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Marketing on a Budget: 7 Inexpensive Ways to Boost Patient Volume in Your Practice

No budget? No problem. WebPT helps get you the most for your marketing budget. Here's how to market your clinic on the cheap.

Breanne Krager
5 min read
September 11, 2020
image representing marketing on a budget: 7 inexpensive ways to boost patient volume in your practice
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2020 has heralded wave upon wave of change for rehab therapy practice owners, but one thing remains a constant: the need to keep existing patients actively engaged and bring new patients through the door. Whether you’re in the early stages of reopening your clinic or looking to ramp up business, putting together a marketing plan that’ll get you to the next step is absolutely essential. Here’s the good news: accomplishing this isn’t nearly as difficult—or expensive—as you might think. To prove it, I present you with seven budget-friendly ways to promote your clinic’s brand and boost patient volume. Let’s get started!

1. Website

Having a website is critical in this day and age for a number of reasons, perhaps the most important being that it helps you show up on search engine results pages (SERPs)—which means patients are more likely to find you. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, nearly eight in 10—or 77%—of online health seekers say they began their search using online search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, or Yahoo).

One thing to note: Your clinic’s Facebook page should not take the place of a website. Although it’s ideal to have social media accounts in addition to your website (more on that in a bit), they do not offer the same credibility, control over your brand, or ability to own and track your patient leads as websites do. It’s also worth noting that with more than 60 million active business pages on Facebook, it can be hard for yours to cut through the noise—especially considering that the typical Facebook user has liked 50% more pages since 2016. With a website, you’re more likely to have someone’s undivided attention, and on a platform that you control.

If you don’t have a website yet, fear not!, Squarespace, and Wix all have novice-friendly templates and various pricing options to satisfy any budget. To suss out each platform’s pros and cons, check out our complete guide to building a clinic website.

2. Google My Business

Google My Business is a free tool companies can use to reach local customers via Google search and Google Maps. When you create a profile, you can manage how your clinic appears to prospective patients searching on Google. You can add photos, respond to reviews, and post your hours and services. It’s an easy way to make your clinic stand out from the rest—and in this day and age, it’s pretty much essential.  

It’s also incredibly easy to set up. All you have to do is create a Google account using your business’s email address. Then, go to Google My Business and click “Manage Now.” From there, locate your practice by name or address to start managing your clinic’s digital presence and increase its visibility.

Check out this helpful blog post to learn how to fully reap the benefits of your Google My Business profile.

3. Social Media

Social media has become an important tool for getting your name out there. According to Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group, 41% of healthcare consumers said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. In short, if you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with prospective patients.

Instead of scrambling to ramp up your social media presence on four or five different platforms, we suggest starting with one or two. Facebook and Instagram tend to be better platforms for small to midsize practices. Facebook has the largest audience of any social site, and more than 1.6 billion of its users are connected to a small business on the platform. It also offers a bevy of built-in tools that help business owners:

  • better understand their audience, 
  • track engagement, and 
  • boost visibility to reach more people.

Much like your website, Facebook is also where many prospective patients turn for more information about your practice. As for Instagram, this image-based platform is great for showcasing your clinic’s culture, new equipment, and even patient stories—with their consent, of course. 

Boost posts to increase visibility.

While posting regularly is important for establishing your social presence, social media has evolved into more of a pay-to-play environment for business pages. If you’re really looking to make a splash, consider setting aside some money—even if it’s a small amount—to give your posts a little boost. If you’re reluctant to spend your limited budget on social, consider this: boosting posts on Facebook and Instagram is often cheaper than traditional advertising, and it offers a high return on investment

If you’re ready to dabble in paid social media—or you’re simply interested in learning more—check out this blog post.

4. Email Marketing

Email marketing is an excellent way to keep patients engaged between appointments—or even reactivate those who’ve fallen off the schedule completely. 

Before you begin, outline your email goals and determine what type of value your emails can offer. The last thing you want is to send another spammy, salesy email that ends up in the trash folder. So, put yourself in your patients’ shoes. What might they want to read? Align your messaging with topics that relate to their care plans, and pay close attention to the questions your patients continuously ask, as these are great fodder for email content.

Additionally, consider including a call-to-action in each email that aligns with your overall marketing strategy and drives people to take you up on your offer. Examples include: “Book an appointment,” or “Learn more about this service.”

Choose the right email platform.

