Three Things to Stop Doing to Make Your Patient Marketing Matter

If your healthcare practice is like most others, you’re likely struggling to have marketing make a real difference in your business. While many tactics seem reasonable since so many of your peers are doing them, many physicians and practice owners have started to realize that by falling short of standards for sophisticated marketing, they may be falling short of growth goals and business opportunity. Believe it or not, far better results can be achieved by stopping these three common mistakes.

 #1: Stop Wasting Money on Expensive Advertising 

 Let’s face it, advertising is expensive! 

Whether you’re buying it on Google, Yelp, Facebook, Print, Broadcast or especially having an agency do it for you, access to new patients does not come cheap. Besides that, the deep bench of marketing talent needed to do it well enough to measurably impact your practice will cost its own pretty penny. How do you know if it’s earning you more than you’re spending on it? 

One key test here is understanding whether your advertising is truly sophisticated. For instance, are you selecting specific groups of individuals and sending them relevant offers? Are you doing split testing to optimize around the various promotions, copy and imagery that gets the best response? When you’re running ads in different places such as search or social, how are those linked together and do they support each other? We hear these are all complicated questions that most physicians and their staff members simply can’t even begin to answer.

As the Internet has become the primary medium on which to advertise to find new patients and keep your practice “out there”, these and many more questions have many physicians and their practice management counterparts wondering whether the dollars they’re spending on advertising are really dollars well spent.

The fact is, most healthcare practices don’t have the expertise to do advertising right. Yet they continue to pour money into it because they see competitors doing it and fear they’re missing out. And/or because they have not been able to generate enough repeat business from their existing patients – and have concluding the only thing they can do is find new patients. But if you’re spending three dollars to earn back every dollar in revenue from new patients, you’re literally throwing the other two away, over and over again.

The most sophisticated practices do one of two things: (1) they either pay handsomely for the expertise to do advertising correctly, either via paid staff or reputable outside consultants or (2) they taper down their “spray and pray” advertising efforts to focus on the bigger and more effective approach, which brings us to our next section.



So, when you do the math and recognize that your advertising to attract new patients simply isn’t paying the freight how do you sustain or grow your practice? The answer lies in your existing patients.

Consider this: Your patients know you and trust you. They’ve deliberately chosen to put their healthcare in your hands, and importantly, you know exactly how to reach them.

Those two critical factors represent precisely the opposite of what you’re experiencing with advertising to people you do not know.

Are we saying you should market to the patients you’ve already earned? Yes! And the way it plays out in the pocketbook is that you can actually spend far less to reach each person AND they’re vastly more likely to respond because they know you, trust you and have previously demonstrated interest in your products, services and procedures. At this point, you are probably thinking “we do that” and it doesn’t generate enough business for us. Well, would it surprise you to learn that if you are really good at patient marketing, 60-80% of your practice’s revenue should come from repeat business from your existing patients!

But don’t just take our word for it let’s talk through an example. Bob’s Dermatology has a database of about 8,000 patients. They’ve got email addresses, phone numbers and a bit of demographic info. Let’s say the practice runs a patient marketing campaign to those 8,000 patients for Dr. Bob’s exclusive Dermasplat procedure priced at $1,000. Our data from working with more than 800 North American aesthetic practices shows most can get about a 0.5% response rate on such an o er. We also tend to see that of the people who respond to a patient marketing campaign with interest, about 40% actually end up booking a consultation for the service. Calculate all of that together and Bob’s Dermatology is looking at an additional 16 booked appointments and hence $16,000 in additional revenue they wouldn’t have booked otherwise. If they run two patient marketing campaigns like this per month, then they’re easily within reach of an additional $350,000 of annual revenue – making it a standout year for the practice and making Dr. Bob’s usually difficult decision of whether to splurge for the chocolate fountain at the annual holiday party a no brainer.But creating and executing effective, engaging multi-channel marketing doesn’t happen at the click of a mouse. Technology and resource constraints lie at the heart of why even practices that understand what needs to be done to grow still aren’t doing it.


Among the thousands of practices we’ve spoken to there are two key ways that marketing to existing patients is currently being done (1) They’re either sending out email blasts (called spam) from solutions like Constant Contact or MailChimp that is only driving their patients away and/or (2) they’re posting to their Facebook or Instagram pages and hoping existing patients happen to see their posts.

The unfortunate truth about these tactics is that they simply don’t get you in front of enough patients to make a difference. Let’s tackle email first. On average, email open rates are about 20% in the healthcare industry. So that valuable promotion you’re sending through email literally isn’t even being seen by 80% of your patients. So, what are you doing “digitally” to reach the 80% that is not seeing your great promotion? And when we look at Facebook, it’s important to note that research from Ogilvy shows that Facebook Business Page posts only reach about 2% of the patients who like the business. So much for that other 98%!

So while many practices are engaging in patient marketing activities that are well-intended and seem appropriate, when you learn more about how reaching your patients actually works, you will find that the most common tactics are rarely effective. So, it’s no wonder that we hear all the time from practices that we need to find new patients. And as we discussed with advertising, it’s important to consider whether the money and staff time being spent to do these activities is actually delivering the business results that would make it mathematically worth it.

But is it all doom and gloom? Of course not! The key is to “digitally surround” your patients – and doing so with promotions that matter to them. If you’re only chipping away at the edges, that’s exactly the kind of attention and response you can expect. Digitally surrounding patients means doing patient mDigitally surround your patientsarketing campaigns in such away as to reach your patients wherever they might be on the web, via email or texting, on social sites, mobile apps and more – and of course, all in a cohesive, integrated way coming from you – who they trust. But again, let’s put all this to the test with some real data. Among the 800+ practices we’ve worked with, we can see that patient marketing campaigns that use more than email to include the web, texting, social, conversational marketing and more get reach percentages that are anywhere from 2 to 6 times that of email alone – in some cases getting close to 100% reach of the patients you were hoping to reach!

The main point here is this: Is any marketing you’re doing really worth it if it isn’t hardly reaching anyone you care about?

Now after all of that telling you what NOT to do, even we must admit we’re feeling a bit overly contrarian. And hopefully we’ve left you with more educated questions about what TO DO in place of the bad habits you’ll be imminently winding down. We’re of course ready to help – you won’t have to try to do this yourself. Our Patient Engagement Consultants are equipped with even more stats, resources and best practices to show you what’s possible. So now it’s time to STOP reading, and get in touch with us today!

About eRelevance Corporation

eRelevance helps patients thrive by driving more repeat business from their existing patients. eRelevance enables practices to reach specific groups of patients with promotions that matter to them based on their needs, interests, or desires using a sophisticated approach that includes email, text, mobile app, mobile conversations, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and more. With in-house marketing experts using innovative, proprietary technology, eRelevance provides a service that o loads the work for hundreds (and hundreds) of aesthetic practices in executing sophisticated, best-practices patient marketing campaigns with little effort and at a price point they can afford. And guess what? They now see that there is a lot more business with their existing patients than they thought!

eRelevance is a venture-backed, well-funded company in Austin, Texas. We were acknowledged by the Red Herring as Global 100 Winner (one of top 100 private companies in the world) and one of BuiltInAustin’s Top 50 Startups to Watch.