Digital marketing for doctors is important.
With so much competition in the medical field, doctors with their own medical practices can greatly benefit from running smartly digital marketing campaigns designed to win over their local markets.
Cutting-edge technologies make this easier than ever, which is why we recommend that every medical practice explore what’s available.
If you would like to learn more about digital marketing for doctors and how it can benefit your practice, check out this conversation between Sage founder, Alex Jariv and podiatric surgeon, Dr. Hasan Masood, who is located in Henderson, NV.
Digital Marketing for Doctors – A Conversation
Alex: Can you give us a 30,000-foot view of your business and the current structure of it?
Dr. Masood: Of course. So, our business model is, we want to focus on healthcare and the expenses that are associated with it. Especially if you want to get a minor procedure done like a bunion or hammer toe, most of those procedures nowadays are done in a hospital setting, which is a very expensive place to be. Patients are not happy being in hospitals.
Our model is based on having an in-office surgical suite. We’re the only doctors in Vegas who offer this. It allows us to drastically cut down the cost of any surgical procedure by thousands of dollars. We focus mostly on performing minimal-incision surgery, which can reduce complex deformities (bunions, hammer toes, rear foot and ankle problems, etc.) through a smaller incision.
This helps patients get back on their feet faster, have less pain and overall, produces a better cosmetic result as well. As far as I know, we’re the only ones in Vegas doing the minimal-incision procedure, and it’s something you have to be trained in. It’s not something that you can just pick up unexpectedly.
Patients are happy because they save a bunch of time and money. And not only that, they’re able to walk out right after with minimal pain. When a patient has pain after surgery, it really limits the recovery process because the patients are scared to walk on it. There’s that rehab period, and we’re able to avoid a lot of that or cut it down with minimal-incision techniques.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 1 – Standing Out With Your Message)
Alex: From our perspective as your website developer, there are two points that we would really want to get across very quickly on your site. One, the surgery is taking place in your office, not in the hospital, which is very important. Two, you’re the only one doing minimum-incision podiatric surgery in Las Vegas.
We’ve found it’s very important to highlight what sets you apart from the competition as quickly as possible on your website. Maybe you can put it on your home page or the about page.
Dr. Masood: Right, I agree. When people go to our website, we don’t want them to just think, “Okay, this is just another podiatry website. We want them to be think, “Hey, there’s something different happening here. There’s something better.”
Alex: How do you find technology has improved this process for you?
Dr. Masood: If you reach out to a lot of the older podiatrists, they’re no longer using yellow pages, or they’re not advertising in newspapers anymore. It’s all about your digital presence and conveying a message to patients that says, “Hey, you should choose us over our competition.”
I think everybody wanting to be first creates a lot of competition. I’m not sure exactly how to make myself more present in the web space.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 2 – Your Website’s Design)
Alex: Well, hopefully we’ll be able to take a deep dive into your marketing efforts and give you some actionable strategies that you’ll be able to start implementing.
Dr. Masood: I haven’t been practicing as long, but even in residency, when you go to some of your podiatrists who are well established, they don’t necessarily need to do a lot of marketing. They update things here and there, but they’re not actually gaining any new patients.
People who have done well, who have adapted to the online model of A/B testing, constantly marketing and constantly updating content, websites, blogs, pictures, etc. Those are the ones who are doing well in this environment that we have now.
Alex: Well, digital marketing allows anyone, whether trying to enter into the space after just starting up or if they’ve been practicing for 25 years, to be on a similar playing field. That’s huge. Small companies can compete with major competitors with a little bit of work.
So, if your interested in digital marketing for doctors, the good news is that you can gain a share of the market even with more established practices in the game.
Part of the reason why this is possible is that consumers are smarter nowadays. They understand the internet, they know how to use it, how to research it, and they know what looks modern and clean versus what looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 90s.
So, if you’re wondering what arenas you would want to put some money towards with respect to marketing your business, I would personally start off with the website as a whole.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 2 Continued)
Alex: I think having a web presence that has that balance of good modern design, ease of use, a good user experience so the consumer can find the info they want, without going over the top is a good start.
When you’re talking about digital marketing for doctors and the medical industry, the medical aspects are going to come first before the design elements. But your design should be a good balance of clean and easy to read.
