Below you’ll find everything you need to know about marketing, from increasing word-of-mouth referrals and social media engagement to designing an effective website and email marketing strategy. But before we get to all that, first things first:
What’s a Marketing Plan? And How Do I Create One?
As with every new endeavor, it’s wise to have a plan. Before you put pen to paper, though, let’s talk about what you need to know:
Hopefully, you already have an idea of who is best suited to receive your services. Now it’s time to go even deeper and really get to know your customers. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), your physical therapy marketing efforts “will be most effective if they are highly targeted—from age and gender to income bracket and the type(s) of publications your potential patients read.” To identify your target audience, look for the common characteristics your patients share. Then, answer the following questions:
- Why does your audience need your services?
- What propels your audience to seek your services?
- Where does your audience go to learn about the services you provide?
- Who (or what) influences your audience’s buying decisions?
Have you scoped out your neighborhood yet? If not, look around. Who in your area provides similar services to yours? And think beyond physical therapy. Who offers wellness services, yoga, pilates, or chiropractic care? Then, take a look at what you provide. How do your services stack up? How do they differ? If you’re having a hard time identifying what sets you apart from your competition, it may be time to shake things up and consider a new niche.
State of the Industry
Successful marketing requires staying up to date on all that’s going on in your industry—and the greater healthcare landscape. That’s because understanding the trends that affect the medical community as a whole can help you adapt your marketing to account for changing market conditions. Don’t get bogged down, though. Choose three or four reputable news sources (like the WebPT Blog) and subscribe to their feeds.
Once you’ve answered the above questions, it’s time to harness your brainstorming power to determine the marketing strategy that’s right for your clinic and your patients. Here are some questions to get your thoughts flowing:
- Which marketing tactics will get your services noticed?
- When, and how often, should you market your services?
- What are the goals of your marketing efforts? How will you measure the success of those efforts?
- What’s your budget?
- What’s your timeline?
- Where do you see your practice in a year? What about five?
Now, you’re ready to write—and there’s no better place to start than at the beginning. Here are the steps (in order) you should take to get the ball rolling:
- Address how this marketing plan will support your overall business goals.
- Define your purpose: what you’re trying to accomplish, and why?
- Detail who your audience is and what current market conditions are like.
- Set marketing strategies for your services.
- Outline your communication and messaging tactics.
- Establish your budget.
- Explain how you’re going to achieve your goals within that budget.
- Communicate how you plan to measure your progress.
- Explore opportunities for long-term marketing development (beyond what’s addressed as part of your current goals and action plan).
What’s Word-of-Mouth Marketing? And How Do I Do It?
Before you begin marketing your services to increase your patient volume, take a look at the type of experience you’re currently providing, because your existing patients actually have a lot of influence over your marketing success or failure. How? By spreading the word, of course. And let me tell you, if your customers aren’t happy, they’re going to make it known—publicly. In today’s Internet-centric world, there is no shortage of highly visible review outlets. And according to a recent Dimensional Research survey sponsored by Zendesk, potential customers take online reviews very seriously: 88% reported being influenced by an online customer service review when making a purchasing decision.
That’s a huge percentage of potential customers either clamoring for your services or shrinking away, afraid that they’ll receive the same subpar treatment as their predecessors.
And by the way, when we talk about the experience you’re providing for your patients, we’re talking about more than providing exceptional patient care—that should be a given. Instead, we’re referring to the little things that you can do to go above and beyond—to truly set yourself apart from your many competitors and give your patients a reason to tell all of their friends and family members how wonderful, caring, creative, magnanimous, and brilliant you really are.
Cultivate the Warm Fuzzies
Patients are like other consumers in that they get to choose the providers from whom they seek care (albeit with some insurance restrictions). So, unless you live in a very small community where you are the only therapist around, your patients always have a choice of whether to seek your services or someone else’s. However, the decision to “buy” is never a rational one. Rather, people make emotional decisions when it comes to doling out their patronage—and perception is everything.
