Having an effective marketing strategy is key to growing your medical practice. After all, the more new patients you have, the more people you can help.
If you’re wondering: “How do I attract more patients and increase traffic to my clinic?” you’re not alone. We’ve put together this helpful guide with all the tips and best practices you need to help you get more patients.
How to get more patients in your clinic
There are several reasons doctors strive to increase patient numbers. In a survey of nearly 1,700 doctors, the most common reasons given were:
- Helping more people (28%)
- Establishing a reputation (27%)
- Getting more experience (20%)
- Making more money (20%)
Wanting to grow your business and knowing how to get more patients are two entirely different variables, however. Whatever your motivations for expanding your customer base, these powerful patient acquisition methods and clinic advertising ideas will help you retain existing clients, attract more new business, and optimize your practice for success.
1. Identify your target audience
Marketing strategies for medical practitioners should be targeted, so defining your audience is the first step in getting more patients. When you know your target audience, you can make better decisions about the communication channels you use to reach them and the types of content you create to share with them. Age, gender, profession, and location are usually the first factors.
2. Employ high-quality staff
Your employees are the face of your business, and in the medical sector, experience counts. For the skill set, knowledge, and proficiency of a veteran medical receptionist or medical assistant, it is usually well worth paying a little extra to secure the most qualified and experienced candidates.
3. Invest in employee training
Doctors’ visits can be stressful, and your front-of-house staff is often the first human touchpoint for your patients. Nervous patients, in particular, need warm welcomes and reassurance, so regular customer service training is a must. Employees should also have ample training on products and services, pricing, and the equipment you use, so they can answer any questions patients may have.
4. Keep existing patients happy
Providing exceptional experiences and nurturing strong relationships with existing patients means they stay with you for longer and are more likely to recommend you to their friends, family, and colleagues. In our most recent survey, 42% of doctors said that word-of-mouth referrals were most important when considering how to get new patients.
“Listening to patients patiently is the best approach to make them happy. A happy patient comes with new patients.”
5. Create a patient referral program
Getting referrals from existing patients is one of the cheapest ways to attract more patients. However, our survey revealed that only 38% of practices have a referral program in place – meaning a staggering 62% of clinics are missing out on this invaluable revenue stream. The process behind patient referrals is straightforward. Simply offer rewards to patients who refer their family, friends, and colleagues. Then remind them to refer others after a good experience and welcome new patients from their referrals.
6. Ask for patient reviews
22% of doctors in our survey said patient reviews were the most effective way to get more patients. Yet, only 11% regularly ask for reviews, 39% admitted they never ask for reviews, and 22% said they rarely ask for reviews. Providing consistent, high-quality experiences will likely result in some reviews, but you’ll get many more if you ask for them. Curious about how to get patients to submit reviews? You can employ several tactics:
- Send follow-up emails requesting a review.
- Offer freebies and discounts for patients who leave a review.
- Give patients a business card with a ‘review us online’ request.
- Share current reviews online (with consent, of course) with a call to action encouraging other patients to share their experiences.
7. Get listed on online directories
Having an online presence on as many sites as possible increases your visibility. The most suitable sites for doctors are:
8. Update your Google business profile
In 2021, Google handled over 87% of search engine inquiries in the U.S., and the search engine receives over 1 billion health-related searches per day. In a previous Sermo survey, 39% of doctors agreed that Google was the most influential online presence for their practice, yet 81% admitted they did not have a Google Business listing.
Claiming your listing is easy and free of charge. Simply fill out your profile as completely as possible, including:
- Services available
- Contact details
- Opening hours
- Links to your website
- Pictures and Logos
9. Modernize your website
13% of the doctors we surveyed considered their website the most effective tool for patient acquisition. Your website should be up to date, easy to navigate, and attractive to look at. From a technical viewpoint, that includes ensuring it is optimized for mobile view, ease of navigation, and accessibility factors. You should also:
- Make it visually appealing by using warm and welcoming colors.
- Include patient reviews.
- Add actual photo and video content from the clinic rather than stock photos.
- Emphasize your skills and experience by including your most up-to-date qualifications, recognitions, and awards.
10. Invest in SEO improvements
Updating your web copy to include more keywords, improve metadata and alt tags, add internal and external links, and set focus keyphrases for each page will improve your Google ranking. You can also capitalize on local SEO by including location-based longtail keywords like ‘pediatrician in New York,’ ‘nutritionist in San Francisco’, or ‘cardiologist in Chicago.’ According to our survey, only 3% of doctors classed local SEO as an important factor in how to get more patients, which demonstrates there is scope for improvement across the board.
11. Start a blog
Blogs serve many purposes in the medical field and should not be underestimated as a way to attract and retain more patients. Publishing regular blog posts allow you to:
- Showcase your knowledge and expertise
- Answer common questions
- Share helpful information
- Weave in more SEO keywords to get more visitors to the site
- Develop a reputation as a leader in your field
More than anything, blog posts give potential patients an insight into who you are as a person, which helps build trust.
