Today’s blog comes from E-rehab.com President David Straight, PT, DPT.

With the current level of over-regulation and increasing pressure from competition, payers, and POPTS, running a physical therapy private practice can be a challenge. That’s why it’s more important than ever for owners and directors to efficiently manage their business operations—and that includes marketing.

While many small practice owners often view online marketing as an afterthought, it should actually be a high priority. After all, record numbers of prospective and current patients use the web, email, smartphones, search engines, review sites, and social media to research, interact with, and even choose physical therapy providers.

Understandably, it can be difficult for practice owners to know which online marketing businesses to use  and how to achieve the best return on investment (ROI)—especially considering how many phone calls you probably receive from vendors promising droves of patients upon signup. However, the right online marketing service is a wonderful investment, so I highly recommend you do your research.

 

Managing Online Marketing: Systematize and Outsource

Over the last decade, technology has become ubiquitous across the nation and the world, so it only makes sense to tap into this technology to reach your local patient community. Think about these stats (sources below):

  1. 94% of adults who have online access use email 
  2. 80% of people research health conditions and services online
  3. More than 86% say they are influenced by online reviews
  4. More than 147.9 million smartphones are in use in the United States
  5. PT practice websites average more than 300 visitors per month
  6. Facebook users check their accounts an average of 14 times per day on their smartphones

With this in mind, here’s how I recommend using web technologies to meet your marketing goals:

1. Develop an interactive and regularly updated website.

In other words, your website should be more than an online brochure. You can use blogging systems to regularly schedule and release pertinent content that demonstrates to patients and prospects that your clinicians are cutting-edge thought leaders who are involved in their community. Plus, regular updates can also positively impact your search engine rankings.

2. Send an automated email newsletter.

This is one of the easiest ways to use technology to keep your name in front of your patients and to let them know about the conditions you treat and the services you offer. To do so, though, you first have to collect email addresses and add them into an email marketing system. From a management perspective, the challenge is to make sure your staff understands the value of email collection. If you’re concerned patients are being overlooked, you should make sure you have a simple reporting tool that allows you to compare the number of new email addresses you’ve collected each month to the number of appointments on your schedule.

3. Implement a systematic process to gather ratings and reviews.

These days, ratings and reviews strongly influence consumer buying decisions because they act as a form of social proof. A systematic approach to facilitating publication of those ratings and reviews on your website and on popular review sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook can reinforce a physician referral or persuade a prospect to choose your five-star practice over a practice with fewer stars or no online presence at all. The key here is to invest a small amount of time into teaching your clinical and administrative staff the value of reviews as well as how to post them. That way they can help walk less technology savvy patients through the process.

4. Master social media marketing.

This can be a time sink, so developing a systematic process to publish regular social media updates to popular networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is a must.  Fortunately, there are very affordable companies—like Buffer and Hootsuite—that can help you do just that. If you’re only using Facebook, you can forsake the outside help and use the built-in post scheduling function, which is available for all Facebook business pages.

Properly managing your online and offline marketing efforts requires prioritization. And while both are incredibly important for a successful practice, when comparing the relative ROI of online marketing efforts to that of offline marketing efforts (e.g., physician referral relationship building, patient retention initiatives, and word-of-mouth campaigns), the best choice (in most cases) is to outsource your online marketing efforts so you can make physician and patient referral marketing a top priority in-house.

 

Do you have questions about online marketing strategies? Ask them in the comments section below or contact me directly at 760-585-9097 or dave@e-rehab.com.

References:

  1. http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/02/01/health-information-is-a-popular-pu…
  2. http://www.pewinternet.org/2011/02/01/health-information-is-a-popular-pu…
  3. http://cdn.zendesk.com/resources/whitepapers/Zendesk_WP_Customer_Service…
  4. https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2013/11/comScore_Report…
  5. Stats from 50 customer websites at E-rehab.com
  6. http://mashable.com/2013/03/27/facebook-usage-survey/