The 7 best marketing strategies for medical practices in 2023

Physician practices looking to increase their number of online patient referrals are often unsure where to focus their marketing dollars. Should they spend it on a Google Ads campaign? Or perhaps organic SEO? Or maybe even a social media campaign?

In other words, what are the best medical practice marketing strategies? In this blog post, we answer this question.
Best marketing strategies for medical practices

1. SEO for doctors

If you are looking to position your practice for longterm growth, then SEO for doctors is essential. Let me explain why.

The pros of SEO for doctors

Medical SEO costs less than Google Ads

First, perhaps the best thing about organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is that it is usually far cheaper than Google Ads. Positioning your medical practice’s website at the top of Google’s ‘real’ (and not paid) results, mean that you are not paying for each click. So, let’s say you get 10,000 clicks—with organic SEO you do not pay anything—whereas for Google Ads you would be facing a bill of many thousands of dollars.

Even Google admits the affordability and excellent ROI of Google Ads:

There's no cost to appear in organic search results like Google's, and making changes to improve your website's SEO, can greatly impact your search rankings over time.” —from Google’s page ‘SEO vs. PPC’.

Medical SEO has higher click-through rates

Second, the click through rates for organic traffic are higher than for paid ads. In other words, getting your website to the top of organic search results will generate more traffic than paid ads. And, of course, more traffic usually means more patients.

High quality medical SEO content positions you as the authority of your specialty

Third, the process of SEO requires adding top quality content to your website. By answering questions about your specialty that people are regularly ‘Googling’, you position your practice as the authority of the topic. Not only are you generating clicks for your site, but you become to be seen as an online leader of your specialty.

The cons of SEO for doctors

However, there is one main weakness with this strategy: it takes time. Although good medical SEO agencies will be able to boost keyword rankings within a month or two, it will usually take longer to push your site up to the top 3 search results. Of course, it also depends on the level of competition for the keywords, with some taking longer than others.

SEO for doctors—the take home point

SEO for doctors takes time, but for physician practices thinking of the longterm, it is essential. It offers more traffic than paid ads and at a lower cost.

2. Google Ads for medical practices

If you are serious about increasing your number of new online patient leads, then you should definitely consider Google Ads for doctors

The Pros of Google Ads for doctors

Google Ads for doctors gets you results fast

First of all, it is the fastest way to get the phones ringing. Within hours, a new Google Ads campaign can be set up, pulling in new patients to your appointment calendar.

Google Ads for doctors can be very targeted

Second, you can be highly targeted with your campaigns. This means you can restrict your marketing dollars to patients that fit parameters such as geographic area, gender, age, and treatment for which they are searching.

The Cons of Google Ads for doctors

Google Ads for doctors can be expensive

The main downside of Google Ads is that it can be expensive. You will need to pay for each click, even if a patient does not follow through and schedule an appointment. What is more, if you are targeting highly competitive keywords, each click can be expensive. This is why it is important to work with an experienced medical marketing agency to ensure your Google Ads campaigns are optimized — and not wasting any of your marketing dollars.

Medical Google Ads are governed by specific policies

Additionally, Google Ads has more restrictions around certain medical procedures. Be sure to set your campaign up in full compliance with Google’s Healthcare & Medicines Advertising policies in order to avoid your account being suspended.

In other words, if you decide to give Google Ads a try, it’s recommended to have your campaigns set-up by a medical marketing agency that is experienced in setting up and running Google Ads for medical practices.

Google Ads for doctors—the take home point

If you need new patient appointments NOW, then you need Google Ads. However, don’t expect it to come cheap.
Medical marketing strategies table of comparison

3. Social media marketing for doctors

We have all heard about the supposedly amazing potential of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tiktok to win new business, but is it really justified? Well, the answer is yes and no. Let’s break it down.

The pros of social media marketing for doctors

Targeted campaigns

If you are runninga paid campaign, then most social media platforms allow you to be super targeted. This means that you can promote your practice to ‘ideal patients’, based on criteria like geographic area, age, gender, interests, job, and more. Additionally, you can even take an existing patient list and search for other patients who are similar to them (Note: Be careful when doing this, as it must be done in a HIPAA compliant manner).

Bilateral & multilateral communication

Unlike SEO & Google Ads, which are essentially one-way marketing channels, social media offers users the chance to interact with ads. For example, users can comment on the ad or send you a direct message. Whatismore, users can even comment on other users’ messages, essentially making the channel not only bilateral, but multilateral.

This active involvement of the end-user creates more engagement, potentially leading to higher conversion rates.

Cost per click can be lower than Google Ads

Depending on the platform, social media ads often offer a lower Cost Per Click (CPC) than Google Ads. For example, it was found that campaigns on Facebook often deliver a lower CPC than compared to Google Ads. Of course, a click does not necessarily lead to a new patient, so you should really be more focused on Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) rather than CPC, however CPC is still an important indicator.

