What will be the most effective ways to attract new patients this year? What follows is a closer look at three essential components to incorporate in your patient acquisition strategy.
While the outside world may seem like a ghost town, at least for now, many people access the internet on a daily basis. The same goes for the world of healthcare, where people tend to use their smartphones first when they need medical attention. Pandemic or not, much of the patient journey is now online and will be for the foreseeable future.
Hence the question: what is the best way to attract new patients in 2021? Which digital channel will have the most impact on increasing patient acquisition rates? Here are three essentials for a digital inclusion program that can reach more patients by 2021.
1. Increase Brand Awareness and Nurture Leads with Facebook Ads
These days, healthcare marketers love to incorporate Facebook into their patient acquisition strategies for two main reasons:
1) Many people use Facebook every day
2) Facebook advertising has the potential to deliver results a lot faster than search engine optimization (SEO).
Why Facebook Works for Healthcare Marketing
The good thing about Facebook is all the ways you can engage and listen to your audience. You’ll see many healthcare brands post a variety of content in one common clip, including educational videos, Facebook Live, testimonials, and other resources. Older brands often get rich engagement with their regular flow of content. This lively, engaging, and growing presence on Facebook can increase visibility, reveal valuable audience data, and even generate leads.
On the paid advertising side of things, there’s plenty to recommend the Facebook Ads platform. Namely:
- Cost-effectiveness: With best practices in place, Facebook advertising can be a cost-effective way to generate consistent leads. More automated (and more complex) bidding strategies help you control costs and lower your cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
- Targeting: Healthcare marketers especially appreciate the ease of being able to target patient demographics, lookalike audiences, and geographic locations (also known as “targeting”) geographic target”). You can even create custom audiences based on user activity, like visiting your website or watching a certain video.
- Retargeting: Lots of new patients, then potential customers who already know a thing or two about you. Maybe they used your mobile app or visited your location website in Malaysia before. Or maybe you have a specific and pre-defined target audience, such as a senior student who lives in Sabah and likes your Facebook page. With remarketing, you can dynamically serve personalized ads to these people.
- Campaigns across the patient journey: create highly personalized campaigns tailored to patients still in the learning phase, by looking at different providers for single health need specific or who are willing to make an appointment.
- Get creative with a variety of ad types: The Facebook Ads Platform seems to evolve day by day and offers new ways to engage users. In addition to simple photo and video sharing, you can integrate carousels, unique mobile experiences, and even augmented reality.
2. Master Local SEOWe have been telling our healthcare clients that local referrals are an important part of the patient acquisition. Sure, there are some areas where local SEO has less to do with lead generation; but for something like healthcare, how are services typically positioned? That is obvious.
Why Local SEO Works
When people search locally, they tend to follow through and show up in person. According to Google, 76% of smartphone users who search for things nearby visit a business within 24 hours. That goes for your prospective patients, too. By optimizing your content, business listings, and overall digital presence for one or more local markets, you can make sure you reach them.
At a high level, your goal is to send lots of signals to Google that you’re an active, authoritative, and reputable provider in a particular geographic area. While there are different ways to do this, here are some basic elements of a local SEO strategy:
- Listings (such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook Business)
- Patient reviews
- Locally relevant backlinks
- Location-specific pages and content
The idea is to cover these bases for each of your locations. By consistently churning out this kind of rich content, healthcare organizations supply search engines with all kinds of information to surface in all kinds of local search experiences, including:
- Map searches
- “Near me” searches
- Search engine results pages (SERPs)
3. Boost Search Visibility with PPC Advertising
Finally, you should value pay-per-click (PPC) advertising as the third pillar of your 2021 patient acquisition strategy. The hard truth is that not all healthcare companies have it. can wait the six to twelve months needed for a longer-term SEO strategy to start generating value for their results. Others with more mature SEO strategies cannot rely on SEO alone to drive new patient acquisition.
Well set up, PPC campaigns can start generating new leads for patients today.
PPC is a search engine advertising model where you pay each time a user clicks on an ad. Let’s say you want to rank organically for a competitive local keyword, but you’re having a hard time. With PPC, you can place an ad at the top of that SERP, above the organic results.
Specifically, you can optimize PPC ads to show in search engine results when specific audiences use a particular search language, and you pay when a user clicks on one of your ads. Since PPC ads can be difficult to distinguish from regular search results, they tend to get a lot of clicks.
Why PPC Advertising Works
In a context where it is essential to bring in new patients quickly and in measurable, PPC is particularly effective. You can pick up new patients, make appointments, make reservations, and more. right after your campaign is launched. Additionally, PPC platforms like Google Ads or Bing Ads make it easy to track campaign performance and adjust campaign targeting and spending on the fly.
Speaking of costs, healthcare marketers can now use sophisticated automated bidding strategies to help you control costs and reduce CPA. These include the ability to bid based on target CPA, maximum conversions, or an improved cost-per-click (CPC) approach.
What we’ve found is that effective PPC campaigns in healthcare do a few things particularly well:
- Define client personas
- Build well-researched, locally optimized keyword strategy
- Bring together persuasive ad copy and conversion-oriented landing pages
- Enhance ads with extensions, such as site links and call buttons
RELATED: In most cases, we recommend both a PPC and longer-term SEO strategy, as the two tend to complement each other. For more on the difference between SEO and PPC, read How Medical Practices Can Drive Growth with PPC and SEO.
Don’t Forget that All Roads Lead to Your Website
Ultimately, the goal of the three strategies we outlined above is to generate more days. Some patients will call, while others will visit your website. However, even the person who found and called your number on a PPC ad is likely to end up on your site at some point in the patient journey.
What makes your website central to your patient engagement strategy. So let’s build a welcoming digital door. This is a great opportunity to make things easier for your potential (and current) patients. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. After visiting your website, where do most patients want to go first?
Examine the data behind who is accessing your website, from where, and what these people are trying to accomplish. From there, experiment with different feeds and look for opportunities to take the hassle out and make your site experience as seamless as possible. In general, patient-friendly sites:
- Load fast on all devices
- Exude thoughtful, professional web design
- Are built on logical site structure and content hierarchies
- Provide timely, authoritative content that brings value to the patient journey
- Avoid the use of symbols, jargon, highly technical language, and “cute” labels
- Make it easy to navigate to things like scheduling, treatments, insurance information, and COVID-19 updates
Websites that follow these web best practices will not only increase patient traffic on their own, but will also solidly support other strategies, such as Facebook marketing, local SEO, and advertising. PPC. Of course, many healthcare organizations enhance the patient experience even further by investing in online scheduling, chatbots, and virtual assistants.
Above all, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s people, not marketing dollars or campaign metrics, that make the wheels of patient acquisition turn. With that in mind, if you stay firmly focused on fulfilling their needs, you’ll be able to drive growth.