Medical Marketing Guide
for GP Clinics and Medical Specialists
If you're searching for medical marketing advice you're probably a practice owner or healthcare professional in the medical industry. And more than likely you're already aware that today’s digital-savvy patients research everything online before they’ll consider a product or a service.
That applies to individual GP's, medical centres, medical specialists, surgeons, allied health professionals and other medical professionals in the medical industry and healthcare sectors.
What patients see when they research you or your clinic online is referred to as your digital presence.
This is something you can utilise to your advantage to build your reputation and grow your practice. Utilising your digital presence to attract new patients is often referred to as local online medical marketing.
In this guide we’ll share the crucial steps that kickstart the process of transforming your digital presence from outdated, unfindable and not engaging, to that of a visible, valuable and trusted medical practice.
The following chapters have been put together by our medical marketing team who specialise in shining the light on your practice in the online world so patients who need you, can easily find you.
Read on for the next steps.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another”
– Seth Godin
Branding is a must-have in the healthcare industry
Branding touches every component of the patient experience from initially finding your website to rebooking their next appointment. The ultimate goal is to create a practice brand that patients know, like and trust.
Building a healthcare brand helps to set your business apart from the competition. The concept of branding has a number of benefits:
- Informs your marketing activities. Developing your medical brand is a fundamental step in your marketing strategy. Your brand informs the rest of your marketing and digital marketing activities.
- Achieves visual consistency. Imagine how much easier it will be to create a functional, attractive website and other marketing materials when you already have brand colours, typography, core messaging and images to represent your business
- Attracts the right patients. Branding is about establishing an emotional response to the look and feel of your practice.
It’s a promise about the quality of care and the experience patients can expect at your practice.
Why you should pay attention to branding
Your reputation is everything. It's by far your most valuable asset.
By purposefully creating a brand 'look and feel', you increase your chances of being perceived how you want to be perceived by actively shaping it, rather than leaving it to chance.
Not only that, it can help you to appeal to the types of patients that you'd like to attract to your clinic.
Looking at the model below, you can see how these points help to establish the foundation for your own unique style of visual and verbal elements for your practice. This is referred to as your brand style guide.
A brand style guide is used for all of your marketing and collateral to ensure a cohesive look and feel. So no matter where your patients view your marketing (website, brochure, google post, social media post) they can instantly recognise your practice.
Your Medical Practice Website
“Websites promote you 24/7: No employee will do that."
– Paul Cookson
Your medical practice website
Your medical website plays a huge role in the success of your practice.
Not only is it your online reception area, your website is also where patients are guided to:
- Learn about your practice, location, philosophies, opening hours
- Find out more about your team, view special interests, areas of expertise and choose a doctor or specialist
- Read about the range of services you offer and when they are available
- See information about Allied Health practitioners
- Make up their mind about whether they want to visit your practice - or go to your competitor
And very importantly, your website is one of the gateways to online bookings which fill up your appointments and let patients book an appointment no matter the time of day.
Redesigning a website - or building a new website
There are so many elements to a successful website and some of them can feel confusing and overwhelming. Here's a look at what's usually involved in a website redesign with the goal of getting your website performing better and driving more patient bookings:
Medical website design
This relates to the design and function of your website.
- How pages and menus are structured
- The placement of buttons, links and calls to action (like 'Book Online')
- The design of headings, text, images and footer
- The use of your visual and verbal branding elements across your pages
Medical website development:
Development is about the coding of your website's design elements. Ideally development will ensure:
- Fast website loading speed (excellent hosting plays a big role here)
- Clean website code (poorly coded websites are usually slow and don't rank well on Google)
- Correctly installed SSL certificate (to protect patient data)
- Mobile responsive (displays nicely on a mobile phone, buttons big enough to tap with a finger)
Website information or 'content':
The goal of your website content is to educate your patients and encourage them to book with you, as well as to encourage Google to view your website as a trusted source of information. Content covers things like:
- Your home page information (which should align with your core messaging from your brand style guide)
- Your services pages
- Information about your team and special interests
- Clear contact information
- Location pages if you have multiple locations
- Blogs or articles about topics of interest to your patients
- Practice news and updates
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
“Make it easy for your future patients to find you online"
- Local MD
Medical search engine optimisation
When your web design, development and content are done right, search engine optimisation becomes alot easier.
Medical search engine optimisation is a strategy that helps your medical practice be more visible in the search results on Google.
A big factor in the success of any SEO work is having an enticing, easy-to-navigate, informative website that leads your website visitors towards a call to action e.g. book online, click to call, or simply spending a couple of minutes reading a page of information.
SEO tends not to work well without a high-performing website - and vice-versa - a well-designed website is unlikely to generate website visits without SEO.
Medical SEO activities
When a marketing agency delivers SEO services for your clinic, some of the key elements include:
- Keyword research - making sure the words used on your pages match how patients search online
- On-page optimisation - writing unique headings and descriptions based on keyword research
- Image optimisation - compressing and naming your images
- Adding location indicators to your website - to help Google understand your business relevance in your local area
- Local link building - to build up a fuller picture of your business across the web
- Creating new information or 'content' to continue building up the knowledge base of your practice online
- Schema markup implementation - additional code to further assist Google to understand your website
- And much more...
