Marketing Your Private Physical Therapy Practice
Learn how successful marketing strategies can strengthen and grow your business
The Guide to Marketing Your Private PT Practice
Discover Effective Marketing Tools that Increase Patients and Referrals
Three Ways to Get More Reviews for Your PT Private Practice
See How Online Reviews Are One of the Best Ways to Boost Your Business
Marketing Your Private Physical Therapy Practice
At its core, marketing is building connections. It requires understanding consumer’s needs and presenting relevant solutions. To market successfully, you must evaluate your current marketing performance, set effective marketing goals, allocate resources toward your goals, define your target audience, choose appropriate messaging, select the methods of marketing best suited for you, and pull your plan together into a marketing calendar for execution. By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge to attract new patients, increase referrals, and grow your business!
Table of Contents
Evaluate Your Current Marketing Performance
At its core, marketing is building connections. It requires understanding consumers’ needs and presenting relevant solutions. To market successfully, you must evaluate your current marketing performance, set effective marketing goals, allocate resources toward your goals, define your target audience, choose appropriate messaging, select the methods of marketing best suited for you, and pull your plan together into a marketing calendar for execution. By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge to attract new patients, increase referrals, and grow your business!
Create a list of the sources for your new patients and their current performance. Your list should include:
- Medical referrals (grouped by doctor and practice)
- Social media
- Word of Mouth/Patient Referral
- All other sources unique to your practice
This exercise will give you a solid understanding of what is currently driving your new patient volume and help you identify important trends. Measure the percentage of your new business that comes from each source and keep in mind important benchmarks. For example, if any doctor represents greater than 5% of your referrals, your business is over-reliant on that physician. When a business represents over 15% of referrals, you are too reliant on that business. Heavy reliance on a referral source makes your practice vulnerable to changes that may occur in the relationship. This could include scenarios such as a physician’s retirement, the business bringing therapy in house, or acquisition of the business by a hospital system.
Use Your Evaluation to Set Effective Marketing Goals
Determine the specific goals for your marketing program. If you are too dependent on a single referral source, one goal could be diversifying your new patient sources and increasing the performance of the others.
Additional goals may include:
- Increase referrals from medical sources in general.
- Market current service offerings to new audiences.
- Market new services to existing relationships.
- Increase participation from current patients.
- Give your discharged patients a reason to return.
You’ll want to determine what type of performance you would consider a success. How many new patients equate to a return on your investment? Be specific when creating your goals so you can identify the resources available to help you achieve them.
Identify and Allocate Resources
When identifying available resources, consider people, time, and budget. Create a list of people in your practice that can assist with your marketing tasks. Consider all team-members, but make sure that their skill sets match your needs. Evaluate if the people on your list have the time to assist without vacating their current responsibilities. This will help you determine how much you can do with your current team and if you need additional assistance. Finally, determine your available budget. The budget plays a key role in selecting the appropriate style and frequency of marketing for you.
Time to Define Your Target Audience
To market effectively, you must be able to identify your target audience. As a physical therapy practice, you will market to two major client segments – referring physicians and consumers (patients or non-medical influencers). These are your target audiences. Within each audience exist three sub-segments; existing physicians & consumers, new physicians and consumers, and past physicians and consumers.
Your messaging - the words and images you use, should be tailored to the audience segment you wish to reach. As an example, with a new patient or new referring physician, messaging should introduce who you are, what you offer, and why it’s beneficial to them. For an existing consumer or referral physician, messaging should reflect new development or additional services that provide them reasons to continue participation. Keep your messaging specific to the particular audience you are trying to reach to increase effectiveness.
Select the Methods of Marketing Best Suited For You
All methods of marketing fall into three primary categories OWNED, EARNED, and PAID.
Owned media is any marketing you have direct control over or own responsibility for, including:
- Patient and referral email lists
- Social media pages
- Branding and materials inside your clinic
- Google My Business listing (and other online listings)
- Website and the content within
Pros: Minimal or no monetary investment. 100% under your control.
Cons: Requires time investment and content creation to achieve success.
Earned media is the awareness that you receive rather than broadcast yourself, such as public relations and third-party validation. Examples include:
- Conferences & speaking engagements
- Editorial pieces & patient stories
- Press releases and announcements
- Newspaper articles
- Magazine features
- Online mentions and features
- Live Segments from local news sources
Pros: Lowest monetary investment, often free!
Cons: Requires time, relationships, and generally something “unique” to activate.
Paid media is marketing that you pay to activate and includes both traditional and digital media. Examples of paid media are:
- Mailed & printed advertisements
- Outdoor – billboards & public spaces
- Google ads
- Event Sponsorships
- Paid Social Ads (Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
Pros: Wide audience reach and less time-intensive.
