Maps. They’re not just for helping patients get to your practice anymore.
These days, successful practices use a different sort of map to figure out where potential patients are on their aesthetic journeys. They know that different patients take different paths to research and choose providers, and they use patient journey mapping to offer the appropriate help along the way.
Consider a woman just starting to think about an aesthetic procedure. From Botox to breast augmentations, she’ll probably start with a fairly general Google search. Scanning her results, she’ll click around, visiting informational sites, review sites and, hopefully, your practice website.
Now, suppose that woman has already done her preliminary research and is ready to commit. She’ll have bookmarked the websites of a few practices; she’ll read a slew of reviews from other patients, and she’ll see if and how you interact with patients via social channels.
They’re both seeking the same thing — the right doctor to perform the right procedure — but they take very different paths to get there, and they want to know different things about you and your practice based on their situation. With journey mapping, you can identify the right messaging and appropriate channels and optimize your content to ensure it’s relevant and impactful.
In the beginning, the procedure is paramount
Unless she knows someone who’s had the procedure she’s curious about, most patients will begin with search, typically by focusing on procedures rather than doctors. They’ll also spend more time on the former, with 40% of RealSelf users saying they spend more time on the procedure vs. 26% who spend more time on the doctor.
In many cases, that means you have to get found even if potential patients aren’t aware of you or your practice. How? By having a well-designed website that appeals to search engines, by producing compelling content that encourages visitors to stick around, and by sharing your expertise on the subject at hand on sites that demonstrate they have the SEO juice to show up in search results.
Along the way, great content compels action
Having gathered a bit of information and narrowed her area of interest, our hypothetical patient is ready to zero in on those providers she believes can help her achieve her goal. She’ll scan before & after galleries to get a sense of your technical skills, but she’ll also seek out more sentiment-base data, reading what other patients have said about your results, your bedside manner, and their experiences with your practice.
In that light, online reviews are more than testimonials. They give potential patients an idea of who you are as a human being and whether or not they feel confident enough to entrust you with their care. Sharing interesting stories via social channels and participating in online Q&As serve a similar purpose, while allowing you to remain visible as they continue their journeys.
Almost there is almost done — but not a done deal
Finally, having gathered a wealth of information, our patient has likely narrowed her “consideration set” to a handful of doctors. If you’re among them, she’ll likely reach out, either to ask a question or schedule a consultation. Either way, she’ll inevitably factor how your practice responds into her impressions of you. Practices that respond quickly significantly improve their odds of converting initial inquiries into new patients while those that respond slowly or not at all are the online equivalent of road closures, only worse. Once a potential patient is forced to detour, she’s unlikely to find her way back.
Of course, even after reaching out, not every patient will be ready to commit. But by sharing her contact information, she’s at least expressed her willingness to hear what you have to say, which is where effective lead management comes into play. Keeping in touch via email — the key is to be persistent, not pushy — keeps your practice top of mind while signaling that you’re still interested in helping them complete their journeys, wherever they lead.
If that happens to be your front door, well, then the trip will be worth it for all concerned.
Non-linear patient journeys require a multifaceted approach to marketing
As the scenarios described above indicate, patient intent can be a complex affair. And since patients can access the various channels in any sequence, successful practices recognize they have to be willing to meet patients anywhere along their journeys and provide the appropriate content at the right place and time. Those that do will find themselves well-positioned whatever route those journeys take.