Take Coca-Cola and Pepsi, for example: In blind taste tests, most participants rate Pepsi as tasting better than Coke. However, when those same participants know which sodas they’re tasting, most say they prefer the taste of Coke. Author Leonard Mlodinow explains this lack of rational thinking—a.k.a. the Pepsi Paradox—in his book, “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior,” and it’s really quite simple. People associate the Coca-Cola brand with positive emotions (think skating polar bears or cracking open an ice cold bottle of Coke at the ball game) and this, in turn, actually improves the taste of the soda. You read that right; people’s perception of an emotional connection actually influences their reality—and it’s backed up by brain imaging research. Pretty cool, huh?
So how do you put this new nugget of knowledge to use? Make your patients feel good about you and your practice. Make them happy, make them smile, make them laugh. In other words, cultivate what we like to call the warm fuzzies. And this does double positive duty. Not only will it help you do better in business and boost your staff’s morale, but it also will help your patients get better, faster. According to this journal article, patients who positively perceive their care—and their caregiver—experience better outcomes. With this in mind, here are three ways you can cultivate the warm fuzzies:
1. Smile More
Just like yawning, smiling is contagious, and true smiles (ones that engage the eyes) can actually make the smiler happier. Plus, smiling communicates openness, warmth, and, according to WebMD, intelligence—all wonderful attributes for developing a positive rapport with patients.
2. Really Listen
Speaking of developing rapport with patients, a good bedside manner involves more than just rattling off clinical jargon and expecting patients to follow along. Instead, really listen to your patients. Learn what they expect from therapy, what they hope to achieve, and what they’re afraid of about the process. This will help you both get the most out of therapy.
3. Stay Positive
Always focus on the bright side—especially in the presence of your patients. Speak highly of your competitors, be nice to your staff, and maintain control of your body language, your tongue, and your typing fingers. Anything that might cause your patients to rethink your kind nature or feel insecure in your presence will cultivate the opposite of the warm fuzzies (the cold pricklies?). Not only will this be less than ideal for business, but it also will be less than ideal for your patients. After all, we know that much of the recovery process depends upon the patient’s attitude.
And, for your continued reading pleasure, here are some more happiness-elevating tips.
Boost Professional Referrals
Now that your patients are happy with you and your services, it’s time to turn your attention to other providers—specifically, referring ones. After all, referrals result in new business, and who doesn’t want some more of that? Instead of throwing advertising dollars around, though, focus on building lasting relationships within the medical community by positioning yourself as an expert and demonstrating your value. Here are some tips:
- Ensure your contact information (on your website, business cards, and social media accounts) is current.
- Use Google Docs to create an easy-to-complete patient referral form for physicians and other providers to complete on your website. Then, include the URL on your business cards and marketing materials.
- Create a free Google Voice account to add a dedicated physician referral phone line. You can even use Voice to record a custom greeting and transcribe your voicemail into text, so your front office staff can pull referral information from an email and put it right into your physical therapy documentation software.
- Take one day every several months to visit a handful of the largest physician groups near your clinic. Stop in and introduce yourself—and bring along a friendly smile and perhaps some goodies. You never know; they may have a patient who needs therapy that day, and you want to be top of mind. (Just don’t go overboard on gift-giving. Read this article to learn how to stay within the OIG’s gift-giving guidelines.)
Don’t forget your partners, either. Take a local athletic trainer, yoga instructor, or massage therapist out to lunch and learn about them. Maintain these relationships, and help out where you can—they might just have the perfect opportunity to return the favor.
Word-of-mouth marketing might very well be the most engaging, intimate, and effective form of marketing there is. And capitalizing on it requires building strong relationships and then fostering those relationships through the good times (i.e., when referral traffic is heavy) and the bad (i.e. when traffic is a little more on the light side). Oh, and once you receive a rave review or a referral, always follow up with a sincere “thank you.”
What’s Digital Marketing? And How Do I Do It?
Today, the Internet is ubiquitous, and as a result, traditional marketing efforts have expanded into the digital realm. Here are some topics to consider when marketing your services online.