When selecting a platform, first make sure it’s HIPAA compliant and offers safe email hosting. Luckily, there are quite a few to choose from. And while each has its own unique features, the key is to choose one that works for your clinic’s current needs. You can always switch it up as your business evolves.

Some of our favorite HIPAA-compliant email providers include:

  • ConvertKit: For a small monthly fee, ConvertKit’s savvy tagging feature prevents providers from sending patients content that doesn’t interest them.
  • Paubox: This is an easy-to-use platform that seamlessly integrates with G Suite, Office 365, and other email providers. 
  • Virtu: Offering a wide range of data protection products, Virtu keeps messages and attachments protected throughout their full life cycle.  

For more information, check out our complete email marketing guide

5. Blogging

One of the most cost-effective forms of content marketing, blogging can help majorly amplify your clinic’s visibility. In fact, healthcare businesses with a blog on their website see 55% more traffic and are approximately 13 times more likely to experience a positive return on investment (ROI) each year compared to their non-blogging counterparts. Why is this? Because blogging helps your site show up in search results—and that’s especially beneficial if you’re writing about topics that align with the information prospective patients are searching for. It also gives you original content to share on your social media pages. Some good examples may be:

  • how to cope with chronic pain,
  • ways to stay healthy while working a desk job, or
  • tips for improving recovery post-surgery.

Plus, if you produce valuable content, other websites might link to it—and those external links will further boost your website’s ranking on search engines. 

Pick blog topics based on patient interests.

Similar to finding ideas for great email content, picking worthy topics for your blog posts requires taking a walk in your patients’ shoes. Consider the following questions:

  • What information would your patients find valuable?
  • What do they want to know more about? 
  • What common questions do they have about your clinic or rehab therapy in general?

A great place to start is simply asking your current patients what they’d like to know more about. And don’t get trapped into thinking every blog post needs to be a lengthy essay. Instead, opt for easy-to-scan, digestible content like:

  • listicles (which actually get twice as many shares as any other blog format), 
  • FAQs, 
  • myth-versus-fact articles, and 
  • step-by-step tutorials.

Don't have time to manage your clinic's entire web presence? See how WebPT Local automates this process—and helps you rank higher in local search.

Check out this post for more great blogging ideas.

6. Video Marketing

Video continues to be one of the most effective ways for business owners to engage potential customers and increase visibility. In a 2018 study, Animoto found that consumers prefer video to other types of content produced by brands they follow on social media. And according to HubSpot’s State of Video Marketing in 2020 survey, 88% of organizations that use video marketing reported a positive ROI.

From a healthcare perspective, videos can help humanize practices and providers, thus forging an emotional connection with prospective—and existing—patients. They’re also easy to share on your existing marketing channels (i.e., website, emails, and social media pages). Here are some healthcare-specific video ideas to get you started:

  • Product or equipment demonstrations
  • Patient testimonials
  • Explainer or educational videos
  • Therapist profiles
  • Behind-the-scenes videos

Also, don’t stress about the cost associated with hiring a videographer. We detail how to create high-quality videos all on your own in this blog post.

7. Public Relations

Regardless of the size of your practice, publicizing your services remains a reliable strategy to bring awareness to your practice. The best part of this strategy is that it doesn’t have to cost a cent. Here are some ways you can do your own PR to boost your practice’s visibility and get more patients on the schedule.

Respond to timely rehab therapy topics in the news.

Not only is this a great way to establish relationships with reporters, but it’s also an effective strategy for building your reputation as a thought leader within your community—and in the rehab therapy industry. You can find most reporters’ contact information on their news publication’s website.

Create your own press announcements.

Have momentous news to share? Planning an event to engage your community? Announcing a new partnership? Garner more attention for your announcement by crafting a press release to share with your local media outlets. Unsure how to write one? Check out this Hubspot guide on writing press releases.

Submit contributed content.

There are plenty of healthcare publications that accept contributed content (e.g., op-eds, thought leadership articles, letters to the editor, etc.). So, if you have a point to make—and you feel like it will resonate with prospective patients—share it! Incorporating patient stories, metrics, or other types of data can go a long way toward supporting the article and increasing its chances of publication.

I know this is a lot of information to digest, so I’ll leave you with one final thought: no two clinics are identical. So, instead of worrying about what your competitors are doing, find the marketing strategies that work best for you and your practice. This will depend on your audience, location, service offerings, and—of course—your budget. Once you’re clear on those, there’s nothing holding you back from taking one of these affordable marketing tactics for a spin and watching your patient volume skyrocket.


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