Think about the last time you picked a new restaurant. What information did you have to guide that decision before spending your $$?
Perhaps you looked at online ratings or reviews (e.g. Tripadvisor or Urbanspoon), received a recommendation from a friend or read about the great new chef.
What these snippets of information provide is a level of credibility for that restaurant. And when patients come across your business online, they’re going through precisely the same process. So, what can doctors do to build their online credibility? Reviews are often regarded as the ‘gold’ standard but there are several other simple and affordable hacks to achieving it.
Harness ratings and reviews
Love them or hate them, ratings and reviews matter a lot. They drive local search engines and influence 90% of online consumers (to be honest, the remaining 10% are probably lying). Bear in mind, the number of review sites, both general (e.g. google, Yelp) and purpose built (e.g. Whitecoat, Realself), are ever expanding and so your overall rating may differ across sites.
Some will require you to activate with a sign up. You should do this if it’s free. But don’t pay for a paid service unless you believe there’ll be a suitable ROI. While encouraging or paying for testimonials contravenes AHPRA’s regulations, you can make it easier for patients to connect with your social media accounts and/or favorable review sites with a link.
Take your prospective customers on a journey
Ever wondered why movie trailers work so well at getting people to see the film? Human beings are very poor at imagining future events when they have little or no information. And so a small glimpse of the future (such as a movie trailer) will usually be favored over any other source of information (like reviews). This is why ‘Before and After’ photos can be so convincing. It takes a prospective customer on a journey that reduces the number of possible outcomes, at-least in their mind, leading to an increased conversion. The ‘Before and After’ effect is not confined to aesthetics either; you can also leverage functional outcomes (e.g. hearing restoration, range of movement) or a video that demonstrates the experience of walking through your door and visiting the clinic. These help customers to envision their future experience with you.
Suicide squad was a terrible movie (25% on Rotten Tomatoes) but produced the most watched YouTube movie trailer (over 80M views) followed by box-office success (grossing $US745.6M).
Get third-party credibility
I suggest posting your qualifications and achievements high up on your landing page. These achievements show that you’ve been deemed trustworthy by a third-party source. You shouldn’t leave it on an ‘About’ page since first-look customers will rarely go beyond your landing page. Avoid MBBS, FRACGP, FRACS etc. Patients don’t know what these stand for and so you should write it out (ie. Dr… graduated from medical school in 2002. She became a fellow of … in 2013). Similarly, logos and links to your affiliations and memberships also provides the perception of third-party credibility. Images (e.g. of you presenting at a conference, accepting an award) or video are incredibly effective for reinforcing this (except in the below instance).
Not all universities are created equal.
Highlight a unique value proposition or company vision
Differentiating your service from others can be a useful strategy for early businesses in a competitive marketplace. Having a unique value proposition (UVP) has two important benefits: an improved search engine ranking; and, establishing you as an industry leader for that condition or segment of the community (at least in the minds of prospective customers). You can present your UVP with:
‘Why do patients choose [insert your business name]?’
You can post images or helpful tips that reinforce your UVP. Or you can simple list common procedures/referrals. Professional endorsements from a colleague (e.g. someone that refers work to you or that you work alongside) with a quote on your landing page is highly effective. Most open access LinkedIn pages have this feature (scroll down to beneath education).
If you’re an established digital healthcare marketing company that treats a range of conditions then you can harness a ‘vision’ . For example, the company’s vision might be to provide a more ‘personal touch’, ‘high quality care’, or affordability (i.e. ‘bulk-billing’). Overriding or repeated statements along with images can reinforce this.
Build your online brand
Building your online brand takes time but has a profound and lasting effect on your credibility. Examples include having a community standing, for example, with volunteer work or on an ethics board (always use a visual aid to reinforce this). Media work can provide the perception of an industry leader. You can write your own website blog, which helps with SEO, but my advice is to guest write for someone else’s blog or post. You can then re-post it on your own blog. Start small, do it for free and in time, you’ll build a broader exposure.
Please check your advertising regulator before going live with a website or posting on social media.
By Dr. Jonathon Lo
I’m a Medical Doctor, PhD Candidate and tech entrepreneur. I’ve helped several doctors to develop their company brand. My latest venture, HealtheBit.com, builds audiovisual and virtual aids for surgeons. You can get in touch with Dr. Jonathon Lo at Linkedin and Twitter.