Earlier this week, Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, and Scott Hebert, PT, DPT, hosted a webinar that dove into the depths of digital marketing in the age of the almighty Internet. Though they covered a lot of ground, they weren’t able to address all the questions that filtered in during the hour-long presentation. So, we took it upon ourselves to compile (and answer!) the most commonly-asked questions of the bunch! Don’t see the answer to your question? Drop a comment at the bottom of the post, and we’ll do our best to give you a gold star-worthy answer.
Which review sites should I focus on?
At the very least, we recommend signing up with Google My Business and registering each one of your clinic locations. Other sites we suggest signing up with are:
What’s the best way to deal with a poor online review?
Different types of negative reviews call for different actions. For example, you should always respond to a polite critique, but you should never engage with spammers or trolls. Take a look at this blog post for more information about responding to negative reviews.
We have a few reviews that—for the most part—are five stars. But one disgruntled patient left one bad review, which drastically lowered our average star rating. How do we salvage our reputation and rating?
First things first: Respond to the review. It’s important for people to see that you respond to negative feedback in a timely manner. This shows that you care about your patients’ experience in your clinic and that you’re committed to fixing any issues that may have negatively impacted that experience. It can be challenging—especially when you feel that people are exaggerating or fabricating complaints—but it’s crucial that you respond to every negative review right away.
While you typically aren’t able to remove reviews, you can bury the not-so-great ones with a lot of positive reviews. This is where a tool that automates review requests is really handy. (With WebPT Reach, for example, you can automatically identify and target only your most satisfied, loyal patients.)
Also, for really bad reviews, we suggest taking the conversation offline to minimize its visibility to others. Ask for an email address or phone number—or have the patient direct message (DM) you if the review is on social media.
Does a patient need to have a Google account to leave a review?
No, but it’s a lot easier to leave reviews if they have one. Also, a huge number of people already have a Gmail account, which means they also have a Google account. That said, if you’d like to provide folks with an alternate option, try prompting them to leave a review on another platform (Facebook, for example).
Why does Yelp hide so many of my reviews?
Unlike many other review services, Yelp can directly obtain payment from business owners. So, according to Hebert, Yelp will occasionally hide good reviews and claim that they’re “not quality” in an attempt to get business owners to pay for Yelp’s review-grooming services. Yelp is an influential review site, so Hebert doesn’t necessarily recommend cutting it out of your marketing plan entirely—especially if you operate in a Yelp-centric market. But, the vast majority of search traffic goes through Google, so he thinks you’ll be okay if you choose to focus on Google instead.
How do I create a direct link to my Google page that I can give to patients when I’m asking them to leave reviews?
Here are some directions taken directly from a Google My Business Help page:
- “On your computer, search for your business on Google.
- Find your business listing and click ‘Write a review.’
- Copy and paste the URL you see in your address bar.”
If that doesn’t work, click the link above and follow the alternate instructions for creating a link with the PlaceID Lookup Tool.
I’m in the process of starting my own practice, and I don’t have any clients yet. What is the best way to garner reviews at this point? Should I ask MDs who know me to leave me reviews?
You could certainly ask for other healthcare providers to provide you with testimonials, but you’ll probably want to use those on your website or social media marketing—as opposed to having them leave reviews on a review site, like Google or Yelp. After all, patients seek out those sites to learn about other patients’ unbiased experiences with your services (i.e., to get social proof). In your case, you may want to focus your efforts on:
- marketing to those MDs to generate new patient referrals; and
- holding community events to generate interest in your new practice.
Then, once you have patients, ask them to provide reviews—and your client list will grow from there.
Can I make little cards with instructions about how to leave reviews and display them at the front desk?
Absolutely! This is a great way to remind patients to leave reviews as they are walking out the door.
What is a pay-per-click (PPC) strategy?
What are ad groups and ad copy?
Ad groups are part of PPC campaigns, which you can create through Google and Bing. For Google, you’d use Adwords to create an advertiser account and then ad groups (i.e., the people you’d like to see your ads). Ad copy is the text—the message—included in the individual ads that are part of your ad group.
Why should I consider PPC ads?
It’s easy to market to patients you already have relationships with—and for that, you’d use email marketing. But, for prospective patients who may not know your clinic exists, it’s best to use ads (similar to putting up a billboard on a freeway). According to Hebert, the beauty of PPC ads is that you can ensure they show up at the right time (specifically, when someone is searching for what you have to offer). If you’ve set up Google ads correctly, then when someone searches for, say, physical therapy in your city, your website will show up in the organic search results and in the ad block at the top of the page.