Create an Online Presence
Before you can successfully transfer your advertising efforts away from the paper-bound, non-revenue generating Yellow pages and into the more effective online methods, you’ll need to know how to use keywords and your NAP.
Keywords are words or phrases that individuals might type into a search engine (like Google or Bing) when looking for something online. If, for instance, someone is trying to find a physical therapist in Phoenix, he or she might use keywords like “physical therapists in Phoenix” or “Phoenix physical therapy.” For your keywords, go ahead and swap out your location for Phoenix—unless you, too, reside in the Valley of the Sun.
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Every business has a NAP, and it’s important to be consistent with this information every single time you use it. That means every time you sign up for a new social media account or business directory, you should use the exact same NAP—everything from the suite and PO box number to the phone extension. The more Google sees your consistent NAP across the Internet, the more legit your company will appear, so list your NAP on:
- Your own website
- Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn
- Local directories like Google+ and Yelp
Here’s some more advice:
More than 100 billion searches are conducted on Google every month, so there are plenty of new patients you can capture with a little Google know-how. First, claim your Google+ profile and ensure that it’s complete and accurate—with your NAP and your website’s URL. You also should include your keywords wherever you can (without making it too obvious or unnatural).
You probably have a Facebook page and maybe even a professional Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest account. If you don’t, it’s time to get on that. As with Google+, the first step to getting started with these platforms is to claim and complete your profile with your NAP, your website URL, and your keywords.
The more places you list your business—and your NAP—the easier it will be for potential customers to find you online. Here are some of the top local directories:
- Bing Local
- Yahoo Local
While it may be tough to get your clients to actually complete reviews online, you really only need a handful to positively impact your business—and that’s because Google actually uses reviews as a way to validate your legitimacy. So, connect with a few of your best patients with the goal of generating at least two reviews—hopefully more—on each of the follow outlets:
No matter where you post, though, do not—we repeat: do not—generate fake reviews. Your potential customers will see right through them, and there’s a significant amount of technology available that’s designed to expose businesses who partake in this shady business tactic.
So, what do you do when you receive a review? Well, respond of course. To learn how best to respond to both positive and negative reviews, check out this post.
Could your clinic’s marketing efforts use a little TLC?
Watch our webinar to learn 5 fast and cheap ways to fix your clinic’s marketing.
Build a Great Website
We’re going to go ahead and assume you already have a website, because in this day and age, that’s pretty standard. If not, we won’t judge, but you really should get one up and running. If a potential patient can’t find you online, you might appear less than legitimate, and that’s not a great message for a medical professional to send. For do-it-yourself (DIY) website creation, try Squarespace or Wix—both have drag-and-drop functionality, which means you can create a site that fits your brand without hiring a developer or a designer.
Whether you already have a site, or you’re just getting started, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Clean Up Your Layout
When designing a layout, look for formats that align well with your clinic’s brand (if you’re not sure what your brand is, check out this article). And while you might be tempted to go with something wild and flashy, remember that first and foremost, you are a medical professional, which means your patients expect something simple and classy. Don’t worry; that doesn’t mean you have to be boring or stodgy, but you should aim for something clean and compelling.
Aim for Balance
Too many colors, fonts, or distracting graphics can completely throw off the look—and feel—of your site. Instead, focus on achieving balance. Choose one font style and one font color—two at most—and use interactive features sporadically to entice visitors to stay on your site. Want another aesthetic rule of thumb? Avoid comic sans (or any other super-stylized font) as well as anything that blinks or flashes. It’s never a good look, but this rule holds especially true for a professional website.
Organize Your Content
Your website is basically one big piece of content. It’s your way to communicate relevant—and hopefully, well written (we’ll get to that part a little later)—information about your practice and your expertise. Ohio-based digital marketing and strategy firm Advia Internet suggests organizing your content by:
- Using “big, catchy headings” and “brief paragraphs separated with subheadings and bullet points”
- Categorizing and displaying content in a way that will make sense to a new viewer
- Being consistent in your content presentation
- Creating content that is quickly accessible with “minimal clicks”
Make it Navigable
When developing your website, it’s important to consider how your users will move around your site. “Without navigation and ease of accessibility, a web[site] is just a pretty page,” writes Advia. “Navigation acts as a map, directing visitors through the site based on their interests.”
