How to get more patients
20 strategies to attract new patients and improve your appointment flow
If you're wondering how to attract more new patients to your medical practice, you're in the right place.
Most practice owners we speak with want to grow using methods that don’t require being over the top or paying for ads forever. While ads can be beneficial and do have a place we tend to focus on tried and tested essentials that help to future-proof your results.
Here’s our top 20 strategies to attract new patients and improve your appointment flow to contribute to a thriving medical practice.
1. Know Your Patient. Who Do You Serve?
How well do you know your patients?
- Are they predominantly seniors, professionals, families or a mix?
- Do you serve a specific niche?
- Are your current patients the type that you want to attract?
Whether you’re a physiotherapist, medical centre, psychology practice, orthopaedic surgeon or dentist, chances are you enjoy working with a particular type of patient.
- A physiotherapy practice might want to attract more patients for paediatric occupational therapy
- Doctors at a medical centre might want to try and attract more womens health patients
It’s essential to determine the demographics of the niche or sector you work with, or want to work with.
Where do they spend time online? How old are they? Are they mostly male, female or an even split? What is the problem they have before they seek the service you offer?
Understanding your ideal client or ideal patient sets the foundation on which you can build the rest of your marketing strategy.
2. The Patient Experience
Now think about the experience you offer your patients. Do they enjoy accessing your services? Do you have a loyal patient base?
There’s little benefit spending cash on marketing if you’re not going to retain the patients that you attract.
Part of delivering excellent customer service is truly understanding who you’re serving (which we covered in the previous point) and more importantly, how you can ensure they have a positive experience at your clinic.
As an example, when it comes to their first appointment:
- Is is easy to find parking?
- Is the waiting room clean, tidy and welcoming?
- Do the Reception team welcome patients with a smile?
- Are appointments running on time?
Are you and your team delivering a consistently positive experience for patients?
3. Google My Business
Google My Business is absolutely essential for a local healthcare business to be found online.
Without it, your clinic won’t be found on Google Maps or in the most important section of Google Search for a local clinic - the maps listing or ‘maps pack’.
When you consider that more than 86% of people look for a business on Google Maps you don’t want to miss out on this crucial listing.
Google My Business has become another home page for local businesses. Try it yourself - open up google search and type in ‘doctor near me’. You’ll most likely see a list of Ads and then a map with 3 or 4 businesses listed underneath.
If you don’t have a Google My Business profile, you don’t get in the map. If you already have a Google My Business profile, well done!
Have you put effort into making it great? Does it have 100% accurate business information, up-to-date business hours, recent photos and videos, consistent positive reviews? If not, spending some time on this will be of great benefit when it comes to attracting new patients.
4. Business Listings
Other business listings are also really important.
Bing Places, while much less searched than Google Maps, is used by 3.57% of Australians. AppleMaps is also essential as 75% of Iphone users use AppleMaps.
While the hard copy Yellow Pages is considered obsolete nowadays, being listed in online directories is an important step in building your online presence. If you’re wondering what to do to get a listing, here’s the general steps:
- Go to the site & search for your business
- If you have a listing, check that your business name, address, phone number and website are correct on each site.
- If you can’t find your business on a site, find the ‘Add a Business’ page and add your clinic.
- Remember to record the login details you create
- If you’re having trouble editing an incorrect listing or adding a new listing, try If anything is not correct, you’ll need to update it. The process to update a listing varies for each site. contacting the support contact for the site.
Online Local and Medical Directories
While you probably won’t get many new patients from free online directories, they are helpful when it comes to SEO. Get your clinic listed in these as a start:
- Health Direct
There are paid versions of healthcare directories too, which can potentially be a source of new patients for your practice.
5. Online Reputation And Reviews
Word of mouth most likely played an important role in growing your practice when you first started out.
Now word of mouth has evolved from person- to-person to one-to-many through the power of online reviews.
Take a look at your Google Business profile if you have one.
- What is your current star rating? Ideally it should be between 4-5 stars.
- What do your review comments say about you?
- Are there any common themes to your negative reviews?
