At Wormann Consulting, we truly know how to market a healthcare practice. Our team has had a focus in healthcare for a long time. Before working at Wormann Consulting, multiple members of our team spent years working exclusively in healthcare. Now, we have other clients as well, but still spend over 50% of our time in the healthcare space. We’ve learned a lot over the years, both with what to do and what not to do.
First off, let us strongly encourage you to find an agency that has a background in healthcare marketing. It doesn’t have to be us. Heck, we’ll help you find another agency if we’re not a good fit. But an agency that has “worked with a couple practices before” isn’t going to cut it. Marketing for healthcare is too unique of a niche that can have way too many problems (HIPAA concerns, the way Google treats healthcare, etc.). This isn’t the same as marketing for pet products or local restaurants. The stakes and nuances are much higher.
For healthcare marketing, here are a handful of tips that a lot of agencies aren’t aware of unless they’ve specialized in the space.
Tip #1 – Take Advantage of Extra Google My Business Listings
Typically a business gets one Google My Business(GMB) listing. If you’re not familiar with GMB, it’s essentially an offshoot of what was Google+ (which is now gone, and a whole different story). It’s a significant part of what helps you rank in searches with local intent on Google, which is a significant number of healthcare practice searches:
Anyone that works with local businesses knows that you should immediately claim and fully optimize/fill out your GMB listing. However, what many people don’t know is that Google has an exemption to the “one listing per location” rules for doctors and attorneys.. Because doctors and lawyers operate rather uniquely, often functioning as individuals as well as a part of a practice, you are allowed to have a listing for each doctor instead of just one for the practice. This is actually critically important for two reasons.
- People search for individual doctors as well as for your practice. You want to show up for both and have a strong presence in search results.
- This allows you to dominate search results (or, by not taking advantage, lose out significantly to someone who is doing this). So, if someone searches for “orthopedic near me” you may show up in one of the listings if you claimed your practices GMB page. If you have 5 doctors at your location that have also optimized a GMB profile, you have an even stronger chance of showing up for multiple listings, and dominating the search result.
It may be a bit time consuming, and Google’s systems aren’t always simple, but it’s absolutely worth it if you can do this.
Tip #2 – Doctor Pages Are Probably Your Most Visited – Take Advantage
This isn’t going to help you be found as much as it is going to help you acquire new patients. Once someone is on your site, especially if they’re new, they want to know who is going to be treating them. So, they rush over to the doctor pages to see if they like who is there. This is your chance to make a good impression and convince someone to make an appointment early on. Doctor pages should be one of your top focus areas for this reason. They’re going to convert someone to a patient, or push them away. When optimizing doctor pages:
- Make sure they are easy to find in the menu. They’re important, make them very easily accessible. No-brainer.
- Include consistent professional headshots and video. People are trying to get to know their doctor before they even talk to them. A video goes a long way to helping make a personal connection and making someone feel comfortable. These only need to be 30 seconds to 1 minute long, just enough to help a patient see who the doctor is as a person and their qualifications.
- Include awards and recognition. These help to show credibility and are a factor in having someone filling out a form.
- Keep a contact form on the doctor page itself. Allow someone to make an appointment without navigating away. The more clicks away from the doctor there are before filling out a form, the less likely someone is to do it.
- Make it personal. While people ultimately need to trust and respect their doctor, we are in an age where people want to connect and feel like they’re with a real person too. Be professional, but humanize the doctor. It works.
Tip #3 – Make Sure Your Articles Are Clearly Written by a Professional
Google has made many changes to their algorithm (typically over 300 changes ever year), and recently there has been a lot of focus on medical practices. Most significantly, there is a focus on EAT – Expertise, Authority, and Trust. This is ultimately done to weed out bad content that can effectively be dangerous advice. Think about a supplement company that is trying to treat a condition, and is manufacturing their product in a basement because supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA. Google doesn’t want these people giving advice, and is setting up to make sure they aren’t found in Google search.
