Almost no part of business lately is “as usual.” And certainly not in the healthcare industry. The world is becoming more and more digital. Yet only half of marketers are adjusting their strategies based on customer interactions and feedback, the very thing 96% of consumers agree will determine their loyalty to a brand. Traditional communication methods are no longer enough to serve your hospital and your patients. It’s time to meet the modern patient where they are and align your acquisition strategies with the digital world. 

Modern consumers engage with brands on mobile devices before setting foot in an office. This is even more true for healthcare patients. 90% of patients read online reviews before choosing a doctor. And as modern consumers, they’re 80% more likely to engage with your clinic if your website is mobile friendly and can answer their FAQs before they even contact you directly.

To implement the right strategies and tactics to acquire more of the right patients, it’s first important to understand exactly who your target market is. Review your current patient list, consider their demographics (age, gender, location), how they found your hospital or clinic, what they like about your practice, and what they think could improve. Use this information and feedback as a starting point to consider where to focus your patient acquisition strategies—what has worked in the past and where you have opportunities for growth. 

With your target audience now in mind, read on to discover six strategies that can help you find and acquire new patients in today’s modern world.

  1. Pay for digital advertising

Google searches containing the phrase “near me” have increased by 500% in the last few years. More than ever, people rely on their phones and Google to tell them where to go for healthcare services and they expect excellent experiences across all touchpoints and channels. Showing up in local search engine results is a crucial point of a prospective patient’s journey to your office. 

One way to ensure that customers can find you is by confirming your free Google My Business profile and running paid Google Ads. The experts at Google will help you figure out your goals, define your service and message, hone in on the keywords people search to find you, set the location parameters, and provide a personalized budget recommendation for your ad. These specifications all boost the likelihood of patients finding you on the web and converting as clients.

Behind Google, YouTube is the second most visited site on the web, with a daily average use of almost 16 minutes. If you’ve already created a video you’d like to run on YouTube Ads, great. If you’re not sure where to begin but you know YouTube is the platform, there are plenty of options for you to choose from. 

YouTube Ads connects you with a trusted independent party of your choice to create a completely custom campaign. All you have to do is specify the following details:

  • Campaign type 
    • Image ad or video ad
  • Production budget  
    • Under $500, $500 – $5k, $5k – $10k, over $10k
  • Service model 
    • Self-service or managed service
  • Offerings 
    • Animation, motion graphics, voice over, filming, edit existing assets, stock images/video 
  • Turnaround Time 
    • Minutes, days, weeks

As with other forms of digital advertising, a huge bonus of YouTube Ads is that you only actually pay when people choose to watch and/or engage with your ad. This could include watching an ad over 30 seconds, choosing not to skip, or clicking on a card or banner with a call to action. This way, you’re only paying for what is most likely to convert—when patients show interest and click for more information.

Facebook is another common place to advertise. And you don’t have to be a marketing pro to figure it out—the website will walk you through the basics:

  • Choose your objective 
    • What is it you’re trying to accomplish with this ad?
  • Select your audience
    • Use specific demographics to target your audience
  • Decide where to run your ad
    • Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, other apps on mobile devices?
  • Set your budget
    • Set a time frame and a limit you’re comfortable with
  • Pick a format
    • Video? Banner Ad? Single-image? Slideshow?
  • Place your order
    • The professionals get your ad up and running
  • Measure and manage your ad
    • The analytics will speak for themselves and show you which of your ads are effective and how you can adjust them as necessary

As the #1 most popular social network, Facebook is a promising way to reach your audience of prospective patients and raise awareness of your services. 

Whether your platform is Google, Youtube, Facebook, or even local television, paid advertisements are one of the surest ways to reach your ideal audience and achieve specific goals like driving traffic to your website, raising brand awareness, and boosting your search engine results. 

Before you spend money on paid advertising, remember this: understanding your ideal patient will make your spend more effective. Start there first and then consider your paid advertising options. 

  1. Increase your social media presence

Social media also provides an excellent (and free!) platform to showcase your expertise and become an authoritative yet personal source of information regarding current health issues, trends, and practices. And if you’re interested in paid advertising on any of your social platforms, improving your presence on the platform first will increase the effectiveness of your ad spend. 