Social media marketing for doctors

The cons of social media marketing for doctors

Organic social media campaigns lack traffic

Have you ever spend time creating an amazing post, only to find that just a handful of people like it or share it? Unfortunately, the algorithms of social media platforms are increasingly prioritizing paid campaigns over organic campaigns. In other words, if you really want results, it’s necessary to loosen the purse strings.

Beware the ‘boost’ button

Social media platforms have made it easier and easier for the general public to create paid campaigns. We’re talking here about the introduction of the ‘boost’ button. But beware. Although it is simple, it often does not provide as high ROI as more customized campaigns. Working with a medical marketing agency specializing in social media ads for doctors will save you both time and money.

Social media marketing for doctors should be for chronic conditions only

Think about it logically. If someone has just broken their leg, are they really going to start scrolling down their Facebook page or Twitter feed? No. Most people with an acute condition will turn to Google search for help. However, for patients with more chronic conditions, such as arthritis, they may well be scrolling down their feed and tempted by any ads related to their condition.

Social media marketing for doctors—take home point

Social media marketing can offer a lower cost per click than Google Ads, however we only recommend it for medical services treating chronic conditions, not acute. Read more about Facebook ads for doctors.

4. Directory listings for doctors

In addition to Google Ads, organic SEO, and social media marketing, there are also some other options when it comes to promoting your physician practice online. Below is a brief summary of these options.

Directory listings for doctors—overview

A quick and easy way to increase the online presence of your medical pracice is to get listed in online directories, for example Google My Business, Healthgrades, and Yelp. Besides being easier to find online, these extra backlinks will also help your organic SEO campaign. 

In terms of implementation, you have two options. First, you could do it manually. However, with so many directories, it can be very time-consuming. Second, you can pay a third party service specializing in directory listings for doctors. They have API access to most directories, meaning you simply have to enter your details once and they are then automatically ‘pushed’ onto the directories.

Directory listings for doctors—take home point

It is a useful addition to any online medical marketing campaign, however it is noway near as effective as Google Ads, SEO, or social media marketing.

5. Google Reviews for Doctors—overview

Increasing your number of 5 star reviews can boost your digital marketing campaign in two ways.

First, it helps your SEO campaign, as doctors with higher ratings are more likely to appear on the 3 local Google My Business search results.

Second, it can increase conversion rates. Patients often check out online reviews before scheduling an appointment. Having more 5 star reviews increases the chances that they will be reassured and proceed with scheduling.
Google reviews for doctors

Google Reviews for Doctors—take home point

Considering its effects upon both SEO and patient conversion, it is highly recommended that doctors pay attention to their online reputation. Now sure how to do this? Read more about Online Reputation Management for Doctors.

6. Patient newsletters—overview

It is said that the greatest source of future patients is past patients. Staying in touch with existing patients is possible via a regular patient newsletter. What is more, if you are creating content for your SEO campaigns, this content can be simultaneously disseminated in the newsletters. As such, it offers an affordable way to market your medical practice.

Patient newsletters—take home point

If you’re not sending regular email newsletters to patients, we recommend you start. It offers an easy and affordable way to maximize repeat visits.

7. Measuring ROI per channel—HIPAA compliant patient lead tracking

So then, which online marketing channels provide the best Return On Investment for medical practices? The answer can be seen once you set up HIPAA compliant patient lead tracking.

Here at Red Castle Services, we are able to track new patient leads via:

  • Calling
  • Contact forms
  • Chat widget

More importantly, we can see how the patient found your website i.e. via an organic Google search vs. Google Ads vs. Social media marketing.

After setting this up, you will immediately begin to see trends—revealing which marketing channels are referring the most patient leads to your practice.

Additionally, by entering your budget for each channel, you can quickly calculate the cost per lead. For practice owners or marketing directors, this is very important information, as it informs you which channel is providing the highest Return On Investment.

Based on the current and historic data of our physician practice clients, SEO campaigns appear to offer the lowest cost per lead and, therefore, the highest Return On Investment.

Patient lead tracking

Patient lead tracking—take home point

Although this strategy does not directly generate any leads itself, it shows doctors and marketing directors which strategies are working best. Armed with this knowledge, future marketing dollars can then be reallocated from low ROI strategies to those yielding higher ROI.

Summary—What are the best marketing strategies for medical practices in 2023?

SEO usually offers the best ROI for medical practices. For faster results, Google Ads is a good option, however it is also usually more expensive. For chronic (non-actue) conditions, medical practices should also consider social media ads.

In order to access more accurate data specific to your practice, it is possible to set up HIPAA-compliant patient lead tracking—allowing you to see which marketing channel is generating the most patient leads and at what cost per lead.

About Red Castle Services

Red Castle Services is a medical SEO agency specializing in online medical marketing for doctors. Our mission is to perfect the science of lead generation in the medical sector.

What medical marketing problems do we solve

How is Red Castle Services different?

With 15 years of experience, we know exactly what physician practices want:

  • New patient leads & maximizing ROI on marketing dollars
  • Flexibility—month-to-month agreements, customized solutions
  • Top notch human customer service—we're a small, friendly agency that makes time for you.
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Dr. Richard Girling
CEO & Founder
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