Why You Need to Take Advantage of LinkedIn to Help Your Private Practice Grow

LinkedIn for Physical Therapy
LinkedIn for Physical Therapy

When it comes to Internet marketing, most businesses have made the effort to try and have a presence on at least one of the popular social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube.

These sites are viewed as the fun cousins of the social media world, the sites everyone seems to want to play with. But private practices such as yours need to realize that they are not the only networking opportunities worth using.

LinkedIn is a very well known but hugely underrated and underused avenue of opportunity. Most people view LinkedIn as the “stuffed shirt” of networking, and it’s true that if you go to LinkedIn, you won’t find a video of someone falling down or a cute picture of a cat hanging on a washing line.  But that is by no means bad thing. We are talking about professional networking here.

Each networking site attracts a different set of potential clients, and LinkedIn is no different. In fact, you could even find yourself networking and promoting your practice to more important people than you ever thought possible.

If you still need convincing of the power of LinkedIn to help your private practice, then take a few minutes to look through these reasons why your practice should be on LinkedIn too:

LinkedIn: Business, not Pleasure

Google any business or business person, and one of the first page entries in the search results will almost certainly be their LinkedIn profile (if they have one). These profile pages contain everything you want to know about the person or company, their products and services, and more.

[note_box]So when creating a profile for your private practice on LinkedIn, it’s vital to fill out and use every tool offered, including the customized “Products and Business” section. This is a superb opportunity to create a stunningly professional yet informative section that can complement your website. Here, you can market your practice with images, videos, detailed descriptions of treatments offered, links to helpful websites for patients and more. What LinkedIn is really offering you is a virtual, digital brochure with tens of thousands of potential patients waiting to connect with you.[/note_box]

What alternative does a potential patient have if you don’t give them the information they are looking for yourself? Their only option is to go and look for the opinions of others in random blog entries and consumer forums, and you have no control over what is being said there, good or bad.

Engaging Conversations

An essential element of any network is not simply to attract people to your profile, but to engage with and retain your audience for the long term.  But while contact between users on sites such as Facebook and Twitter revolves around relaxed social interaction, LinkedIn is a business-orientated network.  So if you can’t post pictures of cute animals in amusing situations, how can you keep interest in your brand going?

a) Daily Status Update

LinkedIn has many useful features, but none are as easy to use as the “Status Update.”  These status updates appear in the feeds of those who are following your business page and in the feeds of other LinkedIn members who are networked to your followers.  So by posting an update on a daily basis, you are expanding both the exposure of your brand to more potential patients and giving more people the opportunity to network with your practice.

b) Use A Poll

Polls are a simple yet versatile way of gathering useful information from your followers while still keeping them engaged.  You can find out all sorts of relevant information about your potential patients here: what they would like to discuss in the group, information about the group members themselves.  Or you can use them just as a way of starting the conversation.

c) Useful Feedback

As LinkedIn members are business people themselves, use the opportunity to gather useful and significant feedback.  Asking questions which relate directly to your practice can get you some incredibly valuable insights into both how your brand is seen and in learning more about what your potential patients need and want from the services and treatments offered by you.

Don’t Do It Alone: Join A Group

When first joining any network, it’s only natural to start to connect with the people that you know. But in business, you constantly need to be looking for opportunities to increase the number of people you can showcase your practice to. LinkedIn is perfect for that.

As you accept invites from other LinkedIn members, your networking potential and business profile grows.  You don’t have to be shy in extending invitations to other members to connect with you either, especially if you think they will complement your own services.

Remember, it’s not just one connection you are making. Connecting with other LinkedIn members also joins you to their network of contacts, growing both your own associated network of contacts and the amount of potential traffic to your LinkedIn business page.

Groups are a great way to find and join like-minded business people. Look to join various groups associated with physical therapy and rehabilitation in any way.

Once you have the confidence, you can take it further and create your own groups around different aspects of the physical therapy industry.

Not only will you be increasing the number of business contacts you have, but you will be actively taking and spreading the knowledge and awareness of your practice throughout the LinkedIn business network.

