When patients drop out of care, your practice loses more than the revenue from those never-completed visits. You miss out on the future revenue from that patient potentially coming back as well as the additional referrals those patients might have delivered had they completed their treatment. Imagine that cycle as it continues—the loss of those never-referred patients making their own referrals—and you begin to grasp the scope of the loss.
We have more methods than ever before to engage with patients. Despite powerful communications and marketing tools and strategies, nearly two thirds of PT patients currently drop out of treatment. That’s an opportunity loss equal to about $250,000 a year for a typical PT practice. And missed word of mouth is a big part of that loss.
What are we missing?
At its core, patient engagement isn’t a technical, clinical process. And it isn’t a customer service transaction. It’s a relationship-building endeavor and—like all relationships—an emotional journey. From intake to discharge, our patients experience highs and lows, memorable, moments of excitement, pride, doubt and fear. A successful patient experience rests on your ability to meet patients where they are at every point along that journey.
You think you’re in the PT business. You’re really in the business of relationships.
When you understand where patients are emotionally in the life cycle of their treatment you can implement the marketing and communications systems that anticipate and address those needs. Without those systems, you and your team are left reacting to patients’ uncertainties, doubts and concerns after they arise. In today’s world, where patients are easily distracted, discouraged, and unsure of the value of treatment, that’s too late. Those patients leave your care, and with them goes their unmaterialized revenue and their power as word of mouth advocates for your practice.
4 turning points in the PT patient experience
You can’t drop in and out of empathic, informed attention to your patients’ experience. It’s an ongoing process throughout the stages of the patient life cycle. There are no moments or interactions that aren’t important. These are 4 points in the active patient journey that are especially critical. They illustrate the emotional terrain our patients experience in care, and how that connects to your work as a care provider. Anticipating these key interactions can cultivate the trust and delight in your patients that keeps them with their treatment plans, and makes them want to be ambassadors for your practice through word of mouth.
After intake, before evaluation
Patients have just completed a huge step. They’ve taken an action that more than 90 percent of the adults with physical therapy needs don’t ever take: they sought out a solution for their pain. That solution is you. At and around this point, they’re feeling excited and empowered—their brains are flush with dopamine from having taken that action. Now is the time to join them in their excitement and affirm their decision with enthusiastic, information-rich welcome communications from you and your staff. This is your one and only chance to “pre-frame” the experience that your patients are about to have in your care as one of nurture, enthusiasm, camaraderie, belonging and even humor. These early interactions are the first step in developing personal bonds, and in setting the tone for how your patients perceive your organization going forward. Make them memorable.
After initial evaluation
The dopamine-fueled confidence and thrill from making a decision doesn’t last. Post-evaluation is a common time for second-guessing doubt and fear to set in for patients, especially if they’re experiencing additional pain. There also tend to be a lot of questions that come up for patients after evaluations, questions that rarely get asked. This calls for a communications strategy that directly addresses those doubts and fills that information vacuum, helping patients re-connect with their initial confidence and commitment as they move forward into treatment.
After 3-5 visits
It’s right around the fourth visit that patients are most likely to abandon treatment.
What’s happening for patients at this point? Their pain might be improving quickly enough (in their perception) that they start to question whether they need to complete their care plan. Their pain might be taking so long to improve (in their perception) that they question whether treatment is really working.
Wherever your patients are in the treatment of their musculoskeletal problem, they are all facing essentially the same emotional gap: a brewing crisis in their trust of the process of physical therapy. That’s the need and concern you and your team must meet at this critical moment. It’s time to engage with patients to clarify expectations, address problems, re-affirm and re-commit to seeing treatment through to its end. Having a system in place for quality assurance check in at this phase of treatment can reduce drop outs and lift referrals by 25 percent.
After a successful discharge
You’ve shepherded a patient through an entire treatment plan. You’ve helped them out of pain, and in to a better quality of life. Your patient completed that journey because of the relational bonds you fostered along the way. Patients who get to this point are profoundly grateful.
Our patients are no different than we are. They want to help people, especially people they know and care about. Our patients want to do something with their gratitude. That’s how we end up with brownies and cookies. You can give them the opportunity do something far more meaningful. Now is the time to talk openly and directly with your healthy, delighted patients about referrals, testimonials, and reviews. Give them the chance to share the great experience they’ve had with you with others, including the people they know and want to help
This is a guest post by Dr. Jamey Schrier. Jamey is a physical therapist and founder of Practice Freedom U, which teaches practice owners how to grow and scale their business so they can prosper in and out of the clinic.
Physical therapy video testimonials are yet another marketing strategy that so few PT practices are implementing.
Proof in the form of happy patients that are willing to tell the world how happy they are with your physical therapy services is the best marketing content possible.
Nothing will give a prospective patient more confidence than seeing a variety of glowing testimonials about the treatment they so badly want…and need.
So how can you build up your cache of video testimonials? Here’s how!
Have a Process
The first step to getting more testimonials and getting them consistently is to make it a process at your business.
This is too important and valuable to leave to chance, but that’s exactly what most businesses do. I’ll show you how to do it better!
Create a process that is triggered when a positive patient experience happens, so you approach your patient for a testimonial when they are going to be most willing to provide one.
A possible process could look like this:
Listen for a patient comment that includes the words “thank you…”
Respond with something like, “I’m glad you are doing so well, would do me a small favor and allow me to get that on video?”
Have the patient sign a video release form and HIPAA release.
Pull out your smartphone and have the patient answer 4 questions:
a. their first name
b. the problems they had before you helped them
c. what they did in therapy/with you
d. what they are able to do now or how their pain has diminished/gone away
e. a recommendation for you
That’s it – pretty easy, right?
Make It Easy
Shooting a video for you was probably not on the list of things a patient might do for you so you need to make it easy.
Use E-rehab’s slick video testimonial system – point, shoot, send. That’s all it takes.
If you’d like to know more about this, let us know.
Share Them Everywhere
Once you’ve collected your testimonials, be sure to put them to good use by sharing them everywhere and making them as visible as possible.
