The world is digital. We shop, socialize, and learn about the companies we work with online. In fact, it’s hard to remember what life was like before we had access to unlimited information at all times. As the world continues to get increasingly digital (and mobile) industries are confronted with new opportunities and challenges. While the retail industry was forced to develop digital-first strategies at the dawn of the internet, other industries like medical, didn’t necessarily face the same pressure. Today, however, that has changed. To remain relevant in any vertical, providers have to incorporate digital strategies. Luckily, anyone can adapt strong digital presences with the right mix of programs and outside-the-box thinking.
Take Advantage of Common Questions
Thanks to the mini computers we carry around in our pockets, anyone can become a medical expert in an instant. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research survey, 59% of adults have turned to the internet for health information in the past year. Reversing this shift in behavior is just not feasible; it’s not realistic to think that people will sooner pick up the phone at the first sign of a problem instead of typing in a search query. So, as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Leverage the common questions that Google sees every day, and incorporate these questions into your digital strategy. Take the time to do comprehensive and ongoing keyword research, and incorporate some of the most commonly searched questions and longtail keywords into your PPC ads. For example, bidding on a question like “How do I know if I need a root canal?” may lead to a high volume of clicks on your ad, and subsequently, a high volume of potential patients.
Thanks to review sites, people have the opportunity to share their points of views and rate their experiences from everything. Reading reviews has become an integral part of the decision-making process. You (likely) wouldn’t try a new restaurant without reading a few Yelp! Reviews beforehand, and the same can be said for finding a new Dentist. People want to hear about more than just cost, accepted insurance, and hours of operation. They want to learn about the actual experiences of people who have visited specific medical offices before. In fact, in 2015, Dentists received over 285,000 reviews on Yelp!, with patients commenting on everything from wait-times to bedside manners. These types of connections and interactions can really make or break an experience, which is why garnering and leveraging strong reviews is crucial to success in 2017. In addition to monitoring your reviews on Google, Yelp!, and reaching out to individuals who reported negative experiences, it’s also important to leverage positive reviews into your PPC strategy. Google AdWords now makes it incredibly easy to incorporate Gold Stars and Seller Ratings as extensions within individual PPC advertisements. Strong customer ratings stand out to searchers; if an individual sees two local dentistry ads side-by-side on the search engine results page, and only one ad includes Star ratings, you can bet they’ll first click on the ad with the incorporated ratings. Online ratings are the new word of mouth, and it’s in your best interest to make the most of them.
Suffice it to say, a strong digital strategy is crucial to capturing the attention of online audiences and converting them into patients. However, launching a digital strategy doesn’t have to be daunting. If you start to feel overwhelmed by all of the SEO, SEM, and social media avenues, remember that it’s ok to take your digital strategy one step at a time. Bestselling author of the 4 Hour Workweek Tim Ferriss recommends incorporating sequencing when tackling a new project or skill. Implementing this learning and project management device will help you build up to mastery by tackling aspects of a project one step at a time. So rather than diving in and trying to implement a digital plan to rival the likes of Nike and Dell, start by doing some keyword research and launching a PPC ad. Once you get the hang of keywords and Google AdWords bidding, you can move on to incorporating social and SEO strategy. As a dental practitioner, you already have a lot on your build; digital marketing is intended to help you succeed.
While it’s likely that medicine will always be an industry in which face-to-face contact is required, the health world is not immune to the cultural expectations of online immediacy. People want access and answers at the click of a button and the swipe of a finger. If your practice or business does not meet these virtual standards, then the long term health of your practice may be in jeopardy.