[note_box]Companies themselves can’t join a LinkedIn group but individuals can. You, as the owner of your practice, could join yourself, but how much more impressive would it be to your fellow LinkedIn members if some of your employees actively represented your brand within the LinkedIn group discussions and enthusiastically engaged others on behalf of your practice?[/note_box]

The Power of Recommendations

To a potential patient, nothing gives more confidence than to hear someone do more than just praise your services, but to give it an outright recommendation. It says more than “I am happy with it”; it says to someone, “You need to use them too. They helped me recover from my injury so quickly that I had to tell you to use them if you ever need physical therapy.”

The “Recommendation” is a unique feature that separates LinkedIn from other Social networking sites. On LinkedIn, these recommendations, made by both clients and colleagues, allow others to give your practice and professionalism a glowing report.

Get Found

You want your LinkedIn profile to increase your visibility on the Internet and contribute to your rankings in the search engine results.  By adjusting some of your profile wording, you can improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your LinkedIn site.

Inside the “Websites” section, adding keywords to the title descriptions found in the “Other” section will increase your page’s visibility on the Internet searches.

When starting to complete your LinkedIn profile, keep key industry keywords and buzz terms in mind.

Try to subtly add a few key search terms your patients may use when looking for your services, but don’t stuff your profile with them as search engines like Google and Bing can penalize your site if there is an overload of keywords.

Don’t overlook your URLs. When you join and create your LinkedIn profile and pages, LinkedIn automatically creates the URLs with random numbers, not a name, but these links are customizable. Change it to something the search engines can pick up on: your name, job title or location  By being creative, you may even be able to get keywords in.

Statistical Analysis

Studying statistical data may not be everybody’s favourite task, but it gives an impression of how effective your LinkedIn profile is, and within LinkedIn you can get detailed facts and figures on who is visiting your page, how often they come, how many times someone clicks through the “Services” tab, which members are following your page, and a whole wealth of other stats broken down into very useful information.

But there are even more targeted marketing opportunities available to practices like yours on LinkedIn.

The Admin of a business page can set up customized Product and Services pages.

This means when a visitor comes through to your page, the information shown to them will be tailored to them depending on things like: How local they are to your practice; what business they are in; what position they hold in their company.

Being able to modify information in this way enables you to give other LinkedIn members more relevant information about your practice.

Network Your Network

Maximizing your exposure is a fundamental key in getting new followers, so the easier you can make it to follow you the better. LinkedIn has 2 easy ways to do this:

“Follow Company” Button

By putting this button on your site, it lets followers connect quickly, and they can then track your LinkedIn activity easily and conveniently from within their own LinkedIn profile. Once your followers have grown to a decent number, add the number of your followers onto this button.

“Share” Button

By adding this button to the articles and content in your LinkedIn pages, you show your page visitors that they can share articles from your site with their own followers.

By making your articles informative and useful to others, you encourage others to take your knowledge and expertise in the physical therapy field to a much wider audience of potential patients.

Market To A Captive Audience

With a rapidly growing membership of over 175 million business professionals worldwide, it would be a criminal oversight not to consider marketing your practice to such a captive audience inside LinkedIn.

Not only does LinkedIn offer its business users ad campaigns with a massive audience, the ads themselves are immensely flexible and customizable.

Available as Pay Per Click or Pay Per Impression, the ads can be tailored to an exact audience based on a specific customer demographic like the size of the company, the business area, and occupation, to name just a few factors.

These ads can also be shown on specific pages. So you could target profile pages, practice and group pages, member’s inbox or message pages, and more.

This type of targeted approach helps in getting the relevant information to the right sector of your audience: your potential patients.

There is also a choice of Ad Type:

  • Display Ad: An ad that can be placed on the page in a range of shapes and sizes, rather like a classified newspaper ad.
  • Content Ad: An ad that lets you stream several types of contend in one organized packet – like video, Twitter, Status updates, etc.
  • Text Link Ad: A static html link to a specific page or place.
  • Social Ad: Social ads are a highly targeted, highly efficient way to sign up fellow LinkedIn members and to encourage them to share messages and recommend products.