Share them on your website, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Add them to the newsletter we provide each month.
You might even be able to think of other ways to share them (how about with the referring doctor?).
You now have a simple process and tool to add some serious firepower to your marketing. The importance of getting good physical therapy video testimonial can’t be overstated – get started today!
Background – Physical Therapy Ratings & Reviews on Your Website vs. Online Directories
I define online reviews [when I say reviews, I am implying both a star rating and text review] as those posted to directory sites, such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook to name a few. Our data, from over 1700 PT websites, indicates that Google is the first place that most prospective patients see you online; therefore, online reviews at Google matter the most and you should have a system to capture them. Like many other systems, E-rehab has a killer system (we have many clients with over 100 Google reviews) that either directs patients to the proper place to write a review on Google My Business or to write a review for their website.
I speak to many practice owners that are so focused on Google, Yelp, and Facebook reviews that they forget that the second most common way prospective patients get to your website is by directly going to it…in other words, they type your web address/URL into their browser. For this exact reason, you want to make sure that you have reviews on your home page, not only Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
But there’s a second type of review that is just as important: first-party reviews. These are the reviews that are on YOUR website. They’ve been common on e-commerce websites for years, but are now popping up on retail, restaurant, and professional services sites.
You’re going to see more and more first-party reviews because they help convince customers late in the funnel, by ratifying their decision to make your enterprise the finalist for their purchase.
Responding to Negative and Positive Physical Therapy Ratings & Reviews is Important
It’s important to respond to reviews because as much as anything, you are writing the response for other people that will be reading the negative reviews.
Below are tips, that when followed, may keep the patient coming back and prevent prospects from choosing another practice instead of yours.
1) Respond fast – 51.7% of consumers expect businesses to respond to their negative review within seven days. The quicker the response, the better. Patients that see you respond quickly to their issue helps them to understand that you are a customer-service oriented practice. By delaying a response, you risk never getting any business from not only that customer, but future patrons as well. Prospects who read these reviews and see you respond in a genuine, caring way are very likely to still choose you because they see you are actively involved with making sure your patients’ concerns are addressed.
Case Study: in 2018, I helped several clients respond to negative physical therapy ratings and reviews. Two clients that I helped said that a patient read the response and chose their practice. Not to say that I have some magic formula to respond, it was more about being polite and timely.
2) When you respond, don’t be defensive or argumentative – First, thank them for letting you know there was an issue. Then, offer your sincere apology that it even happened at all. Tell them that this is not typical of your company and that you are giving this issue your utmost attention. If possible ask them to contact you so you can resolve it as quickly as possible. How you resolve the issue is up to you.
Some patients just want to be heard. Others will try to extort money from you, or in other words, will tell you they are going to write a negative review if you don’t forgive their copay or co-insurance. Responding to them by letting them know that you went through a rigorous process of verifying insurance before they came in (assuming you did of course) and what their responsibility was is often a good way to handle these.
Don’t be Afraid to Share Your Side – While some physical therapists would prefer not to defend themselves fearing ongoing negative dialogue, other experts argue that you should tell the story as it went down. Neil Patel SEO expert and blogger extraordinaire, states in this post:
Don’t be afraid to tell your side of the story…Bad reviews are not always your fault. But when a number of things add up to a negative customer experience, your business might suffer. If somebody were to falsely accuse you of a crime, you would do anything in your power to prove your innocence. When a review is simply untrue, you might need to do the same. Sometimes, you need to share your side of what really happened.
I happen to agree with this. Too many consumers write negative reviews about health care without thinking. Some have the crazy notion that insurance is going to cover everything (and fail to read the financial fine print on PT intake forms). Setting the record straight can sometimes lead to the patient removing the review. This was an experience I had with a client in Brooklyn. She wrote a negative review, we responded properly, and she removed it.
3) Ask Them to Update Their Review – If you were able to successfully resolve an issue, ask the patient to return to the directory site and update their review! Don’t try to post yourself stating that the issue was resolved. It is best coming from the patient. They may not update their response, but it does no harm to at least ask and may go a long way to, once again, increase your reputation online!
Still others are just unhappy people and that’s okay. As I indicated earlier, having a few bad reviews isn’t a bad thing. In fact, when it comes to purchasing many goods and services, maximum purchases occur from vendors when their online reputation is less than five stars. I haven’t seen that play out in the rehabilitation profession but if you have a very large volume of reviews, >100, it could be an advantage.
4) Responding to Reviews is a Differentiator – in a large data study by reviewtrackers.com (worth the read), they indicated that 63% of consumers never hear back after they post a negative review. In a cursory inspection of 50 different physical therapy practices, we too noticed that neither positive or negative reviews received responses from PT practices most of the time.
5) Responding to Positive Reviews is an SEO Factor – Finally, why bother to respond to positive reviews? Google confirms that it helps with local search rankings.
…businesses should “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.” This statement is then followed by “high-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location.”
Like the process of capturing ratings and reviews, responding to reviews is another positive ranking SEO factor you can control that will help…and of course we highly encourage this.
[IMPORTANT: The best defense to physical therapy negative reviews is to get your patients to proactively review you. Having 60+ positive reviews drives business. It gets patients that are comparison shopping or are sitting on the fence, off the fence and increases the likelihood that they will call you.]
In Summary – When it comes to Physical Therapy Ratings and Reviews, Don’t Ignore Them, Respond To Them
Replying to negative reviews shows those reading that you are proactive and concerned about things that are important to your patients. This can serve to improve your online reputation. But ignoring these issues is the same as turning your back on them, something that could give your practice a black eye and may even turn consumers away..
I hope you are finding this information useful to your practice. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to give us a call at (800) 468-5161 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
We’ve all heard that we should be creating more content for our practice. Physical therapy content marketing is a type of marketing strategy that you might want to consider.
Years ago, popular marketer Gary Vaynerchuk stated that all businesses are media businesses. You’ve probably heard you need to create blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media content which have all become a requirement of marketing and growth in just about every industry.
But creating content is definitely time consuming, and can be the last thing on your list of things to get done on an already busy day. So here’s a six step process for creating more content even when you’re really busy treating patients and running your business.
