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5 Steps to Better Patient Lead Generation

Regardless of what medical specialty you are in, if you are a practicing medical doctor, your practice lives or dies by patients.   Patient leads are generated by four primary sources.

  1. Medical Referrals
  2. Existing Patient Referrals
  3. Marketing efforts
  4. Repeat Patients

We have already discussed items 1, 2 and 4 on the list so today we are going to look at simplifying your patient lead generation from marketing efforts.  When considering platforms for your marketing efforts to generate new patient leads, you will rarely find a better platform than the web.  And more specifically web search traffic.  An eMarketer stat from 2011 found that 82.6% of Internet users use search.  In 2013 I would expect that number to be closer to 95%.  And when I consider my own behaviors, I am shocked it isn’t 100%.

Today we look to Google for answers to all kinds of questions including:

  • Driving directions
  • How many pints in a quart
  • Restaurant reviews
  • Medical advice

We know that patients are turning to the Internet for medical advice.  We see the monthly search volume numbers and we see the traffic to our sites.  You’ve probably seen this as well when patients come in for a consult asking your opinion about something they read online or maybe they even come in with a printout from the Internet.

Step 1 : Match Content to Searches

Since we know patients are online looking for information regarding procedures and also looking for providers and reviewing their reputations, the 1st step to generating patient leads online is to match the content on your web site to the information web searchers are looking for.  This process is summed up in two steps:

  1. Keyword research
  2. Content analysis

Keyword research means discovering the phrases your prospective patients are using when searching for information.  Google tells us that 16-20% of the daily queries on Google have never been seen before.  This means that searchers are incredibly unique in the way they structure their search queries.  Your site needs to be prepared to be identified as a resource for these queries and the only way to do that is through publishing quality content focused on your topic areas.  Below is a screen shot of a campaign dashboard from our Insights tool.  The top of the report provides a detailed content analysis of your site to determine which content on your site is already covered and which content is currently lacking.

We grade our pages A-F just like in school.  The idea is to review any pages that are not currently strong in any topic area so your whole site is performing to it’s full potential.

Step 2 : Track Rankings

If you listen to Google, they will tell you that rankings don’t matter and that you shouldn’t get hung up on rankings.  The truth is that rankings do still matter.  Traffic to your site from search is in direct correlation to your current search engine rankings.  This is why Google actually provides rankings data in their webmaster tools interface.  The problem is their data is not accurate.  And doesn’t even correspond to the data displayed in Google Analytics.  Monitoring your search engine rankings is the 2nd step towards content analysis as well as lead generation.  It is one thing for us to tell you your site is targeting a phrase well but actually ranking for that phrase is how to hold your content accountable.

The simple fact in patient lead generation still remains: where the rankings are, the traffic will follow.  You can see in the example above we are tracking over 800 rankings for this site.  And you will see in the traffic charts below, these rankings directly correlate to increases in traffic.

Step 3 : Traffic Analysis

Traffic to your site from search engines directly follows rankings.  You will see in our dashboard view above, that Traffic Analysis is our 3rd performance indicator.  If we have followed step 1 and put quality content in place and followed step 2 to ensure that content ranks in the search engines, the natural result is to see an increase in traffic from search to your site.  We use traffic analysis as a validation that our process actually works.

When you see upward trends like that, it is easy to confirm the process is working.

Step 4 : Leads, Leads, Leads

Ok, it’s all about the patient leads, right?  So how many leads did your site generate last month?  or last week?  or yesterday?  Chances are you can’t answer that question.  What we have found is that most clinics will not be utilizing any lead tracking metrics on a regular basis.  But the clinics who do track leads, regularly generate more leads because they know how to measure success.  The closest we see clinics come to measuring leads is by setting up goals in Google Analytics.  Goals are great but they are not leads.  Goals in Google Analytics are anonymous actions taken by visitors to your site.  One visitor could complete 10 goals on your site and you wouldn’t know the difference.  With our Insights platform, leads are unique:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email Address

And we measure leads in real-time so when it comes to making a critical decision to set your upcoming marketing budget, we can easily see what has worked and what hasn’t to allow you to make the smart investment decisions.

Do you see the spikes in the chart above?  Generating more patient leads means tracking those spikes and relating them back to marketing efforts.  Accurate reporting allows for this.

Step 5 : Site Problems and Following Best Practices

Step number 5 to generating more patient leads from the web is to keep tabs on your website.  Broken links, duplicate content, pages missing Google Analytics are common problems we come across when reviewing most clinic sites.  The search engines see these problems as sloppy.  And the last thing Google wants to do is return a sloppy site in their search results.  Create a system to monitor your site, make sure someone is responsible for reviewing the reports regularly.  We do this for our clients as part of our Inbound Advisor program.  If your current web company doesn’t provide this type of service, we would love to help.

The key is to know what key performance indicators are going to help you generate more leads (see all 5 above), then implement a system to regularly monitor and report on performance.  You can’t improve on what you can’t measure.  So let’s make sure you are measuring what counts.

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About Marc
Marc Ohmann is president of Digital Solutions, Inc in Minneapolis. Digital Solutions is the company behind the MDWebPro blog and tool set. Marc was a computer science and engineering student at the University of Minnesota in 1999 when he started Digital Solutions. Marc, now a husband and father of 3, greatly enjoys the clients and creativity he is involved in each day through Digital Solutions. Follow Marc on Twitter @marcohmann and @MDWebPro and also on Google Plus

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