What is Digital Marketing? Why Do Doctors Need it?
The Oxford Living Dictionary defines the term marketing as:
The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.
Digital marketing is the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.
Though these definitions make sense, marketing has evolved into a lot more than just that. Marketing is really about building and having relationships with people, getting to know every person, and making them interested in you. Connecting with them and building trust. Marketing is definitely not about trickery or make-belief, because frankly, those relationships do not last.
Doctors are highly educated, skilled, and trained medical professionals. But let’s face it, running a medical practice comes with it’s unique challenges. For any medical practice, the doctor’s time with the patients must be maximized. You make money only when you see patients. Everything else (though necessary) is overhead and non-billable such as front desk staff, patient advisors, and surgical assistants.
Spend more time with patients and less time with everything else.
Patients are not just looking for a good doctor, but they are looking for conveniences and comfort too, such as online booking or rescheduling of appointments, online consultations, and minimum wait times. How easy is it to schedule an appointment? How easy is it to reschedule? They want a doctor who can educate them about their medical problems, engage with them constantly and give them a personalized experience on every visit.
How do patients find doctors? Patients search on Google, browse the internet, read articles, check out reviews, and watch videos. In today’s digital world, as doctors, you are required to create your brand online, engage with patients online, and all-in-all provide the best-in-class digital experience to their patients. Gone are the days when “word of mouth” marketing was the only marketing channel. Today most of us connect and communicate with each other only on digital channels. The “word of mouth” has gone digital. Doctors need to go digital too.
Digital Marketing Strategy – The Marketing Framework
Where do you start? What do you do?
Before embarking on any digital marketing effort, it is important to build a plan. One way to achieve this is by using a framework. A framework will help organize the plan you will use to engage in the digital marketing of your medical practice.
Source: Udacity Digital Marketing framework
There are many frameworks, the one we will discuss here is the What-Who-When-Why-How-Where framework.
What refers to what services and treatments you provide as a medical practitioner or a medical office. What is your expertise and what is it that you do the best?
Who refers to who are your patients? Understanding and segmenting your patients is very important, because if you market to everyone then you are marketing to no one.
When refers to the patient’s journey through Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, and Post-action. How do you tune your digital strategy to reach your patients at the right place in their journey and at the right time.
Why refers to your marketing objectives. Are you a new practice and looking to create your brand? Are you looking to acquire new patients, or are you looking to provide new services to patients that you did not provide before?
How is your message to your patients and how do you engage and connect with them.
Where refers to the right mix of digital channels you use to reach your potential patients.
Read about the Marketing Framework in depth.
First and foremost, you should write down the value proposition for your medical practice. There are many ways to write one, we will discuss the template recommended by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm.
The Value Proposition is a great tool to identify the Who, What, and Why for your medical practice.
Example Value Proposition, for illustrative purpose only.
For patients residing in Mumbai, India
Who are looking to improve their health and looks using cosmetic surgery and procedures
Our cosmetic surgery and cosmetology clinic
Offers the best in class treatments, from highly skilled surgeons, and world-class infrastructure and facilities
Unlike <your closest competitor>
We Offer 100% commitment and effort towards satisfying our patient’s surgical goals.
Identify Goals: Your Marketing Objectives
“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”
Quoted from Yogi Berra
Setting SMART goals is important to achieve marketing success.
Goals should be:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Relevant
T – Timebound
Some examples of SMART marketing objectives are:
- Increase organic website visits by 50% in 12 months.
- Rank on 1st page for Liposuction and related keywords in 6 months.
- Generate 10 new patient leads every month.
- Increase Revenue by 25% in 6 months.
- Increase Patient Satisfaction rating by 20% in 3 months.
Digital Marketing Plan
Once you have defined your marketing strategy i.e. defined your value proposition and identified your marketing objectives, the next up is to prepare a digital marketing plan.
First and foremost, you will need to have a website. If you do not have a website go built it first. Website is the digital gateway to your online brand. You may also create a Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter account, and a YouTube channel if you are going to create and post videos of and for your patients.
The first step is completed, but it’s really just the beginning. Just because you have a website or create a new one does not mean people will go visit it. You will need to build traffic to your website and this is not so easy. Start early.
Traffic to your website can come from multiple sources, such as Google searches (organic traffic), online ads such as Google or Facebook ads (paid traffic), Social media (such as Facebook, Email, SMS, Referral traffic (traffic from links on another website), and of course direct traffic, i.e. when users type your website address and go there directly.
The key to successful digital marketing is a 360° approach. Your practice should leverage multiple digital channels to reach out to your patients and engage with them on every screen, everywhere, and every time.
