Over the nearly 20 years that our company has existed, we’ve had clients come to us after working with other marketing companies. We’ve seen some great practice marketing strategies, and we’ve also seen some ill-advised marketing strategies.
What’s the worst marketing advice we’ve ever heard?
“Marketing a medical practice is just like marketing any other small business.”
Medical practices have needs and restrictions that other businesses do not. Marketers that do not understand those needs and restrictions will often do a disservice to their clients.
At a minimum, a medical practice’s online presence should help patients become more informed about their health. If done correctly, those marketing efforts should also help the practice attract new patients.
Avoid Healthcare Marketing Mistakes
At best, the wrong marketing strategy could be a wasted investment that won’t help your practice achieve its business goals. At worst, the wrong strategy could actually work against your practice. These are some of the top healthcare marketing mistakes we’ve come across.
1. Lack of Informative, Educational Content
Patients come to your website to find out the basics about your practice, like your location and contact information, but they also want to see if your practice is a good fit. Websites with informative, educational content that showcases the practice’s expertise will have a better chance of attracting new patients. Practices that just stick to the basic information on their websites may miss out on opportunities to connect with new patients.
Most medical practice websites have some type of patient education, although we’ve occasionally seen some that don’t have any educational material. However, practices really need to go beyond basic patient education to set themselves apart from competitors.
Well-written, unique content that highlights the practice’s specialties and services puts the practice at a greater advantage for two reasons. First, it reassures patients and helps them determine whether the practice is the right fit. Second, it can help with search engine ranking for particular pathologies and procedures. Patient education alone will not help with search engine ranking, because it is often used by a number of practices. It’s great for helping patients understand medical conditions and procedures, but it doesn’t help to set your practice apart because it isn’t unique. Ideally, a good marketing strategy should include both.
2. Unsecured Online Forms
While it’s become standard for online forms to be served over a secure connection to protect user information, we still see a surprising number of websites without secure forms. For medical practices, having secure forms is not only a best practice, but is also legally required. Online forms fall under HIPAA for medical practices, so failing to secure online forms could get a practice in legal trouble. Practices have a responsibility to keep private patient data secure. Furthermore, Google will soon begin marking unsecured sites with forms as “Not Secure” when users visit it. This could really hurt your website traffic when implemented.
This often happens when practices work with online marketing companies that don’t fully understand what medical practices need. Many people are simply unaware that medical practices have to take extra precautions with patient data. When your marketing company understands the business of medicine, you don’t have to worry about whether these critical issues are being taken care of.
3. Ignoring Online Reviews
Another common mistake we see is practices ignoring the potential impact of online reviews. When patients search for your practice online, they will likely find your website, along with several review sites like Healthgrades, Vitals, Yelp, and RateMDs. Google business listings have a review feature, and have even begun pulling in star ratings from these other review sites.
Even if a practice’s website is well-designed and informative, low ratings on review sites may deter patients from clicking through to the website in search results. Warranted or not, low ratings leave a poor first impression for potential patients. This is why we encourage practices to embrace online reviews and collect as many as possible. You’ll find the vast majority of reviews are positive, and regularly collecting patient reviews helps to average out that occasional negative review.
Choose a Marketing Partner That Understands the Business of Medicine
When your practice’s marketing company understands the business of medicine, you can rest assured that your marketing partners can help you navigate the unique challenges faced by medical practices.
That isn’t to say that other marketing companies can’t create successful strategies for your practice, but you may have to do more work to educate your marketing partners on your practice’s needs. Medical practices have a lot in common with other businesses, but they also have specific needs that other businesses do not. When you work with a company that understands these needs, you can more quickly get to a marketing solution that will help you improve your business.