Proven strategies for attracting and retaining more patients
Savvy healthcare consumers today do much of their research online, regardless of the medical specialty they’re looking for. Seeking the perfect balance of convenience and exceptional care, patients who need a podiatrist often make their decision based on both physician referral and what they find when conducting a comprehensive online search.
That’s why podiatry marketing campaigns have transitioned from a heavy focus on referral marketing to a hybrid approach that includes a comprehensive digital strategy designed to attract and retain patients at every click.
Podiatry practices that differentiate themselves in the digital world will rise to the top of search results and connect with more new patients — leading to greater patient acquisition and long-term practice growth.
From website design and development to search engine optimization (SEO), reputation management, social media, advertising and marketing, the right digital strategies can help podiatrists make their marketing investments work smarter (not harder) with a greater return on investment than you’ll typically find with traditional advertising.
Modern day marketing for podiatry practices
Historically, patients looking for a podiatrist simply asked their primary care provider for a recommendation and took the doctor’s good word that they’d get the podiatry care they needed. With the proliferation of the internet, online reviews and digital word of mouth, those days are long gone.
Patients today are seeking both high-quality care and convenience, and we know that three out of four patients look online when searching for a new provider. They’re savvy and appreciate the opportunity to do their own research to determine if a podiatry practice or provider will be a good fit for them. Podiatrists who connect with patients digitally by establishing a strong online presence and a great online reputation can be more successful in today’s competitive healthcare landscape.
Likewise, those podiatry practices that focus on modernizing the patient experience through the use of a practice growth platform are more likely to convert website visitors into new patients. In fact, 68 percent of patients1 say they’re more likely to choose a provider that offers the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online.
Connecting with prospective podiatry patients in a digital world
The benefits of podiatry digital marketing
The shift to digital marketing offers a wealth of benefits for independent podiatry practitioners. Here are just a few benefits that digital strategies offer over traditional tactics:
- Cost-effective: The beauty of digital marketing is there are minimal production costs, and there’s virtually limitless ‘ad space,’ resulting in a much lower cost than you find with traditional tools like print and broadcast. Digital marketing allows you to set your investment and scale your efforts based on exactly how much you have to spend.
- Analytics and insight: With digital marketing, you have data at your fingertips constantly to help you refine your strategy. This information drives better decision-making and can help you invest more heavily in those tactics that are delivering the results you want.
- Greater control: With digital marketing, you make the rules. You can define your budget, geographic and demographic targets, desired number of impressions or conversions, the list goes on. You can even drill down to find patients with interests or attributes that align with your specialty, when applicable (for podiatry, think runners, patients with diabetes, etc.)
- Scalability: Digital advertising tactics like Google Ads, online display ads, and social media campaigns can all be scaled up or down quickly based on performance. Once you see which tactics deliver the best results (i.e. more new patients!), you can scale and grow as you realize a return on your investment.
- Flexibility: If an ad or campaign isn’t performing well, it’s easy to modify by swapping out a headline or image. Likewise, you can develop multiple iterations of the same ad to see which works best, allowing you to get more bang for your marketing buck.
Branding, advertising and marketing for podiatry practices in the digital age
When marketing for distinct medical specialties such as podiatry, attracting new patients is often done in a digital world. Patients want the best care available, and they are willing to spend time searching for the right podiatry provider.
That’s why establishing and maintaining a captivating website through proven website design techniques can help podiatry practices attract new patients. To build on this, your online presence should reach far beyond your URL through targeted search engine optimization (SEO), social media and online reputation management strategies that connect your practice with those patients searching for a new podiatrist.
These tactics will ensure your practice makes a great first impression and lands at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) — which leads to more new patients and continued practice growth.
While many patients will continue to receive a podiatry referral from their trusted doctor, today’s prospective patients generally look online before making a final decision and booking an appointment.
The basics of podiatry branding
The idea of ‘branding’ may feel overwhelming for independent podiatry practices that often have no marketing professionals on staff. The reality is you don’t need a high-powered marketing agency to establish a strong brand.
Establishing a powerful brand for your podiatry practice requires a few basic elements, including:
- A strong logo that is used consistently on all digital and print assets, as well as on your exterior signage.