Your response to negative reviews should be viewed as an extension of your brand.
While there are strict regulations around reviews in healthcare, that may not necessarily mean they’re strictly off-limits.
Stick to these principles to stay within AHPRA’s regulations (and if in doubt, get legal advice):
- Appropriate experiences the patient can ‘review’ include things like: cleanliness of practice, ease of parking, on-time appointments, welcoming atmosphere
- Make it clear to patients that they should not include any personal or clinical information in their review
- If a patient shares clinical or personal information in their review, never confirm it in your review
No matter what marketing strategies you plan to use, your strategy should rely on consistent branding across all communication channels.
What this means is when a customer visits your Facebook page, Google My Business profile, website or gets an email from you, the look and feel of your business should be the same.
Why is this important? Branding helps your ideal patients (the ones you really want to serve) identify with your business and get the same feeling from each touchpoint they have with you. Some of the simplest ways to keep your branding consistent is to set specific guidelines around:
- Your logo and the images you use
- Colours you use to represent your brand
- Fonts / Typography for your website and brochures
- The way you speak in your marketing material, is it casual, friendly, direct, authoritative, conversational, fun
- Specific phrases you use to describe the features and benefits of your services
- Your values and philosophies
7. Quality Website Foundations
Just like any industry there are excellent quality products you can use for your online presence, and there are average ones.
When it comes to the building blocks of your website, here are some of the important components that make up how well your website runs and how future-proof it is.
a) Website hosting
Hosting doesn’t usually get its own place in a marketing strategy list but its importance cannot be understated.
Your hosting account is where your website lives online and plays a huge role in how fast your website loads and how secure it is.
Quality hosting with dedicated live support allows you to fix any website problems fast and with confidence. After all if your website is down your online home is at risk and you’re missing out on appointments.
b) SSL Certificate
You may have noticed some websites have a padlock next to their URL in the address bar at the top of the screen. This indicates a website is secured with SSL which provides protection to your patients when they’re sharing personal information.
If your website has a http:// in front of your domain name and not https:// then you most likely don’t have a SSL certificate or it hasn’t been installed correctly.
c) Website theme and builder
It may seem strange, but the platform or website builder that your website is built on can have a huge impact on your marketing success. Some website builders are simply not good for improving your SEO for a variety of reasons.
If you’re contemplating getting a new website, choose a platform or builder that will help rather than hinder your SEO and is as future-proof as possible. Get advice from a professional you can trust, or get in touch if you would like to know what we recommend.
d) Website speed
One of the reasons we are so particular with the website building blocks is website speed. Think about your own online experiences.
Have you ever clicked on a website only to click straight back to the search results because the website was too slow to load?
If your website pages are slow to load, Google won’t like your website as much. If patients have to wait more than 3 seconds for your website pages to load they’ll usually get annoyed and click back to the search results.
Having a well-thought-out, attractive- looking website plays a massive role in how well you do online.
Your website should be on-brand, meaning it’s in line with the current look and feel of your business.
When people arrive on your website, it should be immediately obvious what you do. Here’s the essentials:
- Simple, attractive design with space between sections (not crammed)
- Images that appeal to the kinds of patients you want to attract (e.g. if you want more senior patients, use less young family pics)
- Appealing images of your team, your premises and services in action
- Clear structure that is easy to navigate and find information
- Clear, clickable contact information (e.g. click on the phone number and it automatically dials if the person viewing the website is using a mobile phone)
- Simple calls to action - it should be a no- brainer for patients to know what to do next, whether that be to book online or call to make an appointment
- Looks great and easy to use on a mobile phone e.g. strategically placed buttons that are large enough and easy to press on a mobile (also referred to as ‘mobile friendly or mobile responsive)
9. Website Content
Your website design is so important and website content is critical too.
Your website is not only about building rapport with new patients and informing what you do in a visual sense, it also forms the central hub for everything about your clinic online for patients, partners and external organisations.
Fewer pages on your site means there’s less info for visitors to grab onto.
