local marketing for doctors

Local marketing for doctors: How to do it right?

By definition, marketing for a private practice is 100% local marketing. If you are lucky to attract patients from remote areas, interstate or overseas, other tactics will apply. Yet, for most surgeons and specialists, the below local marketing for doctors approach helps you grow a future-proof practice. 

local marketing for doctors

Local marketing for doctors: How to do it right?

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

October 17, 2022

Step 1: Be there when you are in demand

local Google ranking

The first area you want to tackle in your local strategy is your Google visibility. In recent years, local marketing for doctors has become a matter of achieving great local Google ranking. 

  • Misconception: This is achieved by looking into SEO solutions, and external companies who ‘do your SEO’ and making sure your name and ad show up.
  • Reality: Google rewards content that offers value to your audience (the patient) by giving you higher local Google ranking results.
Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"I call it the low-hanging fruit. When a consumer types a question into the Google search field, it means they have a real need. They may still be in the initial phase of their Google journey because this is the first time they search for a symptom. But later, they will remember you if you were the first specialist to properly explain a health condition or treatment."

Remember that over 50% of patients are actively doing online searches (also known as the Dr Google phenomenon) prior to making final decisions about any type of elective treatment. And in private health, patient choice is heavily promoted as the primary angle to choose this system over the public system. 

Not being there – not being visible – when patients are exercising this choice and checking out online information at any stage of their healthcare journey, is always a missed opportunity for your practice.

Step 2: Take the digital approach to GP referrals

online GP referrals

The second area you will want to inspect when you get serious about local marketing as a doctor is your GP referral strategy. Many doctors got a little complacent about this traditional tactic: to make sure GPs refer to you. 

Online GP referrals are the ones that start with someone doing some googling, not because a GP picked up a printed index of local specialists they have been using for a decade…

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Isolating GP referrals from your online presence is counterproductive. Patients go and tell the GP which specialist they want. Patients take the referral and go to different doctors. The GP’s authority to define patient traffic to specialists is no longer the dominant force in this field."

Has your marketing agency included this important area of local marketing for doctors in your monthly strategy? The critical things to check with your marketing team are:

  • Are you publishing monthly updates to increase your visibility, and also when GPs are checking out online profiles of specialists or surgeons?
  • Are you giving patients enough reasons to remember your name and mention you when they speak to their GP?
  • Is your strategy using online platforms to specifically target local GPs so you are seen as an educator?

If these tactics are currently not part of your medical marketing strategy, book a free 1:1 Strategy Session so we can discuss the options and ways to get more online GP referrals.

local marketing for doctors

Step 3: Build a profile that stands out

key opinion leader

How can you be a key opinion leader?

Expertise is hardly ever a problem when I speak to a specialist doctor or surgeon. By definition, you have focused an important part of your life studying and acquiring knowledge, expertise, surgical and clinical experience. In your case, would you say that the recognition you get from patients, GPs, peers, hospital executives, and your local community, is in line with the work you have put into becoming the expert you are today?

Storytelling is often a missing link in the medical marketing situation of a private practice. The dry information about the conditions you treat, the surgery types you offer, the resume of your surgeons or team members and the practical details about the treatment journey, your hospital associations or the recovery expectations are… well… boring.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Patients are humans. Humans react to stories. Movies, books, television, radio, songs, advertisements, newspaper articles, human conversations…everything around us is energised by storytelling and if you don’t convert your information in a palatable, visually compelling story, chances are nobody will stay with you in the digital space."

The first step to becoming a key opinion leader is the hardest one. It’s about inspecting your mindset as a doctor. Many doctors I meet are reluctant to go on a journey to repackage their story and their information in a more patient-friendly way! 

That is surprising because we all talk about patient-centric care, genuine care, and custom service.

The missing link is the ability to organise information in a format that consumers are used to. That’s right. Look around you and see what we all do to get informed, and read up on what is happening in the areas we are interested in. As web pages, social media profiles, YouTube channels and news outlets have evolved, so have our consumption habits linked to digital content.

If your online profile is not in tune with the latest digital storytelling techniques, consumers (patients), as well as referrers, will feel a disconnect and you will not be seen as a key opinion leader, no matter how academically, surgically or clinically accurate your content is. Once you implement these tactics and integrate them into your strategy, you will see that it’s actually quite spectacular how quickly you can become an influencer as a doctor.

Step 4: Avoid the most common mistake by doctors

medical marketing mistake

The biggest medical marketing mistake is to look at your online presence as a static object.

  • If your website has not been updated this month.
  • If your website was built over 3 years ago.
  • If you have not discussed your performance in the last 60 days with a professional.

…Then your practice might be missing out on opportunities. Let’s unpack why.

Search engines continuously use their Artificial Intelligence to present the most relevant search results to users. Think about what that means for medical content for a moment.

When patients do an online search, they are using the system but the system is also using them.

‘Google’s Artificial Intelligence learns from every medical search. It learns from every interaction between patients and doctors and has become a key area for the search engine in recent years.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Did you know that Google looks at your content with a different filter? It’s scanning your medical website with different parameters compared to the website of your local restaurant. That’s because Google classifies health information as a special type of information that needs the highest level of search quality."

They call it YMYL content or ‘Your Money Your Life’ content, in the 2019 guidelines for Search Quality Evaluation. It means that active research is happening to define if Google is displaying the highest quality results. And that health content is scrutinised more than information about the local coffee shop. 

It explains why doctors who publish monthly quality pages or blogs about their niche build spectacular organic visibility, whereas doctors who remain invisible in organic search start seeing bigger fluctuations in their referrals and direct patient enquiries over time.

With all that in mind, not updating your website is a massive missed opportunity. To keep pinging Google with a clear message about being relevant and a key opinion leader, you want to make sure that you know what your patients are searching for, publish regular updates with high-quality content and then carefully measure the impact of your content for your online visibility.

Step 5: Measure, publish, share. Then start again.

sharing content as a doctor

Sharing content as a doctor needs a system. Randomly sharing about your latest surgical achievements won’t bring in extra patients, simply because it is not necessarily offering value to the consumer or the referring GP. 

Here at Digital Practice, we have fine-tuned a unique content methodology to interpret the data we retrieve from the patient’s behaviour in a certain niche.

This is the process in a nutshell:

  • We map what consumers/patients are searching for in your niche
  • We build content around the most common Google searches, based on our experience in medical content, the business goals of a particular practice and general market trends
  • We put in place monthly monitoring for your content in the context of your local competition, comparing it to how other key players are ranking for the key income avenues of your practice

Measure your visibility. Publish content based on what patients search for. Share the content and measure the visibility again. This unique marketing cycle has helped dozens of surgeons establish and maintain predictable visibility and traffic and become key opinion leaders in the digital space, driving the growth of their private practice.

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local marketing experts

As much as we pride ourselves in working nationally across Australia, we are local marketing experts. That’s because we thoroughly understand the local marketing dynamics in health-related online searches, as well as patient behaviour in private health care. To book a live demo, use the free 1:1 Strategy Session option here, so we can show you how we can boost your local visibility and referral generation.

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