They encourage a particular course of action like the ‘Follow’, ‘Recommend’ or ‘Join Group’ ads.

Upgrade and Expand With Advanced Apps

Once you have a good working knowledge of LinkedIn, it’s time to take your LinkedIn page to the next level with some of the many advanced applications that allow you to give your LinkedIn pages greater appeal and marketing power.

Here are just a few of the great “Advanced Apps” available to use with LinkedIn:

SLIDESHARE

Rather than having a simple static photogallery of business statistics, you can really impress visitors with a professional and visually interesting slideshow presentation.

MY TRAVEL

This app lets you share all your future travel plans and trips with your network, so they can see not only where you are now but where you are going to be and when.

This gives people a great opportunity to arrange to meet up for different events and functions.

BOX.NET

If you have something you’d like to share with your followers, why not make it downloadable?  Box.net lets you share everything from photographs to portfolios, charts and presentations.

BLOG LINK

Linking your blog up to your LinkedIn page is so easy with Blog Link.

If you use WordPress, there are many specialist WordPress app or plug-ins that can do it for you simply and easily.

HUDDLE WORKSPACES

Collaborations can be notoriously tricky things.

Huddle Workspaces is designed to smooth out this rocky road. It lets you give different groups their own workspace, which means you can provide private remote access to documents that only they will see and have access to in their workspace.

TWEET

We couldn’t possibly forget the social network that many businesses use daily.

Tweets lets you access and use your Twitter account from inside LinkedIn.

Do you feel inspired to explore the world of LinkedIn?

Or have you previously registered but didn’t know about many of the features that we mentioned or have not had much success with it? If so, please contact E-Rehab.

So many small private practices have either don’t understand LinkedIn or have not used it to its full potential.  As a result they are missing out on a lot of potential patients and useful connections.

[colored_box bgColor=”#788794 ” textColor=”#ffffff “]We can show you how to get the most from LinkedIn and get the best results from using it as well as all of the other social media platforms.

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing our insider knowledge and ideas with you.[/colored_box]

 

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF LINKEDIN FOR FREE (PART 2)

TIP 4: CREATE YOUR PRACTICE BUSINESS PAGE

Last week I discussed 3 TIPS to help you make the most of LinkedIn when trying to hire a new PT for your practice. This week I am going to provide you with a 4th tip that will help improve your business’ presence on LinkedIn. Below are some procedures on how to create and optimize your LinkedIn business page.

Set up your page:

Just like your practice’s Facebook page, you can also set up your LinkedIn business page. To do so, click on the “Companies” icon on the upper tab of your profile.

linked in for physical therapy marketing

Then click on the “Add a company” link on the upper right-hand corner. The first window will appear and ask you the name of the company and your email address that you are using for your company.

Note: your business email address should NOT be a generic account (e.g. @gmail.com or similar). It has to be an email address that is using the company domain name (if you do not have one, call me and I will explain to you the benefit of having one and how to do it). Check the box to verify that you are an authorized representative of the company and hit continue. LinkedIn will send you an automatic message to verify the email address you just provided. Next, fill in the necessary information about your company (e.g. size, type of ownership, industry, website, year founded and specialties).

  1. Pay attention to the description you provide for your practice overview. Avoid excessive text which forces the viewer to scroll down the page.
  2. Include the phrase “physical therapy in YOUR TOWN” (e.g. physical therapy in Encinitas) to help with search engine listings.
  3. Remember, your target audience is potential staff members, not new patients. A “very flexible schedule” for appointments may be very attractive for your patients but not so much for your potential employees.
  4. Focus your message on the unique culture of your practice and what makes it remarkable.
  5. You will be able to modify this overview after your page is set up; so, do not hesitate to tailor your message to your current staffing needs.

Add your services:

After you write a great practice overview that will catch the attention of your target, you can focus on the presentation of your services. From the company home page go to the “Edit” icon (upper right-hand corner), click on the arrow and select the “Add a product or service” option.

linked in for physical therapy websites

You will be taken to a page where you can complete your service tab in 11 steps. Don’t worry, it’s painless 🙂 Fill in the different items and do not forget to add a picture. This is the first thing that people will see when landing on your services page. I also suggest that you add a video presentation of your practice (step 11). This will give a prospects a better sense of the atmosphere and culture at your practice.

