Doctors face a litany of high-pressure challenges running a private clinic on a daily basis. Keeping up with patient visits and choosing new equipment to invest in are stressful responsibilities adding to the pressure of performing precise surgeries and making accurate diagnoses.

It’s not enough for doctors to run a great practice. Word of mouth is no longer sufficient to attract new patients and retain existing ones. Doctors have always budgeted for marketing to grow their practices, but the old ways of advertising, like running ads in newspapers or medical publications, are no longer as effective.

National healthcare leaders at the Healthcare Symposium 2018 said the biggest impact on their marketing efforts in the past five years has come not from the decline of newspaper readership, but from consumer’s increased use of social media. The shifting climate for doctors has far reaching implications across the healthcare industry. Here’s what doctors can do to up their marketing game.

Tune In to Mobile Search Patterns

Mobile search has fundamentally changed the digital and physical customer experience.

  • Consider that local search performed on mobile devices has risen from 66.5 billion in 2014 to nearly 142 billion in 2018.
  • Local search terms like “doctors near me” can hit 1 million monthly searches, as you can see from Google AdSense data below.

Most doctors don’t have the spare hours to become SEO experts, but the movements in mobile and voice search cannot be ignored. Marketing is a team effort, and doctors who want to run a healthy business need to find a team who can connect with the patients looking for them.

Build a Marketing Team For Your Practice

Client-centered practices are going out of their way to make searching and connecting effortless for their inbound patients. But you may not have to go as far out of your way as it seems. There are marketing agencies devoted exclusively to health care, and some of them, like Healthcare Success, offer a free SEO audit to get you started.

Others, like PatientPop, also offer reputation management, scheduling services and front desk automation, and an up-front assessment of your overall digital presence to see how you look to consumers now.

Consider your marketing efforts an investment, as they are for any commercial business. Build it into the budget’s high priority tier, and expect to see a robust ROI within a designated time window, say a year or two.

Find Some Free Marketing Tools That Work For You

There are also steps you can take yourself, provided you don’t have hobbies or want to spend time with your family. Here’s a handy list of free tools you can use boost your marketing, although nothing on this list is enough on its own, and to do everything on it would be less cost effective than hiring someone to do them. Still, there are steps you can take in your off time if, say, you’re an amatuer designer and you’d like to tackle the print brochures on your own. And it will give you an idea of the many facets of marketing that an agency or team can handle more effectively.

If you’re a social media starlet in your off time, that could be the greatest boon of all. PatientPop has a list of five great examples of doctors whose social media presence is A level. The benefit of this isn’t so much that it’s free. It’s that it’s personal. Patients aren’t just searching for a doctor, they’re searching for a relationship. Putting yourself out there as a unique individual can warm patients to your demeanor before you even meet.

A Digital Plan for Finding Patients is Critical

Clinics that do not adjust their marketing efforts will lose patients to digital-first competitors. An automated and enhanced digital profile can create a frictionless patient care experience, and, yet, far too many doctors take the burden of managing a digital identity fully upon themselves. This is a costly mistake. Doctors should turn to trusted partners that specialize in finding patients and managing the patient experience in a digital world. PatientPop takes the stress of digital marketing off your hands and lets you focus all your attention on the already-stressful-enough responsibilities of running a clinic.