Each page you create is a chance to answer a question a potential patient might be asking.
With that in mind - you can see why your website needs good quality pages about the key services and treatments you offer.
Want to be on page 1 for a particular service? To get an idea of how you might achieve this, do a search on Google and look at the current page 1 results.
Your service or treatment page needs to be at least as good or *alot* better, to be able to push an existing webpage off page 1 to give you a spot there.
Are you wondering what pages your website might need?
- About Us - often the second-most viewed page on your website. People want to know who you are before they choose
- Team / Doctor pages - these are also very popular pages on a healthcare website. Patients often seek out a specific practitioner, can they easily be found on your website?
- Individual services pages- more in-depth pages about the most popular or essential services and treatments you provide (more on this later).
10. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO helps your business to appear higher in the search engine listings, particularly Google as it has 94% of market share (next is Bing at 3.47%).
Without properly executed SEO, your website tends to hover in cyberspace without being found by your ideal patients.
SEO involves adjusting your website information and code (code is what your website is built with, although you don’t ‘see’ it on the front end) to make it more attractive to Google, while also doing activities on a range of other websites that are important for your website to be associated with.
Not only that, SEO for local healthcare clinics is a mix of traditional and local SEO because people searching for a practitioner are typically looking in a specific geographic area. So not only does your website need SEO for your core services, it also needs SEO for your location.
You’ve probably heard that SEO involves things like backlinks, image optimisation and title tags.
Other things we focus on include:
- Making sites suitable for voice search with the massive uptake in use of voice assistants like Google Home, Siri and Alexa
- Schema Markup - which means we can add more code to your website so the way your website appears in the search results is ‘enhanced’ and more clickable
- User engagement - Google measures interactions with your website as a measure of your SEO. If patients click straight back to the search results, Google uses that as an indicator your webpage doesn’t meet their
11. Creating Content
Creating content doesn’t mean pumping out blog article after blog article. Publishing content is about brand-building, education, developing rapport and relationship building.
These days, content creation needs to be in multimedia formats. Articles, social media posts, images, videos, infographics... This is what your patients want as everyone enjoys consuming information in different ways.
There is research around how willing a customer will be to choose your business based on the interactions they have with you before they need your service. While this is less relevant for certain healthcare businesses when it comes to urgent services, people will generally feel more comfortable choosing your practice after they’ve had multiple points of contact with you.
You can achieve this by sharing information about your business, team and services. Patients rely on their mobile phones to find out information and answers to questions while they’re on the go and studies around this have referred to the process as Micro Moments. 51% of people have purchased from a company other than the one they intended, because the information the company provided in Google search was useful.
12. Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with patients or those who have previously indicated an interest in your services.
Sharing updates on brand new services or seasonal info can work brilliantly.
If you’re struggling with ideas when it comes to email newsletters brainstorm:
- Has anything newsworthy happened this month?
- Have any new team or practitioners come on board?
- Are there any new services or treatments available?
- Have any practitioners changed their special interests?
- Have you made any changes to your clinic opening hours?
- Are there any seasonal health tips you’d like to share?
When you know your patients well, you’ll have a good idea of what they’ll find interesting - and what they won’t.
13. Growing Your Social Media Presence
Is social media worth it?.... Yes!
At the very least, it is an avenue to provide customer service, claim your stake on a relevant platform and grow your brand. And it also plays a role in the success of your SEO.
But you don’t want to overdo it and spread yourself too thin. Think back to the segments of customers you’re serving and think about where they spend time online to determine the platforms you want to be present on as a business and/or as a practitioner.
If you’re worried about inappropriate content being posted to your Facebook page, you can adjust the settings to turn off comments and reviews or to require any post by the public to be approved before becoming visible. This can help to reduce the time needed to manage your social media page.
Establishing your presence on various social media accounts is different to strategic social media marketing though.
Claiming a profile and posting updates can only do so much. Facebook and Instagram Ads can help you take things to the next level with precision targeting (more on this soon).
14. Pay Per Click / Google Ads
Google Ads are the most visible area on Google search and about 25% of people who use google search will click on the ads section of the search results.
