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Tag Archives: tips

6 tips for writing a stellar hospital blog

While most organizations have made the foray into social media, the decision to launch a blog comes with many questions.

How do you leverage existing content and publications? Should you have regular contributors? Who will read it?

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute launched our blog, Insight in fall 2011, after a long and thorough planning process. It provides an opportunity to share the patient stories that inspire us, and the research discoveries that give us hope. Here are a few of the lessons we learned along the way:

1. Be strategic

Before you start designing the blog’s layout and assigning stories, think first about what you would like to achieve. Do you want to increase awareness of your organization’s expertise in a particular area? Who do you hope to reach? All content decisions should be tied directly to your objective and key audiences, so take the time to answers these questions first.

2. Show, don’t tell

While blogs provide an opportunity to highlight your organization’s brand image, it’s important to avoid being overly self-promotional. Provide concrete examples and let the reader decide for themselves. Marketing jargon like “world-class” and “patient-centered approach” are red flags that will turn readers away.

3. Analyze and reflect

Tracking click-throughs, comments, and sharing will make it easy to spot readership trends. Use this information to help guide future content decisions or test out a new approach.

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4. Plan ahead, but be flexible

Posting regular content will give readers a reason to come back. But remember not to be so rigid that you don’t have room for late-breaking opportunities. Providing expert commentary on major news stories can help increase your company’s visibility, and make your blog more relevant.

5. Manage expectations

Even with the best planning and PR, your blog is probably not going to be an overnight sensation. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t always hold true online. It will take time to grow an audience, and not every post will attract huge readership and hundreds of comments. Make sure your stakeholders are aware of this, and keep them up to date with marketing initiatives so they have an ongoing sense of what success looks like.

6. Market your blog

If people aren’t aware of your blog, they can’t read it. Start with an internal campaign first—your organization’s employees can be your best ambassadors. Don’t forget to post news of the official launch on your website, reach out to your local newspaper, and tease new stories on Facebook and Twitter each week.

This post originally appeared on “Insight,” a blog by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

Previously published material.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Cleveland Clinic’s tips for creating a stellar infographic

Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan’s distance-learning portal RaganTraining.com. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations and interactive courses.

Cleveland Clinic—the Ohio-based hospital group—once created an infographic to help achy people decide whether to treat their pain with ice or heat.

Months later, something strange happened on the Internet. The clicks on and shares of the infographic went crazy.

What happened? Turns out that celebrity fitness guru Jillian Michaels shared that infographic with her Facebook fans, now numbering 2.9 million, says Amanda Todorovich, director of content marketing at the renowned hospital.

Michaels’ fans in shared the infographic all over the Internet, saying: “Here’s where you can look at it better. Here’s where you can see the PDF of it. Here’s where you can print this out,” she recalls. “We didn’t have to do anything.”

Michaels’ post was shared 1,597 times and generated 2,595 “likes” and 114 comments in one day, Todorovich says, drawing nearly 3,000 visits to the Cleveland Clinic story that day. The success demonstrates the power of infographics, she says in a Ragan Training presentation, “How to develop an infographics strategy: Key lessons from Cleveland Clinic ”

The clinic produces scores of infographics every year, part of a broader content strategy that supports the clinic’s wildly successful Health Essentials blog, which offers health and nutritional information for consumers. It is the most-visited hospital blog in the country, with more than million visits a month.

The clinic’s is the second-most-visited hospital site—driven mostly by content—and leads from ClevelandClinic.org earned $ 204 million in annual revenue in 2013.

Consulting medical experts

Working for Todorovich are eight designers, five writers and two digital strategists (infographics isn’t their only job). They are part of a larger total content marketing team of 21 people.

Getting out an infographic isn’t a slapdash process, even when a project is done on deadline. A medical expert has to review every piece of content, a challenge given that the team posts three to five times a day.

Cleveland Clinic’s content staff often produce infographics during annual awareness months relating to diseases and conditions. These pieces of content aren’t labeled with the month, though, so they don’t seem stale to those who pull them up on a search engine at another time of the year.

An infographic titled “Life is for sharing” discusses organ donation. One called “Stop colon cancer before it starts” recommends exercise, limiting alcohol consumption and eating less red meat. Another explains how to do a monthly self-examination for breast cancer, and the clinic has sought to help people “take charge against diabetes.”