To create a free video slideshow of your practice, use a service like www.animoto.com

physical therapist recruiting

When you are done click “Publish” and LinkedIn will automatically post an update on your page saying you added a product or a service. If you want to modify it click on the “Product & Services” tab.

Linked in for physical therapy practice recruiting

Next, click on the product you want to modify and click edit.

Linked in for physical therapy practice recruiting

When you are done click “Publish” and LinkedIn will let all your company followers know that you updated your service. The “Product & Services” tab on LinkedIn is not a place where you want to showcase all the services you provide. Instead I suggest that you concentrate on 4-5 items maximum…the ones that differentiate your practice or in which you have the most expertise.

[note_box]
Again, remember that you are writing this for prospective employees. Here you can get away with PT jargon. Make your practice attractive to prospective employees.[/note_box]

Job posts:

Let’s now talk about how you can support your recruiting efforts with your company page.

The first level of subscription service on LinkedIn will let you add complete job descriptions on your “Career” tab. The higher level will allow LinkedIn members to apply for a position via their professional platform. However, this is not something I recommend for a small private practice. Chances are you won’t get a good return on your investment. Instead, I suggest you post your job descriptions on your practice website and then post a link to them on your LinkedIn Company page. This way all your followers will see it, as well as all people visiting your website.

To do so, go to the “Home” tab of your company page and write your update on the top of the page in the white rectangle. Copy and paste the link to the job description on your website, like the example below.

Linked in for physical therapy practice recruiting

If your link is correct a second new box with your website preview will appear. When you are satisfied with your post select to whom the post will be visible (e.g. All followers) and hit share.

Final Thoughts:

If you want your company page to be an asset for your practice, you should commit to the following:

  • Let all your connections on LinkedIn know that you created your practice page, i.e. by posting an update on your LinkedIn profile, and encourage them to become followers of your page.
  • Keep your company page alive by posting regular updates about your practice. It could be job posts, services updates, welcoming the arrival of a new staff member, or a special event or promotion. This will show candidates that you own an tech savvy practice, and will be more appealing than a page that has not been updated in months.

This concludes my 4 tips on how to make the most of LinkedIn for free.

If you have questions or comments please feel free to drop us a line on the comment section. Let us know what topics you would like to know more about!

3 Tips on How to Use LinkedIn for Physical Therapy Marketing & Recruiting

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF LINKEDIN FOR FREE!

You probably already have a LinkedIn profile on the number one professional social media platform…LinkedIn. But are you using it to its full potential? For example have you ever used it to find your accountant or to recruit a new physical therapist for your practice? In this post I will give you few tips that might just help you find new employees without paying a dime to LinkedIn.

From the very beginning, when you create your profile, LinkedIn will try to convince you that you need to upgrade to a paid version and it’s tempting to do so as the platform does a very good job at hiding its most valuable features, even if they are accessible from the free version. Here are some valuable ways to unleash the true potential of LinkedIn.

Tip 1: To attract the best candidate, have an attractive profile:

Whether you are looking for new employment opportunities or trying to attract new candidates, it’s important that your profile make a great first impression. Some professionals do not take it seriously and only fill the name of their practice. Providing viewers with more details such as your location, specialty, your mission statement and some of the opportunities your community has to offer potential new hires, is crucial if you are going to attract savvy LinkedIn prospects. As far as your own career path is concerned do not forget to mention if you are board certified, if you belong to a professional association (e.g. the APTA or more specific organizations may exist in your specialty) or if you have other activities (volunteering, contributions to a magazine, website or journal) that are physical therapy related. Finally put a picture on your profile. It may sound unimportant (I know people should only care about your skills and experience) but statistics show that profiles with a picture have twice the chance of being clicked on than the profile without a picture.