Start by ensuring that your most important content (like a call to action) is above the fold (i.e., the part of a page you can see without needing to scroll).
Check its Functionality
Hopefully this goes without saying, but just in case: Make sure your site is working—links and all. We recommend performing regular site maintenance and quality audits and asking for feedback from your audience. Don’t forget to check your site’s functionality across different browsers, devices, and operating systems—like Mozilla, Chrome, Safari, and smartphones.
For more information on making a great website, check out this post.
Start a Blog
Now that your website’s up and running, it’s time to create captivating content—and the best way to do that is to start a blog. Before we jump into the how, let’s explore the why:
- Continuing education is valuable. Patient care shouldn’t stop at the end of a session. Rather, you should supplement your patients’ regular therapy visits and home exercise programs with wellness and prevention resources on on your blog.
- It’s a great way to establish your expertise and increase brand awareness. Not only will your current and prospective patients appreciate your healthcare advice, but they also will grow to trust you as an expert in your field—and that’s good for you and your brand.
- Regular, positive interaction increases loyalty. By consistently publishing valuable information—and responding to comments and questions in a timely and thoughtful manner—you’ll develop lasting relationships with your audience. So the next time they’re thinking about physical therapy, they’ll automatically think of you—and hopefully, they’ll tell all of their friends about you, too.
Without further ado, here’s how:
- Write and post regularly. Whether it’s once a week or daily, set a schedule and stick to it. In other words, don’t end up like the 65% of business bloggers who haven’t posted anything new in 12 months or more.
- Understand your audience. You know what your patients are interested in learning—after all, it probably had a lot to do with they reason they sought out your services—so write what you know, and make sure it interests your readers.
- Follow other blogs. What are other PTs blogging about? What works? What doesn’t? What’s their style? How do they connect with their audience? You’ll be amazed at how many content ideas you come up with simply by reading what others are writing.
- Always respond to comments. All comments are valuable—even the not-so-positive ones. So, reply promptly and professionally.
- Promote your content on social media. After all, the more people who see it, the better—so start talking about it on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
- Be creative. Don’t post the same stale stuff over and over again. Instead, get creative with your posts. Use your blog to introduce your staff members to potential patients, and try to incorporate video and graphics, if possible.
- Be polished. You don’t have to be a professional writer to start a blog, but you should at least make sure your posts are free of errors and consistent in style. And this brings us right to our next section.
Whether you’re writing a blog post, your cancellation policy, or the about section of your website, the most important thing to remember is that your words matter, so take these four pieces of advice to heart:
1. Avoid Jargon
There’s a time and a place to use industry-specific, super-clinical terminology—and it’s not on your blog (unless, of course, your audience is exclusively limited to other physical therapists). If it’s not, find a different (read: simpler) way to communicate with your audience.
2. Be Consistent
Establish your voice and own it. After all, consistency’s important. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t tackle an issue from a different angle or that you shouldn’t adjust your message based on the channel, but your overall tone, stance, and style should remain the same. Otherwise, you risk confusing your readers and appearing disingenuous.
3. Catch Mistakes
Even the best writers make mistakes. So whether it’s a typo, a grammatical error, or a confusing sentence, the key is to ensure that these snafus are few and far between. To do so, follow these editing steps:
- Proofread your work
- Read it aloud to check sentence flow
- Enlist a friend to do a final pass
4. Decide on a Guide
Whether it’s Associated Press (AP), American Psychological Association (APA), Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), or one of your own making, choose a guide and adhere to it.
One more writing tip: Use active voice whenever possible. If you’re not sure what active voice is, check out this great Purdue OWL tutorial on the topic. This small change can have a really big impact on the clarity of your writing.
