Do you know that 77% of patients will perform a medical search for services
Amber Turner On Jun 18, 2021
By Austin Heerwagen On Dec 28, 2020 . 0 Comments
Evaluate where you stand today and help you identify your weakest area to work on in 2021.
In 2020, we’ve seen this massive shift in the way patients chose physicians. Referrals are way down and patients are going directly to their provider. Patients, even those who are 65+ or use medicare, have been forced to adapt to the digital world.
Our clients who were receiving a handful of online appointments started receiving 30-40-50% more online appointments than they were previously. Almost where online appointments outweighed their phone appointments. That’s really good news for practices that can adapt and market digitally. Especially if you’re able to get ahead of the competition,
However, digital marketing is a huge arena and it’s very easy to let things fall through the cracks. One person can’t do it all.
We’re going to show you how we assess practices internally to determine their weak points and ultimately form a strategy around that. By the end of this, you should have a pretty good idea of where you’re struggling the most. So that as you form your strategy for 2021, you know what to prioritize.
We’re going to go over your website, your reputation, social media, SEO, paid advertising, and finally, general strategy.
At Koda Digital, we help medical practices get more patients through digital marketing.
Throughout the last 5 years, we’ve helped dozens of physicians, who have already seen some success, achieve an entirely new level of success. We are proud to say we’ve brought tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue to them.
We can’t talk enough about how rewarding it is seeing a practice change from that bare-bones of never knowing where their next patient’s going to be— to stable, controlled marketing and hopefully thinking towards the future. Especially, in revelation with COVID.
We ask that you use this free questionnaire tool to help you assess your marketing strategy: https://kodadigital.com/tools/marketing-assessment
Now, let’s jump into the assessment.
This is a BIG deal because your website is your foundation of all of your digital marketing. Visitors get the first impression of your website in 50 milliseconds. So you only have an instant to make that impact.
So think back to the way you use the web. When you’re scrolling through a site, do you make that first impression right away? From a design view, you probably do.
For many patients, that’s their only exposure to you, They don’t know your credentials, how good your facility looks, or your patient outcomes. They just know your website.
So if you’re going to be doing any digital marketing, your website needs to be awesome. Or else you’re just throwing money down a pit hoping that it’s as efficient as possible.
So take a look at your website and try to give it an objective rating from far below average to far above average.
This first example is ‘Frisco Family ENT’. They’re probably amazing at what they do, but their website is undoubtedly losing their practice tens, if not hundreds, of patients a month.
The big red flags we see:
There is nothing personalized for Frisco Family ENT at all. It doesn’t allow the patient to get any trust from this clinic.
Would you feel comfortable going to a website that looks like this? Doesn’t look like they’re on the “cutting edge”, even though they might be.
Again, these doctors and physicians are probably very good at what they do, but their website doesn’t reflect it. So, I would call this website far below average.
Now we’ll look at the middle road.
This practice, ‘enttex’, is in the same area as the previous example.
This is about an average website.
They have images but there’s a LOT of images. They’re all in different angles and look a bit cluttered. With so many images and so much text, it’s hard to tell what to read and where to go next on the website.
This website probably gets the job done, but it doesn’t convince anyone on the fence. They’re not winning any awards based on this website. If they’re comparing you between a competitor, hopefully, your website is better than theirs.
And finally, we come to Collin County ENT.
As a disclaimer, this practice is a client of Koda Digitals. Hopefully, you see an immediate difference in this far above average website.
All three of these are in the same competitive market.
If you were a patient in this area, and you opened all three sites and wanted to pick the best, which one would you be more likely to go with?
That’s really what you need to ask yourself about your website and your competitors. So go ahead and rank your website on our assessment.
This site, ‘Clinical Pediatrics Associates’, has no prominent headline whatsoever. This is real. This is their real site, not zoomed in.
There are no words. You have to scroll down almost your entire screen before you get to any words at all. You’re just scrolling past this picture of their waiting room.
Keep in mind, we’re in this digital age where people are used to Uber. They don’t want to wait 20 minutes for their food, and they quickly need instant reassurance when they come to your website so they aren’t wasting their time.
One of the critical errors that we see is that the website doesn’t have any heading whatsoever.
Middle of the road again, there’s this site, ‘Pediatric Associates of Dallas’.
Again, this is what I would consider average.
