This may be a controversial opinion, but I love IKEA furniture: it’s stylish, minimalist, affordable, and very Scandinavian. Okay, so there’s a chance you’ll have a few screws and bits of fiberboard left over after piecing together your new Fjӓllbo TV stand—but as long as you have the right tools, putting it together is far from rocket science.
That principle isn’t exclusive to Swedish-made furniture. For instance, marketing your outpatient physical therapy practice can seem just as confusing as determining which rectangular slab of plywood is piece A. But if you have the right tools, the process will go a whole lot smoother. To that end, here are the best marketing tools for physical therapists (organized by category):
This should be a no-brainer, but having an attractive website that’s easy to navigate and communicates exactly who you are and what you offer should be your number-one marketing priority. But building such a site can be as confounding as assembling furniture when you’re a few screws short. That’s why we recommend the following tools to help you get your site up and running (and lookin’ good):
WordPress.org is our favorite tool for building websites—and it’s totally free and fully customizable. If you’ve got some coding knowledge, you can even edit the site’s raw code. However, WordPress doesn’t include hosting—which means you have to pay for a hosting service to get your site live. Plus, more customization options often mean more work—and a steeper learning curve.
Known for their easy-to-use, drag-and-drop design capabilities, Wix sites are just the ticket for those who don’t want to deal with complex site design. (And unlike its competitor WordPress, Wix includes hosting as part of the deal.) That said, Wix has limited design and SEO customization options. You must also pay at least $132 per year to unlock critical features like an ad-free site experience and a reasonable amount of storage.
For more help building a great PT clinic website, check out our website guide for PTs.
Is blogging really worth your time? The short answer is “yes.” As WebPT’s Meredith Castin explains in this blog, “In addition to providing valuable information to your current, past, and future patients, a blog helps keep your website fresh and relevant—as opposed to looking like nothing more than a digital brochure for your clinic.” It can also boost your website’s search engine ranking. To that end, here are some tools that can help you cultivate an excellent blog experience:
When it comes to protecting your original content, Copyscape has you covered. This tool is a free online plagiarism checker that detects potentially duplicated content and ensures the text on your blog (a.k.a. the copy) is wholly original. The benefits of this tool include:
- keeping you out of hot water with other content creators by making sure you’re not stealing their intellectual property;
- alerting you when other people tout your content as their own; and
- improving your search engine rankings by eliminating duplicate copy on your own website.
I know I’m not the only one who has earned the spell check seal of approval—only to later find a glaring error. That’s where Grammarly comes in. It’s a super-intelligent, super-helpful tool that not only reviews grammar and spelling, but also analyzes tone—not to mention, recognizes the difference between “your” and “you’re.” It also works on various social media sites—and even Google Docs! Even the most prolific writer can benefit from this tool.
Social Media Management
Much like a website, having your clinic on social media is non-negotiable. (That is to say, you need it.) It helps you not only bring in new patients, but also connect with—and retain—past ones. But to truly stand out on social media, you must consistently post relevant and captivating content. And not everyone has time to sit down and do that every day. To that end, a social media automation tool allows you to:
- create, track, and manage your posts,
- schedule out multiple posts in advance, and
- track the ROI of your social media campaigns.
Here’s the one we suggest:
Buffer is an excellent social media management platform for any small-to-medium-sized PT practice. You can:
- manage multiple social media accounts;
- schedule bulk posts in advance (10 posts with the free version and 100 posts with the paid version);
- create images for your posts with Buffer’s own image creation tool; and
- upload videos and gifs.
It also has a competitive pricing plan compared to some of its competitors (free with limited features or $9.99 per month with additional features), so you can play around with social media automation and decide whether it’s worth the investment before making a commitment.
Speaking of social media: From Facebook to Twitter, social media is all about the image—literally. (This is especially true for image-based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.) If you really want to get the biggest bang for your social media buck, posting attractive, engaging images is a must. (This article from the Content Marketing Institute provides some tips on how to accomplish that.) This even holds true for platforms that aren’t image-based. In fact, according to Buffer, “Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets.”
If you’re not a graphic designer, fear not! Here’s the tool we recommend to help you easily create gorgeous images for your social posts and blog:
In the world of graphic design, there’s a barrage of tools you can use to create beautiful images—but few are as lightweight and user-friendly as Canva. With this simple design app, you can make gorgeous, professional-looking images to use on your social media pages or blog. Canva also has three different pricing models, all of which offer different features and range from free to $30 per month per user.
According to the marketing gurus at HubSpot, “72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of video,” and this HubSpot resource states that “social media posts with video have 48% more views.” So, if you run a small-to-medium-sized PT practice, video marketing can be just the thing that sets you apart from the competition. But, where to start? These are the apps we like:
If you have an Apple device—like an iPhone, iPad, or Apple computer—chances are, you already have the iMovie app installed. You might’ve even used it before! If not, don’t worry; it’s super easy to use, and there are tons of free online tutorials on how to make pretty, click-worthy videos at no cost.