The average user spends almost two and a half hours everyday on social media. And 88% of health consumers under the age of 40 report that they will choose their next medical provider based on a strong online presence. A solid social media presence is a great way to reach and engage with prospective patients. 

Additionally, content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing and costs 62% less. Video content in particular is the reigning champion of generating leads and appealing to social media users. 66% of consumers prefer watching a video over reading to learn about a product. Though, keep in mind that 92% of consumers watch videos on mobile devices with the sound muted, so captions are important to get your message across. 

The social media platform(s) you choose might vary based on the type of practice you have and the audience you’re trying to reach. (Tik Tok might not be the platform to reach people searching for nursing homes, but Facebook might be.) Each social media platform has its own benefits and audiences you can reach.  After defining the demographics of your target market, some options to consider might be Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, or Youtube

No matter what platform you choose, however, some strategic points to keep in mind with your business’ social media page are this:

  1. Provide value in every post or interaction
  2. Be clear about your services or offerings
  3. Engage with local communities and other brands for more awareness 

Social media serves as a highly public place to raise awareness of your services in an authentic way that current customers can participate and share within their social circles. 

  1. Start a blog

As popular as videos may be, blogs are still a valuable resource to provide information at a glance that customers are seeking anyway (at a rate of over 1 billion health-related Google searches a day). Starting a blog can improve your SEO visibility and broaden your reach online. 

Search engine results are based not on the amazing in-office care you provide or your credentials, but by the number of “indexed pages” your website has. Every blog you publish on your website boosts that number. Companies that utilize blogging have an average of 434% more indexed pages. This directs more people to your site who are likely to convert. Blog posts also provide content to share on your social media platforms and increase customer trust by 78%.

Blog topics can include tips for health and wellness, reports on the latest health trends, and answers to common questions and concerns. Furthermore, addressing specific topics in long-form provides an opportunity to reach niche audiences and queries, and generate 9x more leads than short-form content. From there, customers can be as close as one click to scheduling an appointment or requesting more information through your website. 

Consider researching local SEO terms that would benefit your business. Create clusters or multiple blogs around a specific topic and you’ll increase your chances of showing up in the first page search results. 

  1. Ask for reviews

As we’ve emphasized before, positive public reviews are crucial in the process of patients choosing their healthcare providers. So the more quality reviews you can generate and respond to, the better. It’s no longer enough to provide the best care possible—now, your reviews have to prove it if you want to acquire more patients. 

You can ask for reviews in a variety of ways: automated text messages or emails, direct mail card with instructions on how to submit a review, a phone call ask, or even social media direct messages. However you do it, make it part of your patient experience and standardize it so you have the opportunity to capture a review from every patient who will write one. 

  1. Set up a referral system 

Word-of-mouth testimonials are not a thing of the past. 91% of consumers agree that family members and friends are important resources when researching a new product or service. And 83% already report making a recommendation to family or friends. Personal reviews or recommendations made on social media can still function as word-of-mouth marketing, as many recommendations are moving digitally. 

The reward for referring a friend or for being referred to your clinic will likely vary based on industry practices and local regulations, but it’s an important way to let patients know that you appreciate their support. 

Setting up a referral program doesn’t have to be challenging. Decide on your parameters for a referral, select the specific reward, and alert your patients to your new program. If you already have a communication channel open with your patients, like text messaging for feedback and scheduling, use it to deliver the details of your new referral program.

  1. Reach out to the community

Opportunities for community outreach might be limited during the pandemic, but it’s still possible. Host an educational health webinar, sponsor a future community event, send a newsletter to surrounding businesses, provide scholarships to students in the fields relating to your practice, cross-promote with a local grocery store, facilitate virtual healthy living challenges, give away free swag through a local radio station!

Customer trust has been declining across all industries. Reaching out to the community is a simple way to demonstrate that you care and that you are a company people can trust. 

For more ideas on how to attract new patients, check out our free guide How to Win Customers and Influence People.

Bryan Oram
Bryan Oram AVP of Healthcare Enterprise Sales

Bryan Oram is a Healthcare professional at Podium, the leading messaging platform that connects healthcare businesses with their patients.

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