medical marketing 101

Medical marketing 101: Everything practice managers need to know

Managing a private health practice, your role spans a wide variety of tasks. If marketing the practice to attract patients is one of them, you can use this concise overview to keep an eye on the basics of digital marketing for your practice.
medical marketing 101

Medical marketing 101: Everything practice managers need to know

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

January 12, 2022

What is the power of digital marketing for doctors?

digital medical marketing

Fully embracing the power of digital technology and content is a choice. Leading doctors choose to embrace the use of digital as soon as they understand the power that lies in this new paradigm.

In traditional marketing, you would spread the word where people were spending their time, right? We all know where people spend a lot of time now, and being visible on these devices and platforms is the name of the game. That’s why we needed a new ‘medical marketing 101’, adapted to the digital era.

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

"The power of digital marketing for your private practice is that you have an opportunity to influence the patient’s choice in an ethical way. Not with pushy advertising, but with curated and optimised content that appears when they are googling for it."

I would say that the other powerful aspect of digital is that it works for you in the background. When a medical website is configured properly and loaded with optimised content, it starts conversations with patients while you work or while you take time off. The leverage of a quality online presence can be spectacular and a total game-changer for your private practice as a business. 

Websites. Domains. URLs: What is what?

digital assets for doctors

As a practice manager or owner, don’t let technical jargon get in the way of achieving your goals! Let’s clarify a few definitions we sometimes think we understand, yet in reality, there is this risk of confusion. We prefer clarity over confusion so let’s dive into our little what is what so you never again feel unsure about what is being discussed in this meeting or phone call.

  • Website: We all think we know what a website is. However. Did you know that it is a piece of live software, not a static object? It needs power to run on a server in a physical data centre. That server needs cooling, backups, updates and maintenance. And the software that runs in the backend needs to be upgraded over and over again as the internet evolves. Quite often, your website is not one piece of software, but a cluster of software tools running in parallel. Your website hosting is the space on a physical device with all the associated automated services that keep it secure and online. If you are yet to make decisions about website hosting for your medical website, check out this great article about the pitfalls of cheap hosting. The maintenance is hands-on work by a qualified developer to inspect the software components and replace them if needed.
  • Domain: Your domain is the unique “www” address where we can reach you. The domain sits in a domain hosting account, often called domain registration. You own it, and yet you pay the domain host for annual fees to keep it registered in your name. So it’s something between buying and leasing if you want. As soon as you don’t renew it, someone else can grab it. The domain hosting is the fee you pay to the registrar for keeping your domain registered in your name and for pointing the traffic to your website hosting. If you don’t have a domain yet, read this first before you choose or buy a domain.
  • URLs: The individual web address of a web page is called a URL. If you really want to create a good quiz question, just remember that it stands for Uniform Resource Locator. You want your URLs to be meaningful so Google can use the information to find out what the page is about. Of course, Google scans and indexes every page of your website, but the URL is like sticking the correct label on a tin in your pantry: you want to keep things easy and tidy.

The first two come with an account you have with a provider. Ideally, your marketing agency keeps this on file and makes sure that everything is registered and running in your name. 

What are the best medical marketing strategies?

driving patients to your practice

When your practice needs marketing, the first thing to inspect is: why?

Let’s go over some of the proven, effective strategies that have helped numerous specialists and surgeons double or triple their business results in under 12 months, even independent of pandemic-induced market fluctuations.

SEO strategies
If your practice needs a boost, focusing on more content is always a good starting point. A solid and healthy website that looks compelling and contemporary is a minimum requirement, but the actual heavy lifting to achieve visibility is done by the number of quality content pages you have on your medical website. Understanding Google’s take on quality content is a great starting point when you are comparing SEO strategies and marketing packages.

Practice launch strategies
If you are about to launch your new private practice or a group, there are important strategic considerations to go over. Do you want to establish a strong online presence for a single doctor or a group? This defines your domain choice. When you launch, are you clear about the target audience, the catchment area, your brand positioning and the key treatments or surgeries that will help you build a successful practice? All this ties in with your actual work experience of course, but thinking ahead and clearly positioning your practice online is as essential as choosing a professional fitout for your rooms.

Rebranding strategies
Sometimes it’s time to rethink the way your practice is perceived. Marketing evolves with the consumer’s needs and habits and if your direction or profile has changed, it may be time to rebrand. Sometimes running two brands in parallel is useful if you are working for different patient cohorts or in multiple suburbs. A full brand creation involves defining your mission, the tone-of-voice and the visual identity, like here at the Woom, a strategy developed by our team at Digital Practice.

medical marketing 101

What is search engine marketing?

google ranking for doctors

Marketing a private health practice heavily depends on your digital footprint and your online presence. It won’t come as a surprise that the first line of contact you want to invest in, is your visibility in Google Search. Search engine marketing is the effort to reach potential new patients via Google or other search engines.

There are two ways to rank high with your practice:

  • SEO or Search Engine Optimisation: Conceiving, writing, organising and displaying the information and the images in a way that gives the reader the highest possible levels of relevance, reading comfort on various devices and a smooth navigation experience.
  • Google ADS or Pay Per Click: This is where you pay per click, and still, it requires expertise and skills to make sure your ad copy resonates with the target audience and complies with advertising guidelines such as the Australian AHPRA regulations. Once a patient clicks on an ad, do you offer them information that offers value? Google Ads is great to top up your visibility if you need immediate impact. SEO is a more sustainable long-term option and it takes more patience as you wait for your optimised content pages to start ranking well when local patients do a search.

We have an article on organic SEO versus paid advertising that compares the two types of search engine marketing and their respective benefits, right here in our “Grow!” online magazine for doctors in private practice.

In most cases, marketing experts will prioritise search engine marketing over social media campaigns, because of the high search intent that is involved when we use Google. We search for information, as opposed to following someone on social media and letting the feed decide what comes up today. This brings us to a big question:

How important is Facebook for doctors?

social media for doctors

Facebook and Instagram can help you amplify word-of-mouth in the local community. Posting regular updates that offer value is a great way to position yourself as an educator. The sweet spot you want to find is one where you avoid sounding too promotional.

After all, we are not promoting the benefits of a new kitchen appliance. Healthcare is often something we only start looking for when a problem arises. The golden rule is to communicate about topics that are not scaring off the general public.

Antenatal care and obstetrics, fertility, orthopaedics, are great areas to claim an educator/leadership position. You can discuss lifestyle choices and habits without merely documenting procedures and repeating how great you are at executing them.

Helping future mums change their diet, gently removing the taboo topics around male infertility, or giving great advice to runners about recovery after a knee injury: these are powerful examples about useful Facebook strategies in various specialties, to grow your status as an educator. Remember that if you are after direct impact, you want to target the patient who is searching, not the patient who is following someone.

Add local hashtags to show up in the patient’s Facebook or Instagram feed, make your content a nice mix of educational and human interest, and if your speciality allows for it, use a bit of humour to emphasize that you take your job seriously but that you are also a human being. One of my favourite Facebook feeds is Dr Howard Luks’ account: as an orthopaedic surgeon he has a clear vision on why he uses Facebook: “I have a very “social” patient-centric approach and believe that the more you understand about your issue, the better your decisions will be”. How’s that for clarity!

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Need more help? Book a free consult

marketing 101 tips for doctors

If you want to take the next step and get ready to drive more patients to your practice, book an obligation-free Zoom session. If your ‘Marketing 101’ needs and questions have not been covered, let me know and we will go over them in our session. I look forward to being of service so you can grow your practice and achieve the goals that you are after.

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