possible for you to create opportunities by eliminating some of the weaknesses? You can also discover opportunities by changing technology, treatments and policies related to your specialty. External changes may open up new possibilities. For instance, changes in the law that requires patients to purchase a product. Some of the opportunities may include great location, convenient and ample parking, sufficient and well-trained staff, cost-effectiveness, successful referral programs with physicians, etc.

Some of the questions to be answered are:

  • Where are the obvious opportunities facing you?
  • Are there any upcoming medical trends that may provide opportunity?
  • Are there any special conditions that may open doors for your medical practice?

Threats: It is imperative to realistic about threats when conducting a SWOT analysis. This is because the sooner you accept and face your threats, the sooner you can begin to handle them. Your aim must be to identify where your practice is and where you expect it to be in future. It is essential to visualize this before you embark on your journey to overcome the obstacles. Threats can be minor or potential enough to destroy your medical practice. You could be expecting changes that may directly or indirectly affect your practice and have far-reaching effects. For instance, a newly renovated office of your competitor may make your equipment look obsolete and may result in loss of patients. Threats may include anything that comes in the way of your goals. While no practice is immune to threats, the purpose of a SWOT analysis is to protect your practice against threats. Your threats could be stiff competition, staff dissatisfaction, security breaches, dissatisfied patients, etc.

Some of the questions to be answered are:

  • What difficulties do you face?
  • Should you be worried about your competition?
  • Are technological enhancements making your facility look obsolete?
  • Could your weaknesses threaten your business?
  • Can you convert threats into opportunities?

It is critical to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your medical practice. The objective of a SWOT analysis is to carefully assess the services, culture, brand image, weaknesses and opportunities. You can perform a SWOT analysis to determine the positioning of your products and services in the competitive marketplace. By analyzing your SWOT, you can assess the current state of your medical practice and plan a course of action to reach your goals.

By asserting your strengths and overcoming your weaknesses, opportunities will present themselves. Awareness of threats can help you survive in a cut-throat market. A SWOT analysis is similar to doing an in-house audit as it provides the tools and knowledge required for strategically planning for a more productive approach.

Assessment time

Make it a collaborative effort and focus on evaluating your personal ambition along with the practice’s goals. You may find the process a bit uncomfortable, but it will provide you with the ammunition to overcome and respond to weaknesses and threats. Here are some basic ground rules to help you streamline the process:

  • Keep your findings in perspective by limiting yourself to a maximum of three factors for each of the four categories.
  • Avoid over-complexity and confusion by keeping your replies simple and short.
  • Be specific and avoid gray areas.
  • Aim to form a competitive business strategy that helps you gain an edge over the competition.
  • Brainstorm to convert weaknesses and threats into strengths and opportunities.
  • Make sure you have trustworthy information when you are analyzing various elements.
  • Avoid making decisions based on opinion or guesswork.
  • Prioritize your tasks and reduce the list down to a reasonable size.
  • Document a plan of action for each item or goal.

What next?

Once you have brainstormed on all of these elements and evaluated your goals, you should have arrived at several tasks or items. These tasks or action items are what you should document in your SWOT chart. Go through the list and set priorities, make commitments and come up with strategies to deliver on each item. Ask yourselves:

  • How can we use our strengths for reaping more opportunities?
  • Can our strengths help us prepare for the threats?
  • Can our weaknesses be converted into opportunities?

You will need to answer these questions before you finalize strategies for achieving goals and positioning your practice for growth.

By using a SWOT analysis to assess internal and external factors, your practice can unveil hidden opportunities while maneuvering potential threats.

Contact Practice Builders to discover how we can help you conduct a SWOT analysis for your medical practice. The result will be increased patient volume, enhanced reputation and overall growth.

Medical Healthcare Marketing