07 Aug How Can Marketing Your Healthcare Practice Improve the Patient Experience?
As a healthcare professional, you do incredibly hard, but important jobs that focus on the health and wellbeing of everyone in your community. Ensuring that you fulfill your patients’ needs and uphold a positive experience when they visit your practice are important parts of your work. One of the most significant ways a healthcare provider can invest in their patients is through open communication and engagement. How do you create a cadence with your patients to ensure they feel seen, heard, and appreciated at your practice?
Digital marketing creates a lot of opportunities for you to connect with your patients. Through a multi-touch digital marketing strategy, you can remain a present thought in your patients’ lives without oversharing. Today we’re going to share with you some practical ways to improve the patient experience with positive communication and engagement through specific areas of digital marketing:
- Social media engagement
- Email marketing campaigns
- Testimonials and reviews
Social Media Engagement
We live in a digital age. Users on social media share every part of their life like it’s an open book. While this can be a good way to stay connected with people you know, it’s also an excellent way to connect with your clients if you’re a business. Due to COVID-19, social media use has increased across all platforms. According to Global WebIndex, “users are spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day” across all of the different social platforms. Chances are, a high percentage of your audience is a part of this statistic. Maintaining consistent opportunities for your audience to interact with you on social media can go a long way toward creating a positive experience for your patients.
Depending on the demographic you serve, one platform may be a better fit than the others. Sprout Social published a comprehensive guide to the demographics of each platform earlier this year that can be helpful when creating a social media strategy. To ensure that your content will work for your goals, take the time to create some patient personas based on your target demographic. If you curate your content with those individuals in mind, your content is working for you and your practice’s goals rather than just contributing to noise online.
Keep detailed notes about your target persona’s age, interests, locations, and habits. Pay attention to what your patients say when they’re in the practice. Small talk and brief comments about activities they enjoy can go a long way when keeping an open conversation with them through digital marketing.
Social Media Calendar
You don’t always have to have your Facebook open in a tab on your browser to utilize social media and all of its abilities for your business. Countless tools are available to help schedule your posts so that you don’t have to work outside of normal office hours. Facebook and Instagram have a scheduling tool in Creator Studio that you can use to schedule posts directly in your account. There are also other useful apps like Hootsuite and Sprout Social.
It’s important when scheduling your content not to frontload everything on the same day or at the same time. Social media algorithms are ever changing, but they almost never react well to constant posts. Space your posts out at least a few hours to give your audience the chance to see each one in their feed. Quality over quantity is a rule of thumb when it comes to social media content. Make sure your posts are something your patients want to engage with, and not just noise on an already noisy platform.
One way to gain trust with your audience is by making sure that any social media platform you use has been verified. We’ve covered this topic in a previous blog post that you can explore to find out the benefits of being verified on social media. That tiny verification symbol can go a long way in letting your audience know that you’re a trustworthy source, no matter which platform.
You also want to make sure that you’re connecting to your audience in a way that they’re used to seeing you. Patients absolutely love to see their healthcare providers in action on social media. Even if you’re just taking a snapshot when you celebrate the receptionist’s birthday, it’s going to get a lot of attention. It’s still important to post educational and informative content, but taking a moment to remind your audience that humans are behind the valuable care they receive goes a long way.
Email Marketing Campaigns
Email marketing is a valuable tool but can be overused if not handled strategically. There are a couple of main ways to use email marketing with your patients.
- A recurring newsletter with updates and important information
- A special offer
Whether on a monthly or quarterly basis, newsletters are an excellent way to keep your audience updated on any big announcements or news. This can be an opportunity to highlight new opportunities or services, update your patients on any changes in the office routine, remind them about routine care, and highlight staff achievements. Newsletters don’t have to be filled with bullet points with straight facts. It’s easy to humanize your newsletter through simple staff highlights or tales of fun in-office events.
No matter how frequently you send out an email newsletter, do it consistently. If you want it to be sent once a month, make sure that it’s sent once a month. If it’s only going to be sent quarterly, then only send it quarterly. Sending it too often tends to be overwhelming in an inbox, but not sending it consistently or often enough feels like an afterthought. A regular, consistent email newsletter keeps your patients informed and connected with your office. Be sure to include a call to action that encourages them to keep in touch and reach out with any questions or concerns.