There’s a reason why so many bloggers fall of the proverbial wagon when it comes to actively maintaining their business blogs, and that’s because many don’t actually measure the effects of their efforts. Whenever you start a new endeavor—especially one related to your business—it’s crucial to identify your goals and create a plan for measuring success. This way, you’ll not only have a clear objective that you’re working toward, but also know how well your hard work is paying off.
This could be something as simple as asking patients where they learned about your practice and making note of any who mention the blog. Or, you could download a free web analytics tool to track your online traffic, and then optimize your content based on what you learn.
For more information on creating metrics for your blog, check out this post.
What is Email Marketing? And How Do I Do It?
Once you’ve got your NAP down and your website and blog running smoothly, it’s time to move on to some more advanced digital marketing: email. According to this email marketing infographic, every dollar spent on email marketing returns an average of $44.25. It seems that consumers want to receive permission-based emails instead of old-fashioned snail mail.
Now, there are a few things you should do before you set out to craft a winning strategy. First, establish a HIPAA-compliant foundation by ensuring you leave any protected health information (PHI) out of your marketing communications and implementing a marketing communications opt-in form as part of your intake packet. Second, choose the right email marketing service. Here are a few to consider: AWeber, Constant Contact, iContact, and MailChimp. For a more detailed description of each, check out this post.
If nothing on this list catches your eye, don’t worry—there are dozens more where these came from. Whatever you do, though, don’t rush your decision. After all, it can be a pretty important one.
Once you’ve gotten your email service lined up, it’s time to start emailing—if you’ve got your email addresses lined up, too, that is. Here are three things we recommend you keep in mind when collecting your patients' emails:
1. Make it Worth Their While
Email collection is all about reciprocity. We know what’s in it for you (a chance to market your services), but what’s in it for your potential or existing customers? Hopefully, it’s some really valuable and relevant physical therapy tips, appointment reminders, or even loyalty discounts. Whatever the benefits are, make sure you communicate them clearly before you ask someone to trust you with their address.
2. Be Trustworthy
Speaking of trust, it’s an important factor in any relationship—and it’s especially important in a client-provider one, so do not spam your patients. Instead, only send them information they want. You can do this by candidly communicating what sort of information they can expect to receive from you, so they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they wish to opt-in to your mailing list.
3. Maintain Your Reputation
As a medical professional, your reputation is everything. Don’t risk it by doing something silly—like purchasing a list of emails, selling the ones you’ve collected, or failing to honor unsubscribe requests. Do the right thing and email market responsibly.
Now, get to collecting emails. We recommend simply asking customers during the new patient intake process if they want to receive marketing emails from your practice. Just make sure to use a totally separate form so you’re in compliance with the new HIPAA regulations.
Write Your First Marketing Newsletter
The only thing left on your email marketing to-do list is to craft your first-ever marketing newsletter. Here’s what we recommend based on our vast email newsletter experience:
1. Keep it Short
We know you’ve got a lot to say, but your audience’s attention span for digital content is pretty short. That’s why we recommend including three to five articles and only teasing viewers with two to three lines before linking to the full-length feature on your blog or website.
2. Make Your Feature Article Count
The focal point of your newsletter will be whatever article you choose to feature, so make it relevant. You can theme each newsletter, make it seasonally relevant, or—for the more advanced email marketer—analyze your patient population and take a more targeted approach.
3. Branch Out
Use your secondary article to expand your audience. For example, if most of your patients seek your services for back pain, that’d make a great feature article. But if you’re interested in generating more patients looking for post-surgical rehabilitation, use this topic for a secondary post. You never know who on your email list might be a perfect candidate—or someone might find it relevant for a friend or coworker and forward it on. It’s a great way to expand your network and spread the word about other, lesser-known services.
4. Personalize It
It’s a well-known fact that emails with a personal message outperform those without one, so be sure to include something from the heart. It can be anything—a personal anecdote, something happening in your clinic, or even some new clinical findings you’ve discovered. While we’re on the subject of personalizing things, it’s also a good idea to send your newsletter from a real person (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com).
