Ellie Bakker, Chief Executive Officer, Splice Marketing
Are you a health professional that’s a little bit overwhelmed or just unsure about the whole digital marketing landscape and what you need to actually be doing to attract new patients to your practice through the different online marketing channels? Well, you are definitely not alone.
In this video, I wanted to give you seven simple digital marketing strategies that you need to know about and can consider when trying to acquire new patients from online sources. So who am I? I’m Ellie, the owner of Splice Marketing, a healthcare marketing agency. We’ve got an incredible team here, right up in Brisbane, who service and support the whole healthcare sector to grow and market their businesses and, just like I’m explaining today, help acquire new patients through digital marketing activities.
Let’s get into it. I’m going to share seven different strategies like I mentioned. I want to talk about SEO, social media, having a really good, high converting website, email marketing activities, paid search, content marketing, and then most importantly analytics and tracking so that you can make sure all your hard work is paying off. And you can actually know what’s working more effectively than the other channels that might not be performing as well.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Let’s start with SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimisation and basically refers to the process of getting your website ranking high in a Google search result. This is important because when your patients type in ophthalmologist near me or general practitioner in North Lakes, or gynaecologist in Canberra or somewhere like that, they’re typing in these search results because they’re ready to find you. They’re ready to find someone that’s offering your type of services. SEO determines when all of those websites that start to show in those first few results across Google, once that search term has been entered. And there are multiple different ranking factors that help a website get right up the top when someone searches. So I’m not going to go into too much detail because there’s over 200 ranking factors or something crazy like that.
One thing that you can implement to help your website get that boost and start ranking higher in a Google search result is to start with what we call a Google My Business page (now known as a Google Business Profile, as of November 2021). So this is actually a free product or a free tool that Google offers for local businesses. And it is definitely one that any single health professional with a local business wants to actually have and be on a Google My Business listing. It’s quite easy. All you need to do is funny enough, is Google ‘Google My Business ‘and then follow the prompts to set up your business details. And then after that, you’ll have that little knowledge panel that appears on the right, in a Google search result. Your business will be listed there. And it just makes it really easy for your patients to find your information, click through to your website, find your contact details and where you are located. Definitely secure your Google My Business page. It is a very, very, very effective and fantastic tool.
With SEO, like I said, there are so many other ranking factors. What you can do is make sure that your website is listing all the different services that you offer and has some really good quality content explaining what those services are, or it could even be the conditions that you treat. Make sure that you’re explaining what the condition is, what some of the symptoms could be, what some of the treatment options are, and then even listing who the doctors are in your practice that can help treat that condition or support a patient who may be suffering from that specific condition. Or on the other hand, it could be who’s offering these services within your practice. Making sure that you’ve got that information on your website is really going to help you get ahead of the game and acquire more patients through SEO activities. This moves us onto the second one, which is websites.
You want to make sure that your website is putting your best foot forward. Your website is your practice online, so you want to be proud. You want to make it have the same feeling as if a patient was walking into your consult rooms for the very first time. So make it reflect the look and feel of your physical practice. Your website should have that kind of similarity so that it is a consistent experience for the patient, whether they’re meeting you online for the first time or they’re coming into your consult rooms. With your website, I’ve talked about the pages, but it’s also important to make sure that it’s loading fast and this also impacts your SEO results. Because the faster your website loads, it can attribute to a higher ranking score (along with some other factors), but it definitely does make an impact.
You can run your website URL through a Google site speed test. And again, all you need to do is search for ‘Google site speed test’ (or follow this link), and I’m sure something will pop up and you can put your URL into that and measure how effective that is for you. Now, if you get a fairly good result, normally it scores like an A, B, C, D, or E. If you get an A or a B, that’s a good result. If you get C or D, you might want to talk to your website developer or contact us at Splice to help you boost that ranking or the site speed. Definitely just check that one out.
The final part that I want to focus on with SEO and also impacts a high performing website is to make sure you have that trust factor on your site.
What you can do is list your doctors, have their photos there, their information, their bios, and that builds that trust factor. It builds that relationship online with your patients. Because if I’m looking for a medical specialist, I’ve got that fear, I’ve got that anxiety around whatever I’ve just been diagnosed with, or potentially something’s wrong with me. I want to see the smiley doctor on the other end of my screen and their credentials, so that I feel reassured that they are the right doctor for me. Make sure that you’ve got all of your doctors listed and their bios on your website. It’s a really, really, really effective tool.
It’s also important to make it really easy for people to contact you. And I know that sounds super, super obvious, but you need an online booking system.
Integrating your practice management software with online booking through your website is a really, really important strategy because people search for health professionals at any time, day or night. If you have an online booking system, they can just book in for a meeting with you and you’ve acquired a new lead. If you don’t have an online booking system, then you’re making your patient wait till your practice opens the next day to call you and most likely they’ve moved on and they’ve started to search for someone where they can easily book online. So make sure that if you can, embed your booking system through your website. If not, and even if you can have your booking system online, make sure that all of your phone numbers on your website are hyperlinked so that if someone wants to call you from their mobile device, all they need to do is click on the mobile number and it will call straight through.
