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Digital Marketing For Doctors: How To Get Started And Where To Invest Most

Brian Bojan Dordevic
About The Author

Brian Decoded

President at Alpha Efficiency

Join me at the forefront of web design and digital marketing innovation. I am obsessed with web design, business philosophy and marketing performance.
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It’s the end of a long day, you’re sitting at your desk, reviewing the day’s appointments. As a dedicated healthcare professional, you’re committed to your patients’ well-being. But you can’t help but notice that your waiting room isn’t as bustling as you’d like it to be. You’ve spent years honing your medical skills, but in today’s digital age, your expertise alone doesn’t seem to be enough to keep your practice thriving.

You’ve heard about digital marketing and seen its success stories. But you’re a doctor, not a marketer. The world of SEO, PPC, social media marketing, and email marketing seems overwhelming, almost as if it’s a different language.

Many healthcare professionals find themselves in a similar situation. But there’s a solution.

As the owner of a digital marketing agency specializing in healthcare digital marketing, I have helped numerous doctors navigate the digital landscape, transforming their online presence and boosting their patient base. All of this while reducing patient acquisition costs. This article aims to provide a straightforward guide on digital marketing for doctors, breaking down the process into manageable steps and guiding you on where to invest your time and money.

By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the critical aspects of digital marketing, from building a custom website to launching successful PPC campaigns, from mastering SEO to harnessing the power of social media marketing for doctors. You’ll discover how these components can work together to build your online reputation, attract new patients, and engage your existing patients.

So, keep reading, whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to rethink your existing digital marketing strategy for your medical practice. Let’s embark on this journey together, navigating the intriguing world of online marketing for doctors’ offices and reaping its benefits.

Table of Contents:
Boost your clinic's online visibility with digital marketing for doctors.

Understanding Digital Marketing For Doctors

Digital marketing is a broad term that encompasses all marketing efforts utilizing the internet and digital technologies. Unlike traditional marketing, which involves physical interactions and in-person promotions, digital marketing employs online channels to promote services, engage with potential patients, and cultivate a professional reputation.

Think of digital marketing as the digital extension of your clinic. It’s where your potential patients can learn about your expertise, book appointments, read reviews, and even interact with you. It’s your virtual presence in the digital world, and in today’s technologically driven society, it’s as essential as the physical presence of your clinic.

Digital marketing for doctors involves strategic tactics like building an engaging website, optimizing your site for search engines (SEO), utilizing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, engaging with your patients through social media, and staying in touch via email marketing. When effectively implemented, these strategies can amplify your online visibility, attract more patients, and foster a loyal patient base.

In the digital age, your patients are online. They’re looking up health problems, booking appointments, and seeking the best healthcare providers online. They are not just looking for any doctor – they’re looking for a doctor they can trust. Digital marketing allows you to be that trusted healthcare professional they find online.

So, as a doctor, it’s not enough to be excellent at what you do. You need to be where your patients are. And today, that means being online. Relying on word of mouth marketing and traditional methods such as radio advertising is not enough today. By understanding and leveraging digital marketing, you can connect with more patients, build your online reputation, and ultimately grow your practice in ways you never thought possible.

Why Should Doctors Invest In Digital Marketing?

Investing in digital marketing is a strategic move for doctors, revolutionizing how you connect with your patient base. It’s a powerful tool to boost your clinic’s visibility, keep your patients engaged, enhance your professional reputation, target specific audiences cost-effectively, and gather valuable insights for service improvement.

Let’s check some of the benefits digital marketing has to offer to healthcare practitioners:

It Helps You Put Your Clinic In Front Of More Potential Patients

One of the most significant advantages of digital marketing is its ability to put your clinic in front of a vast number of prospective patients. The internet is a vast sea teeming with potential patients actively searching for healthcare professionals and services. Your role as a doctor, equipped with the power of medical digital marketing, is to ensure these individuals find their way to your clinic.

Think of your clinic as one of the many healthcare brands in the digital realm of the healthcare industry. With so many online channels available – search engines, social media platforms, email, and more – your clinic has numerous opportunities to be visible to these potential patients.

Medical SEO, for instance, helps optimize your website to appear at the top of search engine results when patients search for relevant healthcare services. By strategically using keywords, improving site speed, and creating quality content, you can improve your visibility on platforms like Google, attracting more prospective patients to your site.