Tip 2: Expand your Network

Now that your profile is ready, you can start building or expanding your network. Obviously, the number of profiles you have access to and can connect with, is proportional to the people you have in your network. Because of this feature, LinkedIn will try to convince you that you need to upgrade your account in order to be able to see more profiles and contact them. Therefore, my advice is that you concentrate on building your network of people you already have a relationship with. In order to do this there are quick and easy steps to follow.

Step 1: Start with your email contacts:

Fortunately, LinkedIn users are less reluctant to accept an invitation to connect with you than on other social networks. When you create your profile, LinkedIn will offer to search people you already know based on your email contacts. Even if you may be reluctant to “spam” all your contacts (including family and friends) with an invite, do not forget that LinkedIn is a PROFESSIONAL social network which means that they do not share personal or intimate information. Moreover, even your personal connections can still help you connect with other professionals that might be potential employees; i.e. your cousin Jane is an accountant and her best friend is married to a PT!

When you complete this first step your 1st level connections will enlarge your network and give you access to 2nd level connections (connections of your 1st level connections) and 3rd level connections (people connected to your connections’ connections). But you can broaden your network even further by joining LinkedIn groups.

Step 2: Join as many groups as you can:

Groups are very useful on LinkedIn. Not only do they enlarge your network but more importantly, they allow you to CONTACT other group members DIRECTLY (see tip 3). In addition they keep you updated about relevant discussions in your field of interest. The free version of LinkedIn will let you join up to 50 groups, which gives you plenty of opportunities to connect with new professionals. Here is how my own list of groups looks like.

There are 2 types of groups on LinkedIn: restricted and open groups. The restricted groups are the ones you can see with a lock icon like the APTA for example. Those may have special criteria for your acceptance e.g. a professional association may require you to be a member of the organization in order to be a member of the LinkedIn group.

When choosing your groups there are 4 things to consider:
  • Is it an open or a restricted group? You want to have a good mix of open and restricted groups. This way if you reach the limit of 50 groups and you would like to join a new one, you are be able to withdraw from an open group without being concerned about the approval process if you choose to return to the open group you just left.
  • What is the group interest? Choose that are relevant to your professional field, personal/professional interest or the field of professionals you’re looking to hire.
  • How many members does the group have? Some group titles may seem very appealing but if they only have 50 members it won’t help you grow your network.
  • How active are the discussions in this group? You want to belong to groups that have lively discussions. Groups where members are engaged are also groups where you can interact with people easily or get noticed when you start a public conversation.

Tip 3: Use your groups to their full capacity

One of the features I like with respect to groups is that they allow you to reach others within the group. There are 2 ways to accomplish this. First, you can post a discussion for everybody in the group to see, below are examples on the APTA LinkedIn group.

If you are looking for a new PT to expand your practice, you could start a discussion posting your job announcement headline.

The second way to contact group members is to send them a direct message. Let’s say that you noticed one very active member of the group, you looked at his/her profile and you think he/she could be a good fit for your practice.

Click on Members, (the icon circled in green in the picture below).

You will arrive at the following page:

Type the Name of your potential candidate in the search box and his/her profile will appear in the search result.

When you hover your pointer over the profile a “send message” link will appear.

Click on that link and you will be able to send a personalized message to this group member, including for example your job offer.

Tip 4: Take Things to the Next Level: Create a LinkedIn page for your practice

LinkedIn now offers you the opportunity to create a page for your business just like you can create a business page on Facebook or Google +. This feature allows you to post content related to your business on your page, and you can also fill in the services and career tabs.
All of these features are available within a FREE version account. Stay tuned and next week I will go over this last feature in more details and show you how to get the most out of your Physical Therapy Practice’s LinkedIn page.

Do You Need a Physical Therapy Blog?

physical-therapy-blog

Starting a Physical Therapy Blog

A website is a great way to increase visibility of your physical therapy practice, but some websites are far more effective than others. Every page should be easy to get to, attractive, organized, and provide valuable information to prospective patients. After all, if you don’t specifically direct patients back to your website, most will not go back on their own.

Websites that are updated frequently can reflect positively on your practice. A physical therapy blog is a wonderful one way to show your current and potential clients that you are the rehabilitation and information leader in your community.