1. Create a Calendar of Content Topics
The first step is to create an outline. Simply outline the core ideas for your content on a notepad and transfer those topics to a Google Calendar or similar. Here’s a good resource with free Excel sheets that you can use for planning. You can use the Simple Marketing Worksheet to get started.
IMPORTANT: when creating a content outline, topics can consist of things like patients you want to see, the problems they have, how physical therapy can help them, and information on particular techniques-especially those that are known already to your community. Examples include:
2. Create an Outline for each Individual Topic
You don’t want or need a ton of detail, just enough to give structure to your thinking as you do your content creation. Think about this popular presentation format:
Tell them what you are going to tell them.
Tell them about the topic.
Tell them what you told them.
Add a Call to Action
Write out the outline as a cue card and then your off to the next step.
3. Record a Video
Step number three is to then record a video. I know you may not be comfortable on video – many people aren’t – but it’s something that you’ll get used to over time, and the value of video in marketing today is tremendous. So record a video of you speaking to the outline that you just put down on the notepad. For those that aren’t “off-the-cuff” presenters, a good teleprompter can help. Here’s a link to a resource for you. Don’t overthink it. You can use a camera or iPhone/Android and a shotgun mic (we like the Saramonic or Rode brands). Make sure you get the iPhone connectors as well. If you want to use your iPhone, here’s a cool mobile filmmaking case that we like. Click here. Then the KineMaster video recording app works well too.
Now that you have the gear, record it and you’ve got your first piece of content!
4. Want to Go Bigtime with Your Content – Create a Podcast
The fourth step is to then have the audio exported and edited as a podcast. Podcasts are one of the fastest growing forms of content in terms of consumer consumption because they can be listened to while doing other things, like driving, working out, walking on the treadmill, or running on the beach.
For these reasons, podcasts are experiencing incredible growth, and many people consider them to be the most important form of marketing now. So you definitely want to make sure that you’re getting your podcast created. A simple way to do that is to record your video first, and then export the audio content. There are a number of resources to export the audio portion of a video. I personally like Camtasia. It’s a bit spendy but a quick search should enable you to find some additional resources.
Then you will need a service to upload your audio file. This is called a podcasting platform. Here’s a link to reviews of podcasting platforms and some are free.
5. Transcribe the Audio into a Blog Post
Next you’re going to take that audio content and have it transcribed into a post. I like to use an app called Rev for this. You simply upload your audio file or- even a video file – and the app will extract the audio and transcribe it for approximately $1 per minute of audio. I found that a typical blog post is five to 10 minutes long, so I can get the transcription done for $5 to $10.
The service is fantastic and creates a transcript that is very easy for me to put some final editing polish on, and use it as a blog post or use it as content for my social media posts and my YouTube video.
6. Have a Designer Create Images
Next is to have a graphic designer create images for every place that you want to post your content. Images are very important to go along with your content, regardless of whether it’s going up on YouTube, a podcast, Facebook, Instagram, or any other platform.
Images help sell the content and get the attention of your audience in the first place. Hire graphic designers from affordable services like Fiverr, UpWork, or Design Pickle and you can quickly get custom-designed image – often within 24 hours.
Your Turn! Create your content and push it out to a blog, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and more. You too can be a media company and get your name out to your community.
Want Some Help?
If this all seems a bit too much or you know you simply won’t be able to find the time, let us know. E-rehab specializes in physical therapy content marketing and we can help you get your name out to your market.
Not where you’d like to be with your social media presence? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – social media is a challenge (and perhaps even a mystery) for many physical therapy practices!
The good news is that the pace of change in today’s private practice marketing world means that it’s never too late to jump in and compete, no matter where you’re starting from.
Here are seven things you can do right now to improve your social media presence and get better results from your social media efforts:
1. Understand Your Audience
This is perhaps the most important part of your social media strategy. While many get lost in the content development, planning, and technical use of social networks, physical therapy marketing is all about reaching your target market. The fundamental question that you need to ask is, “Do patients seeking out physical therapy or past patients seeking out my physical therapy services, use social media?” In our opinion here at E-rehab, past patients do use social networks to continue the relationship with a clinician/clinic they’ve had treatment at. Therefore, it does make sense to use them. In doing so, it is always important to focus on three things – educating past patients, entertaining them to maintain engagement (continued interaction on your the social network you’ve connect with them on), and making occasional offers.
NOTE: Years ago, at a WebPT conference, I was speaking with the director of marketing, he made an interesting comment that has stuck with me to this day. He said, “If you want to try to measure ROI with social media, don’t. It’s the wrong question to ask.” While I can appreciate this from his context, I was speaking with a dedicated marketing expert that had a team of people and a health budget. Why am I bringing this up? You need to make peace with the inability to measure ROI, and you need to make sure that other marketing strategies, that do provide a measurable ROI are a higher priority.
2. Sharpen Your Physical Therapy Social Media Strategy
Simply posting content on social media isn’t enough. Before you can expect to generate a tribe of fans, followers, or community on a social network, you need to take a sharp look at your current strategy, and be realistic about what’s working and what’s not.
Start, consider the following questions:
Which social media platforms are you active on?
Which social media platforms are relevant to your business goals?
Which social media platforms are providing the most traffic and conversions?
Which social media platforms are underperforming?
What kind of content are you most effective at creating?
What kind of content will most effectively accomplish our social media goals?
Take a step back and really consider these questions. When it comes to the business of physical therapy, and I can’t overstate this enough, you may find that you’re wasting your efforts on platforms that don’t get results, you’re not using the platform’s features to the fullest, or you’re spreading yourself too thin. Don’t be afraid to change directions in your pursuit of your goals.
Important Concept: Physical Therapy isn’t very social. No one wants to go to physical therapy and you can’t make people have pain or induce demand for it. Yes, people “need” physical therapy and it’s important for your brand name and expertise to be present in your prospects’ minds when they do have a problem. It’s super important to understand this.
3. Optimize Current Accounts
Once you’ve decided on your social media platforms and strategy, you should consider how you can strengthen your presence by optimizing your accounts.