Medical digital marketing strategies also include leveraging online advertising platforms and using targeted ads to reach potential patients based on their location, interests, or search behavior. I’ll dive deep into these healthcare digital marketing essentials later in this article.

For now, you must understand that once you begin investing in digital marketing for your medical practice, opportunities for reaching patients online increase drastically.

It Allows You To Keep Your Patients Engaged

The modern patient doesn’t just want treatment; they seek engagement, information, and a healthcare provider who genuinely understands their needs. And digital marketing helps cater to these evolving preferences, ensuring that you do not just attract new patients but also keep your existing patients engaged. It overcomes some of the limitations traditional marketing has.

For instance, traditional marketing often leads to one-sided communication as patients rarely get a chance to respond directly to your newspaper ads, TV commercials, etc. On the other hand, digital marketing enables real-time, personalized communication that can significantly improve patient relationships. 

Through various online marketing strategies, you can continuously engage with your patients, keeping your practice top of mind. You can provide valuable health tips, share updates about your services, respond to their queries, or even offer a platform for them to voice their concerns. You can make them feel like your medical practice is always there to help.

Once you learn how to take advantage of digital channels, you’ll be able to establish a meaningful dialogue that goes beyond the confines of your clinic’s walls. Digital marketing for doctors is a shortcut to increased patient engagement and satisfaction.

It Helps You Build A Professional Reputation For Your Practice

Your online presence serves as a reflection of your practice’s professionalism and credibility. Patients today are tech-savvy; they evaluate and compare healthcare providers online before making their choice. Consequently, the way you present your healthcare brand online can significantly impact their decision.

Digital marketing offers numerous avenues to craft a professional, compassionate, and reliable image for your medical practice. It goes beyond selling your services; it’s about providing a stellar experience that resonates with your patients. By consistently delivering value and demonstrating your expertise and care, you can ensure both existing and potential patients see your brand in a positive light.

Your website, social media pages, blog posts, and even your online reviews become a testament to your commitment to patients’ health and well-being. When done right, digital marketing helps you stand out from the competition and foster trust among your target audience. Online reputation management allows doctors to position themselves as leaders in the healthcare industry.

It Is a Cost-Effective Way To Target Specific Audiences

In the battle for visibility in the healthcare industry, digital marketing is the great equalizer. It offers smaller practices a chance to stand toe-to-toe with industry giants. But how? It all boils down to its cost-effectiveness and precision targeting.

Unlike traditional marketing channels, which often require hefty budgets for television spots, radio ads, or billboards, digital marketing strategies can be tailored to fit any budget. Whether you’re running a small family clinic or a multi-specialty hospital, there’s a digital marketing strategy that can cater to your financial capacity.

You can’t control who sees your television spots or billboards, but you can control who sees your PPC ads. With proper targeting, you can reach the patients most likely to require your services, maximizing your marketing budget’s return on investment.

It Helps You Gain Insights Necessary For Improving Your Services

Stepping into the digital world opens a treasure trove of data that can enhance your services and elevate patient satisfaction. A web marketing for doctors is more than just about visibility; it’s also about gaining insights into patient behavior.

Every interaction a potential or existing patient has with your online presence, be it your website, social media profiles, or email campaigns, generates valuable data. You can track these interactions through tools like Google Analytics and glean meaningful insights.

For instance, you may find that a particular blog post about a specific health topic gets more traffic than others. This could indicate your patients’ heightened interest or concern about this issue. You could then plan future content around this topic, offer specific services related to it, or even conduct an interactive live session to answer questions.

Or you may find that most of your website traffic comes from a specific geographical area, information that could be used to tailor your services or marketing campaigns to that location.

Working with a reliable Google Analytics consultant is the best way to understand and translate the data into actionable improvements for your practice. By listening to the data, you can become a better healthcare provider, one well-informed decision at a time.

Five key aspects of digital marketing doctors should pay attention to.

5 Key Aspects Of Digital Marketing For Doctors

Drawing from my personal experience, to get the most out of digital marketing for doctors, you need to invest in five key areas:

  • Building a custom website
  • Search engine optimization
  • PPC advertising
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing

Each aspect uniquely contributes to a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for doctors. Let’s delve deeper into each to understand their significance and how they can be harnessed effectively. After that, I’ll help you understand how to allocate your budget effectively to get the best possible return on investment.

