A modern marketing guide for ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists

Proven strategies to attract and retain patients in a digital world

In years past, patients relied almost exclusively on word of mouth or a physician referral to find an ENT/Otolaryngology specialist. That search process has changed considerably. Today’s consumers spend most of their time in a digital world, consulting Google and other search engines for information and recommendations related to their healthcare.

From allergies to vertigo, from ear tubes to sinus surgery, healthcare consumers turn to the internet for answers to their ENT-related health questions and concerns. As a result, otolaryngologists and ENT specialists who want to attract new patients need a strong digital presence.

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The many benefits of digital marketing

Consumers spend hours a day online and turn to the internet for answers to common health questions. Whether it’s parents seeking information on a child’s chronic ear infections or adults wanting relief from debilitating sinus problems, most people use Google to conduct research and make their healthcare decisions.

ENT specialists who want to compete in today’s modern marketing environment must have the following: a robust online presence, a stellar online reputation, and a seamless experience for patients at every step of their journey.

Digital marketing and advertising strategies can help ENT practices achieve their growth goals in ways that traditional channels or referral marketing tactics simply cannot. Because online strategies offer unrivaled flexibility and return on investment, ENT providers who deploy digital-first marketing strategies can attract more new patients than providers who haven’t.

Here are a few of the many benefits of digital marketing:

  • Better ROI: Digital marketing tends to cost less per impression and per conversion than its traditional counterparts. More important, practices can better measure the effectiveness of online efforts. By documenting each click, tracking every conversion, and compiling data related to prospective patients’ online behaviors, you can easily see your digital marketing performance and progress. This allows your ENT practice to focus your marketing spend on efforts that attract the most new patients, giving you more bang for your buck.
  • Greater flexibility: One of digital marketing’s greatest benefits is flexibility. ENT practice operators can be in the driver’s seat, shifting strategies as needed. With digital marketing strategies, otolaryngologists can quickly set and adjust their budget, decide who to target (by location, age, demographics, gender, interests), choose and switch which marketing channels to use, and make creative changes.
  • Better targeting, broader reach: Traditional marketing tactics like print and broadcast advertising limit the reachable audience. With digital marketing, ENT practices can target patients using advanced capabilities not offered in offline channels. Your otolaryngology digital campaigns reach the right audience at the right time, resulting in better performance and more new patient conversions. Additionally, your audience online is virtually limitless, helping drive greater awareness for your ENT services and practice.

Your ENT practice can use digital marketing and advertising to launch a cohesive branding strategy, extending recognition in your local market. This involves promoting a strong visual identity that includes your logo, complementary colors, and consistent imagery, all which help onlookers recognize your brand at a glance.

Top elements of a comprehensive digital strategy

With dozens of digital marketing strategies to choose from, deciding on the right marketing mix may feel overwhelming for ENT practices. Fortunately, there are several proven strategies that can help ENT and otolaryngology providers connect with new patients online, ultimately leading to long-term practice growth.

To begin, think of your website design and strategy as the foundation of your online presence. Your website often provides prospective patients with their first impression of your ENT practice; equally as important, it also communicates to search engines what your practice does and the kind of care you deliver. Over time, sharing this information properly with search engines can help you connect with more patients.

This is central to your search engine optimization (SEO), another foundational element of any digital marketing strategy. After all, your website can’t appeal to new patients if it’s difficult to find or doesn’t rise to the top of search results.

Next, your online reputation plays a key role in helping you book prospective ENT patients by affirming that your otolaryngologists are a top choice for ENT / head and neck surgery care in your area. Positive online reviews are one of the most influential factors for patients seeking care; when patients let others know your practice delivers an exceptional experience, you are better positioned to gain more new patients.

As your budget permits, digital advertising campaigns can further broaden the reach of your organic marketing efforts. Paid advertising tactics such as cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns, digital display ads, and sponsored social media campaigns can expedite your ability to get found online, and help you more easily connect with patients who may need the ENT or otolaryngology services.

The use of social media and blog content further enhances your online presence. Both help generate greater awareness for your ENT practice and providers, and can also drive more website traffic — both are essential for long-term practice growth.

