How to Create Your Own Medical Practice Marketing Plan – Template Included
If you want to grow your medical practice in 2019, you’ve come to the right place. In today’s blog, we’re talking about how to create a medical practice marketing plan from top to bottom. Get ready to learn about the three vital pieces of your plan:
- Building Your Marketing Plan – How to determine your strategy, set a budget, and track outcomes
- Evaluating Your Marketing Plan Foundations – The two must-do-first tasks of any marketing plan
- Implementing Actionable Marketing Tactics – Six ideas you need to consider as part of your marketing plan
You might want to bookmark this page! We’ve crammed in as much knowledge as possible. Let’s dig in.
I. Building Your Marketing Plan
We’ll start with the basics – developing your strategy, setting a budget, and tracking outcomes. Without these in place, there’s no way to know if you’re getting the most bang for your marketing buck. And that’s the ultimate goal!
Develop a Clear and Concise Marketing Strategy
The most important part of your marketing plan is the overarching strategy. Medical practices today have more marketing options than ever before. Many business owners find themselves spreading their marketing dollars across too many different tactics – and not seeing a return on investment. Instead of following the latest trends, start with your business objectives. Think about what your medical practice is trying to achieve:
- Do you need to raise awareness about your new practice?
- Is your growth stagnant and you’re looking for ways to attract new patients?
- Are you adding a new service and want to let your patients (and the community) know about it?
- Did you add a new location and need to make sure it’s found online?
You wouldn’t spend your marketing budget the same way in each of these scenarios. Understanding your business objectives will help you create an effective marketing strategy. Here’s an example:
Create a Marketing Budget and Update it Regularly
Once you have a strategy, you can build a marketing budget. As a general rule, the US Small Business Administration recommends that businesses with revenues less than $5 million allocate about eight percent of their revenues to marketing. However, you should also keep in mind that newer practices need to spend more for the first five years or so to raise their visibility.
Your budget should indicate if costs are fixed or one-time, so you can get a sense of your baseline. If you haven’t taken a close look at your marketing for a while, you might need to invest in some one-time expenses like a medical website redesign. That will skew your budget for the year, but it can positively impact your revenue for years to come. Your budget should be a living document that you constantly reference. Add notes to explain changes so you’ll have helpful information to guide next year’s planning.
You can download our digital marketing template for free here.
Identify Your Key Performance Indicators
According to Digital Examiner, nearly half of small businesses don’t measure the return on investment on their digital marketing spend. But without these insights, you’re spending money in the dark. To better understand how your medical practice marketing plan is performing, it’s helpful to identify key performance indicators (KPIs). Let’s talk about a few important ones:
- Patient Acquisition Cost – Estimate the lifetime value of acquiring a new patient. Divide your total annual marketing spend by the patient lifetime value. This gives you a high-level view of your marketing plan’s effectiveness.
- Website Analytics – At a minimum, you should monitor the number of website visitors, where they’re coming from, and the pace of growth. Google Analytics is the best place to find this information (and it’s free). Need help getting started? Check out the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics by Moz.com.
- Conversion Rate – Conversion rates measure the percentage of users who take a desired action. For example, how many people clicked on your ad compared to those who viewed it. You’ll want to track conversion rates for any paid advertising (like Google Ads) or email marketing (like MailChimp). Each platform has analytics that you can use to evaluate the results.
Above is an example of a conversion report from the Google Analytics dashboard for one of Pacific54’s medical clients. Ultimately, the client wants to increase appointments. To track performance, we have initially created goals to track clicks to the ‘Make an Appointment’ button on their website and landing pages, as well as phone number clicks. We are in the process of working with their third-party appointment scheduling provider to set up tracking across both domains. Once you’ve set up your goals, Google Analytics will show you how many goals have been completed for a given time period, the goal conversion rate, and where across your website the goals were completed.
II. Evaluating Your Marketing Plan Foundations
Now that you have your strategy, budget, and key performance indicators, it’s time to focus on the foundation of your marketing plan. There are two elements that should take precedence over all others - keyword research and creating a great website experience. They’ll have the most impact on your search engine optimization (SEO).
Discover Opportunites for Growth Through Keyword Research
Keyword research involves identifying popular words and phrases your ideal patients might enter into search engines. You’ll begin with a topic or idea, also called a "seed." This seed can come from your industry knowledge or from the services you provide. Make a list of all the keywords or phrases you think your ideal patients might use to find you. Then, type them into Google and scroll down to the bottom, where you’ll find related searches. These are actual terms people use related to what you entered. Add these to your list.