- A cohesive color palette of 2-4 colors (including those used in your logo) that are used throughout your website, all print materials and other marketing materials.
- 1-2 fonts that are used throughout your marketing materials, including the typeface used in your logo.
- A small set of words (often referred to as your ‘verbal identity’) that convey the attributes of your practice (think: high-quality, state-of-the-art, patient-centered care, pain-free life, etc.). These words should be used throughout your website, on social media, and in all marketing materials to reinforce your brand’s value proposition.
- A consistent ‘photographic style’ that guides any imagery used on your website, in social media and marketing materials. For example, you may choose to use primarily clinical/medical imagery, which can portray high-quality, state-of-the-art care. Or you could opt for a more ‘lifestyle’ style of imagery, which could depict patients living life to the fullest without the struggles associated with foot/ankle pain, etc.
Once you’ve decided on these brand attributes, be sure to apply them consistently across your website, social media and content marketing, as well as in any marketing materials or handouts you use throughout your practice. Soon, patients will begin to identify and recognize your brand at a glance.
From there, you can strengthen your brand with an impactful website design that connects with new patients; engaging content marketing tactics such as social media, blogging and email marketing; and a reputation management strategy that drives positive patient reviews and a robust web presence.
Top podiatry advertising strategies
To complement your organic podiatry marketing strategies, paid advertising can help you maximize the impact of your overall marketing efforts. Fortunately, unlike costly traditional marketing venues, such as broadcast, print/magazine and outdoor advertising, you don’t need a massive budget for digital marketing strategies.
Tactics such as pay-per-click, sponsored social media and digital ad campaigns can help broaden the reach of your podiatry marketing efforts and attract new patients with a budget that’s scalable. The following advertising strategies can help drive awareness for your practice at various stages of the patient search journey. One of the best things about digital marketing is that you can start small, see what works and scale your investment based on what’s driving new patient volume. Here are a few podiatry advertising tactics to consider:
- Paid search or Google Ads, otherwise known as cost-per-click (CPC) or pay-per-click advertising, lets podiatry practices develop brief text ads that will display on search engine results pages as prospective patients are searching for designated keywords that relate to your podiatry practice (think: podiatrist near me, foot pain, bunion surgeon, etc.). Because you only pay for the clicks your ads generate, it’s a budget-friendly place to start in order to drive qualified leads to your podiatry website.
- Facebook ads/sponsored content can extend the reach of your podiatry practice beyond your followers into the broader Facebook audience. Whether you choose a full-scale Facebook ad campaign or boosted posts, you can deliver educational and promotional content that will generate greater awareness for your podiatrists. This can drive both website traffic and new patient conversion.
- Online banner ads, otherwise known as digital display advertising, can help podiatrists reach prospective patients wherever they spend time online. In the world of podiatry, this may include popular running blogs or websites, organizations dedicated to supporting patients with diabetes, or sites like WebMD where those with foot or ankle pain may be turning to for advice. Digital ads can be retargeted to maximize the performance of your campaign, pushing your ads to prospective patients who have visited your site, but haven’t yet booked an appointment. This can support new patient acquisition and practice growth.
Top marketing tactics for today’s podiatry practices
When developing a podiatry marketing strategy, it’s best to first conduct an analysis of your competitive landscape. Evaluate your local market to determine what services your competitors offer, which can help you identify your podiatry practice’s value proposition. For example, are there services you offer that no other local podiatry practice offers? Do your providers have any extra fellowship training or board certifications that other podiatrists lack? How far are podiatry patients willing to drive for care? All of these questions will help you find your niche and target service area, which should drive your overall marketing strategy.
From here, identifying the best marketing strategies to attract podiatry patients seeking the services you offer is important for your long-term practice growth. In today’s digital world, the top marketing and advertising strategies for podiatrists include:
- An exceptional website design to help your podiatry practice attract and engage with prospective patients. To do this, it must load quickly, be easy to navigate, optimized for mobile devices, and findable by the top search engines.
- A strong web presence that allows patients searching for a podiatrist to find your practice. This means even those patients who don’t know about your practice can find you via online directories such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Vitals, which will drive website traffic and new patient conversion.
