When it comes to physical therapy marketing online, Yelp can help. Yelp wants patients to review your business but they don’t want you to incentivize your patients to do so. They want it to happen naturally…organically. Therefore, Yelp provides verified business owners with 3 ways to get patients to your Yelp business listing. If you don’t have a Yelp business listing, click here to read the article on how to do this.
Remind Customers You are on Yelp
1. Add a Yelp Review Badge to your website. To do this, log in to your Yelp business account, copy the code Yelp provides you and paste it into your website.
2. Include stickers on your place of business and include a QR code that will take reviewers directly to your Yelp business listing. They are now able to review your business right from their mobile devices.
3. Encourage a Yelp review with every email you send out and include a link to it on your mobile optimized website too.
Your clinic’s reputation is its most valuable asset. If it’s tarnished, you could lose patients. This article shows how negative reviews are not always what they seem and what you can do about it.
Many Physical Therapists stand or fall on their reputation. A single therapist or practice can spend many years, and much money, building up a positive reputation through staff training, physician relationships, customer service policies, clinic culture development, customer (patient and physician) feedback and community relations.
Despite everything practitioners can do, a reputation is a delicate object that can easily be smashed into a thousand pieces by a few ill placed words. Never has this been more true than in this modern technological world of internet review sites and mobile digital technology, where damaging reviews can be published to the entire world in a matter of minutes.
But will one bad review really have an impact on your clinic? If this is the first contact a potential patient has with your company, how is it going to look to them? Are your online reviews really the first (and most lasting) impression you want to give those seeking a physical therapist? How much harder will it be to overcome not-so-positive comments and reviews, especially at the start of a patient relationship?
Managing how your clinic is represented online is very important, especially as the internet is becoming an increasingly popular way to search for and research the background of healthcare providers. And if you are in an area with many other Physical Therapists, a bad online review may drive potential patients to explore the next clinic or PT listing, rather than reinforcing a word-of-mouth referral from a family member, friend or physician.
Because millions of opinions can be accessed and read in seconds from online review sites, social media chat topics and buyer reviews, it has become necessary to be aware of and pay attention to your online reputation. So in order to keep an overall positive web presence, you should guard this reputation and take proactive steps to repair any damage you may find.
WHO MIGHT DAMAGE YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION?
It’s always possible that a patient might be prompted to publish a bad review of your clinic. Of course the first thing you want to do is read and understand the feedback. Whether there is any actual truth in the comment or not, clearly that person believed the reason was real to them and was compelled to let you (and consequently the rest of the internet) know how strongly they felt. So, while the negative comments may not always be 100% truthful, you need to remember at all times there is a real person behind them. You need to ask yourself: “What really motivated this person to write these things?”
People love to tell businesses ‘The customer is always right’, regardless of whether they are being unreasonable, over demanding or have expectations that are greater than can possibly be met by the clinician. They have grown up with this ‘I am right’ culture. So when things do not go to plan, they feel they have the right to say something. You need to look at the patient’s experience on an individual basis to see whether they have a genuine complaint before you decide to take any action.
[note_box]Take a look at negative comments about physical therapy practices on review websites. More often than not, the complaint is about billing. “They didn’t tell me it would cost this much,” or “They ripped me off and didn’t tell me about my bill…” etc. Keep this in mind when dealing with patients. Money is often the issue especially when it comes to health care complaints.[/note_box]
Unfortunately, it is true that some unscrupulous competitors can employ dirty tricks by deliberately writing and publishing fake negative reviews. It can be very difficult to prove that a review is not real. Sites like YELP, which actively target false positive reviews, are starting to try to identify and remove these false negative ones, but until it is shown to be a fake review, you must deal with each one as if it were a real customer regardless of any suspicions you may have.
Whether they are current or past employees, if one of your workers has a grudge or is unhappy, they can end up putting out a load of negative comments or reviews. But it isn’t always those with a grudge who cause a problem. In this day and age, everyone within your company has the potential to stir some negative online press. It could be a staff member’s controversial online statement, photograph, behavior or profile that is somehow connected back to your business. As tempting as it may be to terminate staff employments or launch a counter attack, that type of action will usually lead to bigger problems.
[blockquote]So…what can you do if you do come across negative comments in social media, on a blog, on a review site, or even within the comments sections on your own website?[/blockquote]
AVOID DAMAGING YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION FURTHER!