Finally, digital marketing must include a patient retention strategy to help encourage patient engagement and keep patients coming back for care. By focusing on proven tactics that promote patient satisfaction, and by keeping patients informed and engaged in between visits, you’re supporting a practice growth strategy that can yield real results.

Improving your ENT practice’s search ranking with SEO and local search marketing

Getting the most from your website and online presence requires a focus on search engine optimization (SEO) and local search marketing strategies. With the right approach to search, your ENT / head & neck surgery practice can benefit from top search result rankings, critical to attracting new patients today.

While search engines change their algorithms regularly, numerous proven strategies can help your ENT practice get found more often in your market, and connect with local healthcare consumers. Here are five top tactics that can increase your ENT practice’s chances of landing a coveted placement toward the top of page 1:

  • Focus on your website and blog content: When it comes to SEO, the more content you offer search engines to crawl, the better your results. To start, ensure your website has a single, dedicated page for each ENT-related condition you treat and every service you provide. Then, adding a blog will afford you many more opportunities to post relevant content that addresses online searchers’ most common ENT questions. Those may be related to specific procedures (e.g. balloon sinuplasty, tympanostomy) or symptoms and conditions (e.g. dizziness, hearing loss, allergies).
  • Look beyond your own website. Your practice’s website is just one element of your SEO strategy. Search engine optimization (SEO) also includes the various components that prove your ENT practice’s relevance and credibility, both online and offline. Search engines like Google want to see that your ENT practice brand and expertise extends past your website. To expand your online presence, claim your profile on popular directory sites including Google My Business, Yelp, Vitals, Healthgrades, and local business sites — plus anywhere else that can extend the visibility of your practice. Make sure all information is up-to-date, consistent, and as specific as possible. That consistency gives Google the confidence to surface your information in answer to local ENT-related patient queries.
  • Use relevant keywords. While the word may sound technical, “keywords” are simply the words or phrases a prospective patient may use when formulating an online query. For ENT, common keywords could include ENT, otolaryngology, allergies, head and neck surgery, or sinusitis. Including these keywords within the content across your website, blog, and online directory profiles will increase your chances of connecting with prospective patients using those terms in their online search.
  • Develop a social media presence. Posting relevant medical content on social media channels can help drive traffic to your website and enhance your overall online presence — signals to Google that your ENT practice is a relevant, credible business and information source. Posting consistently is key on social media, so only plan for the number of channels (choosing from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) you can effectively manage. You may want to give particular attention to YouTube; more than a social media outlet, it’s also the second most popular search engine online. Therefore, there’s great search value in sharing video content on this popular platform, particularly for niche services that your competitors may not offer.
  • Strengthen your online reputation: Your ENT practice’s online reputation also plays an important role in improving your search engine optimization (SEO). Google assumes that ENT practices with a higher volume and frequency of reviews are more relevant in the community, and rewards those practices with a chance at higher search rankings. In addition, Google average star ratings affect search performance, too. Practices with an average rating of 4.0 or greater will surface in searches that use the word ‘best’ related to local ENT providers and practices (such as ‘best ENT provider near me’). More appearances for those ‘best’ searches translates to more prospective patients seeing your website.

For even better online performance, complement your SEO and local search strategies with content marketing

Content marketing serves a multitude of functions including attracting new patients to your practice, engaging existing patients, and supporting your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

As mentioned above, the more relevant content your ENT practice generates online, the more information search engines can find and index. At its most basic, this informs Google and other search engines which ENT services your practice offers, and gives you more opportunities to boost your search result rankings for those services.

Content marketing can include any tactics that offer your relevant ENT content to the public, including blogging, social media, and email marketing campaigns. Content marketing is a powerful tool to help you connect with current and prospective patients in meaningful ways. It also allows you to demonstrate and reinforce your expertise, whether it’s through an informative video or a detailed blog post that helps your ENT experts and otolaryngologists showcase their knowledge and skills.