You certainly want to make sure that there’s a contrast between the font and the background, especially if you’re going to be working with patients who may be a little bit older. It’s a good idea to avoid light gray fonts that don’t stand out well against a white background.
Obviously, mobile devices are where most of your search traffic typically will come from. You always have that battle of small buttons and big thumbs, right? So, you should make sure that your mobile experience is designed in such a way that someone who might have a little more difficulty navigating is able to find the right web page and is able to navigate the site very easily.
Now, if your website already has a great design, then what is next?
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 3 – Increasing Your Website’s Traffic)
Alex: The next steps is to improve the traffic that’s currently coming to the website.
To do this properly, you need to figure out elements you want to promote. Maybe you want to promote surgery-related services. Maybe you want to provide information about bunions. You want to research what terms have high volume and high search traffic potential, as well as what’s profitable.
Digital marketing for doctors will most likely require that you write in-depth content on complex topics. With this in mind, Dr. Masood, can you give us some insights to your specific niche?
You don’t have to disclose any sensitive information, but if we were to set up a marketing campaign, do you have five or six topics that you’d really want to highlight?
Dr. Masood: In terms of what I really want the practice to be known for, it is definitely minimal-incision surgery. Many patients avoid surgery because going to the hospital takes so much time and money. But if they’re coming into the office, it’s actually beneficial to both parties.
The doctors benefit because they get paid more by the insurance. The downside is that we do have to buy our own supplies for the surgery. But if we do it in a reasonable way, we can actually make more money, see more patients, and save more time. That’s the minimal-incision portion of it.
The other thing to focus on is, “What do podiatrists actually do? What is getting our patients in the door?” Typically, it’s ingrown nails, plantar fasciitis, diabetic wound care, fungal nails, hammer toes, bunions, Achilles tendonitis, etc.
You have to be excellent at those smaller things if you’re going to do some of the bigger, higher-end surgeries like ankle replacement or reconstruction.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 4 – Promoting The Right Services)
Alex: As far as what will get patients into the door, I imagine that the cost to the patient for something like an ingrown toenail is significantly less than one of your ankle replacement surgeries.
Dr. Masood: Right. The difference is huge. And for surgery the cost and the risk are very high. Many podiatrists won’t do surgery because they’d rather just take care of the ingrown nails all day because it pays well with little risk. Plus, there’s not much time involved. If they do a big surgery, though, they’re seeing the patient for free for the next 90 days for post-op. A practice can get a lot of ingrown nails, and that’s a very lucrative practice.
Alex: That’s fascinating. With that in mind, how I would initially start off your campaign structure would be to find something with high traffic that would be a very common and easy procedure for you to do. Even if you provide more complex services, advertising a common service will get people visiting your website and calling you.
The benefit of this approach is that once you get them in the door, it’s not so much about acquiring them as a customer anymore or having to factor in the cost of acquisition. Most likely, they’ll come to you for bigger operations, surgeries, and so on.
Dr. Masood: I think ingrown nails are definitely one of those procedures that I want to do because the problem is right now, I’m competing with not just podiatrists for ingrown nails, but I’m also competing with urgent care centers. If somebody searches for “ingrown nail,” I definitely wanted to be the one that pops up.
Alex: So, in this case, to get you seen, we would run a content marketing campaign for you. We have an established process where we research, write, and edit target articles, then send them to you for review.
But aside from that, I would also build a very specific landing page that describes what your ingrown nail procedure costs, how it works, and who it’s for. So, if someone looked up “ingrown nails,” they would not find anything to do with a diabetic foot problem on your landing page. They would only find your specific topic.
We might build multiple landing pages that go into depth about your different services and offer as much info as possible to your market. The good thing is, if you’re in the process of building out a website at this time, you can incorporate elements from your landing pages into your website.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 5 – Using SEO and Paid Ads)
Alex: Now, let’s say you already have a website, and you’re going to do an advertising campaign. You could still focus on promoting your landing pages since they have so much concentrated information. If someone types in “ingrown nails,” sees your ad, and goes to your landing page, they’re going to get an answer that gets right to the point.
