How Important Is Digital Marketing For Doctors?

  • May 6, 2018
  • Google Advertising
  • Healthcare Marketing
  • Online Marketing
  • Published Articles
  • Strategic Marketing

The data on digital marketing speaks volumes; Jason Borody from Vividus Marketing explains how private practices and hospitals can get the most out of their online presence.

We’re often asked, “Does Google marketing really work?”, “How can you get me to the first page of Google?” and “Can you guarantee results?”

Over the past 12 months, we have seen a number of developments in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) have evolved significantly. Internet searches now provide traditional organic results as well as a mix of informational snippets, images, maps, and videos.

SEM has become a complicated science with Google’s algorithm becoming more sophisticated every week, new technologies, continually shifting content trends, and fiercely increasing competition. A recent study from SEMRush confirmed that measurements such as site traffic, time spent on your site, and links to your site from other reputable sites continue to have a significant
impact on search result rankings.

So, where should medical practices and hospitals focus their digital marketing investment for the greatest return on investment? It seems that despite all the complicating factors, there are three main components that continue to underpin everything else.

1. Website quality and technical optimisation

Who builds your website and how it is built makes a difference, not only to visitor usability, engagement and conversion, but also to  Google. Google indexes and regularly scans websites, and technical elements make a difference to your site’s reputation and ranking with Google. Poorly built or maintained websites are not uncommon in healthcare, and we are often asked to correct and improve sites to increase their technical optimisation.

2. Relevant content that people want to read and share

Ensure your content is written for the intended audience, and written differently for patients, doctors, and potential businesses who would  like to link to or utilise your content. At Vividus, we often need to  remind clinicians that they must put themselves in their audience’s shoes when reviewing web content drafted by our copywriters for their practice.

To get a better response, content should solve a problem or question comprehensively and yet be easily digestible. It should be different in scope and detail from other articles on similar topics, delivering superior customer engagement and create an emotional response in the reader through visual cues, images, and video. All these factors must also be balanced with a natural level and usage of SEO relevant keywords. We find the most linked-to content we produce includes pieces containing research results and statistics, case studies, in-depth guides, and controversial or fresh perspectives.

3. Showing your content to the right people

Passively placing content on your website’s news page and hoping for the best is not enough. With the plethora of digital avenues now available, there are increasing methods for effectively presenting your content to people that are actively seeking healthcare information. Channels to consider might include email, social media, publications, advisory and association sites, and various advertising avenues – and SEM remains an important factor in the mix.

A 2017 study of 500,000 keyword searches on Google.com revealed the average search results page contains 8-9 organic links, and that 35% contain knowledge graphs, 23% contain images, 22% contain videos, and 16% direct answers. Google doesn’t write this content, it is all sourced from reputable websites containing content on the search topic – these are often private practice and hospital websites regarding healthrelated search queries. Obviously an important part of your SEM strategy should be to have Google re-present your content, and raises the question, “how else should you be re-purposing or re-targeting your brand messages?”

A 2017 study by Shareaholic saw search engines drive more traffic to websites (35%) than social media (26%) for the first time in three years across a range of industry verticals. While all five of the major search engines drive traffic, Google remains the dominant player with nearly 37% of traffic in late 2017, compared to less than 1% for the next highest player, Bing.

Perhaps the most important SEM strategy for doctors and hospitals is search advertising. These are the Google AdWords and other  digital ads that appear on the top or side of the web page when you search for information online.

Do people really click on Google AdWords listings? Our experience is  what people do, which is also consistent with the fact that in 2017 Google’s advertising revenue was the multinational giant’s greatest income stream at just under US$95.4 billion dollars. Online advertising provides a number of opportunities for new practices that have not yet earned organic rankings through search engine optimisation (SEO), local awareness building, mobile marketing, and timebased promotions. The combination of well researched and selected keywords, effectively written ads, targeted landing pages, and expert testing and management can produce powerful results for doctors.

What kind of results you ask? Earlier this year Vividus developed a digital advertising campaign targeting one specific medical condition for a Melbourne based specialist practice. In one month the campaign generated over 600 actions for more information on the advertised condition, over 30 phone enquiries, and more than  30,000 incremental revenue. But how confident can we be that results like these are the direct result of SEM? To help answer this question, we look to a second situation where we recently measured qualified new patient enquiries for a Brisbane based group practice with and without Google AdWords campaigns. After pausing their campaign, we observed a 37% decrease in new enquiry phone calls and over 70 missed new booking opportunities over a four-week period where no other significant changes to activity occurred. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) certainly provides valuable opportunities for medical practices and hospitals when implemented
effectively as part of your broader digital strategy. With the increase of options, complexities, and rapid developments you really need expert medical marketing help to implement your SEM effectively. Vividus can look over your website and digital marketing, and recommend the best digital strategy to raise practice awareness, manage your online reputation, and drive practice bookings.

The content in this article was published in The Private Practice Autumn 2018 edition.

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