Attracting new patients can be achieved in dozens of ways, from traditional referrals to digital marketing campaigns. Though there are many methods, several tried and true best practices will set your strategy up for success whatever your approach. Below are some effective ways – online and off – to increase your practice’s patient volume.
Traditional Marketing Strategies for Ophthalmology Practices
1. Referrals from PCPs and Other Health Care Professionals
Developing and maintaining good relationships with your local Primary Cre Physicians (PCPs) is a great way to bring more patients through your door. Sending referring PCPs letters or emails to update them on the condition of your mutual patients will motivate them to continue referring their patients to you, as it shows you think of them as well as truly care about patients’ well-being.
The term “synergy” was used ad nauseam for a while, but the value of it remains after the trend. Collaborating with other professionals whose services are related to or overlap with your own can increase visibility for both businesses, such as neuropsychologists and occupational therapists.
2. Incentivized Patient Referral Programs
Patient referrals are gold and earned with quality service. If you are providing excellent, patient-centric services, you can boost your referrals with an incentivized referral program. Implemented successfully, this classic method works best when the incentive is high enough to motivate your patients to recommend you to their friends and family.
3. Expand Your Social Circle
When we need the services of a tradesperson, we tend to first flip through our memories for a related mention from friends and family. You recall a coworker’s brother is a plumber, your sister-in-law’s best friend is an event planner, or one of your neighbors raved about their child’s tutor. More often than not, people choose people they have heard about. By widening your circle of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues, you can increase the likelihood of meeting new patients or people who will refer you. Consider joining a club, lodge, or sports league to widen your social reach.
Attracting Potential Patients Online
1. A Clean, Fast, and Mobile-Responsive Website
The foundation for all online marketing endeavors begins with an attractive, easy-to-use, mobile-friendly, and fast website.
A modern site with intuitive navigation will show your practice’s dedication to being patient-centric. Can people who visit your site easily find the information they are looking for? Having a professional site can make the difference between looking trustworthy and reputable, or rinky-dink. Convey your experience, authority, and high value, in your website’s appearance, design, and content.
In addition to being user-friendly, a website must be optimized for viewing on tablets and most importantly on cell phones. Studies have shown 88% of people who search for something local on their cell phone call or go to that store within 24 hours.
2. Search Engine Optimization
If you have a mobile-optimized, attractive website, but no traffic, it might need SEO treatment. Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical in order to achieve a visible web presence. If your practice isn’t coming up in the first page of search results, it will very rarely be seen at all.
Keyword research can reveal what people are typing in their searches when looking for a business like yours. Using keywords strategically in your website’s content can improve how high on the search your company ranks. Find out what is working for other practices in the area. Remember, the goal is to rank high locally, not nationally.
How Google sees your online presence is important. Inbound links on other trusted websites that go to your website. For example, if you are listed on the board of a local hospital and your name is hyperlinked to your website. Inbound links are excellent, while outbound links are also good for SEO – and easier. For these, simply include links to established organizations such as the American Academy of Ophthalmology on your website, in your content, or on a resources page.
A focus on local SEO is a surefire strategy to increase your visibility online. Emphasize location in your content to get maximum views from local searches. Nearly 46% of all Google searches are for local information!
3. Maintain a Strong Social Media Presence
Social media is a fun way to stay engaged with your current patients, while also being a way for potential new patients to find you.
If the number of social media platforms is too much to juggle, focus on Facebook. It has the broadest appeal across age groups, with 68% of adult Americans using the platform. Only 40% of Americans ages 30-49 are on Instagram, and that drops to 21% for ages 50-64. Twitter user numbers are even lower for these age groups, with 27% for the 30-49 age group, and 19% for the 50-64 age group. Short on time and budget? Stick to Facebook for the most impact.
While appropriate to highlight current promotions and remind followers of the services you provide, focus more on posting engaging content for higher conversion. Much more than a digital billboard for your services, social media is a way to build trust, loyalty, and stay in touch with your patients for all the months they aren’t in your office. Frequently popping up in your patients’ social feed is a positive and casual reminder that you are there when they need you. Aim for variety, and keep it short and positive.
Do you have staff bandwidth to spare? Ask your followers questions to start conversations, answer questions, and thank people for their kind words left in the comments in addition to replying for Google reviews through your Google My Business account. Look for ways to interact with people online.
4. Build Your Reputability Through Positive Reviews and Ratings
Having a social media presence allows an easy way for patients to give you reviews and ratings, which potential patients will see. Studies have shown that nearly 80% of people trust online reviews from strangers as much as recommendations from a friend or family member. Perhaps more importantly, almost 60% of people won’t use a service or buy a product if it has less than a four-star review.
Ask every patient for a review before they leave your practice. Ask them if there is any reason they are less than satisfied. If they share feedback for improvement, work with them to fix it right away. Resolving an issue is as important as avoiding one in the first place. Yelp, RateMDs, and Google all have rating systems that can work for you to persuade new patients to give you a chance.
5. Claim and Monitor Your Online Business Listings
There are simple steps you can take to make sure your practice is getting the most out of free business listings online. Search for similar businesses in your area, see what business directories come up, and check if your practice is listed. Google Business Profile is a given, but also check Yelp, Bing, Yellow Pages, and the Better Business Bureau.
Make sure free business directories not only show your company but also check that all the details are accurate. Claim them as yours, if you haven’t already, and fill out as much information as possible. For example, if there is a space to list hours, do so. If you can upload pictures, do so. Having a complete listing will not only weigh more heavily in search rankings but also in the eyes of future patients looking for a new eye care health provider.
Marketing Experts to Manage Your Web Presence
Developing a strong strategy for referrals and a solid web presence will give your practice the boost it needs in this competitive industry. The Sullivan Management and Consulting Group is here to make it easy for you to implement effective online and offline strategies that deliver impressive results.