To start, ensure your profile and header images are current and clear, and reflect your brand wherever possible.
Next, make sure you are making full use of any opportunities to add copy, a call to action, and hashtags. Also, check all links to be sure that they’re working properly.
Finally, remember that your profile shouldn’t be static, but rather a living asset that changes to reflect current seasons, campaigns and promotional themes.
4. Identify Clear Goals
What gets measured, gets managed…and improved. It’s time to identify clear goals that you will commit to monitoring and measuring moving forward.
You’ve likely checked your analytics in the process of evaluating your current social media accounts, so you already have the information you need to set your goals for the following year.
Remember, your goals don’t need to be elaborate or involved. A goal can be as simple as increasing your content posting or mixture. In any case, create goals that inspire you and share them with your team or peers and mentors that will hold you accountable.
5. Create a Schedule – Consistency is the Key
We’ve found that in almost 100% of cases, the most effective social media pros have a thoughtful posting schedule that they adhere to.
As a result, a big part of the execution of your social media strategy should be finding out the ideal timing for your content to maximize reach and engagement, and then creating a schedule around those times.
A schedule is more than just an alarm clock to time your posts by though – it also forces you to think ahead about your content plan. This keeps you from having gaps in your content, and ensures that you are giving yourself enough time to thoughtfully create your social content to tie into your greater marketing plans.
6. Use Video
In March of 2019, we attended Social Media Marketing World conference. If there was one underlying theme that crossed many discussions, it was this…use video! Video on Facebook, live video, YouTube video, Instagram video…video is where it’s at.
Many practices shy away from video marketing, but it’s effectiveness in unquestionable. Videos are easy and fun to consume, more engaging, and more likely to hold the attention of your audience for longer periods of time. In other words, you can’t afford to skip it!
Keep in mind that videos don’t need to be professionally done to work. In fact, in most cases, an informal and more relatable video will beat a Hollywood production any day!
A great way to capitalize on video that anyone can do is to go live. Many social media platforms offer live video options now, and it’s as simple as turning on your phone or webcam and hitting ‘broadcast’.
Don’t overthink it…just do it!
7. Don’t Wait – Get Started Now
Developing a strong social media presence is incredibly important for physical therapy private practices, today and for the future. Given that most people with musculoskeletal problems never see a physical therapist, social networks are a great way to reach many.
Hopefully, these tips will help you enhance your social media strategy and smash your goals!
When the path of a new patient appointment can begin at any time, in any location and on any device, it’s becoming apparent that physical therapy practices need to create a seamless experience across the entire process.
With so many devices available to complete a task, patients can switch between them to set their appointments. If they encounter problems across any of them, it could mean the difference between making the appointment and the potential patient moving on to someone or something different.
As a result, more and more practices should be nurturing leads through an omnichannel marketing strategy, which optimizes the experience across all patient touchpoints.
What is Multichannel Marketing?
Multichannel marketing is the concept of providing a seamless experience across all available channels relevant to the patient’s journey. This applies to the shifts and transitions in the way new patients progress through the appointment setting, treatment, discharge, and follow-up hourglass (for more on the marketing hourglass, click here).
Patients are more connected and have more control over who they choose for their rehabilitation needs than ever before, often using three or four devices to access the internet or make their first appointment. As a result, what used to be completed on one site, in one location, at one time is now completed over days, locations, times and channels.
The Importance of a Unified Profile
The multichannel roadmap is achieved by building a unified patient profile that segments the content and offers provided to them. This can only be achieved through strong multichannel marketing.
One of the challenges of multichannel marketing is the isolation of channels, which all provide data in different times with the marketing automation platform. This may include different vendors for the development of a website, email marketing, search, automation, print newsletters, and social media. As a result, patients may not recognize these disparate channels as part of the same marketing effort, which can be confusing.
A rich and deep personalization is only achieved if the data from all the individual interactions is unified to deliver:
Messaging content that resonates with the patient.
A frequency of messaging that the patient will respond to.
The services the patients need.
The types of recommendations that patients will respond to.
A responsive marketing platform captures all this patient data, such as email addresses, phone numbers, promotion responses, appointment inquiries, therapy services viewed and other touchpoints.
Once this unified patient profile is achieved, campaigns can be automated to trigger marketing activities from all channels and lead the patient through the treatment journey.
Getting Started With Multichannel Marketing
Though many practices experience it with other brands or may even be aware of the value of multichannel marketing, many struggle with some of the obstacles to creating this strategy. These include:
Lack of resources necessary to succeed.
Lack of communication between marketing agencies.
Lack of practice owner support and understanding of the value of multichannel marketing.
Organizational silos (clinical teams, front office/reception, back office/billing as examples).
Creating an omnichannel marketing strategy isn’t as difficult as it seems, however. Here’s how to get started:
With potential patients connecting over various devices in many different situations, a practice marketers need to offer information and value to keep their attention. Without valuable content, your physical therapy omnichannel marketing strategy is nothing.
For this, you need to understand what kind of content your patients consume and when. Is your content giving them what they need? Is it optimized for the device they’re using? Are you offering suggestions based on their specific needs? Are you optimizing their health and wellbeing?
On top of that, are you reactivating and cross-selling to your patients? Are you sending follow up message to those that discontinued care? Are those messages optimized for different devices?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered about your ideal patient, which is why you need to know all you can about your patients.
Get In-Depth Understanding of the Patient
If you want to provide a truly multichannel experience, you must have intimate knowledge of your patient. You need to understand who they are and what’s important to them (fast access to care, insurance coverage, clinical excellence), what challenges or problems they face (what they really want to return to), and how you can solve them (e.g. which one of your clinicians is best equipped to help).
To get this information, welcome patient feedback, employ social listening tools and leverage condition and treatment specific pages to find out more about their needs. Even more than that, find out which channels they use most to access your content. Your website analytics play an important role here.
Here are the channels most important for multichannel success, in order of value:.
Sponsorships with local schools or sporting programs.
Coupons for free screenings.
