Let’s be honest—healthcare has gone high-tech and there’s no going back. The Internet, the Affordable Care Act, new outcomes-based Medicare guidelines and high-deductible health plans have changed the mindset of most consumers.
They can obtain medical information through a Google or WebMD search. According to Pew Internet Research Center (2013) 59% of U.S. adult consumers research their alternatives online before making a decision on a product or service, including healthcare; 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year.
They can read reviews of physicians and healthcare practices at online sites such as Health Grades, RateMDs, and even Consumer Reports. Insurers provide comprehensive listings of available physicians and facilities in their networks. These factors collectively give consumers more choice than ever before, which means that your marketing must include a strong strategy to help patients find YOU.
More individual physicians, medical practices and healthcare systems are adopting the inbound marketing methodology to help build their business. Inbound marketing activities are designed to attract potential patients (leads) to you. Also called permission-based marketing, this methodology lets you earn your way in rather than drawing attention by ‘buying, begging or bugging’ your prospects.
The fundamental principle of inbound marketing is to make your practice or service easy to find online and engages online visitors through interesting and educational content, including:
- Targeted emails
- E-books and e-newsletters
- Downloadable articles on topics that interest prospects and patients
- Social media
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Other content that specifically targets prospects at different stages of the ‘buying’ process.
Philosophically, this ‘earned’ approach is more comfortable for physicians than traditional marketing because inbound marketing is less about a hard sell and more about having a conversation. The goal is to inform prospects and patients, enabling them to make the best choices with the best information. Simply put: it’s marketing with a magnet, not a sledgehammer!
Inbound marketing in four easy steps
Of course the devil is in the details but no matter what tools you use to implement your strategy, there are four stages/steps of every inbound marketing plan. The objective is to attract strangers, convert them to leads, close them as customers/patients, and then delight them so that they will promote your practice.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
The first thing you want to do is attract your ideal customer or buyer persona to your web site by creating content that’s valuable and easy for them to find. In this step, the most common tactics are blogging, social media, keywords for search engine optimization, and customized web site landing pages.
Next, you want to convert web site visitors into qualified prospects or leads by gathering their contact information. To get this valuable information, you need to provide a specific call to action and offer something in return, such as a downloadable eBook, interesting article, free informational webinar, or other offer.
Once you’ve attracted the right visitors and converted the right leads, you need to nurture those leads and transform them into patients with targeted, automated email and social media interaction.
Using context and personalization to deliver tailored messages, continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell your current patient roster and turn them into happy promoters of your practice.
Inbound marketing gets results!
Need more convincing? Look at the results one specialty healthcare practice achieved when it employed an inbound marketing program:
- More than 2,000 visits to the practice’s web site vs. 40 (on average) for the previous three months
- Nearly 60 new leads
- From the new leads, 12 were converted into appointments, representing a more than 20% conversion rate; of those 12, eight were totally new patients; four were former patients who returned to the practice.
Do we have your attention now? If your practice marketing could use a do-over, and you want solid results, take a closer look at inbound marketing. Let Iconic Orange show you how to build your practice using proven, measurable methods.