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Running a medical clinic in a competitive economy such as Singapore can be tough. Not only do patients have abundant options, but many also research substantially before seeking consultation from a doctor. Research that they can perform within seconds thanks to the world of smartphones and the internet.
With many clinics establishing their presence online, how does yours stand out amongst competitors? How do you ensure that you achieve a positive return on investment (ROI) to cover costs such as marketing, rental and labour?
These are just some key questions that help to shape and structure an effective marketing strategy. In today’s landscape, digital marketing is essential for businesses and that includes medical clinics.
Consumer behaviour is ever-changing, it sways with improved technology, market changes and health regulations. Speaking of which, medical doctors have a harder time marketing their clinic, due to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) regulations.
This is, however, not the end of the world. With proper planning and precise execution, marketing your medical clinic can be a seamless process that’s cost-effective.
How do we develop an effective medical clinic marketing plan?
A key component in every successful marketing campaign. Below are 5 key factors to consider when formulating a marketing plan for your medical clinic:
1. Your online presence
An important factor to consider as a strong presence online increases visibility and inquiries.
- Can your clinic be found on Google Maps?
- Do you have a mobile and user-friendly search engine optimized website?
- Does your clinic appear on the first page of search results when patients search for your treatments?
- Do you have a presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram?
- Are patients able to find your clinic website easily?
If you answer no to any of these, then your online presence can surely be improved.
2. Number of clinics
Your marketing strategy can greatly differ depending on whether you have one or multiple clinics.
Usually, medical establishments with multiple clinics tend to generate a better ROI for islandwide campaigns. The logic is simple, someone living in Pasir Ris would have a much lower chance of visiting a dental clinic in woodlands.
This does not mean that it’s inefficient to perform digital marketing for standalone clinics. By combining your marketing strategy with effective location targeting, a higher ROI will certainly be achieved.
3. Clinic location(s)
The geographical reach of your medical clinic(s) are important as well. Depending on your campaign data, we’ll recommend location exclusions if it’s deemed necessary.
For instance, if your clinics are situated on the west side of Singapore, location exclusions will be an important consideration when running paid advertisements such as Google or Facebook ads.
4. Focused treatment(s)
Identifying your focused treatments allows you to better plan for marketing your medical clinic.
High ROI treatments tend to be popular while some doctors want to drive inquiries for specific treatments that they are skilled in.
Every treatment has its own demand and supply on the internet. We measure the online search demand of specific treatments using metrics such as ‘average monthly searches’ or leverage on social listening tools to gauge daily hashtags.
Researching effective channels, keywords and media best suited to market each treatment is paramount to success.
5. Your competitors
Understanding your competitors’ marketing strategy is extremely helpful. For instance, knowing the marketing platforms that our competitors consistently invest in allows us to monitor their focus, direction and appetite for new patients.
This, in turn, helps us to optimize our own marketing strategy to drive more results without increasing your marketing budget.
Improving your clinic’s online presence
Having a website is the first step in marketing your medical clinic. You have to ensure that your website is user and mobile-friendly.
An effective website:
- Communicates the legitimacy of your clinic
- Showcases your experience and range of treatments
- Improves your clinic’s online visibility
A mobile-friendly website is of paramount importance if you want to rank organically on search engines such as Google. With the increased usage of smartphones vs computers, Google has begun to index websites via mobile first indexing.
This means that your chances of ranking on the 1st page of Google will not be high should your website not be mobile-friendly.
Your site has to be mobile friendly in every aspect. For example, mobile loading speed, page alignment, and even the images on your website.
Why is it important to have a mobile-friendly website?
According to Google, the smartphone penetration rate in Singapore is 85%. In other words, more and more people are using their smartphones to perform online searches as compared to utilizing their computers.
Hence, Google has begun with “Mobile-First Indexing”. This means that if your site is not mobile-friendly, chances of ranking on the first page of Google is minimal.
To deliver good user experience, you’ll have to ensure that your website loads quickly as well. A fast loading speed contributes towards a reduced bounce rate, which in turn, increases the chance of a patient inquiring via your website.