Is your website built to provide the best in class digital experience to your patients and conveniences such as online bookings, interactive forms, and intelligent chatbots? Is your website slick, fast, secure, and mobile-optimized?
Do you rank on the 1st page of Google for local searches across all major services and treatments you provide with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Create top-notch content and auto-reformat for distribution to your website as blogs, social media posts (Facebook, Instagram), email newsletters, and other digital channels. Educate and engage your patients with downloadable white papers and how-to guides, and the latest trends.
Shoot and Edit videos for posting on YouTube, create a playlist, optimize videos for search keywords.
Facebook Page (and Instagram Page) management
1-1 communication with your patients via SMS and WhatsApp for convenience and improved engagement
Reach your target patients via email to create awareness, increase engagement and assist conversions.
Automate appointment bookings and other 1-1 communication with patients.
360° Digital Marketing Approach
Engage with patients everywhere. Every time.
Website is the gateway to your online brand. SEO to rank #1 on Google for searches relevant to your services and treatments. Content Marketing to inform, educate and engage your patients. Facebook and Google ads to extend your reach and precisely target patients with creative ads and marketing offers to help you to acquire new patients. YouTube Channel Management to post videos, create playlists, and optimize for maximum reach and engagement. Social Media Management for your Facebook and Instagram Pages. SMS or WhatsApp 1-1 communication with your patients for convenience and improved engagement. Reach your target patients via email to create awareness, increase engagement and assist conversions. Marketing Automation for mundane tasks such as appointment bookings and follow-ups with patients.
Quick Start to Digital Marketing
3 Tips To Get Started Quickly
1- Website Setup
Setting up your website for security, performance, Google search, Facebook, and Google Ads. Digital Marketing is all about data and if your website is not properly set up you are not in a position to measure and optimize towards your marketing objectives.
- HTTPS/SSL : Secured websites protect your patients and their information
- Optimized images and caching : Optimized website loads faster on mobile providing better user experience and avoids Google ranking penalty.
- Google serach console : Register website on Google Webmasters tools. Submit sitemap to help with indexing- Structured Markups / Rich snippets
- Google Analytics : Set up Views, Events and Goals to help with tracking.
- Google Tag Manager : Helps with the management of all tracking pixels and tags on the website
- Facebook Tracking : Facebook Pixel, Facebook Audience and Conversion tracking
- Adwords Tracking : Conversion tracking for Ad campaigns
Search engine optimization is a continuous process to optimize your website for search engines like Google and Bing and to help you rank higher on search results in turn increasing organic traffic to your website. There are many elements to SEO and here we’ll discuss the top 10 factors to consider.
- Start with a thorough keyword research and build your target keywords list. Keyword research is a process of identifying high volume, high value keywords that are typed in search queries by your patients and that match your business value proposition.
– Identify Main Keyword Structural Patterns (or Themes)
– Reverse engineer competitor keywords
– Build Keyword List with Volume and Value data
- Website audit is important to find out how your website is optimized to send signals to Google so Google can index your website pages correctly. This is called On-Page SEO. Page Tags such as title, description, href, image alt text, H1 and header family are important to communicate key priorities to Google. Additionally, title and description are displayed to the users on the search results and are critical to drive traffic to website from the search results.
- Website Structure and URLs structure : Organize website starting with keyword-heavy URLS, cross-linking with keyword text, and using sitemaps.
- Landing Pages : One landing page for each core keyword.
- Homepage SEO : Keyword heavy homepage with one-click links to landing pages.
- Link building : Backlinks are like “votes” (You just need enough to beat the competition). Earn good backlinks from reputed websites.
- Social Media Profiles & Mentions.
- Local Directory Listings
- Google Business Listing (https://www.google.com/business)
- Review Management on Google+, Facebook and other platforms
3- Facebook and Google Advertising
Google and Facebook are great advertising platforms to precisely target your patients on the internet while they are searching or while they are engaging on social media.
Optimize spending across the right mix of channels across Google and Facebook to build your brand and drive conversions.
Key strategies to keep in mind when advertising on Google and Facebook:
Search Ads: Buy long-tail keywords and drive conversions from patients searching with very high intent.
Display Advertising: Extend reach by targeting and retargeting on Lifestyle and Health websites. Use high-impact display banners and video to maximize engagement.
Facebook is a great platform for brand building and audience building. Use “lookalike modeling” to extend reach to people with traits like existing patients. Target audience based on their profile and interest in Lifestyle, Health and Beauty, and Wellness.