8. Adobe Premiere Rush
If you’re ready to get a little more serious about using video in your marketing (and you’re prepared to invest), you might want to consider Adobe’s mobile video editing app. While iMovie certainly has Adobe Premiere Rush beat on price (free versus $9.99/monthly), the Adobe app allows for higher frame rates and more complex editing scenarios. It also uploads directly to the cloud automatically, making it easy to switch between your mobile app to your desktop app.
Of all the different forms of marketing, email marketing is certainly one of the most important (and effective). That’s because the vast majority of people who use the Internet have a personal email address. In fact, in the United States, 89% of people check their email every single day. And as we explain in our guide to modern marketing for outpatient rehab therapy, “Users report an average of 222% ROI on their email services.” That’s one heck of a return.
But using a regular old email service like Gmail or Yahoo for email marketing is like using a flat-head screwdriver when you really need a Phillips-head: it’s not impossible, but it’s gonna be a pain. Instead, we recommend using one of these services for small-to-medium-sized practices:
9. Constant Contact
Constant Contact has been in the email game since 1998, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it's outdated. With more than half a million small-business clients, it’s a proven solution that boasts a 60-day free trial (for up to 100 email addresses), discounted pricing options, and phone support.
Mailchimp positions itself as the more hip alternative. With a free option and plenty of features, it’s definitely worth checking out. Be aware, though, that phone and chat support is only available for customers on paid plans.
Reach is WebPT’s very own marketing platform built specifically for outpatient rehab therapists. (And maybe we’re biased, but we think it’s the best.) That’s because, in addition to automated email campaigns, Reach also boasts:
- landing page creation,
- patient satisfaction tracking using the Net Promoter Score® survey,
- performance data, and
- a bevy of tools to help you boost your clinic’s online reputation.
If you’re new to online marketing, you might wonder why shortening your links is even necessary. Well, take a look at these two links:
The first one is messy, jumbled, and frankly, way too long. If you try pasting that into a patient-facing email or the website field on your business’s Instagram bio, it’s going to scream “amateur” at anyone who sees it. The second link, however, is neat, tidy, and complete enough to give you an idea of where it leads. But beyond making URLs look clean and orderly, link shorteners also allow businesses to track which of their ads bring them the most traffic by embedding UTM parameters. So, which link shortener is the best? Here are the ones we suggest:
Of all of the link shorteners out there, Rebrandly is one of the most robust. Not only does it allow you to customize your links, but it also provides analytic data. You can also completely delete your URL if need be, which is not something most link shorteners can do.
TinyURL is a barebones URL shortener that lacks a lot of bells and whistles—including customization or built-in UTM tracking. However, at the low, low cost of “free,” its price can’t be beat.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You’ve most likely heard of SEO. You may even know what it is and why it’s important for your practice. (If not, the short definition, according to Moz, is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”) And because a growing number of patients begin their quest for a healthcare provider online—with 72% searching for online reviews—keeping your clinic’s name at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs) is more important than ever. But SEO can be intimidating—not to mention confusing. Fortunately, the following tools will make the process as painless as possible:
14. Google Analytics
If you only use one SEO tool, Google Analytics should be the one. This essential website tool will provide you with useful information—such as which pages and posts drive the most traffic to your site—thus informing you about what topics you should cover.
15. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a great resource that’s totally free to use. Not only does it show status updates on how Google sees your website (such as site errors), but it also provides information on the keywords people search before landing on your site.
16. Google Trends
Simply put, Google Trends is a free tool that shows trending keywords for various topics—as well as their performance over time.
AnswerThePublic is a visual research and content tool that is also free to use. Specifically, it provides a visual report to help you find search queries your target audience runs on sites like Google.
One of the most common ways PT practices hurt their SEO value is failing to update their NAP (that’s “Name, Address, and Phone Number”) across all web listings. And even if the NAP is up to date, any tiny discrepancy (e.g., “Road” versus “Rd.”) will count against you. Fortunately, WebPT Local stays on top of this for you by automatically searching for, updating, and managing your practice’s online listings. This gives your site’s SEO a serious boost, which means it’ll be easier for new patients to find you online. And all of that translates into practice growth—without any additional time or effort on your part. Plus, when you get Local, you’re really getting two apps in one, because it also helps you manage your social media posts and online reviews in addition to optimizing your search engine ranking. Talk about the Swiss Army knife of SEO tools!
A good craftsman never blames his tools, but using the wrong ones—or worse, no tools at all—creates unnecessary work. Before you set out to build your marketing strategy, you’ll need a comprehensive set of instructions, which is why we created a totally free, downloadable marketing e-book for physical therapists. (Get your copy here!) With that in hand, you’ll be on your way to marketing greatness—no Allen wrench required.