Develop Agile Departments
One of the biggest challenges to multichannel marketing implementation is the organizational silo effect. Marketing, therapy, and customer service support often “do their own thing”, which is an obstacle to creating a seamless experience.
Fortunately, a little training on what to do, how to do it, and restructuring of traditional roles can create shared responsibility across departments, letting each team know where they fit into the bigger picture and how they relate to the work of the other departments. This not only sets clear expectations for each team, but also streamlines the communication between them.
When communication is clear and transparent, the departments operate fluidly and create agile marketing strategies that focus on the patient experience.
Start by Optimizing Your Physical Therapy Website
When patients access your site across different channels and devices, your site needs to provide them with a user-friendly experience that’s highly “responsive” to succeed. All of your web pages should be designed to provide maximum usability to visitors and to allow them to access your phone number, location map, hours of operation, ratings & reviews options, social channels, online intake forms, and important content.
In today’s channel-rich environment, multichannel marketing drives the engagement of potential patients and compels them take action. Synchronizing every touchpoint of the patient’s journey for a seamless multichannel experience elevates your practice above the competition.
Need help implementing a multichannel marketing program? Give us a call at 760-585-9097.
Successful marketing is about more than tracking analytics, building a social following and getting traffic on websites.
Ultimately, successful marketing is about knowing your patients. No matter how great your marketing efforts are, it doesn’t matter if you can’t connect with the audience.
So, if you want to be truly successful, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your patients.
What is a Patient-Centric Marketing Approach?
Patient-centric marketing uses personalization to deliver services, messages, and content to the patient that provides them with the answers they need. This applies not only to marketing but also to your entire organization.
Putting your patients first can improve your relationship with them and retain more patients over time since they feel valued.
With patient-centric marketing, you stop telling your patients what they need, which comes across as unappealing and untrustworthy. Instead of pushing services and aggressively asking for the therapy appointment, with patient-centric marketing, you craft your messaging, content and services around addressing their needs first.
Ultimately, if a patient knows they have other options and feel undervalued by the clinic’s lack of attention, they’ll move on.
The Value of Knowing Your Patients
More and more businesses are taking advantage of the power of blogging and content marketing, meaning that the internet is flooded with content everywhere you turn. As a result, patients no longer need to waste time on low-quality content that doesn’t serve their needs.
If you want to stand out among this crowd, you need to create unique content that’s relevant to the needs of the target audience. When you can create content that fits their needs, you develop trust and value with your practice. This makes patients more loyal to your practice and its services.
Having loyal patients who return to your clinic when therapy is needed offers many benefits to your physical therapy practice, not only in revenue but in positive brand reputation and word-of-mouth recommendations.
In fact, repeat patients are 65 percent more likely to convert over new prospects. This means reduced marketing costs and more new patients for you. Loyal patients are also more likely to support your efforts to generate new business since they want to share their experiences with their family and friends. This boosts your trust with new patients and gets you more cash revenue.
So, when you stop guessing at your customers’ wants and needs and start paying attention to the feedback they give you, you get both long-term patient relationships and increased profits.
How to Get an In-Depth Understanding of Your Patients
Developing these relationships and this understanding of your patients takes time, however. Your patients’ needs may change over time, and you need to change with them.
Build Your Patient Personas
A patient persona is a guide to the audience you’re trying to attract to your business. A patient persona describes one ideal patient or client in detail, giving you insights about their behaviors, demographics, background and other unique identifiers.
A truly in-depth buyer persona goes beyond this knowledge, however. It dives much deeper into understanding the patient’s life and the challenges they face. What are their problems? What influences their decisions?
The key to all of this is not to guess, of course. When you create buyer personas, you can’t just create a patient. It needs to be based on the loyal patient base you have.
If you’re trying to reach a different audience, you can even create multiple personas to target new patients, while also keeping your loyal patients happy.
Keep in mind that these may change over time as well, so you should watch how they evolve and continually find new ways to reach them.
Listen on Social Media
Many people are comfortable displaying much of their lives on social media. This can provide you with valuable insights about them and how they feel about your business.
If you only pay attention to posts and comments that relate to your business, however, you’ll miss out on insights from them about what they need from a product or service. To get a real understanding of the target audience and what they expect from your business, you need to go beyond the mentions.
Social listening tools can be helpful for this. Mention is one of the best tools to monitor your brand anywhere. It gives you insights about who’s posting about your business, where they’re located and what influence they have. From there, you can do a little more research into these potential patients to learn more about them.
You should also work to connect with your audience when they come to you. With the availability of therapists online, most patients expect quick responses when they inquire online. Be sure to pay attention to questions, comments, and feedback to you about your business, so you can get an idea of the problems your audience is experiencing.
If you’re not getting the answers you need from social listening, don’t be afraid to ask your patients directly. Surveys provide you with opinions and insights that you may not have otherwise, and they’re easy for patients to participate in.
Keep in mind a few things, such as:
Keep your survey short and simple.
Humanize your message to let them know that their feedback has a purpose.
If your survey is a multi-page form, use a progress bar to let patients know how long they have to complete the survey.
Ultimately, the idea behind the survey is to keep it as quick and painless as possible for participants.
Pay Attention to Visited Content
Whether it’s videos, blog posts, infographics or images, patients engage with a variety of content throughout the day. To understand what they want and need, you need to pay attention to the type of content they visit.
The best way to learn more about popular content is with Google Analytics. This will show you popular content and the patterns that may arise, as well as the type of content that works better for your audience.
Don’t forget to check out your competitor’s social media pages to see what posts get a lot of attention as well. Using this information, you can create more content that’s aligned with what’s working for your competitor.
Look for Lost Conversions
In addition to learning about current patients, you can learn a wealth of information from the leads that don’t convert. This process is a little more involved, but it can provide you with valuable insights.
First, let’s look at the patient’s journey:
A patient is aware of a problem (usually some form of joint, muscle, and/or nerve pain)
A patient considers the options to solve that problem (often this starts at Google, then may progress to asking a family member, friend, doctor, or coming back directly to you)
A patient decides what solution to try (often based on their insurance coverage, the geographic location of a practice, and/or a practice’s ratings and reviews).