You mentioned the Google Keyword Tool. Where can I find that?
You can find the Google Keyword Tool here.
I’m in a small town, and I’m only marketing to locals. So, should I use my Google Ads just for brand awareness—or should I include a call to action (CTA)?
According to Hebert, it’s always best to include a CTA. That’s because an ad in the PT space isn’t going to generate enough brand awareness to really make a difference. Instead, it’s best to be more tactical. If you’re going to spend money on advertising, focus it on turning prospective patients into actual ones. To that end, anytime you spend money—or resources—on marketing, conversion should be your ultimate priority.
How much of my budget should I dedicate to Google Ads?
It all depends on which keywords you want to rank for on Google—and how much your competitors are spending on those same keywords. Try starting with this article; it has some solid budget-setting advice.
What kind of CTA should I use in my ads (e.g., call us today, follow us on Facebook, click for more information, etc.)?
There is no one right CTA. Rather, your CTA should be based on the purpose of the campaign. According to Hebert, “Request an appointment” is always a good CTA, because you know that anyone who clicks actually wants an appointment. From there, you can target outreach and future marketing automation accordingly. If, on the other hand, you’re running an ad campaign to encourage people to attend an event you’re hosting, then your CTA should invite people to sign up or register for the event. If your goal is to get more people to engage with your social media channels, then “Follow us on Facebook” would be a good choice.
Do you think PPC is losing its effectiveness as consumers increasingly skip past ads on Google results pages?
These days, the majority of people are fully aware that the first few results on search engine results pages (SERPs) are paid ads. However, this can actually work to your advantage. The trick to effective PPC advertising is to base your keywords on terms that are relevant to people searching specifically for the services you offer. For example, if someone runs a search for “physical therapy Boston,” he or she is probably looking for Boston-based physical therapists and, thus, won’t be put off by an advertisement for a physical therapy clinic in Boston.
What’s the best way to market to physicians to get referrals?
The best way to market to physicians is to demonstrate the objective value of physical therapy—specifically, the physical therapy you provide—via outcomes data. Additionally, you must nurture your relationships with referring providers in order to convince them to send more referrals down the pipeline. Stay tuned for more info: we’re going to host a webinar on May 29, 2019, that’ll provide top-of-the-line referral marketing tips.
How should I market directly to patients? How do I encourage those patients to generate word-of-mouth referrals?
First, Hebert recommends leveraging your current patient population (i.e., marketing to them) and making sure they consider you a practitioner for life. If they keep you top of mind, then chances are, they’ll come to see you if they ever develop another musculoskeletal issue. Automation is your friend here, and a software like WebPT Reach can help you market in a timely and effective manner.
Hebert also recommends marketing to prospective patients by refining your digital presence:
- Make sure you show up in a local search;
- Have a clean, structured website; and
- Generate consistent, high-quality reviews.
Then, continue marketing to your patients—even after they begin and conclude their treatment.
How does WebPT track referral sources?
You can track referral sources in the actual WebPT EMR. You can even activate a mandatory referral entry feature to ensure your staff members are collecting this information. After you log a referral, you can either run a referral report to get a general read on your clinic’s referral sources, or you can access individual patient cases and to see individual sources. There’s even a direct access option for patients who come directly to the practice.
How can I increase patient referrals—beyond asking for online reviews?
Improving the patient experience and providing a positive, memorable experience is the best way to cultivate patient referrals. You want your patients to tell their friends, family, and coworkers about how great your services are—which means you need to absolutely knock their socks off. Track NPS® (if you’re not already), and tweak and fine-tune your processes until you offer the best patient experience in the area.
Is there a way to connect different online platforms (i.e., my website links to my Yelp page, which links to my Facebook page, and so forth)?
You can certainly include links on your website to both Yelp and Facebook: there are easy-to-embed icons available for both, as well as for Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. As far as we know, Yelp does not offer the functionality to link to your Facebook page (unless you’re using that address in place of your website, which we wouldn’t recommend). As an example, if you scroll to the footer at the very bottom of WebPT.com, you’ll see icons that link to WebPT’s chosen channels.
How does social media automation work?
Social media automation platforms like Buffer and Sprout Social help you schedule out posts. You can write your posts and put them into a queue, and the platform will schedule them based on when your traffic is highest. It’ll also help you engage and track your interactions. (To find more options, simply Google “social media automation platform.”)
How frequently should I post on social media?
According to Hebert, you should post as often as you can on social. If it’s only once a month, then post once a month. If it’s three times a day, then post three times a day. You’re never going to overwhelm your audience with too much content—as long as that content is high quality.
