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Google Just Changed Its Online Review Terms. Here’s What That Means

Google online review on smartphone - TotalCom healthcare hospital marketing

Online reviews are extremely important for hospitals these days. The more good reviews you have, the more people will want to choose your hospital and your providers for their healthcare needs. The more negative reviews you have, the more people will want to stay away.

Online reviews also have a big influence on your website’s search engine results. That’s why hospitals want as many good reviews as they can get, and they’ll go to great lengths to achieve them.

Google, one of the main sources for online reviews, knows this and recently changed its review policies to regulate how, exactly, businesses solicit these reviews.

 

How the Review Game is Changing

Google thinks it’s perfectly okay to ask someone to leave a review. They want you to, in fact. But what they don’t want you to do is provide some kind of incentive for them to leave a positive one.

And they don’t want you to create something called a review funnel to get only good reviews.

A review funnel is pretty straightforward. You send an email or a link to a customer. They are asked to rate your business. If the rating is a good one, then they are sent to a place where they can leave the actual review, on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.

If the rating is a bad one, the reviewer is sent somewhere else, usually a screen that has a quick survey they can fill out to provide feedback. They are not sent to a place where they can leave a review, though.

The end result: by using a review funnel, you’re selecting for only positive reviews.

Google now says that is not allowed and has banned the use of review funnels in this way.

 

What Can You Do Now?

Review funnels are very effective – too effective, it seems, for Google’s liking. So what can you do instead to get more positive reviews?

You can actually still use a review funnel. You just need to give the negative rater an option to leave a review, just like everyone else.

“But won’t they just leave a negative review?” Probably, but here’s the thing: you need more reviews, a never-ending supply of reviews, and getting some bad ones here and there is just a risk you’ll have to take to keep up.

Besides, if you’re doing a good job servicing your patients, you won’t have to worry about the negative reviews because they’ll be few and far between.

One thing we want to make clear is that you shouldn’t let your fear of a few negative reviews keep you from trying to get more positive ones. If you don’t take that chance, you’ll miss out on the huge benefits of online reviews for your hospital.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. If you get a bad one, reach out and see what you can do to make it right. Emphasize patient service and taking care of your patients to the utmost of your ability so no one has a reason to rate you negatively.

 

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information and see what stories we can tell for you.

How Creative Are Your New Healthcare Campaigns Really?

You’ve heard the adage, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” It’s true! If you’re looking to create a new brand for your hospital, promote a new service line or procedure or gain market share, it may be time to think outside of the box. Consider these creative ways to send a new message.

 

Utility

How can your advertisements serve another purpose than getting your message to the masses? It can be easy to overlook an ad that is mostly fine print and technical jargon. Monash University created wristbands for an event that were used to identify who’s ID had been checked to allow them to purchase drinks, but they had a secondary use. The user could place a drop of their drink on a designated spot on the wristband to detect if common drugs had been used to spike their drink.

Consider the true message you want to send. Monash University wanted to make sure that those who were drinking were of age, but went even further to ensure that they were being safe while drinking. Think about how your message can reach further than the page, especially in print ads.

 

Use Your Staff

How often do you run a campaign that looks successful on your computer but didn’t seem to make as big of an impact as you wanted? Maybe the hospital’s staff isn’t being utilized to the fullest extent.

We know that doctors, nurses and administrative staff have a lot on their plates, but something as simple as wearing a button about a current campaign can have a significant effect. Many times, people see advertisements for a new service but can’t remember the name once they arrive at the doctor’s office. Or even worse, the staff members aren’t aware of the campaign and unable to answer any questions the patient may have. When prepared, your staff can have a remarkable impact on a campaign.

 

Provide Inspiration

It’s true – people have access to a wealth of knowledge online with just one search. When it comes to big topics like cancer, how can your organization stand out in the middle of all of these long, technical terms and a potentially bleak outlook?

After they’ve found the information on their issue or diagnosis, they need tend to look for something else – hope. Providing these patients with a community of people that have been in their shoes is comforting when a diagnosis, treatment and every day can be shocking. If you give them access to testimonials and inspiration, it can be much more compelling than information that can look the same from site to site.

 

If you are ready to send a new message or strengthen your current message within the healthcare industry, contact TotalCom Marketing!

digital healthcare marketing resolutions

Digital Healthcare Marketing Resolutions for 2018

We’re at the beginning of a new year.

Now is the perfect time to take a step back, analyze the what you did over the past 12 months, and build a strong plan for 2018.

This may seem like a daunting task. That’s why you should start planning now. We’re giving you a checklist of the most important things you should do in the coming weeks.

