It’s all about the patients, right? That’s why we are all here. If there were no patients, there’d be no medical industry. So when we think about healthcare marketing in the online world or inbound healthcare marketing, we like to stay patient focused. When we get right down to it, the service we provide for our clients is lead generation. Sure there are all kinds of tactics and technologies we utilize to do this better. But the end result is still the age old metric that drives business: customers. And in our world customers for our clients are patients. So let’s get down to it and start driving more patients to your practice!
Step 1 : Web Traffic
It’s all starts with traffic to your site. And traffic to your site all starts with great content or ad budgets or a combination of both. I won’t focus on ad budgets today as most practices want to create a site that consistently drives traffic without relying on ad budgets alone. And starting great site content, will only make your ad budgets that much more effective.
Great site content starts with providing value to the patient on every page. You need to think like a patient and create content that primarily does two things:
- Answers common patient questions
- Establishes you as an authority on the subject
Answering patient questions is generally very easy content to create. At the end of your day you can simply speak into your dictation device and discuss the topics that came up with patients today. Then hand that recording over to your web developer for inclusion on your site. I have yet to meet a doctor who can’t easily create content in this manner. And what is best is that this is real world content straight from the trenches.
Creating content that establishes you as an authority on the subject doesn’t need to be difficult either. In fact simply by sharing your expertise by answering patient questions will begin to establish your authority. Authority is created when you are actively participating and sharing your insight on a subject. This includes showing that you are constantly gaining knowledge on the subject and discussing the topic with other authorities. The easiest way to do this is to include those authorities in your site content. Did you just read some great research on the latest in laser treatments? Quote the research article and share your two cents. Did you attend a conference recently? What did you learn? What is new and interesting in your specialty? Show your readers that you are a part of the discussion and that you are on top of the trends and this will help to establish your authority.
Step 2: Conversions
Traffic to a website is great. But traffic to a website that turns into names and email addresses is far better. Turning visitors into marketable data, is called conversions and creating conversions is the second step in driving more patient leads. Once you have the visitor to your site, you know what topic they are interested in because you know what page they are viewing on your site and this page has a topic hopefully. Let me give you an example in the area of Bariatrics:
You just attended the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) annual conference and you heard about a new minimally invasive procedure for folding the stomach. The procedure is potentially reversible and is a new and trending topic in your specialty. You return from the conference and write an article on your site about this procedure and your thoughts on the procedure. You then create a conversion form on that page, you consider the context of the page and the topic the reader is obviously interested in. The reader may not be ready to ‘Schedule a Consultation’; they may simply be in the information gathering stage. This is a perfect opportunity to turn this anonymous visitor into an actual patient lead with an effective conversion form or call to action form such as in the example below.
Many websites make the mistake here of using one call to action form across their whole website. Examples would be: “sign up for our specials newsletter” or “schedule a consultation.” But those call to actions aren’t nearly as effective as contextually relevant call to actions that promise to provide insight into a subject — such as the example above.
Step 3: Nurturing
Now that we have the patient lead, it is important to nurture that lead and help educate them through their decision process. The information needed at this stage varies depending on specialty but is always focused on providing value to the lead. In most cases that value comes in the form of timely and relevant content centered around their expressed interests. But wait! This is no longer a daunting task because the process we established in step 2 is already creating relevant and timely content. Now all we need is a system to get that content out to the right leads. In the Bariatrics example above, when we send this lead their free report, we can add them to an email list which will provide informative content on weight loss, surgical options, non-surgical options, expected results, and on and on. Through this process you have now positioned yourself as a valuable resource on the topic and you have also entrenched your name or your practice name in their minds when they think about weight loss and especially surgical options.
Step 4: Measure, Rinse and Repeat
The true beauty of marketing online or inbound marketing for patient leads is that nearly every interaction with the lead is measurable. Say we had an alternate idea for the call to action form above. You could test the alternate idea and compare data to the original idea and now make an informed decision on which form results in the most conversions. You can also review the content of your article to determine if tweaks are needed to drive more traffic or help in the conversion process. You can also review the performance of your nurturing emails to determine if wording changes are necessary and implement new ideas to help them drive more leads back to your site and ultimately into your office.
On a small scale, this process and organization of the site content, call to actions, email campaigns, and measurement can sometimes be handled manually. But after a site is consistently generating content and leads month after month and day after day, the organization alone becomes a large task. Not to mention the many specialties needed to implement a campaign. This is where inbound marketing software and training comes into play. When you are ready to simplify the management of your patient lead generation campaigns, most of these tasks can be done automatically with the right software.
The 4 easy steps for more patient leads are just that… They are fairly easy. None of this is rocket science or brain surgery. But what the process isn’t; is it is not a quick solution. The process for attracting more patient leads is an ongoing effort as new content is needed and new conversion opportunities arise. And management of the process can be made a lot easier with the right tools and advisors.