The 10 Step Internet Marketing Plan for Doctors
Private-practicing doctors must have their own websites if they want to stay competitive in this day and age. Even if you get all of your patients through referrals, do you really think that your prospective patients aren’t first looking you up on the internet before going in for their first check-up? The fact is, 85% of people looking for goods and services use search engines. With the growth of the internet, this large number will only get larger, which is why the sooner you get started with marketing your practice online, the better.
So what are the best ways for a doctor to expand his/her business through the use of the internet? Here are 10 tips to get you discovered in no time.
1. Get a website up
“Why thank you, Captain Obvious!” OK, OK…maybe this is obvious to you, but tell me something, if you were to build a website today, where would you do it? When I first started building websites I used site-building tools like Yahoo’s ancient geocities, and Google Sites. Building websites through these systems couldn’t be easier, and many of them are free. You have thousands of templates to choose from, so as long as you spend some time browsing, I’m pretty confident you will find the right style for your site. So go ahead and search for “free site builder” in Google, and get started on putting together a free website.
2. Purchase your domain
Although you could settle with the url sites.google.com/drsmith, it is quite unlikely that this is what you want. So in order to get www.drsmith.com you would have to head over to your friendly domain registrar, such as GoDaddy, and search for the domain (url) you would like to purchase. Domains are generally pretty cheap (sometimes less than $10 a year), so if your .com is available, go ahead and add it to the cart!
3. Link your domain and website
Since the site you built your website through will be hosting your site for free, you don’t have to buy any hosting plan, which is awesome and will save you a lot of money. However, linking your www.drsmith.com to your actual website at sites.google.com/drsmith can sometimes be a confusing process as a result of not having a hosting account. To spare you the confusion I will direct you here so you can link your site to your domain. If you are linking your domain to a site that wasn’t built on Google sites, you need to change the CNAME record through your domain registrar. That last esoteric sentence that I typed out is exactly what you want to type into a Google search box if I’ve totally lost you at this point.
4. In-depth Services
Once you’ve gotten your site and domain set up, you can finally start putting together the real meat of your site. So if you’re a doctor, here’s the page I would put together first: services. Why? Because this is the main way you will be able to differentiate yourself from your local competitors. But we’re not just going to list our services. Oh no, no, no! We aren’t taking the easy way out here. Each of your services will have their very own webpage, filled with your expert insight, opinions, and methods of treatment.
So if you are a doctor who specializes in treating heart disease, you better be providing as much useful content as you can on heart disease. Your page must show you know what you are talking about and that you are a great resource. This is your chance to show a prospective patient that you are the one who knows the most about treating heart disease. This is what is going to take the most work when you are putting together your site, but believe me when I say that it will pay dividends.
5. Profile Picture and Contact
Once you have produced your site’s main content, you can start taking care of the easy stuff. What is the easy stuff? For starters, your contact info. It should be listed on every page of your site, above the fold, and preferentially in a static location on your page such as the header or the sidebar. I would not recommend putting your contact info in the footer of any of your pages, as this could result in your potential patients not finding your contact info and looking elsewhere for a doctor.
You should also take the time to choose or shoot a professional looking photo of yourself. I would highly recommend smiling in the picture and can practically guarantee that it will bring you far more contacts than a picture with a straight face would bring. I would put the picture on every page as well (and perhaps right above or below your contact info), in the header of the sidebar.
6. Maps and Directions
Even if your prospective patient found your practice on Google Maps or Places, it is absolutely imperative that you have a map and/or directions to your office located on an easy-to-find page on your site. The page can be called “Location(s),” “Directions,” “Contact,” whatever you think works best.
7. Local Listings
OK…so at this point I would say you have the essential components of your website set up. You can tweak it much, much more than this, but the things listed above are absolutely essential to get together first. I will give you some tips on additional content below, but first: search engine stuff.
Creating local listings on Google, Yahoo, and Yelp will help local searchers find your business on potentially the first page. The best part about creating local listings is that it’s free and quick to setup. Ok, so that’s two things. But you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking the time to set these pages up. So where should you start?
- Google Places – Google places listings are among some of the top-ranking results for local searches. For example if you search for “doctor berkeley ca,” the first 8 results are on Google are Google places listings. Take a look:
- Yahoo local – Yahoo local is another place you want to make sure you’re listed, especially for those who use Yahoo as their primary search engine. Although the listings don’t appear in the regular search results, searching for a doctor in Boston, MA at local.yahoo.com will bring you a boatload of results. Don’t skimp out on getting listed here.
- Yelp – While you may think of Yelp as a site that is only meant for retail stores and restaurant, nothing if further from the truth. In fact, I would venture to say that any business with a physical location is eligible to use Yelp to promote itself. The review system is also very important in bringing in new business. If people speak highly of the work you do, chances are good that others will give you a shot themselves.
8. Google Analytics
What good is a website if you don’t know who is visiting it and what they are doing when they visit? I would say it is worth virtually nothing, because you will never know what is working with your site (if anything), and what is not working. For this reason, getting set up with Google Analytics is a critical step in a doctor’s quest to internet stardom.
Getting up and running with Google Analytics is free and very easy. Check out our tutorial to help you out.
9. Setup a PPC Campaign
PPC stands for pay-per-click and means exactly what it stands for from an advertiser’s perspective. PPC ads are displayed to the top and right of “organic” search results. They also have their own look that is slightly different from the organic listings (however, this distinction has gotten smaller and smaller as time has gone on). For more on PPC, visit our AdWords page.
OK, back to the point. If you are a doctor who works in Minneapolis, Minnesota, you can shoot to the top of Google results, so long as you’re willing to invest a little money in these ads. Like I briefly mentioned above, advertisers only pay when someone clicks on their ad, which takes the searcher directly to their site. You don’t pay when your ad shows, only when it is clicked. So by running a PPC campaign, you are effectively getting potential patients to visit your site and decide if you are the right doctor for them.
For people who are new to internet marketing, PPC is a must-use tool for those looking to get quick results.
10. Goals and Conversions
While setting goals should never be a last step, we’ve put it in the last step because it goes hand in hand with setting up how you will track your campaign’s performance. As a doctor, it is very likely that the most important thing a visitor of your site could do would be contacting you. Now, although I said earlier that you should list your contact info on your site, I would highly recommend having a contact form somewhere on your site. The reason for this would be to track how many of your site’s visitors (from a PPC campaign) ended up contacting you. This would be valuable information, don’t you think? It’s basically a way of tracking your return on investment. What I’m describing here is setting up conversion tracking. If you would like to know more on how to set it up, please click the link for a full tutorial.
If you prefer to manually track who contacts you, this is also possible, but may require a little more work on your end. What I would recommend is asking every person who inquires about your practice how they found you. If they say “through Google” or “on the internet,” you can chalk one up for your PPC campaign. From here, you can calculate what’s known as your Cost Per Acquisition or CPA (how much you paid to get a contact/lead). All you would do is go into AdWords, look up your total campaign cost (the amount spent), and divide that amount by the number of people who have contacted you and said they found you on the internet. The number you come up with is your CPA. So for example, if I spent $50 on AdWords and got 5 contacts who said they found me on the internet, my CPA would be $10 or $50/5. If I charge $100/hr as a doctor, the ROI for an hour of work alone is 1000%!