The best marketing for your clinic is when your patients do it for you.
Word of mouth takes many forms, but it's increasingly being handled online through social networks and search engines. Patients are now researching you online before they call. They look at your reviews. They run searches with your name and "complaints", "malpractice", "lawsuits", "reviews". If you're going to compete, you have to be in the game.
To do that, you're going to need the right tools, which I'm going to show you, but you have to be convinced that they're important to buy and use or you'll just stay with what you know, so I'm going to dive in to why you need them first.
You've got a marketing problem that you didn't have before.
It wasn't long ago when you just needed to be found, and ranking high in searches drove traffic and filled your treatment rooms.
Consumers of all types have subtly changed their decision behaviors online and are weighing buying cues much differently than just two years ago. Reviews are seen by prospects as increasingly important in their buying decisions.
That changes the playing field. (Don't believe me? Just keep reading.)
When asked, 90% of people read reviews before visiting a local business. 85% of those people relate that they trust those online reviews as much as they would a family member or trusted friend.
But it goes beyond simply making the first call to your front desk. Consumers spend 31% more money with businesses that have higher reviews than their competitors. It has nothing to do with price, the quality of service, or other metrics. It's the perception in the consumers mind that higher rated businesses are more trustworthy than those with few or negative reviews. There's a simple reason for that I'm sure you're aware of; a review is how the consumer 'felt' about the business after everything else was taken in to consideration; price, value, responsiveness... The star matrix is really a metric of satisfaction at the end result.
Just today I was looking to arrange three business lunches in the coming week. In every case it was the number of reviews and the star totals that made the decision for me.
Here was my thinking:
- Few reviews? It's too risky; there are safer choices.
- Lower star rating? Patrons weren't satisfied. Who want's to eat there?
- Negative reviews by themselves? Tricky... some people are jerks so an occasional bad review is unavoidable, but it's too risky. I'll go somewhere else.
- Negative reviews with responses? A few negatives is okay. I can trust the positive reviews more and - especially if the business has responded to the reviews - I think they take their reputation seriously. It makes me more confident that they don't want negative reviews and they work harder than others to avoid them.
- Lot's of reviews (even a few negatives) and a 4+ star rating? That's the place.
And the above is especially true for your clinic.
Think about what you would do if you were deciding between two clinics – both with 4 stars – where one clinic has 5 reviews and the other has 25.
You'll choose the one with 25 every time, and that's costing you patients if you're the clinic with only 5.
Do reviews really drive new patients?
Here are the results of a survey we sent out to members showing the importance and value of enlisting patients in your growth strategy. The recipients were selected from a cross-section of members to try and hit all types of clinics; dermatologists, plastic surgeons, medical spas and cosmetic clinics.
Question: What is your most effective marketing?
Yep. Number 1 and 2 - word of mouth referrals and internet searches - both fit squarely around your online patient reviews. Everything else is a very distant third.
Reviews are a primary traffic driver and trust builder:
- Reviews are free. Advertising that is completely free of cost is a rare commodity. Reviews let your patients build links to your site and drive new traffic.
- They're authentic: New prospects want to know what your existing patients think of you. Reviews let them communicate that in an authentic voice that prospects relate to.
- They build trust: 92% of Americans trust word-of-mouth more than any other form of marketing – even if they don't personally know the person... and online reviews are more trustworthy than testimonials on your site that you have complete control over.
- Improves your search rankings: Google ranks websites according to their perceived authority and their ability to provide valuable content. Customer reviews can help tell search engines that your brand is established, and when more people online are discussing your firm, Google will rank your site higher in search engine results. It also helps to add links to customer reviews on your site, because Google rewards sites that contain links to other authoritative websites.
- Lowers your bounce rate: Customer reviews help your business stand out and make visitors to your website more interested in your product or service because of the value others have had. The impact on your site’s bounce rate can be meaningful and can help to trigger higher rankings as bounce rate is arguably one of the ranking factors involved in search results.
- Previews your star ranking: Many sites that feature star rating systems will show a preview when someone does a search for your brand. This means that a person will not need to click on their page to see that your company was rated favorably, as the star level and the first few sentences will show up on the search results page. Google will sort search engine results based on the number of reviews received, giving you an advantage and an SEO boost. Your good reputation will then precede you, increasing the likelihood that a person will click through and choose you above your competitors.
Reviews are interesting in another way as well; they tell you what's important to your patients and they identify weak spots in your systems that you can address.
Do reviews really increase your revenue?
From the same survey, we also asked clinics how much revenue each new patient added in just the first month. The lifetime value of each patient is dependent upon the clinic type (nonsurgical / surgical) but can be expected to be a multiple of this number.
Question: How much is a new patient worth to your clinic in the first month?
It's interesting that there's a gap here in the middle, but once I thought about it it made a lot of sense; the clinics we surveyed were fairly well divided between "medical" and "spas"... So if you're a cosmetic medical practice you're far more likely to be on the right of this graph with each new patient spending North of $2000 the first month.
Question: How many new patients does your typical client refer each year?
Okay, this is were we start to see some hope of shifting the results here to the right if you're getting on board with patient reviews and those reviews are working for you. If you're able to shift that 3 patients a year to just 4, that would equate with roughly a 20% greater delta in your yearly growth and a corresponding increase in revenue and profits. Just a small increase in the coefficient can have a dramatic effect in the end result over time.
