Your healthcare practice needs to acquire new patients to survive. Yes, it’s important to maintain your relationship with existing patients but you can’t rely on them alone to keep you in business as they’ll get better, move away or experience a myriad of other life changes that mean they’re no longer able to see you as often. 

You need a reliable succession of new patients to populate your appointment book. You know they’re out there. But how do you bring them into your practice? The answer lies in effective digital marketing to generate new patients. 

Australians spend about 40% of their waking hours online. We spend a third of our online time on social media, with platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram proving enduringly popular among 16-64 year olds. That means your new patients are online – and they’ll find you there if you position yourself well using the strategies below.

9 marketing ideas for new patients

1. On-page SEO with good keyword research

On-page or on-site search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of carefully tailoring your webpages to suit Google and its users. 

It can get quite technical as there are over 200 factors that affect your ranking. Boiled down to its basics, on-page SEO involves choosing the right keywords for your page then optimising your page’s title tags, content and URLs to reflect those keywords. 

Google’s job is to deliver relevant results in response to a person’s search. If someone types in ‘arthritis’, Google assumes that they’re interested in learning about the condition and delivers a series of relevant pages. 

How does it know those pages are relevant to the search query? According to Google,  

“The most basic signal that information is relevant is when a webpage contains the same keywords as your search query. If those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information is more likely to be relevant.”

If you do type ‘arthritis’ into Google, you’ll see that every page you’re offered has used that keyword in its title tag (the larger blue font in your search results). 

That means you need to identify the right keyword for each page of your site, use the keyword in your title tag and meta description, then write content that is relevant and useful to your target audience and which also uses your chosen keyword.

Start with your services pages. If you’re trying to improve your ranking for a popular treatment like dry needling, you might create a page called www.practicename.com.au/services/dry-needling then write about the process of dry needling and explain how you do it at your practice (with a booking link too). 

2. Google Business listing set up for local SEO rankings

A Google Business profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is a free tool that, among other things, enables you to promote your business on Google Search and Google Maps. Once you’ve established your account, you’ll be asked for your practice address, phone number, opening hours and website. 

Why should you provide that information? Because it all helps local SEO. If you provide in-person services, then you need clients who live locally. 

If you type ‘sports physiotherapist’ into Google, the search engine will assume you’re looking for one in your local area. So it shows you a map of nearby sports physiotherapists, then lists their names, contact details and websites. All that comes from a properly set up Google Business account.

3. High-converting website

A ‘conversion’ happens when someone visits your website and takes the action you want them to take. That’s often booking an appointment but it could be downloading a free guide or something similar that nurtures people who are not yet ready to book. 

High-converting websites:

  • Are designed mobile-first as most people search on handheld devices
  • Have an SSL certificate to avoid Google displaying a warning that alarms potential viewers
  • Load quickly – test your site speed for free here
  • Are easy to navigate
  • Are a good reflection of your practice’s personality and ethos
  • Feature rich content that appeals to a clearly defined audience
  • Have strong, clear calls to action throughout with an obvious ‘book now’ button that links to your online booking system – the first call to action should appear above the fold (i.e. before the user has to scroll down). 

4. Unique content for important ranking pages

Which services do you want to be particularly known for? Those are your important ranking pages. Often, it’s not your homepage but rather a services page or blog. 

Let’s say you’re one of the few GPs in your area who offers Mirena insertion in your clinic. That’s a potential source of new patients. You can attract them through a dedicated page on your website called www.mypractice.com.au/services/mirena-gp or something similar. 

Fill that page with high-quality, relevant, unique content – that means fresh material, entirely created by you. Unique content performs well on Google since it rightly assumes that no-one wants to read an exact copy of something published elsewhere! 

Your article on Mirena insertion at your practice will probably answer some questions about the device, who it’s suitable for, potential side effects, and the process and timing of an insertion, including why only some GPs can offer it. That’s all standard information but you can write it in a unique way with an informative, reassuring tone. Then you’ll include information specific to your practice, such as which doctors insert Mirenas on which days. As always, you should include a call to action, such as a link to your online booking system.

5. Social media marketing

Your social media accounts are a great way to publish new content and bring people to your website. You need to post regularly but not incessantly. 

Sit down and plan out three months of possible posts. Ideas include:

  • A blog addressing a topic patients frequently ask about
  • A post that corresponds with an awareness day for a particular health condition
  • Promoting a new service you offer
  • Profiling each of your staff members.  

Ensure you stay within AHPRA advertising regulations for social media.

6. Content marketing

You have knowledge and expertise that most people don’t. Content marketing enables you to share that information in a way that builds a relationship with prospective patients. 

Through your videos, blogs or resources, you can answer their questions, allay their fears and encourage them to take actions that protect their health. Often your audience is not yet ready to make a booking but they are ready to learn.

End each blog with your name, photo and credentials as this helps Google recognise your expertise, authority and trustworthiness (EAT). 

7. Facebook Ads

Facebook’s data shows there are now 16 million Australians who are active Facebook users, which equates to nearly 65% of the population

Even with a small budget, you can set up a Facebook Ad campaign. For it to be effective, though, you need to:

  • Set the right campaign objective
  • Target the right audience
  • Choose the right keywords
  • Be patient while Facebook’s algorithms learn how best to support your campaign – results are often seen after a few months, not a few days. 

Check out these 5 reasons why your FB Ads aren’t working.

8. Email marketing

Some ‘new’ patients may actually be old ones you haven’t seen for a while. You can draw them back through email marketing that alerts them to special offers, reminds them to use their health insurance benefits before the year ends, or reminds them that it’s been a while since their last check up. 

You can also make clever use of lead magnets to acquire emails for new patients. If you write a really useful resource on a highly relevant topic, you can publish this on your website – then require people to enter their email address before they can download it. Now you’ve got their email, you can contact them to entice them to make a booking.

9. Google Ads

Facebook Ads are served to people passively browsing their feed who might be interested in what you offer. Google Ads, in contrast, are served to people who are actively looking for your services. 

Let’s say you’re running a Google Ad on ‘hearing tests’ to encourage people to attend your clinic. When someone in your area types that search term into Google, they’ll see your ad. And they’re likely to click on it because they’re actively searching for what you offer. 

Once they click on your ad, it takes them to a landing page. For your campaign to work (and this is true for Facebook Ads too), your landing page needs to be relevant to your ad copy. If your ad is on ‘hearing tests’, your landing page should be all about hearing tests and how to book one. 

Sometimes, you’ll have a page on your website that already makes the ideal landing page for your ads. Often, though, you’ll need to create a dedicated landing page that dovetails with your ads.

Once you execute these 9 strategies, you’ll hopefully see a steady growth in new patient numbers. That frees you from worries over practice viability and means you can start exploring ideas for the next stage of your practice growth.