By now, you’re probably weary of dealing with COVID-19. It’s become an ongoing, gloomy yet unpredictable threat to your business.
If you’re in lockdown right now and your patients are staying home, then your income has plummeted but your bills remain the same. At this point, you’re understandably looking to cut costs. But here’s why you shouldn’t cut your marketing spend.
Why you should continue marketing during the pandemic
Let’s say at the outset that it’s not because we need you to (though, of course, we value your custom). No, we want you to continue your marketing because we know it equips your business to ride out the coronacoaster.
Here’s why you should continue marketing:
1. Marketing is an investment, not a cost.
Some costs are inescapable in both life and business. Things like your rent and utility bills have to be paid.
Costs largely help you to keep jogging on the spot. Investments create forward momentum for your business.
Marketing does that. Its goal is to bring new patients or clients to your business, which increases your revenue and propels your business to its next stage of growth.
2. Your online presence matters even more during COVID
Your online presence has always been important but it was complemented by your physical premises with your signage. If you’re in lockdown, there are far fewer people walking past your premises – and probably even fewer coming in.
Those people are now at home. And online. That’s where you need to be. People need to see you when they’re killing time on social media and find your ad in response to their search for products or services.
3. Regaining lost ground takes time
When one of our clients ceased their marketing in Sept 2020. They experienced a 97% decrease in website traffic. That’s a serious problem for any business.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a long, slow process of persuading Google to trust you. Each time you publish a blog, tweak your website, create a video or add a new page, you’re creating more content that shows Google your expertise, authority and trustworthiness (your EAT score).
When you stop publishing that fresh content, Google’s trust in you starts to lessen. If others are still reliably publishing content, then Google begins to prioritise them in its search results.
As you slip lower in the search engine rankings, others overtake you. Once you restart your marketing, you’re playing catch up, trying to regain the ground you lost. And that can take time.
It’s much better to maintain your position than to give it up. Another client of ours maintained their full managed marketing and experienced a 171% increase in website traffic. Wouldn’t you rather be in their position?
4. With ads, you only pay when a prospective client clicks
When you’re budget-conscious, pay-per-click is a great way forward. Running Google ads or Facebook ads only costs you when people click on your ad and move to your site. You also set a daily spend limit, giving you confidence in your costs.
5. Digital marketing can easily change as the situation changes
Digital marketing is wonderfully adaptable. As the rules around you change, it’s easy to change your marketing too.
How to market during the pandemic
So, that’s why we believe you should continue to market your services during lockdown. Now let’s look at how to do it.
1. Email marketing
- Email is the most effective channel to communicate with your current patients. Let them know that your practice is still operational and how you are delivering your services.
- Send regular emails addressing frequently asked questions relevant to your area of expertise or accessing your services.
2. Search engine optimisation (SEO)
- SEO is a long-term strategy so don’t pause it now as you’ll rapidly lose ground to your competitors.
- Adapt your SEO to attract people with high healthcare needs who continue to need care during this time (and will need it afterwards too!)
3. Social media marketing
- Your patients are stuck/safe at home and spending a lot of time on social media.
- Use your social accounts to provide practice updates and share your blog content.
4. Content marketing
- Tell your patients how you’re handling COVID-19:
- Add clear advice to your website about how to make an appointment during this time, such as explaining that people should ring first rather than just turn up, that you’re offering telehealth consults to most patients and only seeing people in person when you’ve decided it’s not possible to treat them in any other way
- Put a clear and obvious link to this information on the homepage and across your social media accounts.
- Use your authority and credibility as a trained healthcare professional to serve your patients and community by:
- Being a source of trustworthy information about COVID-19
- Acknowledging the strain of rolling lockdowns but encouraging people to go the course
- Encouraging people to get vaccinated
- Helping people maintain physical and mental health during this time at home
- Reminding people, particularly those in vulnerable groups, about the importance of maintaining care for underlying conditions during this time
- Providing healthcare services (in one form or another) to patients who need you
- Being a stable, reassuring presence in a changed world.
- Each time you upload a new blog to your website, add your name, credentials, photo and bio to boost your Google’s EAT score (expertise, authority and trust).
5. Google Ads and Facebook Ads
- Keep them going if you possibly can as it keeps you in a position to benefit from the eventual post-isolation rebound.
- Update your ads to ensure they’re relevant to the current situation. Remember, you only pay when people click on your ad – and you want them to do that.
6. Referral marketing
- Your referral networks are a vital source of new patients.
- How are you working now? Maybe you’re a surgeon providing pre-op care through Zoom so patients are ready for eventual surgery, an allied health professional providing home visits, or a chronic disease specialist providing telehealth services to prevent avoidable hospital admissions.
- Whatever you’re doing, tell your referral networks how you’re offering services during this time and remind them why they should keep referring patients.
- You need to keep seeing as many patients as you can. Telehealth offers a safe and convenient way to do this in most cases and patients love it.
- If you haven’t already got your telehealth service up and running smoothly, then now is the time:
- Update your online booking system so patients can book a telehealth appointment easily
- Produce a flyer or email template to explain how your telehealth service works
- Promote your telehealth service through all your marketing channels – Google Ads, Facebook ads, content marketing, SEO and your referral networks.
- Still feeling out of your depth with telehealth? Enrol in Telehealth Mastery to learn everything you need to know about running a successful telehealth service.
Examples of successful marketing during COVID
We mentioned above that marketing is an investment. That means you should expect to see a return on it.
Focussed and aggressive SEO efforts, audience-specific content marketing, and targeted PPC campaigns enabled one of our physiotherapy clients, to increase new patient bookings, even during an economic downturn.
By maintaining their marketing throughout COVID, they:
- Increased new patient bookings by 63% within 6 months during COVID’s first wave
- Increased new patient bookings by 267% from August 2020 to August 2021
- Increased website sessions by 55% within 6 months
- Increased website conversions by 71% within 6 months.
That’s a substantial return on investment.
Another client who kept going with their marketing was an in-home care provider. They gained a:
- 40% increase in new website users
- 30% increased in paid search traffic
- 500% increase in website conversions
- An average of 5 new clients per week.
Another client reduced their spend between August 2020 and March 2021, resulting in a 20% decrease in website traffic. Once marketing resumed in March 2021, they saw a 63% increase in website traffic.
How can Splice Marketing help?
We feel for you trying to run a business during the ups and downs of a global pandemic. It’s not an easy task by any means.
When it comes to your marketing decisions during a pandemic, our best advice is to lean in. Definitely adjust your sails to suit the prevailing weather but do keep going. We’ve seen how maintaining marketing has not only kept businesses afloat but has helped them to gain new patients, increase revenue and establish a stronger position.
Like to do that? Book your free consultation today.