Although it is perfectly normal to feel angry or upset about negative comments others may be saying about your business, you need to avoid doing any of these things at all cost…
Don’t Try To Erase All Trace…Resist the temptation to delete bad reviews. The unfortunate truth is that once someone has published something into cyberspace, it is very difficult to remove it completely. Deleting comments tells potential patients that you have something to hide or that there is something wrong with your clinic. If you have made a mistake, don’t be afraid to own up and then take positive public steps to make it right. People respect the fact that you have owned up and are committed to getting it right. It builds confidence in your clinic’s motives and ethics.
Don’t Lash OutWe often take these negative comments as a personal attack. In order to ensure a positive outcome, you need to think before you respond. Because nothing ever truly disappears off the internet, it’s best to delay an upset reaction with time. A response written in haste and in the heat of the moment has a good chance to come back to bite you again and again. Begin with a draft, then leave it for a few hours until you can review it in a more composed frame of mind, and soften any overly harsh words.
Don’t Put Good Words In Someone Else’s MouthYou may think, “If they can write a bad review about me, then I can write a good one!’ It may SOUND like a good idea, but a lie is a lie. You may be saying truthful things about your clinic or services, but by pretending to be someone else, or by getting someone else to leave a good review written or prompted by you, you ARE being deceitful. Just remember: All businesses get bad reviews. But not all businesses lie to their customers. If review sites like YELP and search engines like Google realize that “fake” good reviews are being placed on their sites, not only will they remove the offending review but they may lower or even remove the ranking of the offending business so that they don’t show up in searches.
HOW CAN MY PHYSICAL THERAPY PRACTICE BE PROACTIVE WITH OUR ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT?
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Reputation management isn’t just about responding when a problem arises, but involves building up a strong foundation in the minds of potential patients. The best way is to get online and start building up relationships with your current and new patients on social media, Google+ and other places where you or your clinic can be an active participant. By building up a strong positive reputation for your practice, you will be better equipped to weather any negative comments that come your way. Become a voice that is respected and well thought of in the Physical Therapy community as a whole, then people will be less likely to be swayed by one negative opinion.
Don’t be afraid of feedback – in fact as someone in the ever-changing healthcare industry, you should openly invite patients to give feedback as often as possible. This shows that your are practicing as an open and transparent therapist, which cares about the concerns of its patients.
If you do find a negative review or have to reply to a complaint publicly, try to maintain a professional but helpful attitude. Try to resolve any legitimate issues amicably. You may want to take your initial communication with the person off the review site or forum, but publish the results publicly. Even invite the complainant to re-evaluate their original comments.
Monitor Your Reputation – Don’t wait for someone to bring their negative comments to you. You need to be proactively searching to ensure that you can address and comment whenever you come across a bad review. While it can be difficult to constantly read through all the social media comments, there are apps that can help you to monitor what is being said out there in cyber space – apps like Google Alerts, ReviewPush and others. By keeping your finger on the pulse of the internet, you need never be taken by surprise by what others are saying about you.
Follow this simple formula (originally from from Jeffrey Gitomer) React, Respond, Recover, Plus One . React by acknowledging their anger or frustration. Respond by restating the problem and clarifying the cause of the complaint. Recover by offering a solution such as suggesting the unhappy reviewer call the office to resolve the matter. Plus One : if at all possible, do one extra nice thing that is beyond what is expected when resolving a complaint.
No Physical Therapist or clinic is perfect, and that’s why you need to be aware of – how you can heal the wounds a hit to your online reputation may cause. Look calmly and rationally for a means to resolve things in a way that reflects well on you and your practice. If not, you will only succeed in scarring your Online Reputation even further.
1. Be aware that all feedabck may not be positive.
2. Think out your response to negative feedback before you respond.
3. Be proactive with your clinic’s online reputation.
By now, you’ve probably seen plenty of square barcodes like the one pictured here. They will leap out at you from so many places because they are everywhere: Magazines, advertisements, websites, TV, even the back of cereal packets.
You might have just noticed them recently, or if you are an avid smartphone user, you may be quite familiar with them.
It’s called a QR code and while you may have seen these around, you may not know exactly how it can help you or your practice.
This article will explain why:
What are QR CODES?
QR codes are enhanced barcodes. Data is embedded within these codes and accessed by a user scanning the QR code with their mobile phone. This is very similar to the way an item is scanned at a grocier or department store.
The smartphone user simply points their phone to the QR code and then is instantly taken to the web site page of the company on whose advertisement it is on. Normally this is a specially designed page featuring a special offer or more information about the product they have seen advertised.