- A creative social media strategy that connects with more patients through engaging content that highlights the conditions your podiatrists treat and the services and treatments you offer.
- A comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) plan that ensures prospective patients looking for a new podiatrist find your practice first.
- A local search strategy that targets potential new patients within a designated geographic area to drive awareness and new patient acquisition.
- A focus on patient reviews and online reputation management to affirm that your podiatry practice delivers high-quality care and an exceptional patient experience.
- An ongoing focus on patient relationship management to keep your patients connected to your practice in between appointments through continuous outreach, engagement strategies, routine appointment reminders, and more.
Growing your podiatry practice
Healthcare practices don’t just grow over time. Long-term practice growth comes with a constant focus on acquiring new patients along with a steadfast emphasis on patient retention.
While podiatry marketing and advertising may help you grow your practice, it’s also important to invest in the tools and strategies needed to sustain the growth inspired by your marketing efforts. Setting reasonable goals on a quarterly or annual basis can help your podiatry practice stay on a positive growth trajectory.
To do this, podiatry practice operators must carefully watch key performance indicators (KPIs), such as the number of newly scheduled appointments, no-show rate, search engine results rankings, and key reputation metrics (e.g. your average star rating or patient survey sentiment). In addition, optimizing each patient’s lifetime value (LTV, the potential revenue of all visits for a patient through their lifetime), can also support long-term practice growth.
Using a comprehensive platform can help podiatry practices manage all practice growth strategies in one place. This beats a piecemeal approach that’s likely to lead to inefficiencies and higher costs that could actually hinder practice growth. The all-in-one platform model also provides a high-level overview of how all your patient acquisition and retention efforts are working together using business intelligence — making it easier to spot trends and opportunities for improvement.
Podiatry practice growth begins with your website
Attracting new podiatry patients begins with your website. It’s often where you’ll make your first impression on patients looking for a new podiatry provider. You’ll need a stellar website design that loads quickly, is easy-to-navigate, and provides all the basic information your prospective patients are looking for.
The must-haves for any podiatry practice website include:
- Location(s): List all practice location(s) on the homepage. Doing so can make it easy for new patients to determine how close you are to where they live or work, which can have a real impact on whether or not they choose your practice.
- Providers: Include detailed bios and headshots for each podiatrist, and write them in a way that engages new patients. Be sure to add each provider’s clinical interests, where they went to medical school, as well as any additional training, fellowships or certifications they’ve earned. Offering insight on how each provider likes to work with patients (whether through quotes or videos) can help prospective patients feel more confident in their decision to choose your practice.
- Services: Create an individual web page for every condition you treat, as well as every test, service or procedure you offer. This will help with search engine optimization, and will reassure patients looking for these services that it’s something your practice handles routinely.
- Patient testimonials: Highlight existing patient feedback to help those looking for a new podiatrist affirm that your practice is a good choice. Your online reputation has a real impact on your long-term practice growth.
- Blog: Add a blog to your podiatry website to keep patients engaged and informed on topics related to foot and ankle health as well as drive website traffic and convert website visitors into new patients.
- Call to action: Make it easy for your patients to schedule an appointment. New patients need to know how to reach your podiatry practice to schedule an appointment. While online scheduling is the standard in today’s digital world, ensuring your practice phone number is front and center on every page is a minimum.
Optimizing your podiatry practice’s web presence
While your website is important, having the perfect website design is not enough. If your online presence isn’t optimized, it’s unlikely to result in more patients. That’s because prospective podiatry patients have to find you first, and this relies on a strong web presence that’s established through numerous ongoing strategies.
To ensure your podiatry practice rises to the top of the search engines, follow these top strategies for enhancing your online presence:
- Look beyond your website: There are numerous online business directories that likely include your practice information. These ‘practice profiles’ can be found on popular sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, Vitals, and beyond. Claim your profiles and ensure your practice information is accurate across all sites. This consistency gives the search engines confidence that the information is accurate and means they’re more likely to move your practice to the top of the search results. It also ensures your patients find the right information when looking for your practice address or contact information, enhancing the patient experience.
