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Testify! The Power of Patient Testimonials

Several thumbs held aloft

You’ve dedicated years of your life to honing your skills as a doctor and developing a thriving, successful medical practice. You have a long line of satisfied patients who are more than willing to sing your praises to their friends and families. Word-of-mouth referrals to your practice are fairly common, but perhaps not steady enough for your liking. You want to grow your practice, and in order to do that, you need to reach more new potential patients.

By strategically embedding patient testimonials into your website and other promotional materials, you can harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing and direct it toward a larger audience. Especially in the age of social media, compelling patient testimonials can expand your base of prospective patients exponentially. If executed properly, an Internet medical marketing strategy can be centered on the words of your patients, providing you with a low-cost, highly effective method of spreading your reputation.

Of course, executing any strategy properly requires planning and forethought. Most medical websites now include some type of patient testimonials, but not all testimonials are equally effective as marketing tools. By keeping the following tips in mind as you solicit testimonials and integrate them into your online marketing, you can attract a strong, steady flow of new patients.

Seek out detailed, honest testimonials that will inspire trust.

According to a 2014 study conducted by BrightLocal, approximately 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. However, not all online reviews are inherently trustworthy. When you ask your patients for testimonials, ask them:

  • To be honest and specific: Exaggerated praise and vague descriptions of the patient experience will only undermine the trust that these testimonials are intended to inspire.
  • To balance their positive opinions with any constructive comments they have to offer about your practice: Testimonials that offer constructive feedback in addition to praise are often viewed as more trustworthy than over-the-top, glowing reviews.
  • If you can edit their testimonials for length, clarity, spelling, and grammar if necessary: Testimonials that are overlong, rambling, confusing, or otherwise poorly written can cause potential patients to doubt the professionalism of the practice posting them. If a testimonial is extremely badly written, then it is better not to use it, even if it is extremely positive.

Display testimonials that present clear benefits to patients.

Although you may be tempted to display as many positive testimonials as you can gather on your website, you will want to be careful not to dilute the power of your best, most engagingly written testimonials with those of lesser value. The testimonials with the greatest value to your practice will not simply proclaim how great you are. They will give prospective patients a clear idea of the benefits they can expect by turning to your practice, while maintaining an honest, balanced perspective.

Consider the following hypothetical examples:

Dr. Morrison is a master of dentistry! I love him and his staff. What a totally awesome experience I had at his office! And my new smile is great!

I was made to feel comfortable from the moment I walked into Dr. Morrison’s office for the placement of my permanent porcelain veneers. His staff is welcoming and friendly, and they were very patient in answering questions I had. Dr. Morrison saw me at my appointed time, and he was extremely gentle in placing my veneers. I felt a little discomfort when he removed my temporary veneers, but he kept me calm and assured the whole time with his great sense of humor. The quality of the veneers is very high – they look so natural that most people think that I just had my teeth whitened. I truly have the smile that I’ve always wanted, and I’m very grateful to Dr. Morrison and his team.

Of these two testimonials, both are positive. However, the second is by far the more compelling of the two. The first example, while certainly glowing in its praise, doesn’t communicate anything of substance to your visitors. On the other hand, the second example provides plenty of detail without wearing out its welcome. It’s simple and readable, and it is benefit-oriented without seeming inauthentic or “sales-y.”

Never stop soliciting testimonials.

Complacency is the enemy of effective marketing. You should continually be adding to your collection of patient testimonials. This will communicate to prospective patients that:

  • You have more than just a few satisfied patients who are willing to attest to your skills.
  • You are continually building on your reputation rather than relying on your past accomplishments.
  • You offer a diverse range of benefits to a diverse range of patients.

Remember that some of your prospective patients may visit your website several times over the course of months or even years, unsure of whether to contact your practice. If they encounter fresh testimonials during this time, it could help to influence them to schedule that first appointment.

Take advantage of the power of video.

Simply stated, there is no online marketing tool more powerful than video. In fact, a 2012 Forrester Research study concluded that one minute of video is worth approximately 1.8 million words of written text in terms of its effects on consumers. In practical terms, this translates to:

  • Increased trust: If 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, then video testimonials reinforce this trust by allowing prospective patients to see real people speaking about your practice rather than simply reading words attributed to a name.
  • Reduced skepticism: Your satisfied patients can be your most effective salespeople. Having a library of video testimonials at your disposal is like having a full-time sales force on call, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. However, because your patients are objective third parties who are sincere in their admiration of your work, prospective patients will view them with less skepticism than they would actual paid representatives of your practice.
  • Higher conversion rates: A study conducted by Social Media Today found that more than 90 percent of consumers agreed that video factored into their decision to purchase a product. Combined with educational and practice profile videos, video testimonials can help to keep users engaged with your website and ultimately convince them to contact your practice.

As with any element of your marketing strategy, however, execution is everything when it comes to getting the most out of your video testimonials. While you want your patients to come across as sincere and authentic, as opposed to stiff and rehearsed, you also want to make sure that your videos are well produced and professional. In the end, you will want to work with experts that have experience in video marketing to ensure that your video testimonials achieve the right balance between genuine and polished.

Use multiple media types to present your testimonials.

The more media types you use to present your testimonials, the more likely they are to reach the largest possible audience. Some people intuitively trust online reviews more when they can see and hear the reviewer speaking in a video. Others are drawn to a powerful quotation that is set apart from the rest of the text, whether as a pull quote or a quote accompanying a set of before-and-after photos.

While the focus of this blog post has been on integrating patient testimonials into your website, don’t be content to stop there. Use your testimonials wherever and however you can: 

  • Publish them to your social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter.
  • Use them as part of case studies that you publish to your blog.
  • Include them in your newsletters and direct-mail campaigns.
  • Display them prominently in your practice brochures and print advertisements.
  • Include a particularly compelling quotation on your business card.

Ultimately, patient testimonials combine the best elements of word-of-mouth marketing with the unique power of the Internet to spread messages quickly and to an ever expanding audience. Put some thought and effort into collecting and presenting your testimonials, and your satisfied patients will effectively be promoting your practice twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week across a variety of platforms.