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2024 Medical Marketing Outlook

 

In 2023, we finally put the pandemic behind us, and as practices rebuilt and got back to normal, business still wasn’t ” as usual”. According to a CNBC article, a recession loomed but never landed and the forecast of an economic downtown never arrived. Will 2024 be the year?

These trends are the reason we release our Medical Marketing Outlook each year. We hope the data we collect from last year provides elective medical practices nationwide the data they need to evaluate the most effective ways to attract, engage, and convert more prospects into booked appointments.

We take a look at lead volume, conversion data, and marketing channel performance to reveal key trends and what to anticipate in 2024.

Let’s dive in.

2023 Lead Results

Last year we reported booked consultations were still strong, but remained roughly the same to the year prior. In 2023, we were encouraged to see an increase in booked appointments. At the same time the number of patients who indicated they’d like to do more research decreased by 2.6%. The percentage of those who requested more information also decreased.

What this tells us is prospects were either more educated when they contacted our practices, or they were provided enough information when contacting the practice that they were able to comfortably move forward. This certainly underscores the need to invest in ensuring prospects can access critical information on your practice website and with other channels. At the same time, investing in training for your staff or outsourcing lead management to a trusted partner could be hugely beneficial.

So what marketing channels drove the highest number of conversions from prospects to booked consultations? Let’s take a look.

 

2023 Marketing Channel Performance

Internet & Word of Mouth Remain the Top Channels

To no surprise, Internet still dominates the category. Between Google search and practice website referrals, it’s hard to be beat. That said, we did see a slight decline in 2023 and that could be related to the slight increases we saw with Referrals. Still, your reputation – whether it’s online or offline – could not be more important.

Yelp Takes a Hit… But Wait

Yelp remains the #1 social media platform for driving booked consultations. But while it had a major jump in 2022, it fell substantially in 2023.

This could be because of the dominant volume share that Google has which also results in reviews. According to BrightLocal’s 2023 Local Consumer Review Survey, Google has a significantly higher number of reviews.

Yet, while Yelp may have seen a decline, it doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Data shows while Google volume is higher, Yelp consumers have a greater intent to actually purchase. In fact:

  • 92% of consumers who use online review sites say they made a purchase after visiting Yelp at least sometimes, frequently or almost always
  • 79% of them make that purchase within a week.
Social Channels Get a Lift

According to the chart above, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube all saw an increase in driving booked consultations. Social content, paid ads, reviews, and social media influencers all play a vital role in driving awareness and prompting consumers to take action. Some fun facts:

  • TikTok may have all the buzz, but Facebook is still the #1 most-used social platform in the world… by a long shot. At almost 20 years old, it continues to be the behemoth in the social media world. Click here to learn more on Facebook trends.
  • In a survey of active social media users across the globe aged 16 to 64, Instagram was ranked #2 as the preferred social media platform. Click here for Instagram stats.
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world next to Google. So while it’s technically a social media platform, users — and marketers — leverage it much more like a search engine.
  • Studies show that “nano-influencers”, accounts with 1,000-10,000 followers on a social media platform, generate 2x the engagement of macro-influencers. Consumer brands, particularly in beauty, fashion and wellness, are leveraging nano-influencers, while also taking advantage of a much lower price point.

All to say, while it can be difficult to fully measure social media’s impact on a consumer’s buying decision, you have to also weigh the cost of not being present on these major marketing giants. Especially when your competitors likely are making it a priority.

How to Identify the Bottlenecks

All customers go through a journey to become clients, and it can consist of several steps. You may do some steps very well, but you’re still not seeing the success you want. For example, you may be investing in the right marketing channels but still losing potential clients; you could be great at converting patients who come in your office, but the volume isn’t there. Here’s a high-level break down of how you can understand what may be bottlenecks in your customer’s journey:

Little or low website traffic or call volume This usually means your marketing needs attention. People simply do not know about you.
High traffic, but patients are not contacting you Content or the user experience on your site is lacking. Are patients able to find the information they need quickly and easily? How easy is it to schedule an appointment?
Healthcare providers are increasingly recognizing the importance of making scheduling convenient for patients. One effective way to enhance this convenience is by implementing an online scheduler. This digital solution empowers patients to book appointments with ease, providing them with a streamlined and accessible method to manage their healthcare needs 24/7.
Patients are contacting you through your website or over the phone, but low or no scheduled consultations Indicates patients in their research process are either slipping through the cracks, not getting the information they need, or they did not have a great experience when they contacted your practice. This does not necessarily mean they had a bad experience. However, if they are evaluating other practices, this could be where another practice made a better impression. This is the gap where office training and effective processes are needed. Training is especially important when it comes to new technology. For example, there are constantly new versions or variations of LASIK that are introduced. You need to provide regular training to staff so they can speak to the differences and benefits to potential patients.
Scheduled consultations, but little to no booked procedures Typically means the experience in the office is not meeting their needs or expectations. Perhaps they did not get to answer all their questions or somehow were not made to feel comfortable enough to take that next step.
You never hear or see the patient again Sure, they may have had their procedure performed elsewhere. But this is where your practice is lacking an effective follow-up plan to know for sure.

Summary

We always say the only real constant is change. But, we believe successful practices in 2024 will rely on these principles:

1. Invest in Managing the Front Lines

Acquiring a lead requires significant marketing investment. That’s why, when a lead finally contacts your practice, you can’t afford to drop the ball. Those who manage inbound leads are on the front lines at the critical point when a prospect is deciding whether to come into your practice or not. You don’t want to take chances. That may mean outsourcing your inbound lead services to third party services like OptiCall, or investing in your staff to ensure they are the highest caliber of talent. There is no right or wrong solution, but it’s certainly worth the investment.

2. Communicate with Patients on Their Terms

Practices need to think about how their various audiences choose to engage – and it’s certainly no one size fits all approach. Providing different options to prospects to find and learn about your practice provides them with an experience they are comfortable with. That creates less friction and increases the ease to which they make decisions every step of the way. So while it can seem daunting to manage various channels, consider tools, systems, processes, and people that can help streamline communications across different platforms.

3. Maximize the client experience

If your priority is delivering the best patient experience, you will never go wrong. This begins with your reputation, reviews, and online presence are an important part of the prospect’s journey well before they ever contact you. Once they reach out, you need to be prepared to offer the right support and education. From there, be proactive – meeting them where they’re at every step of the way to ensure they have all the information they need and feel comfortable moving forward. Finally, when it comes to the in-office experience be diligent

4. Always Seek to Improve

Data can be your best friend in helping you navigate all aspects of your business. Keeping a constant eye on a variety of key performance indicators and regularly reporting results is one of the best ways to ensure sustainable growth. Many practice owners we speak with each and every day think they know their business, but there are inevitably blind spots.

They’ve benefited from taking advantage of our Free Practice Assessment for objective, data-driven insights that can help identify areas of improvement.

 

Request Your Free Practice Assessment

Now’s the time to take action and learn more about how you can make your practice even better. Contact us for your free practice assessment.