[pullquote1 textcolor=”#004080″]”However, when we recently did a random search and examination of 50 different websites that rank at or near the top of Google for a geographic search (e.g. physical therapy Encinitas), only 1 of them had a blog.”[/pullquote1]

You may have read, from search marketing experts, that if you have a blog, the search engines will pick up on your website’s activity level. There is some truth to that. Google and others will take note of the specific words and phrases used in your blog. These details can contribute to your website’s ranking on search engines. A higher search engine ranking will result in more visitors to your website.

However, when we recently did a random search and examination of 50 different websites that rank at or near the top of Google for a geographic search (e.g. physical therapy Encinitas), only 1 of them had a blog.

Do You Have the Time for a Physical Therapy Blog?

Keeping a blog up-to-date requires repeated work. This is not an attractive option for many. A physical therapy blog does not have to be a complex addition to your website. Sometimes the simplest blogs are the best. An easy way to begin a blog is to use it to introduce patients to different aspects of your practice. People can feel nervous and even intimidated when approaching a new healthcare facility, especially if they have never visited a physical therapist before.
Here are some post ideas for you:

  • Talk about your unique company culture,
  • Treatments you offer,
  • Success stories,
  • People working there,
  • The benefits of different treatments,
  • The experience level of your staff,
  • Other general details which will make people feel more comfortable visiting your office.

Attracting new patients is probably the reason you have a website to begin with, so do not be afraid to take a more direct marketing approach on your physical therapy blog. Posts should highlight your assets. Do not forget that a blog can be used to advertise special events and offers too (a free screening comes to mind).

Not every blog post has to relate directly to your physical therapy practice, though. Here are some more ideas for posts:

  • News that has to do with the community,
  • Physical therapy in general (see the APTA.org website),
  • New clinical studies
  • New treatment methods.

For Out-of-Network Practices

A number of practices are now “out-of-network” providers. This means you have to give patients a reason to pay more for your physical therapy services. A blog may just have the information that differentiates your practice enough to reinforce the patient’s choice to use you instead of an in-network provider.

At this point in time with respect to the search engines, many practices won’t need a physical therapy blog to rank well. Nevertheless, a physical therapy blog on your website is a great place to write about important information since websites can reach more people than local advertisements or phone calls can.

There are several benefits to having one though. Weigh them carefully and make sure you are willing to commit the time and have someone that can write in a manner that represents the quality care you provide. There’s nothing worse than a blog that was last updated in “November 2, 2009”. It won’t reflect well on the practice.

I should add, that E-rehab offers a fully integrated physical therapy blog for our customers. We also provide content for the blog and training so you can efficiently and effectively keep it up to date.

Increase your physical therapy practice visibility with Google’s local business listings: Part 1

This is part 1 of a 2-part interview I did with PTPN’s marketing director Stephen Moore.

This issue features a Part 1 of a Q&A with David Straight, PT, DPT, founder of E-rehab, an online marketing company and PTPN Preferred Vendor, about Google+ Local.

[note_box]Q. What is Google+ Local?
A. Google+ Local is Google’s version of an online geographic business directory for local businesses, including therapy practices. It’s the new name for Google Places. Businesses can be listed there at no cost, with details like business name, address, contact information and website. In Google search results, they’re the listings you see that are marked A, B, C, and so on. To see an example, go to google.com and type in “physical therapy” along with the name of your city, and look for the area of the results page with those markers.[/note_box]

[note_box]Q. What are the differences between Google+ Local search results and other Google search results?
A. A Google search results page has three areas that can drive traffic to your website: At the top of the page, in most cases, are Google Adwords results, which are paid advertising. The Google+ Local geographic results are usually listed next, and the third area is the natural or organic listings, which are the search results based on Google’s algorithms that examine web page content, descriptions, etc.[/note_box]

[note_box]Q. How important is it for a private practice to be listed in Google+ Local?
A. It’s important to be listed on Google because people are using online research in a number of ways – not just searching for a nearby physical therapist, but also to do research on a specific therapy office when they’ve been referred to that office. And it’s not just patients; we did a survey of physicians, and two-thirds of them told us that if they didn’t know where to refer a patient, they would use Google to search for a practice that’s geographically convenient for the patient. About 80 percent of all online searches for physical therapy practices are done with Google, so it’s crucial to be in Google’s local business listings.[/note_box]

[note_box]Q. How do I get my practice listed in Google+ Local?
A. The first step is to claim your free Google+ Local listing, which you can do at www.google.com/places. Then you can do a number of things to get a higher “relevance” score from Google and increase your visibility…[/note_box]

What Does My Mom and Tole Painting Have to do with Physical Therapy Search Marketing?