“We feel really strongly that a part of our mission is to educate people and debunk a lot of the craziness that’s out there,” Todorovich says.

Some of that education can make the clinic’s experts squirm. The team has done a series of popular infographics on bodily functions.

“This is an area where we had a lot of debate with our clinical experts,” Todorovich says. “They don’t like the word ‘pee.’ They like the word ‘urine.’ And they really don’t like talking about dirty diapers, and they really don’t like talking about sweat and stinky feet and all those kinds of things.”

The reality is that everybody deals with such issues, and they search the Web for answers. Hence infographics on the color of pee and (ewww) ” Deciphering the dreaded dirty diaper.” Naturally, there was also one (gesundheit!) on the color of snot—another big hit.

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A snotty success

When IFL Science shared the snotty infographic on its website and Facebook page, the sites generated more than 3,100 visits for Cleveland Clinic that day, Todorovich says. All told, social media led to the second-highest single day of traffic in history, with 155,290 sessions. IFL Science didn’t do badly itself; the Facebook post garnered nearly 27,000 “likes” and was shared more than 14,000 times.

Here are some of Todorovich’s “musts” for creating a winning infographic:

  • Strong writer/designer collaboration. “The words and the ‘looking good’ of an infographic are equally important,” Todorovich says.
  • Clearly compartmentalized or segmented chunks of copy and accompanying graphics.
  • Legible typography and a clean, classic typeface that can be used in varying sizes on one graphic.
  • Typography that complements, rather than clashes with, the graphics.
  • A limited color palette. Otherwise, it looks too busy.
  • Use of the latest research. Work with experts to gather the most interesting and timely information.
  • A strong brand aesthetic, with a sense of fun thrown in.

She adds that infographics should implicitly say, “Click on me, and I’ll take you straight to the facts without a lot of B.S.”

“You don’t need to write an infographic like you write an article,” Todorovich says. “You get to the point and get out.”

@ByWorking

(Image via)

First published in 2016.

HealthCareCommunication.com

10 Tips to Double Your Medical Practice Leads

10 Tips to Double Your Medical Practice Leads

Without high-quality leads, your medical practice will most certainly collapse.

Leads are the potential patients who can become regular patients and ambassadors of your practice if you play your game right. Sure, a practice may have several key goals, but 66 percent of business goals focus on lead generation.

Healthcare marketers rely on a variety of channels to drive leads to their practice and boost conversion rates. However, often these channels do not yield the desired results. When you spend much time creating informative content hoping to attract leads, but you still are not getting the desired results, it can be disheartening. However, you are not alone.

What do your potential patients want? Once you have accurately answered this question and associated it with a high-converting landing page on your practice website, you will regularly generate leads. Attracting more leads will be easier if the majority of your attention is focused on connecting your landing page with other marketing channels.

Regardless of the marketing channel you are using, according to experts, inbound strategies generate 54 percent more leads than traditional marketing. This means you must focus on creating and sharing the right content with the right people. Once you have accepted and agreed to this approach, remember these tips to grow your leads faster.

1. Build an active online presence: Eight out of ten patients will turn to a search engine to seek answers to their health inquiries. Google handles nearly 3.5 billion searches per day. If your medical practice is not online, chances are many patients will not know you exist. Take the first step and create a website for your medical practice. Make sure your website is esthetically designed and easy to use, provides useful information and is mobile-friendly. With more than 60 percent of searches coming from mobile devices, a mobile-responsive website will set you apart from your competitors. However, simply having a website is not enough. The ultimate goal of having a website is to help potential patients learn more about your practice and services. An optimized website will increase potential patients’ trust in your services, encourage visitors to leave their contact information for mailing lists and enhance the ROI of your online healthcare marketing efforts.

2. Start a blog: According to a report, the top three goals of good content marketing are lead generation, thought leadership and brand awareness. This shows how crucial content marketing is for lead generation. That is because when you create unique and useful content, it has the potential to go viral and be seen by potential patients, eventually attracting more leads. However, for the content strategy to work well, you should write your own blog. It may interest you to know that almost 62 percent of marketers have their own blog. This is so they can attract their target audience who may end up becoming regular customers. Blogs are one of the most effective lead-generation tactics on the Internet. An updated and consistent blog can help you boost your search engine ranking and make it easier for potential patients to find you.

