In the past if you wanted to attract new patients or fill your appointment book, you’d list in the Yellow Pages, place an ad in the local papers, letterbox drop the local area or send a letter to patients who hadn’t visited in awhile. However, in today’s market we know the way patients are booking is changing. Traditional channels are either disappearing or becoming price prohibitive – replaced by a digital economy.
One of the common issues with using traditional media is that it can be hard to measure direct results. This can in turn make it difficult to justify your return on investment (ROI).
You may have dropped thousands of dollars on a newspaper ad, bus shelter billboard, or mail-out – but do you really know how many patients it generated?
Sure, media agencies can tell you the distribution numbers, readership or traffic. But how can you tell how many people actually paid any attention to your ad? Here at HealthEngine HQ we take inspiration from Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.
With that in mind, we’ll take you through some popular marketing channels; in our next blog we’ll explain how you can measure them.
Verify your business listing on Google
Google has become today’s version of the White Pages. So it makes sense to verify your business listing to ensure the information is correct.
How can you know what your current free listing looks like? Jump on Google and type the name of your practice into the search bar. On desktop, your listing will appear in a box on the right hand side; on mobile it appears as a blue shaded box with call / directions / website underneath. Either version will show info like your address, hours of business and phone number, plus will usually pin your location on Google Maps and pull an image from your website.
Naturally, it’s important these details are correct. That’s where the free Google My Business tool comes in. After you ‘claim’ your listing, Google will mail a physical postcard to your business address with a verification code (to ensure you genuinely manage that business). This takes about 2 weeks to arrive. Once verified, you can then confirm or update your details.
This process helps boost your organic (ie unpaid) presence on Google. Via your listing you can get a report on how many times you’ve shown in searches, plus volume of phone calls and website visits generated.
Performance based marketing
Google Ads (formerly branded AdWords, and also known as “paid search”, “search engine marketing” or “SEM”) and Facebook marketing are the two commonly used performance based channels; namely, you pay for directly measurable results.
With Google Ads, you bid to have your ad appear high up on a Google search results page (eg “doctor in Camberwell”). You set the cost you are willing to pay per click, and can also include Click to Call features on your listing.
Facebook ads are also an excellent local business marketing tool, whereby you can set campaigns to target specific demographics or locations to drive traffic to your website.
We’ll be covering both AdWords and Facebook marketing in more detail later in this blog series – stay tuned!
An effective way to get your business in front of patients in your surrounding suburb can be to simply print a flyer or magnet and place it in local letterboxes. It’s a relatively low cost solution if you do the actual letterbox drop yourself using staff members, friends and family. If you’re only letterbox dropping in your immediate vicinity you’re likely to be hitting existing customers though, so you might need to cast your net wider.
Another option is to have a flyer inserted in a local paper. An indicative Perth price is around $590 per 1,000 flyers, plus printing – so it can get quite costly. For example, for a paper with a distribution of 30,000 you’d be looking at $1,770 plus the printing costs of 30,000 flyers. The other concern is how many of those flyers end up unread in the bin along with the paper.
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One way to both give back to your local community and gain new patients at the same time is to sponsor a local sports club. Sponsorship can vary from just having your logo on a sports uniform to more innovative ways of supporting the local club. Plus you can be the team doctor / physio / dentist!
New building development welcome packs
If your practice is located close to where new housing estates or apartments are being built, it’s worth talking to the developers. They often compile ‘welcome packs’ or fridge magnets for their new tenants, detailing all local amenities and essential services such as doctors and dentists. Having your practice’s contact information in the pack is an effective way to gain brand awareness with people new to the area.
Local newspaper ads
A quarter page ad in a community paper can cost anywhere between $500 to $1,300. With newspaper readership declining, and ads generally needing to be repeated multiple times across several editions to gain traction in people’s minds, it’s unlikely you’ll see a justifiable ROI from this activity.
Community social media groups
Local community groups frequently have active community forums on Facebook, where people often look for recommendations for local businesses and professional services. Try introducing yourself or your practice on such a group.
Online health directory
With the health sector becoming increasingly digitally cluttered, HealthEngine offers Australia’s largest online healthcare marketplace, easily connecting providers with patients. Our Professional Profile listings can put you in front of 1.6 million patients a month via the HealthEngine website or app.
Plus, our unique Patient Match product can help drive new patients to your clinic. HealthEngine’s Patient Match will not only show you how many new vs existing patients you’ve generated, but also how many profile views, phone number reveals and click throughs your profile has had. With no cost for driving existing patients, you only pay a one-off referral fee for guaranteed new patients to your practice.
Now that you’ve decided on options for advertising your practice, our next Marketing Masterclass blog will cover how to effectively track your campaign ROI.