The digital revolution in India received a tremendous boost in the aftermath of demonetization with the government advocating cashless transactions. Internet usage has risen sharply, especially in urban areas, where net permeability is estimated to be 60% of the population. Furthermore, the increase in smartphone usage has led to better internet access and today, India has 150 crore wireless connections. India’s ‘internet economy’ has generated new market growth opportunities and experts hail it as the biggest business opportunity for growing businesses.
The Benefits Of Digital Marketing For Indian Doctors
In the past, doctors with new practices relied on traditional methods such as newspaper ads and flyers to attract possible patients but digital marketing has opened up new vistas for doctors to connect and establish relationships with potential patients. This is mainly because digital marketing ushered in two-way communication in marketing as well as audience targeting. Some of the key digital marketing benefits for doctors include:
Increase Patient Base
India faces a death of doctors with just 1 doctor for 1600 people, yet doctors with new practices often find it tougher to attract patients as people often prefer to go through referrals. However, analysis of Google searches shows that internet users often search for terms like ‘doctors near me’ or ‘general physician near me’ which points to more users being comfortable with online sources of information regarding their choice of doctor. A recent study shows that 44% of patients who research doctors using their mobile device went on to schedule an appointment. Increased visibility on digital marketing platforms will help to generate new leads and increase your patient base.
Brand building is an integral aspect of any digital marketing strategy for a doctor as it not only increases patients’ awareness of the doctor but also helps to acquire new patients. A well planned digital advertising or marketing strategy will help to build value for your practice as it helps you stand out and assures your patients of credibility, quality, and experience. Brand building is invaluable as it offers long-term profitability. Thanks to digital marketing, brand building for smaller businesses has become a lot less expensive as there are several new tools that can help grow your medical practice within a short span.
Social media campaigns for doctors allows them to connect with their existing patients as well as gain new leads. Through social media, doctors can provide relevant, valuable, and engaging health content. The content can be in the form of health blogs as well as videos or creative images to improve patient interaction. Furthermore, doctors can send out e-newsletters and updates to build up their base of followers and build brand loyalty. Most people prefer to stick with their doctor for years or even decades, especially in the case of general physicians. Moreover, they recommend them to family members and so the physician becomes the ‘family doctor’ which has a significant impact on the size of their practice.
Digital Marketing Strategies For Doctors
Because of the fast pace of innovation in the digital space, adopting a comprehensive and effective medical marketing strategy for doctors can be rather challenging and labor intensive. This makes it important to monitor digital marketing trends and to identify key areas of focus within your digital strategy. The most important elements of health marketing online include the following:
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Patients who do not find you based on word of mouth recommendations will invariably turn to the internet for doctor recommendations and listings. Search engines like Google and Bing are therefore the main platform for doctor searches. Consequently, SEO remains the top priority for any successful doctor marketing campaign. Good SEO will increase your visibility in search results, helping channel patients to your website and social media pages.
While abroad SEO strategy will help improve general visibility in search results, localized SEO is becoming increasingly important, as search engines have been making huge advances in providing localized search results. This makes a careful analysis of SEO vital, as well-optimized content that has a broad focus will give you good visibility, but not for the right audiences. Localized SEO will not only improve visibility, but it will generate better lead conversion.
Social Media Marketing/Advertisements
Social media platforms have become a major resource for both big and small businesses. This is because these platforms generate a huge amount of customer data in real time which helps to improve audience targeting. Sites like Facebook provide targeted ads which means that a social media marketing strategy will add more patients into your lead funnel.
Paid Search Advertising
Paid search advertising can deliver remarkable results as it channels prospective patients to your website which will not only bring you more patients but also increase your website traffic. Studies show that 1 in 20 searches on Google is related to health and that 81% of consumers click on sponsored links when searching for health information which proves that paid search engine marketing can play a vital role in a doctor’s digital advertising campaign.
Doctor Directories And Listings
Aside from patient referrals that come directly from search engines, many patients also rely on doctor directories and listings that are provided by trusted websites or apps. This makes it important to keep track of other health sites within the space that can be used to leverage your own business. Having a clear understanding helps, as you want to tie up and appear in directories created by businesses that have a higher reach, with greater relevance, and a good reputation. Tying up with directories that have poor reach and reputation will be a wasted effort and could even damage your business.
Building And Engaging With Patient Communities
While it is absolutely necessary for you to engage with your patients on your own platform (website and social media pages), it is also vital that you expand your reach beyond. One of the most effective ways to do this is by contributing to other social media pages of relevance and forums, where patients seek advice or share experiences. This may seem like a futile activity – after all, why provide general advice for free? This, however, increases your credibility and visibility. More prospective patients will view your feedback, recommendations, and advice, and will be more likely to turn to you or refer others to your practice when the need arises.
Even the most competent medical professionals who wish to grow their practice need to rely on more than patient referrals and word of mouth recommendations. So, no matter how skilled you may be in your field, you will need to have a strong online presence, as this is the first platform that prospective patients will refer to. As is evident from a Pew Research Center Report, “72% of internet users said they looked online for health information”. Doctors who make little effort to improve digital visibility will sadly remain invisible to patients who most need their services. So, to grow your practice and better serve your patients, you need to start paying more attention to your digital marketing strategy.