3. Leverage email marketing: Email marketing is one of the best sources for lead generation. Many medical practices turn to email marketing to generate leads as it has proved to be the most successful tactic over the years. Lead generation through email marketing is mainly dependent on how effectively you draft your message. Your email needs to capture the reader’s attention, provide relevant information, encourage interest and have an effective call-to-action. To achieve this, you must first start by building a compelling subject line. The subject line of your promotional email determines whether the potential patient is going to read your email and become a vital part of your email. Write the email’s subject line in a way that provides value, is relatable and is actionable. In addition, the subject line must be short and stand out from your lead’s cluttered mailbox.

10 Tips to Double Your Medical Practice Leads

4. Use lead-generation tools and services: With so much importance being given to lead generation, healthcare marketers have found innovative ways to generate quality leads. They utilize lead-generation tools that provide verified leads and do not take up much time. An important point to remember while choosing automated lead-generation strategies is to refrain from purchasing bulk email databases. This is an unhealthy practice as the deliverability of such emails is not guaranteed or authentic.

5. Be present on social networks: Social networks are not a fad, they are a revolution. Nearly 63 percent of businesses using social media have confirmed that it has increased their marketing effectiveness. More and more potential customers are using social media to interact with local practices over traditional communication channels. Social media can help keep your practice top-of-mind and increase referrals from existing patients. However, you do not need to be present on every social network. Some social networks might be more important to you than others. It is important to figure out where your buyers are and make sure you are there, too.

6. Nurture strong relationships your existing patients: Sometimes we get so engrossed in getting hold of new that we forget what is already in front of us. If you are using your practice’s resources to attract new patients, you need to spare some resources for your current patients. You can consider reversing the scheduling process by following up with patients for a new appointment slot. You can also send email reminders before scheduled checkups to ask your patients to post an online review for your practice. Similarly, if you have prescribed a medication to a patient, you must follow up and ask if the treatment plan is working or if the patient is experiencing side effects. These small steps can mean a lot to a patient as it shows that you care about their well-being, which will help keep them around for a long time.

7. Optimize your website for search engine optimization (SEO):
It is critical to include local SEO strategies in your healthcare marketing plan so that your medical practice shows up in search engine results. This is because when potential patients are searching for medical practices online, you want your medical practice to show up within the first few on top. Having your practice website appearing in the top five slots of a search engine is important for attracting new leads.

8. Encourage online patient reviews: Online reviews are one of the most efficient ways for growing new leads and attracting potential patients to your practice. You must encourage your existing patients to share their feedback through an online review. You can do this by sending a follow-up email thanking the patient for his or her visit and encouraging them to review your practice online. You can also offer discounts or free services to motivate patients for posting online reviews for your practice. With the patient’s permission, you can also make these reviews public by sharing them on your practice website. It will not only help improve lead generation and strengthen patient relationships but will also get your name out there.

10 Tips to Double Your Medical Practice Leads

9. Build a mobile-responsive website: Having a professional and easy-to-use website is critical for the growth of your practice and for attracting new leads. Make sure your website is responsive and works well on mobile devices. The objective of your practice website is to educate your potential patients so they can make an informed decision and call your office for an appointment. Creating an informative and easy-to-navigate website is the most important marketing tool at your disposal.

10. Deliver unmatched service: There is no way your existing patients will refer others to your practice if they are not satisfied with your attitude and services. You have to show real interest in your existing patients. Your bedside manner and the look and feel of your practice are very important. You must be able to communicate with your patients and make your presence positive and uplifting.

Generating high-quality leads is an integral step toward growing your medical practice. The more potential patients you drop into your sales funnel, the more leads you are likely to produce and the more patients you will land. You must remember: In order to attract good leads, you must be looking in the right place. Moreover, the more active you are in the process, the more success you will have. If there is one “secret” to producing qualified leads, it is being more active.

At Practice Builders, we know how to attract and generate new leads for medical practices. In fact, we have a whole team of experts who can help you earn the trust of potential patients. Contact us today to design a unique lead-generation strategy for your medical practice.

