Physical therapists: Are your marketing tactics delivering to your expectations? And—be honest—are you deploying any real marketing tactics at all for your practice? If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” I get it—and you’re not entirely to blame for this. I believe the standard PT education program fails to emphasize the importance marketing, and it’s led many of us to believe that success in business hinges mainly on luck (and chasing physician referrals).
As a former clinic director—and current business owner in the rehab therapy space—I’ve picked up quite a bit of physical therapy marketing wisdom. And I will tell you right now that luck has very little to do with effective marketing. So, instead of waiting to stumble across that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, take your clinic’s financial future into your own hands with the following marketing advice:
Create a Real Strategy
If you’re like many PT practice owners, your strategy may boil down to “throw everything you can at the wall, and see what sticks.” But in this day and age, that simply isn't enough. (In fact, calling that a “strategy” is a bit of a stretch.) That’s because the rise of the Internet—and thus, the advent of digital marketing—has shifted the way patients find healthcare providers. Instead of calling up their insurance payers or seeking referrals from primary care physicians, patients are more empowered to do their own research and find providers who work for their needs.
So, how can you capture the attention of these prospective patients? The initial steps are to think strategically about (1) what kind patients you’re trying to attract to your clinic, (2) where they are, and (3) how they consume messaging. Then, you have to use data to validate your assumptions and connect the dots. You’re likely already tracking your physician referral sources, but to get a truly clear picture of how patients find you, it’s important to track all referral sources.
This is why it’s crucial to ask every new patient how he or she found your practice. That way, you can put more of your time and money toward the channels that yield the greatest returns. For example, if you know a portion of your patients find you through search engine results pages (SERPs), you can capitalize on that by focusing your marketing efforts on search engine optimization (SEO) and paid ads.
Beyond search engines, a few other common online sources include:
- online review sites,
- banner ads,
- blog posts, and
- social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like).
Grow Your Online Presence
Remember, though, that just because a particular channel isn’t currently generating a lot of new patients doesn’t mean you should totally ignore it. After all, just as a four-leaf clover won’t sprout without sun and water, a referral source won’t produce patients if you don’t put any effort into optimizing it. For instance, you probably won’t attract many patients through review sites (like Yelp or Healthgrades) if you only have one or two reviews—even if they’re positive ones.
However, if you put some effort into patient relationship management (PRM), you can get the right patients (i.e., happy, loyal patients) to leave feedback on these sites, which will improve your search engine ranking and boost your credibility in the eyes of prospects. (Pro tip: This is something that PRM software like WebPT Reach can help you with.)
Once you’ve got a firm grasp on how your patients find you—and you’ve implemented strategies that leverage that intel—you’ll need to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. This is especially important for campaigns that come with a price tag (e.g., digital ads and boosted social posts). By using tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Business, you can measure the efficacy of your ads and make intelligent adjustments in real time.
Leverage Landing Pages
Another crucial tool in your digital marketing toolbox (and one that’s often overlooked by PTs) is a great landing page. As we explain in this post, “a landing page is ‘a keyword optimized, stand-alone page on your website’ that prospects land on when clicking 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.”
Typically, landing pages aren’t part of your normal website navigation and are only accessible through a link that appears in an advertisement, email, or blog post. (You can see some great example landing pages here.) These hidden web pages are streamlined to deliver a targeted, sales-focused message to anyone who lands on them (hence, the name). Not only are landing pages highly effective at selling prospects on your services, but they’re also a great way to track and fine-tune ad and email performance—another thing Reach can help you do.
When it comes to marketing your practice, you can’t risk waiting to win the patient lottery. Attracting new patients is about making your own luck—as well as staying abreast of evolving marketing and business best practices (like the ones we’ll delve into during our upcoming marketing-focused webinar and our annual Ascend business summit). With a little data (and a lot of consistency), you’ll be reeling in new patients in no time—and that’s no blarney.