Not sure where to start? Here are some ENT-specific ideas to get your content marketing efforts on the way:

  • A blog post explaining the signs and symptoms of sinusitis. Include what to look for, and some common remedies and treatments to consider.
  • A video featuring an otolaryngologist explaining a balloon sinuplasty procedure. Describe how it’s performed, and what a patient can expect before, during, and after surgery.
  • An email campaign targeted to allergy sufferers, featuring tips for managing an upcoming allergy season.
  • A light-hearted social media campaign targeting women whose husbands snore, offering advice and treatment options.
  • A Twitter post linking to a recent research study related to otolaryngology.
  • A Q&A with one of your ENT experts explaining Meniere’s disease.
  • A Facebook post featuring a positive patient review or testimonial.

Need more ideas? Here is a list of common ENT/otolaryngology keywords to consider for your next content marketing campaign. Regardless of the forum or channels you choose to share content, be sure to include the keywords from this list that make the most sense for your business.

Common ENT / Head & Neck Surgery / Otolaryngology keywords, symptoms and conditions

  • Allergy / Allergies
  • Deviated Septum
  • Dizziness
  • Dysphasia
  • Ear Disorders
  • Ear Infections
  • Ear Pressure
  • Hearing Loss & Hearing Aids
  • Hoarseness & Voice Disorders
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Nasal Obstruction
  • Nasal Polyps
  • Post Nasal Drip
  • Sinusitis / Chronic Sinusitis
  • Sinus Infections
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Snoring
  • Swallowing Disorders
  • Tonsillitis
  • Tonsil Stones
  • Ringing in Ears
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Turbinate Hypertrophy
  • Tinnitus
  • Vertigo

Common ENT / Head & Neck Surgery / Otolaryngology Keywords, treatments and procedures

  • Allergy Treatments
  • Balloon Sinuplasty (and Turbinate Reduction)
  • Botox
  • Ear Wax Removal
  • Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
  • Facial Rejuvenation
  • Head & Neck Surgery
  • Pediatric ENT
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Septoplasty
  • Sinus Surgery
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Tonsillectomy

An otolaryngologist’s roadmap to reputation management and patient retention

Customer satisfaction is a critical element of any business’s long-term growth strategy. For ENT providers, patient satisfaction impacts both patient retention and patient acquisition, two ends of the business that are equally critical for sustainable practice growth.

As a leading indicator of your ENT practice’s patient satisfaction, your online reputation can’t be overlooked. Today’s healthcare consumers are increasingly looking to online patient reviews when evaluating and selecting a new doctor. In fact, 74 percent of patients consider positive reviews to be very or extremely important when choosing a provider. As a result, ENT practices with a better online reputation are more likely to land new patients.

Many ENT providers wrongly believe they don’t have much control over their online reputation. But they do. There are numerous proven strategies any ENT practice can deploy to help enhance patient satisfaction and build up online patient reviews.

Strategy no. 1: Give patients what they want: A good listener

When asked what’s most important in a healthcare provider, a majority of patients in a PatientPop 2021 survey responded that having “a good listener” was their top priority. In fact, it was the top choice, selected by 67.1 percent of patients. Of course, giving patients your undivided attention during their appointment is foremost. But, consider concluding visits with a wrap-up statement such as ‘Have I answered all of your questions today?’ This can remind each patient that you’ve been listening and that your goal is to make sure they leave the exam room feeling heard and understood.

Another way to convey that you’re listening is to ask patients for feedback, typically via automated patient satisfaction surveys sent after each ENT appointment. This gives your patients the chance to speak their mind and share valuable feedback which, in turn, provides insights to help you make improvements that drive better patient satisfaction and loyalty.

Even more important: patients who are asked for feedback by a provider or practice are 2.3x more likely to post a review online, based on our survey research. The more online reviews your practice accumulates, the less impact a single negative or neutral review will have on your overall rating and reputation. For maximum positive impact, ENT providers should strive to increase both the volume and frequency of their online reviews.

Strategy no. 2: Strengthening the patient-provider relationship

The #1 driver of patient loyalty and retention is the connection between provider and patient. Strengthening that relationship can help drive long-term engagement and keep patients happy and coming back. If your ENT practice doesn’t have a patient engagement strategy, you could be missing out on opportunities to connect with your patients and capitalize on the lifetime value of every relationship.