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

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

Before we start, here’s some food for thought:

  • 65 percent of a company’s new business comes from referrals.
  • Customers are four times more likely to try a new business or product when referred by a friend.
  • A referred customer is 18 percent more loyal than customers gained through other means.
  • A referred customer spends nearly 13 percent more on average than a non-referred customer.
  • Offering a reward increases the chances of a referral. However, the size of that award does not make a difference.

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

Patient referrals are necessary for growing your medical practice and expanding your patient base, and you should take advantage that. While a significant percentage of patients are empowered to find their own doctors, there is still great power behind a personal recommendation for a specialist from a trusted friend or family member. This is why building a base of patients who are happy to give you referrals is a great way to market your practice.

How can you start collecting patient referrals? Here are some recommendations to help you encourage more patient referrals to your practice:

New patients

  • Answer phone calls: Answering phone calls should be your first priority, especially when you are looking for strategic ways to generate them. The calls should be responded to in a friendly yet professional manner. Keep a reference sheet handy with answers to common questions, including office location, insurance lists and general information about services.
  • Value patients’ time: After the first phone call, the patient’s first appointment is the next challenge. Reversing the first impression is hard. Make sure patients have an easy time finding your office location and parking. Once the patient arrives, simplify the registration process by limiting the paperwork or offering a simple online registration process. Patients should know in advance what paperwork will be required, and insurance should be confirmed beforehand. Most of this information should be available on your website. People notice and appreciate your efforts when you value their time.
  • Make patients feel comfortable: Do not make your patients feel like they could get the same or better experience elsewhere. Instead, your staff must make an effort to treat patients as part of your practice family. When a patient comes to the reception desk to check in, greet him or her with a smile and call his or her by name. The way you treat your patients during their time in your office is what will help them decide whether to return.
  • Spruce up your waiting area: While you should aim to minimize the amount of time patients spend in the waiting area, make those few minutes comfortable and soothing. Make sure patients have ample and comfortable seating and have something pleasant to look at, such as a painting or a photograph. Marketing materials are okay as long as they are useful and not overly promotional.

Pro-tip

Create a ‘New Patient Guide’ for your staff. Implement and maintain a certain standard of excellence when it comes to patient care. Make appointment scheduling easy. Set up automated appointment reminders. Provide relevant and regular training to your staff on key aspects of patient care and crisis management.

During the patient’s visit

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

  • Make eye contact and introduce yourself: Nothing relaxes a patient better than a warm smile and a friendly gesture. When combined with eye contact, you demonstrate a sincere welcome and a willingness to resolve the patient’s problem.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal signs: Never make your patients feel that you are disgusted by anything they tell you. Never express your personal feelings about their ailment through your body language or facial expressions. If you give the impression that you are not interested, that patient may shut down on you and may never come back. Be careful about how you act and react toward your patient.
  • Make sure your presence adds value: While it takes the entire team to care for a patient, many patients see their time with the doctor as the biggest factor in whether they are getting their money’s worth. Be sure to take a moment to converse before jumping into the exam room. Ask questions, listen carefully, and be confident about your chairside manner. Never give patients the impression that you are rushing to get to the next waiting patient.
  • Encourage online patient reviews: Asking patients for online reviews and thanking them for their suggestions go a long way in ensuring patient goodwill. It is critical to maintaining transparency within your practice in order to win your patients’ trust. Encouraging your patients to review your practice online is another way of showing that you value their opinion and are open to taking suggestions. Allowing patients’ reviews and testimonials on your website or patient portal are immensely beneficial for your online reputation.
  • Ensure checkout is quick and easy: Checkout is the last touch point in a visit, so make sure the patient leaves your practice feeling positive and taken-care-of. Guide them to the checkout area and tell them what will happen so there is no confusion. Provide patients with information that will be useful after they get home. You can consider printouts with proposed treatment plans, pre- or post-treatment instructions, etc. Do not forget to express thanks as they leave your office and tell them you look forward to seeing them again.

