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Digital marketing for doctors is a must for any medical practice. Those who invest in marketing tend to thrive, while others who resist tend to fall behind the competition.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, patients have more options than ever when it comes to getting healthcare services. With so much information available online, patients no longer need to visit the closest hospital or a medical practice nearest to their location.
Second, patients are responsible for more out-of-pocket healthcare costs, causing patients to shop around for doctors that will meet their needs and budgets.
That's why it's critical to have a digital marketing strategy to reach new patients—and keep existing patients engaged. This will help you keep your schedules full and your bottom line healthy.
However, putting together a digital marketing strategy for your healthcare practice can seem daunting. With what seems like an endless list of marketing and advertising options, choosing what can work best for your doctors can seem unachievable.
So, we have put together five impactful strategies to get you started with digital marketing for doctors. Each one, when done correctly, can help you sustain and even grow your business.
A healthcare practice's website is the starting point when it comes to digital marketing for doctors. Even if patients don’t initially hear about your practice online, they are likely to go online to learn more about you. For that reason, it's important to optimize your web presence and ensure patients can find you and get the information they need. That starts with a better website.
In the past, having a website was enough to impress prospective patients and help them find your practice. Today, a website is your practice’s new front door. In most cases, it’s the first thing patients see. If the site is sluggish, complex, or messy, it may also be the last time a person considers your practice.
Building a better website means focusing on a site that is:
Now that you have built a better website, it's time to optimize it so visitors can find it. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is all about building the quantity and quality of the traffic to your website. To do that, you need to focus on a few key areas.
These are the words or phrases that people type into search engines when looking for the kinds of healthcare services you offer. You need these terms to appear in your content in order for your site to be matched for those searches.
To do that, make sure all your website content is tagged correctly for search engines. Focus keywords, page titles, meta tags, and snippets should be included on every page of your site.
To optimize an article about "digital marketing for doctors," for example, you'd want to make sure that key phrase appeared in the page title, description, headers, and text.
Make sure your site's pages load into users' browsers quickly. Otherwise, you risk visitors bouncing off. Take the time to resize images to fit screens rather than using high-resolution graphics, and minimize the number of website plug-ins and code you have running behind the scenes.
Search engines are always looking for great, new content. The more quality content you publish, the more visibility your practice's site can get.
If you're serious about digital marketing for doctors, it is critical to add new content regularly. It’s also important to publish only content that is relevant to your business. Search engines such as Google will give you quality scores based on the quality and relevance of your content to search terms.
Optimize your images
Website images can support your SEO goals. Use keywords in your alt image tags.
For example, if your focus keyword for your page is orthopedic surgery, add that as the alt tag to your featured image. You can also make sure the file name includes the focus keyword. Instead of naming the image “image.jpg” try “orthopedic-surgery.jpg.” This will help search engines serve up your content when a user is looking for those keywords and phrases.
Finally, don't forget to boost your page rankings by using internal and external links. These links help improve your page ranks with search engines by making your internal pages easier to find and by associating your site with other trusted sites and sources.
Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, is a form of digital advertising where you pay for each click a user makes on your online ad. PPC can play an essential role in generating new patient volume.
Organic traffic is preferable and more valuable, but paid advertising can give your practice and your digital marketing a quick boost.
For doctors, there are various platforms for digital advertising, but the most popular are Google and Bing.
Like SEO, search-based ads allow you to target specific keywords and geographical areas by outbidding competitors. Ads typically appear before the organic results, giving you a positional advantage. According to GeoVoices, 81% of web users click ad links when searching for health information.
You can also run paid advertising on social media platforms. Facebook Ads allows you to create highly targeted audiences to present ads to based on the data Facebook pulls from user profiles and tendencies.
Because PPC ads cost money, do your research and invest in keywords that give you the best bang for your buck. That way, you maximize your results without burning through your budget.
Social media is an excellent digital marketing channel for knowledge sharing, marketing, and communicating with patients and potential patients.
Top platforms for healthcare social media marketing include:
Create a Facebook page for your practice. Post tips, news, and other noteworthy items to ensure followers and fans keep you in mind when they need medical services. You can also join groups and participate in discussions (e.g., local community groups, mom’s/parent groups, etc.)
With an estimated 864 million user accounts, Instagram provides a significant opportunity for doctors to reach a whole new set of potential patients.
LinkedIn is an excellent resource for expanding and strengthening your professional healthcare network.
When creating your social media strategy, research and find platforms that are most relevant to your target audience. Ensure that you can be consistent on all the platforms you join. It would be better to create a solid presence on one social media site than to hobble together a half-hearted presence spread thinly over several of them.
Identify someone as the social media manager at your healthcare practice. Task them with posting consistently but also reviewing content before posting for quality control.
The AAFP has a great article in their FPM Journal on social media best practices. In summary:
A profile listing is the business contact information that displays when patients search for you online. It is vital to claim, verify, and optimize your business listings across all platforms.
Make sure you review all the key search engines including Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Search all the major medical directories, such as Zocdoc, Healthgrades, and major insurance carriers.
Ensure that your listing information is correct. Add photos, fill out working hours and specialties, and include a short description of your services, any recent patient reviews, and any commonly asked questions.
Review your listings regularly to ensure that all your information is up to date.
Getting started with these five digital marketing strategies will set you on the right path to building and maintaining a thriving practice.
Marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Pick a place to start and slowly chip away at it until you have a full digital marketing program in place.