In today's changing healthcare environment, successful pediatric practices will beat out the competition when they display the skills of both compassionate clinicians and savvy entrepreneurs. They recognize that pediatric medicine is a chosen profession and that healthcare is a business. Understanding how to leverage clinical pediatric expertise, exceptional patient care, and successful outcomes through effective marketing strategies will not only improve your practice, but also your business.
#1: Create a captivating, yet simple website
Online marketing can seem a daunting task if you’re starting from little or no online presence, but the effects are worth the effort. According to Medical Economics, marketing efforts, even and especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are crucial to reassure and retain your patient base. Your home base is your practice website.
Your website is a home for everything your families will want to know about your practice, your services, and your values. It should offer easy to find information such as addresses and phone numbers, allow patients to complete tasks like scheduling an appointment or opening the patient portal via links or buttons, and ideally, provide reassurance that your patients are in excellent hands.
Websites need regular maintenance. Old web pages, incorrect information, and buttons that patients can’t seem to find are problems that are worth addressing. Website design is possible through third party vendors, but many practices may find a professional’s input helpful. Learn more in our previous post, How to Build a Practice Website Patients Will Love.
#2: Start a blog
Since the patient experience extends to online resources as well as the services you offer at your practice, offering helpful information or updates on a blog can deliver the answers families need, even when the office is closed. Millennial and Gen-Z parents are accustomed to finding answers and communicating online, so whether they’re searching for a new pediatrician or simply need to know if their baby’s fever is serious, it bodes well for your practice if you can provide online answers to their questions.
You can post as often as it is convenient, although to be successful, you must maintain consistency -- we suggest creating a plan and a posting schedule to keep on track. Posting helpful information that parents return to can improve your SEO and drive more traffic to your website; this is the strategy behind content marketing. For an example of a smart pediatric practice’s brand efforts, download our detailed case study of Kids Plus Pediatrics. They continually demonstrate leadership in their region and in pediatrics.
#3: Share content on social media
Social media is where families and friends can exchange the kind of word of mouth recommendations and information they might also do in person -- now you can become part of the conversation by creating posts or by purchasing social media ad space.
There are many benefits to creating your own original posts: it’s cost-effective, helps define your online brand, and allows you to connect with families directly and respond to questions. You can answer common questions about fever, celebrate milestones or holidays, and link to important information like business hours or events. On the other hand, by purchasing ad space or “boosting” content, you can direct families to events or special content you want them to know about, such as tour dates for expecting parents or a flu clinic for families -- purchased posts can also be directed at specific audiences.
Make sure your social media profiles are updated with correct information and high quality photos -- photos of staff and the practice are a great addition to help families get to know the people behind the practice and get familiar with your practice’s environment. Regular posts can help engage your community and keep your practice top of mind by providing consistently helpful information. Remember to abide by HIPAA rules and protect patients’ privacy -- this means that photos of children should only be posted with permission, and you may not confirm whether a child is a patient. Learn more about social media and HIPAA policies here.
#4: Create an email newsletter
Creating a monthly patient newsletter is an effective way to keep people informed about changes at your office and provides an opportunity to pass along important pediatric health information, such as pool safety in summer and flu shots in fall. With their permission, gather email addresses for your patient families and send them links to your blog posts, updates you post on your website, and other non-clinical information. This will create a “top of mind” approach with your patient families. There are inexpensive mailing services you can use, and an email newsletter can serve as a low difficulty starting point for practices new to marketing.
#5: Set up an online profile
Online business review profiles are important resources external to your website that families can use to see others’ reviews of your practice, leave their own reviews, and find basic, verified information about your practice, such as pediatricians’ specialties, building location, and contact information.
Some sites are aimed specifically for leaving healthcare-oriented reviews, while other sites are business-focused and can reflect a more general customer experience. Signing up for these profiles and engaging with reviews provides your practice some control over the reviews and sets up a good impression as a thoughtful business. Check out our post on responding to negative reviews on sites like these.
A key profile to keep updated is your practice’s Google My Business page, which improves your Google search ranking and helps guide patients to your website. Yelp is another popular business review site. Physician-specific sites include Healthgrades, WebMD, Vitals, and ZocDoc, where physicians can create profiles with their history and specialties and receive patient reviews.
#6: Improve your SEO
Search engine optimization is the effort to improve the quality and quantity of traffic to a website to ensure that search engines like Google direct more visitors to your website. A higher search engine ranking means that first, a web page is set up appropriately so that search engines can “crawl” the page and index it. Second, the search engine evaluates whether your page has quality content, which includes keywords, that it loads appropriately, and more. This is how SEO helps companies like Google list your practice website in the first page of results, which means families find you first!
Ways to improve and maintain SEO include updating your website, building online profiles, and providing useful content on a blog. All of these are aimed at the goal of increasing the number of visitors to your practice website, and by extension, reaching more patients.
Unlocking SEO potential requires a few tools, such as keywords and backlinking, and the ultimate goal is ease of access to your website so search engines and therefore customers can find it. You can learn more about the basics of SEO with this guide from online marketing resource Moz. Website design and SEO go hand in hand, so it may be worth consulting a professional to help you gain SEO traction on your website and guide you through the more in-depth steps.
Marketing your practice is a service to your business and to your patients, encouraging families that share your values to come to your practice and providing the essential information busy parents and caregivers need to know. Ready to share your practice’s services with families near you? You won’t want to miss our ebook exclusively for independent pediatricians to find out how to brand your practice, how to build your website, and when to hire an expert.