- Develop a search engine optimization strategy: Search engines like websites with good online performance, which means fast loading times, a mobile-responsive design, and a clear call to action (think online scheduling). Next, when it comes to specialty services like podiatry, using the right keywords can connect patients with the unique services you provide with your practice. If you offer unique services or procedures, highlighting those prominently on your website and your online profiles around the web can also help you improve your search engine ranking.
- Focus on patient reviews and online reputation management: Patient reviews don’t just affect how future patients perceive you, it can also impact your search engine ranking. Podiatry practices with a stronger online reputation are more likely to jump to the top of the search engine results page — which can drive more website traffic and lead to practice growth over time. In fact, the volume and frequency of reviews plays into Google’s algorithm by signaling your podiatry practice’s relevance in the community based on how often it’s reviewed.
- Be active on social media: Social media provides more ways to connect with new patients and can help optimize and amplify your online presence. Not only does social media allow you to engage with more patients, it can also raise awareness for your practice. In fact, nearly 75 percent of businesses that use social media feel it’s been effective for their business. For podiatry practices, it can be used to share practice information, educational content and much more.
Search engine optimization (SEO) and local search marketing for podiatry practices
You may have the best podiatry practice in your local market with the most highly-qualified providers and staff, but if you aren’t being found in a digital world, you’re likely to miss out on more patients who may be finding your competitor(s) first.
To rank on the first page search results, you’ll need an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that’s based on a proven approach to local search marketing. In simple terms, you need to demonstrate to Google and other search engines that your practice is a good choice to serve up to patients who are looking for a new podiatrist. Doing so requires SEO expertise — especially since search engine algorithms are constantly evolving.
The good news is that there are several proven tactics that have held true even as the SEO has changed over time. Examples may include boosting your online performance by optimizing online profiles and listings including Google My Business and Vitals or enhancing your website for search performance through the use of popular keywords. These strategies will amplify your web presence and connect prospective patients with your podiatrists.
Other supporting strategies include the use of content marketing tactics, such as email campaigns, social media and blogging. Each of these tools drives traffic to your website and increases your relevancy ranking among Google and its competitors.
Last, but not least, your online reputation has a real impact on your search engine ranking. This means podiatry practices that make a concerted effort to encourage and generate patient reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, Citysearch and others are likely to experience gains in their website traffic and therefore, in new patient acquisition and long-term practice growth.
Reputation management best practices for podiatry practices
Based on a five-star rating system, Google reviews in aggregate generate a rating that’s fast and easy for patients to check at a glance. In most cases, prospective patients will read a few reviews, but will hone in on your podiatry practice’s star rating.
Most patients (59%) will only consider those practices with at least a four-star average rating. Furthermore, the popularity of “best” searches on Google means that the search engines will filter out any practices with fewer than four stars when serving up search results. So, if someone searches ‘best podiatrist near me’ and you don’t have a four-star rating or higher, they’ll be directed to your nearest competitor with a better online reputation. That’s why it’s critical to keep an eye on your average star rating.
To improve your star rating, consider the following strategies to enhance the patient experience in your podiatry practice:
- Offer convenience. Make it easy for your patients to do business with you by implementing digital tools such as online scheduling, automated appointment confirmations and reminders, telehealth and more.
- Keep wait times short. Allowing your patients to fill out paperwork prior to their appointment with digital intake and registration tools can streamline your podiatry patients’ appointments — which leads to less waiting.
- Ask for feedback. Automated patient satisfaction surveys generated after each appointment signal to your patients that you care about their experience. PatientPop research shows that patients who are asked for feedback are 50 percent more likely to proactively submit an online review — and we know that a higher frequency and volume of reviews tells Google that your practice is relevant and thereby boosts your search engine ranking.
- Keep an eye on feedback and respond. Every patient review and social media comment or engagement is an opportunity to connect and engage. Respond promptly to questions or comments that come in via social media, and be certain to address all negative reviews. This will let the reviewer and all future patients see that you care enough to address their feedback.
Close the deal on direct podiatry referrals with a strong online reputation
Focusing on convenience and the patient experience
Today’s savvy healthcare consumers want more than high-quality care. They demand convenience and a seamless experience from their initial website visit through to their first appointment.
