COVID-19: Marketing Your Healthcare Practice During a Crisis
● Marketing During a Demand Shock
● Google Ads: What to Consider
● DIY: What You Can Do to Help Yourself
● A ‘Fundamentals’ Checklist
We’re all facing a new normal with COVID-19… and striving to keep the wheels of our businesses rolling. But as all of you who faced the economic meltdown of 2008 know, we’ve been here before.
We learned an important lesson from that disruption: Clients who remained active were the ones that were successful and grew their practices. And they dominate their markets now.
While it’s true that consumers will put off discretionary spending for now, once the situation stabilizes, practices will see pent-up demand for services return. You want to be a visible presence when that happens.
Marketing During a Demand Shock
The internet is your bridge to clients now.
Consumers may be hunkered down at home, but they are still “out and about” online. Social media browsing is likely on the rise, and we can tell by looking at online statistics that there is only a marginal decrease in Google search traffic in our niche.
So let’s take a step back and survey how to optimize your position in this new landscape.
Google Ads: What to Consider
Are Google Ads worth it for businesses impacted by COVID-19, like healthcare? Yes. Here’s the reasoning:
➽ You Only Pay for Clicks
For starters, at Einstein, we never spend the allocated budget just to hit a number. If demand isn’t there, (i.e. people aren’t clicking on the ads) then you won’t be incurring costs. But there’s more to the story:
● As other practices drop out, there will be less competition. Less competition means lower cost per click to compete for valuable queries from people stuck at home.
● Ads aren’t just for conversion. They also increase visibility. Even if people aren’t clicking on your ad and booking appointments, an impression now increases the chances of a click tomorrow. That's because the more consumers see your name, the more trustworthy and credible you become, increasing the likelihood they'll choose you in the future. (In psychology, it’s called the Mere Exposure Effect.)
➽ Increase Market Share
Less competition also means we can capture market share from competitors while they are closed. Some states are limiting procedures to emergencies only. If this is applicable where you are, consider targeting these valuable cases. We have one client who makes $10k a day for emergency procedures.
➽ Think Outside the Box
Businesses in the hospitality industry, which is also hit hard by closures, are shifting from “buy now” ads to long-term offers to attract clients. Consider capturing clients now with offers for savings when the crisis subsides.
Other hard-hit businesses are shifting from prospecting campaigns to retargeting ads to build relationships with people who’ve already indicated an interest. With some limitations, healthcare practices can also remarket to potential patients.
➽ Maintain Your Pipeline
Most people don’t book appointments for the same day, but in the future. Dialing back marketing efforts means you will be depleting your pipeline and creating a longer time to ramp up to normal once restrictions are lifted. Plus, dialing back also makes people wonder if you'll return when the situation stabilizes.
DIY: What You Can Do to Help Yourself
Investing in your site now sets the stage for a strong showing when pent-up demand is unleashed. Use this slower time to tackle those impactful SEO and marketing tasks that slipped off your plate when you were busy. For starters:
● Huddle with your account executive and map out a fresh content strategy for today’s new normal while also preparing for a rebound when consumers return to the marketplace.
● Bump up your use of social media, email, or other channels to provide clear, transparent support and communication with patients. Let them know you are ready to help.
● DIY: Try your hand at creating website content yourself.
If you are going the DIY route, here's some tactics to consider:
➽ Reassure Patients
Be sure to add a COVID-19 announcement to your Home Page as Dr. Constance Barone did for her plastic surgery patients. This timely information reinforces your commitment to high standards and explains the proactive measures you are taking to protect your patients’ welfare. Now is the time to also make sure your credentials are front and center.
➽ Stay Visible
People stuck at home are bound to be scrolling through social media. Be sure to maintain your presence on Facebook and any other platforms you use. Let patients know you are ready now and in the future to address their concerns.
● Stock up on social media posts: While you have extra time on your hands, create an inventory of Facebook and social media posts that you can use now and in the future. You’ll be thankful for your stockpile of posts when business picks up again.
● Protip: Do you have an important message that you don’t want lost in the social media scroll? Pin important posts to the top of your Facebook Page.
➽ Are You Offering Telemedicine Services?
Let your patients know. If you’re not, now may be the time to get up to speed on using virtual conferencing. We’re glad to help you implement this technology.
➽ Video and Webinars
Is it time you got in front of the camera … er, your smartphone? How about introducing new team members or technology you’ve added to your practice using live streaming? Or step it up a notch by presenting a webinar to discuss the latest treatment options. Both webinars and video are excellent fodder for blogs and social media. Let us know if you have questions about implementing virtual technology.
➽ Work on Your Reviews
Have you taken the time to respond to reviews you already have? Replying builds your relationship with patients and impresses prospective patients too. Maybe it’s time to create a reviews policy and train an employee to manage future online reviews. Take an extra moment to coach them on how to respond to negative reviews or escalate them to the right person at your practice.
➽ Offer FAQs to Common Questions
As a specialist, you can be hyper-specific to your patient’s needs. For example, provide industry-specific information that patients won't see in the mass media, such as this COVID-19 information for contact lens wearers. What information can you share that is specific to your patients’ COVID-19 concerns and overlooked by mass media?
➽ Update your Before and After Gallery
Many prospective patients turn to before and after photo galleries before deciding to contact a practice. Has your gallery content fallen behind?
Getting the Fundamentals Right
With practice hours shifting and mandatory shutdowns, it’s easy for information to go out of date, making it hard for patients to reach you. That can leave them wondering if you’ll open your doors again.
Google is urging businesses to update their Google My Business (GMB) dashboard to let people know what has changed. Here’s a checklist of fundamentals you may need to address on your website, GMB page, and at Yelp:
● Are you operating on special hours? Update the times your practice is open.
● Make sure your contact information is correct.
● What steps are you taking to avoid the spread of COVID-19?
● Consider adding a personal message to reassure patients that you are ready to address their needs or provide information specific to your field that won’t be addressed in generic news channels.
We also recommend checking to see that your communication systems address any changes in handling emails and phone calls. For starters:
● Forward your emails to appropriate mailboxes, including your smartphone, so you are quickly alerted to patient queries. Refer to this link for Einstein Email Help.
● Forward your telephone calls to phones that get answered. Contact your IT manager or phone service provider if you need help.
The internet is your bridge to clients now. Think long and hard before you burn it down.
● The lessons of 2008: Clients who left the playing field faced a long-term, uphill battle to recover. But those who stayed the course lept to the forefront and are the ones that are dominating their markets today.
● Google Ads: You only pay for clicks. But along with ads, you get valuable “impressions,” which build trust and credibility with prospective patients and don’t cost a dime. So instead of leaving the space entirely, review your ad campaigns with your account executive to see what strategy and options would work for you.
● SEO is the long game: Investments you make in your website now will still bear fruit and build your market share. On the other hand, panicking can cause long-term damage to your online presence, decreasing your visibility and future revenue.
● Use this time to strengthen your relationships with current patients and build recognition and connections with new ones. If you wait until the crisis subsides, you may get lost in the crowd as the returning competition floods the online marketplace.
If you have questions about updating your website or mapping out a strategy to adjust to the changing landscape, please reach out to us.
The Einstein Team is ready to help. Fill out the form below, call your National Account Executive, or reach out to the Client Success Team at 858-459-1182.