This is part 2, in our series about getting more patients to your Naturopathic practice. This article builds on part 1, so make sure you read that first!
- Marketing Funnels – Part 1
- Online Marketing Tools – Part 2 (this post)
In part 1, I introduced marketing funnels, and how they guide your marketing efforts. It’s time to proceed to the next level. Now we’ll survey only the most effective tools available today. I’ll explain what they are, and how to use them to get more patients to your naturopathic practice. By the end, you’ll have a good idea of which tools to use at each stage of your marketing funnel.
The grand daddy of online marketing is as important as it’s ever been. Email marketing gives you the power to hit every stage of your funnel below Awareness. (If they weren’t interested and aware of you, they wouldn’t be receiving your email!)
The power of email marketing is that you have the ability to reach back out to an audience for free over time. This allows you to:
- Build credibility over time, by emailing them useful information (Consideration & Evaluation)
- Always be top of mind. You can’t control when they’ll finally be ready to take control of their health. But you can establish enough touch points to ensure they’ll remember you when they do. (Appt)
The trick of course, is how to get a list of people to email.
As it turns out, email marketing can provide a great 1-2 combo with other marketing tools. It won’t be unusual to show the perfect Facebook ad to the perfect patient, but at an imperfect time. Perhaps they’re standing in line at the grocery, or on a work break. They’re not ready to schedule an appointment, but giving you their email is an easier request. This gives you permission to keep reaching out until it IS the right time.
The larger your email list grows, the more cost-effective this tool becomes. But email marketing requires a commitment to be effective. You must email consistently for this strategy to pay off, and that does take time. Fortunately, there are some great tools to help you automate some of this work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to schedule a free strategy session, and I’ll show you the ones I’m using!
Word of Mouth / Reputation Management
Word of Mouth generally refers to friends/family talking to one another. Reputation Management refers to what your patients write about you on google/yelp et al. Studies show that people put as much faith in these reviews as they do the word of their direct friends and family.
Reviews of doctors have lagged reviews of services like restaurants and plumbers. No doubt this is a privacy issue. But it’s coming. [54% of millennials check for reviews before choosing a doctor](http://www.mobihealthnews.com/46432/survey-54-percent-of-millennials-look-online-before-choosing-a-doctor). That percentage is set to soar over the next decade. People will soon check for doctor reviews almost as much as they check for restaurants.
You MUST stay on top of your reputation. It will either book you out for free, or make it impossible to bring patients in at any cost.
In the long run, you won’t need to do paid advertising at all, unless you’re expanding in some way. Your reputation will precede you.
But that brings us to the same challenge we had with email marketing. You need satisfied patients if you want to improve your reputation.
As a result, it might be tempting to focus on this later. Don’t. This is the compound interest of a medical practice. The sooner you start investing in it, the better.
The most savvy companies have specialized tools to help grow their online reputation. I’ll be sure to cover this in depth in a future article.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM includes all ads displayed on search engines like Google or Bing. They display your ad based on the search the user types in.
Search engine ads are unique in the online marketing world in 1 key respect. You KNOW a user is searching for what you’re advertising. Right that very second.
That’s very powerful. It’s much easier to sell to someone who’s shopping than someone who currently isn’t.
NDs can use SEM in 2 ways to get more patients to their Naturopathic practice.
1. Target Users Searching about their Condition (Interest, Awareness)
Millions of users use WebMD every month. You’re not likely to beat that behemoth at SEO. But you can target users researching a condition or treatment you specialize in. This is a fantastic way to add great prospects to your awareness stage, because it:
- gives you the opportunity to introduce someone to naturopathic medicine
- establishes yourself as an authority on the topic
This strategy requires some commitment! To do this effectively, you’ll need to:
- produce great content that perfectly matches what made them click the ad in the first place.
- capture their email address on that page, so you can continue the dialog with them
2. Target Users Searching for an ND (Consideration, Evaluation, Intent)
You can also show ads to users who are searching for ND’s in your area. This will grab users at the ‘Intent’ stage. These users already know what an ND is, and are now looking to schedule an appointment. If this sounds like a much easier plan, you’re right. There are 2 gotchas:
- Expect to pay the most for these types of ads
- There aren’t a lot of people running these specific searches. So there’s limited opportunity.
Social Media Marketing
I won’t be covering Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn in this series. I’m assuming you’re not interested in an advanced degree in online marketing. You just want more patients in your practice. For that, the best platform in this space is Facebook.
Note: this is not to say that some of these other platforms aren’t a good place to establish a social media presence. I just don’t recommend paid advertising on them.
It’s easy to think of Facebook and Google AdWords as being the same thing. You’re showing ads on a website in both cases. Remember though, that search engine visitors are actively searching for something. Facebook viewers are goofing off! So your Facebook ads aren’t quite as likely to get someone to immediately call your office.
I therefore recommend pairing Facebook marketing with Email marketing as well. There are a lot of intricacies to Facebook marketing. Expect several posts on Facebook Marketing alone in the future.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Content Marketing
In a nutshell, this is whether your blog content can be found on page 1 of google for a given search term. Where SEO fits in your funnel depends on what you’re ranking for. If you’re ranking for a condition, then you’re hitting the Interest and Awareness stages. If you’re ranking for “Naturopathic Doctor in [LOCATION]”, then you’re at the Consideration stage. It’s hard to get much lower than that with SEO, because search engines focus users on their local listings when they know that’s what the user is looking for.
The same rules from SEM apply here, but SEO offers one other benefit. That benefit is authority. A lot of credibility comes from being found on page 1 of google. If that user happens to be local, you’ll have a great chance of winning them as a patient.
In this segment, we’ve:
- Given a brief overview of the best online marketing tools for NDs, including some pros and cons.
- Explained how the tools relate to your marketing funnel
- Highlighted how some tools are combined to increase their effectiveness.
Here’s a handy summary:
You’ve likely had 1 of 2 reactions to these first two articles.
- A few of you are chomping at the bit to dive deeper into specific, actionable strategies for a particular tool. If that’s you, make sure you subscribe to my blog to get the next post first!
- But I suspect that most are realizing that this is likely to be a major time commitment. If you’d rather focus on medicine than marketing, my company can help. I offer an online marketing service exclusively to licensed NDs.