After the patient’s visit

  • Follow up with patients: Most doctors ask patients to follow up with them after their visit. Most patients either forget about following through, or they do not realize that the follow-up visit is a part of their healthcare plan. Having an automated system that allows you to book follow-up appointments and send reminders to patients can make this process a lot easier. A follow-up visit will ensure patients are on the right path to recovery and that they are satisfied with your care.
  • Get suggestions and feedback: Most medical practices have a suggestion box for patients to drop in any feedback regarding their experience at your practice. You can take this process a step further by engaging with your patients via email or text messages using an automated system. You can also send a small survey after the appointment and give your patients an opportunity to provide feedback about your practice.
  • Provide free health monitoring: Chronic illness will require you to monitor patients continually. You can do this by setting up remote monitoring plans for chronically ill patients. Remote monitoring will help patients track their progress for your review. This will also minimize the number of visits and save patients’ time, and they will greatly appreciate the convenience.
  • Ensure a positive patient experience: When you do your best to make sure that patients have a satisfying experience with your practice, you are not only increasing the chances that they will return, but you are also increasing the likelihood that they will refer your practice to their friends and family. When it comes to patient referrals, the difference is in the way you pamper your current patients.
  • Keep the patient educated about their illness and treatment: Most patients look up information about their illness online, even after being diagnosed by a doctor. Rather than depending on unreliable sources of information, you should be their first choice for asking any illness-related questions. You should aim to educate your patients about their illness by using the patient portal or sharing information through mobile health apps. This will also give them another reason to recommend your practice to their friends and family.

Optimize your practice

19 Patient Referral Tips to Help Your Practice Grow

  • Physician outreach: In addition to recommendations from family and friends, patients take into consideration referrals made by their physicians. It is all about referral networking. Physician referrals are an important way of gaining traffic to your practice. According to studies, six out of 10 patients choose health providers based on their location. Maintaining a healthy relationship with physicians in and around your practice can ensure better referrals.
  • Get your staff involved: Even if you have the most modern website or an active online presence, it is essential to train your staff to listen to the needs of your patients. Front-office, nursing and support staff must empathize with patients to ensure they have the finest experience when they visit your practice. Reducing long waiting periods, automating appointment-booking and reminders, simplifying billing, supporting reimbursements and improving access to health records are some of the important aspects of medical practice management that can improve patient satisfaction and increase referrals.
  • Honor your commitments: It is normal for medical practitioners to have unexpected changes in their schedules, be it an emergency procedure, personal reasons or a scheduling error. Always try to adhere to your schedule, but if you cannot, it is important to notify your patients in advance in order to avoid any dispute. Your patients will understand and appreciate these gestures.
  • Provide excellent service: What will really make your patients want to refer your practice to everyone they know? Excellent service. Each new patient provides your staff with the opportunity to make a great impression. You may have great skills or graduated from a top-notch university, but if you treat your patients poorly, your referral volume will take a nose dive.
  • Thank the referring patients and doctors: If applicable, during patients’ first visit to your practice, ask whom they were referred by. Then, be sure to thank the patient or the physician who gave that referral. Whether through an email, phone call or a handwritten personal thank-you note, it will surely make a difference.

These are just a few simple patient referral tips that require a little extra work from your front office and support staff, but they can result in a significant increase in the number of patient referrals. Effective and regular communication with your referral sources is vital. If you foster healthy relationships, your referral sources will continue to send you more patients.

For more tips on successful patient referral marketing, read “The Ultimate Guide to Patient Referral Marketing,” and contact Practice Builders to speak with an experienced representative.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

20 Most Effective Doctor Marketing Tips for Attracting New Patients and Growing Your Practice

20 Most Effective Doctor Marketing Tips for Attracting New Patients and Growing Your Practice

Effective marketing is powerful. Successful medical practices understand the value of having an integrated marketing strategy that includes traditional and online marketing to reach, attract and retain patients. Having an effective strategy and knowing your target audience is imperative for the success of your medical practice in 2017.

