The most basic recipe for success in physical therapy marketing is one part strategy and one part consistency. The marketing team at Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy has been cooking with this recipe for years—and it’s clearly working. Since the company’s founding in 2003, Ivy Rehab has expanded its reach across the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast by growing its network to 259 clinics as of 2021. Ivy has also amassed over 11,000 five-star reviews on Google.
Recently, Kerri Lines-Naumann, Marketing Director at Ivy Rehab Physical Therapy, offered her insight into Ivy’s success and explained how the team leveraged patient reviews to promote their growing network of clinics. Check out her interview below.
When—and why—did Ivy Rehab start to focus on marketing directly to patients?
We’ve always said, “It’s all about the people.” So, our patients are always at the forefront of everything we do here at Ivy. And while we had done some of the more typical marketing activities [in the past], it wasn’t until we really started to expand our footprint in 2017 that we realized establishing scalable marketing efforts would really be critical for long-term success. Our marketing team needed to put together strategies that could complement our clinician-led grassroots initiatives. This led to the development of our current marketing strategy, which focuses on a combination of digital engagement for acquiring new patients and continuous patient engagement [with current clients]—paired with online reputation management and a robust social media presence.
When planning out your marketing activities, what are your top priorities?
With the level of growth we’ve seen in the past couple of years, our focus has been on developing and executing scalable ways to engage with our current and past patients. We prioritized tools and strategies that could be replicated for each clinic in our network, allowing us to really take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing and online reviews.
How do you measure the success of your campaigns?
Asking ourselves, “How can we track this?” is one of the first exercises we go through when planning out marketing activities. It is always among our top priorities because of the learnings that come out of the results—good or bad. Tracking mechanisms and metrics vary from campaign to campaign, but we always try to make sure we establish some way of measuring outcomes and gaining insights from our efforts.
Is there a particular campaign that comes to mind that delivered an exceptional positive return on investment (ROI)?
One of our most successful strategies has been our email campaign to drive more patient reviews online. We know that reviews are a huge determining factor in selecting a healthcare professional, so we made it a priority to implement a campaign to help increase those reviews. We needed a way to drive more reviews that was scalable and could be used by each clinic, which is why we went the route of email. After the project took off and we started to gain more and more online reviews, the traffic to our website increased—and so did patient conversion. The impact on our business was really significant.
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Why do you think this campaign performed well?
I think it came down to a combination of a few things. Providing an amazing patient experience is always what we strive for in our clinics. Our patients become part of the Ivy family, and they’re our biggest fans. They want to go out and share their great experiences. But we wouldn’t have gotten far without a big internal push to capture patient emails. Having patient emails allowed us to make communication a priority and then, in turn, drive more and more online reviews via email campaigns.
How long did it take for you to see the ROI of that campaign?
At first, we saw a slow—but steady—increase in online reviews. But then, as Ivy continued to grow, and as we fine-tuned our email collection practices, our reviews also started to grow exponentially—and things really took off for our clinics. We’re so proud to have an average online rating of 4.9/5 stars and 11,000-plus 5-star reviews. It’s become a badge of honor that we wear proudly, and we celebrate each new review milestone we hit. Our teammates go above and beyond to create really memorable and life-changing experiences in our clinics every day, and we love that their hard work is reflected in these 5-star testimonials.
How do you know that a campaign was successful or not successful?
Having clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) before launching a campaign is the easiest way to measure success. Knowing what you want to achieve before you begin—whether it’s a certain number of calls to clinics or online appointment requests, or a particular email open rate or click-through rate—gives you a clear reference point to measure against. The real power of having clear goals and KPIs is that even if the campaign wasn’t successful by those measurements, the insights and learnings allow you to optimize, pivot, or scrap the idea. One way or another, it will be successful.
How do patients go from knowing nothing about your practice to scheduling an initial evaluation?
There are two different “funnels” that our patients can fall into with respect to marketing campaigns. Both typically begin with a patient ending up on our website, where they can then browse treatment and condition info, search for locations near them, and more. At this point, they will either pick up the phone and call one of our clinics to book an appointment directly, or they will quickly fill out an online appointment request form, and one of our patient representatives will reach out within a few minutes to get them scheduled for an appointment—usually within 24 hours!
How have you built on your marketing strategy based on past results? Are there any approaches that have performed well time and time again?
The beauty of all our tracking metrics is that we have so much data to evaluate our efforts, and then decide if certain marketing channels or initiatives are effective enough to warrant the continued spend. We find that our search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns and email engagement strategies continuously deliver results by generating appointments in our clinics for both new and returning patients.
How do you determine your marketing budget? How has that budget changed and/or scaled over time?
Again, it all comes down to tracking! Understanding performance and ROI helps us decide what’s working and what kinds of projects make sense to plan for again in the upcoming year. We also consider how quickly Ivy is expanding. Understanding our growth and planning ahead for any increases in our total clinic count informs how we scale up our budget. We always want to make sure we’re setting ourselves up for success no matter how many clinics are in our network!
What tools have you used to make your marketing strategy successful?
Email automation is invaluable for us. It’s a great way to stay connected with patients while they’re being treated in our clinics—and after they’ve graduated from our care. We love that we can easily stay in contact with patients in a way that’s both fully compliant and really scalable for our team. It’s also been a crucial tool in our email campaigns to drive more patient reviews online for all of our clinics.
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What advice would you give to a clinic that is just getting started with marketing directly to patients?
Reputation matters, especially in a world where everyone searches online and uses reviews as a key decision-making factor. Delivering an exceptional patient experience and building a loyal fan base is critical. The patients who are your biggest promoters will champion you online through positive reviews and in-person by recommending your practice to their friends and family. There’s a lot to learn from the unhappy patients, too. Having a system in place to hear the negative feedback, address patient concerns, and learn how to make your business even better can take you far and help to improve your overall reputation and reviews online.
Even if you don’t plan on expanding your practice across the nation, there’s no doubt that great marketing is a massive differentiator. Have questions about marketing or patient reviews? Let us know in the comment section below!