What is the best way to market a medical practice? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
According to the Vision Council of America, over 75% of Americans use some form of vision correction solution—including glasses, contact lenses, or LASIK eye treatment. Furthermore, the National Eye Institute indicates that cataracts affect nearly 25 million Americans over the age of 40.
This tells us that there’s a significant portion of the population that will benefit from seeing an optometrist. But, unlike family doctors or ER physicians who may not need to actively promote their services, optometrists have to take advantage of marketing strategies to build the dependable flow of new patient consultations needed to expand their practices. In our experience, we’ve found the best way for optometrists to generate this new flow of patients is by embracing an inbound marketing approach and shifting away from the traditional outbound-only model.
Not only does inbound marketing allow you to organically connect with prospective patients, provide them with valuable information, and build their trust, it is also less expensive than outbound marketing and has been shown to generate 54% more leads.
Over the last decade, our firm has worked with a diverse range of professional practice clinics across North America to boost their flow of new patients using inbound marketing. Throughout these campaigns, we’ve noticed a few evergreen solutions that consistently drive results for our clients:
Develop Buyer Personas
Before you can market your practice, you need to know who you are marketing to. A buyer persona represents a fictionalized depiction of ideal patients for your practice and encompasses information on their income, lifestyle, marketing triggers, pain points, objections, and more. Developing buyer personas can help you get a better understanding of your prospective clients. With this information, you can start developing marketing collateral that speaks specifically to these ideal customers. For those who are new to the idea of buyer personas, we’ve put together a free Buyer Persona Development Template to help you get started.
Cultivate Social Proof Points
First impressions count for a lot, which is why managing your practice’s local search and review presence is essential. If you haven’t already, you can begin by claiming your business on Google My Business and begin regularly monitoring your listing. Scan for comments, and address questions and concerns as they arise. This will help you build a reputation as a practice that is engaged with and cares about its patients. Furthermore, we recommend keeping track of your positive reviews (perhaps on a testimonial page on your website, for example), which you can use as social proof about the quality of your work. It’s a small step (and in many ways, it is the least you can do), but managing your listings on Google My Business, and similar sites like Yelp, RateMyMD, and others can go a long way in shaping the perception of your practice for prospective patients.
Invest in Paid Search Campaigns
In our experience, we’ve found that paid search traffic converts at 2x the rate of organic traffic. If someone is clicking on a pay-per-click (PPC) ad, they are likely more prepared to book a consultation with your practice or even begin treatment. Simply put, an effectively implemented and managed PPC campaign can quickly become a primary source of new patients for your practice. If you’d like to learn more about setting up your next paid search campaign, this 8 Effective PPC Management Tips blog post can help.
Provide Compelling Content
Creating compelling content to engage these prospective patients is an invaluable way to guide them toward deciding to begin treatment, while also establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field. One strategy we’ve seen success with is getting professional practice clients to think about the most common questions they hear from patients. The ones that come up for them every day, without fail. Then, take those questions and answer them online in a blog post. The results of these posts have been incredible. In fact, in one case, publishing a blog post like this was directly responsible for doubling the organic search traffic that arrived at our client’s site.
Offering interactive content is another fantastic option for optometrists looking to stand out in a crowded field. A perfect example of this type of content, especially for those interested in LASIK treatment, is an interactive payment calculator. This type of tool provides leads with an immediate answer to another common question: “How much will my treatment cost?”. Of course, it also provides you with a wealth of valuable information, namely, the contact information of a prospective patient who is serious enough about beginning treatment that they’re exploring pricing scenarios on your website. This knowledge can very easily be used to reach out and discuss further options, including booking a consultation to see if treatment is right for them.
We’re big fans of interactive tools and have written in the past about why we feel their rewards are worth the investment. Most notably, because they convert leads at almost double the rate of traditional inbound offers—making them an essential piece of the puzzle for any medical practice that is serious about generating new patients.
Embrace Paid Social
After developing the compelling content mentioned above, you need to ensure it’s being seen by those who will benefit from it. Taking advantage of paid social opportunities can help you achieve that goal. Recently released data suggests that people are spending nearly an hour a day on social media sites like Facebook. Paid social advertising allows you to reach these people with sponsored posts that appear directly in their timelines. Thanks to Facebook’s incredibly granular advertising capabilities, you can ensure the right target audiences are seeing these ads for your practice and that they feature content that is relevant to their needs. For example, you could run one paid social ad directed at parents whose children may need to see an optometrist, and another at older patients who may be worried about developing cataracts. In fact, you can run unique ads for each buyer persona you’ve developed, ensuring every prospective patient will see content tailored to their needs and concerns.