Eyeing what's new and working in the digital world? Apply these elements to the online marketing of your medical or dental practice.
There are seven trends that a doctor’s office can focus on in order to maximize the benefits of online marketing for a medical practice. These include mobility, improving conversion rates, and managing the online reputation of the medical practice by monitoring its reviews and ratings. Online video, chatbots, voice search capabilities, combined with the relevance of content are all things that a doctor’s office can do to improve their marketing results.
Mobile First, Mobile Responsiveness
The Pew Research Center reports that 95% of Americans now use a mobile phone and 77% of Americans have a smartphone. The vast majority of these users choose mobile access to look for services that they need. Needing to see a doctor is a type of service that users are more likely to search for by using their smartphone from wherever they may be.
Designing a web presence with easy access by mobile users as the target goal is now the most important factor for creating a successful online strategy. Making sure that the information about the doctor is properly displayed on any mobile device is a fundamental principle of good website design. Having rapid mobile responsiveness for a website is a critical element and one of the important metrics used to measure its effectiveness.
Patients are almost always on the go. They want to be able to access information quickly and manage their online relationship with a physician’s practice by using a smartphone. This includes easy appointment setting, getting appointment reminders, and having access to general health advice. It can also include secure access to medical records and online assistance with specific health concerns and prescription refill requests.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
There is no point in getting a lot of traffic to a website and then doing a poor job of converting them. By focusing on powerful engagement methodologies, these casual website visitors can eventually become new clients. Conversion rate optimization, in a traditional sense, is the evaluation of a website’s effectiveness in converting a web visitor to a client and then taking the necessary steps to improve the conversion results.
The marketing efforts of a physician’s practice are not necessarily designed to get web visitors to only buy something right now. The conversion rates made be measured for getting a website visitor to take a specific action such as to sign up for a health newsletter, watch a video, or download an infographic.
Effective online strategy analyses what things can be achieved that eventually lead to increasing the client base. Content marketing may be a big part of this. Conversion rate tracking can include all of the metrics that lead to improvements in the doctor’s practice. For example, it is helpful to track how many new patients come from those who sign up for regular newsletters.
In this case, the conversion rate optimization considers the first conversion rate as the number of web visitors who sign up for a newsletter. The second conversion rate to track is the number of newsletter recipients that become patients.
Reviews & Ratings
Managing a physician’s online reputation is enormously important. One bad review may turn away dozens of prospective new patients. Nobody expects a doctor and his or her medical office to be perfect. A bad review, which is responded to in a professional and sincere way, can actually help encourage prospective patients to give the doctor a try. The real problem is having bad reviews online without knowing about them and without making any effort to address their concerns.
The review sites maintain information on a forever basis. If a patient had a bad experience five years ago, the information that they posted about it will likely still be online. Tracking reviews and ratings give a doctor and the staff an opportunity to respond.
The trouble with reviews and rating systems is that there is less incentive for patients who have a good experience to make a review. Patients who have a serious complaint have a greater incentive to post negative comments online. Creating an incentive system to reward patients for giving a positive review and encouraging them to do so, it very helpful.
Giving patients an incentive to give reviews (hopefully more positive ones) improves a doctor’s online reputation. The best way to deal with a bad review, on top of addressing it directly, is to bury it down in the search results by an overwhelming amount of positive reviews. Read more about ways to better manage your reviews and ratings in this article.
Video as a Marketing Tool
Hubspot reports that consumers are responding to video content more than before. YouTube is the second most popular social media website after Facebook. In the research conducted by Hubspot, they found that 72% of the website visitors prefer to learn about products and services by watching a video about them as opposed to reading about them.
The good news is that the cost of video production has gone way down. Moreover, the production standards are simpler. Decent lighting with a nice background and recording the video with a webcam is all that is necessary. Any physician can record themselves giving good advice. They may even become popular figures online. Having sincerity in the video presentation of accurate helpful information is all that is required.
Nobody likes to wait for customer service when they have a simple question. Chatbots that work with artificial intelligence (AI) software provide quick answers to repetitive questions. They also should have live operators to answer more specific questions of the patients that the AI program cannot answer correctly.
There are some caveats to be aware of when using chatbots. The first one is that the automatic answers need to be reviewed and monitored to make sure that the answers given are appropriate and accurate. A general disclaimer saying that these answers are not a substitute for receiving direct medical advice from a doctor is warranted. Another caveat is to avoid having this chat feature become intrusive and “salesy.”
Most web visitors do not like a chatbot when it comes up to block their view of the website. This “in your face” style of online marketing is not appreciated, especially for clients who do not need help and just want to navigate the website to get something done.
Think of a chatbot being like customer service in a physical store. Customers like to find help when they need it; however, they are less likely to want to be approached with a “May I help you?” when they prefer to be left alone to look around.
The ability to use live chat should be obviously presented on a website but not be intrusive on any regular visitors’ unfettered access to the website content and other features.
Predictions are that by 2020 over half of all searches will be conducted using voice search. People are becoming quite used to talking to their devices and asking for help due to the wide acceptance and deployment of support systems like Siri and Alexa. The Verge reports that over 39 million Americans now use some type of smart-speaker system as a virtual assistant.
Google reports that about 20% of mobile searches are now done by voice. Bing says that voice searches on their system are about 25% due to Bing’s integration with Cortana, which is the Microsoft voice-response system in Windows 10.
Google Adwords now has voice ad space on its Alexa system. Website search by voice can be enabled by recording short audio snippets and then getting them featured on Google’s search engine or paying for them to be used for audio ads.
The saying that “content is king” is as important as ever. Relevant content is even more powerful. Relevant content that is evergreen, which means it is useful for a very long time, is the most valuable. It has a very strong case for return on investment (ROI) because of its long-term usefulness.
Relevant content improves website users’ experiences and the listings on the search engine results page to help increase organic (non-paid) web traffic. Relevant content is “sticky,” which means that it increases the time spent on a website. Content marketing, using relevant content, maintains a connection with potential clients to improve overall conversion rates. The demand for relevant content is a permanent trend.
By making online marketing efforts that focus on these seven areas, a doctor’s office will build its client base and become a vibrant medical practice that thrives.