You've got limited time and resources - so where should you focus for practice growth in 2016? Here are our top five:
Most people use their smart phone far more than their desktop or even tablet. Make sure your website is mobile friendly. There are two key reasons for this: 1) if your website isn’t mobile responsive it’s likely your prospective patients will go elsewhere, and 2) Google now gives better rankings to mobile friendly websites.
Video will continue it’s sharp rise in 2016. Patients are overloaded with information, making video quick and easy for the user. By watching a video, prospective patients can get also get a sense of the doctor(s), staff, and office – making them more likely to call your office. Video also helps you show up on search engines.
If your social media is poor, it detracts from people’s perception of your office. Not only should it be consistently up to date, it should also reflect things your patients are experiencing. Positive comments from patients, stating their admiration for the doctor, positive office experience, also help significantly.
Medical practices need to pay attention to reviews. This is something that can no longer be ignored, since many prospective patients will look at Yelp, Facebook, Healthgrades, etc. when looking up a doctor or practice. Your practice must be proactive in requesting reviews preferably electronically.
Using e-mail newsletters or updates may seem dated, but they remain an excellent way to stay in touch with patients with pertinent information. In addition, since most patients will read them on their smart phone, it’s a great way to reach people on their mobile device. Make sure the format you use is mobile friendly.
Promoting specific expertise drives a higher return on digital marketing.
Why? Overall brand remains important, but clients are increasingly searching for specific expertise first before considering the firm.
In addition, there are three additional reasons why a focus on expertise also drives higher return: 1) it supports online search where specificity wins (key words drive search), 2) it helps the client find what their looking for quickly increasing value, and 3) it allows the firm to present a differentiator(s).
To do this effectively, the CMO and marketing team must strategically focus on areas than drive demand and reach an audience. It also requires having a deep understanding of the client mindset, so that content is on point.
How do you execute against this? We offer 5 quick tips:
- Target the best opportunities: Identify the topic areas and target clients that hold the highest and best potential for return. Also target those areas where you can establish a credible case for expertise and build a following.
- Build your online assets around specificity: This means creating blogs (and potentially multiple Twitter feeds) that are highly focused and target a specific audience. By being more targeted, the audience will find the content worth following over time creating a following.
- Use your CRM wisely: The firm’s CRM database isn’t much value if it’s not populated with data that’s aligned to your strategic focus. Build out key segments that are appropriate for your targeted areas. This requires professionals across the firm be involved and support the effort.
- Create a mix of media: In addition to the standard e-mail updates, videos and podcasts are gaining traction. These offer a means to introduce your key personnel and their expertise. These also work well on mobile devices, where more than half of your audience will access them.
- Actively promote content: Firms will often work on a piece of content only to ‘hope’ someone sees it. To build an audience, it requires actively and consistently promoting content. Beyond e-mail, this could be paid LinkedIn promotion to the target audience, video promotion, and even direct mail.
By creating highly targeted content that showcases expertise, your firm will be able to differentiate and build a loyal audience over time. It’s a long run strategy that maximizes your content creation efforts and promotes “top of mind” positioning.
Blogs created by law firms have increased exponentially over the past couple of years. LexBlog estimates around 300 new blogs have been initiated among the Am Law 200 in the past 24 months. But here's the question: do they work? Yes, if you optimize them.
Law firms have come to recognize that blogs are an excellent way to reach prospects, support keyword search, and demonstrate expertise.
From our standpoint, we see many firms that are not fully leveraging their blogs. First, the most effective blogs are those that focus on a narrow topic that a segment of prospects will find compelling. The more focused a blog is, and the more it offers valuable "news" and insight, the quicker it will gain an audience.
However, beyond focus, many firms are using outdated modes of presenting their blogs which sub-optimize readership and search functionality. Here are 7 things law firms can do immediately to improve the effectiveness of their blogs;
- Vary the lengths: One study found that the optimal length for blog entry is 300 words (very short for attorneys). A good strategy is to create blog entries of different lengths. Google tends to give more weight to articles that run over 2k words, so these are more likely to show up in search.
- Include a summary: We are all inundated with information on a daily basis. Providing a short summary at the top will be appreciated by visitors to assess if the particular post has value to them.
