In today’s digitally driven world, it is of great importance for medical practices and the physicians who operate within them to build an online presence and foster positive relationships. Social media is an ever-expanding and ever-changing virtual highway that is often difficult to navigate. When everything is so public, one simple mistake can lead to professional ruin. There are best practices to marketing your practice; however, sometimes success is more about knowing what NOT to do. To ensure you and your medical practice don’t become another statistic, take note of the following six most common mistakes physicians make online. Do you fall into one of these categories?
Not encouraging patient reviews
For a great majority of prospective patients, online reviews act as a measure of the quality of a physician or medical practice. Recent studies show 72% of individuals read and trust online reviews as much as they do personal referrals. No matter how great of a physician you may be, if there are not at least a handful of individuals willing to say so on sites such as Yelp, chances are most prospective patients will not give you a second look. For this reason, encourage your patients to leave a review and even offer them special discounts or promotions when they do so. You may even want to consider piecing together a simple online review guide and leaving it in the waiting room for your patients to read. Keep in mind that a high volume of positive patient reviews can even work against negative feedback and drown out any occasional bad reviews. FindaTopDoc offers an In-Office Kiosk to effectively collect certified reviews from your patients on their way out from visits to your practice!
Taking referrals for granted
Physician referrals are extremely important for many prospective patients in making healthcare decisions and choosing a healthcare provider. When you have a high-volume referrer, it is vital you do not take them for granted. Just think of how much your practice would suffer if even three of your referrers started sending 15% of the patients they used to send to you to one of your competitors? Never forget to thank your patients for their referrals and ask them if there is anything you can do to make things easier for them to refer patients.
Not creating or updating diverse content online
The internet has proven to be a successful marketing tool, and Google has made it perfectly clear that fresh content will always find its way to the top of search results. If you are committed to building a dynamic online marketing plan, basic blogging is a necessary start. It is a great way to grasp the attention of current and prospective patients. Besides videos, sharing inspirational images and patient success stories are just some examples of generating content for all kinds of audiences and platforms. Post information about your medical practice (contact information is a must), regular updates, and engage in dialogues when prospective patients post questions or make comments. Create an official FindaTopDoc Expert Blog to connect with your patients through content. Your ultimate goal is to share rich content and make your online persona come to life!
Not knowing your target audience
If you do not know your target audience (the audience whom your services best serve), this can result in wasted marketing dollars. For example, if you are a plastic surgeon, your goal may not be to send facelift marketing messages to twenty-year-olds. For this reason, market definition is essential. Instead of marketing to everyone, you should define your target audience by segmenting patients into groups such as gender, age, geographic location, and interests. From there, send targeted messages to these segmented groups on topics you believe are relevant to them.
Among the most common mistakes doctors make is lack of communication. Often, you tend to forget communication doesn’t have to end once your patient is out the door. Don’t simply communicate with patients via email—stay in touch! Call up your patients a few days later and ask them how they are feeling. Send monthly newsletters, reminders for wellness visits, and cards for birthdays and anniversaries. Ask the opinion of other physicians to clarify a particular aspect of a medical case. Even consider developing a concise referral platform to ensure communication is consistent across all parties involved in a patient’s case. Relying on tunnel vision decision making defeats the purpose of your entire medical team. Listen to the feedback from other physicians and from your patients. If you combine a unique set of skills and talents, you can help your patients progress more quickly and effectively.
The way you present yourself and your medical practice online is important; it is the first impression you leave to prospective patients. Individuals who use social media do so to interact with one another and build bonds. When you leave a message that sounds robotic, you don’t offer a personal touch. Personal touches can go a long way; they include introducing staff members, hosting events, posting fun facts, inspirational images, and more. The purpose of online medical marketing is not to directly generate sales, but to maintain a healthy relationship with your current patients and to nurture new ones. Focus on providing patients with the information they find truly valuable and give them a positive impression of yourself, your staff, and your practice.
The immense boundaries of online medical marketing may offer infinite potential, but it needs to be utilized in the right way. Sometimes, there is a fine line between personal and professional. You do not want to break patient-doctor confidentiality or let your personal issues spill over into your professional life. Of the many mistakes physicians make online, this one can have long-lasting legal ramifications.
The bottom line: your online persona should be no different than your offline persona. You want to build trust with patients and your practice, all the while enhancing your patients’ experience. That being said, if you want to create a thriving, vibrant marketing strategy, you need to embrace the internet, maximize your efforts, and steer clear of these common mistakes.