Cons: More expensive than other forms of marketing and requires content creation
Focus on maximizing your owned media first. Optimization in this category looks like:
- Using a robust website designed and optimized for SEO (search engine optimization).
- Regular email marketing efforts that target each consumer segment.
- Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc)
- Community Events (sponsoring local sporting teams, raffles, health fairs, etc.)
- 'Thank You’ messages to referring physicians.
Use Reviews To Attract New Patients
Reviews are one of the top ways to validate your physical therapy business and build trust with potential patients. According to a 2020 survey performed by Software Advice, 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians, and 71% use these reviews as the first step to find a new doctor. Your online reputation is crucial to attracting new patients to your physical therapy clinic. This means that prospective patients are reading reviews and making decisions about your practice before they even speak to you.
Earn More Online Reviews
Reviews are one of the top ways to validate your physical therapy business and build trust with potential patients.
1. Ask Happy Patients for Reviews
When a patient is satisfied with their progress, ask them to leave you a review. Make it easy for patients who have had a great experience to write their review online by providing your Google Business Review link. Don’t have one? This tool can quickly generate your Google Review link for you. Include this link in all communications with your patients, don’t forget these:
- Your Email Signature
- Follow Up & Discharge Emails
- Financial Statements
2. Send a Patient Survey
After a patient visit is over or you have completed their plan of care, send a survey that asks about their experience at your practice. Include your Google Business Review link and ask them to leave an online review if they were happy with their experience. This survey is a great opportunity to get additional insight about the patient experience and areas you can improve upon.
3. Post Signage
At the sign-in counter, in your waiting area, and on the door exiting your practice, post a sign that asks clients to leave positive reviews online. Be transparent and tell them it helps your practice to grow so you can continue to serve the community. Consider including a QR code patients can easily scan with their smartphone that takes them directly to your review page, try this tool to create your custom QR code instantly.
Leverage Google to Drive Organic Referrals
Here are three ways you can leverage the power of Google to drive more organic referrals to your physical therapy practice.
1. Website Optimization
Your website is your digital storefront and the first point of contact most people have with your practice.
Now, think of Google as the roadmap your clients use to find your practice. An optimized website aims to make it as easy as possible for Google to point potential referrals to your website. Organic search traffic comes from search traffic that is earned, not paid. This means that those who are searching for services you provide see your website near the top of the search results after searching for the keywords that pertain to your business. By focusing on increasing your website optimization, you’ll be helping Google send more potential referrals your way and what practice owner wouldn’t want that?
To help increase your organic search rankings, do the following:
- Host your website on a Google friendly platform (Hubspot, Wordpress, Squarespace, etc)
- List your services and describe them on your website. This text is what Google uses to point people to your website.
- Images are great for people, but not for Google. Use alt-tags for images and adequate word counts on your pages. The more you give Google to see, the more potential clients it can send your direction.
- Use the keywords on your page that people would search for such as: balance therapy, physical therapy, orthopedic therapy, sports therapy, back pain treatment, car accident rehabilitation, etc. These phrases and keywords are how Google points people to your website. Use them to help increase traffic to your website.
2. Claim & Update Your ‘Google My Business Listing
The easier you make it for people to connect with your business, the easier it is for people to call and schedule an appointment.
Google My Business pages are free online listings that let consumers easily connect with your business. It provides a platform for patient reviews, your practice phone number, directions, and a link to your website. This listing appears when people search for your business on Google which has over 86.86% of search market share according to Statista. Your Google My Business listing also helps your organic search results, which we know can be a great source of referrals. P.S. It’s free advertising at the top of Google search results!
Here are the steps needed to make the most effective use of your listing:
- Claim Your Business Page on Google
- Include Accurate Phone Number, Hours & Address
- Include a Succinct Description of Your Business
- Ask Clients to Leave Reviews of Their Experience on Your Listing
3. Write Blogs Regularly
Think of blogs as fuel for the Google bots and page crawlers. Google loves to see regular updates to help point searchers to the most relevant pages and key-word rich content.
A blog is excellent at driving search traffic to your website because it demonstrates that your page is active and updated with relevant content your potential customers are looking for. Here are some best practices for private practice blogging:
- Post Blogs 2x per Month
- Use your blog to discuss services you offer as well as patient success stories. These stories help people see the care you provide with the added benefit of helping Google find your website more easily.
- Include other writers in your blog – ask your staff if they would be willing to contribute.
- Use your blog as an opportunity to discuss how you are getting involved in your local community. Those location keywords can really help drive qualified traffic
- Focus your blogs around the keywords that get the most Google Search traffic or use it to discuss services that differentiate you from your local competition.
Google is a Key Driver of Business Referrals. Ensuring you have a dominant online presence in your market will help drive more organic referrals to your clinic. At FYZICAL we support our members with an entire team of marketers who guide you through best practices, especially for physical therapy private practice owners. If you’re interested in learning how we support our members and their marketing efforts, contact us today!
