Using inbound marketing to grow your healthcare practice.
An estimated 7 percent of Google’s daily searches are health-related, according to Google Health Vice President David Feinberg, MD, The Telegraph reports. Google reported that there are 70,000 health-related searches each minute.
Do you know that according to Dialogtech,
- 5% of all Google searches are health care related?
- Healthcare searches send 3x more traffic to a health care site than non-searches?
- 60% of healthcare consumers who booked appointments searched online first?
What does this mean?
The numbers show that the healthcare consumer is increasingly empowered by the advances that are being made in the digital world. Patient empowerment means that healthcare providers need to step up their marketing efforts. Inbound marketing strategies for healthcare providers will prove in these situations to be more effective than the traditional forms of advertising.
Before making any purchase decision, patients and their families are researching online and checking with their friends on social media for recommendations. Whether it is information gathering about symptom management tips, service provider options, or a need to educate themselves on specific topics, patients are turning online to find information.
Similar to service providers in other industries are taking advantage of the digital platforms to provide solutions to their customers, the health care provider needs to do the same to grow their business.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Hubspot, a leading expert in inbound marketing strategies, describes it as a “methodology of attracting, engaging, and delighting the customer by creating valuable content and tailoring experiences that are unique to the customer.”
This strategy acknowledges that it is essential to create content that will attract patients, old and new, to your website. But you will need to provide content that supports, educates, and empowers them even after they have become your customers. You have to do this to retain them; otherwise, you might lose them.
When you succeed in your inbound strategy, the patient is more likely to trust you as a go-to healthcare provider and could become a promoter of your service (this is the hope).
Why inbound marketing is vital for health care services
This importance is even more so in the Health Care sector because the premise of Inbound methodology, which is to be helpful, human, and supportive throughout the consumer journey. This is the same philosophy required of health care providers. Helping your patients, being empathetic, and ensuring they have a positive holistic experience. When you do this, you build trust, which is a goal of inbound marketing.
Inbound is also crucial in Healthcare because of its subtle nature. This is as opposed to Outbound Marketing, which can be aggressive sales tactics. A patient, looking for information about a condition they have, maybe stressing out already. They do not, at this point, want to see an advert for your company or product. What would be helpful and human to do is to provide them information surrounding the condition they have and possibly providing tips on how to manage symptoms.
What is important here is that you are providing the information when the patient needs it.
What is involved in an Inbound Methodology?
Before you start applying the different aspects of your marketing strategies, you need to do some planning. Planning would ensure that you;
- Set your goals. What is it that you achieve with your approach? For instance, it could be that you want to increase your visitors to your website and then convert them into clients. Your goal must be SMART. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound).
- Ensure that you understand your customer personas. This ensures that you know exactly who your customers are. So what you do is map out what an ideal customer is. You try to understand their demographics, what they are doing, and at what time. You may have more than one type of customer.
- Applying strategies. Apply the right strategies to the various stages of the patient buying journey.
- Evaluate success or failure. You would need to set up some metrics to help you evaluate whether your efforts have been successful or not. You need to observe your campaign as a whole about your return in investment (ROI).
How can your Inbound Marketing Strategy increase your Patient List?
All the information provided is so you can implement the best strategies to grow your healthcare practice or medical business. One more important aspect to know is the patient journey. This will help determine which strategy to implement at which particular point in time in your patient’s journey. If you are unable to get this right, you might fail to achieve your goals of increasing patient referrals.
The “attract” stage is where a patient is looking for avenues to get more information on their issues.
Your goal here will be to attract them to your website by providing content that is informational and educational. With inbound strategies, you want to help by providing value.
Strategies for this stage include:
It is important that you create content that would attract the right audience drawing from the patient persona that you had created for your service.
This means that you need to have a website for your business where your content will be posted. At this stage, content creation could be in the form of;
Since you are trying to attract prospective patients to your website, you need to write content with specific key terms that would make your site rank high with Google and other search engines. You need to think about what words or phrases patients may be using in their searches. Then use these relevant keywords in your content.
This strategy will continue to be relevant in all stages that content is created. All content has to be relevant and purposeful.
