Online Marketing: 5 Ways to get More Patients

October 10, 2014
Patrick Domingo

Online marketing is not easy and takes some time to plan, but here are five strategies to start attracting new patients to your medical practice.

This post is a basic framework for getting your medical practice (through one of your staff members or your current marketing firm) to do online marketing correctly. This is by no means exhaustive, but it gets you in the right frame of mind.

Fair warning, though: This isn't easy, and takes some time to plan, but once set up, it's absolutely worth it.

Why? Because you'll be able to manage and control what people say about you. Your brand can reach beyond your local area and could become as big as you want it to be, whether you want to expand into being an on camera TV expert, starting your own line of products, etc.

Finding your voice is the most important first step. Look at Dr. Oz. Look at Oprah. As annoying as both of them are, they know exactly how they want to come across. What type of physician are you? Are you the happy-go-lucky, energetic physician? The down to earth one? Or the crass, no-BS physician?

Don't be everything to everybody. Let your own personality show online. People will gravitate toward you. It doesn't matter if you do great work, so do the five other physicians in your area. Think of publications, awards, or any press you've gotten that can add to your expertise. People reward authenticity and
credibility online.

To establish credibility, a lot of reporters look to healthcare professionals for expert opinions. Check out Help A Reporter Out and sign up to become an expert. Look for their e-mails and see if you can contribute to any articles.

Now that you know who you are, here are five ways to get more patients to your practice using online marketing:

1. Understand how people search.

According to several articles, from sources including the American Medical Association and Pew Research Center, a significant amount of people are searching online for symptoms and a physician close to their home.

So with this information, you can "intercept" them in two ways: provide answers to their symptoms and be the doctor that's close to them.

There's a lot that goes into both of these and it's beyond the scope of this blog post, but it's important that you understand that these opportunities exist for you.

2. Find out what people are already saying about you.

Google your name and figure out what people are saying about you. You should care because people, more or less, leave honest reviews. This will be material for you to either capitalize on or mitigate depending on how positive or negative the conversation.

3. Get a professional website and video

Professional design is imperative in 2014. For my clients, I use Wordpress. It's relatively easy to set up and maintain. I handle their sites myself or train them how to do it themselves.

Look professional on the front page, but don't be afraid to show some of your personality. Strike the perfect balance. A less polished version of your brand can actually be much better, because it provides "realness" to you online. Also having a video of yourself being yourself helps people "warm up" to you before meeting you.

Here's a list of professional medical website themes to get you started.

4. Get on Yelp, Google, and ZocDoc.

These are just three but they are the most important for you to get on. Google did some updates where local listings aren't shown, but it seems that the local physician queries haven't been affected. Your practice might already be on these websites so it's important that you claim the reins. ZocDoc is excellent but is a paid service of $250 to $300 a month. I am in no way affiliated with Yelp or the other two sites.

5. Nurture your reviews

Your reviews are your lifeblood online. Here are four tips on how to get the most out of your reviews:

• Dedicate once a week to responding to good and bad reviews (either yourself or by a member of your staff).
• Personalize the message. No cookie cutter stuff here.
• Respond in a timely fashion. You don't need to respond all at once or as they come up, but even once a week is good enough.
• Post reviews on your website. Get video testimonials of your patients, if possible.

One more bonus tip is to look at what your fellow physicians (both local and national) are doing.

Is there someone in your area killing it? Take some notes. See what you can capitalize on. Are they the flamboyant person? Beat them by targeting those who want a more laid back physician. Beat them with your personality, with the information you provide, with better high quality videos and nicer pictures. The possibilities are endless.

What do you do to stick out online? Leave a message in the comments section below.
Patrick Domingois CEO of Medical Sushi, a digital medical marketing agency that helps manage private practice physicians' online presence. E-mail him here.