5. Include a Tip
People love tips and tricks, so try throwing in a monthly tidbit of PT wisdom; it’ll keep your readers engaged and coming back for more.
6. Get to the Point
The most effective marketing emails include a call-to-action. So, identify your goal—whether it’s to increase your web traffic, boost your blog views, or drive new business—and then let your content guide your readers to that end.
7. Craft a Good Subject Line
One final touch you can put on any good email newsletter is a click-worthy subject line. That means keeping it short (50 characters or fewer), avoiding spam triggers (words like “free,” dollar signs, exclamation points, or over-capitalization), and being direct about what content is inside.
To learn more about crafting the perfect marketing email and newsletter, click here or here, respectively. To learn how to conduct A/B testing to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns, click here.
What’s Social Media Marketing? And How Do I Do It?
Social media marketing is exactly what it sounds like: marketing via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. In this section, you’ll find an array of tips for marketing your physical therapy practice on social media sites. But first, let’s remember to mind our social media manners.
Social media has been around for a while now, but corporate presence on such sites is a fairly recent phenomenon. As a result, more than a few organizations have committed some major social media blunders—all of which could have been avoided had they adhered to these simple rules:
1. Be Relevant
Social media marketing should ultimately serve to promote your brand, so first and foremost, make sure your online profiles are complete, professional, and separate from your personal ones. Then, create a social media policy—one for your staff and one for your followers. (You can post a brief policy in your company’s About section on Facebook.)
2. Add Value
Social media is all about interaction, so make sure your posts:
- Add to the conversation.
- Align with your practice’s goals and values.
- Support and benefit your viewers.
- Are always positive.
3. Be Transparent
Remember, you’re speaking as a company, which means you should:
- Be respectful, considerate, and kind—regardless of how you feel personally.
- Be careful discussing things that may generate an emotional response.
- Show respect for others’ opinions—even if you disagree.
- Never be judgemental or react emotionally.
- Be honest, and if you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize.
4. Follow the Rules
- Don’t solicit follows or likes.
- Don’t always be closing. Sure, you can—and should—promote your services, but do so softly and in conjunction with providing valuable content.
- Adhere to the terms of each social media platform as well as any group or community-specific rules.
- Don’t annoy your network by over-posting or over-sharing. (See the Add Value section above.)
5. Be Smart
- Discuss financial, legal, strategy, or any other confidential information.
- Give out personal information about you, your staff, or your patients (the latter’s a sure-fire HIPAA violation).
- Talk about religion, politics, or anything else controversial.
- Post anything even remotely offensive.
- Post when overly-tired, jet-lagged, buzzed, angry, or sad.
- Delete comments or reviews (unless they’re spam).
- Look into the people who follow or like your page, so you’re keeping the right company and keeping your content relevant
- Accept unfriending and unfollowing with grace
- Proof your posts for spelling, grammar, and appropriateness
- Thank everyone who follows you, likes you, or retweets your post with a personal (i.e., unique) thank-you message
Chances are good that you already have a Facebook account. Hopefully, you have both a personal profile and a business one. But if you don’t, you should, because 1.01 billion people use Facebook daily—and that’s a huge potential audience. Here’s how you can optimize Facebook for your business:
Make a good first impression.
For potential customers, landing on your Facebook page may very well be their first interaction with you, so make it a positive one. Everything—from your profile picture to your posts and comments—should communicate that you’re personable, approachable, welcoming, and an expert in your field. Before you post anything, ask yourself if it’s reflective of who you are as a physical therapist. Also, pair every post with a photo, because pictures get liked, shared, and commented on more often than stand-alone posts.
Additionally, consider hiring a graphic designer to create unique and custom images that promote you and your services. (Or you can use these #GetPT images that our design team created.)
Create a community.
