Existing patients are an extremely valuable group to market to and communicating with them effectively not only increases return visits, but also the likelihood that they will refer others in their network to your practice. Here are some different avenues you can explore to make the most of your existing client base.
Make the most of your website
By now you know your web site is a tool with many purposes. It’s a way to generate business by attracting new patients; it can help reduce overhead and lessen the burden on your administrative staff, and is a living resume that details your accomplishments and credentials. However, your site can also be a tool for keeping patients informed and involved in your practice.
How can you effectively do this? First and foremost, you need to make your site a resource so patients want to come back. Post informative articles in your blog with timely information that is of interest to your patients, list special offers that change on a regular basis, and keep patients informed of news that they should be aware of.
Your web site should be a center point of all of your marketing opportunities. Keep this in mind so your site not only communicates with potential patients, but also meets the needs of your existing patients.
Build up your referral network
Everyone has heard of sites like Facebook, LinkedIN, and Myspace but many assume they can’t benefit their practice. Realistically, these sites can be great ways to not only network with your existing patients, but also to gain new ones by getting your face in front of their friends and colleagues. Most practices rely heavily on referrals. By taking advantage of these tools you can kick that part of your practice into high gear.
Here are some tips on how doctors are finding success with these sites:
- Focus your energy on one site – you need to put work into these ‘virtual relationships’ the same way you do in real life, so focus your limited time on one site. Choose the site that you feel best fits your practice or the site you know many of your patients are on.
- Keep people informed about what is happening in your practice – new service offerings, changes in staff. New equipment can also be a reason to communicate with your network and make yourself visible.
- Communicate your specials, putting balance in your communication – Special offers, patient appreciation days, and events can be great ways to entice people to pay you a visit, but fight off the temptation to bombard your network with pitch after pitch. Make sure these are sandwiched between helpful information that makes you appear as both an authority and as a resource. Having trouble coming up with an appropriate offer? Look at your competitor’s web sites, print ads, and paid search ads to see what they are doing. At the very least you will see what they are promoting, and this is a great way of coming up with offers that are not only appropriate but competitive.
- Post photos/news that personalizes you, but are not personal – Use your judgment in posting personal information about yourself. It’s nice to let people know you are a real person with a photo of you hitting the slopes, but you may want to avoid posting photos of you attending a friend’s birthday party.
- Take advantage of the different widgets that are offered – Facebook allows you to build specific pages for your practice, its related events and important dates. You can post videos on your pages, create special forums, and have your blog postings inserted into your profile using RSS feeds.
Use email to communicate with existing patients
Email Marketing is one of the most affordable and effective means of communicating with your patients. Additionally, it gives you the opportunity to easily target and track your campaigns at a high level in order to maximize results.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of this marketing medium:
- Make sure you gather email addresses – This would seem obvious, but you need to make collecting email addresses a priority throughout your practice. Whether it’s through electronic forms on your web site, paper forms within your office, or other means of collecting data, building up a patient database is a valuable asset that needs to be taken advantage of.
- Segment your audience – Having these email addresses in a database along with other information can allow you to segment people into multiple groups. The groups can be as broad as existing patients and potential patients to as narrow as age groups, gender, treatment history, treatment interests, and/or a combination of the above. These segments help you avoid sending announcements to people they don’t pertain to, and more importantly, the exercise of creating them can give you a better idea of who your patients really are.
- Know your audience, and tailor your message to them – whether you’re announcing a patient appreciation special, a new service, or just sending a general newsletter you need to entice people to go to your web site for more information. The more tailored your emails are to your audience, the more likely they are to take action and show interest in what you have to say and what you have to offer.
- Measure the results – As with everything else web related, there are endless opportunities to test and track results. From step one you can conduct subject line testing to maximize open rates. You can then track how many people click over to your site and what they do when they get there. This information can be used to improve future campaigns and further customize the emails and the site to your audience ultimately helping you achieve your goals.
Advice Media offers an email marketing service but there are other companies out there that allow you to manage the process yourself. Constant Contact is a service that has gained a lot of popularity in this arena. They allow you to manage your list, send emails using predefined templates, and track the results. Be sure when your are using these services that you are portraying a professional image consistent with the rest of your branding. As with any do-it-yourself project, it’s also important to track your own time to ensure you are not spending more money by doing it yourself than you would by having hired a professional. If you don’t have the time or expertise to handle this on your own, contact your Advice Media account representative for more information on our email marketing services.
Make the most of what you already have, especially in this economy
Now more than ever, it is important to not only look for new patients, but also to make the most of your existing patient database. Make sure you not only stay in front of them, but more importantly give them a reason to come back and pay your practice a visit.