How can Physical Therapists use QR codes as part of their mobile marketing campaign
There are so many advantages to using QR codes in marketing your clinic or services. Here are some ideas that you can use to leverage the power of QR codes in your own practice:
Enhance Customer Excitement
Including QR codes as part of your overall marketing will add a new layer of excitement for your patients. They will want to scan your image to see what you have on offer for them. It might be a link to your mobile website, a link that resolves to their home program login page, an electronic business card, information about an upcoming special event, or it could be a special offer on a particular cash-based service.
Marketing company MGH monitored the users of smartphones and discovered that almost half of the smartphone owners who saw a QR code scanned it. When asked what they were hoping to see as a result of scanning the code, they said that they were hoping to see a special deal, coupon or more information.
So if you are planning on using QR codes, it is important to keep in mind what the patient’s motivation might be when they scan the code.
In addition, QR codes can be extremely helpful in obtaining patient feedback about your product or service. Imagine a patient scanning your QR code and it takes them to your patient survey? There are all kinds of uses for QR codes. Remember, it’s just data stored in a two dimensional graphic.
The most amazing thing about these “quick” codes is that they offer instant delivery of information. You will be striking while the iron is hot. It means that the patient no longer has to wait until they are at home to turn on their computer etc. in order to research your services, contact you, or log in to their home program. They simply point and click and all of the information that they need is right at their fingertips in a matter of seconds. Naturally, this works best if your website is mobilize optimized. In fact, QR codes are becoming an essential addition to any mobile marketing campaign.
Save on Printing
If you are a Physical Therapist or clinic that spends a fair amount of money and time on printing, QR codes could benefit you by minimizing your printing investment in a new promotion or campaign. Your customers could simply point and scan the QR code and immediately go to the source and for the most current information.
One last thought about QR codes. Driving patients to your Yelp, Google, or Facebook page is often a challenge. Once the patient leaves the office, their interest in doing extra work to “Like” you on Facebook or review you Google greatly diminishes. Using a QR code in combination with the patient’s mobile phone can remove barriers from patients taking action.
Where Can You Get a QR Code?
QR codes are a commodity. You can get them for free at www.qrstuff.com. You can even get them in colors or embed your logo too.
1. If you have a smartphone, and haven’t already…give it a try. Snap a shot of a QR code to see how it works.
2. Consumers the world over recognize QR codes. They are using then whenever they see them in magazines, brochures and on websites. Consider adding a QR code to your site to generate patient excitement.
3. If your patients seem to want a quicker flow of information, this may be just the answer!
4. Make sure your QR codes points to a mobile-optimized landing pages.
5. Create QR codes at qrstuff.com and point them to your Facebook page and Yelp business page to encourage Likes and Reviews.
Most Physical Therapists are on a tight budget, especially when it comes to marketing. Many clinics simply don’t have financial resources to invest in advertising and marketing.
The irony is that NOT marketing your clinic will have a detrimental effect on your business.
Here are some big marketing ideas for a small marketing budget:
Optimize your website for Google
This is one of the first things you need to put on your ‘to-do’ list.
Why? Because Google is the most popular search engine on the Internet, and so it is the foundation and key to marketing your clinic.
However, you have to invest a small amount of time “optimizing your site” to make it easy for Google. Done in-house, this is free and will one be of the best investments that you could ever make.
Most site optimization work involves using appropriate ‘keywords” – or the most common phrases patients use to find your clinic – i.e. “Houston Physical Therapy”. Google has a great Starter Guide on just this topic.
While we are on the subject of Google, we can’t miss out Google+. As mentioned in the previous marketing tip, Google really is on your side, because it’s in their best interest to provide users with the most relevant search results.
As a result, search results are becoming much more local and personalized and companies who claim and complete their Google+ profile and optimize it properly get the best rewards.
Start a Blog
It seems everyone has a blog these days– so why not set one up for your Clinic or Practice? It is a great way to keep connected to your current patients, as well as help potential patients learn about Physical Therapy and the specialties of your practice.
Keep in mind, if you are going to create a blog for your clinic you need to do the following:
* Host the blog on your own domain. E.g. www.YourPhysicalTherapyWebsite.com/blog
* Take care with content. Do some industry research, look at current events or talk to those at your clinic to choose what topics you can write about that will be interesting to your patients and the Physical Therapy community.
* Make your blog’s visitors feel part of it by responding to each blog comment. If you do, the more people will be inclined to read and comment on your blog more often.
Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are all popular sites and excellent sources of traffic that you can’t ignore. By creating a profile on each of these sites, you will open new opportunities for potential patients to find you.
In our experience, it seems that therapists and clinics that use social media sites almost always see a significant increase in monthly traffic. And the best thing is, besides a small investment of your time, this is completely free! The results are well worth it. This will raise your online clinic profile and make your site easier to find in the search engines
If you already have happy patients that love your services, why not get a testimonial from them?
Testimonials are a perfect way to attract brand new patients because they build credibility and give them the confidence to try your practice knowing that other people like it.
The secret is to get your patients to talk about what you do and the results that they got.
Most patients will be happy to do this if you ask them.
You could also provide patient feedback forms on your website. Online users are used to and conditioned to leaving reviews. They are a great way to get more people interested in your clinic.
Post a free ‘Guide’ or article for patients to download
No matter what kind of business you are in, you can get a lot more business by providing free information. It is an excellent marketing technique.
Posting downloadable guides and/or informative, “newsworthy” articles are an excellent way to increase your web traffic, increase interest in your clinic and increase your overall rapport.
Beginners Guide to Back Pain
The Basics of Occupational Therapy
What To Expect From Your Child’s Physical Therapist
These kinds of ‘free reports’ rank highly in the search engines, thereby increasing your search ranking, as well as making you an ‘authority’ in your field. Patients will see that you know your specialty well and will feel more confident about their decision to see you.
Harness the Power of YouTube
YouTube is now playing a bigger role in marketing campaigns of all industries. Videos now appear in the search results.
If, for example, you have a unique Therapy Program, a piece of new and promising equipment, or have been featured on a local television station, create or link to a video — or even a simple slideshow — that you can post on YouTube to let users see your clinic “first hand”. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, and there is plenty of free video creation software available to download online. Even a general photo tour of your clinic could be helpful to your potential patients.
Answer Questions Relating to Physical Therapy
It’s no secret that the internet is the first place people look to for answers.
They post their questions on discussion forums and question and answer sites like Yahoo Answers. Providing answers to Physical Therapy questions from users all over the world, you can attract attention to your practice as well as new patients in your area. It is a perfect free way to get more traffic to your website and gain credibility.
Do some online PR
As you know, getting some good PR is a great free way to get a buzz around your clinic. The your Physical Therapy services are mentioned in the community, the more patients will visit your website and potnetially use your practice.
Most people think of PR coming from major media outlets such as radio and television. While this would be fantastic, it is not easy to get that sort of attention.
However, there are easier ways to get PR online which can be just as effective, especially if you have a targeted customer group.
Getting the attention of blog owners is one way of doing this, especially if it is a popular and attracts the sort of readers that you want to target.
You can email the blog owner, asking if they would like to interview you. As they are constantly looking for new topics to write about, many will be happy to interview you, especially if it is something that they think that their readers will benefit from.
Go To Networking Events and Share Your Web Address
Networking events are a great place to find new patients and all businesses should make it a practice to attend networking events if possible.
These are generally arranged by The Chamber of Commerce or global organizations such as BNI (Business Networking International). A quick search online will reveal a number of networking events in your area.
They work because you will always meet somebody who you can form a business relationship with. This will either be as a customer or as a useful contact to give your referrals or joint venture with.
Ask For Referrals
It is surprising how many practices don’t ask their patients for referrals. Why not? If you have satisfied and happy patient, you really should be asking for referrals as it a very effective way of getting even more happy patients in the door.
Some people feel shy about asking and are afraid that the patient will turn them down. However, you will be surprised at how few patients actually will say no. If a large proportion of patients do refuse to introduce you to others, it might be a sign that you are doing something wrong and could be doing a much better job of making them happy, giving you something to work on.
For a pain-free way of asking for referrals, why not try this method; When patients says “thank you” for something you have provided them, ask them if they know of anyone else you can help. It’s human nature to reciprocate. Most, if not all will say yes, especially if you return the favor.
Provide Exceptionally Good Patient Care Then Ask for an Online Review
The best way to keep a patient for life is word of mouth. Getting patients to share this information is by providing exceptionally good patient care. This of course goes from their first phone call to each and every appointment and follow-up.
There has never been a more important time for Physical Therapists to provide excellent care, especially as more and more patients are willing to share their experiences, good or bad, on social networking and review sites. By providing satisfied patients with simple paper instructions on how to review you, you can remove some of the barriers that make it a challenge for patients to spread the word about your practice.