If you find that you lose patients in the consideration phase, you may be not doing enough marketing/advertising/or sales to let your community know that you exist. Of course, not every patient coming in contact with your clinic will make an appointment, but it’s still important to find leaks in the sales funnel.
With this in mind, you want to create content for each stage of the patient’s journey, so you can address any concerns they may have along the way.
When it comes to marketing, don’t assume you understand the patient better than they know themselves. Instead of telling your patients what they need, focus on providing them with information and solutions that address their needs, so you can create a loyal following that grows your business.
The best part about content marketing is its versatility. It can be specific to your practice, free and really covering any topic you want it to be, plus it’s easy for beginners to get started.
That said, not every aspect of creating content is easy. A successful content marketing campaign for your physical therapy clinic must deliver a valuable message, and consistently define you and your practice as the leader in your community.
One aspect of keeping your post evergreen is to revisit your blog history, we’re talking about the maintenance of your previous content marketing. Updating older content is a great way to boost your SEO, but many practice owners and marketers don’t take advantage of this opportunity.
Here’s why that should change.
Physical Therapy Content’s Final Stage
Content creation involves a defined process and repeated stages that begin with research. From there, the plan is formed to make new content over time. Once the content is designed or written, it’s published and shared, with not much done after the fact.
But the time after publishing, the maintenance phase is vital. Unfortunately, in the fury of constantly pushing new content, the end of this process is often neglected.
The content you’ve created to provide long-term value — your evergreen content — plays an important role in your site. These pieces are designed to stay relevant over time and guide new patients to your clinic, so they shouldn’t be neglected.
Just think about some of the benefits evergreen content brings to the table:
Site and content continuity.
Evergreen and constantly maintained pieces serve as a foundation for the rest of your content and grow your authority as the leading physical therapist of your area. This also alleviates the stress of constantly struggling to source or validate new content.
Maintenance doesn’t have the urgency of creation, however, so it tends to take the back burner in content marketing. Content maintenance is about nurturing a sustainable relationship with your growing audience by keeping your post reliable.
If a loyal patient were to stumble upon an old, outdated post, they may lose faith in your practice.
Content maintenance is challenging though, which is why many content marketers ignore it. Evergreen content requires time, research and updates to stay relevant, which means adding a second plan in addition to your content marketing strategy.
Here are some methods you can use to update and maintain older content:
Physical Therapy Blog Technical Updates
Like anything else, your site needs maintenance over time. Whether it’s broken links or an outdated background, technical issues are likely present in your old content.
Even if it was published in peak condition at the time, there will likely be one or more elements that should be updated.
For example, Google recently made changes to their meta descriptions. The previous limitation of 160 characters is no longer the case, so what was once optimized is no longer optimized.
Maybe your meta description still works for SEO today, but it’s still worth the time to refresh your old content and check for things like this.
You may also want to experiment with new title tags to boost engagement and refresh your post. You may find that you have broken links or links to outdated resources that are no relevant which harms your credibility.
Broken links hurt your SEO, so take the time to find newer information or statistics that emphasize your point and link to those. You can also update your “last updated” timestamp to show viewers that your content is fresh.
Another technical challenge is the way content is consumed now versus how it was consumed years ago. The end of Flash, for instance, has also ended plenty of excellent content pieces that relied upon it. If you created content with Flash, it won’t last much longer as Flash is being phased out. Many sites recommend Flash be disabled anyway, so it’s a change that will come no matter what.
A way to update that content for modern audiences is by switching out JPEG images for PNG images. PNG images have better quality and load times than JPEG images, so if you don’t update them, you may find that you have slower load times that impact your SEO.
Revitalize Your Most Popular Old Physical Therapy Posts
While maintenance is important, you don’t need to update every single piece of old content, nor should you. The best place to start with updates is with your best and most popular pieces, regardless of how old they may be.
You can find out what these pieces are with Google Analytics under the “Behavior” section. This section will show you a detailed breakdown of each page’s performance for the history of your site and the posts that have stayed popular over the years. You’ll then have a list of pieces that are worth maintaining.
If you focus on maintaining and revitalizing these older pieces of popular content, you’ll most likely be able to continue to leverage them in the future.
You may also want to consider why these content pieces have been so successful. Each piece of content has a purpose, so you may learn more about what works and what doesn’t by analyzing your popular pieces.
If you think that an older piece could do better, consider “upcycling.” Upcycling turns your old pieces into a new format, which is commonly done with a video. It’s the same information, but it’s presented in a way that revitalizes the content and gets it more attention.
Make Relevance about your Physical Therapy Private Practice a New Goal
No matter how evergreen you thought your content was, time will always make your posts irrelevant. Eventually, posts will turn into old news, which requires maintenance to keep them relevant.
One of the benefits here, however, is that you can turn your piece into something noteworthy with your new perspective. So, instead of focusing on updating the piece for popularity, focus on making changes to make it more relevant.
To start, evaluate your content according to three questions:
Does your content still pique interest?
Is it timely?
Will it provide a purpose to your patients and your practice?
If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, then you have content that’s worth updating.
The most relevant content will be viewed and shared more, so taking the time to revamp your relevant content can improve your content lifecycle.
Once you decide that the piece should and could be updated, it’s a good idea to check the topic with Google Trends to make sure there’s interest in the topic of the old post you’ve chosen to update. If you see too many peaks and valleys, you may want to wait until the optimal time to revamp your piece.
Content maintenance isn’t the most exciting part of developing a content marketing strategy, but it’s incredibly helpful for your practice. If you want to continue to create evergreen content, you need to put in the effort to reach your patients.
This means taking the time with your old blog posts and checking for technical issues, popularity and relevance to see what will work best. It also means making a serious commitment to making these changes.
Evergreen content isn’t designed for overnight success. Instead, it takes up a vital place in your content library that will bring traffic and credibility to your brand for years.
When done correctly, a marketing campaign has the ability to resonate with your patients long after it’s out of the spotlight. A well thought out campaign will make your practice memorable and influence the patient to take action, as well as giving your practice a personality and sharing your culture.