They have a little bit of heading that says “Taking care of kids is what we do”. They’re pediatrics and that’s very true, but I’m not sure that ultimately resonates with patients.
This is what we would call “more of a feature”. The heading is simply describing what they do. But marketing is all about talking about your patients. It’s not about talking about you.
So as we move to this next site, ‘GetzWell’.
You can see what they immediately do better. ‘GetzWell’ specializes in personalized pediatrics meaning they’re that special case of pediatrics.
Their heading is “Extraordinary care for extraordinary kids.” That immediately speaks to their target audience.
That target audience with extraordinary kids automatically knows that these specialists are exactly what they’re looking for.
They follow up below on their site with what they do. They expand on ADHD, anxiety, autism, autoimmune disease to inform their visitors that they are in the right place. Next, these visitors think “How do I learn more?” or “How do I make an appointment?”
Looking back to the assessment tool, does your website immediately resonate with your target patients? Or is it just there because you needed to come up with something?
This isn’t easy to do. Earlier we said we searched for Pediatrician examples in the Dallas area, however, we could not find a pediatrician in the Dallas area that we liked their header. So the ‘GetzWell’ example is actually not in the local area of the two previous examples.
Creating a headline that speaks to the immediate benefit of your practice can be a very difficult thing to do. Seeking out professionals, like Koda Digital, who are used to doing it day in day out, could help you with that.
Patients who come to your website should feel you’re professional, you’re going to solve all their problems, and that you resonate with them.
When your patients look to make an appointment, you want it to be as easy as possible with as few clicks as possible.
Right away, this page encourages them to make an appointment. You can see the two “Make an appointment” buttons in the top-right header and left middle page. You can also see their phone number showcased as well.
At any time, patients can click this one time and will get to this screen.
The patient would fill out the information and then there’s one more click. 2 clicks total.
2 clicks are really good. 3 clicks are also pretty good. Even if you have 5 clicks, that’s way better than not having any way to make an appointment online. Now the worst thing we see here is practices that have no way to make an appointment online.
Your patients might be at work, on the bus, or maybe in line at the grocery store. The point is that they don’t have the time nor desire to sit on the phone to make an appointment. They want to do it on their phone right there as they’re thinking about it. So while they’re on your site, make it easy for them to make an appointment so they don’t go looking for your competitor later.
Think about a psychologist’s medical office for instance. Psychologists that require you to call for an appointment doesn’t make much sense to us. People who are depressed or experiencing depression have a hard time getting out of bed. Why would we expect them to want to talk to someone on the phone to make an appointment?
Remember, we want to make it as easy as possible.
Looking at Collin County again as an example, we have 6 fields to fill out.
Collin County requires its patients to fill in their:
Honestly, that’s a little higher than we would like.
Now, we understand the logistical reasons for all of this, but if you have total control over this field, really be critical.
Do you need everything that’s there? Do you honestly need every question you are asking to be answered before that appointment visit?
Every single question, every single field that you ask for here, will lose you new patients. We promise you, it will lose you new patients every time you add a new field to the appointment page.
We understand your practice will need insurance information. We know you will need the patient’s history. But save that for later. Do that after they’ve already scheduled the appointment and after they’ve already committed to you. You want to have your intake process as seamless as possible. At least up until they can’t choose a competitor.
Consider when you last went to a new restaurant. That might have been six months ago due to COVID, but you probably looked on Google and checked out some review scores. If a restaurant had less than a 4.0, you probably didn’t even consider it.
Now consider that people aren’t looking for restaurants, they’re looking for their health. Or even better, they’re looking for their children’s health. They’re going to be a lot more critical of a physician than you would of the restaurants.
So first off with reputation, let’s search your reviews and see what is your practice’s Google review score.
What comes up?
You are ultimately looking for a 4.8 or higher as your review score. 4.5 or higher is good, great even, but we want to hit a 4.8. That can usually guarantee that your practice is one of the highest, if not the highest in your area.
He will probably outrank you and people are going to have more trust in him.
You want as many reviews as possible for credibility. It also lessens the impact of one bad review. For instance, someone comes to your clinic and their insurance doesn’t reimburse them as much as they thought they would so they go leave a nasty review of your practice. That’s not going to hurt you as much as it otherwise would.
Don’t forget your competitors because they matter too. If you have two competitors that have a 4.9, your 4.8 honestly isn’t good enough.