Many medical practitioners believe that medical practices do not need a marketing strategy because everyone needs a doctor. While this is correct, medical practices still need to advertise because when people need a doctor, they will not contact a medical practice that they do not even know exists. Also, there is more competition than ever in the medical community. Therefore, it is critical for every medical practice to have an effective marketing strategy. In the absence of a marketing strategy, a medical practice will not have a consistent flow of patients to keep the practice running. Keeping this in mind, here are a few doctor marketing tips that are essential to the success of your medical practice:

  • Focus on enhancing the patient experience: One of the best ways to stand out in a crowded healthcare marketplace is to provide an excellent patient experience. An unmatched patient experience is a way to compete in 2017. Unfortunately, most practices do not have a patient experience strategy that tracks and improves all of the touch points of a patient’s journey. It is essential to understand what your patients need in order to build a successful patient experience strategy.
  • Provide quality content on your website: In 2017, it will become even more critical for medical practices to invest in SEO tactics. Therefore, quality content should be a part of your SEO plan. You can develop content to inform patients about your practice, specialty and work hours. Quality content plays a significant role in search engine ranking. It is imperative to create content keeping patients in mind. Search engines are intelligent enough to gauge the relevance and quality of your content. However, if you are creating well-written content with relevant information, search engines will reward you with better rankings.
  • Upgrade to a mobile-friendly website: According to a Google survey, nearly 61 percent of visitors will leave a website if it is not mobile-friendly. It is important to make your website stick to responsive design principles. Not only will that make it comfortable for potential patients to use your practice website, but it will also offer SEO benefits as Google favors responsive websites over standard websites.
  • Use Google for attracting local patients: A lot of potential patients are searching Google to find local medical practices. Make sure when potential patients search for medical practices in your area, they find your website on the first page of the search engine results. You must encourage your patients to go to your Google Places listing and leave a review of your practice after their appointment. Once you receive a high number of positive reviews, your practice will start showing in the local search results on Google, which will help you attract local patients to your practice.
  • Do not forget social media marketing: Social media has become one of the most influential marketing tools for medical practices, but you must utilize it properly to reap maximum benefits. Social media is certain to play a vital role in how medical practices market themselves in 2017. You must select your social media platforms wisely and make sure to market your practice the right way. Having a widespread presence on social media is a great way to build a brand following, which may drive new patients to your practice.
  • Network with other physicians: In order to grow, specialty practices need a referral base. Getting a new patient as a referral from another doctor requires a relationship-building technique. You must identify which doctors can recommend your practice to their patients and then develop a strategy to achieve those goals. You must focus on building relationships with other physicians by joining local medical associations and attending relevant seminars and functions.
  • Convey your message through blogging: Blogging is a proven way to reach, retain and engage your patients. If done right, blogging can take your marketing strategy to a new level. However, as a busy medical practitioner, you may need to overcome a few barriers in order to be a successful blogger. Keep the tone of your blog casual, and it should not be too lengthy.
  • Emphasize your skills and specialty: This is even more important if your practice is located in a competitive area. When a patient is searching for a new medical practitioner, he or she wants as much information as possible to be able to make an informed decision. For instance, if there are four dentists in your area, but your practice is the only one that offers a certain procedure, this is something you should emphasize on your website and in other marketing efforts.
  • Get listed on Google My Business: It is important fo you to get listed on Google My Business as it is an ideal platform for promoting a brick-and-mortar medical practice. Once you have created and claimed your business listing, you must ensure that all of your information is consistent and accurate across various online directories and citations. It is also important to sign up on third-party review sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, ZocDoc, RateMDs and many more.
  • Follow up with your patients: Medical marketing is a tricky business. The best way for a medical practice to market itself is by taking care of its patients. If done properly, you will be rewarded with positive word-of-mouth, and that is the best possible promotion any medical practice can have. Create an extensive follow-up program. Send regular emails advising your patients to follow instructions after their last visit and reminding them of upcoming appointments.

Over to you

While it is important to have a successful marketing campaign in place, it all boils down to the quality of patient experience you provide. Your patients will notice it, appreciate it and reward you by sticking around and referring your practice to their family and friends. Incorporate these doctor marketing tips into your strategy, and you will be welcoming patients through your practice doors in no time.

If you need any help with your doctor marketing strategy, we are here to help. Contact Practice Builders for a free consultation today.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

5 tips for better phone pitches

Phone pitches: Love them or hate them, they’re necessary.

If you love your phone, read no further; if you hate your phone, this article is written for you, with love, from someone who knows how you feel. When I first started in PR, I landed a dream job. Instantly, I was pitching national news outlets and simultaneously learning the practical skills professors don’t teach you in college.

One lesson I picked up on quickly is that you’ve simply got to get used to being in the sales business if you want a great public relations career. You’ve got to get good at it, because traditional PR has always involved cold calling.