That's what we're looking to try and do.
What should I do?
The short answer to "what should I do?" is - Do something. Anything. But don't do nothing.
How much less is your clinic worth to someone who wants to buy it if your reviews are negative? How much harder is it to recruit staff? How many patients are you losing that you don't know about.? Simply put, your online reviews are your brand, and an indication of patient trust and satisfaction. Reviews are what people are saying about you to others (which is what your brand is), and you can't just ignore your brand and reputation if you want to have a successful clinic or valuable asset.
You have 3 options; you can ignore it, you can do it manually, or you can do it automatically.
Option 1 - Ignore my online reviews
You can't ignore it... Well, actually I guess you can. After all this is what most clinics do. They bitch and moan about someone leaving a negative review since they know it hurts their reputation, but they take no proactive actions to increase or control those reviews.)They simply float along with the status quo and hope nothing happens.
Here's what ignoring it means:
- Your competition may not ignore it, which means that they're either taking your existing market share, or they're putting you further behind while you're not even showing up to compete.
- You're reputation is uninsured: Something really damaging can happen which you won't be able to respond to.
- You're missing out on every new patient that might have been brought in. You're missing sales, word of mouth, and compounding growth. This is really where you're killing yourself long term.
Pros & Cons: The only pro to this is that it's free, but the cons are legion. If you're ignoring your reputation and new business you're damaging your clinic. Go stub your toe in penance.
Option 2 - Do it manaully
Yes, you can do this manually but don't be fooled that it's not a lot of work. It is, but up until now this was the best way that you could address this need and what most clinics have tried to do in some form.
Here's a simple framework of what you should be doing right now at your front desk.
- Implement operational systems at your front desk check out procedure that is followed for every single patient. (See the Ultimate Clinic Operations Blueprint)
- Every happy patient should be asked to please leave a testimonial or review on their Facebook page or on your Google Business Listing. You should ask if they would be willing to use their phone to do it right now. (You may want to add a small discount or free product gift if they're willing to do this.)
- You should contact Tea & Muffins Design to have some postcards made where patients can fill out a testimonial right there that you can use.
- You should send an email or postcard reminder soon after each appointment. (You'll want to keep track of who has already left reviews or you'll irritate your happy patients with redundant emails.)
- You should set up a number of Google Alerts to try and monitor when reviews go up so that you can respond to them.
Pros & Cons: We'll, at least you're doing something but this is time intensive and a real pain in the ass to try and manage after the first week. The opportunity cost is huge in the time invested and the "just-one-more-thing-to-try-and-manage" costs.
And there's another problem with this. Even if you're proactive and constantly ask your patients to leave reviews, they don't.
Have you ever left a review? You have to be really motivated and it's much easier just to do nothing once you're out of the clinic.
But where there's a problem there's also an opportunity.
Option 2 - Do it automatically
To be an automated solution you need to have software that is both drop-dead simple to use, and gives you complete control on both Facebook and Google.
It also needs to be easy to incorporate it in to your operations, and use easy workflows; texting review requests, reputation management, notifications, tracking, permissions, and even additional patient interactions.
Here's what this software should do:
- Needs to be really simple to use: No more than entering a name and phone number. Needs to be used during check-out when patients are most willing to leave you a positive review AND any time thereafter.
- Needs to be simple for the patient. Needs to work via simple text message, not an app or download.
- Needs automatic monitoring of my reviews: I want to be notified of every review and be able to respond in one place, not login to every review site.
- Needs accounts for each team member: I want track everyone inside the system, and their reviews.
- Send external texts: I want to be able to send text messages to my patients as followup, reminders, or just to inform them about an offer we have coming up.
- Let's patients and prospects text me: I want prospects to be able to text me directly from my Google review page or Facebook.
- Simple... Did I say that already?
Since we're aware that this is a growing need for our Members we took a look at the front-runners in this space. Here are 3 of the top business review software providers to take a look at with their user satisfaction ratings supplied by G2 Crowd.
Highest Rated Reputation & Review Management Software
Highest Rated Ease Of Use Reputation & Review Management Software
As shown above, Podium is the clear winner among business review management software providers both in total user satisfaction and usability - which is critical.
so we contacted Podium and asked them to help us provide their software at a discount for our Members (you).
So, Podium partnered with Medical Spa MD to provide a special offer exclusively to our members which includes both a full Podium account, discounted fees, and special training for your staff in our Training Academy.
Here's a quick video I made to show you how simple it is to send a review request to your patient while they're checking out!
This is exactly how your front desk staff would use Podium when a patient is checking out, or your staff would use it from their cell phone right in the treatment room.
"Hey, would you mind me texting you a review request to give us some feedback?"
Damn that is nice!
Here's Podium explaining more about their software.
And about their messaging feature which allows patients who see you online to text you questions, a much easier action to take than calling and talking to someone.
Because reviews are increasingly critical for every business there are startups that are building solutions to fill the need - including using patient reviews to fill your appointment calendar, increase patient satisfaction and compound your patient referrals and word of mouth marketing.
Medical Spa MD Members receive a special, full service Podium account that includes: no setup fee (save $300), a 10% discount forever (save $330/year) and on-demand patient review marketing training for your entire staff ($597 value).
This offer is not available anywhere else