If you want to create a successful campaign that can provide these results for your physical therapy practice, check out this guide to crafting a marketing campaign.
What Is a Marketing Campaign?
Marketing campaigns are organized and strategized efforts to promote a particular goal for a business. For example, generating more new patients from physicians or Google are just a couple potential campaign goals. They may involve personal sales, advertising, search engines, social media, emails, patient newsletters or other types of media to attract patients to your practice.
There are multiple channels to deliver your message to potential patients through; a strong campaign, however, will focus on strategies that target two things, a specific result from a specific audience.
Here are some key points to consider when crafting a successful campaign.
To begin, decide on what your overall goal is. Why are you running a campaign and what do you want it to accomplish for your practice. This may include increasing awareness of your services, building your reputation with Google and website reviews, generating new patients or promoting a new service.
The campaign must be carefully planned to ensure you have the best chance of reaching your goals. Once you have the broad goal of the campaign, you need to make sure that your goal is specific, attainable, measurable, relevant and timely. This will give you guidance and accountability for your campaign’s success.
You will need to identify your target audience, and decide what sort of patient (new, current, past) or referrals source (physicians, case managers, businesses) you will be reaching out to. Once you have established your targeted audience, your message can be developed to incorporate ideas might that appeal to this group.
For example, if your goal is to build your community reputation, lay out the specifics of how you intend to accomplish this. Break the goal down into defined measurable tasks by answering such questions as, the number of customers you’d like to take action, how you want them to take action, and by what date. This gives you guidelines and goals to achieve and helps you tailor your campaign for the goal.
Each campaign has its own goal, so you must find a way to measure your success. If you’re looking to generate revenue, your measurement may be in how many new patients your practice attained during the campaign. If you’re looking to increase community awareness, your measurement may be in how many new patient reviews were received.
You will also want to determine the necessary measurements for each marketing/promotional medium being used to attain your specific goal. These measurements are often called key performance indicators (KPIs). As an example, let’s say you launched a Google Ads campaign. One KPI you would want to know is how may times people clicked on your ad. This is one KPI but you also want to know how many patients registered for your offer…another KPI. How many patients that scheduled, showed up? How many visits was each patient treated for? All of these help you determine the profitability of your campaign.
You should also set some milestones throughout the campaign (i.e. I need to generate >3 new patients/month to break even), so you can determine whether to forge ahead or pull the campaign for reassessment and adjustment.
Properly identifying the target audience is the single most important aspect of your campaign. Regardless of the medium or message you use, promoting your message to the wrong audience won’t get you to your ultimate goal.
The first step in identifying the audience is learning what stage of the patient’s journey your campaign is targeting. This can be broken down into the awareness, consideration, and decision stages. For example, if you’re targeting new people to introduce your practice, you would be targeting the awareness stage.
Then, you’ll need to determine the interests and problems of your audience. Learn more about what they do in their spare time, what types of injuries do they experience, how they spend their time, why they’re on social media, and what problems they have that may be solved by your services. Finding the answers to these questions will help you confidently craft a campaign that resonates with your audience.
At this point in the planning process, you know what your goal is for the campaign, how you’ll measure your success and what audience you’re targeting, so all you have left is the message and the medium.
Marketing campaigns need a vision and message all their own, which is an offshoot of your practice’s identity. Your campaign should stay within the bounds of the practice in style and message but still maintain its own identity.
For this step, you may want to bring in the whole team. Your clinical and administrative staff know your business well and can get you started, but you can always use an agency or freelancer for some or all of the campaign.
Once the campaign is complete, it’s time to consider how it will be distributed to your audience.
Reaching Your Audience
Your campaign’s distribution will depend on many factors, such as your budget and current engagement levels. Take a look at your current media channels and see which performs the best and which offers paid advertising, as well as channels that a majority of your target audience participate in (i.e. Facebook for the parents of pediatric patients, or Google for orthopedic conditions). Though it’s smart to promote your campaign on multiple platforms, it’s better to focus your efforts on the platforms in which you already have a presence.
After choosing your platforms, you can choose two or three media options for your campaigns. These may include pay-per-click, SEO, paid influencers, email offers, or scheduled office visits with doctors. You’ll also want to tailor your images, video and copy to suit the medium you’re using.
Part of your campaign goal involves the deadline for your campaign, which helps you determine how and when you’ll promote it.
Beginning with a general campaign timeline, mark your start date and deadline. Then, determine your marketing assets and channels to decide how much you can afford to promote your content and how often. This allows you to map out your scheduled ads for each channel, will help you disperse your message evenly, and ensure that you’re posting on each medium equally.
Marketing campaigns are designed to generate particular actions – calls, reviews, or referrals. A conversion occurs when your campaign achieves a particular goal. No matter how well your campaign performs in terms of traffic or engagement, it isn’t effective if it’s not generating conversions. This goes back to your specific goals within the campaign.
Achieving the desired action is done through conversion assets, such as landing pages, lead forms, calls-to-action statements, and/or phone calls.
Landing pages are a destination web page for your campaign. These are dedicated web pages for your audience to visit and learn more about your practice, so they can decide if they want to utilize your service. This should be separate from the rest of your website.
Lead forms are web forms that capture information about a visitor and turn them into a lead. These aren’t necessary for all campaigns, but they can be important for campaigns that involve downloads or interests gathering.
Call-to-action statements are an image or line of text that encourages your visitors to take a specific action. It’s typically a clear directive, such as “call now” or “schedule today,” but the appropriate call-to-action depends on your goal.
Congratulations! You’ve crafted a marketing campaign. Now, you just need to measure its performance and decide if it was effective. Thanks to all the planning involved and your clearly defined goals, this part should be easy.
If your campaign was successful in achieving your goal, you’re done. If not, you should see what areas were successful and decide what you can change for better results in the future.
Marketing campaigns aren’t the easiest thing to create, but they’re vital to growing a successful brand. They also give you an opportunity to connect with your audience and provide them with something valuable, which will only serve your practice needs in the future.