Legally, do we need written consent if we're utilizing a Facebook plugin on our site to show the review?
In the healthcare space, when it comes to patient privacy, you can never be too cautious. So, if you plan to post patient reviews and testimonials on your clinic’s website, we recommend including a testimonial release form in your new patient intake packet just to be safe. You can download an example template here.
Can I share patient-supplied photos on my social media or in my marketing?
Yes, as long as your release form specifies that you can share patient-supplied photos when the patient gives you express permission to do so.
Is social media automation included in WebPT Reach?
Not yet—but social media automation is a feature that could be coming down the pipeline. Stay tuned for more info!
We get a lot of visitors on our clinic website. How can we turn those visitors into new patients?
First of all, it’s very normal to have a large number of visitors who don’t end up calling your clinic. However, if you’re missing a few crucial items on your page, you could be deterring people from picking up the phone. So, make sure you:
- have your clinic name, address, and phone number in the same spot on every page of your website;
- explain who you serve and the conditions you treat; and
- sell the value of your service offerings with patient testimonials.
Also, as Hebert mentioned during the webinar, make sure your webpage descriptions on search engine results pages (SERPs) clearly communicate who you are and what you do. Doing so will make sure the only people who click on your page are people who need your services.
What’s a landing page, and how do I make one?
According to Healthcare Success, a landing page is “a keyword optimized, stand-alone page on your website.” As we explain in this post, prospective patients land on these web pages when they click links from:
- “search engines (e.g., Google and Bing),
- social media posts,
- website banner ads,
- marketing emails or newsletters,
- blog articles, and
- website or social media pages.”
By sending people to landing pages—rather than your general website—you can make sure the content of each page aligns with the content that directed the patient to the landing page. For example, if someone clicked an ad promoting a free injury clinic, it would be weird for that person to land on a page that doesn’t mention anything about the event you were promoting. Instead, this person should be directed to a page that provides more details about the injury clinic and allows him or her to sign up for it.
Tools like Squarespace and Wix have features to help you create landing pages. There are also tools made specifically for building landing pages—like Unbounce. Additionally, WebPT Reach will be introducing functionality that makes it easier for users to create and use landing pages.
How do I create engaging blog content for my patients?
Start by generating content that you know your patients are interested in by listening to their questions and identifying the ones that pop up most often. So, if your new patients consistently ask, “What should I wear to my PT appointment?” or “What should I bring to my first PT appointment?” then create posts that answer those questions. If you have a specialty, figure out what questions patients ask about your specialty, and write content that answers those questions (just be sure to keep the medical jargon out of the conversation). And don’t be afraid to sneak a peek at what your competitors are writing. You should never plagiarize their content, but it’s perfectly okay to let them inspire the topics you cover. Finally, make sure you use an approachable voice that represents you—and your brand.
Do you have examples of company websites that follow your website recommendations?
Sure do! Here are some websites that check all the best-practice boxes—from easily-accessible patient info to quality blog content.
Most of my patients speak Spanish, so I would like to make my website bilingual. Is that easy to do?
First of all, ensuring that your website is accessible to your patients is a great idea. There’s no point in optimizing your online presence if your prospective patients don’t understand what you’re offering. To do it right, though, you’ll want to hire a person who specializes in English-to-Spanish translation. In other words, don’t rely on Google or any other translation software to do the work for you. Otherwise, you may end up with incorrect grammar (or worse) on your website—without even knowing it.
What if a patient writes me a thank-you letter that I’d like to feature as a testimonial on my website? If the patient has filled out a testimonial release form, does that completely cover me from a legal/HIPAA perspective?
If the patient isn't aware that you might intend to use this type of letter as a public-facing testimonial, you could potentially run into legal trouble. The patient needs to be aware of your intent to use a testimonial for marketing purposes.
Is hiring an SEO company or agency worth the money?
Unfortunately, there’s simply no across-the-board answer to this question. It depends on your company’s goals—as well as the quality of the agency and the results it is able to deliver for you. In some cases, outsourcing SEO can return extremely valuable results; in others, not so much.
Where can I access Google Analytics and Google Search Console?
Is Google Analytics difficult to use?
How frequently should I send email newsletters?
Hebert doesn’t recommend blasting your entire list with an email newsletter that may or may not be relevant to them. Instead, segment your list—if you’re using a service like Reach, which is integrated with the WebPT EMR, then you’ll be able to easily segment by injury or complaint—and then provide relevant content to the right patient at the right moment.
What kind of content do you include in automated emails?