High volume search terms are generally quite pricey per click, whereas smaller, niche terms are often more affordable and can result in better conversions.
But you can’t just throw an ad up and hope for the best. Ads are subject to criteria that affect where your Ad will show, despite the budget you allocate towards your campaign.
Getting advice from a specialist can help to reduce the amount of cash you burn targeting the wrong keywords or locations, for instance
Remarketing improves brand awareness for people who have already visited your website and helps them to keep your clinic front of mind.
You know how you sometimes visit a website, and afterwards ads for that business seem to follow you around on other websites and social media? That’s remarketing at play.
The benefits are that you’re targeting patients who have already shown an interest in your practice, which in turn improves your conversion rate (the rate of patients that see the ad and then make a booking).
16. Online Booking Software
Online booking software allows patients to book an appointment at your clinic any time of day, whether you’re open or closed.
According to Accenture, 68% of patients want the ability to book, change and cancel appointments online.
It would be a shame to miss out on new patients because there is no ability to make a booking after hours, especially after spending marketing dollars to attract those patients.
Many online booking platforms go beyond more than just appointments too. A solution like HotDoc offers functionality like recalls, reminders and feedback, which all propel a practice’s capability to attract and retain patients.
17. SMS Broadcasts
An SMS Broadcast allows you to send an SMS or text message out to many patients at one time.
These types of messages are brilliant for getting a single important message out to patients and can result in a fast increase in bookings.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Keep these to a minimum, g important updates, seasonal clinics and special offers
- Include your practice name in the SMS so patients know who the message is from
- Use a link shortener to link out to external pages and keep your character limit down
- There are many SMS providers to choose Be sure to check price per SMS and contract specifics before committing to a provider
18. Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads can be a great option when it comes to promoting specific services within your local area.
These paid ads show up in the Facebook feed of your target audience, with the goal to get clicks back to your online booking link or a dedicated landing page for the service you are promoting.
The most exciting thing about Facebook Ads is you can very specifically target who you want the ads to be shown to. For example, if you are promoting a new service for children, you can target parents who live in the suburb your clinic is located in.
Similar to Google Ads, you’ll need some an enticing heading, text, call to action and an image that will catch attention.
19. Services Pages
We touched on website content earlier although it’s important to dive deeper into services pages on your website.
Without in-depth services pages, it’s unlikely your ideal patients will find you on Google, and this is the main place your patients are searching online to find a provider.
Unless you’re the only clinic of your type in your local area, a single page with a paragraph about a service is simply not enough. You need a page with more in-depth, useful information.
When creating services pages, here’s some tips:
- Write about the service in terms that the patient can understand
- Include technical/professional terminology but be sure to explain it
- Inform patients around what to expect and how to prepare
- Link to other pages on the website that are related services
- Share which practitioners offer the service
- Include a call to action / booking button or let them know how to book
20. Measuring Performance
Measuring performance helps you fine tune your marketing strategies by showing you what’s working and what’s not.
The great thing is, there’s plenty of ways you can get feedback to let you know where how you’re doing.
For your website - Google Analytics is a great free tool to share insights about the pages your patient’s visit, how long they spend on each page and if they make an online booking. It also shows you how they found your website whether by searching on Google, clicking an ad, via an email newsletter or referral from another website.
Your Google Ads Dashboard will show you how your ads are performing, for example how many people see the ads, the conversion rate and cost per click. Similarly, your Facebook Ads Overview shows you how many times your ad has been viewed, how many clicks and the cost.
With Email Newsletters and SMS Broadcasts you’ll be able to view opens/deliverability and click rates.
If you implement online bookings, there’ll be a treasure chest of performance data to discover there too.
The most important takeaway here is to use your performance data to fine-tune your marketing strategy and your audiences to focus more on what works for your clinic, getting better results with less dollars.
Download the Marketing Guide for Healthcare Practice
The secret to attracting new patients, increasing retention of existing patients and enjoying a steady flow of appointments 20 comes down to a mix of online and offline marketing