When it comes to marketing your healthcare business, there are two primary goals: to attract new clients to your practice and to acquire referral patients from other healthcare professionals.
Although attracting new customers will always be important, referral business is essential, especially if you specialize in a practice less common. Yet, getting those referrals can take a lot of time and effort.
Unless you’re the only service provider in your area, you probably have competitors. You have to convince other doctors to send their valuable patients to you instead of someone else.
Luckily, there are automated marketing tools that can help free up your time.
Nothing Beats A Personal Touch
Having a personal relationship with a doctor is one of the best ways to get referrals. There is no way to get around this. Setting regular meetings and showing results are good, but building trust and growing your relationship can be more influential than anything else, and be a catalyst that sends more patient referrals to your practice.
Building a strong relationship isn’t easy though, and can take up a lot of time. Fortunately, you can automate the follow-up process when networking with professionals on LinkedIn, staying in touch through emails or even keeping them up to date on industrial developments.
An initial personal outreach can go a long way to making you stand out to referral sources. Many doctors get so much advertising and junk mail that your efforts can get lost in the shuffle, rejected by secretaries and never seen. But once you have that initial contact, future communication will be more likely to get through as you use automation to nurture your relationship and connect more and more with your audience.
Automating Your Networking
Let’s start with social media automation. One network that has gained quite a bit of traction within healthcare is LinkedIn. Connecting with local health professionals, especially the ones you meet with, can give you opportunities to stay top of mind and give you a place to show off your expertise.
When using LinkedIn, you can either post on your own Timeline (like posting on your profile on Facebook) to be seen by the people you have connected with, or you can post in a group.
If there is a local LinkedIn group comprised of healthcare professionals, join it. If there aren’t any groups like this available, make one and invite professionals you’ve connected with to be a part of the conversion. Set the group’s purpose as a place for healthcare professionals to network, share information and be a place to help one another.
Once you’ve done the initial setup work of connecting with doctors and joining relevant groups, you can automate what you post on LinkedIn. Schedule out posts and links to articles ahead of time, both on your timeline and on whatever groups you are a part of.
Highlight and post a good variety of the content you’ve produced and some from other experts that support what you are doing. A good mixture of content shows you are engaged in the community, value the work of others and are a legitimate expert in your field. This practice can also help grow your social following naturally with other healthcare experts.
Depending on your automation tool, you can also monitor conversations in groups and set up alerts when the keywords you are watching arise. You can then jump into conversations and give your two cents, or pitch your practice at relevant moments. Always be sure to understand the context of the conversation you are inserting yourself into. Plugging your business when it wouldn’t make sense or in a controversial topic could do more damage than good for your business.
Automate Emails and The Buyer’s Journey
While in this case the doctors aren’t necessarily making a purchase from you, convincing them to send referrals your way is very similar to the buyer’s journey for consumers making a purchase. The awareness stage comes when they have patients who have a problem that they can’t solve. The doctor does research and finds potential solutions to said problem. Then, they research providers who can solve the issue for their patient. When they find one they like, they make a referral.
Sending regular emails to doctors you have met can help ensure a smooth transition through each of these buyer journey steps. Doctors you regularly contact will be more likely to refer patients to you.
Email marketing automation isn’t a new concept, but doing it correctly comes down to segmenting your lists well. Sending one mass email to all of your doctors will come across as artificial and insincere. But, breaking up your doctors into specific contact groups based on their specialties, personalities or how much progress you’ve made with them, allows you to focus on what content to include in the email.
For example, a doctor who is unfamiliar with your specialty might need more information about symptoms to watch for. They might not have a patient that is currently suffering from these symptoms but is simply interested in educating themselves further. You can segment such people into a list of doctors who are at the top of your marketing funnel. Then you can track as they explore links that you’ve emailed them. As they read your content and educate themselves, you can move them to a different list that is further down the funnel. Ideally, you will continue this approach, even once doctors have started sending you referrals. That way, competitors have a harder time stealing them away, and you stay fresh in their minds.
Automation of Building Brand Loyalty
Developing brand loyalty is key to having long-term referral sources and to keeping referrals coming. Gaining that loyalty, though, can only happen by accomplishing two things: doing a good job with their patients and staying in touch.
Of course, as a good healthcare provider, your patients walk away happy and satisfied. That isn’t the problem. The problem comes from making sure the referring doctor hears how well of a job you did. Patients might remember to talk about it, but don’t rely on hearsay alone.
Keeping doctors looped in on your progress with their patients, and telling them about results, can go a long way towards impressing them. It’s possible to automate these kinds of patient review emails. They can be sent out both on a regular basis and at the key moments during treatment.
Automating your referral marketing can ensure you take connections you have built with doctors and build them even stronger without putting extra work on your shoulders. It’s always a good idea to have your first contact be in person, but from there, you can automate a lot of the follow up.
Things like LinkedIn, emails, and staying in touch are all areas you can save time by automating.
Properly automating your marketing comes from identifying tasks that are important but take too much time to do individually. Do you have a specific task you want to automate? Have any successes with marketing automation you want to share? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
Ben Allen is a content creator and digital marketer who is passionate about helping small businesses succeed. When he isn’t working, he writes about education, social issues, and video games. Read more of his thoughts by following him on Twitter