Apply These 5 Lessons To Repeat This In Your Own Clinic
“We’re busy – but we’re still not working at full capacity. We could easily handle more patients.”
The aesthetic clinic’s medical director was frustrated.
They’d built up a highly regarded clinic, with cutting-edge procedures and a highly skilled team. And yet, the average patient only came through their doors once or twice a year. It was unclear how many new patients their social media activity was generating. There were too many quiet days.
“I’d really like to open up a new branch, but we need to grow much faster first,” the medical director told us. “How can we fix this?”
That was exactly 12 months ago. Since then, we’ve built them an online sales funnel to draw in a regular stream of new patients, and nurture their relationship with existing patients.
$140,000 in new business produced directly from their online sales funnel.
And, anecdotal evidence suggests, at least another $40-$50,000 in response to the new marketing, from patients already in the clinic or phoning up to request appointments, coinciding with treatments being promoted in the funnel.
This is the single most successful online marketing channel they’ve ever adopted.
Here are 5 important lessons that you can apply to your own clinic’s marketing.
- Don’t sell, sell, sell
12 months ago, the clinic was quite active on social media, and sent out weekly emails. However, there was no measurable impact on their sales.
We noticed that most of their marketing was quite bluntly promotional, pushing various treatments and offers. It was not interesting to read unless you wanted to buy that particular treatment immediately.
As a result, it probably felt too pushy. It did not work to produce sales.
So we re-engineered the approach, cutting out the blunt promotion. Around half their content now doesn’t sell anything at all. Rather, we share useful tips and insight into how to take care of your skin and your body, and look and feel your very best.
The other half focuses on readers’ problems, raising awareness of treatments and how they can help the individual reading the marketing piece.
The result? Readers get value from the marketing, which builds trust. They respond, not always to buy, but often because you’ve touched a nerve with your marketing. As the trust and familiarity grows, there is nowhere else they will go for their treatment.
When they are finally ready to buy, it’s you they will contact.
Now when we promote a particular treatment, they are far more open to it – and more likely to buy.
It’s counter-intuitive, but less promotion results in more sales….
- Write with emotion and authenticity
Many aesthetic clinics’ emails are heavily visual, relying on large, glamorous photos of models to sell their treatments. And so were this clinic’s emails…. Until we started working with them.
The emails we send out – several of which generated thousands of pounds in one go – rarely include any visuals at all. No before-and-after shots, no pictures of the doctor who is fronting the campaign, not even the company logo!
In fact, they are heavily wordy, with up to 600 words per email.
But while they might (in all honesty) look a little plain, the text is anything but.
Every email is carefully planned so that it addresses an issue we know the audience really cares about. At all times – especially when promoting a treatment – we understand and appeal to their emotions. We tell powerful stories, both about the patients the clinic has helped, and about the doctor who is signing the emails. We are not afraid to get personal, so the emails feel and sound very authentic.
The result is that patients love hearing from the clinic and feel like they know the clinician whose name appears on the emails. They sense empathy and caring, which lowers the barriers for them to come forward and enquire about a treatment.
Sales are easier, too, because instead of simply relating dry facts about a treatment – how it works, what area it’s good for – we can tell stories about patients who decided to go ahead, and how they felt before, during and after. For most people, that resonates far more deeply than even the most glamorous photo.
- Converting online takes longer than over the phone
When we first started working with this clinic, we found that even when we brought in dozens of enquiries for a particular treatment, they were only converting a handful of them.
It was very frustrating to see a list of names of people who had expressed interest, only to discover that the majority never bought!
Over a couple of months, we carefully tracked how each enquiry was followed up. It soon became clear that the Reception team were making three crucial errors. The main one? They were giving up too soon.
Each person who enquired over email got a polite reply, and in some cases one or two more follow-up emails or phone calls. But that was it….
Over the phone, that seemed to work for them. When a prospective patient phones you up, they are often very close to making a decision about whether to go ahead. They’ve done their research, decided they want a treatment. They are simply looking for a provider.
But for online enquiries, it’s not so clear cut.
If you send your email list a message about a new treatment, this is often the first they’ve ever heard of it. When they email you back to find out more, they’re not set on going ahead yet – it only occurred to them that this treatment might be an option a minute or two earlier!
It can take much longer to get them to buy, so you need to be much more persistent with your follow-up. An email or two to check whether they’ve made a decision yet is not enough. You need to get back to them several times over a longer period, in order to convert them.
Once we had fixed this problem – as well as two others we uncovered – and put a more intense follow-up system in place, their online conversion rate improved. Suddenly, they were getting much more business – from the exact same marketing.
- Pick your ‘low-hanging fruit’ first….
Often, when clinics ramp up their marketing efforts, they focus on bringing in new patients through the doors, using their website, Adwords or social media.
We started elsewhere: with the clinic’s existing email list, which consisted mostly of existing and former patients.
These were their ‘low-hanging fruit’: Patients who already knew and liked the clinic, who had shown a need for their services and a willingness to pay for them.
Sure, reaching out to existing contacts is less ‘sexy’ than attracting brand-new patients. But there is significant money to be made from them!
Within weeks, the reception staff were marvelling that old patients they hadn’t seen in three, five, even seven years, were re-appearing.
“Lots of them told us they had no idea we did all these things, until they got our emails,” one receptionist told us. “We can’t believe who’s coming out of the woodwork.”
12 months later, these “dormant” patients are still being re-awoken. And existing patients who were coming in once or twice a year are coming in more often, because they, too, are more aware of what’s on offer. They are also more likely to think of the clinic, because they are frequently engaging with the emails it sends out.
- ….But growing your email list is key
When most clinics market online, they have one main goal: To get more appointments. So they focus most of their resourcing on advertising particular treatments on Adwords or social media.
But the 2-3 Adwords enquiries we bring in each day is not where the long-term money lies.
Our primary goal is actually a little unexpected. It’s to grow the clinic’s email list with lots of new subscribers, who are good candidates for various treatments – whether they want to buy right now or not.
Why? It may be a truism, but experience has shown us that the people most likely to buy from you are those who know, like and trust you – not those who have just spent 30 seconds on your website, and can’t tell the difference between you and the clinic next door.
If you can build a large database of likely patients and then work effectively to form a relationship with them, you’ll get a continual stream of enquiries and your appointment book will always be full.
How do we do it? We use social media advertising to target patients with particular conditions, and capture their details. Then we talk to them, over the long-term, about the implications of their condition and potential treatments.
It does require more patience than your average Adwords campaign, because again these patients take longer to convert.
But the proof is in the pudding.
Well over $140,000 in 12 months…
…Who can argue with that?
If those are the kinds of results you’re looking for, let’s chat. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s review your current online marketing efforts, what you want to achieve – and how you can get there.
Danny Bermant is director of Brainstorm Digital, which engineers online sales funnels that generate enquiries, leads and sales. He is co-author of Discover The 5-Step Formula For an Online Marketing Campaign That Fills Your Clinic.