You should have a page for each test, treatment or procedure that your clinic provides. This allows each page to display information relevant to your patients’ needs.
Blogs and FAQ pages are a great way to supplement your website with additional content. Blogs could include articles relating to health tips and the description of symptoms as these are topics that potential patients would search for online.
MOH Advertising Guidelines
Medical clinics advertising in Singapore are required to follow MOH’s advertising guidelines. With the strict rules for medical practitioners, your ads and website must not include the following:
- Drug names
- Discount codes or promotions
- A misleading message
- Before and after images
- Laudatory terms
Digital Marketing Platforms for medical clinics
There are plenty of digital platforms for medical clinics to advertise their treatments on. From search engines to social media, below are time-proven cost-effective platforms and their optimal strategies for medical clinic marketing.
Traffic from search engines is highly valued as the likelihood of getting an appointment is high if you know what keywords to show up for. The end goal is to appear for effective search queries such as:
- “Ultherapy doctor in Singapore”
- “Psychologist at Orchard Road”
- “Dental Clinic near me”
Inquiry rates are much higher when your clinic appears on the first page of search engines.
With high competition levels amongst clinics, coupled with businesses such as beauty spas and non-medical clinics, how do you ensure that patients are able to find your website whenever they search for your services?
There are 2 ways to market your clinic via search engines:
- Search engine optimization (SEO) and
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
The former generates free clicks to your website while the latter drives paid website visits usually priced on a cost per click model. Both SEM have SEO have different advantages depending on your clinic’s marketing objective.
Ideal search engines for medical clinic marketing
There are many search engines that consumers can choose from. Naturally, Google is the search engine of choice whether it’s for SEM or SEO due to its market share.
In Singapore, search engines such as Bing and Yahoo are not very popular, however, there are still people using these platforms. This means that in order to truly maximize your clinic’s reach, having a presence on Bing and Yahoo is essential.
Search Engine Optimization
Unless your website has been around for years with a strong backlink profile, you’ll probably only rank for your own brand name. This is due to the strong competition for healthcare SEO in Singapore.
To appear organically on search engines, you will have to perform high-quality SEO on your website. The SEO efforts on your website (On-Page SEO) would involve optimizing your pages, title tags and meta descriptions for medical SEO while integrating the right medical keywords in the context of your practice.
Apart from that, your website requires high-quality backlinks to be recognized by Google. Link-building can be tedious and time-consuming, however, ranking your website on the first page of Google is definitely rewarding.
To ensure that you drive inquiries, make sure that you choose the right keywords. As some keywords have low or even non-existent average monthly searches, ranking for these keywords contradicts the objective of SEO.
Although the clicks derived from SEO is free, a proper SEO campaign takes time since you’ll be fighting against other clinics for organic visibility. Reaching the 1st page of Google could range from months to years depending on your keywords’ competitiveness. Hence, although SEO is cheaper it requires long term planning since results will definitely take time.
Clinic Listings on Maps
Creating a listing using Google My Business, Bing Places or Yahoo Localworks, allows you to showcase your clinic on local map searches. This naturally results in a higher chance of inquiries from patients.
Having your listing on Google maps work especially well for local search results. This allows your clinic to reach out to patients in your area who are searching for your treatment(s).
Ideal search engines for medical clinic SEO
Due to the low search volume for platforms such as Bing and Yahoo, running an SEO campaign for these platforms might not be worth your investment. The SEO efforts invested would be too costly as the search volume on these platforms is too low. Meaning that you will not generate significant traffic, even if you manage to reach the 1st position.
A better strategy would be to perform SEO for Google where the search volume for your keywords is higher. This indirectly improves your organic listing on other search engines as well, allowing you to maximize inquires for an effective budget.
Search Engine Marketing
SEM is one of the fundamental marketing channels to drive more leads. But how can you get more leads without increasing your budget?