Building A Custom Website Lays The Foundation For Your Online Success

Your website is the cornerstone of your digital marketing efforts, the central hub around which all other strategies revolve. Here are just some of the reasons why you must invest in web design for doctors:

  • Information Hub: Your website is the primary source of information about your practice for prospective and existing patients. It’s where they learn about your services, team, operating hours, and more.
  • Booking Platform: With an integrated appointment booking system, your website facilitates easy scheduling. This reduces administrative burden and enhances the patient experience.
  • Content Showcase: Whether it’s a health blog, a series of patient testimonials, or educational videos, your website acts as a platform to showcase valuable content, boosting your credibility and SEO.
  • Marketing Integration: From collecting email addresses for your newsletters to tracking user behavior for your PPC campaigns, your website is critical in executing various marketing strategies.

But how should you approach web design for doctors? In the competitive healthcare industry, you can’t afford an underperforming or generic website. You can’t afford to have a website that doesn’t measure up to your desired future success. To truly reflect your brand identity and provide a stellar user experience, investing in custom coded websites is essential.

While pre-designed templates may seem cost-effective, they will severely limit your ability to customize and optimize your site. And scaling it along with your online growth will be next to impossible.

Here are just some of the things you need to focus on when working on healthcare web design:

  • Simplicity and functionality
  • Privacy and security
  • Professional imagery
  • Clean layout
  • Comforting Color Palette

Remember, your website serves as the digital front door of your practice. If you skip building a high-quality website, you’ll limit your chances of standing out in the healthcare sector and attracting more patients.

Medical SEO Helps You Get Found On Google By Potential Patients

Search engine optimization is a series of marketing tactics that help your website appear higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) when potential patients search for health professionals or services like yours.

There are multiple benefits of SEO for doctors:

  • Long-term visibility: Unlike PPC, which stops showing your ads the moment you stop paying (I’ll explain this later), the benefits of SEO are long-lasting. Once you secure a top spot on Google, it can result in a continuous flow of free traffic to your website.
  • Credibility: Patients associate the top results on Google with trustworthiness and credibility. By earning your spot on the first page, you enhance your online reputation.
  • Cost-effective patient acquisition: SEO is an effective way to reduce patient acquisition costs. Once you build trust with search engines and start attracting organic traffic for valuable keywords, it will become much cheaper for you to acquire new patients.

However, to reap these benefits, you need to pay attention to key areas of SEO for doctors, including:

  • Keyword research: Conducting profitable keyword research helps you identify and utilize the search terms that potential patients use to find healthcare like yours.
  • On-Page SEO: All the actions you take on your website that influence its rankings in search engines like Google.
  • Off-Page SEO: Link-building and other actions you take outside your site to improve its authority and ranking.
  • Technical SEO: Ensuring your website is easily crawlable and indexable by search engine bots and loads quickly for a seamless user experience.

You can take the DIY route, but if you have no experience with search engine optimization, you’ll need to go through the trial and error process. My SEO agency in Chicago can help ensure all your efforts drive tangible results and your website starts ranking high in SERPs as quickly as possible.

Local SEO For Doctors Will Position Your Healthcare Practice As a Go-To Choice

Local SEO is the magic formula that makes your practice pop up in search results when a potential patient in your vicinity looks up “doctors near me” or similar queries. It’s a highly targeted branch of SEO. And it will help you attract more patients from relevant local searches on Google.

Why should you, as a doctor, pay attention to local SEO? Because local is where your patients are. By ranking high on local search results, you position your practice as the go-to healthcare choice in your community.

Many practices overlook local SEO. That’s your chance to gain a competitive advantage. It might be your golden opportunity to outshine other local healthcare providers.

Another important consideration is that local searches have high intent, meaning a person will likely take action (like booking an appointment) soon. There’s a massive potential in local SEO when it comes to patient conversions.

Here are some tips to consider when starting your local SEO adventure:

  • Claim your Google My Business Profile: This is your main tool for managing your online presence across Google, including search and maps. Fill out your profile completely, include high-quality photos, and ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all online platforms.
  • Collect reviews: Encourage satisfied patients to leave reviews. Responding to these reviews, positive or negative, shows you value patient feedback.
  • Leverage local keywords: Include location-based keywords in your website and content. To get started, do local keyword research.

If this sounds overwhelming, my agency offers local SEO packages that can take the burden off your shoulders. Remember, local SEO is vital for doctors. It helps you connect with the local community and become people’s go-to choice for their healthcare needs.

PPC For Doctors – Attract Patients Instantly

When it comes to instant visibility and rapid results, nothing quite matches the power of pay-per-click advertising. PPC for doctors is a type of online advertising where you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. It’s a direct and effective way to draw attention to your services and gain immediate visibility on digital channels.