I’ll repeat this probably a few times, but no one wants to see the #2 doctor. Why would anyone go see the #2 doctor when they can go see the #1?
Other important review sites, other than Google, Healthgrades is also a very important review site.
You can see the same doctor, ‘Dr. Gabriel’ here has a 4.9 on Healthgrades.
Go search yourself real quick on Healthgrades.
Here you can see ‘Dr. Gabriel’ has a score of 4.6 on Vitals.
Google, Healthgrades, and Vitals are all incredibly important. The most important, in fact, for individual practitioners.
Our team can make a quick impact on reviews. As long as you don’t have 100 negative reviews, it’s highly likely that we can get you to a 4.5 in just a few months and be well on our way to that 4.8 status that makes you number one.
So if you’re looking at your reviews and thinking you have so much to go, with the proper strategy and execution like Koda Digital can provide, that’s no problem. We’ll make short work of it and you will be able to happily google yourself.
Patients have more time for Facebook and Instagram than ever. People are not going out as often so they’re constantly on their phones connecting through social media.
Your past patients need to be connected with you on Facebook.
A good social strategy will remind them that you exist. Even if you’ve solved their problem, cured their illness, or fixed their knee– they should still remember you to recommend to their family members and friends. Social media is one of the ways we keep that going.
We call that “top-of-mind awareness”. Seeing your name or practice’s name recently opens up that certainty that they’ll remember you at the drop of a hat. So it’s crucial to be a part of their feed.
To do that, you need to post regularly. Go look at your Facebook. Go to your Instagram.
6 posts in 4 days meaning we post three or more times a week.
That is a lot, and that takes work. We’ve experimented a lot with how often to post and found that the optimal number is 5-7 times per week.
But the trick is, it can’t be annoying content. It needs to be valuable.
You can see in the example above that we’re posting content like blog articles, research, and reviews about the doctor. Every post can’t be “Come see us, we’re the best Orthopedic.” or inspiration quotes with mountains or forest paths in the background.
It needs to be REAL content that people find useful. To judge that, social media has a metric called engagement.
How many people find your post interesting enough to like, comment, or share? They’re publicly standing behind your content.
Every practice’s patients are going to be different. What works for an Orthopedic Associates in Flower Mound, TX probably won’t work for a practice in orthopedic practice in San Diego, CA.
So it’s important to not just have cookie-cutter content, but design it around your audience. Then see what your audience finds useful and do more of that.
See what does well, what doesn’t do well, and make adjustments.
For our client, Orthopedic Associates of Flower Mound, you can see that each post has multiple likes, comments, and shares. They have a rapid community and all of these people engaging with their content are total devoted fans and supporters of Orthopedic Associates.
If you happened to run into them and say you’re having any sort of orthopedic issue, all of these fans are going to immediately say ”I know the best orthopedic practice around!”
Social media is a great way to fuel your word of mouth.
How would feel if you called a business, left a voicemail, and didn’t get a call back for a week? You probably wouldn’t feel very important to them and you probably wouldn’t go there as a patient.
We want to make sure that that doesn’t happen. Not only do you lose out on that patient, but you probably lose out on their circle of friends too because they’re going to tell them what happened.
It’s not uncommon for a practice manager or an administrator to be given the duty to keep up with the Facebook page. We see it time and time against or all of our new clients.
Turns out, it’s not easy. These practice managers and administrators already have so much on their plate. It’s pertinent to go back a month or two and look back at those last 3 questions you answered.
If you’re not seeing any positive outcomes, it’s time to get outside help. Not only does that allow you to start getting actual results, but it also frees up that practice manager for obligations like managing staff, helping the front desk, or making sure the patient experience is better.
For most practices, the most profitable way to get new patients is through Google Maps and Google search results.
We call Google search results ‘organic’.
Go ahead and search your city and specialty in Google.
This page shown in the example below is going to pop up and this section is the map results.
This is determined by a lot of things but primarily in how SEO optimized your website is. By default, it only shows the top three in the map listing section.
We want to be crystal clear here– if a patient is looking at this map result, they’re not ever going to click “view all”.
They’re looking at these results and finding the one that they think is the best. So, if you’re not in the top three here in this map result, you’re functionally invisible to that patient that uses the map results. It is paramount to be in the top three.
Where do you rank in those map results? Do you see yourself? Do you not?