As for your ads, from a 30,000-foot view, there are two tracks that you can go down. The first track is SEO content creation. The second track is paid search. Both of these can be very effective when you are doing digital marketing for doctors.
When creating your ads, the most important thing you can do is position yourself as the single point of reference that’s going to address all of your audience’s questions. Make sure they’re not going to need to continue to do additional research about their problem after they click on your ad.
As their scrolling through your landing page or website, you want to make sure the customer is saying to themselves, “This is exactly what I need.”
Dr. Masood: I’ll add that, at the end of day, patients want relief and they want to know their procedure is going to be done in a timely manner…because a lot of podiatrists here are pretty booked out. Obviously, with what’s happening with COVID-19, it’s put a damper on everything. But when it finally gets going, we can offer them same-day service.
I think that should be highlighted in the landing page, and it should have all the information that the patient would need in a manner that they understand.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 6 – Making Your Content Understandable)
Alex: Yes. Written to them…not to another doctor.
Dr. Masood: Right, because I think sometimes we do that. We start writing to other professionals rather than to our patients.
Alex: We’ve seen that a lot at Sage. Fortunately, we also see content that would be excellent for a landing page, especially videos.
Videos are a great way for doctors to simply explain in layman terms what their services are and how they work.
The amount of content you can fit into a 30-second video or a minute-long video goes way past the length of a page, in my opinion, since you can see the person talking and get a feel for their vibe.
Dr. Masood: I think we’re going to start doing that, having a few videos that are simple, clean, and easy to read. They shouldn’t be so long that patients think, “All right, when is it going to happen?” Even if they link to YouTube, some doctors have five-minute videos for something that should be only a minute long.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 7 – Your Keywords)
Alex: With respect to paid search, the way we would direct relevant traffic to your website is through keywords. One thing about keywords is that you’re going to have a significant amount of overlap. But you should do your best to avoid the keywords that you do not want to show results for.
With Google, you can target certain keywords that you want fairly easily, although with the way the algorithms work, Google will sometimes adapt your keyword to what they believe is natural language. It can sometimes substitute certain words you didn’t want to change. For example, it can take a singular word and turn it plural, but you might not want that.
Dr. Masood: I see, interesting. Especially with ingrown toenails again, people also search, “infected nail,” “painful nail.” Those are some of the keywords that we would want to target. But I think it’s harder for me to figure out what I would not want them to type.
I think that’s kind of harder for me right now, especially since I’m newer, and I don’t know exactly what people are searching for.
Alex: We have certain tools to research keywords. Ahrefs is one of the top industry tools with really accurate results, but there are others. Using the right tool is very important because let’s say you have a budget of $2,000 (I’m just throwing a number), and let’s say your clicks are $5 each.
Could you imagine if you had five, 10, or 15 clicks a day that had nothing to do with your business? We would blow through the budget in no time, and it would be a complete loss to you. That’s why keyword research with tools that have been proven to work is so important.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 8 – Your Budget)
Dr. Masood: Right, because you’d want to make the most of your budget. If somebody’s looking up information, at least I want them to be searching for me rather than something different and then accidentally land on me. What’s the point of that?
Alex: Incidental searches can be effective, but I agree, they wouldn’t work well in the beginning. So, yes, it’s very important to watch your budget for sure. Once you’ve got your budget established, you can start breaking it up between a high-level versus a low-level prospect campaign. A low-level prospect is someone on the bottom of the funnel who already knows you and is just looking for your phone number.
There’s nothing wrong with having multiple landing pages so that low-level prospects can find your business because we would be sending different types of traffic to different landing pages anyways. As you boost your website traffic, Google is going to recommend it more, and you’ll start getting high-level prospects.
You might want to throw a mini FAQ section on your landing pages because if someone’s Googling a question, likely they may have more follow-up questions.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 9 – Making The Most of FAQs)
Dr. Masood: I never thought about having a FAQ. Most patients have a hard time reading every single thing I’ve written. I think patients can easily relate to questions and answers like, “Hey, will this hurt?” I think they would like that, so I think having a FAQ for each one of the different problems that we deal with would be very helpful actually.
Alex: Almost every successful website I’ve seen has an FAQ section of some sort. They’re really an important part of your website and providing some level of explanation to your audience.