One of the primary benefits of PPC is its potential for instant results. You don’t need to wait for SEO results to start kicking in. Instead, your ad can appear on the top of search engine results immediately, putting your practice right in front of your target audience. This makes PPC an excellent strategy for attracting new patients quickly.

Another perk is the granular control it offers. You can decide where and when your ads will appear based on various factors like keywords, location, time of day, and more. This level of customization allows you to tailor your campaigns to your specific patient demographics and clinic hours.

Lastly, unlike traditional advertising methods, where you pay a flat fee irrespective of the results, with PPC, you only pay when someone actively shows interest in your service by clicking on your ad. This means your marketing budget is spent more efficiently, targeting only those likely to become patients.

There are plenty of platforms you can utilize for PPC advertising. The most popular among these are Google Ads, Bing Ads, and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Each platform offers unique advantages and caters to different audience behaviors.

Choosing the right platform primarily depends on your target audience and goals. However, for healthcare professionals, Google Ads often deliver the most impactful results. This is because when people need healthcare services, they’re more likely to start their search on Google.

Email Marketing For Doctors – Turn Leads Into Patients With Targeted Communication

When done right, email marketing can be an incredibly effective tool in your healthcare marketing tactics arsenal. As a health professional, you know that building relationships with patients is not only about the appointments. It is also about the ongoing communication that keeps them informed and connected to your practice.

Email marketing lets you share valuable information about health issues, send appointment reminders, showcase new services, and provide personalized health tips. This continuous engagement builds trust, fosters patient satisfaction, and can significantly contribute to patient retention.

The power of email marketing lies in its ability to deliver the right message at the right time to the right person. To do this, you’ll need your patients’ contact information. This can be captured through various means, such as appointment forms, newsletter signups, or an email capture landing page.

Email marketing for doctors can initially seem overwhelming, but the payoff is significant. It’s a cost-effective way to foster relationships with your patients, keep them informed, and guide them toward the bottom of your inbound marketing funnel. A well-executed email marketing strategy can turn leads into patients and patients into long-term relationships.

Social Media Marketing For Doctors – Stay In Touch With Your Patients

Social media isn’t just for influencers and celebrities; it’s also a powerful tool for healthcare digital marketing. Statistics show that 60% of social media users trust social media posts by doctors over any other group. This tells you a lot about the potential impact of investing in social media marketing for doctors.

A well-curated social media presence allows you to connect with your patients in a way impossible through any other form of communication. It provides a platform for your practice to share useful health tips, educate about new medical procedures, answer queries, and showcase your practice’s personality and values. More importantly, it allows you to engage with your patients on a more personal level. This approach is a crucial part of your marketing plan, especially considering the role of content marketing in today’s digital age. By regularly updating your social media with valuable content, you’re not just connecting with your audience; you’re also enhancing your medical marketing efforts. This strategy helps in building trust, increasing patient engagement, and positioning your practice as a thought leader in the medical community.

Here are some ways to leverage social media channels in your healthcare digital marketing strategies:

  • Create educational content: Posting content related to common health problems can position you as a trusted source of information. This could be in the form of infographics, short video clips, carousels, and more.
  • Engage with your audience: Encourage your followers to ask questions and be sure to respond. This can foster a sense of community and make your patients feel valued.
  • Share patient testimonials: With permission, sharing success stories or testimonials can build trust and offer real-life insights into what it’s like to be a patient at your practice.
  • Post regularly: Consistency is vital in social media marketing for doctors. Determine the best time to post on social media and keep your audience engaged with regular posts.

Authenticity is key – a genuine and caring voice can resonate much more than a purely promotional one. Strive to become the social media influencer in your field, and watch your patient base grow.

Digital Marketing For Healthcare: Where To Invest Most?

With all these different digital marketing aspects, you may wonder, “Where should I invest most of my budget?” And I can tell you – there’s no simple answer to this. It depends on the unique needs and goals of your practice.

However, I can give you some general recommendations that can guide your decision-making process:

How much to invest in web design for doctors:

First and foremost, investing in a high-quality web design for doctors is non-negotiable. Your website is the digital face of your practice, and its quality will impact the effectiveness of all your digital marketing efforts.

Potential patients will judge the credibility of your practice based on your website design. It’s also difficult to drive meaningful SEO results for a website that loads slowly and has a poor structure. Therefore, your healthcare website must be professional, user-friendly, and representative of your brand.