Content creation is not complete without its distribution. Posting content on your website or blog alone is not going to be enough to get the required attention you need for your service. You need to make use of social media.
To measure success at this stage, you can look at the number of shares you had on social media, how many people are engaging with the content via comments for example. Is your content being liked and shared?
Now that you have done so much hard work in attracting prospective patients to your website, you need to move on to try and convert them into making an appointment. Some marketers divide this stage into 2 phases so they can focus on providing content to convert the potential patient and then get them to make an appointment. Whatever the case, the plan here is to keep them engaged.
Keep in mind, you are not selling your healthcare practice per se; rather you are providing solution-focused information for your patients’ problem. You can use your healthcare practice and services to demonstrate how the solution works. Don’t be timid about telling your audience what service your healthcare practices provide.
For instance, if you are a home health care provider and a family member is looking at eldercare options available to them, you can at the attraction stage provide content to show the different eldercare options available (with home healthcare being the best) then in this stage, you may want to how Home Healthcare is providing quality services to keep customers safe at home.
You can use your services to demonstrate these benefits, and then ask the customer with a call to action (CTA) to contact you for a free consultation to discuss their needs or a free trial of your service. For this in exchange for their names and email address. (You will use this along the buyer journey to nurture the lead)
Engagement State Strategies
- Blog Post/ Articles. Blog post continues to be shown as the most effective type of content.
- Downloadable information in the form of Ebooks, Guides, Checklist for example
- Call to Action (CTA). As mentioned above, use a CTA to guide the Lead towards your solution for them
Social Media Strategy
You need to continue nurturing and engaging your audience on social media as well. The information on your blog can easily be shared on various social media channels as well. The key is to continue to provide value to the patient. Linking that value to the service you provide. As the patient continues to engage with your content and is close to making a decision, use social media to incentivize them to take the action.
Emails Marketing Strategy
Emails have proven to be an excellent way to target specific content to your audience and potential patients. Emails provide additional information to patients who are about to make a decision on whether or not to move forward as well as to current patients who are looking for more information. Emails give you the opportunity to continue to engage with your converts and to offer support as needed.
Remember that the essence of inbound marketing is to build trust for your service so that leads can allow themselves to become consumers of your service. Therefore, ensure that you have verifiable permission to send them emails (you got their email addresses with their permission, say through CTAs from your site, rather than purchasing a list).
The metrics you can measure at this stage can include;
- How many email addresses did you get
- How many conversions happened as a result of your landing page and or social media
At this stage, you have succeeded in getting the patient to sign up with your practice, but you do not want to leave it at that. You want them to be happy and to let their friends know. You always want current patients to refer their friends/co-workers to your healthcare practice.
So what do you do? You provide support services; you call them to check that they are ok. You check on them after the use of your service to ensure that expectations were met and surpassed. These things might appear simple but it might just be what turns this customer into a “referer” of your healthcare services to friends and family.
Delight Stage Strategies
You can use your email to speak to your patients directly, soliciting feedback, checking their opinion on new services that you want to provide and so on. You can use emails to continue to provide value to the patient with their initial problem or in other areas.
You can use social media to continue to provide support to your new customers. It is important to continue to support them to ensure they continue to see you as a valuable partner and thus continue to use your services
Tools you will need for your Inbound Strategy
It is important to know the theory of Inbound. Today’s marketing environment has tools that have been developed to enhance this process and get results. If you do not use some of these tools, your marketing may not be as effective, and your healthcare practice will not garner the results you are looking for.
Outbound marketing is not as effective today as Inbound Marketing. This is because inbound marketing is built on the methodology aimed at helping prospects find solutions to their problems rather than selling them a product.
There are a lot of benefits to be had from using this strategy and although the healthcare sector is slow in catching up, those providers who have implemented this are seeing benefits. You can do the same with your company.
Follow the points mentioned at the various stages above, use a software marketing company that would understand your business and provide value for money to set up the tools you need. And monitor your results and tweak metrics as needed to get valuable results.
What Inbound strategy has been successful for you? Did I miss any strategy you want to share?