Now that we have an idea of that biggest search term, let’s try something a bit easier to rank for. Let’s use your top sub-specialty.
For an orthopedic, we might say “knee surgeon New York”. Go ahead and search yourself and see where you end up.
Top 3? Top 10 if you click view all? Again, if you’re not in the top three, that’s a very significant problem and you should lookout.
But the map results only tell half the story, there are search results below the map.
Instead of the top three like maps, this section shows 10 links. This is primarily influenced by SEO optimization but Google takes other factors into account, like website design, how your site looks on mobile, and how quickly your page loads.
A great healthcare marketing agency like Koda Digital will be able to help you out with that. You shouldn’t need to worry about the specifics.
As you’re looking through all of this, keep in mind that people are trained to think that the best company is number one in Google search results. The second best is number two and so forth.
That means the best physicians are number one on Google. For that reason, number one always takes the lion’s share and it makes you trustworthy. Not only does that trust get you more appointments, but patients come into your appointments with better expectations.
How many times have you had a patient that was determined to be difficult? Probably pretty frequently.
We talk to my clients every month and it’s fun to see them transition from starting with us to 6-9 months out. Whenever they start to get towards to top of the search engine, they have great reviews, and they have a great website, they tell us how patients are easier to deal with. It can change a patient’s frame of mind before they even get in the door.
You hear about Google Ads and Facebook ads often, but paid advertising is a fantastic way to get an immediate influx of new patients.
It provides them diversification, so you’re not just hinged on organic results or an algorithm.
Google is essentially running an auction each time someone searches. The winner gets to be that first place and so on. There’s a lot to that but that’s the gist you need to know.
You pay every time someone clicks on your ad, but you’re going to show above the map results and above the organic results.
Even if you’re first in organic results, a percentage of people are never going to look past the ads. That’s especially true for the older age patients or medicare 65+ bracket. Statistically, a high percentage of those people in that bracket click on ads.
Although most of our clients are number one on the organic results, we still spend money on google ads.
Not only does this ensure that the patients see their practice, but it also adds a lot of implicit trusts. The patients see the ad for the practice, and they scroll on their phone and see that practice again. They continue to scroll down more they see it again in the map results.
This makes them say, “Wow! I see this practice’s name all over the page so they must be very good. I want to go to them.”
The problem with organic ranking is that they can take close to a yea of investing to materialize into a steady flow of patients. However, paid advertising is instant.
You can run ads tomorrow and get a patient tomorrow. The real secret strategy is to start paid advertising now. Make some profit, fill up those open appointment slots, and then with your profit, invest in longer-term marketing like SEO to make an even greater margin and profit.
If you do advertise with google ad right now, or if you have an agency working with you, you should be able to find this in your report or inside google ads with some number crunching.
Looking at the industry as a whole, Healthcare Practice spends about $77 per appointment. That’s from plastic surgeons to family doctors.
If you spend $1000, that gives you 12 new patients a month. 12 new ones that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. However, a really good agency like Koda Digital can bring that cost even lower.
After all, who wants to be average?
Our clients, on average, spend $29 per patient appointment. If you’re spending $1000 per month, that’s the difference between 12 new patients that month and 34 new patients that month. That means huge savings! You’re leaving a lot of money on the table by not bringing that cost lower.
Let’s say a patient came into your clinic, had a great experience, and left your office. How do you reengage them?
If they come in every year for a check-up, what are you doing to bring them back? If they come in every year for a check-up and don’t come back, how do you get them back? How are you staying top of mind so that send their friends and family to you?
Usually, the answer to all of this is email.
Reengagement doesn’t have to be just email or newsletters, this can be social media and paid retargeting in Google Ads.
You want to create not just happy patients, but evangelical patients.
You want patients that just can’t stop thinking about you and can’t stop talking about you. Especially since they love all the content you put out. That is something that Koda Digital can succeed for you. We love to have people who love to talk about you.
We want to stress the importance of having a diversified patient acquisition.
This is one of the weaknesses we see with a lot of practice that come to us. They get 95% of their patients from referrals, but what happens when those doctors retire? Go out of business? Get acquired by hospital group and can no longer refer to you? That’s a really big deal and it opens you up to a lot of risks.
Question: How many marketing channel(s) do you have that bring in 5% or more of your new patients?
The goal here is to see at least 5 channels. 5 different sources of patients that generate at least 5%.