One tactic that ENT practices can implement to help drive patient engagement is the use of timely, targeted email campaigns. Although many businesses tend to overuse email marketing, some experts argue that healthcare practices don’t use email enough. Take advantage of the opportunity to share your expertise with patients year-round, keeping them informed and keeping your practice top-of-mind in between visits. Whether it’s a seasonal campaign related to allergy season, regular updates throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, or regular tips for sleep apnea sufferers, your ENT practice can use email marketing to deliver valuable health information to patients throughout the year.

Think of email marketing as a content marketing tactic like blogging and social media; they all help your ENT practice share relevant information with patients, continually building trust and strengthening the patient-provider bond.

Finally, make it easy for patients to keep that connection with your practice by offering a variety of access and communications tools. Give your patients multiple options to contact your practice and providers, by phone, email, and text message. Just letting them choose their preferred method can help improve patient satisfaction.

Strategy no. 3: Deliver a modern patient experience focused on convenience

We all know that making time for healthcare can be a real struggle for busy patients. Convenience is paramount. That’s why ENT practices that streamline the patient experience — from scheduling an appointment to paying a bill — can satisfy and retain more patients.

The more digital options your ENT practice can offer, the better chance a patient will respond positively. This includes online scheduling, automated appointment confirmations and reminders, digital registration and intake forms, telehealth, and online pay. Each shows patients that you’re prioritizing their convenience, which leads to greater engagement, satisfaction, and better online reviews.

In the PatientPop 2021 annual patient perspective survey, the majority of patients indicated they prefer a digital experience for five key interactions with practices:

  • Scheduling an appointment
  • Filling out registration and other forms
  • Accessing health records
  • Asking the provider a question
  • Paying their bill
In addition, using automation across these tasks can free up staff from manual administrative tasks. Instead, your front-desk team can focus on responding to phone calls and greeting patients warmly — further enhancing the in-person experience at your ENT practice.

Strategy no. 4: Respond to your patients promptly

Every consumer wants to be heard, especially in healthcare. Patients who have feedback for their providers won’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored. Whether your ENT patients are calling, emailing, sending a secure message via your patient portal, responding to a patient satisfaction survey, or posting an online review, it’s critical to respond to their feedback appropriately. Nearly half of patients in our annual survey indicated that a prompt response to questions and concerns is what they want most from a healthcare provider.

When you receive feedback or reviews that include negative or critical comments, responding is imperative for your business. When patients don’t receive a response to a negative review, the unhappy patient almost always remains dissatisfied. By ignoring negative feedback, not only do you alienate a current patient, but you jeopardize opportunities with prospective patients who see that an online complaint hasn’t received a response from the doctor or practice. However, when a provider does respond, the change in patient satisfaction rate is astounding, going from under three percent to more than 80 percent.

How a practice growth platform drives your digital marketing efforts

To understand how well your digital marketing and advertising strategies are performing, you must monitor all aspects of practice growth. While patient acquisition is an important part of your growth strategy, it’s important to consider patient engagement and practice efficiency, too. Both can have a significant impact on your overall revenue and growth.

To keep a close watch on all these growth factors, an all-in-one practice growth platform can track your practice’s key performance indicators (KPIs), while also automating certain manual tasks for greater efficiency.

An all-in-one practice growth platform like PatientPop delivers search engine optimization (SEO) and website design, along with all the digital tools of a modern patient experience: online scheduling, automated appointment reminders, online registration and forms, automated patient satisfaction surveys, text messaging options, telehealth, and more. A single platform with this all-in-one structure helps practices of all sizes achieve their growth goals by scaling and automating certain functions, thereby delivering a consistent patient experience.

The PatientPop practice growth dashboard, an integral reporting component of the platform, gives ENT practices key insights at a glance, including SEO keyword performance, website traffic data, new patient volume and conversion metrics, and patient sentiment data. Having this information readily available can help growth-focused ENT / otolaryngology practices understand their progress, and know when to shift marketing and advertising strategies for a better return on investment.