Websites, social media, Google AdWords, SEO…the list of online marketing buzzwords seems to keep growing. How can a practice owner stay on top of it all and manage a busy physical therapy clinic? Let’s tackle digital marketing for PT practices one step at a time and soon you will have a standout online presence that generates additional revenue for your business.
First, you need an accurate understanding of digital marketing and its many components.
(For applicable digital PT Marketing tips you can use regardless of marketing experience, download our free guides for using Facebook, Email, Google, Your Website, and more!)
5 Types of Digital Marketing
A website is a grouping of web pages containing text, images, and data. These pages share the same primary URL (www.ABCphysicaltherapy.com).
A website is the most important digital marketing asset as it helps to promote your practice, provides contact information, and gives online credibility. But, there’s more to a website than just having one. A typical website can give patients basic information about your practice, but that’s only 50% of a website’s job.
With the right features, your website could be performing marketing tasks automatically including:
- Sending data to Google to improve SEO
- Building lists of potential patients by gathering emails
- Gathering appointment requests for your front desk 24/7
- Answering basic questions automatically with a ChatBots (then gathering the lead’s information for human follow-up)
- And more!
2) Social Media
Social media is any online platform that supports the sharing of text, images, and media.
Popular social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. By creating an account or profile on these platforms, you can engage with potential clients and drive traffic (visitors, page views etc.) to your website.
“Organic” social media refers to posting, liking, commenting, and interacting with your business’s page. “Paid Social” is utilizing Facebook’s Advertising tools to get your content to more people whether they follow you or not.
3) Search Engine Optimization or SEO
Search Engine Optimization increases traffic to a website through a search engine or organic searching.
For example, web pages and websites contain page titles, keywords, and meta descriptions that help to increase searchability for that content – how well your site gets found.
When someone types “physical therapy in Richmond, VA,” the search results are populated based on the websites’ SEO rank which is assigned by Google.
Pro Tip: Don’t just focus on where you appear for “physical therapy.” Try typing “back pain” or “knee pain help” and see what comes up – if you rank here, people will find you who didn’t know they needed therapy.
4) Search Engine Marketing or SEM
While SEO can take time to get results, search engine marketing can be started instantly. SEM increases traffic to a website through paid campaigns that increase the site’s visibility to search engines.
For example, when searching in Google, you typically see the first 2-3 results with an “Ad” icon. These are paid campaigns that promote specific websites before those in the organic search listings.
And finally #5! Email marketing…
5) Email Marketing
Email marketing is sending promotional, engagement-based emails to a list of active subscribers who have granted permission to receive promotional contact from you. (For this purpose, we aren’t talking about “transactional emails” which discuss your patients’ bills or appointment times.)
The goal of email marketing in a PT practice is to encourage people on your list to schedule an appointment. Most practices have some experience with this, in fact, it is where many first start with digital marketing. That’s because despite having decreased over the last decade, it still works and still keeps you at the top of your past patients’ minds.
Email lists naturally reduce over time as people unsubscribe or change their address – so it is important to focus on growing your list by offering ebooks and workshop signups on your website.
Digital Marketing Best Practices & Planning
First, does your practice have a website? Many will answer, “Yes!” Next, is your website current? An updated website ensures that all the information is correct. Additionally, it should have a professional, modern design. Can the site be easily updated or does it take days or weeks for a simple change?
Also, are you utilizing SEO best practices? Lastly, how does your website look on a mobile device or smartphone? You might not know all the answers to these questions. But, that is OK!
Let’s learn about digital marketing best practices for these areas:
A website design is critical. The site needs to be visual cohesive and be the best possible representation of your practice to online audiences.
- Logo: is your logo prominently placed throughout the site? Are your brand’s colors utilized throughout the pages?
- Images: are the photos high-quality? A picture is worth 1,000 words. Your images should be either professionally photographed and/or purchased stock photography. Properly size your images to avoid pixelation and should scale appropriately on mobile devices.
- Layout: are your page’s easy to scan? Most viewers will scan a page to find the content that appeals to them. By carefully laying out the page and its content, you can control what marketing messages viewers see.
- Digital Marketing Tools: Does your site include tools to grow your email list, SEO, and even gather appointment requests automatically? Think of your website as an employee – if it’s not getting results, give it more tools or get a new one.
- Analytics: Does your website have tracking so you know what works and what doesn’t?
Your website needs to be informative, accurate, and compelling. If the design is the lettuce, tomato, and onion, the content is the burger—full of “meat” that gives the viewer something to “chew on”.
we always include for PT websites
- Contact Us: is your practice’s contact information immediately visible on every page? Your site should have your phone number in the header to allow clients to call you for questions or to book appointments. Your physical address, map, and email should also be readily available.
- Services: patients are often looking for a specific service to treat their pain. Your website should include a listing of all the services you offer and detailed descriptions about the diagnoses you treat and how PT can help. Think of your site as a patient education resource as it will guide them to seek your care and treatment.
- Referrals / Administrative Forms: can doctors’ offices refer patients to your clinic online? Can patients access forms prior to their visit? Are online appointment requests available? More patients are coming into a clinic from online sources. Your website needs to act as an online front desk for your patients.
- Blog: A health/PT blog is the best way for Search Engines (Google) to know what you do and who needs to see your articles. Getting found on SEO starts with giving people valuable, free information to prove your expertise.
If the design and content are the fillings, the technical aspects and function are the burger bun. By ensuring that your site has a solid foundation, you will continue to generate even more results for your practice.
- Content Management System (CMS): a reliable and adaptive content management system can save you from lots of stress and troubleshooting when it comes to your website. A CMS, such as WordPress, is your one-stop-shop for updating your website. You are able to change page copy, swap out images, and update contact info easily throughout your site.
- SEO: informative content will engage patients and coupled with effective SEO, you will get even more new patients through natural search. Most CMS have a plugin to help you create page titles, keywords, and meta descriptions for your web pages. This will help your website rise to the top of the search engine listings.
- Social Media: does your website link to your Facebook, Twitter, or other profiles? By incorporating links to your site in your social media posts and sharing content directly from your site to your followers, you can increase your digital marketing. And, it’s FREE!
Is Digital Marketing Worthwhile?
2019 is projected to be the first year that global digital marketing spending beats out traditional advertising. If you don’t start now, you will risk being overshadowed by local competition.
The best place to start is your website. From there, begin using email or budgeting for paid ads on SEM or Facebook. And for more guides, checklists, & best practices check out our Free PT Marketing Downloads here.
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