“The most effective way is to be oneself, an empathetic person (human) with whom the patient can feel trusted and helped by concentrating on their attention. This attracts patients and they spread the word.”
12. Be active on social media
Social media is a significant driving force and a medium you can’t afford to exclude from your patient acquisition strategy. 15% of doctors say using social media is the best way to get more patients. It is unsurprising, given that:
- 70% of the US population is active on social media.
- 80% of internet users look for health information on social media.
- 41% of patients use social media to decide on their healthcare providers.
“Keeping up to date, being attentive, and having a good social media marketing team is key to attracting more patients.”
13. Use email marketing
Email marketing allows you to send custom and personalized messages that connect with people efficiently and cost-effectively. Only 3% of doctors consider it an important factor in attracting more patients, so physicians who get ahead with email marketing will likely reap significant benefits.
Create a mailing list and send updates with links to your social media accounts, blog articles, and website pages. To collect email addresses for potential new patients, you may need to use lead magnets like a free online consult, discount code, or free download. You can also use email marketing for existing patients to remind them about booking their annual checkups and update them about new products and services.
14. Join professional networks
In addition to leading professional networks like LinkedIn, physicians should join an industry-specific platform like Sermo. On our dedicated physician platform, you gain access to more than 1 million other doctors across 150 countries, many of whom can help with advice on how to get more patients – or even offer you referrals.
15. Build a practice referral program
Developing professional connections with other physicians provides a hassle-free solution to the problem of how to get new patients. Creating mutual lead-sharing relationships with other clinics with a similar client base but are not in direct competition can be incredibly lucrative.
16. Be interactive online
Patients like to feel seen and heard, so being interactive on online channels where current and potential new patients can see your activity is essential. Be sure to:
- Respond to every review, whether it is positive or negative. This may seem obvious. However, in a previous Sermo survey, 27% of physicians said they never reply to reviews, and 22% admitted they rarely respond.
- Answer messages that come through your social media inboxes promptly and include all relevant information the patient might need.
- Look for opportunities to engage. For example, if a patient who follows your page posts a sonogram picture, it’s the perfect opportunity to offer congratulations and remind them you’re here to help with their prenatal needs.
17. Be active in the community
Connecting with the local community allows you to network and provide education while simultaneously solving the problem of how to increase patients in your clinic waiting room. You could volunteer your services at fundraising events or give free health talks at schools and colleges, for example. It’s good to have business cards that you can hand out, too. You may not get immediate inquiries, but people will likely remember you when they need a consult at a later date.
18. Change with the times
Consumer preferences and demands are constantly shifting. Sometimes it feels like there’s always some hot new social media channel to look into or trendy content format to follow. Examples include making reels and videos for platforms like Instagram and TikTok or jumping on the podcast bandwagon.
Even if you don’t go that far down the social media rabbit hole, keeping abreast of technological advancement is still essential. For example, many clinics now offer online portals where patients can access information, make appointments, and download lab results rather than calling reception.
19. Keep your branding consistent:
The more avenues you use to promote your practice, the easier it is for your brand image to become less consistent. Whatever print or online tactics you use, your branding should be uniform to ensure it’s easily recognized and remembered by potential new patients. That means being consistent with:
- The company name and logo
- Color palettes for posts, ads, and promotions
20. Monitor your online presence
Reputation management for doctors is essential. One poor review or negative article could ruin your reputation and stop your drive to get more patients in its tracks. The easiest way to keep track of what people are saying about you online is to set up Google Alerts that notify you instantly any time your name or clinic is mentioned.
21. Pay for advertising
Paying for Google Ads will help attract more patients by getting more traffic to your website, even if you are a newer practice or your website doesn’t yet have meaningful domain authority. Websites that pay for ads are displayed at the top of page one Google results, which increases your visibility and improves the chance of conversions.
22. Seek expert help
Whatever your goals or clinic advertising ideas, digital marketing for doctors can be confusing and time-consuming. You may find it’s a lot to balance in addition to your daily workload. Many clinics outsource their marketing strategy, social media presence, email marketing, and website updates. In our survey, 48% of doctors said they were not the primary person responsible for attracting new patients, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Professional services exist to take the pressure off so you can concentrate on your patients.
Get more patients with Sermo
Signing up for a Sermo account is a great way to build a professional referral network. Plus, you can showcase your expertise and experience by solving cases and boosting your reputation by participating in medical studies, which will propel your patient acquisition efforts forward.
You’ll also benefit from increased exposure to the worldwide medical community. Built by physicians, for physicians, our medical networking platform fosters impactful peer-to-peer collaboration and discussions that help you drive your business forward and provide the level of service that attracts more patients.
Physicians can sign up for free today.