If you are writing content with the intent to be found in Google search, make sure you cite external, credible resources (i.e. CDC, NIH, etc.), and make sure your content is clearly attributed to a medical professional (one of your doctors on staff). Even if a third party like your agency or internal support staff writes the content, a doctor should review and approve the content, and the content should have a bi-line that says something similar to “reviewed by Dr. John Smith.” We would also recommend linking that line to the doctors bio page for additional credibility.
Tip #4 – Stop Highlighting Treatments, Start Highlighting Conditions
People don’t care about your practice’s treatments. Sorry, but it’s true. There are some exceptions, like if someone hears “cyberknife” advertised repeatedly on the radio, they may look it up. But that’s the exception.
Years ago we worked with a chiropractor who insisted on content and marketing toward DRX9000, a machine used for spinal decompression therapy. Honestly, it’s a great system. But the average person doesn’t care about it. At all. They’re not looking for it. They want to know “who can help me with my lower back pain, because I can’t take it anymore.” They’re looking for “chiropractor,” “how to stop back pain,” “lower back pain,” and maybe “spinal decompression therapy.” They’re not looking for specific treatment methods. Utilize content and explain the treatments on a condition page, tell people how you’ll treat them, but don’t focus your marketing efforts on it.
Focus on the patient, not what you want to say. You’ll be ignored.
Tip #5 – Think Mobile First, with These Priorities
This one is pretty universal and should go without saying. Google crawls sites “mobile first” now, meaning they look at the mobile version of your site, not the desktop version (though the desktop version is looked at to make sure there are no big issues). But the bigger picture for mobile in healthcare is that the vast majority of traffic is going to come through mobile devices. We are currently working with a large practice (60+ locations) that has over 70% of it’s traffic coming through mobile.
For some reason, when most agencies design websites, they still design desktop first, and then adapt to mobile. In 2020 this is completely backwards. Design mobile first. Make sure that all the important calls to action (CTA’s) are seen before you have to scroll (typically referred to as “above the fold”). Make key information easy to see. Here is a great example of a mobile first design from the Mayo Clinic:
Also, realize that it’s not just mobile phones you need to keep in mind, it’s today’s mobile phones. Phones are a lot bigger now than they used to be (just go to the Verizon store and take a look at what’s out there). That means that it’s harder to stretch your thumb to the corners of the screen. We call these “dead zones” and while you can put content there, it should not be important:
Key takeaway here is to know your users, and they’re on mobile. If you have a sub-par mobile design, you’re turning away patients and throwing away money.
Tip #6 – Put Your Review Energy Where It Matters
We shouldn’t have to convince you of the importance of reviews. This is in every industry. People buy goods and services they feel are trustworthy. Yes, you need to be building good reviews for your doctors and practice, but there’s more to it than that.
First, for most practices the reviews aren’t the real problem. We wrote an entire article on that too (Reputation Management – Your Reviews Aren’t the Problem). There are most likely underlying issues if you have bad reviews and those need to be taken care of first. But, if you have few reviews or need to improve ratings (and issues are taking care of), you should be tactful in how you do it.
Doctors have a significant number of review sites available – more than most industries. Aside from Google and Facebook, there’s Vitals, RateMDs, Healthgrades, ZocDoc, etc. Trying to focus on all of these will dilute your efforts. Many doctors prefer to go right to Healthgrades (likely because of their marketing). Healthgrades is a good place to go for individual doctors, but we typically recommend Facebook and Google first for reviews. Once you have a good number of reviews there, you can move to Healthgrades and increase that presence. The reason we suggest Facebook and Google first, is that this is typically where patients are first. If a patient does a Google search, the reviews on Google (usually the Google My Business profile) are the first thing that show up. When you run Facebook ads or people recommend you on Facebook, they see the rating right there. Healthgrades is secondary to those. Focus your efforts, and first go with what will have maximum impact.
Getting Expert Advice
There are a lot of marketing agencies out there, and many of them are very good at what they do. They don’t all know healthcare. If you’re a part of a healthcare practice, you need someone that knows your industry inside and out. Don’t settle.
If you need help, let us know. We can help you plan out your next steps, and if you don’t think we’re a good fit, we’ll help you find another agency that is. Get in Touch.