Five Digital Marketing Traps to Avoid in Your Practice

If you’re sick of being hounded by advertising reps selling ad space — you’re certainly not alone. I live and breathe medical practice marketing and even I’m astounded by the number of calls our office gets from ad reps trying to get to our private clients. They’re usually shilling the “latest, greatest form of digital media,” their proposals are vague and the measurements of so-called success are even more vague. Digital marketing truly is the Wild, Wild West. Everyone is doing it but very few people know how to do it well. Here are 5 of the most common digital marketing traps I see physicians fall prey to when it comes to medical internet marketing:

Trap #1 Digital Ads Directing People to a Less Than Optimal Website

Your website is the corner-stone of ALL your marketing (online and offline). If you’re investing marketing dollars in digital ads and people are being sent to a website that is slow to load, confusing to navigate and/or looks outdated — you’re throwing your money away. With the fast evolution of digital marketing, your website needs to be given an extreme make-over once every three years and needs to have fresh, engaging content posted multiple times a month. If you’re in the beauty business — the last thing you want is for your website to be the ugly duckling.

Trap #2 Using Digital Ads That Promote Image or Your Brand

Digital marketing is just the same as offline marketing. The same rules apply — namely, if you want your prospective patients to take action right now and pick up the phone and call your office, you have to give them a reason to. Showing them a pretty picture isn’t going to do it. Giving them an irresistible offer will. Prospects don’t care about how pretty your logo looks, or how attractive that air-brushed model is. What they really want to know is howyoucanhelpthem.

Trap #3 Not Having a Clear Idea of What Success Looks Like

Yesterday I got off the phone with a physician who owns a multi-location aesthetics practice with revenues just south of $20 million. He was frustrated with their current marketing agency because, as he put it, “they can’t give me a straight answer on anything. How am I meant to know if our digital campaigns are good or not?” Fair comment. The good news is that it’s much easier than you might think. One of the great things about digital marketing is that it is 100% measurable. The goal is to achieve 2 simple things:

1)   clicks on your ad

2)   calls to your office

And in that order. You’re going to have a lot more clicks on your ad than you will have calls to your office. That’s just par for the course. The goal first and foremost is always to get as many clicks on your ad (conversions) — as possible. So what’s a good conversion rate? Granted, there are many, many different kinds of digital marketing you can use for your practice — from Facebook custom audience campaigns to Google Pay-Per-Click campaigns and banner ads (and the hundreds of online options in between). When I’m designing a digital marketing campaign for a client, I always use Google’s measurement of success as a basic minimum benchmark. They term a successful campaign as having a click-through rate of 1% — meaning 1% of all the people who look at that ad click on it. At our agency, we expect much higher. You can see in the image above, from one of our client’s Pay-Per-Click campaigns, that they have a conversion rate of over 4% — four times higher than Google’s success benchmark. Compare this to something at the other end of the spectrum — banner advertising. Traditional banner advertising is well and truly dead. We’ve all become masters at ignoring online banner ads. A media rep recently told me that a banner campaign is considered successful if it has a 0.3 conversion rate!!! Frankly, those results are pathetic. If you have $3000 a month to spend on digital marketing — you obviously would be much better off investing your marketing dollars in online digital marketing that gets you a much higher conversion rate. Bottom line — always ask how success is measured and compare this to Google’s standard for success.

Trap #4 Not integrating your online and offline marketing

Because there are many marketing agencies who just specialize in digital marketing, it’s fairly common for a practice to have one agency do their digital marketing and another agency do their offline marketing (or to try to do it in-house). This is a mistake because your practice can wind up with what I call “Frankenstein marketing” — you’re marketed one way online but then come across very differently when people view your marketing offline. I spoke with a physician recently who was horrified to discover that the digital marketing agency he’d been using had been placing ads making claims that were “very grey” (to put it politely). His reputation was being affected and the message going out online was in complete conflict with the message of integrity and honesty apparent in his traditional marketing.

Bottom line — your digital marketing has to work hand-in-hand with your offline advertising — they both have to work together to build on your good reputation and give you more bang for your marketing buck.

Trap #5 Only doing digital marketing

As fantastic and cost-effective as digital marketing can be when done properly — don’t fall into the trap of stopping all your offline marketing. This is a gigantic mistake I’ve seen many medical practices make. I’ve had physicians call our office, sometimes practically in tears, because almost overnight the number of new patients has dried up. Possibly Google changed its algorithms, so the practice doesn’t have a first page listing any more. Sometimes the practice’s digital campaigns (that have been working for ages) suddenly stop getting clicks. Digital marketing is exciting, but it’s also highly volatile and things change in nano-seconds. Traditional or offline marketing, by contrast (while it is harder to do successfully), is a steady herd of workhorses that you need plodding away, getting word out about your practice. It might not bring in the flashy results some digital campaigns bring in — but it’s steady and reliable and it takes real effort which your patients appreciate, and notice more when it stands out.

So there you have it. The 5 biggest digital marketing traps for your clinical practice, and how to avoid them. Got a question? Feel free to email me at!