Focus on gaining followers, and you’ll automatically increase your reach and get your message to a larger audience. How do you do that? Start by telling your existing customers that you’re on Facebook and that they’ll find plenty of great resources on your page. Also, include your Facebook URL everywhere—in your email signature, on your business cards and brochures, and on any online and print ads you’re running. You also can use other social media sites to promote your Facebook page. If you’re active on Twitter, for example, let your Twitter followers know they also can find you on Facebook. (Just remember to create original content for each outlet, so people who are following you on multiple platforms have a reason to continue.)
While Twitter doesn’t boast nearly as many active users as Facebook does, its stats still pack a punch: As of January 2016, 320 million people actively use Twitter every month. That’s a whole lot of current customers, potential customers, referrers, and peers—all in one place. So, it’s the perfect platform to both market your physical therapy clinic and stay updated on the latest industry news—all in 140-character bites. After you snag your Twitter handle (we recommend going with your clinic name), it’s time to create your profile—and the more complete it is, the better. Once that’s done, you’re ready to start tweeting. Here are a few Twitter basics you should know:
Saving your searches can be a great way to use Twitter for professional development. For example, type “physical therapy” into the search bar at the top of the page and hit enter or click the magnifying glass icon. You’ll see a list of search results. To the right of the header, you’ll see the option to save your search so you can stay current on everything PT-related—or anything else you’re interested in—with a single click. (Once they’re saved, you’ll be able to access your saved searches from the “Searches” dropdown menu.)
Using Hashtags (#)
Twitter is responsible for turning this once innocuous number symbol into a worldwide communication phenomenon. A hashtag in the Twitterverse is essentially a tag for your message—a method for categorizing your tweets, so you and other users can search for and follow similarly themed tweets. For example, try searching for #physicaltherapy (when using hashtags, there are no spaces between words). You’ll see every tweet someone tagged as being relevant to physical therapy. (Looking for some new people to follow? Each Friday, check your Twitter stream for messages with #FF or #FollowFriday. These are recommendations by the people in your network.)
Retweeting allows you to share what someone else tweeted with your own audience. It’s a great way to intersperse other people’s content with your own. And once you start generating some riveting tweets yourself, the people in your audience will be able to retweet your gems to their own followers, thereby expanding your reach. Neat, huh?
Sending Direct Messages (DMs)
Want to send a message to someone who follows you on Twitter, but don’t think it’s appropriate for the whole world to see? No problem. You can send a direct message by clicking the envelope icon in the top-right of your screen.
LinkedIn is the social media platform for professionals. Essentially, it’s an an online networking site—a way to connect with people you know in the working world and, through them, connect with others you may want to know. Needless to say, if you’re a professional, you should be on LinkedIn—and if you’re a practice owner, you should have a business page.
Here are five ways to improve your Linkedin profile:
Your headshot is the first thing people see when they land on your page, so make sure it represents you and your brand. You can do some really good work with the cropping tool. Even better, you can hire a professional photographer to capture your best angles.
2. Name and Headline
This is your opportunity to highlight your unique skills and qualifications. While LinkedIn auto-completes your headline with your current position and employer, you can change it to something that resonates better with your audience.
For example, Steve Jones could have a headline that reads, “Physical Therapist at PT Clinic Y” or one that reads, “Experienced with physical therapy evaluation and treatment in areas of orthopedics, sports medicine, occupational medicine, pediatrics, and geriatrics.” Which one tells a more compelling story about Steve? That’s what we thought.
3. URL and Contact Info
LinkedIn sets your default URL for you, but it typically isn’t all that pretty. Good thing you can change it. Click “edit profile,” then “edit contact info,” and then “customize your URL.” Try to use something short and as close to your actual name as possible. If you have a common name, you may need to include a number or two, and that’s okay. Just remember, this is a professional site.
Once you’ve chosen a dapper headshot, crafted an impactful headline, and customized your URL, you’re ready to write your professional summary. Now, this isn’t the place to lay out your entire life story, but you should provide a fairly detailed description of who you are and what you do—and if you can throw in some natural-sounding keywords, even better. Looking for some summarily inspiration? Check out this page for three great examples.
