How to Stay Competitive Online
It’s 2023, and the way consumers connect with your practice looks different than it once did. Today’s consumers expect convenience and personalized experiences with the brands they interact with. That’s why web properties, like search engines and social media sites, are built to serve customized content to the user. Their algorithms are set up to deliver the right content to the right user at the right time. With that being said, we’re asking an important Ask Fuel First question about digital strategies: How can you ensure your web properties gain exposure in today’s market?
Although there is no guarantee that your web properties will show up for consumers, as digital marketers, it’s our job to remain on top of web trends and implement best practices to ensure you gain the best exposure for prospective patients looking for you.
Why Has Digital Marketing Become So Complex Today?
There isn’t an easy answer to that question, but we believe two factors have impacted digital marketing: 1) consumers and 2) strategy. Consumers have a stronger voice in your brand today than ever before. Shifting your mindset to embrace the voice of your consumer and adapting your brand strategy accordingly are important steps to keep in mind. For example, online reviews validate practices before prospective patients schedule an appointment. Consumers trust peer-to-peer feedback more than the messaging we promote about the practice in our marketing efforts.
And the second answer to why digital marketing has become so complex is that marketing can’t have a one-size-fits-all strategy. From online reviews to digital ads, we have greater insight into consumer behavior than ever before. A sound marketing mix will ensure that we target the broader market and engage consumers at different points of their healthcare journey. As your digital marketers, it’s our role to remain in tune with your target consumer, working with the latest search technology instead of against it. To understand where digital marketing is going in 2023, let’s dive deeper into three brand-building strategies for your practice.
1. Understand Consumer Behavior Online
We know the importance your digital presence plays in your ability to obtain new patients. Search engines account for over 80% of the traffic to a typical ENT or audiology website, so they are often the first opportunity to connect with consumers.
In our space, we typically work within three main areas of Google’s search results:
Paid Search Ads
Depending on your local market competitiveness, you’ll likely see paid search ads appear at the top of local search results for specific terms. Running ads gives us immediate exposure to our targeted audience. It also provides us with data to strategically target an active audience as they are searching for the service they need.
The insights we gather around search terms/phrases are a good indication of local search trends.
Search is mostly localized, so there’s no doubt you’re seeing maps appear more frequently in search results. Consumers expect quick answers, so map profiles are an easy way to identify the quality of a business through online reviews. They also lead consumers to take action by calling your practice, visiting your website, booking an appointment online or providing directions.
Your patients play a critical role in promoting your online brand. Consumers value the authenticity of peer-to-peer feedback in reviews. Satisfied patients are your best brand ambassadors and speak directly to other consumers in the consideration phase of their journey.
It’s important that you pay attention to your reviews and share review feedback with your team. These reviews are a valuable tool that provides insight into a patient’s experience with your practice. They tell you exactly what pinpoints your patients may be experiencing. These present an opportunity to improve, and that improvement is the easiest path to happier patients and better reviews.
For more information on strategies for your online business listings, please read our other Ask Fuel First article, “Put Your Google Reviews to Work,” by Tyler Zdenek, Fuel’s SEO & Content Manager.
Organic Search Results
Organic search results connect consumers with your website and other prominent online properties, including sites like RateMDs, Healthgrades, Vitals, HealthyHearing and beyond.
Organic results display sites that are relevant to the searcher’s query. Well-rounded content on your website addresses all of your services to better connect you with local consumers searching for related conditions and treatments. But quality content is only one piece of the puzzle for building authority in search.
Your website performance and mobile usability matter just as much. At Fuel Medical, our websites are built to meet Google’s strict guidelines for speed and mobile reliability. Our optimization team can help you understand your website’s health and identify improvement areas.
2. Personalize Your Strategy
Our second brand-building strategy revolves around personalization. We don’t live in a one-size-fits-all society. Consumers expect personalized experiences. This seems straightforward about patient treatment plans, but customizing your brand experiences online can be tricky. Here are three areas where you can add personalization to your brand:
Professional Photography & Videography
Consider using professional in-office photography and video. They help highlight your team’s expertise and build a real connection with a consumer before they speak to your staff. When these assets are personalized, they build trust and help consumers feel more connected to the practice at the same time.
For more information on strategies for photography and videography, please read our other Ask Fuel First article, “Taking Professional Health Care Photos on Your Own,” by Katie Fennelly, Fuel Medical’s Digital Project Manager.
Demonstrate the Diversity of Your Community
Consumers come from all walks of life and look as different as we do. Your marketing should represent the diversity of your local market. Consumers want to feel seen; your brand imagery should reflect this diversity. Allowing every potential patient to see themselves reflected in your branding is a simple yet powerful way to welcome them into your practice.
Providing Convenient Options for Connecting with Your Practice
As consumers, we like having choices. It’s important to provide consumers with multiple options to schedule appointments, such as the following.
Connecting to your practice by phone is a comfortable way for many patients to book an appointment and offers the most personalized experience with your staff. When a friendly and knowledgeable staff member consistently answers your phones, you set the tone for future visits, alerting patients that your team is qualified and caring.
- Contact Form
Consumers already on your website may want to continue their journey digitally. A simple contact form on each page of your site guides your visitors to take the next step.
Website usage also spikes on nights and weekends. With fewer consumers using voicemail, providing a text-only communication method during closed hours is the easiest way to maintain essential lines of communication.
- Online Appointment Booking
We see more practices adopting an online appointment booking option. It’s a convenient way to drive new patient opportunities and free up staff to focus on patient intake instead of appointment booking.
With more than half of consumers using mobile devices to make appointments, this provides an easy, silent appointment solution for your tech-savvy patients.
3. Use Data to Adapt Your Approach
Finally, the third brand-building strategy is using data to adapt your approach. Data plays a significant role in digital marketing strategies. Digital channels provide significantly more data than traditional forms of marketing. We gain insight into the efficacy of our work and better understand areas for improvement. No market operates the same. Consumer engagement will vary by channel. The competition differs, and search engines are constantly updating the technology behind their software.
Improving performance is much easier when it’s data-driven. Sharing across departments allows our SEO team to benefit from the data our Google Ads team collected. Our design team shares UX insights with our development team, and we all work together to unite our marketing efforts. This team-based approach allows us to actively adapt and respond to changing markets by capitalizing on the in-house expertise we already have access to.
Remain on Top of Evolving Trends
Building a brand online is about influencing the audience’s perception by making the brand more appealing. The patient journey changes all the time. Understanding it, personalizing it and using the data you already have to improve it is how you stay in front of it.
Go into 2023 with a patient-first strategy. They aren’t just customers; they’re one of your best resources. For additional insight on digital marketing strategies, please connect with your regional manager or submit a question on our website.