When new healthcare clients come to Creative8’s Houston office to discuss the possibility of running a new marketing campaign, they almost always have plenty of questions about how to attract new patients to their practice. Oftentimes, they’re surprised to discover that their focus should actually be on getting returning patients to come back.
Here’s why: It costs about five times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. The probability of convincing an existing patient to get treatment is also around 60–70 percent, compared to 5–20 percent for a potential new patient. Those odds mean that your marketing dollars typically stretch much, much farther when they’re put to work bringing in old patients rather than new ones, especially because, in the healthcare industry, customer drop-off rates can be extremely high.
If your patients end up losing touch with the health system at some point along their care journey, you’re wasting precious acquisition costs and missing out on future revenue opportunities. As a healthcare-focused marketing and branding agency, we hate to see that here at Creative8. That’s why we’ve put together this short list of strategies for getting returning patients back into your waiting room when they need care. Without solid patient retention practices, after all, real growth will be forever out of reach.
1. Create patient journey maps.
The patient journey begins when a consumer first makes contact with a care provider and continues on with subsequent interactions, both in person or electronically. A journey map outlines each patient touchpoint and helps us gain a deeper understanding of the patient’s experience. Most importantly, journey maps illuminate where there are gaps in the patient experience that may result in patient loss, such as failing to call or text a reminder before a clinical appointment or not sending a follow-up email after an appointment. These gaps represent missed engagement opportunities. Seize them!
2. Improve the patient portal experience.
Survey data tells us that about 73 percent of patients believe access to personal health records would help improve their satisfaction with the care they receive, which is obviously critical to retaining patients long-term. Online patient portals can be an effective way to ensure that patients have easy digital access to important health information from discharge summaries to prescriptions to lab results. Patient portals can also be used to collect critical contact and user data from your patients.
3. Utilize remarketing techniques.
Digital remarketing is a great technique used in many industries to “mark” an Internet user who has visited your website (your patient portal page, for example). These users can then be shown a steady stream of your digital display ads. Unfortunately, Google AdWords’ policy is to not allow healthcare businesses from utilizing remarketing on its platform in order to steer clear of potential HIPAA complaints. That’s why Creative8 always recommends that healthcare practices in Houston and across the country hire the professionals to run their remarketing campaigns for them. We understand how to utilize workarounds to run Google remarketing campaigns that stay in compliance with the search engine giant’s policies.
4. Reach out to patients where they are.
Do you know what media your patients spend their time with? The answer might surprise you. For example, 41 percent of all consumers check social media content before making a choice about the hospital or treatment center with which they will book an appointment. We’re not talking about just Millennials, either—among adults 65 years and older, social media use has tripled since 2010.
5. Keep in touch.
Too many healthcare providers believe that patient loyalty is based mostly on factors such as cost or wait time. Those count, certainly. But there are drivers of patient loyalty that are very actionable, especially communication. Patients are less likely to come back if they don’t know you want them back! Patients want to understand that you actually care for them. So, keep in touch. Send out a monthly e-newsletter. Share your day-to-day office life with your patients on social media and interact with them. Reach out and let them know you care how they’re doing. It matters.
Want some professional help with your patient marketing initiatives? At Creative8, healthcare marketing is our specialty. Give us a call today at 713.322.6481 to set up a free audit of all your practice’s marketing materials and performance. We’ll give you valuable advice that you can use to shape your goals for the coming year.