The next part of keyword research is evaluating volume and competitiveness. In other words, how often is this word searched and how many other people are also trying to rank for it? This will help you narrow down your list. There are many paid tools, but if you have a free Google Ads account, you can use the Google Keyword Planner.
Once you’ve identified your keywords and phrases, you’ll begin to incorporate them in your content, online ads, and social media. This will draw the right audience to you, which is the goal of SEO.
There are many tools out there for keyword research, but Google Keyword Planner is free and gives you average monthly searches and competitiveness.
Make Sure You're Delivering a Great Website Experience
Is it time for a website redesign? Many people don’t realize that your website experience also affects your search engine rankings. Here’s how the quality of your website gives a signal to search engines on how to rank your pages.
- Responsive Design - Google recently transitioned to “mobile-first indexing.” That means they’ll give priority in the search results to responsive websites (ones that display correctly on any device).
- Modern, Fast Site - If your website is slow, has confusing navigation, or simply looks unappealing, website visitors will click away without looking at the rest of the site. That’s called a bounce. High bounce rates can also affect your search rankings, since it’s a signal to search engines that users aren’t happy with your site.
- Clear Meta Tags - The information that appears on the search engine results comes from your website’s meta tags. Each page should have a title tag and meta description that accurately describes what the patient will find when they click on the link. If these aren’t clear (or missing), users may not click on your website from the search results, or “bounce” quickly.
To improve your search engine optimization, your website should be fast, modern, have clear navigation, and display correctly on any device.
III. Implementing Marketing Tactics
Now that you’ve identified your keywords and have a plan to improve your website, let’s talk about the important marketing tactics that can help your practice grow. Since you have a finite budget, you’ll need to allocate your funds across these tactics based on your business objectives, as we discussed earlier. The amount of time and money can vary greatly for each, so you should weigh the return on investment.
Take Ownership of Listings to Improve Local Search Visibility
For medical practices, local search is critical. A study by Google showed that 77% of patients used a search engine prior to scheduling an appointment. You can bet most of those searches included a city or neighborhood.
In addition to having location-related keywords throughout your site, make sure you set up your Google My Business account. This allows business owners to manage their presence on Google. Patients can leave reviews and ask questions, which could be invaluable for improving your services. It also provides hours of operation and phone numbers, making it easy for patients to contact you. Bonus: you also increase the chances of your practice being found in a Google search.
You also want to claim any local directory or review listings. Be sure to complete them with accurate information about your practice. If the directory/review site is good quality (such as Yelp or Healthgrades), having a link to your website also sends a positive signal back to Google.
With a Google My Business account, patients will see a knowledge panel (pictured above) when they search for your practice by name.
Here are a few examples of directories where you can list your medical practice:
Invest in High-Quality Content to Build Authority
While content might seem like a “nice to have” in your marketing plan, it’s actually critical to your search engine optimization. Creating helpful content regularly means you’re adding relevant keywords on many different pages of your site, increasing the chances that patients will find you. You’re also showing search engines that your site is active, which is a positive signal to Google. A blog is the best place to start. Just make sure you’re delivering content that provides value to your patients, not fluff for the sake of content.
It’s also important to incorporate rich content, which means different media formats (sound, video and images) used at the same time. This could be as simple as adding a gif to your blog or embedding a video on your services pages. You could also develop rich content for your practice’s social media pages, like going live on Facebook to show off your expertise on a hot healthcare-related topic or a social media campaign featuring new state of the art technology. Create some video walkthroughs of your office then display them all over your site—get creative! Choose images that will really grab the attention of potential clients.
Think about ways you can creatively share multimedia content, like this fun YouTube video from a dental office.
Don't Ignore Patient Reviews
If you have patient reviews on websites like HealthGrades, Facebook, Google, and Yelp, make sure you claim the listing, fill out as much information as possible on your profile, and link them back to your website. The more places patients can discover you, the better. Plus, you’ll create quality backlinks that can increase your search rankings and make it easy for potential patients to contact you.
Claiming these listings also allows you to respond to any feedback. If you don’t think it’s worth it, consider this: 82% of Americans use online reviews to evaluate physicians. Well beyond the SEO benefits, it’s critical for medical practices to monitor patient reviews - and encourage positive ones. Whether on a third-party site or a testimonials page on your own site, patients read them.
Sites like Healthgrades provide another way to expand your online presence, create quality backlinks to your website, and provide third-party reviews that reassure potential patients.
Leverage the Power Social Media to Build Trust
Social media can be intimidating, but in this day and age, it’s a must. Just remember social media can also be a cheap marketing asset. Simply having a Facebook profile for your practice can improve your search results online by linking back to your website. You can start small and focus on the social media platform where your patients are likely to be.