Monitoring Your Reviews
Managing your online reputation is fundamental to practice growth. It is crucial that you respond to both positive and negative reviews. Always thank patients who leave you a positive review, and promptly and professionally respond to all negative reviews. When managing a negative review, publicly acknowledge the issue on your review page, apologize even if you are not at fault, and try to bring the conversation to a private platform for resolution. For example; “[Username], I’m sorry you had an unpleasant experience at our clinic, I’d like to work with you to resolve this issue. Please call me at [phone number] so we can get this taken care of right away!” Use this opportunity to show prospective patients that you are active in your business and you care. As an added bonus, Google Reviews may help improve your search engine rankings which could lead to more patients finding your practice!
Incorporating Pay-Per-Click Ads in Your Marketing Strategy
Pay-per-click ads (PPC) are an internet advertising model that drives traffic to your website with digital advertisements.
The advertiser then pays a publisher, in this case, Google, when the ad is clicked. Pay-per-click ads are shown to users based on the keywords and phrases they are searching. For PT practice owners, these keywords might include terms like “physical therapy near me” or “shoulder injury rehab”. After someone searches for these terms or phrases, Google displays the results that relate to those keywords. PPC ads then appear at the top of the page which means your ad could be the first thing a potential patient sees when searching these terms.
Choosing Relevant Key Words for PT Private Practice
Selecting appropriate keywords for PPC ads is crucial for bringing you the consumers you want. Relevant keywords will help you connect with your ideal patient when they are searching for products and services you offer. PPC ads are only as effective as the keywords used to target. To find keywords for your practice:
- Make a list of words that align with your business.
- List all the services and products your practice offers.
- Use an online keyword research tool, like this one offered by Google: https://ads.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/
- Target Keywords that people search for in high volume and then localize it. Like, ‘physical therapy’, then add your city to it, ‘physical therapy city name’.
- Use words and phrases that are symptoms patients search for. Like, ‘balance treatment’, or ‘dizziness treatment’.
Targeting Your Ads is Crucial to PPC Success!
Think about your ideal patient, you want to make your ads as specific to your consumer as possible.
As a brick-and-mortar business, pay special attention to geography. Google allows you to choose country, state, zip code, radius, designated market area, city, and metro as location parameters for where your ads will appear. Don’t waste your advertising dollars promoting yourself beyond the area you practice in.
Part of a well-thought-out PPC strategy is sending those who click on your ads to the information that your ad focused on. Many practice owners simply direct their ad clicks to the homepage of their practice website, but this is a missed opportunity! Instead, create a page that offers information relevant to the ad they clicked. For example, if the ad was about shoulder injury rehabilitation, you might consider bringing them to a page that offers information on how you assess and treat this condition at your practice. Most importantly, include a call to action! A call to action is key to turning this interested consumer into a paying patient. This can be as simple as a button that says ‘Request Appointment’ at the end of the page. Include your relevant contact information so they can easily reach you and take the next step to become a patient at your practice.
Don’t quit! PPC ads take time to fine-tune. Just like any approach to marketing you will need to test your ads, review your results, make minor adjustments, and test again. PT practice owners should:
- Start with 4-5 ads for different keyword sets and see how they perform, make adjustments, and try again.
- Include an offer, this can be a great incentive for consumers to click your ad.
- Monitor which ads and keywords bring in the most referrals and then create additional ads that also use those words.
Finding effective ways to reach your ideal patient is what brings new consumers to your practice. PPC ads are listed at the top of the page, even before organic search results, and this means your prospects will see PPC ads first in their search queries. Ultimately with PPC ads, you have a higher probability of bringing your ideal consumer to your page first and that gets them closer to becoming your new patient.
Make it Executable: Create a Marketing Calendar
You have determined messaging for each marketing channel and the methods you will use to get those messages to your consumer segments. The next step is to create a schedule for when you will execute this marketing strategy. The best method is a marketing calendar. A calendar can be as simple as an excel worksheet or more robust, such as a complete wall calendar. You can find free templates for these online.
A Marketing Calendar should include:
A MONTHLY FOCUS: “I use these messages with these forms of marketing to reach this audience”
A MONTHLY BUDGET: What amount is allocated to each form of marketing for the month?
A LIST OF NECESSARY CONTENT: These items must be created to execute the marketing plan for the month. This may include videos, printed materials, emails, images, etc. Be sure to plan time for content creation.
Execute Your Plan and Evaluate Your Outcomes
Marketing your practice doesn’t end at executing the marketing plan. Monitor your marketing efforts and make adjustments, execute again, and evaluate those results. Marketing requires continuous adjustment to receive maximum return on investment.