With increasing access to information on the internet, patient expectations are higher than they’ve ever been, and the competition is fierce. Patient trust has always been important for the success and growth of your physical therapy clinic, but this new environment makes it absolutely vital.
Once you gain patient trust, it increases the likelihood they will consistently choose your practice over another. It also gives you a little leeway if problems arise in the future. No matter what may happen, earning the trust of your patients ensures your practice can survive.
Arguably, the “caring” in health care, seems to have declined over the last decade.
So, what is patient trust and how is it earned? This isn’t a new concept, but it’s an area in which some practices fail. The transparency that leads to trust is more than including standard marketing and communications about why your practice is better than the rest — you have to “truly care” about your patients and their problems.
What Is Patient Trust and Why Is It Important?
Generally, patient trust happens when you have a deep understanding of your patients’ needs and a valid solution to their problems. You provide them with relevant information and personalized care that caters to their unique needs, rather than just touting the benefits of choosing your practice.
Ultimately, this trust is about putting the patient first in your marketing content and your services.
The reason trust is more important now than it’s ever been is a direct result of the variety of treatment options available to patients today. Patients no longer need to choose between only one or two clinics. They have options and virtually limitless access to reviews & testimonials that can give them an idea of what you have to offer.
Because of this, practice owners need to look beyond the competitive pricing, features, and benefits, and direct their attention more toward the history and legacy. Patients have become empowered and skeptical, so they’re looking for the whole package — one that will not only give them reliable solutions to their pain, but also a physical therapy practice with patient services they can count on now and in the future. Ideally, your services will address their dysfunction, disability, and functional limitations; but in the event your services don’t completely alleviate their problems, patients still want to have an exceptional experience.
In my personal experience, patients often care as much about the customer service, communication, and convenience as they do the outcomes of the treatment. In other words, they don’t expect miracles, just a sincere attempt by the physical therapy practice to rehabilitate them.
How Is Patient Trust Created?
As we know, the idea of building consumer trust isn’t new, but it is difficult to achieve. Just making promises about your practice is no longer enough, since patients are looking for actions that back-up your claims. This has a big influence on loyalty as well since patients are more likely to return to the practice that gave them the experience and results they wanted the first time around.
Authenticity is key. Authenticity is the one thing that transcends industries, generations, and cultures since it’s the universal thing that all patients are looking for. It’s about being transparent and giving patients what they expect, both in developing the patient/therapist relationship and delivering on their expectations of meeting personal health goals and finding a solution to their existing condition.
Of course, authenticity and transparency are useless for the pure sake of it. You need to be able to translate this into the right verbiage, demonstrating an in-depth understanding of your patients’ needs and expectations, so you can provide them with relevant, valuable solutions. Superlatives, false claims, half-truths and other marketing hype that can’t be verified, instantly read as false, credibility killers. Focus on positive information of substance and value to your patient.
Also, if you’re falling below expectations in some way, it’s vital to learn from it and find ways to improve. While it may be difficult to accurately measure the value and performance in terms of patient trust, you can set standards for your physical therapy practice to ensure that each aspect of your patient’s experience is accounted for and completed. This not only makes your trust tangible for your audience, but it also keeps your business living up to the image of excellence you’re sharing with your community.
Why Is Patient Trust Hard to Earn?
There are many reasons trust can be hard to earn, but skeptical and savvy patients are the main reason. More and more false claims, scams, data breaches and misuse of data are dominating the headlines. It’s becoming more difficult for consumers to immediately trust a business and be open to trying an the little known practice of physical therapy.
Fortunately, this issue is easy to combat if you’re truly putting the patient first. A physical therapy practice must be clear about its purpose and values, as well as being transparent with policy and procedures. Perception is everything, and a clinic that offers the truth is more likely to have good impressions with potential patients.
There’s been a shift in power between the practice owner and the consumer. In the past, the physicians and physical therapy practice owners had the power and patients had to accept what was given. Now, patients have a broad outlook and understand more about what physical therapy should and should not be, so they’re less forgiving of missteps. Patients want a practice that shows loyalty and demonstrates shared values, so an effective strategy would be to align your practice’s values with the information you’d gladly offer to the public.
In addition, transparency is often forced upon the physical therapy practice, since patients can “find dirt on the practice” if they look hard enough. More than ever, questionable ethics and lack of sincerity are an major risk. It’s so easy for them now to be published on social media and to be found by potential patients, leaving a practice looking disingenuous and sleazy. Of course, this is worse than having no trust at all.
Handling Breaches of Trust
As hard as it is to earn the trust of your patients in the first place, it’s even harder to get it back following a breach. That’s why developing deep trust with your patient base in the first place, is the only way to bounce back and survive the fallout.
Physical therapy groups that offer a positive patient experience which meets or exceeds their expectations and delivers benefits that resonate with the patient is so important. An overall culture that demonstrates a willingness to learn from mistakes is paramount. Gone are the days of media spin, since the best way to approach a mistake in the current climate is by owning up to shortcomings and showing a determination to move forward.
ADVANCED TIP: while most practice owners understand the importance of capturing online ratings and reviews, still very few do it. Moreover, responding to negative reviews is a great example of owning up to legitimate mistakes that happen in the practice.
If handled properly, a small mistake or breach of trust can even provide an opportunity for growth. A physical therapy practice that gracefully addresses a mistake and has an effective plan to recover can gain some positive exposure.
While the patient’s trust may sound like a swift strategy or “silver bullet” for new leads and business growth, it’s anything but. Trust is difficult to earn and keep and is far more than just a marketing strategy.
The authenticity and transparency necessary to garner real patient trust comes from honest communications, a solid practice culture, and treating the patient as you would want to be treated, rather than just lip service on your physical therapy website or marketing materials.
Though it’s clear that consumers want a relationship built on trust with their physical therapist, their general trust of small business isn’t high. This can be an area of opportunity for new or developing clinics, or physical therapy groups looking to revamp their image and surge ahead of competitors. Whether we like it or not, the power is with the consumer, so it’s more important than ever to put their needs first for business success.