The cost of a custom website can vary a lot depending on your exact needs, so I recommend using my website design cost calculator to get a clear idea of the investment you’re looking at.

SEO Vs. PPC – How to allocate your budget as a healthcare professional?

SEO and PPC are both essential strategies in digital marketing for doctors. However, they serve different purposes and bring different benefits.

SEO is a long-term investment. It takes time to see the results. But once your website starts ranking high on search results, you’ll reap the benefits without paying for each click.

On the other hand, PPC provides immediate results. It immediately puts your ads in front of your target audience. This is particularly beneficial when you’re just starting and need to attract patients quickly. Statistics suggest that the average PPC conversion rate was 4.6% in search engines and 0.75% on the display network. As long as you’re seeing a return on your investment, you should keep investing in PPC.

But as your SEO efforts start to pay off, you’ll gradually depend less on PPC for patient acquisition. And another strong reason to invest in SEO even before launching your website is that as you optimize your website for search engines, you’re simultaneously optimizing it for end-users too.

If you’re still unsure about where to invest more, you may want to read my comprehensive guide on SEO vs Google Ads.

How much should doctors invest in social media marketing?

The cost of social media marketing for doctors can vary widely, depending on several factors:

  • The number of platforms you decide to use: With many social media platforms available, it might be tempting to try and win an audience on each one. But the more platforms you’re active on, the more resources you’ll need to create and post content consistently across all of them. Responding to every patient and analyzing patient behavior on each platform will also take more time. If budget is a concern, it’s better to be active and consistent on one or two platforms rather than spreading yourself thin across many.
  • The number of posts and unique images: Although publishing posts on social media is free, creating engaging content isn’t. You’ll need text, images, videos, infographics, and more. Depending on the complexity and volume of content needed, you may need to hire a professional content creator or designer, adding to your cost.
  • Boosting posts: Organic reach on social media is great, but sometimes, you need to boost your posts to reach a larger audience. Paid promotions or boosting posts can increase visibility, but they add to your expenses.

While social media marketing for doctors is a goldmine of opportunity, I strongly advise against allocating most of your budget to it – especially if you don’t have a loyal patient base you can engage with yet. PPC and SEO will get you more new patients who are actively searching for your services.

The Best Way To Get Started With Digital Marketing For Doctors

As a healthcare professional, your expertise lies in working with patients rather than in digital marketing. While you could attempt to learn and handle all these strategies on your own, the learning curve is steep, and mistakes can be costly. Therefore, the best way to get started with digital marketing for doctors is to hire digital marketing experts.

With the complexity of digital marketing, it’s easy to make mistakes. This could range from overspending on PPC campaigns, focusing on the wrong SEO keywords, or failing to optimize your website for conversions. These mistakes could set you back significantly, both in terms of time and money. And a digital marketing expert can help you avoid them.

Also, every medical practice is unique. This means your digital marketing strategy should be unique too. Professionals can help you create and implement a strategy tailored to your specific needs and goals. This includes balancing your budget allocation among various strategies based on your unique situation.

And what about saving time? Handling all the digital marketing processes, from creating and scheduling content to analyzing data and adjusting campaigns, can be very time-consuming. Digital marketing agencies have tools and human resources to streamline these processes for you. You’ll have more time to improve patient satisfaction and boost revenue streams.

Remember, digital marketing isn’t an expense; it’s an investment in your practice’s growth and success. By hiring professionals, you leverage their expertise and technology, setting your practice up for sustainable growth in the digital age.

Conclusion

Digital marketing is an essential component in modern healthcare. The right strategy can boost your online visibility, foster strong patient relationships and increase your practice’s growth.

In our digitally driven world, your patients are online; you must be there too. From the moment potential patients begin searching for healthcare providers, your online presence should guide them smoothly along the patient journey, providing valuable information, engaging content, and easy ways to get in touch and book appointments.

Digital marketing isn’t about choosing one channel over another; it’s about creating a robust, multichannel marketing framework. It’s about ensuring that whether a patient finds you through a Google search, a social media post, or an email newsletter, they encounter a consistent, professional, and caring image of your practice.

If you’re ready to explore the opportunities digital marketing presents, I invite you to schedule a call with me. Let’s discuss how we can tailor a digital marketing strategy to meet your unique needs, maximize your online visibility, and turn potential patients into loyal ones.

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