A key SEO strategy - Services Pages
When you create in-depth pages about your key services and those pages are optimised for search engines, more patients are likely to find your practice online when they are searching for a provider of those services.
When creating services pages:
- It's important to use words that patients are likely to use when they are searching for the service - not medical terms that are not commonly known
- Clearly describe the service, who the service is for, why it is important
- Other helpful points that could be included are the process for the service (what to expect) and links to the practitioners or specialists who deliver the service
- Include images and link out to other relevant websites related to the service if applicable
Google My Business (GMB)
“Google My Business is the new home page for local businesses"
- Mike Blumenthal
Google My Business for Medical Practices
Google My Business is arguably the most important element of your online presence.
Any search relating to a medical centre will result with a maps listing because you have a physical location.
Your practice appearing as one of the top 3 businesses in the maps listing (image) is the difference between:
- Your practice being right there at the exact moment those patients need a healthcare practitioner, or
- Completely missing out.
Google My Business is how you can appear in the maps listing.
First your listing must be claimed and verified, then it needs to be completed and optimised. This allows Google to more easily find and display your business information such as opening hours, phone number, address, website, services and more.
Think of Google My Business as:
- A communication tool for sharing your essential business information, and
- An attraction tool through the sharing of photos, videos, services, practitioners and useful information
Within Google My Business are 2 features called Google Posts and Google Products, where you can promote/advertise your services, campaigns, benefits of choosing your practice and more.
Google verification can become tricky for multi-location practices, so can situations where practitioner listings are competing with the main practice listing. Having correctly optimised GMB listings can make all the difference.
Learn more here: 20 ways to win at Google My Business
“Nearly 90% of older adults have used social media to seek and share health information."
Social Media for Medical Practices
Many practice owners we speak with shy away from social media. And we can understand why, social media profiles take time and effort to maintain. However social media can be a really beneficial and profitable tool for medical practices.
Social media is an avenue to provide customer service and share expertise
Millions of people in Australia use social media to connect with family, friends, businesses and organisations, share personal information and discover relevant news. Medical practices can utilise social media as a tool for sharing important updates and announcements, raising awareness of current issues, to show your practice personality and build rapport with patients before they even step foot inside your clinic.
Social media expands your online presence
Creating social media profiles and using those profiles to share information about your business and services helps to better establish your online footprint. Not only that, the more places your medical practice appears online, the more likely patients will find you.
Contributes to your Google rankings
Facebook in particular is an important component of the online ecosystem for local businesses. Having an active Facebook profile can boost the relevance of your brand, encouraging Google to rank you higher.
An essential health resource in this day and age
Social networks have become an essential health resource for all ages and patients use it to seek out and share health information. Just look at the popularity of Facebook pages like CPR Kids. One perspective is to view social as a more sophisticated method of 'word of mouth' marketing. When done right, social media can bring many benefits to your practice. We understand it's not the right fit for everyone and many practice owners prefer more conservative approaches to medical marketing, although by not utilising social media your clinic is potentially missing out.
61% of Australians check a clinic's Google Reviews before booking.
Patients read online reviews to help choose a provider
When patients are looking for a health practitioner, the majority read online reviews to help them make an informed decision. In fact according to online booking software provider HotDoc, it was found that 54% of Australian patients check a clinic’s Google reviews prior to choosing them. Not only that, 77% were more likely to book with a clinic with 4-5 stars.
Patients are the customers of healthcare practices and without seeking feedback on your clinic's performance it's hard to know how to improve.
When a clinic isn't aware of deficiencies, the door is open to negative Google reviews. Unfortunately, unless prompted, more people are inclined to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.
Positive patient feedback helps boost online reputation
Online reviews are a fact of life for all healthcare businesses. While they can be turned off when it comes to Facebook and practitioners have to specifically 'opt in' for certain review sites like Whitecoat, there is no such feature on Google. Google reviews are a feature of the Google My Business profile which is a necessity for getting a practice found online. Google reviews cannot be turned off.
Love them or hate them, Google reviews form part of a practice's brand and online presence and patients may be more attracted or turned off, based on the aggregated Google review star rating and comments.
Additionally, the number of Google reviews and the rating score of those reviews (from 1-5) are two metrics used by Google to rank businesses. Therefore if you have a higher number of reviews and a high rating, your business is more likely to appear above your competitors.
And that's a wrap...
As practice owner there's so many opportunities to set up your online presence to be more visible and appealing to new patients in your local area. And judging by the digital-savviness of today's patients, your options are to take the leap and embrace those opportunities or be left behind.
Utilise your practice brand, website and Google My Business profile to your best advantage to build your reputation using search engine optimisation to attract a consistent flow of new patients.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about the crucial steps that kickstart the process of transforming your digital presence from outdated, unfindable and not engaging, to that of a visible, valuable and trusted medical practice.
Let's shine the light on your practice in the online world so you can positively impact the lives of more patients.
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