Finding a new doctor is more than just a snap decision, and while your digital marketing efforts should aim to streamline the decision process, it’s still just that—a process.
This blog article aims to give you a glimpse into the decision-making process of patients as well as how to use this process to your digital marketing advantage.
How Do Patients Choose a New Doctor?
The first thing you should know is that it isn’t a quick sell.
There are steps in the buying cycle:
- Research and Consideration
- The Buy
Awareness for medical practices can come in so many forms. A friend could tell a consumer about a new office. They might see an ad. Or, maybe they have a need for your services, so they perform an online search.
They could ask for a recommendation on Facebook. While this may seem unlikely, I’ve seen it happen in my Facebook feed. And, 41 percent of patients said that information they found on social media has influenced their choice of doctor.
Research and Consideration
During the research and consideration stages, people either engage with your business online or find content about you that helps them determine if they should choose you.
For example, a prospective patient might call in to check if you take their insurance or are accepting new patients.
Or, they might read online reviews of your practice. Don’t underestimate the power of reviews. Eighty-four percent of patients said they use online reviews to evaluate physicians.
Since 88 percent of insured Americans say that whether a provider accepts their insurance is an important factor in their choice of doctor, this is a huge part of the decision-making process.
This happens when a prospect makes an appointment. The appointment is crucial not only because they are in the office and you are taking care of the patient, but because their experience is going to shape whether they come back or not.
The next step is advocacy. A new patient has experienced your office and becomes an advocate by telling others about their experience. This can be through contact with friends and family or leaving online reviews.
Why Is the Patient Decision-Making Process Important for Your Marketing Strategy?
If you make sure your medical practice is in front of consumers through every stage of the decision process, you will increase revenue by creating long-term patients who will become loyal patients and advocate for your business.
How can you get your medical practice in front of consumers through every stage of the buying cycle?
- You first need to be found online. This includes working on your ranking in local search results and making sure your online presence is accurate (and that it gives consumers a positive view of your business).
- Depending on your budget, a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that includes online advertising, local search marketing and review marketing can help you do this. Building your local search presence and creating online ads will ensure that your practice shows up when patients are looking for a doctor while review marketing allows you to highlight what’s great about your practice through patient reviews.
- You need to ensure your patients have a stellar experience in every communication and engagement point in time (from making the appointment to checking in and verifying insurance and co-payment to the experience with the doctor, checking out and even the billing process). This is important because patients will talk about your practice online and to their friends.
Bonus: Tips to Build a Better Doctor Marketing Strategy
Give Video Marketing a Try
Video marketing can easily convert to traffic and leads. It also gets your point across effectively and humanizes your marketing as well as giving prospective patients a better idea of the benefits of your facility.
And since YouTube traffic to hospital websites has increased 119 percent year-over-year, you should have a YouTube channel that links to your website.
What types of videos should doctors create? Video content such as interviews, patient stories and behind-the-scenes looks at your facility and equipment should do the trick. These will answer questions prospective patients have during the research process.
Don’t Forget About Millennials
Millennials are a diverse group. They range from 18-34 years old, which makes it difficult to market to the entire generation. Still, Millennials have a lot of buying power.
Millennials share one important commonality with other generations: they value attentive doctors who listen well.
Consider what one respondent told Nuance in a study.
When I needed to find a new physician, I looked for a doctor within my insurance network and then turned to online reviews. Based on the comments, I ruled out several doctors, including one I was originally considering because someone mentioned they felt rushed and treated like a paycheck during their appointment.
More than half of this generation will Google health information before seeing a doctor, according to the report.
So, to be there for Millennials when they are searching for physicians, you’ll need to have a review marketing strategy that helps you get new positive reviews on a regular basis. You’ll also need to make sure you provide a pleasant patient experience and that your practice is showing up in online searches.
Need more information on digital marketing for doctors? Here are a few resources: