As noted in a recent post, many practices are missing out on new business by being slow to respond to Internet leads. For one thing, such inquiries go cold quickly; for another, many patients reach out to several providers at once, following up with whoever responds first.
But being first to respond is only half the battle for the simple reason that many people who reach out to your practice simply aren’t ready to book a consultation or procedure. For them, the process may start with whoever responds first but ultimately it’s about who’s there for them over the long haul.
The fact is that Internet leads are different than traditional inquiries, such as those generated by personal referrals. They need to be “qualified” to determine where in the process the person who made it is and how best to respond. For example, someone who fills out a contact form warrants a different response than one who watches a video. Even so, no patient contact should be considered a “done deal” as many will continue their research long after their initial inquiry.
That’s what nurturing leads is all about. It’s about building the foundation for a long-term relationship, demonstrating that your goal is to help them resolve their concerns (not sell them on your services), and keeping in touch so they’ll keep you in mind when they’re ready to decide. The following strategies can help:
Make the most of micro-conversions: While few first-time visitors to your practice website may book an appointment, the actions they do take provide insights into their interests. Signing up for a newsletter, responding to a poll, or sharing your content on social media sites are all examples of micro-conversions that can tell you what content clicks with visitors. If those actions entail providing contact information, a follow-up email thanking them is a quick and easy way to show you value their interest.
Pick up the phone: If a website visitor provides a phone number via, say a contact form, it’s safe to say she’s amenable to hearing from you. That said, this is not an invitation to sell her on your services but rather to find out more about her concerns. And if you don’t get through on the first try, try again: According to MyMedLeads, practices that followed up at least three times had conversion rates that were 45% higher than those that only called once. The idea is to be available — can we provide more information, schedule a visit, etc.? — not overbearing.
Keep in touch via email: Assuming you have a good lead management system in place, you should also have a good idea of where a potential patient is in her purchase journey. Coupled with an email address, that information can be used to create a “drip email campaign,” a series of occasional messages about relevant topics, special deals, etc. For patients who make take months or years to commit to a procedure, each message provides a subtle reminder that you’re still there for them.
Ultimately, lead management is about being persistent without being pushy. Responding quickly is still important as it gives you a head start on the competition but, in most cases, maintaining it requires a concerted, consistent effort. In other words, if you want to win, you have to stay in the game because, as the late, great Yogi Berra used to say, It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.