In marketing, you’ll often hear people discuss an acquisition funnel for their users. In the healthcare space, our ultimate goal is to create a funnel that leads directly to patient acquisition. By knowing how the funnel works, you can design a strong marketing campaign and pair it with your internal resources to give a unique approach that will benefit your practice and ultimately attract (and keep) more patients. While your funnel can certainly be tailored to your needs, here’s a solid outline of how it should work in the wonderful world of healthcare, and what you should do to capitalize on each opportunity!
Note: While we’re not including “planning” as a step in this whole process, it’s certainly one of the most important things you can do. Going into a marketing campaign blindly can end up costing you more in the long run. You may have to fix things that didn’t work, or invest in resources down the line that you weren’t anticipating. While nothing is ever perfect the first time, it’s always good to draw up a plan, stick to it, and then adjust as you see fit! You’ll thank us later.
What good is your practice if people don’t know about it? The first step is to generate awareness of your offerings, allowing people to find you. A few ways to make this happen:
- Create an engaging website.
- Invest in quality SEO.
- Develop a community outreach plan (even grassroots is fine).
- Ask for referrals.
- Create a consistent social media plan.
- Market yourself, market yourself, market yourself. (Saying it three times might make it happen quicker)
Of course, all of these things work together to create a very dynamic awareness plan, but you can always start small and grow. For example, begin with a website, because it’s 100% something you need, and then slowly invest in further marketing opportunities, all while still asking for referrals. Remember, not all of these things require you to spend a lot of time or money. As you get patients, ask them who they know. If they’re happy, they’re much more likely to publish your information on their Facebook, chat about you in book club, or even just give them your information.
As a potential patient becomes more aware of your practice, they will remember your name and services, and then move on to step two.
The patient now knows that you’re a legitimate business. They’ve seen your website, or heard about you from their aunt’s third cousin twice removed. Either way, they’ve got you in their brain and you’re now involved in a little bit of a battle. Are you prepared?
During the consideration step, a practice needs to know what they’re up against. If, in step one, you decided to simply do a website, or perhaps focus on grassroots methods, now’s your time to understand what more is out there. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are my direct competitors?
- What are they doing for marketing?
- Where am I in comparison to them with regards to marketing?
- How can I stand out?
This is a difficult step in theory, so it’s certainly something that you should be proactive about. Make sure that you’ve got the right marketers on your side. By having an SEO marketer looking at your competition, you’ll be able to determine what’s going to make you stand out. Perhaps you have cleaner facilities, or offer up snacks when patients walk in. Or maybe you just play some really good tunes in the office. All of these things fall in line with a patient’s consideration, and should be things you think about when building your presence.
During the battle (in which you should be a dominant fighter), the potential patient will determine which practices have sparked their interest the most. Once they’ve narrowed it down, step three kicks in.
People nowadays are practically sleuths. They’re able to find anything with the click of a mouse. So who’s to say that your practice is immune?
In this step, potential patients are going to research your establishment, your background, and most importantly, your reviews. Some things for you to be thinking about:
- Do you have pictures of your location readily available online via your website or listings?
- Is your background available for review (i.e, your medical school, residency, credentials, etc.)?
- Do you have positive reviews that reflect both you and your practice? If you have negatives, do they have quality responses?
This is where decisions are made, so if you’re lacking in this department, you may want to get a move on things quickly. Having someone that’s able to take quality pictures is a good first step, then having someone who’s able to update your website and listings to make that imagery stand out is an even better step. With marketing elements like reputation management, you can even begin to solicit new reviews from your current patients, allowing your review volume to grow, giving these avid researchers some more information to look at!
Once the potential patient has decided that you are the victor, and that they’re going to get quality care under you, they’re then going to move on to step four, or the “final” step.
They like you. They really, really like you. Or at the very least they like what they see online or hear from others. If that’s the case, then they’re going to convert and you’re going to have a new patient!
Well, not so fast. People want ease, and if the process of getting an appointment is cumbersome, they’re not going to convert, and then you’re going to lose out on a patient. Some things to think about:
- Do you have an online appointment form that’s easily accessible on your site?
- Is your phone number readily available and clickable?
- Is your NAP (name, address, phone number) updated everywhere?
- Are there multiple avenues for the potential patient to take to book an appointment?
If you’ve answered yes, you’re in good shape! But, you should still take the extra step and BE a patient. Try to walk through your conversion process and see if it’s easy. Chances are, if you get frustrated then your patients probably will too. Make sure they’re able to convert regardless of device (mobile, desktop, tablet) as well. We’re in the age of technology!
You’ve got a new patient and you’ve made it through all of the steps! But, there’s more. Step five is crucial to your success as a practice, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The patient acquisition funnel is one thing, but a bonus step is the fact that you have to keep these patients. If you’re something like an OBGYN, you could potentially have this patient through many life cycles, which can be crucial to your overall business. The good thing is that retention is, in theory, the easiest step. Go back through all of the original steps every few months and make sure that you’re on top of them all. If you are, your current patients will still love you, and will not even have a thought of looking for another provider. There are certainly a lot of things to make sure you’ve got buttoned up internally as well (bedside manner, front office staff, etc.), as they’re something a current patient will look for, too.
Get The Funnel Started
Are you ready!? If so, contact Practis today by calling (704) 887-5300, or contacting us online. We look forward to speaking with you and getting more patients in your door!