Blog Five Ways to Start Strong with Digital Marketing By Ben Fung, DPT, MBA, 11.15.18 FacebookTwitterLinkedin In the near future, the term “digital marketing” will become a redundancy; it will just be called, “marketing.” Many businesses in physical therapy have realized this and are finalizing their plans in pivoting to digital platforms. In doing so, they are exchanging referral sources for lead generation; they are going direct to consumer, rather than being victim to the fickleness of word of mouth. They are taking control and assuming command of their growth and sustainability as a business. If growth is in your mind and sustainability is a concern, this article is for you. It is for you to read, ruminate, pontificate, and ultimately take action and spearhead your company from the past into the future. Here are…! 5 Ways To Start Strong With Digital Marketing Align Your Digital Footprint. Healthcare consumers shop very much like any shopper for any industry. They search for potential products and services, check them against their touted features along with user reviews, they examine your social media, and ultimately, take on an emotional decision of making sure a brand “feels right” before the final purchasing behavior. Digital Marketing is all about making sure all your channels line up and point in the same direction. This means your website; your reviews from Google, Facebook, and Yelp; your social media outlets; your content; and, your brand image all sync up in a way which makes sense to the consumer. As simple as this sounds, this is typically where companies fail. They fail, because they exhibit what they feel is interesting rather than what their customers feel would be meaningful. Step one: Take a good look at your digital footprint as a shopper would. Does it make sense? Is it sending the same message? Is it sending the right message, to the right audience, at the right time? Optimize Your Website. Ultimately, your website is the only digital footprint you can truly control. Sadly, most clinics don’t even control that. Most of the clinics we come across have had some website development company build out some archaic website years ago to which they don’t even have access to their website’s control panel. It’s like paying for a mortgage when you don’t even have the keys. Websites are typically the first of the digital footprints which a potential customer will investigate. Make sure it is mobile friendly. Make sure that it is NOT JUST INFORMATIVE; it needs to be engaging. A website needs to incite a purchasing behavior, be it an email, a phone call, or to schedule an appointment. If your website only has information on how amazing your clinic and your team is, you need more because every other clinic website says the same thing about how they are the best. Step Two: Your website needs to be a user experience, not an infomercial. Looking for more help in marketing your practice? Download our tip sheet to get even more tips for successfully marketing your practice.Download Now Email Marketing. Email Marketing remains the most cost-effective channel for digital marketing. It is relatively easy to do, highly automatable, and besides… everyone has an email address! To do this most effectively, use an email marketing management platform such as MailChimp or Constant Contact… there are many options and most are free up until a certain number of contacts are input into your database. Use Email Marketing to keep in touch with your current customers, former customers, and use it to incite reactivation of services, offer special promotions, and analyze your audience segments. Step Three: Collect contact information on everyone; all your incoming patients and all your potential customers who are still shopping around. Get in touch and stay in touch. Social Media Marketing. Social Media isn’t special. Social Media is entry level for any and all businesses. Be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., the fact is that social media is the only way consumers can feel like they are getting to know you, your company, your team, and your brand. Social Media is the new “word of mouth.” It is inherently viral, reaching further than traditional word of mouth, and best of all, it is 100% evidence based. Every social media platform measures the behavior of its users as well as the behavior of each user’s audience. If word of mouth has worked for you, social media will work even better. Step Four: Choose two platforms to launch and optimize for your company. Best practice suggests that this would be Facebook and a demographically targeted channel. For millennials, use Snapchat. For highly visual consumers, use Instagram. They key with any social media: Be Consistent! Community Building. Once you have a solid footprint going, it is time to position your digital branding in the space of a community. This can be a physical community or it can be a digital one; regardless, people feel a belonging when they are part of something. Whether you create a hashtag, a forum, a Facebook group, a weekly chat, etc. The key is you need to go to where your audience is and engage them in the ways they want, in the ways they like, by delivering the content they need to know. Step Five: Create brand loyalty by creating a community around your digital presence. Some Closing Thoughts: Digital marketing is simple, not easy. There are a lot of moving pieces, a lot of things to keep track of, and every single element matters as all elements are intimately connected. In general, having something is better than having nothing. However, in many other ways, having a terrible footprint is worse than having none at all. Therefore, use these five steps to start strong with digital marketing. If you have something that has been thrown together, it’s time to clean it up into a professional polish. If you’ve barely started or haven’t started at all, now you have the beginnings of a roadmap. The key to starting anything is… well, starting. You have to make mistakes. You have to fail a little. After all, failure isn’t final… it is merely fine-tuning. If questions arise or concerns follow, please let me know. Questions are always warmly welcome. Talk soon!