Once you’ve spent time crafting your messaging and writing and distributing your release, you can’t just stop and wait for your phone to ring. If you do, you might just miss your greatest placement.

Overcoming a fear of picking up the phone comes with practice, but practice only makes perfect if you’re practicing the right way.

During my 15 years in the profession, I’ve made countless phone pitches. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

1. Whether to “wing it” shouldn’t even be a question.

I’m a planner by nature, but even if you’re not, don’t wing your phone pitch. Take the time to write, rewrite and write your pitch again, if needed. You don’t have time for filler words, pauses and unnecessary points when you’ve got only about 30 seconds to sell a reporter on your story.

Practice your pitch out loud and multiple times before you ever pick up the phone. This builds confidence and helps your pitch flow.

Even if the reporter doesn’t pick up your story this time, a polished pitch can help you get your foot in the door the next time. After all, the phone is just another tool to build a relationship.

2. Parts of a pitch: A breakdown so you won’t have one.

Every pitch should include three sections: an introduction, the message and a closing. It might sound a little like a speech tactic, but it works.

The Intro should include your name, your company name and your phone number.

If you’re working for an agency and representing a company, make sure to use the client’s name, not the agency name. For example, I work for Intermark Group Public Relations. My intro might go as follows:

“Hi, this is Sonia Blumstein with [CLIENT NAME.] My number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

This approach is perfect if you’re leaving a voice message, which is more often than not what you’ll be doing. But on the rarer occasion when a reporter answers his or her phone, take a slightly altered and courteous approach:

  • Your name
  • Your company or client name
  • Temperature check

Check to see if the reporter has time to talk to you. Perhaps you called when the reporter is on deadline. Perhaps the reporter wants to talk to you, but it just isn’t a good time. You won’t know unless you ask. Try this script, for example:

Hi, this is [your name] with [company/client name].
I’m calling to follow up on [abbreviated story topic] or [a release I sent you earlier today].
[Did I catch you at a good time?] or [Do you have a quick minute to talk?]

If the answer is “no,” follow up by asking if there is a better time to call back. If the reporter gives you the run-around, say you’ll call back at a later time.

Once you finish your intro, briefly share your story idea in 30 seconds or less.

Assuming you’re leaving a voice mail, close by repeating your phone number so the reporter can easily jot it down without having to replay your message. 

[Keep your cool in a crisis with these 13 tips. ]

3. Get your numbers straight.

PR professionals joke that we are in the communications business, not the numbers business. But there are two sets of numbers to be mindful of when planning phone pitches: the 12 numbers on a clock and the seven days of the week.

Reporters work on different deadlines. To the best of your ability, don’t call them when they are on deadline. A few guidelines:

  • Don’t call daily print reporters after 2 p.m. in their time zone. They’re working to finish up their stories before they hit the door.
  • Don’t call TV or radio shows while they are on the air. Call them right after their show is over, when they are working on booking the next program. You might only have one or two hours to reach them. Know which hours those are and plan ahead.
  • Don’t call a weekly outlet on the one day of the week the publication is wrapping up and going to print.
  • Don’t call a magazine about a story that has passed its editorial calendar due date.
  • Don’t call on Fridays, especially daily news outlets.
  • Do call a reporter if you have breaking news. It’s the one exception to the rule.

4. Double as a customer-support agent.

By the time you’re calling a reporter, you’ve likely already sent your email release, but chances are your release is buried in the reporter’s inbox.

Before you pick up the phone, open your original email. Have it at the ready to forward immediately. If the reporter can’t find your release, you’re one step ahead and can send it right then. Sometimes the reporter will even wait on the phone to confirm receipt.

Score. You’ve just increased your chances to get that reporter to read your release, which is the first step to getting your placement.

5. Save your voice, your time and theirs.

If you know you’re going to include a phone call campaign, you might avoid at least a few calls by giving the reporter a heads up. In your email pitch, tell the reporter you plan to follow up via phone.

If the reporter knows you are going to call, maybe she will reply to your e-mail before you pick up the phone. Who doesn’t want that?

These are the strategies I’ve used to land placement in the top print and broadcast publications across the country. What tricks do you have up your sleeve?