We also know that many podiatry patients may be managing a wide range of health problems and comorbidities, further emphasizing the importance of convenience. Since 70 percent of patients indicate they will consider switching providers for a better patient experience, those podiatry practices that offer digital tools such as telehealth, automated reminders, and email campaigns that offer relevant health information can differentiate themselves by delivering the convenience podiatry patients want.
But, it doesn’t end there. To keep podiatry patients coming back, you need to continue offering simple efficiencies such as online registration and text messaging. You can further foster the patient-provider relationship by creating an ongoing communications strategy that keeps patients engaged in between appointments.
Focusing on podiatry patient retention and ongoing relationship management
Podiatry practice owners looking for long-term practice growth must move beyond patient acquisition and focus also on patient retention. Those practices that develop an ongoing strategy to nurture and strengthen the patient-provider relationship and drive patient loyalty are more likely to achieve their growth goals.
Proven strategies for patient retention include:
- Patient satisfaction surveys. What better way to show your patients you care what they think than to ask them? By deploying automated patient satisfaction surveys, you can strengthen the patient/provider relationship while also improving your online reputation. That’s a win-win that’s good for business.
- A modern patient experience. Today’s healthcare consumers are busy and therefore put a premium on convenience. This makes investing in digital tools designed to streamline the patient experience a sound investment. Offering digital tools such as online scheduling, digital registration and intake, automated reminders and text messaging makes it convenient for podiatry patients to do business with you. At the same time, doing so makes it easier for patients to schedule and maintain their appointments.
- Ongoing engagement. Engaging with your patients in between appointments is a sound strategy for patient retention. Using a combination of content marketing tactics such as blogging, email marketing and social media allows you to stay connected with your patients wherever they are. Sharing relevant health information, practice updates, new providers, seasonal messages and education can keep your practice top of mind all year long.
A podiatry practice’s guide to content marketing
Today’s sophisticated healthcare consumers turn to the internet to self-diagnose, learn about health conditions and emerging treatments, evaluate providers, and make important healthcare decisions. Content marketing allows you to be there to support prospective patients as they seek to learn all they can about a given health topic. In truth, while content marketing is a bit of a buzzword, it really just means sharing relevant and timely information in today’s digital world. If you’re not sure where to start with content marketing, here are just a few podiatry-specific examples to consider:
- A blog featuring the many causes of foot and ankle pain, authored by one of your providers.
- An email campaign targeted at diabetes patients with tips for managing non-healing wounds.
- A Q&A with one of your providers about what to expect from a bunion procedure.
- A Facebook post featuring a patient testimonial or positive online patient review.
- An engaging YouTube video explaining what to look for in a running shoe to prevent injury.
- A Twitter post highlighting new scientific research that relates to the service(s) you offer.
Still stumped? Here’s a list of common podiatry topics to consider for your next blog post, social media and/or email campaign.
Common Podiatry Symptoms & Conditions
- Foot Pain
- Ankle Pain/Sprained Ankle/Ankle Sprain/Ankle Injuries
- Heel Pain
- Heel Spurs
- Sports Injuries
- Corns/Corns & Calluses
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Ingrown Toenail/Ingrown Toenails
- Toenail Fungus/Nail Fungus/Fungal Nails/Fungal Toenails
- Athlete's Foot
- Flat Feet
- Hammer Toe/Hammertoes/Hammer Toes
- Achilles Tendonitis/Achilles Tendon/Tendonitis/Tendinitis
- Warts/Plantar Warts
- Morton's Neuroma/Neuroma/Neuromas
- Neuropathy/Peripheral Neuropathy
Common Podiatry Symptoms & Conditions
- Diabetic Foot Care
- Ozone Therapy
- Ten Pass (HBOT)
- Prolo-ozone Therapy
- Wound Care
- Minimally Invasive Surgery
- Orthotics/Custom Orthotics
- Bunion Surgery
- Diabetic Foot
- Pediatric Foot Care
- Foot Surgery
- Regenerative Medicine
- Sports Medicine
- Shockwave Therapy
- Laser Treatments
- Laser Toenail Fungus
Reminder: For search engine optimization, think like a patient and use the keywords and phrases they’re most likely to search for.