*Updated for 2023* When it comes to marketing a medical practice, doctors and marketers have a lot of choices when it comes to promotion. Where should you spend your limited time and budget? It’s at times a paradox of choice, and we become paralyzed with indecision. Or worse, do what we’ve always done even if it’s not getting us the results we want.
To help guide practices looking to move their business forward, here are 13 of the best medical practice marketing ideas.
1. Create/Update Google Business Profile
Your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is what shows up on Google maps and local search. It is the #1 way patients will find you. When potential patients search under a category (e.g. dentist, orthopedic surgeon) your physician’s name, or the practice name, local listings show up first – even before your website.
One could make the argument that a medical practice’s local listing is actually more important than a website (though, that’s important too). By optimizing your business for local search, you can make sure your listing is highly visible and looks great. Further reading: Optimize for Local Search.
2. Have a Great Website
Potential patients are looking for providers they know, like, and trust. Your website is the primary digital destination for this to happen.
The best medical practice websites are patient-centered. That means they make it easy for patients to find the information they need. Normally that’s contact information, insurance information, bill pay, portal, etc. Don’t make the #1 homepage mistake of having too much crammed into your homepage. Doing so can be overwhelming for visitors and have a negative impact on user engagement.
Patients often start their search learning about their symptoms, so having condition information and treatment options on your website can help attract and convert patients.
On the technical side, your website should have a security certificate, be mobile-friendly, and follow tried and true SEO principles. Read more: 10 Best Practices for Medical Practice Websites
3. Write Patient-Centered Doctor Profiles
Patients only care about one thing: themselves. They need to know you, like you, and trust that you can solve their problem. Putting information in terms of the patient will help them relate more quickly to that provider.
For instance, instead of saying that “Dr. Smith has been practicing medicine for 30 years,” you could say, “Dr. Smith has been helping people sleep better and live happier lives for 30 years.” It shows Dr. Smith has experience, but it’s patient-centered.
The same goes for awards and recognition. Instead of saying, “Dr. Smith was awarded the Best Doctor award in 2018,” you could say, “In 2018, Dr. Smith was recognized by his patients for outstanding clinical care and bedside manner and won the ‘Best Doctor’ award.”
4. Media Exposure / Newsjacking
Earned media (unpaid mentions by news organizations) is getting harder and harder depending on the news market. That said, there are a few techniques you can use to improve your odds. The first is timing. A men’s health clinic will have a better chance of getting one of their doctors interviewed on TV during Men’s Health Month than Breast Cancer Awareness month.
When looking for opportunities, see what that news organization has featured in the past. If they’ve done something in the past that should be updated with new medical information, let them know – and offer to be the expert they cite.
Another approach is Newsjacking. That’s when you find something that’s making headlines and relate it back to your business through an article or blog post. For instance, if the Duggar’s (from the show 19 kids and counting) get pregnant again, it would be the perfect time for a urology practice to offer a free vasectomy. Doing so wouldn’t cost a thing and may even land you some national news coverage and a few links (great for SEO).
5. Include Photography on Website
Friendly faces of your office staff, smiling docs with professional headshots, and images showing the interior and exterior of your building can go a long way.
Healthcare organizations already have an image of being a sterile, plain environment. Make sure your website shares some of the personality behind why your practice can be enjoyable to visit. At least, as enjoyable as a doctor’s appointment can be…
6. Review & Update External Listings
External sites like Healthgrades, Vitals, insurance providers, and hospital systems may all have practice and provider information on them. Unfortunately, many are outdated or contain the wrong information. This can be confusing for patients since some of these sites are quite popular.
Every once in a while, it’s good to review the main sites and make updates if necessary. Read more: Half of all healthcare listings have errors – here’s how to correct them.
7. Facebook Advertising
Over the years, Facebook has made it more difficult to reach your followers organically (for free). But, it’s also made reaching new customers very easier than ever. Paid Facebook ads are the lowest cost, highest return activity right now for most medical practices. This opportunity may not last long.
Once large companies wise up divert more money to digital from traditional, Facebook ad prices will rise for everyone. The time to capitalize is now. Read More: Why Your Medical Practice Needs a Facebook Tracking Pixel.