You can see here in that graphic, for this client, 52% come from organic search, 26% come from paid search, 18% are direct (business card, referral, already know the domain name/website), and 3% is social media.
This provides massive stability for your practice as insurance changes, competitors come into the market, or when events like COVID occur.
If a large group comes in and starters spending a million dollars a month, you do lose out on that paid advertising. Simply because they spent a lot more than you and you were always 3rd.
But you know what, you were diverse enough to where you didn’t lose your entire income and you’re able to bounce back and find ways to beat that large competitor.
By having multiple knobs and levers, a marketing team can make more of an impact. So you’re not just sitting there twiddling your thumbs waiting for the referral patients to come in. You go to them. That’s a really big deal and why we always prefer diversification over anything else.
Now let’s move on to the hard-hitting questions.
We’ve had a rough year. Are you seeing less than 60%? Are you seeing between 60-80%? Maybe you’re only down 20%. Or are you seeing more?
Answer this honestly with a look back at the same time period. Look back to last December, how are you doing now and how were doing then?
Again, COVID was and may still be rough for everyone. Demand is way down across the board. There are a lot of industries where demand is 15% down, 25% down, and even further.
So over the next year, if we talk December next year, where do you want your business to be? Do you want to be 10% over this? 20% over your average? More than 20%?
Are you going to wait and see what happens and hope that the patients come to you? Are you going to let everyone else evolve around you?
Or are you going to hit the market first and make sure that you capitalize on this open space in the market? Everyone is going to transition to digital, how are you going to transition before your competition?
We are happy to say that our clients are busier than last year.
Our bottom performing practice is at 94% of their average new patient volume. They’re just 6% down.
Only you can determine if you want to make a change if it’s time. I can tell that when you do, my team at Koda Digital can make a big impact.
If you’re at 80% and you go up to 100%, how much more do you have to spend on expenses? Probably not a whole lot. You hopefully have all your staff there and you have the room, so those extra patients are even more profitable than average.
The goal is maximum efficiency, which is 100% capacity. How much room do you have to grow if you were to invest in marketing and what would that mean from a dollar stand-point compared to expenses?
When an agency works with clients, there’s a lot of data. There are website visits, clicks, brand recognition, and so on. Your digital marketing agency should be working towards your goals. Not necessarily theirs.
Are they constantly talking about getting more clicks or more website visits? At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is patient appointments.
Some of our clients want more appointments. Specifically, they want more profitable appointments for some specific procedure.
Your marketing agency should feel like an extension of your in-house team. They should go after what you want. Whether that be more patients, more profitable patients, or maybe you’re entering a new market. Furthermore, your marketing agency should drive your business in the direction you want to want to drive it, not in the direction they want to.
Honestly, that’s not easy to find. But we might know a few people if you reached out. 😉
So finish clicking through the assessment and you’ll be given a score based on the questions you answered.
How well did you score?
If you’re at 18+, you have a pretty strong foundation. Your practice probably needs to clean up around the edges and tweak some things, but it’s doing okay.
If you’re 12-17, your practice has the start to a successful strategy and probably big enough to have started that process, but you need to quickly improve on your weak points. Before demand spikes up again to over 100%, you need to fill in those gaps so you’re resilient to competitors and you capture all that demand.
If you’re under 12, your digital marketing isn’t looking so hot. Nevertheless, we talk to people almost every day in your shoes. The good news is that if you are successful right now, despite this score, you’re going to be unstoppable with the proper strategy and execution.
It’s hard to prioritize when everything is on fire and you’re in the red there. There’s a certain way of scaling out of that without breaking the bank. So we’re happy to talk about that if you want more insight. The professionals at Koda Digital are always happy to give a more detailed assessment and walk through that process with you.
Truth is, digital marketing for healthcare is a complex beast. But it’s here to stay, even after a vaccine.
This is a once in a decade opportunity to adapt quicker than your competition. So if you’re looking to grow in 2021, Koda digital is here to help.
Instead of waiting for patients to come to you, let go to them. From reviews and social media to SEO and website, we handle the entire digital experience so you can focus on what you want to focus on.
We are also month-to-month and only month-to-month. You don’t have to sign a long-term contract, you give us a 30 days notice and can be out. We are undoubtedly excellent and skilled at what we do.
2021 is coming fast so don’t wait too long! Do reach out.
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