They’re just some effective strategies, some little quick wins I guess you could call them, to make sure that your website is converting more patients. And by converting, I mean, making sure that someone can easily click and call you from an online channel through to your physical practice and your reception team. You want to make sure that your website is converting those patients for you, and they are some of the strategies that you can use to make sure that that happens.
All right, let’s move on to email marketing. If you are an established practice, no doubt you’ve got a patient email list. This is such an effective and incredibly underutilised tool, I would say, your database and email marketing. Email marketing generates what we believe is the best return on investment. It’s quite cheap and quite cost-effective to email your patients.
They already know who you are, they’ve already built that trust factor. So if I send out an email and say, it’s cancer awareness month, we’d like to encourage or we want our patients to come in and get a test or we’re offering free screenings or whatever it might be. And all of a sudden, you’ve got 10 private patients coming into your clinic and you’ve hardly paid a cent to email them, to let them know. That is a really effective marketing tool that you can use, so make sure that you are utilising your email database and email marketing. Look at the national health events calendar, have a look at what’s coming up and what relates to your practice and send out those invites to your patients, or that awareness piece to your patients to say, “this is coming up, if you have concerns, book in and come and see us and let’s have a conversation”.
Segmenting your email marketing list can be another really great way to reactivate past clients. If you’ve got clients who haven’t come in for maybe 8, 10, 12 months, whatever it might be, you might want to segment them and create a new list just of those clients or those patients. Then you can email them and start to provide them educational content and warm them up and remind them that you are there. When they need your care again, they’re most likely going to come back to you because you’ve been front of mind for them because you’ve been offering really great content, right in their inbox. It is such a really effective tool. So that’s email marketing.
If you don’t have an established database, then one way that you can grow your database is to create a really good educational resource.
So whether that’s a patient information book or a video similar to this one. Make sure that a patient gives you their email address in exchange for that ebook or watching that video, and then that will allow you to start building up your email list. Now, it’s important that when you are collecting emails, you are letting the patient know that you’ll be communicating to them with marketing content and that they consent to opting in to receive that marketing content. Not only that, but you want to make sure that the information for the patient is being stored somewhere secure. They’re just some other factors to consider, but that is one strategy that you can use to build your database if you haven’t yet got that email list. And if you haven’t yet got your email list, definitely start these activities sooner rather than later. Because like I said, email marketing is very cost effective and really great return on investment down the track.
So the more you can build now, the better your long term marketing activities and return will be. So you can thank me later. Hopefully, you’re still with me and I hope you’re scribbling frantically in your notebooks or typing away on your computer because these are some really great strategies that I’m offering you and definitely move the needle when it comes to acquiring more new patients to your practice.
Paid search refers to Google Ads mainly. Google Ads are those paid ads that appear right at the top of a Google search result. So you actually pay Google for someone to click on your ad to come through to your website. And I know it sounds very similar to what I was talking about in the SEO component, but SEO can take a while to get your website in those top few ranking positions. It could take 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, it really does depend.
While you are waiting to get those top few spots on Google, you want to start running Google ads. You can set a budget of $10, $20, $30 a day. Typically, $20 a day is a good starting point because it means that you can acquire more patients. Again, going back to the scenario that I was explaining with the SEO, if I’m looking for a gynaecologist in Canberra or a doctor in North Lakes, then if you’ve got a Google Ad, your result will appear straight up for me in an ad format. I will click on that and there I am at your website, booking in to see you. So Google Ads are a really good tool. Now, Google does offer $100 free credit at the time of this recording, who knows they always change it up.
If you’re a new starter, get that $100 credit, set up a really basic campaign on your own and start testing Google Ads. However, you do want to make sure that you are getting the best return on investment from your Google Ads activity. So if you can afford it and when you can afford it, it is really important to engage a company like Splice Marketing, who have the expertise in house to set up a really effective campaign for you on Google Ads that is going to get you the return. And a dedicated PPC specialist, like what we offer here at Splice that is going to be in your account and optimising and making sure that you are getting clicks that result in a new patient booking. So that’s paid search.
‘Content is king’ they say and I truly really believe that. In healthcare, marketing is done through education. You are the experts, you are the doctors. You know what information needs to be shared with the patient. The sooner you can start writing content for your patient that answers their frequently asked questions, the better. If you have a think, even if you just sit down now or sit down after this video, and you list all of the different questions that you get asked every other day by your patients. Reflect back on the recent consults you have and list all of those questions that you’ve been asked, and then that’s where you can start. You can start writing answers to all of those questions. If you are okay in front of a camera, on video to record the answers, it’s even better.
If you’re not that comfortable with video, feel free to write it down and turn that into a blog. That article will then be published to the blog section of your website, and you can then repurpose that one blog by taking a snippet of it and sharing it on social media with a graphic and driving people back to your website. The reason we’re driving people back to your website is because all the information about you and your doctors and your services is on your website, which means that they’re more likely to book in for a consult if and when they need you.