- Deploy accurate tracking to assess campaign inefficiency
- Identify the right keywords that drive inquiries
- Don’t bid for the top spot, instead, look at which position is optimal
- Optimize your landing pages for inquiries
- Ensure that your website loads quickly and is mobile-friendly
These are some of the SEM strategies that we employ to improve results without adding to costs. There are, of course, a wide range of SEM techniques based on your clinic’s unique aspects.
For instance, your performing landing pages, audiences and search terms are some areas we consider when planning an effective campaign strategy.
Being the dominant search engine worldwide and in Singapore, having your presence on Google allows you to connect with potential patients quickly and efficiently. Many clinics have a dedicated marketing budget for Google Ads, hence competition is expected to be high.
Although the platform is competitive, structuring your campaign well allows you to drive more inquires without increasing your advertising budget. This requires accurate tracking, data analysis and scientific-based optimization.
Google Ad guidelines for medical clinics in Singapore
Google does not allow abortion ads in Singapore.
Treatments for addiction are not allowed to be advertised on Google in Singapore.
Birth control ads are not allowed to be advertised on Google in Singapore.
Google does not allow ads on prescription drugs in Singapore. On the other hand, vitamins and nutritional supplements are allowed.
HIV home tests
Google does not allow ads on HIV home tests in Singapore. However, in-clinic HIV or STD testing is allowed.
Terms or phrases are trademarked cannot be used in your Google Ads campaign. For instance, the use of the word ‘botox’ in your ad copies and landing pages are not allowed.
The moment Google detects such terms in your landing page, your ads will be disapproved immediately. We had instances of ad disapproval for such terms not on the landing page but on a separate page within the same website.
SEM platforms for medical clinics
Google is the preferred search engine in Singapore, however, smaller search engines are worth considering as well. This is largely due to lower costs for each website visit via Bing or Yahoo ads.
Unlike SEO, search volume is not as important a factor since you only pay for each click that is directed to your website. You’re likely to pay much lower per click on Bing or Yahoo as compared to Google Ads.
Having ads to promote your clinic on these search engines would definitely help with maximizing your overall reach, website traffic as well as patient appointments.
One way of reaching out to potential patients would be via display ads. These include platforms such as programmatic media buying or the Google Display Network (GDN). Display campaigns are great when it comes to showcasing your treatments for sure.
Traditionally, display campaigns are great for driving awareness and generating traffic. In recent months, however, we have seen display ads deliver a cost-effective cost per inquiry that surpasses its search campaign counterparts.
Any form of remarketing on Google is not allowed with regards to the medical industry. This includes display remarketing as well as remarketing lists on search ads (RLSA).
Social Media Marketing
Social media sites are popular in Singapore especially with young patients many of whom are working adults. This presents an opportunity for driving awareness regarding your medical practice and engaging patients online.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are great channels that allow your clinic to reach potential patients.
The effectiveness of social media marketing pervades for all specialities within the medical sector, whether you are driving reach, engagements or inquiries. Whether you run an aesthetic clinic or specialize in podiatry, executing an effective strategy is of utmost importance.
With social media, you should:
- Update your social media pages consistently
- Create custom content or articles to educate patients
- Engage with patients by responding to comments, reviews and queries
The best part? Social media is free! Hence, generating content consistently is a great way to reach out to potential patients and build credibility.
Facebook and Instagram ads for medical clinics
To increase your reach further, you may also run paid advertising campaigns to promote your clinics. This involves targeting the right audience, utilizing effective ad creatives and optimizing your campaign to improve results.
Facebook video ads best practices
In general, Facebook recommends using video ads that are:
- Are not longer than 15 seconds
- Include captions to optimized for ‘sound off’
- Are attention-grabbing
- Have a good all to action
In today’s landscape, attention span is getting shorter. Consumers demand more and are easily distracted. Hence, leveraging on eye-catching videos are a great way to reach potential patients who could be interested in your treatments.
Ultimately, multiple ads should be tested to identify which creative works best. Whether your goal is to maximize inquiries or drive a target cost per lead, accurate tracking and data-based optimization are key factors in generating desired results.