Now that your profile is complete, it’s time to start requesting recommendations from former and current colleagues, supervisors, and patients. That way, everyone who visits your profile will know what a pleasure it is to work with you. Your recommenders can either write a brief paragraph on your behalf or simply endorse you for a specific skill with a simple mouse click.
LinkedIn offers a plethora of content publication tools to help you establish yourself as a thought leader. You can create and distribute your own content directly on the site, or you can share a link that directs viewers to content you’ve published elsewhere.
Want to take your LinkedIn networking to the next level? Join a few groups. According to LinkedIn, more than 8,000 new groups are created daily, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. Once you find several that spark your interest, dive in and join the conversation. This will increase your visibility and connect you with more members who share similar interests.
If you’re looking for a more visual way to reach your audience online, consider Pinterest. Pinterest is a tool people use to visually organize whatever interests them online. Pinterest users—there are more than 100 million of them—create different boards and then “pin” online content and images to those boards. Not only can users create and manage their own boards on Pinterest, but they also can peruse and follow other users’ boards and comment, like, and repin other users’ pins.
According to the social media platform, the number of pinners doubled from spring 2014 to fall 2015, and 70% of people were doing more than just browsing: they were taking action by saving pins and clicking through. Why is this important for businesses? Because two-thirds of all pinned content comes from a retail site or blog.
So, how can you use Pinterest to market your physical therapy practice? First, create a Pinterest business account. Then, create boards based on what your audience is interested in (e.g., home exercises, stretches to prevent injury, motivational health quotes, anti-inflammatory foods, or how-to videos.)
Once you’ve got your boards ready, get to sharing and promoting your original image-supported content (think: blog posts) and that of your peers. Just as you would on any other social network, use Pinterest to demonstrate your brand’s personality, try new things, and interact with others. We also recommend adding a “Follow Me on Pinterest” button to your website. For more on how rehab therapists have found marketing success using Pinterest, check out this article.
And remember: all social media platforms have rules. For Pinterest, they’re pretty straightforward—essentially, be nice, credit your sources, abide by copyright laws, avoid overt selling, and report objectionable content. Not only is Pinterest a fantastic platform for marketing your practice, but it’s also an awful lot of fun.
What’s Pay-Per-Click? And How Do I Do It?
While it’s more of an advertising strategy than a marketing one, pay-per-click (PPC) can increase website traffic and overall brand awareness. If you’re considering PPC for your clinic, here are some things to do:
Keywords are an easy way to increase your click-through rate, because you’ll capture users who are searching for that exact keyword. Try using “physical therapy” in the headline and in your body copy.
Create a Landing Page
In this case, your landing page will be the web page that you only use for those visitors who click your PPC ad. Keep it simple and free of distracting elements that take away from the main goal of the page: getting visitors to call you.
All major search engines—including Google and Bing—allow you to limit your ads so they only display for users who are in your geographic area. This way, you don’t waste money when someone from Chicago clicks your ad for physical therapy in San Francisco.
Test Your Ads
Use A/B testing to run two or more ads with different copy at the same time in order to determine which one gets a higher click-through rate. Not only will this help you refine your messaging, but it also may lower costs, because search engines often reward ads that have high click-through rates with lower prices.
Retargeting (a.k.a. remarketing) is showing ads to website visitors after they leave your site. After all, a user who’s already been to your site is more likely to convert when he or she comes back than a brand new visitor.
Count Your Conversions
A conversion takes place when a user clicks one of your ads, arrives on your website, and then performs a desirable action. For example, as a physical therapist, you probably want your users to call your clinic to schedule an appointment. Once a potential patient takes that action, he or she has converted. To create a successful PPC campaign, you have to know how many advertising dollars it costs to drive that conversion. CallRail and CallTrackingMetrics are call-tracking systems that allow you to create a unique phone number that only users who click your PPC ad will see.
For a list of PPC don’ts, check out this post.
There you have it: How to market your physical therapy clinic. For more great info on physical therapy marketing, check out our blog here.