As we head into the final months of 2019, it’s good to take a look back at a year full of new challenges and opportunities. If you are an attorney, doctor or dentist, your marketing goals likely fall into one of these overarching categories:
- Improving your rank
- Amplifying your message
- Gaining and retaining clients
- Boosting your reputation
In one way or another, every marketing agency boasts that it can help you with one or more of these. However, the key question going into 2020 is: Your agency may talk the talk, but do they walk the walk?
Improving Your Rankings
SEO for law firms, dental offices, cosmetic practices, or lasik surgeons is not something you invest in once and never have to think about again. Successful SEO agencies are not only doing continuous work on your website but also understanding the updates that Google makes to its algorithms. In effect, SEO is a moving target.
Google has spent the past year focusing on what the company calls Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) websites (a classification that applies to medical and legal service providers). Google wants to see more Expertise, Authority and Trust (EAT) from these YMYL websites.
As Google figures out and implements exactly how to quantify EAT, there has been increased volatility for YMYL sites. The additional challenge is that these changes represent “Google Core Updates.” Therefore, the updates represent broad changes, rather than ones where optimizers can address one specific area and expect to see a predictable uptick.
You should make sure that you’re working with a marketing agency that keeps you up to date regarding algorithm changes and provides recommendations and solutions to help bounce back from any negative effects. This generally begins with consistent communication from the agency.
If you have an assigned consultant or account manager, he or she should be sharing reports on your rankings. What’s more, these reports should contain context. If your rankings drop, the agency should be able to provide you with an educated answer. And, if your rankings increase, the team should be able to show positive overall results for your practice.
Amplify Your Message
One thing we know about Google today is that results tend to favor informative, accurate and reputable content on websites that also engages users. We also know that Google wants to see that your site traffic comes from a diverse portfolio of sources. Organic, Direct, Referral, Paid and Social are just some of the types of sources that can drive traffic to your website.
These five sources are among the major channels that Google Analytics uses to classify where users come from when they visit your website. The value of understanding your diverse traffic sources is twofold.
First, traffic arriving on your website from different sources signals that you are reaching and engaging users with different needs and motivations:
- Significant direct traffic signals that you have something of a “name brand” (think of word of mouth and non-digital advertising)
- Organic search traffic constitutes the users who find you in the SERPs, which indicates the health of your SEO marketing
- Social traffic comes from social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and more. Lots of visitors from websites like these may mean that fans and followers visit your website after interacting with you on platforms designed to cultivate relationships (possibly indicating leads who have developed a highly favorable impression of you, which makes them more likely to convert)
- Paid traffic arrives from ads on the search engines. If you have pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, you and your agency should certainly be tracking this.
Second, tracking traffic from different sources is a good way to get a sense of your success on different marketing strategies.
No matter where users come from when they reach your website, your message needs to be compelling and speak to the desires and expectations of the people who find you online. So, in addition to quantitative data on platforms like Google Analytics, it also makes sense to perform a “qualitative” audit of the content on your website.
If you rely on an agency for help with SEO and content, are they just writing static webpages and blog posts? Or, are they taking the time to create engaging assets that make people stay on your website and view you as an authority? These may include:
- Long-form content
- Visual content
- Video blog posts
- Press releases
- Offsite content
All of the above content types have multiple applications. They can drive traffic, they can present your brand in a unique and highly engaging light and they can act as a destination for a host of ad and marketing campaigns. When it comes to your goals, it is crucial to make sure your marketing investment aligns with the message you want to send, and the results support your budget in the new year.
Gain and Retain Clients
As you can see above, patients and clients don’t just come from search engine results. Each type of client and market is different, so there’s no checklist of what type of marketing and advertising is best for each and every practice.
However, one thing that is consistently true is the importance of driving new leads and clients while balancing efforts to continue engaging and reactivating current clients.
Determining the success of your lead generation and retention efforts may require review of data from a host of different platforms. Plastic surgeons and med spas with loyalty programs, for instance, will get the best idea of their ROI by accessing the back end of the program itself. Campaigns through Google Ads, however, can be targeted via demographic data such as age, gender and location. These campaigns also use keyword targeting to know when the Ads should show. The performance of your ad is partially dependent on how well your ad “answers” the intent of the keyword for which is appears.
Facebook ads allow you to be more behavioral in your marketing with their three ad audience approaches:
- Core Audiences define an audience based on criteria like age, geography, interest and more
- Custom Audiences target users that have previously engaged with your site and taken specific actions
- Lookalike Audiences reach a new segment of users based on your most successful customers
One of the newest advertising options that is really starting to gain steam is OTT (OTT) marketing, or digital ad streaming. OTT marketing is any marketing strategy that bypasses cable, broadcast or satellite TV as the main distribution source and is instead delivered via the internet. With the growing population of “cord cutters,” investing in streaming ads gets your practice in front of people who have moved away from traditional television.
As useful as each and every one of these marketing and advertising channels can be for your practice, the most important thing to consider when building your 2020 marketing strategy is ROI for what you spend on each ad campaign. Your agency should serve as your partner in this, providing data and insights on each campaign so you can make educated decisions on which ad campaigns deserve more investment, which ones to reduce spending and which ones to suspend or cancel.
Boost Your Reputation
The importance of online reviews is not new. However, many law firms, plastic surgery practices, dental offices and eye care and LASIK centers struggle to integrate asking for reviews into their regular operations.
Practices that invest in online review platforms typically find that the program pays for itself very quickly. In addition to simplifying the process of outreach for practice and consumer alike, an online reviews and ratings solution also provides reporting to show the effectiveness of the outreach, what patients and clients say and more.
While you are investigating the effectiveness of your marketing spending in 2019, it’s important to look inside your office as well. The intake process by your receptionist or intake staff is also an opportunity to boost reputation. By evaluating your front desk staff, you may discover that your budget for 2020 should include employee training designed to capitalize on the hard-won leads you generate through your marketing.
Want Smarter Spending in 2019?
If you want to see more success and a higher ROI on your marketing in 2020, contact Advice Media at 435.575.7470 today!