How much marketing should your practice do?
In the digital age, patients have come to rely on the internet for just about everything – which includes their healthcare. Studies have shown that up to 70% of potential patients find medical professionals through Google, and 89% of patients will ask Google health-related questions before asking their doctor.
What does this tell us? Your patients are online, actively searching for the services you offer. They can’t find you if you have no digital presence.
How does it all work?
Think of your website as a digital reception desk. It’s a location on the internet where patients can visit and get information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your social media pages, Google listings and other digital assets are paths to your digital practice. Your marketing campaigns are massive billboards pointing directly to your practice, making it easier to find.
A potential patient would start this journey by realising they have a problem and taking to the internet to find a solution. Our unique AI platforms will flag them as a potential patient based on searches relating to your field, their geographical location and a few other metrics. They will then begin seeing ads for your practice, prompting them to visit your website to book an appointment. The more research into your practice and their problem they do, the more material they find to reinforce the message that you can assist them. Once your digital presence and marketing have convinced them to move forward, they can simply visit your site and request an appointment.
Stats from last year tell us that close to 70% of patients tried to book appointments outside of normal business hours. A website can help you capture these potential patients while you’re busy attending to other things.
What could Marketing do for my practice?
Marketing is a tool that simply connects practitioners with real patients who are actively looking for their services – and it can be as broad or targeted as you want it to. Marketing is geared to accomplish 3 distinct goals:
If you have a specific message you want to spread, marketing can help you get as many eyes on it as possible. Digital marketing is currently the most effective way to spread awareness, reaching more than 1000 times the amount of potential patients than traditional marketing does.
So if, for example, you wanted to communicate that your practice offers a new service, or has some new equipment, you could use marketing to showcase these features and generate interest.
Website traffic is incredibly valuable. Not only does every patient visiting your website get information on your practice, but they also give us valuable business information. You can accurately ascertain which services, pages and practitioners listed on your website are most popular so you can adjust practice processes accordingly.
In addition to valuable data, each person who visits your website is eligible for retargeting so if they show interest in a particular procedure or service, we can send them more information on a regular basis to prompt them to schedule their appointment.
The primary goal of healthcare marketing is to drive real patients into your practice and fill up your appointment slots. 80% of healthcare practices who invested in marketing see double-digit growth rates year on year and our clients see an average of 12 new patients per month.
Practitioners who spend the exact same amount of money on traditional marketing methods don’t even see half of that. The return on investment is far greater than traditional marketing can offer.
What do you need to market your practice?
A great marketing strategy needs a few different components in order to work properly and generate great results.
The base of any marketing strategy is a properly designed website.
As mentioned, your website is essentially a representation of your practice – so a lot of thought needs to go into how it looks and what it says. Remember that most of your marketing will direct patients to your website as well.
Your website gives patients the ability to interact with your practice outside of business hours, without the hassle of calling. Patients can navigate the website on their own time, at their leisure.
A good website needs to accomplish a few things:
- Tell patients who you are and what you do;
- Explain how things work at your practice;
- Give people the opportunity to contact you;
- Set the tone for your patient experience.
Social media has become the largest marketing tool in the world, with platforms such as Facebook logging over a billion active users each month.
Using social media to market your practice may not seem like the most natural way to draw in new patients, but the results are staggering. Healthcare practices gain thousands of followers year on year and use these platforms to communicate and engage with their patients – driving patient loyalty. These are some of the ways social media could make your practice more successful:
- Accessibility: Social media provides a new, less formal, more convenient line of communication with patients.
- Engagement: Patients who interact with your posts feel like they’re interacting with your practice too!
- Reach: With paid social media marketing, your posts could reach new patients who would otherwise never have heard of you – bringing even more new patients to your practice.
Is healthcare marketing HPCSA compliant?
That depends on who does your marketing.
Avily has worked closely with the HPCSA, so we have a thorough understanding of all the rules and regulations. Compliance is vitally important for medical professionals – and so we take it extremely seriously as well.
As a medical practitioner in South Africa, you are allowed to market your practice as long as you follow the HPCSA guidelines:
- A practitioner shall be allowed to advertise his/her services or permit, sanction or acquiesce to such advertisement: Provided that the advertisement is not unprofessional, untruthful, deceptive or misleading or causes consumers unwarranted anxiety that may be suffering from any health condition; and
- A practitioner shall not canvas or tout or allow canvassing or touting to be done for patients on his/her behalf. For the sake of clarity Council regards:
- Canvassing is conduct by a practitioner which draws attention, either verbally or by means of printed or electronic media, to one’s personal qualities, superior knowledge, quality of service, professional guarantees or best practice. For example, “I am the best Physiotherapist in town.”
- Touting is conduct that draws attention, either verbally or by means of other media, to your product offering by employing guarantees or material benefits outside the categories of professional services or items.
- Touting or canvassing encompasses the definitions above practised by a third party in a practitioners professional space. An example of canvassing would be informing the public that there is free Wi-Fi at the consulting rooms to use while waiting for consultation since it falls outside the services rendered by the healthcare practitioner.
Following the guidelines while marketing your practice can be difficult – there are also new marketing rules and regulations regarding pricing, images and where marketing material is allowed. Thankfully, through our work consulting with the HPCSA and medical practitioners, we’re able to safely navigate these issues.
The benefits of Marketing
Marketing, essentially, can do anything. It can grow your practice, bring in new patients, establish you as an industry leader, and cement your reputation. In order to get those great results, you need time, money and a multi-pronged strategy.
It all depends on what you say, and how you say it.
As mentioned, having a website is like having a 24-hour virtual reception desk on the internet. It allows patients to get important information quickly and conveniently, without taking the time of your actual receptionist.
Marketing is essentially a virtual billboard, directing people to your website. Except, this billboard is only shown to people in your targeted geographical location who have shown an interest in the services you offer.
All together, you have a perfect system to support and grow your practice – bringing in new patients every month, keeping them interested in your work, and allowing them to feel connected so they don’t drop off.