- Add a video: A standard practice is to attach a link to the attorney’s bio for more information. A more impactful approach is to include a short video. These videos can be a simple interview under one minute in length.
- Separate the blog’s URL: The blog should have its own sub-brand and URL so that it shows up better on search engines. It should also be hosted outside the firm’s website but contain brand elements.
- Include a Twitter feed: We see value in creating multiple Twitter feeds that focused around specific topics. Since people use Twitter as a news feed, this is good way to be seen as relevant in key areas of your practice. We also love the "Tweet This" button that allows users to immediate add a tweet from your blog.
- Promote the posts: Many firms will upload the post and leave it at that. We believe that high value posts should be pushed out to targeted audiences, including e-mail and promoted posts. This ensures that more prospects will see your content. Most c-suite prospects look for news in their e-mail first thing in the a.m. Your firm should be there with focused high value information and insight.
- Create a direct mail piece: A high value blog piece can easily be turned into a direct mail article that is sent directly to clients and prospects. This provides a way to stand out and stay in touch with high value clients while also demonstrating expertise on a given topic. It's great if a personal note can be attached to the top of piece to show clients you're thinking of them.
Finally, firms need to recognize that their blogs should be mobile friendly. It's estimated only 20% of legal firm blogs are mobile responsive. This means not only the platform its placed on, but using headers, visual elements, and other elements in the blog to help those on mobile devices.
Most legal marketing blogs take about 2 - 3 years to develop an audience, although narrower focused blogs can develop a following faster. Does it work? Ask the MP of Fox Rothschild who went on Bloomberg to discuss how blogs are driving new business.
Google recently announced that as of April 21st it will be giving more importance to mobile-friendly websites and information.
The reason? In a recent conference, a Google executive noted that 53% of search now comes from mobile devices.
At Truventis, we’re seeing this trend as well. More of the comments or clicks on our client Facebook pages are now coming from mobile devices. This gives us an accurate picture of mobile versus desktop use to look at social and web sites by patients.
Another trend promoting mobile use is what’s called the “second screen” effect.
Many of us now watch TV or spend time with the family after work or on weekends with our smart phone in hand. We may be watching television, but we’re also looking at texts, social media posts, e-mail and more.
What does this mean for medical practices?
It means that having a mobile-friendly website (a site that recognizes mobile devices and is easy to use) is fast becoming a necessity - not a “nice to have” addition.
The key, however, is to keep your mobile site simple.
Have a good sense of what your patients will most likely be looking for on a mobile site (directions, phone number, office hours, etc.). Leave longer items such as blog posts or patients forms for your regular website.
This will make sure your mobile site is less cluttered and therefore easier to use.
The Pew Foundation just released its 2014 Social Media Study. Below is an excerpt and a link to the full report. We'll be adding Truventis insights to this shortly.
In a new survey conducted in September 2014, the Pew Research Center finds that Facebook remains by far the most popular social media site. While its growth has slowed, the level of user engagement with the platform has increased. Other platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn saw significant increases over the past year in the proportion of online adults who now use their sites.
The results in this report are based on the 81% of American adults who use the internet. Other key findings:
- Multi-platform use is on the rise: 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users.
- For the first time, more than half of all online adults 65 and older (56%) use Facebook. This represents 31% of all seniors.
- For the first time, roughly half of internet-using young adults ages 18-29 (53%) use Instagram. And half 0f all Instagram users (49%) use the site daily.
- For the first time, the share of internet users with college educations using LinkedIn reached 50%.
- Women dominate Pinterest: 42% of online women now use the platform, compared with 13% of online men.
Patients are choosing their medical providers in new ways.
In the healthcare community, we refer to this phenomenon as the “empowered” patient. Through the Internet including social media, online reviews, and peer-to-peer web sites, patients are now researching healthcare options and providers.
So how do patients, empowered with this technology and information, choose a provider? The answers might surprise you.
What are the five top things you can do now to better promote your practice? See our slides from a recent webinar.
What should you know about online reviews? About 30% of patients will look at reviews and a bad review can result in a 10% reduction in calls from new patients.