3 Easy Ways To Increase Online Appointments And Grow Your Medical Practice
You Know Healthcare, We Know The Web.
Living in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill NC) it’s hard not to notice the ever expanding medical field. It seems like everyday more and more medical practices are starting up, from general practices like primary care to specialized practices like Nephrology. In this expanding local environment, it’s extremely important as a business owner and a medical professional to take your online footprint seriously. If done correctly, it can give you a permanent boost to your business. Here at Oak City Technology, we have helped many businesses just like yours get noticed by the public, above local competition through experienced SEO, Web Design and Content Marketing. Based on our years of knowledge working with local practices, here are the best ways we have found to grow medical businesses through the online ecosystem.
1) TAKE SOCIAL MEDIA SERIOUSLY
We hear it all the time, “I don’t think my business will benefit from being on social media.” It pains me to hear this, time and again, despite all the data, especially in a personal industry like healthcare. Let me be clear, it does not matter what type of business you have, social media will play a positive role. Whether you, as an individual, approve or disapprove of the role that social media plays in our society, it’s a huge part of our personal and economic culture and it’s here to stay.
However, social media is not a one size fits all practice. Every business is different and certain platforms will serve your specific medical practice more than others. As a rule of thumb, every medical practice should be on Facebook and Twitter, but past that, it’s all about how to reach your prospective patient base. If you are a pediatric practice, it may be a good idea to put time into Instagram where you can show the faces of your smiling patients to build rapport with the local community (e.g. moms). If your practice delivers that positive first impression social media, people are much more likely to go to your website to schedule an appointment, above your competitors.
Social media marketing also provides your business other ancillary benefits, that don’t get enough attention. The internet is a large and complex ecosystem (hence World Wide Web) that few truly understand. Here are some other key benefits that a strong social media presence may bring your medical practice.
- Social Media is a RANKING FACTOR in Google’s algorithm
- Excellent way to establish your brand
- Shows the public a personal side to your business
- Endless possibilities for marketing opportunity
- A 24/7 outlet to reach more prospective patients
- Advertise schedule openings (if you have a 2 week wait for appointments and someone cancels, share on social media you have an opening at 3pm today if anyone is available!)
2) Positive Reviews Are The Key To Success Online
Google reviews play a HUGE part in today’s initial evaluations of local medical practices. The first thing people do, when looking for a new doctor, dentist or chiropractor, is to read their reviews. People want to know that they are not wasting their time (and most importantly, not jeopardizing their health) by visiting a new medical provider. Healthcare is a personal industry, it’s as simple as that. If you can relay to your prospective clients that you are a trustworthy practice and one that cares about their patients you stand a much higher likelihood of converting that visitor into a happy customer. The quickest way to do this is through Google reviews. Care to take a guess at what percentage of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
Almost 90 PERCENT!
Consider this: A two-sentence, 5-star Google review, can carry as much weight as a recommendation from your mother. This is because Google reviews play a huge part in today’s internet ecosystem, through an idea called “perceived trust.” Perceived trust is the level a trust a user can expect to gain through your web presence (e.g. reading reviews, looking at social media, visiting your website, etc.)
We all as humans subconsciously do this all the time online. It’s an important factor that you should take advantage of, especially in the healthcare field. If a user, when searching for a new doctor, finds your website or the reviews that portray your practice in a positive light, this only benefits your conversion rates for appointments and phone calls. People take reviews seriously, so you should too.
3) Use Minimalist Design Principles For Your Website
Minimalism brings the most important content to the forefront and reduces distractions for the user. If a page is too cluttered, the viewer can become confused about where to find what they need.
All too often I visit websites that are beautiful works of art, but for the life of me I can not figure out what the heck this company actually does! This is a huge problem in business yet it’s one that minimalist design can help alleviate. When creating a homepage for a healthcare website you need to ask yourself, what do want users to do when they get to our website? If you want them to create an appointment or call you directly, it NEEDS to be the first thing they see. This allows the user to vet your website for answers to their questions, but still be able to easily schedule an appointment, wherever they are on your site. Effective minimalist design calls attention to only the important information making the site easy to navigate and comprehend.
Websites ARE NOT Newspapers
Think about it like this, If a customer walks into your store and asks you where to find something. Would you say “No, go find it yourself”? That’s what having a cluttered website feels to a customer. Successful websites today do not look like newspapers, filled from corner to corner with information overloading the user’s brain.
In today’s internet world you have an average of 15 seconds to show a user who you are, what you do and why they should chose you. 15 seconds. If someone comes to your website on their phone and are greeted by a 3 paragraph text wall, that’s almost a guarantee that the user is going to hit the back button and go to the next practice on the Google list.
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Be Active In Your Community!
A common element that medical practices often overlook is the power of a community. This is one of our most powerful motivators as humans, and one that any business can contribute to. By being active in your community, you tell prospective patients that you care about the people your practice treats. This goes a long way in the healthcare field and contributes to the “perceived trust” element we covered earlier. Keep in mind that the main motivator should actually be to contribute to your community. The perks it will deliver to your business are just an added bonus.
Here are a few simple ways to start branching out in a local community:
- Sponsor a local sports team (Minor league, High School, Church Leagues)
- Volunteer! (Offer your employees volunteer hours = work hours)
- Serve on a community board
- Donate to local charities
- Participate in local events