Now, depending on how in-depth you would want to go into the subject, there are bots and automated search results that could pop up and answer a wide variety of questions.
You could more or less create an answer portal for patients, which would ultimately alleviate office staff from answering redundant questions or having to send out the same type of emails over and over again.
The first place I would start when you’re trying to come up with the content for this is to ask your office staff, the people who are actually answering the phones. They’re going to know better than anyone which questions people always have.
You could have them checking company emails, as well, and see what questions are constantly being asked. I would put these points t in bold and really make sure you get them across on your website.
Dr. Masood: I see. During aftercare especially, patients will call up the office and ask, “Hey, what do I do with this?” Because even if I give them instructions, they still would like to be reassured with a voice on the phone.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 10 – Winning Patients Over With Financing Options)
Alex: Sure. Do you offer any sort of financing?
Dr. Masood: The financing we offer is through CareCredit. It’s basically a credit card designed for patients who don’t want to or can’t pay the full cost of their procedure right away. We offer six month, 12 month, and 18 month interest-free financing. And it stays interest free as long as they pay everything off within that period.
18 months is a long time for somebody to pay off a bunion surgery, which might cost $1,000. Over a course of 18 months, this is very doable.
Alex: The fact alone that you offer financing is something I would certainly make sure to highlight, regardless of what the offer is. But the fact that you are offering zero percent interest is even better. I would highlight this tremendously.
With Google ads, there’s what’s called an “ad extension,” which gives you a little bit more real estate. It’s free when you’re getting your ad anyway, and in theory, it will push your competition down a few lines. But the biggest value here is you could make an ad where the first thing people see is, “0% interest.”
Dr. Masood: We’re also one of the few offices to accept Medicaid. A lot of doctors don’t like doing that because they feel the reimbursement is too low. But I really want to target the lower-income populations as well, so they can get great services. So, I was wondering if you had ideas about how to target that specific demographic.
As a provider, I don’t mind taking a little less money, especially when I see patients who really need me. A lot of regular docs don’t want to see Medicaid patients because they feel like it doesn’t pay enough, but we are more than happy to see them.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 11 – Ads Have Limits)
Alex: With Google ads and Facebook ads, there are privacy restrictions as far as who you can target. You can’t target a specific person with a problem. You can’t, for instance, target a diabetic medication to someone who you know is diabetic. But you can target your audience on a much more general level by layering on filters.
We could incorporate keywords like “Medicaid” into your digital marketing campaign because chances are people with that type of insurance are going to have a lower income than people with private health insurance. A keyword like that could get them to your landing page. But you can also layer on filters for income levels by targeting lower-income ZIP codes.
Now, Google’s algorithm is pretty good at tracking and understanding your patterns, so if you go to a single location every single day, it’s going to be able to target you. Same for Facebook and Instagram. They’re going to have a really good understanding of where you live and what you do…you know, things like, ‘This where they parked their car every night for eight hours.’ All these data points can get factored into being able to target a specific user.
Digital Marketing For Doctors (Consideration 12 – Retargeting Your Audience)
Alex: If someone comes to your website, clicks on a few landing pages, all of them related to “ingrown toenails,” this is a great opportunity to use retargeting elements on Google, Facebook, Instagram, or other paid-search platforms so that you can show your ad to them again later on.
Dr. Masood: Interesting. I didn’t know that you could do that—if somebody has gone to your page—that you can target them again.
Alex: In fact, the way retargeting works is you can set up different groups or different segments of people and then choose how much of your budget you’re going to invest in each one.
The amount of money that I would want to invest into trying to acquire a customer who spent 30 seconds on my website versus someone who spent five minutes on my website would be a very different amount.
The same goes for a person who came back to my website the next day. If someone came to my website, looked at a landing page for two minutes and then they came back the next day, that’s a much more “bottom of the funnel” type of customer, which is where you want your leads to be. You could potentially acquire a repeat visitor to your website easily.
During the retargeting, you could show different messages. Let’s say they came in for an ingrown toenail. That might’ve been the ad they clicked on, but now what do you show them? You don’t need to show them the exact same info that they searched for on Google because they got that from your landing page.