8. Provide an amazing patient experience
The most effective form of advertising is word of mouth from trusted sources. Making sure each patient has a positive experience worth telling their friends about will make a big difference in your patient volume. And, if you’re already a high-volume practice, imagine the potential number of brand advocates (current patients) you have coming through your doors every day.
Wow your patients. A great patient experience is everyone’s job – from the call center, check-in, nurse, doctor, check-out, billing, and security guard. If you haven’t done so, define what makes a great patient experience. Discuss it, write it down, and make sure everyone is committed to providing that level of care.
Remember: it’s darn near impossible to market your practice well if your patient experience is sub-par.
9. Content Marketing
Content marketing can help you and your practice become an authority and attract more patients. Of course, having “MD” behind your name is a type of authority – but I’m referring to being well-known in your community as the expert. The first step to doing that is providing useful content to potential patients. By providing helpful information about condition management, free resources, and symptom information you can impart knowledge that increases trust.
You can also publish thought-leadership articles about your expertise on your blog, in local publications, or in trade publications.
Medical marketers who work with doctors can also sign up for reporter requests like HARO. They are daily emails looking for expert opinions from medium to large media companies. Requests look something like, “Looking for cardiologists to comment on 5 worst foods for your heart.” It can be an easy way for physicians to get more exposure and create inbound links to your website which can benefit your SEO.
10. Google PPC Advertising (Pay Per Click)
Google PPC ads may be a good option for some practices. They work very well for urgent care facilities. Someone searching for “Urgent care near me” is probably someone who needs that service right then. If your practice is seen first and the patient perceives you can solve their need, you’re in.
The best urgent care facilities are removing as much friction from the process as possible. This includes online registration, published wait-times. Google PPC ads can be expensive, so it’s important to optimize their performance (cost) against business metrics.
Google now offers local search placements as well, which may gain momentum as more and more businesses try to compete in local search results (see #1).
11. Proactive Reputation Management
Your Google ranking (part of your Google My Business profile) is the most visible indication of reputation your business has. Don’t leave it up to chance.
There are two types of people who seek out writing reviews: People who love your business, and people who hate it. For medical practices, it can be tough to get people to love their experience. But, they can like it. And they can prefer it to other practices they may have been to. Moving these people to action will help you increase your rating.
It would also make you more immune to the once-in-a-while angry lunatic that writes a terrible review. While you can’t incentivize people to leave reviews, you can make it as easy for them as possible. (read: How Reputation Management for Medical Practices Pays For Itself)
12. Improve Website SEO
Entire books have been written about SEO, but I’ll keep this brief. If you’re producing content on pages and blog posts in WordPress, the easiest SEO and most valuable website SEO tool is Yoast SEO.
This plugin will guide you through technical aspects of SEO. It will remind you about using the search term in the headline, metadata, alt-tags of images, etc. These aspects are just a few aspects of SEO overall, but it’s a free tool that can help take your content from “not-optimized” to “pretty good” which is “good enough” for most businesses.
In the medical space, it will probably put you in the top 20% if not 10% of medical practices when it comes to marketing strategies.
If you want to learn more about the basics of SEO, check out Moz’s free, 9-chapter Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Helpful tip: if you’re looking for an SEO agency, compare their proposal and techniques to that guide. If they promise some secret approach to getting top results, it’s a red flag.
SEO isn’t necessarily complicated, but physicians and medical marketers may not have the time to devote to SEO, which makes hiring an expert a reasonable proposition.
13. Ask for Help
It’s hard to do it all yourself, especially if you’re a smaller practice without a marketing director. In large practices, marketing directors may be tied up working on doctor’s pet-projects, in-person events, or day-to-day management activities.
Finding a good partner that you can trust can be challenging. You may have to try a couple agencies on smaller projects to get a feel for how responsive they are.
If you get the sense they aren’t committed to seeing your practice succeed, it’s time to look somewhere else.
About the Author
Brian Dooley is a healthcare marketing expert and the founder of Independence Digital, a marketing agency that connects patients to medical providers. He was previously the Director of Marketing and Customer Care for one of the largest urology practices in the nation. Specialties include increasing patient volume, profitability, and positioning medical providers as best-in-class.