1. Optimize your website.
2. Utilize Google+.
3. Start and maintain a Physical Therapy blog.
4. Make the most of Social Networking.
5. Ask for and publish patient testimonials.
6. Post an info guide or video.
7. Get something on YouTube!
8. Answer Questions Relating to Physical Therapy.
9. Use the web for Public Relations.
10. Go to Industry Events where you can network & give out cards with your web address on them.
…and most importantly
11. Ask for Referrals
12. Provide Exceptionally Good Patient Care.
How should online promotion be done for physical therapy websites? That’s a question that many practice owners struggle with and as such they spend hundreds or thousands of dollars per month on promoting their business online the wrong way. They are “hyper sold” the idea, by the big box corporate marketing companies, that they should show up when people do a geographic search (e.g. physical therapy Solana Beach) or a search for back pain treatment in their city (e.g. back pain treatment in Solana Beach). But do people really do this type of search? Is it common? Most importantly, does it generate new business?
With few exceptions (yes, I know there are some clinics that do more than 5% direct access), physical therapy clinics receive most of their business through word-of-mouth. They receive referrals from physicians, family members, and friends. The direct access patients are usually those that come back a second time without seeing their physician first, because they were educated by the PT practice direct access “next time” is possible.
So, if the above is true, what is the most important way for you to promote your physical therapy practice online? The answer is to dominate page of a search engine results page when a prospective patient does a name/reputation search. Let me go through the thought process and share some proof with you.
Let’s look at a practice that dominates the search engine results for a geographic search. As you can see, when you do a search for “physical therapy Solana Beach”, this practice has all of the top listings.
If this really matters, then we should see lots of searches and traffic to the website from viewers that were using the search phrase “physical therapy Solana Beach”.
As you can see, the search for “physical therapy Solana Beach” is relatively rare (in fact, the one result we see “Solana Beach Physical Therapy” is the name of competitor in the area). What you should notice is that a search for the name of the practice (any type of search with the word “Gaspar” in it), is the most common type of search. This is the name/reputation search I was referencing above.
Therefore, this is the type of search you want to dominate page 1 of Google for – a search for your business name.
Note on Geographic Search Engine Marketing: I am not saying that you shouldn’t invest some time and money to get your practice listed for a geographic search.
This type of search, as noted above does happen, but it is much less common. As such, you should make sure match your dollars invested proportionally to the potential return on investment.
Here is an example of a practice that doesn’t have the best online reputation when you do a search for them by name. Personally, I know this practice delivers excellent care. However, it only takes one or two unhappy people that post negative reviews, to give others that have been referred to the practice, (and do a name/reputation search) a negative impression.
The Solution is Both Simple and Affordable.
First, Claim Your Listings
you should to go to www.getlisted.org and claim your business listings. Enter your business name and zip code, see which listings you haven’t claimed and go through the process. It is rather labor intensive but not technically challenging at all.
Words of Caution:
When you do claim your listings, make sure you are not duplicating an already claimed listing.
Do NOT do it part way. Fill in all of the information for each listing.
Make sure your Name, Address, Phone Number, Web Address, match exactly what you have on your website.
Consistency will help you maintain good search engine rankings or possibly improve them if you are not ranked as high as you’d like to be.
Second, Get Some Practice Reviews
I recommend you use mobile website and your desktop physical therapy websites to boost your reputation.
After you have claimed your listings, encourage your patients to review you on Google, Yelp, Yahoo, and the Yellowpages.com. By doing so, additional positive search engine listings will be present when prospective patients do that all important, name/reputation search. They will see lots of colored stars and great reviews which will confirm in their mind that the referral to your practice was a good one.
Put links to your review websites on your mobile optimized version of your website. You can show patients how to start the review process right on their mobile phone while they are in your clinic! As a side note, they can also easily get to your social media properties like Facebook and “Like” your business page.
Here’s a Good Example
Take a look at this SERP(search engine results page). This practice dominates the listings, there are lots of stars (though I would suggest they improve the 3-star Yelp listing), and even a video on page 1. This is how you want to dominate the page.
In summary, physical therapy websites often get lots of traffic. Because you are a referral business, the most common search is for your business name. Invest your time in making a great impression when patients that have been referred to you do the most common search for your practice – the name/reputation search.
Do a search for your business name.
Claim your listings “properly”, consistently, and completely on getlisted.org
Encourage reviews on your practice. 1 or 2 per month is all you need.
DO NOT get a bunch of reviews at the start then stop acquiring reviews. This could hurt your search engine rankings. Consistency matters.