You may not traditionally think of patient communication tools such as blogs and e-newsletters as a marketing tactic, but staying top of mind with current patients is an integral part of attracting new business not to mention it can also result in increased patient satisfaction. Doctors often tell me that one of their most fruitful sources of new patients is referrals from current patients. That means it’s important not to neglect your current patients when deciding where to spend your marketing dollars.
The good news is that marketing to current patients is often the most cost-effective form of marketing, because it can be achieved through strategies as simple as improved communications. Some examples of ways you can utilize these communications include; enhancing patient satisfaction by sending timely updates about early closings due to inclement weather, increasing repeat business by informing patients of other services your practice offers, or positioning yourself as the medical expert by sharing or commenting on recent health news and articles.
Here’s a three step process of how you can use one message or article across three different communication mediums to save time and costs when marketing to current patients:
Step 1 - Write a Blog Post: I recommend that every practice incorporate a blog into their website. Most practices title their blog something along the lines of “News and Updates” and will have their most recent posts listed on the homepage. It’s a quick and easy way to get a message to your patients, add fresh content to your site, feature services, and even share educational articles.
It’s also really good for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts to enhance your Google rankings. The average blog should be about 400 words in order to get the full benefit from SEO. Read articles online to learn how to optimize your blog with proper keywords. Or you can always hire an SEO agency to do it for you.
Step 2 – Social Media: Once you’ve written your blog news/article, you can then post a link to the blog on your social media pages to act as a megaphone for announcing the message. Use social media to engage patients in the content and most importantly, get them talking about it. According to a Pew Internet Survey, 50% of all adults use social media; the fastest growing age segment of which is 50-64 years of age.
This is one of your most affordable and effective tools to spread the word to your target audience. You can even ask your peers to post it as well; for instance, if you are an infertility clinic ask the OB clinics you’ve befriended on Facebook to post your blog link. Just be sure you’re willing to return the favor.
Step 3 – E-Newsletter: So once you’ve written your blog and posted it on your social media channels, then the third step is to include it in an e-newsletter to your patients. If you currently aren’t collecting email addresses for patients, you should start. Email addresses are invaluable when it comes to using digital communications to stay top of mind with your patients. Not to mention, it’s something patients want; 65% of patients who use the internet say they are willing to switch to a doctor using digital communications to engage them (Pew Internet Research Group, 2011).
Using this three step process, you can take just one piece of content and deliver it across various mediums to get the most impact for your efforts. While each of these methods is extremely inexpensive, I always caution practices against thinking they are free. There is definitely time involved to carry out this strategy, and we all know time is not free. However, as compared to relying on traditional snail mail, a digital approach is much more budget-friendly, time-sensitive and preferred by most patients.
About Amanda Kanaan:
Amanda Kanaan is the President of WhiteCoat â a Raleigh-based medical marketing agency providing doctors with online marketing services as medical website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media management, blog writing, graphic design, referring physician outreach and more. To contact Amanda or to learn more about WhiteCoat, visit www.whitecoatmedicalmarketing.com.