The new year is just around the corner, which means it’s time to look ahead to 2021. With some uncertainty still on the horizon, it can be hard to know to plan, but that shouldn’t keep you from thinking about your healthcare marketing strategy. We’ve come up with 10 ways you can revamp your marketing strategy to serve your practice better in the new year.
Be realistic but ambitious about your goals
A marketing strategy is not complete without a goal or set of goals. The best way to think about what you’d like to do in the new year is by creating SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound goals that you can achieve in the new year. Keep these goals in mind when planning the rest of your strategy. Here’s an example of a goal, and how it can be expanded to be a SMART goal.
Goal: Increase revenue in 2021.
- Specific: Increase revenue in 2021 by bringing in new patients.
- Measurable: Bring in 24 new patients.
- Attainable: 24 new patients is 2 new patients per month, which is attainable from a volume standpoint and something our office can handle.
- Relevant: These patients should come from within a 20-mile radius of the office.
- Time-Bound: We would like to see 24 new patients added by the end of the year.
Revised goal: Increase revenue by adding 24 new patients to the practice by the end of 2021 that come from within a 20-mile radius of our office.
Work smarter, not harder – 4 ways to learn more about your audience and take appropriate actions
It’s easy to look at your marketing efforts as a whole and react to overall results. Whatever you did, if your revenue went up, you feel like you did something right. If you aren’t getting in many new patients, you need to retool. But instead of looking at only high-level data, digging deeper and tracking more closely can help you cut down on marketing tasks that aren’t helping to grow your business in the long-run.
If you don’t already have Google Analytics installed on your site, do it now. Google Analytics can tell you so much about your visitors – where they’re coming from, what pages they find useful, what conversions they’re making on your site, where they’re exiting your site and potentially getting lost, and more.
It is particularly powerful to set up goals and event tracking in Google Analytics to align with desired actions you’d like to see your patients and prospects take. With goals and event tracking, you can track actions like form fills, email newsletter sign-ups, and brochure downloads to gauge interest in different content and services you have to offer. You can learn more about how to leverage Google Analytics for your healthcare marketing strategy from our recent blog.
An all-too-common scenario on websites goes something like this: You have filled your site to the brim with useful information. You’ve given prospects opportunities to convert by asking them to contact you, download information, or providing offers. But still, your website isn’t performing to the level you expect. What’s going wrong?
Sometimes it’s hard to see what might be off from looking at Google Analytics. If there’s nothing about behavior that’s raising alarm bells, but you don’t think people are doing what they should be doing when they visit your website, your next step should be to observe that behavior with heat maps. There are a few tools you can use that do this, like HotJar.
With heat maps, you can see how far people scroll down a page, where their cursor goes, and you can even set recordings on specific pages to see where people are getting lost. With HotJar, you can add a feedback button to ask people what they’re looking for, or if they have any questions about the site. Making a few observations and asking some simple questions of followers can help prevent more from falling through the cracks.
A lead magnet is something you place on your website to generate leads, generally by collecting email addresses you can then promote to later. Lead magnets can look like a lot of things, but most commonly, they’ll include offers that are hard to refuse or free information that people want to access.
At a minimum, your website should offer an easy way for people to subscribe to your email newsletter. You can create a thin banner that goes across the top of your page, a slide-in banner for a bottom corner, or one that pops up right before someone’s about to leave. To entice them to sign up, offer a discount on a product or service – for example, if you’re a dentist’s office, offer $50 off whitening for new subscribers. If you’re not sure what prospects may find valuable, consider surveying your current patient base. The right offer can make your leads increase significantly.
The quicker you can answer your own questions, and the more work that can be done automatically without your intervention, the better, which leads us to automation. Creating lead magnets is one way to automate your marketing processes, but you can do much more than that to reduce your workload. Consider automating the following tasks to leave room for other marketing activities:
- Create an email onboarding sequence that new patients receive after they book their first appointment
- Send out wellness reminders at regular intervals based on segmented patient criteria
- When someone signs up for a lead magnet on your site, like a brochure for a specific service, send them automated emails to educate them further on that service, ending with an email encouraging the patient to book a consultation
Increase opportunities to engage remotely
In 2021, the need for remote technology will not be going away. Telehealth is set to continue growing in 2021, re-emphasizing the need to capitalize on the connections made possible through remote services.
Continue to offer telemedicine options
At the beginning of 2020, the use of telemedicine increased by 50% in the first quarter. By the end of March 2020, usage went up by 154%. Telemedicine was already on the rise before COVID-19, but an increased reliance on it, coupled with its already growing popularity, indicates that it is here to stay.
