Every business thrives on lead generation, including the healthcare industry. Consider how many physical therapy clinics, imaging centers, dermatologists, and other small healthcare practices there are and that are competing with each other for new patients. If you think about it, generating leads is really the name of the game in business – without new leads, there is no new business. Of course, the preferred methods of generating quality leads vary dramatically from industry to industry. What works for a restaurant won’t necessarily work for a lawyer or plumber. What methods should healthcare practices use to grow their business and generate leads and new patients?
In this article, we take a look at the top lead generation tactics used by healthcare service companies and medical practices. As a healthcare provider, you need to keep new patients coming through the door to pay the bills. Tracking down those new patients might seem like a daunting task, but it becomes less intimidating when you have a plan in place.
Sorting Out Your Priorities
Before we get into the specifics of how healthcare service companies are acquiring new leads, we should take a step back and look at this topic from a bigger perspective. After all, lead generation is only one piece of the marketing puzzle, so where should you be spending your time?
In our recent Local Service Business Lead Generation Benchmark Report, we surveyed healthcare providers and learned that lead generation is considered the top marketing priority, followed by increasing brand awareness and customer upselling.
So, if you feel like lead generation is what should get most of your time as a healthcare business, you are in good company – more than a third of your peers agree. Settling on this as your top priority is important as it will allow you to focus on the challenges and opportunities that are present in this area of marketing.
The Common Lead Generation Challenges
Nothing in business comes easily. You have to work for every new customer, and you then have to work to keep those customers over the long term. These challenges are particularly daunting in the healthcare field, where customers are actually patients, and their personal health is at stake. Trust is of the utmost importance here, so some parts of the lead generation process can be more difficult than in other sectors.
In talking with a variety of service business owners and operators, including those in the healthcare services field, we identified four top lead gen challenges that come up over and over again.
- Finding good leads. It’s pretty evident that this is going to be at the top of the list. Good leads are hard to come by, especially at an affordable price. Lead gen methods that prove to work in an industry should be valued and protected because they are never easy to replace.
- Converting those leads. Getting a solid lead is hard enough – and the job still isn’t done. Turning as many leads as possible into customers is what separates successful businesses from the rest.
- Getting more lead volume. If you do have a method of finding good leads, it may be that the technique does not bring in as many leads as you would like. No business converts at 100% – or anywhere near that mark – so maximizing lead volume will take some pressure off your conversion rate.
- Tracking ROI. This might be a surprising challenge to see on the list, but it is important. If you can’t accurately track your ROI, you may not know whether or not it’s worth continuing a given marketing initiative. And, particularly in the healthcare services space, it’s difficult to determine the value of a new customer compared to the cost of customer acquisition.
There are plenty of challenges to face – and overcome – with regard to lead generation. But it’s not all bad news! Let’s get into the lead generation methods that are working best in this market.
Referrals are Gold for Lead Generation
When surveyed about the most effective lead generation tactics, Referrals and “Word of Mouth” were stated to be the most effective bar none.
This might not be breaking news, but referrals tend to be the lifeblood of a service business. You can run all the ads you want, and engage in a number of other marketing efforts, but nothing will work quite like word of mouth. If one of your past customers has great things to say when talking to family and friends, that endorsement is worth more than any ad you could ever purchase.
In some ways, referrals can be a frustrating lead generation method, because they are mostly passive. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and hope for the best. Actively encouraging current customers to recommend your business to friends and family is a powerful tool. Make it a practice to simply ask for referrals and you might be surprised to find how many roll in.
A Digital World
When thinking about online marketing and how it can help to grow your business, it makes sense to keep the power of referrals in mind. There is a natural overlap between referrals and the web, and that overlap happens on social media. The very nature of social media platforms is such that they promote referrals and social proof – perfect for expanding your reach and getting the word out.
Service businesses across many industries, including healthcare, see social media marketing as the biggest opportunity on the web. And, among the social media landscape, it is Facebook that leads the way in marketing popularity. The sheer size of the Facebook platform makes it attractive to just about every marketer, although other options like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram are very much worth your attention, as well.
Applying Your Resources Wisely
Whatever your marketing budget happens to be, it has a limit. You have to manage your marketing dollars wisely, only sticking with methods that prove to bring in a strong ROI time after time. In terms of allocation, we see a surprising trend with local service businesses – offline advertising continues to make up nearly half of all marketing spend. While there are worthwhile advertising methods to pursue offline, it seems that optimizing online efforts might represent an opportunity to gain an edge on the competition.
Lead generation will always be at the top of the marketing pyramid. Without new leads, nothing you do in the rest of your business will matter much in the end. For healthcare service companies, respecting the importance of referrals is a great start, but that should not get in the way of pursuing other opportunities, as well. Blending a diverse set of marketing methods will promote growth and allow for adaptation as the market changes in the years to come.