Reminding loyal clients about special offers and opportunities makes them feel included in an exclusive offer. Special offers and discounts are great to market on social media, but if it’s a big enough deal, it’s also important to share in its own email. Create a strong call to action in offer-specific emails. In this format you’re striving to sell them on your service and book appointments. It may be an investment to send out an email, but research shows that email marketing campaigns produce $44 for every $1 spent.
For special offer email campaigns, you should only send them out when the offer is relevant and your audience can take actual action. Send one out at the beginning of the special and a reminder towards the end. If you have a regularly scheduled newsletter that is sent out while the special is relevant, you can even include a reminder blurb about it in that email.
Testimonials & Reviews
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to gain new patients. Recommendations from past patients are excellent in convincing new patients to book an appointment with you. In a world where we do most of our socializing with a keyboard, digital reviews have become the new word of mouth. If you aren’t actively trying to gain new reviews from happy patients, then you should make it a new priority for your business. Going above and beyond to make sure your patients have a good experience every time they visit is essentially an insurance policy for you to recruit new patients. Happy patients who like their providers will recommend you if given the opportunity, whether it’s to someone asking on Facebook or their next door neighbor who mentions an issue you could fix.
Reputation Management Software
Reputation management software can be a simple way to make new reviews a priority for your office. There are so many software options that let you customize messaging and help you send prompts for new reviews to patients through both text messages and emails. It can take a few minutes to initially set up a review campaign, but once it’s launched, you just sit back and let the software do its work. Business News Daily recently published a guide to choosing the right reputation management software for your business in 2020.
Digital Review Reminders
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, patients aren’t completely contactless when visiting your practice for an appointment. When you have their attention in the office, encourage them to leave a review. If there’s a checkout process, talk to patients then about leaving a review. You can even hang signs in strategic places to encourage digital reviews. It’s also important to remind them to leave a review in follow-up texts, emails, or phone calls after their appointment is finished and they’ve left the building.
A clever way to get your patients more excited about digital reviews and recommendations is by making it about them. Many places have found success by hosting a giveaway for those who leave new reviews. You can run an entire campaign in-office and on social media encouraging patients to leave a review during a set period of time. Everyone who leaves a review can have their name put into a drawing for a new and exciting prize at the end of the campaign. As previously mentioned, it’s important to emphasize a positive patient experience above all. Taking care of your patients and treating them like a part of the family through regular engagement and communication makes it easier to gain clients for life.
Responding to Reviews
Gaining new reviews isn’t where reputation management ends. It’s important as you gain new reviews to respond to them.
Yes — this even means responding to negative reviews and comments.
There are professional ways of interacting with negative reviews online. One of the best methods is to acknowledge that the patient had an issue, apologize for what you can, and then offer to speak about it further in order to make it right. Encourage them to reach out via phone. It’s much easier to have a meaningful, reasonable conversation using your voice than it is with a keyboard. It’s also always very important to remind yourself and your staff not to discuss any details about the patient’s circumstances over the review or comments section. It’s best to communicate with them in a secure and private way in order to be HIPAA compliant.
Patient Experience is Key
It can be easy to fall into the grind of day-to-day work, but when your work is dealing with unique patients, it’s important to prioritize their experience. Nurturing relationships through digital marketing is worth both the time and financial investment. Through strategic communication patients will feel informed, empowered, valued, and a part of something bigger. Find ways to highlight routine, but fun, experiences in the office, honor patients with their permission, and follow-up whenever someone hasn’t had the best experience.
Approaching patient communication strategically and intentionally can serve your practice and your staff, and establishes a reputation of providers who truly care about each and every person who walks through your door.
Baker Labs proudly serves medical-focused businesses around the globe through a hybrid, inbound marketing approach towards growing practices, clinics, and healthcare businesses. If you have any questions about the topics we’ve covered in today’s article, or are curious about other ways digital marketing can improve the patient experience, schedule a free consultation with Gavin today!