Sonia Blumstein is a public relations account supervisor with Intermark Group, an award-winning advertising agency located in Birmingham, Ala.

HealthCareCommunication.com

5 Tips for an Effective LinkedIn Profile

5 Tips for an Effective LinkedIn Profile

You may think of LinkedIn as primarily a tool for finding jobs, but when patients search for you or your healthcare practice online, they will most likely see your LinkedIn profile come up right away in their search results. Don’t miss this opportunity to give them a window into your professional experience and expertise. If you don’t have a profile or you haven’t updated it in a while, take some time to make sure you make a good first impression on your future patients by including these five basics.

  • A professional picture. LinkedIn is a professional social media platform, so you want to use a headshot that is both professional and personable. Smile, but don’t use a blurry photo from your last vacation. Users perceive profiles with a picture as more credible than those without: LinkedIn data shows users with a picture are seven times more likely to be contacted about an opportunity than those without.
  • Your practice’s name, location and website. This is another avenue for potential patients to find your practice. LinkedIn profiles tend to be highly ranked on search results, and this gives another doorway for patients to find your practice online.
  • Experience and expertise. In healthcare, patients want to know you have relevant expertise. Just like you have your certifications framed and on display in your office, give your patients access to that same information online. List your most relevant experience in bullet points, and keep in mind what your patients would be looking for. Include only the highlights, not every single job or accomplishment.
  • Endorsements and recommendations. LinkedIn is also great for building a professional network that your patients can see. This reinforces that you are credible and that your healthcare colleagues think well of you. Invite your colleagues to endorse you for specific skills. Invite a couple of colleagues to write a recommendation, and ask them to speak to some targeted skills/areas of your expertise.
  • Connections and professional engagement. A network of connections shows patients you are a legitimate member of a professional community. An easy way to show you are an active, invested member of this community is to include links to relevant sites such as articles about industry news and links to your practice’s blog.

We know setting up and maintaining social media accounts as part of your healthcare marketing plan is time-consuming and frankly, you just may not have the time. That’s why we created our Social Media Solutions. We use social media to engage and attract patients to your practice for you – while you focus on delivering the best care possible.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Best Tips for Writing Emails to Market Your Healthcare Practice

Best Tips for Writing Emails to Market Your Healthcare Practice

Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with your patients, so don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Once you have email addresses and a strategy for an email campaign, here are some important aspects to keep in mind as you craft the actual emails. Let’s look at each component of an email and what to keep in mind for each part.

Subject line: This is the first thing your patients will see in their inboxes, so make sure it’s enticing enough that they will actually open it. A good subject line should pique interest and do so concisely enough that it will all show up on a mobile device. You can use numbers, “5 Things Every Parent Should Know for Flu Season” or create a sense of urgency, “Limited time only: 20% off sunglasses.”

Preview text: Keep in mind the beginning of your email may also appear as the preview text. Frontload your email’s text with the information or call to action you want to be sure your patients immediately see.

Sender email address: Make sure this is a recognizable email address with your healthcare practice’s name prominent in the address. This will help patients know it’s you and so increase your chances of actually having the email opened and read rather than trashed.

Email design: You want your email to look more interesting than a plain block of text but also avoid being overwhelming to your patients. Incorporate a clean design that prominently features your logo. This will make your email look more inviting and also help your patients recognize it’s you.

Email text: Use an inverted pyramid approach, meaning you should structure your email so that your copy grabs attention at the beginning, then builds anticipation in the middle and ends with a strong call to action. Throughout, put important information in bold. Don’t overdo it; just bold the text that you don’t want your patients to miss.

Call-to-action buttons: Make responding to your call to action even easier for your patients by creating a button they can simply click. For instance, if your call to action is to remind your patients to book an appointment, then a button reading “Book Your Appointment Today” can take them straight to your site where they can do just that. The call to action could also be as simple as “Follow Our Blog” and the button can take them to your blog.

Drafting and testing: Make sure you proofread your email well before you send it out. You should also beta-test one (send the email to a few staff members first) to make sure everything appears appropriately and iron out any glitches.

After you send: Keep track of various factors like which type of subject lines worked and what time of day works best by using analytics.

We can help you get started with your healthcare practice’s email marketing campaign today. Email us at info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing