There was a time, prior to the worldwide adoption of the internet, when finding a local business meant searching the newspaper for advertisements, asking for recommendations from people you knew, or flipping through the well-known business directory called the Yellow Pages. Since then, the digital age has given rise to digital marketing and has completely altered how local businesses are found, how they operate, and how they are engaged with. In this article, we’re going to take a look at how the marketing landscape has changed with the digital age and what medical practices need to do in order to thrive.
7 Ways The Digital Age Has Changed the Landscape for Doctors & Medical Practices
From leveling the playing field between businesses to demanding transparency and fostering intimacy, the digital age has brought with it a slew of changes for how companies market themselves. For doctors and medical practices specifically:
Your Patients Are Found Online. Individuals looking to have their medical needs addressed are beginning their search through online search engine queries. They will search for information about providers, services, and symptoms online first before picking up the phone to make a call. Health and medical topics are always trending because the content is evergreen, meaning it is search-optimized and is continuously relevant.
Mobile Devices Have Spurred on Growth. In 2019 alone, 80% of online searches were done through a mobile device such as a cellphone or a tablet , with the average use being more than 4 hours a day. This means that individuals find it easier to pick up their phone and search for an immediate answer rather than calling or using print media.
90% of Patients Look at Reputation & Testimonials. Having a healthy and positive online reputation and presence is critical for medical practices as more than 90% of prospective patients/consumers  look at these before making a final decision on whether to procure services or make the switch to another provider. This includes the online reputation of the medical practice itself, the physicians, and the facilities.
Marketing Can Now Be Hyper Localized. The responsive, flexible, and diverse tools of digital marketing are capable of delivering hyper localized advertising. This includes being able to target specific regions within a city, such as hot suburban markets, as well as specific niches within a medical practice’s umbrella. This is extremely useful for pinpointing exact audiences within a geographic area who want very specific medical services.
Individuals using social media channels are directly impacted by the brands they come across. This is especially true from younger audiences between the ages of 18-25 as this age group is much more likely to talk openly about physical and mental health with others through Facebook feeds, Instagram stories, and Twitter discussions.
Medical applications for smartphones are increasing in demand as more of the population becomes health-conscious. These types of applications work well for medical practices that want to target a specific group of users, such as those within a practice’s network.
How to Harness Digital Marketing to Thrive as a Local Medical Business
To harness the power and versatility of digital marketing as a local business, learn to use and master the following tools.
Personalize Your Online Advertising With Local Marketing. People don’t like en masse advertisements anymore because these don’t “speak” to their personal needs. To make your digital advertising personal, use:
Hyperlocal Marketing & Geotargeting: with hyperlocal marketing, you can capitalize on prospective audiences within a highly specific and geographically restricted area, such as a neighborhood. This takes advantage of using “near-me” searches with custom messaging. Geotargeting delivers advertisements & content to those within a specific region, such as a town or city.
Be Specific About Audience Selection: in addition to using geotargeting, make sure to target your audiences with regards to their interests, demographics, and services you want to rank for.
Always Retarget Your Audience: not everyone will click on your marketing ads right away. Implement retargeting to re-show services that your prospective patient has already searched for online.
Expand Your Online Presence Across the Web. You want to go where your patients are and expand into those spaces. To do this:
Use social media channels to engage with your audience and create a community. Social media engagement will expand your audience pool, drive traffic to your business website, allow you to engage in discussions and gather crucial feedback, and build up your brand image.
Manage your online reputation with Yelp, Google Reviews/Maps, and more. Online reviews have immense power to sway the decisions your audience makes. Managing miscommunication, fake reviews, imposters, and responding to negative feedback can go a long way to fostering trust with those looking to use your business.
Use local citations to boost how visible your business’ information is. A local citation is any linked or unlinked listing (or online mention) of your medical practice which includes pertinent contact information like your address, website link, and contact information. Local citations will verify and legitimize your business, improve your local search engine rank, and boost leads from high-quality traffic.
Use Google My Business or Bing Places to boost local SEO (a popular application of local citations). By using these, your business listing can be found in Google Search, Google Maps, and through Bing Searches and Maps.
The more your business is mentioned, interviewed, or talked about on reputable websites, the better you are going to rank due to credibility, authority, and trust.
Don’t Forget About Content - It’s King After All. The importance of content marketing in the digital age has not changed, but the type of content being put out has.
Promotional videos work but they aren’t what people are seeking. Instead, they want to see live video, behind-the-scenes content, and content they can interact with.
Write to inform and traffic will follow. People want informative content that is relevant, well-written, and easy to read. It must be succinct, high-quality, and shareable.
Compliment video with mixed media that is informative, dynamic, and pops. This includes graphics, photographs, explainer videos, and infographics.
When possible, promote user-generated content. This gives you a break from creating fresh content 24/7 and allows you to engage with your audience.
In wrapping it up, it’s key in the digital age to utilize social media channels, generate content for your blog, and focus on SEO/direct search by increasing the visibility of your business online through listings, reviews, and geotargeting.