Every year my mom paints these really nice decorative ornaments for my kids. It’s a tradition that she’s kept up for years and she’s pretty good at it too. However, one day she called me in a panic. She had run out of a couple colors of paint that she needed and wanted my help. You see, she didn’t know where to get them anymore since the local arts and crafts shop had gone out of business. (What does this have to do with physical therapy search marketing? Bear with me).

I, of course, opened Google and did a search. Within a minute, I had several names of stores that she could go to for the paint she needed. I called a couple of them up, asked if it was in stock and then gave my mom a couple of options. That same day she had her paint and the ornament tradition will continue this holiday.

Physical Therapy Search Marketing – Patients Research Online Buy Offline (ROBO)

So, what does the story above have to do with physical search therapy marketing? The fact is that patients and their adult children ROBO all of the time. In fact, a client of ours in Florida (yes, think Medicare because 70% of his patients are Medicare) generates 30% of his business from Internet marketing. Furthermore, it’s not the Medicare patients that are researching online either. It’s the adult children of the patients that are doing the Googling.

How People Look for You – We’ve Run the Tests

Intuitively, one might think that patients will search for back pain treatment in your community. While 1 or 2 of those searches may occur each month, our data suggests that there are 3 main ways people research physical therapy practices online.

  1. By business name – PT is a referral business so this makes sense.
  2. By geographic convenience- this too makes sense. The doctor tells the patient, “Find a physical therapy clinic close to you.”
  3. By clinician name – if you were referred to an orthopedist for a consultation/treatment, would you research him/her online first? Many do.

Do a Few Searches Yourself

Based on our experience with physical therapy search marketing, we suggest you do the three searches we indicated above for your practice. Google your practice name. Google physical therapy in your city. Google your own name. Are you listed?

How to Get Listed

There are three different ways to be listed on a SERP (search engine results page).  Click here for those.  A good way to get started is to go to www.getlisted.org and search for your practice. They have lots of good information on how to do it yourself. Much of it pertains to how to get listed in the local business listings. This is a great place start.

Remember, prospects are looking for you. Make sure you can be found.

Mobile Marketing – An Opportunity You Shouldn’t Miss

physical-therapy-mobile-websiteThought leaders in the PT industry point to business differentiators like company culture, clinical excellence, and customer service, as means to establish long-term competitive advantages.

One online opportunity that is untapped by most private practices and will go a long way to improve your customer service, is mobile marketing. Mobile marketing can be defined as “using interactive wireless media to provide customers with time and location sensitive, personalized information that promotes goods, services and ideas, thereby generating value for all stakeholders”.1

Consider these facts about how people and patients use search engines, ratings & reviews, and mobile devices:

  • 73% of all Americans used search engines.2
  • 83% of search users say Google is their search engine of choice.2
  • 19% consult rankings/reviews of health providers.3
  • 35+% use mobile phone for health info.3
  • Smartphones are owned by 42% of U.S. consumers.4
  • 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7.5
  • 16% of visitors to PT private practice websites are using a mobile device.6

Eight Ways to Set Your Practice Apart with Mobile Marketing

When developing a marketing strategy to differentiate your practice, you of course should consider the behaviors of the patient populations you serve. Given the facts above, here are some recommendations for your mobile marketing initiative:

1. Have a mobile version of your website served to those that visit your website on a mobile device. It will load much faster than the desktop version of your website. Include features like:

a. A “tap to call button”,

b. Location information that is integrated with the smartphone’s mapping application (which in most cases is Apple Maps or Google Maps) and,

c. An electronic appointment request.

