For decades, most doctors and dentists have gotten by without investing much money in advertising or marketing their practices. In fact, most doctors avoided advertising so they wouldn’t be seen as “ desperate” or “hurting for patients”.
Instead, most medical professionals relied on “word of mouth” advertising, this being the notion that your existing patients would refer their friends and family to your practice and that would be your source of new patients. While that strategy certainly was effective, it has become less and less so in the last decade.
Today, most doctors and dentists have a website, but the concept of marketing is still new. There are a few doctors who question whether or not they need a website and many who don’t think it’s an important part of their business.
Here are seven reasons why any business, but especially a medical practice, should invest in a website and online marketing strategy:
Your Website is Open 24/7
Your website works tirelessly. No lunch breaks, vacations, holidays or sick days. That means people can access your website anytime they want to learn about you and your practice. Provide useful information about your services, staff, facilities including answers to questions about insurance, treatment costs, etc.
Make it easy for people to contact you. A short form is a great option. If you’re listing a phone number, make sure there is a way for patients to leave voicemail. Or, better yet, consider an answering service that will give patients a live representative who can take a message and pass it to you for the next business day.
You Can Measure Your ROI
There are very few forms of advertising that give you the ability to track your efforts and measure your return on investment. Services like Google Analytics provide detailed statistics about traffic coming to your website and what happens once users are there.
At Ads Next, we use this data along with other analytics to tabulate the number of leads (potential patients) contacting your office and compare them to the actual number of new patients making appointments.
Yes, Everyone Else Is Doing It
Rest assured, the internet is not a trend. Online marketing will continue to be important for businesses for the unseeable future. And while things will change and evolve as they always do, that’s no reason to stand on the sidelines.
Your competition is already marketing their practices online. This puts you at a disadvantage. Not having a website is taking yourself out of the game and seriously limiting your the visibility of your business.
Manage Your Online Reputation
Nothing is worse than when a dentist or doctor comes to us because there are negative reviews of them online. If you don’t have a website, you have no alternative for prospective patients to learn about you other than the negative review. A website won’t solve a reputation management crisis, but it will mitigate the effects by presenting your brand the way you want it to be represented, instead of by one or two unhappy patients.
Internet Marketing is Cheap
Let’s start by saying: you get what you pay for. But, compared to alternative forms of advertising, internet marketing is very affordable. Magazine ads can cost thousands of dollars per issue and you have limited ability to track their effectiveness.
When you market your practice online, you can expect the largest single investment to go towards the website itself. Ongoing marketing such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC) and Social Media can be tailored to fit practically any set of goals and/or budget.
Like a good financial advisor, a reputable marketing company will help you diversify your marketing strategy, identify new opportunities, highlight the areas where you’ve had success and determine your return on investment.
If You’re Not Online, You Can’t Be Found
There are more than 5 billion google searches happening each day. A 2012 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project stated that 91% of search engine users say they always or most of the time find the information they are seeking when they use search engines. If you don’t have a website, it will be difficult for internet users to find you and learn about your practice.
Increase Trust in Your Brand
People have constant access to the internet and they are far more likely to go online and research a product, service or organization before they ever step foot in a brick-and-mortar business. Even people who’ve gotten a recommendation from a friend or family member are more likely to “check it out” online for confirmation before they finalize their decision.
Your website should be a virtual extension of your office. Be consistent with your brand imagery and messaging use actual photos of your office and staff. You only get one shot at making a first impression, so be sure your website represents you in the best way possible.
Bottom line, do you need a website? Absolutely
Invest in a professional-looking website and hire a company that can develop a long term marketing strategy. And remember, you get out of it what you put into it. If you take internet marketing seriously, you’re more likely to see the return you’re looking for.
by Jamie Tiralla, Content Marketing Strategist for Ads Next