I would show them a customer testimonial for someone who had an ingrown toenail fixed at your office, or I would highlight how clean and safe and noninvasive the surgery process is to sort of give them that reassurance.
Too often, people use Facebook or Instagram for the hard sell when they should just reassure their audience. I think that’s where a lot of people drop the ball. There’s huge opportunity to just make someone say, “This is where I want to go.”
Digital Marketing Conversation – Final Points
Alex: So, that’s very important. But let’s shift the subject for a moment.
Dr. Masood, can you talk to us about some things you’ve tried but have not worked out from a digital marketing perspective? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Dr. Masood: I don’t think we have had a consistent marketing presence. We did it for like two months, but we haven’t done it for like three months now. We are still too new to say, “Hey, this 100% worked.” But I do know that when we stopped doing it, we saw a significant decrease in the patient calls we were getting.
Alex: Sometimes reports get passed along and you see, “Oh, I got this many clicks, this many impressions.” For the most part, those are vanity metrics.
Oftentimes, the wrong metrics are being reported. That’s why it’s vitally important, when you’re initially setting up your campaign and choosing a marketing partner, to really have a clear understanding of what you are looking for. Do you want phone calls?
If so, you’ll want to base your success on that. Obviously, the ultimate value is getting someone to come into the office and pay for whatever procedure, but there’s also a value in getting a phone call or getting someone to sign up for a newsletter.
Final Points Continued
Alex: A clear understanding of what success looks like to you before you get started will ultimately dictate how successful the campaign is. Because if a marketing company is just looking to drive traffic, and you’re getting a hundred clicks a day, that’s great, but not if those people don’t bring you any business.
The same goes if you’re getting all these phone calls, but they’re not the right person. At that point, now you’re not only wasting your ad dollars, but now you’re wasting staff resources answering calls for the wrong things. Certainly, we’ve seen these types of mistakes in the past.
There are tools and resources that are easily available to track phone calls. You can tie in with something called “dynamic call tracking,” where if someone came in on a Google ad, then one phone number would automatically swap out. I can explain what this means.
First of all, it’s a simple line of code that goes onto the website. Second of all, when someone clicks from Google, it’s going to show one phone number. When someone goes directly to your website, it’s going to show another phone number. Someone comes in from Facebook, it’ll show another phone number.
Why is something like this important?
Well, someone can be on their desktop and then they pick up their phone and call you, but how do you know where that call’s coming from? You need to be able to attribute a specific call with a certain marketing value. How much is each call costing you?
We’re measuring the actual cost of a phone call because not everyone who comes to your website is going to call.
Let’s say you are paying $60 per call on Google, but you get the same phone call for $30 on Bing. If so, you can switch your marketing tactics. Certainly, if you’re limited on budget, you might want to shift to Bing until you get to the point of diminishing returns where you just can’t maximize the budget within a specific channel.
Dr. Masood: My main goal is to copy what a lot of the very top-end people in podiatry are doing, which is…basically they’re getting people to come from different parts of the United States or even across the world to get bunion surgery done in the manner we specialize in, which is minimal-incision surgery.
People are flying from all over. If you look up “bunion king of New York,” people are flying from everywhere if they have a bunion, which is no different from what I do. The only thing is he just has the clout and the buildup, so that’s what we want to lead to. I think having a good marketing campaign is vital.
Alex: Sure…and ideally, you’ll have your prospecting campaigns, you’ll target people at a higher level for more branding awareness, and you’ll do the retargeting to keep your name on top of mind. But you certainly want to make sure that the core of your campaign is at the bottom of the funnel, focused on the people who are looking for very specific things.
This post was adapted from a conversation with Alex Jariv from Sage Digital Agency and Dr. Hasan Masood, an expert in minimal-incision podiatric laser surgery. Dr. Masood graduated from the California School of Podiatric Medicine at the top of his class. He then entered a three-year surgical residency at Lorde’s Hospital.
He emphasizes training in minimal incision surgery. This powerful technique allows for the correction of even very complex deformities through a very small incision. This decreases pain and reduces tissue damage and allows for a faster recovery. He has more than ten training qualifications and is a Las Vegas primary podiatric surgeon.