How do people find a doctor or a specialist? Do they listen to TV ads? Do they listen to radio ads? Do they save the postcard that came in the mail?
Probably not. Or, at least the odds are very low.
They go to the internet – they go to their friends. Their friends, the all powerful Word of Mouth, are still a significant referral channel. Please reference our article on the Digital Word of Mouth.
Let’s say that they go to the internet. What do they look for?
Chances are, they will look (or start looking) in two locations. They’ll check their insurance company’s website to see which local doctors are ‘in network’ and they’ll go to Google.
Point #1: Make sure that you are easily found (compared to other local docs) on every insurance website that you support. If you are not listed or easily found, contact the insurance company to see why.
But, the focus of this article is going to be on the second step that people take – Google.
Using Google to find a doctor
Google is just the starting point. Their ‘travels’ will branch from there.
The ultimate goal here is to implement a marketing strategy that places your name or your practice name in front of their (potential patient’s) eyeballs significantly more times than any of your competitors – in their Google ‘travels’. That repeated visibility has a similar effect to driving by a restaurant with a full parking lot vs. an empty parking lot – it provides the perception that you deliver exceptional service (which you do!).
So, when you break it down like this, it actually becomes easy to determine where to spend your marketing efforts.
Achieving eyeball awareness
Implementing the following 5 steps will allow you to achieve eyeball awareness:
- Determine what people search for. For example, do the search for: “doctor in city, state” or “diabetic specialist in state” or simply “breast cancer”.
Some of the searches will be geographic specific and some will be more general – it depends on what they are looking for. Also, most people will end up searching using 3-4 different terms before they find what they are looking for. They will either narrow or broaden their search depending on the results.
The Google Keyword search tool (http://bit.ly/9FqW8F) is a great tool for identifying what people search for.
- Make sure that your practice is listed on the first page.
Close only counts in horseshoes. Getting listed on the 2nd page of a Google search result is essentially non-existent. Very few, and I mean very few, people turn to page 2 on a Google search result.
The goal is to get listed on the first page. Depending on your niche and the competition level, this could be easy or this could be hard. If you have any competition at all, you’ll probably want (or need) to deploy some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques to ensure that you make it to the first page and that you stay on the first page.
- Make sure that some of your articles are listed on the first page.
People are not always looking for a doctor when they go to the internet – they may just be looking for information on whatever ails them. Hence, they’ll lean towards the informational articles that pop up on the Google search results vs. a link to a doctor’s office.
Providing valuable informational articles online has two benefits. One, you’ve helped another person with their ailment with minimal effort – unfortunately, you didn’t get paid for that – at least not yet. Two, if the person ultimately needs to see a doctor, who do you think they’ll turn to? More than likely, they’ll turn to the doctor that provided them with valuable information online. You’ve started to earn their trust without even seeing them.
Like the process of getting your website listed on the first page of a Google result, SEO can be implemented to get your articles promoted to the first page as well.
- Check to see if you can be listed under any other non-competitive listings – like directories.
When you search for keywords identified above in #1, what appears on the first page? Often a “directory” of doctors will appear. There are millions of these out there. You don’t have to worry about most of them – only the ones that appear when searching for your keywords. Check into the directories that appear to see if you are listed or what the process is to get listed.
- Make sure that your other sites are listed on the first page – Facebook page, LinkedIn page, Doximity page, etc.
Depending on the maturity of your digital marketing strategy, make sure that any other ‘identities’ that you have on the web are listed on the first page as well. If your practice has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile or a listing in another physician specific community like Doximity, you’ll want those to be ‘found’ as well.
Is digital marketing “spammy”?
You may feel that the steps above appear “spammy” (frequent self-promotion with no valuable information delivered). If this is the case, let me insert a slightly different perspective.
If you were asked to speak at a conference on a specific topic (hopefully one that you have expertise in), would you do it? Would you in any way feel that you would being “spammy” by speaking?
Promoting yourself online is no different. Focus on promoting your expertise or your knowledge – not yourself. The promotion of yourself will automatically occur indirectly if you are providing valuable information that people (potential patients) are looking for.
We hope that you have derived value from this article. Please browse our site for related topics and information on how to promote your practice to potential patients.