Digital & Referral Marketing for Medical Clinics

    There are some very simple (and some not-so-simple) marketing things medical clinics, offices, dentists, chiropractors and others can be doing to successfully grow their patient base. I’ve seen these over the years, and not enough practices execute. Here’s the list:

    • Ask for reviews to your Google Reviews page. It’s that simple. Or Yelp. Or Facebook Local business page. (but Google is best for SEO). When a patient is completing and is appreciative, ask them for an online review.
    • And don’t just ask, give them a flyer or post card that gives the URL, and specific-step instructions, for leaving your review. Ask them to go home and do it (these channels prefer that – if all your customers leave reviews in your office, the same IP address location is flagged as suspicious since it could be employees posting fake reviews).
    • Of course this requires that your reviews channel (such as GoogleMyBusiness) is setup correctly and has a full profile and you don’t have old, other, incorrect listings. If everything isn’t setup properly, hire an SEO to do it correctly!
    • Don’t just have a Facebook page, make sure you have a Facebook Local business page setup properly and you’re in control of it – and that you are posting to the correct channel (i.e., not only your personal page).
    • Put a sign reminder at the desk or exit door for them to see on the way out. And put a QR code there driving them to the exact URL for them to leave the review.
    • Don’t think you won’t have drop-ins – you just might. So be prepared! Especially if you’re a massage therapist or chiropractor. Or if you serve older patients who might be more comfortable with walking or driving to your office to talk to someone as opposed to searching online. Point being: sooner or later someone will show up at your clinic when it’s closed. So give them everything they need: Have outdoor signs (or signs on the door facing out) that list ALL your contact info! Name of doctors there, appointment phone number, appointment email address (very important; even if it’s just, website URL, Google Reviews, Yelp page or Facebook Local/reviews page, physical address and GPS coordinates and of course hours of operation. AND put that all on a web page and generate a QR code of it and put that QR code on your signs!
    • Also make sure all the above info is on a contact/location page on your website (except you don’t want to show the QR code on your website).
    • Make sure your phone number is listed prominently on every page of your website and that it’s mobile clickable.
    • Reputation Management: Monitor your reviews – and respond to them! Setting up GoogleAlerts to notify you via email about online mentions of your brand name is actually pretty easy.
    • Copy and paste the best reviews to put on your website (with reviewers’ initials/not full name).
    • Positive reviews are the most important, but you could also have a sign when customers enter asking them to “check in” in Facebook or Yelp (but be careful – don’t let customers get uncomfortable doing everything for you digitally).
    • Have a referral program. I had a client that had an aggressive referral program handing out 6 $50 gift cards, ready for activation, to customers – half for the customer, half for their referral – all to be activated after new customer appointment.
    • That same practice offered 50% off of customers’ next appointment when they showed that they had Liked and Shared the clinic’s Facebook post. You could do the same with Twitter or YouTube or even LinkedIn.
    • Your customers aren’t going to follow your business in every major social media channel, so ask them which channel they are most comfortable with. If Twitter or Instagram is the most commonly used (for example by younger customers) then focus on that channel, promote it on your website, and ask customers to follow your channel URL there.
    • Calculate LTV. Customer Lifetime Value should be high considering customer revenue over the years. When you know that number, then aggressive referral programs (and other marketing) make sense.
    • Email still matters. Of course it’s standard practice to put customers on your email list, send them email news and appointment reminders. So make sure you’re doing them. But also, after the appointment, be sure to thank the customer over email and request online reviews (like the above) with the link intact and directions on how to do that. Post appointment surveys are also good (but many customers may be annoyed by these so don’t push it).
    • Make sure your email signup form is very obvious and accessible on your website – and promote the signup form in your social media posts several times a month (you may not get many signups but it can only help).
    • Make sure your website and contact form are mobile-friendly. Over 50% of web use is on mobile. And Google penalizes sites which are not mobile responsive. Don’t live in the past. BTW that means get a mobile-responsive website – not a mobile app!
    • When you get a new website, don’t kill your old SEO. You may not have ever had professional SEO, but if you had a 10-year-old domain, Google may have automatically indexed your pages. If you don’t have professional SEO for your new site, all previous SEO value will be killed and Google will have to start with you from ground 0. The same applies to changing domain names – if you’ve had a domain for years, don’t change it! It has SEO value.
    • Have a digital content plan. When you send digital communications (social media posts, emails, etc.) make sure you have an objective and CTA (call-to-action) for each communication. Don’t write too much copy, which readers will be annoyed with (unless it’s website or blog copy for SEO/search engine optimization purposes, which is good strategy).
    • Have website copy, social media posts and digital advertising target your local area. Even if you want “a bigger net,” it’s still easier to compete and reach web users via location targeting. You can always integrate keywords and towns further out by this strategy as well if you’ve succeeded in your immediate area first.
    • DON’T do advertising in one-off channels such as Yelp, YP, Angies List, etc. Unless you know they work, it’s better to do advertising in AdWords where many channels and lists are reached as opposed to just Yelp.
    • But do make sure that the location channels mentioned above (and many others) are setup correctly for free listings with your name, address, phone and website URL (you may need to hire an SEO to do all this correctly)!
    • If you are a nurse or massage therapist who makes house calls, a good channel to announce that in is – it allows people to find their neighbors and inquire about services such as electricians or landscapers. Someone who makes house calls would be good to know about there!
    • Test different marketing programs – but give them an opportunity to succeed for you! 90 day programs are standard – especially for advertising. An advertising trial for 30 days just isn’t enough to see reliable results for the future.
    • Do you do events or speaking? Great – capture them on the web! Videos are best – to put on YouTube and your website. But even photos in social media and website and slide decks are great. You may not think these things interest your customers greatly, but if they have value at a live event, they can have ongoing value on the web! And any digital content helps your SEO believe it or not! Have a slide deck? Put it on and sync it to your LinkedIn profile and announce it on your blog and email newsletter! It all can only help and not hurt. What’s more, give out cards or flyers to people at your event that also drive people to the URL where they’ll be able to find your video, slide deck or photos after the event.
    • Have an in-house computer monitor feeding news, weather and social media. My hair salon has this – it’s a monitor with an RSS feed of sources. The majority is news text. But also shows the Instagram and Twitter mentions of the salon. My bank does the same thing. Audio is off – it’s only text and images. This way it’s not distracting, yet it has content with some value, can be a point of interest to your customers, and at the same time some personalized social media posts for your clinic are shown without being overpowering. All of this is easier to setup then you would think. RSS reader accounts are easy to setup and include channels such as, TheOldReader and NetVibes. You can have your digital marketer help set it up for you. Once the account is setup, the content always refreshes to the minute. The latest news and social media posts based on whatever source channels you think your customers would be interested in.
    • DON’T do Groupons (or other 50% off daily deals). Unless you know you get returning, desired, profitable customers, you’ll often get one-time patients who only come because of the Groupon deal. These aren’t your target audience.

    So now you have a good list for your marketing programs going forward. Have fun in implementation and reach out if you need help!

    Thanks for reading, Jake Aull,