So get writing, get the content up there. There are many different forms of content as well. I mentioned video. If you are able to do video, I strongly recommend uploading it into YouTube, and then also embedding it into your website on a blog page, transcribing it, and making that a blog. And then again, sharing snippets of that blog or that video out onto your social media channels to get in front of your patients and drive them back to your website.
Content marketing is super important. When you’re writing content, you also want to make sure you’re considering all the different services that you’re offering and all the conditions that you’re treating, and writing about those. That just strengthens your overall website and the overall information that you are offering to your patients. So get writing as well. It definitely is an effective strategy.
All right, so I rattled off quite a few strategies. We’ve done SEO, social media, your website, email marketing, paid search, content marketing, social media. I didn’t really cover off that one too much. So let’s quickly jump into that.
Social media is where you can build your communities and where you can educate your patients. There are so many different cohorts of patients on the various social media channels.
The platform that we’re seeing working most effectively is still surprisingly Facebook. You know, it’s a really great place to actually put content, but it has become a pay to play platform. This basically means that when you publish a post up on your Facebook page, your business Facebook page, you want to then boost it for at least $5 and to people in your local area that might be interested in that content. It could be females, it could be a particular age range, it could target a specific interest. It just means that your content will actually be seen by more people. If you just publish it to your Facebook page and you don’t have many followers, you are hardly going to see any engagement or viewership on that post. Boosting it gives you that little bit of a leg up and gets your content in front of more people. So that’s Facebook.
Instagram is working really effectively for healthcare businesses at the moment. People love the behind in the scenes content. They want to see your chiropractors in action. They want to see the smiley gynaecologist. They want to see the reception team. So make sure you’re taking those photos and uploading them to Instagram. Hashtags are how you grow and be found on Instagram, so make sure that you’re putting in relevant hashtags. And by hashtags, it could mean like #Northlakes, hashtag business type, hashtag conditions that you treat. It really does help your content get that leg up, again, and just be seen by more people. But as well as posts, if you are into videos and you can do videos and you’re open to videos, record quick snippets. Opening the door in the morning, or having a coffee, or shaking hands, or prepping their treatment room for the next client that comes in, and upload that into your reels or to your Instagram stories. Because people love video content, and it’s just going to help build that community around your brand.
Make sure that you continue to build that trust factor. It is a really effective way to go “we’re human, you’re human” and build that connection with someone. And again, with all of this linking back to your website or referring to your business name helps build that awareness and that lead generation, bringing people from the social media channel, leading them through to your website, which then can lead to a booking down the track or at that time. So that’s social media. I know I haven’t really touched on it in too much detail.
Something that I will say though on social media is AHPRA compliance. It is obviously really important to consider if you are covered under AHPRA as a health professional, which the majority of you are. There’s a lot of different areas involved with that, including social media engagement, such as testimonials and feedback on posts.
User and Conversion Tracking
You’ve got all this work happening online, everything’s moving. You’ve got content going out regularly onto your website. You’ve got it being shared on social media. It’s helping boost your SEO. Your website has the booking button. It’s easy for people to call. You’re sending emails to your patient databases, letting them know about any updates in the practice or all the different health events that are happening and the different services that you might be offering in relation to that health event. And you’ve got your Google Ads bringing in new patients. Winning combination. I know it does sound like a lot, but it just takes one piece at a time if you’re not ready to do it all.
You want to make sure that all of that is tracking correctly. It is worth engaging a marketing agency like Splice to set up your Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager accounts and track every single one of those channels and all of those activities. Because once that’s set up and you’ve been educated on what to look for, which is what we offer here at Splice as well, you’ll know if social media is bringing more patients to you than perhaps your paid searches or your content marketing. You might have a hundred people looking at your blogs every month. So that might say, all right, well, we need to write more content or more blogs for you then.
Having those analytics really does take the guesswork out of what’s working for me in terms of marketing and what’s getting me the patients, what’s not, where do I focus my energy? So whether you’re starting out, get the analytics set up from the start. If you’ve been going for ages and you’re growing your practice, then even just making sure or having second set of eyeballs, look over your analytics and making sure everything is tracking correctly, can really help you take the guesswork out of the marketing and know what’s working for you.
I’ve covered a lot, I know that. I just wanted to touch on all of those different moving parts when it comes to digital marketing. Because everything I’ve mentioned is how you’re going to acquire more patients into your practice.
I hope it was informative. I hope you got a lot out of it. If you do want to know more information, feel free to head through to the Splice Marketing website. Our blog section and resource section are packed full of more educational information just like this, with quick tips, checklists, videos, and blogs, all there to support you as the health professional. And you can always book in for a free 30 minute session with me if you wanted to go over anything in more detail. Thank you for watching and I hope to see you soon or talk to you soon. All the best and good luck growing your practice.
Disclaimer: This transcript has been edited for clarity.