At a minimum, fill out as much information as possible in the About section. This will help with SEO, but also helps patients who may find you this way. By having your hours of operation, address, and phone number, you’ll make it easy for them.
Not sure what to post? Share articles from medical websites with your point of view or health reminders at just the right time. For example, a doctor's office could encourage flu shots in the spring and fall. That little reminder not only helps bring patients in, but ensures patients and followers stay healthy throughout flu season. This builds trust and keeps you at the top of readers' minds when it comes time to find a new doctor or make an appointment.
Platforms like Facebook allow you to provide a great deal of useful information to patients, improving your SEO and creating another touch point for prospective patients.
Find an Online Advertising Solution that Works for Your Practice
Online advertising goes by many names. PPC stands for pay-per-click and is sometimes known as paid search. When you buy PPC online advertisements, each time a patient clicks on your ad, you pay a small fee. Both search engines and social networks offer PPC advertising and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Google ads can drive high volumes of traffic to your site but can be more expensive than other search engines. Social networks like Facebook often have lower click-through rates, but the targeting capabilities are incredibly precise, which makes the leads very good.
If you’ve already started advertising, you can optimize your ads with better insights on your audience. Try Facebook Pixel, an analytics tool that adds code to your website to measure the behavior of those who visit. It also allows you to build advertising audiences from your site visitors and make sure your ads are being shown to the right people. Knowing when a potential patient took an action after seeing your Facebook ad can definitely help you determine what is and what isn’t working, and create better campaigns for your practice.
Hospital marketing strategies like this Facebook ad are a great way to reach a very targeted audience quickly and cost-effectively.
Stay Ahead of the Curve with Smart Technology
According to Health Leaders Media, about 75% of consumers would choose the physician with online scheduling over those with similar experience, proximity, availability, and patient satisfaction ratings. That’s a huge advantage! Consider implementing a digital scheduling system like DocASAP and ClockWise to help manage all your appointments and avoid no-shows.
You can also set your practice apart by using chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate a conversation with human patients. What do customers and patients alike want? They want the ability to message a business and get an immediate answer. If you don’t have the manpower in your office for this, try implementing a chatbot that responds to FAQs, which will improve the user experience of your practice. Healthcare marketing just got a lot easier.
Engage prospective patients with immediate responses to their questions by implementing a chatbot on your website.
Ready to create your own medical practice marketing plan? We hope so. But if you’re too busy with the daily demands of your practice, let Pacific54 help you grow. Contact us for consultation.
Ready to create a marketing plan for your medical practice? Here's what you'll need:
Building Your Marketing Plan
To avoid shooting in the dark, implement these 3 fundamentals before you start building your marketing campaign.
- Marketing Strategy: Highlight your main business objectives and align them with strategies that will help you achieve them.
- Budgeting: Set a monthly budget for how you plan to spend on marketing. Update it regularly and keep track of how much you intended to spend vs. how much you actually spend.
- Key Performance Indicators: Going back to your business objectives, set up KPIs that you will track over time to determine your ROI and to understand what strategies are performing best.
Evaluating Your Marketing Plan Foundations
Make sure you have these two things in place before you start heavily investing in your digital marketing.
- Keyword Research: Do research to understand your audience and what they might type into the search bar to find you. Analyze your keywords based on volume and competition and create a plan to include these keywords on your website and throughout your content.
- Optimized Website: Make sure your website is fast, fully responsive, and easy to navigate. If it isn't you'll want to consider a redesign, you don't want to waste your budget taking users to a site that won't meet expectations.
Implementing Actionable Marketing Tactics
Here are some of the marketing tactics you can consider as you develop your strategy and outline your objectives.
- Improve Local Search Visibility: Make sure Google My Business profile for your practice is fully optimized. Claim your profile across databases like Yelp, HealthGrades and Vitals.com.
- Deliver High-Quality Content: Creating high-quality content on a regular basis can help you increase keywords naturally to improve search visibility, while also positioning your practice as a trusted resource.
- Patient Reviews: Once you've claimed your listings, monitor your reviews regularly, and engage with patients through replying to feedback (both positive and negative).
- Social Media: Make sure that all of your practice's social media profiles are fully optimized and updated with the latest information. Social media is also a great place to share and distribute any content you are creating.
- Online Advertising: Depending on your business objectives, consider paid advertising through Google Ads or Facebook Ads. Generally, Google Ads are more expensive, but provide the opportunity to drive high volumes of traffic, while Facebook Ads might have lower click-through rates, but may provide higher quality leads through using precise targeting capabilities.
- Smart Technology: Consider implementing chatbots and features like online scheduling to your medical practice website to improve the user experience and stand out from competitors.