2. Make sure you are listed in Google Maps (aka Google Places) when patients do a search for physical therapy in your city. This may require Local Optimization which is distinctly different from search engine optimization. Have you ever heard this from a patient? “My doctor told me to find a physical therapist that is close to me.” When physicians make this kind of referral statement, and given consumers’ propensity to use their smartphones and Google, being listed in local business listings like Google Maps (Google Places) can generate more referrals.

3. Create a mobile page with links to your directory ratings and review pages. Ratings and reviews are becoming more popular and patients are giving them more weight when making buying decisions. However, it is tedious to get patients to visit your ratings and review pages. Create a simple paper handout to direct patients to your business ratings and review websites like Google, Yelp and Yahoo Local. Better yet, make those ratings and review pages easily accessible on your practice’s mobile website.

4. Create a mobile optimized form for appointment requests. Make sure you share this opportunity to request an appointment online with your patients on their first visit. You will be surprised how many patients enjoy this convenience. Also, make sure that there is someone in your office that has the dedicated task of monitoring online appointment requests.

5. Link to your social network pages. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are good ways to stay engaged with your current and past patients. One problem is getting patients to “Like” your Facebook Page or follow you on Twitter. Include your social networking sites in your mobile website so you can quickly direct them to your social network.

6. Make them and offer. Prospective patients that visit your website with a mobile device are more likely to be looking for your services. Consider offering a free screening, perhaps over the phone, to encourage people to choose your practice.

7. Use QR codes. QR codes are simply two dimensional bar codes that hold information. When scanned, they can provide the viewer with different data types such as a web address, YouTube video, Google Map location, Facebook page address, plain text, an SMS message, email message, and more. Think about putting a QR code on your business card, your referral sheet, your marketing collateral, on a patient invoice that directs them to your online payment page. There are many possibilities. Of course, QR codes are only useful to people with smartphones that have a QR reader installed. That number is increasing though.

8. Use SMS (text) messaging for appointment reminders. Text message appointment reminders are another customer service opportunity that could significantly impact your arrival rate. Given that 97% of text messages are opened, sending appointment reminders to mobile devices can be an attractive option to cut cancelation rates. 7 Remember that text messaging is not secure so you should avoid mentioning physical therapy and your business name in the message. The message might state, “Reminder, you have an appointment tomorrow at 1:30 PM.” Some simple instruction that a text message is coming as a reminder is likely to be good enough for most patients.

 In summary, mobile marketing is a great way to improve:

  • The patient experience,
  • Your local online reputation,
  • Your search results,
  • Cut down on your cancellation rate.

For the DIY Therapist Here’s a Checklist – Click Here

Mobile marketing can be a DIY project. However, it’s going to be a much better investment of your time and money if you find a service provider to assist you especially if they have knowledge of the physical therapy market. Your time is better spent treating patients than trying to figure up how to build a mobile marketing platform.

  1. Wikipedia.org. Mobile Marketing. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_marketing .Accessed March 23, 2012.
  2. Purcell, K., et. al. Search Engine Use 2012. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Available at: https://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Search-Engine-Use-2012/Summary-of-findings.aspx . Accessed March 9, 2012.
  3. Rainie, L. The Rise of the e-Patient, Jan 12, 2012. Pew Internet & American Life Project.Available at: https://pewinternet.org/Presentations/2012/Jan/The-Rise-of-the-ePatient.aspx Accessed March 23, 2012.
  4. Smith, A. Smartphone Adoption and Usage July, 2011. Pew Internet & American Life Project.Available at: https://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Smartphones/Section-1.aspx . Accessed March 23, 2012.
  5. Hopkins, J. 9 Amazing Mobile Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Should Know. Hubspot Blog. Available at: https://bit.ly/p0dHCY . Accessed February 1, 2012.
  6. Straight, D. E-rehab.com – March, 2012. Based on random sample of 20 website statistics over 90 day period.
  7. Cohen, M. Text Message Marketing. NY Times. September 23, 2009. Available at https://nyti.ms/1E6J5k . Accessed January 17, 2012.