The type of content you share will vary from person to person. As mentioned above, you’ll want to avoid sending frequent email blasts to all of your patients. Instead, the content you share via email should be relevant to your patient’s condition, diagnosis, and lifestyle. This can include articles relevant to his or her condition, exercise techniques, and new research on the patient’s diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box: if you have a diabetic patient who enjoys cooking, consider sending healthy recipes. Patients are far more likely to open that type of personalized content.
What’s the value in using a patient marketing software over a generalized email marketing software?
The greatest benefit of using a patient marketing software built specifically for healthcare providers is EMR integration, because it’s not something regular email marketing software platforms can do. That way, you can develop email campaigns that are tied to—or triggered by—patient events in your EMR. You’ll also have the benefit of training and support tailored to users in a healthcare clinic environment.
Is it more effective to reach patients through an automated email or an automated text?
While both email and text are relatively effective for reaching patients, automated texts might swing a little harder. According to a collection of studies (referenced by Quora), email marketing open rates average around 22.54%, while general SMS open rates average around 99%. That being said, certain types of content—long-form newsletters, for example—are much better suited to email than text. So, consider the reader’s experience when deciding which automation technology to use for any given message.
Does WebPT allow us to send welcome emails or texts to patients once we create their profile?
We sure do. You can learn more about how to do that with WebPT Reach here.
Cash-Pay Marketing Strategies
Should cash-pay practices market themselves differently than traditional insurance-based practices?
Ann Wendel, PT, actually recommends marketing a cash-pay practice the same way you’d market an insurance-based one: “In my opinion, every physical therapy practice should market based on the assumption that patients will vote with their dollars.” Check out this article for more advice from the field.
Can cash-pay practices market to patients who have Medicare insurance?
Legally, cash-pay practices can only provide non-covered services to Medicare patients—and in some cases, those patients must sign an Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage (ABN) prior to receiving those services. So, while cash-pay practices can technically market to Medicare patients, there are hard-and-fast limits on the services they can ultimately provide.
Should I mention that I’m a cash-pay clinic in my marketing?
Absolutely. You want to tell prospective patients that you’re a cash-pay practice as soon as possible. That could be a draw for some, but it could legally bar others (i.e., Medicare and some Medicaid patients) from seeking treatment in your clinic. If possible, be sure to include on your website an explanation of how your cash-pay practice model benefits your patients (i.e., you’re able to spend more one-on-one time with each patient, thus improving care quality and patient experience).
How should I engage with elderly patients who are not Internet savvy?
You may be surprised by the number of elderly patients who are Internet savvy—and use services like Facebook and Google as frequently as their younger counterparts. With that in mind, even if you’re serving only Medicare patients, it’s still important to have an optimized online presence—and probably a business Facebook account (although you may not need to have a presence on Twitter or Instagram). Beyond that, you may want to put more effort into hosting community events, encouraging your patients to share their therapy success stories with their networks IRL (in real life), and marketing to referral sources in your area.
Are PT practices allowed to provide special discounts, packages, or Groupons to attract patients?
While the anti-kickback statute doesn’t forbid discounts out of the gate, it still sets some pretty strict boundaries about what you can offer. Here’s what the APTA has to say about it: “Discount arrangements may also come in the form of waivers or deductions in insurance costs, but cannot be used as marketing incentives.” There are additional rules about offering discounts to Medicare and Medicaid patients, so it may be in your best interest to leave the discounts at the door. If you do decide to implement a discount program, be sure to run it by a healthcare law attorney who is familiar with the rules in your state.
What’s the best way to market wellness services? Should we market them in conjunction with standard PT treatments?
Hebert recommends separating campaigns for different types of services to ensure you’re attracting the right patients. This means creating separate ads and landing pages. Furthermore, if discounts are part of your campaign, you won’t be able to offer them across-the-board for insurance-covered therapy services (if you have in-network payer relationships).
Do you think collaborating with a gym or other companies in the community has a positive effect on bringing in new patients?
Absolutely! You can learn more about gym partnerships and other innovative PT business models here.
Is there a way to pull a report of discharged patients in WebPT?
Yes! WebPT’s patient search feature allows you to look up patients and cases by status type, including discharged patients. Just remember to mark your patients’ status as discharged when applicable.
What were those links you shared in the attendee chat during the webinar?
So, how would you rate your FAQ-reading experience? With five stars and two thumbs up, hopefully! But if your thirst for knowledge isn’t quite sated (We don’t blame you—there’s a lot to know about digital marketing!), then leave us a question in the comment section below. We’ll put our marketing expertise to the test and wrestle some answers out of the Internet ourselves.