Even after office visits go back to normal, consider continuing to offer telemedicine options to patients whose concerns do not require an in-person visit, or using remote appointments to triage patients appropriately. Online patient appointments can save patients and your practice money and time, and you can fit more appointments in a day with remote visits. Advertise remote patient visits through your website and via emails to patients.
Communicate to your patients and prospects using email and SMS
Email is the often-ignored untapped resource in any marketing strategy. If you’re not sending emails to your patients and prospects regularly, you’re missing out on a great revenue driver. Email has an amazing return on investment – on average, for every $1 spent, email generates $38 in revenue. Email can help with bringing in new patients and retaining current ones. At the very least, you should be using email to keep your patients in the loop about any news or events you want to share, as well as sending appointment reminders and general education and tips to show you are thinking about your patients.
You can also cut through the inbox by sending text messages to your audience. SMS is great for getting quick answers to questions, booking last-minute appointment openings, asking for reviews, and sending out promotions.
Create an educational platform for patients
When thinking about ways to connect with your patients remotely, you can divide your strategy into the direction of the communication and how many parties are involved. For example, telemedicine appointments generally involve one-on-one, two-way communication. Email and SMS messages can either be one-to-one or one-to-many, and can be designed as one-way or two-way communication.
Another way to keep in touch with your patients is to offer an educational platform. This could be interactive, but doesn’t have to be, and could be shared with all patients, the public, or a list of recipients. You could create a blog series, publish educational materials on a site like Teachable or Udemy, or post videos on YouTube. Sharing educational material with patients and prospects is a good way to stay top-of-mind and build your authority in a particular topic. One note – Make sure you consult with a lawyer to ensure you have proper disclaimer language on any material that may be interpreted as medical advice.
As mentioned above, email and SMS messaging can be good avenues to request reviews from patients after appointments. Your prospective patients have more choices than ever when it comes to choosing where to receive care, especially if they are reviewing remote options. Reviews can make the difference between getting an appointment booked and letting a patient walk out the door.
It can feel daunting or pushy to ask for reviews, but if you make it part of your automation in 2021, generating new reviews will be a breeze. With a tool like NexHealth, you can send out automatic text messages to patients after their appointment asking them about their experience. You can also link directly to the sites where you’d like to grow your reviews.
The ratio we keep going back to is 40 to 1 – For every 1 negative review, you should be counterbalancing with 40 positive ones. The more positive reviews you solicit through automated means, the lower the barrier of entry for new potential patients when they are making a decision on you.
Deliver specific messaging based on personas
If your messaging has been the same no matter the audience, it’s time to shake that up in 2021. The more specific and personalized you can get with your marketing, the better. Many email marketing tools allow you to personalize messages with variables like the patient’s first name and appointment information, but you can go beyond that in targeted campaigns as well.
Have you created target personas for your practice? A persona is a composite person with a profile you put together based on actual patients you meet with, or prospective patients you’d like to have. A persona can include someone’s age, medical conditions, preferred methods of communication, common questions, and more. Depending on what your patient base looks like, we recommend creating 3-5 personas and using them to think about your messaging. You’re likely to email a younger patient about different health topics than an older patient, for example.
Use what you know about your patients and personas to create segments that will receive more specific messaging. The more an email feels like it was meant for the recipient from the subject line on, the more they’re likely to click on it. The easiest way to create segments is to use a marketing tool that connects with your practice management software.
Finally, be honest and realistic with your audience
So much changed for so many people in 2020, and with that has come a lot of fatigue around marketing and hearing the same messaging over and over. Your patients are likely tired of phrases like “the new normal,” “now, more than ever,” or “unprecedented times.” While these are honest assessments of the world we’re living in, it’s important to be honest without sounding like every other email that ends up in your recipients’ inboxes.
Our best advice is to be honest and realistic with the people you are messaging and the content you are putting out – how did 2020 affect your practice, and how are you moving forward in 2021 as a response to all that? Your patients and prospects will find any honesty refreshing. If you’re anticipating more roadblocks, talk about what you’re doing to handle them. If you’re feeling hopeful, tell your patients what you’re looking forward to in 2021. A little bit of honesty can go a long way.
We hope some of these suggestions have sparked ideas for how to go into 2021 on strong footing. If you’re looking at how to incorporate some of these ideas in your 2021 healthcare marketing strategy, and you want to retain and acquire new patients, consider using NexHealth. NexHealth integrates with your existing practice management software seamlessly to save you more time.