Facebook and Instagram ad guidelines for medical clinics
Note that the guidelines for Facebook and Instagram are strict especially when it comes to medical clinics. Your ads cannot:
Be discriminatory in nature
This means that your ad message cannot contain personal attributes such as age, gender and race for instance.
A common issue we face with aesthetic clinic ads. Ads creatives cannot be overtly suggestive nor contain nudity.
Contain misleading content
Ads should not contain misleading content that relates to the effectiveness of a treatment or a procedure. For example, ads should not imply that the audience needs to go on a diet or lose weight.
Have before and after images
This includes before and after scenes in videos as well.
Contain unexpected or unlikely results
Ads should not set expectations that are unrealistic such as misleading health or weight-loss claims.
Imply or attempt to generate negative with regards to personal health.
For instance, ad images cannot zoom in to a specific body part or, imply weight or hair loss.
The above are some of the common Facebook ad disapproval issues that we’ve encountered for our medical clients. These restrictions apply to non-medical organizations as well such as spas, beauty salons and other businesses.
Retargeting for medical clinics
With Facebook and Instagram, you can leverage custom audiences to run a retargeting campaign. Retargeting allows for increased relevancy, allowing you to serve ads to people who visited your website but have not inquired. The best part? Your cost per click is likely to be way cheaper on Facebook as compared to Google.
Demographic targeting for medical clinics in Singapore
Although the guidelines for ad platforms are strict when it comes to the medical industry, demographic targeting is allowed. With demographic targeting, you may serve your ads to specific age groups and genders.
This applies to paid advertising platforms such as Facebook and Google Ads as long as guidelines are adhered to.
Taking demographics into consideration allows you to further decrease your cost per inquiry as we can optimize our campaigns towards demographics that are likely to inquire. Furthermore, we can consider more factors such as lead quality, the likelihood of a successful appointment and purchasing power.
Difference between advertising on social media vs search engines for medical clinics
The primary difference is that search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo capture potential patients that are searching for your treatments. A strong indicator of intent, otherwise they won’t be searching for these keywords.
Social media ads, on the other hand, target patients based on their interest but, they may not necessarily be looking for your treatment. In terms of cost-effectiveness, however, social media ads have proven to be highly cost-effective. Of course, there are optimal approaches for different specialities within the medical industry.
Dental and aesthetics campaigns, for instance, work extremely well when leveraging on call tracking technology on Google Ads. Given the nature of patient inquiries that we’ve observed across the medical industry in general, patients tend to prefer phone calls and Whatsapp as opposed to sending emails.
An important point to note would be that the cost per lead and lead quality has a direct correlation for Facebook and Instagram. Inquiries that come in via Google Ads tend to be more expensive, however, the patient is more likely to fix and show up for an appointment.
Having multiple platforms in your digital strategy is a great way to ensure that you reach patients effectively as patients might not inquire on their first website visit.
Each marketing platform has its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. The above marketing platforms have for a long time proven to drive cost-effective results for medical clinics.
Start by formulating an effective digital strategy based on identifying your marketing objective and focused service(s), advertising budget, clinic location(s) and competition. Optimization is important in medical clinic marketing since this is the main factor in ensuring the growth of your patient appointments.
As a medical professional or a medical marketeer, you may not have the time to plan, analyse and execute every aspect of your digital campaigns. Our team is highly experienced in medical digital marketing with each strategist having at least half a decade of experience. Feel free to contact us for a non-obligatory digital analysis.
Need help with marketing your medical clinic?
Let our digital team help. Reach out to us today!
November 21, 2020, 12:26 am
Thanks for the excellent tips! I really loved the recommendations on your blog. It makes so much sense to monitor return on investment, especially in a competitive market such as Singapore. Going for multiple marketing channels would certainly help us generate leads in the long term for our medispa, but what’s more important is also investing in the right marketing platforms.
Keep up the good work!
November 24, 2020, 10:02 am
You’re welcome! Choosing the right marketing channels and measuring ROI is certainly important in a competitive market. This is why tracking your results accurately is absolutely crucial for marketing since it allows you to identify the effective platforms, social networks, content and keywords etc. We’re glad you enjoyed our content! 🙂