  • Ensure business listings are accurate

If you’re not already on top of this, potential customers may end up someplace other than your healthcare facility. Don’t let old phone numbers or former street addresses drive your customers to the wrong hospital or clinic. Fix whatever data errors you can this year, and make a New Year’s Resolution to keep an eye on it during 2018.

  • Add special hours to Google My Business

With the end of one year and beginning of a new one, hours can change. Maybe your clinic is changing hours in the new year. Either way, add your new or extended hours to your Google My Business page. No customer wants to show up at your clinic and find you are closed for the day when Google says differently. Negative brand impressions lead to negative reviews of your healthcare business, so check these hours twice.

  • Social media ready to go

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Pinterest that your customers rely on most, start brainstorming ideas for healthcare content in the new year. Don’t leave it to last-minute scrambles to think of something to say. Make a spreadsheet and schedule days and content for your posts.

  • Website pages updated

Been putting off updating your site’s blog or adding that new employee to the site? Get on it now to ensure everything is crossed of your list when January rolls around. Customers like a completed, up-to-date site, and you will too.

  • Review ready

While many people are cherishing this time of year and in the jolliest of moods, there will still be unhappy reviews coming in. Be prepared for reviews, both good and bad, in 2018. Come up with a strategic plan on how to handle and respond reviews about your facility in a timely manner. Make sure everyone in your company who handles reviews is well versed in the plan as well.

 

The start of a new year is a great time to get started on these healthcare marketing resolutions. But get ahead of your digital resolutions now so they don’t get pushed aside until 2019. If this list seems too daunting to handle on your own, let TotalCom help! Contact us today.

 

iPhone X Facial Recognition

Could the iPhone X Change Digital Advertising?

You took the plunge about the iPhone X and you’re not even sure if you’re supposed to say iPhone X or iPhone ten.

But what’s the big difference between this model and the one you had before collecting a new monthly payment added to your stack of bills?

Facial recognition is the big difference. Are you unlocking your phone or is it unlocking you? This could bring in a new era for marketers. Since the announcement of the iPhone X, facial recognition has quickly become the topic of dinner conversations everywhere. Facial recognition used to be reserved for top secret labs or something you saw the President use in a movie. But now we have access to it as well (celebrities, they’re just like us!)

While this feature is marketed as a security function for unlocking your phone, a consumer device used by the masses is a seriously powerful technology.

It is said 90% of personal communications is nonverbal. Every day there are instances where we don’t understand the nonverbal cues of the person on the other end of our screens. We use emojis and GIFs to try and share emotion within our digital interactions.

For all of us in the communications business, we know good experiences lead to trust and loyalty while bad experiences lead to brand rejection. So what could we do as marketers if we were able to obtain real-time reactions from a consumers? Imagine a world where we have access to consumer’s facial expressions and emotional cues in reaction to products and brands?

If we could access the facial cues from patients waiting for an extended time in the emergency room? The excitement on someone’s face when they try out a restaurant’s new dish. Or the skepticism on your face when you’re indulging in a purchase you shouldn’t be.

Currently, Apple is keeping detailed facial recognition data local on the phone and not storing it on its servers. App makers can use the iPhone X, with the user’s permission, to read a rough map of a stream of facial expressions. While Apple may never store this information for public use, it’s interesting to think about a world where we design advertisements based on the most unique human feature. This technology would tell us more about our consumers than we’ve ever known before.

Digital advertising can be hard to keep up with, let us do the work for you. Contact TotalCom today.

high quality web page

How to Improve the Google Ranking of your Healthcare Site

There’s a list of factors Google considers when grading your healthcare site’s pages as high or low quality. These range from page load times to grammatical mistakes. Top rankings are crucial to the success of your healthcare business. According to a study by Infront Webworks, the first page of Google receives 95 percent of web traffic, with subsequent pages receiving 5 percent of less of total traffic. Today, we’re going to unlock the secrets of how to improve Google ranking for your healthcare site.

What is considered high quality for Google?

  • Unique content
  • Valuable content
    • Google wants relevant helpful content. This is information that’s typically not found anywhere else. This also factors in design and the presentation of your content.
  • External links
    • High quality content links out to its references.
  • Internal links
    • Google likes to see you linking to another page on your website.
  • Searcher’s query
    • Google can tell if a user solves their search query using a page. For example, you type in “healthcare marketing,” and someone clicks your site. If they go back and visit a different site, or perform a new search, it tells Google that the page did not successfully answer that searcher’s query.  If they click on a page, go perform an unrelated search and then switch back to their email, that tells Google the page solved their query.
  • Load time
    • The page has to load quickly on any connection.
  • User experience and design
    • This means high quality design and accessibility on mobile, desktop tablet and laptop.
  • Grammatically correct and well-spelled content
    • Google analyzes pages for poor spelling and bad grammar. If your site includes these, you don’t qualify as a high-quality site anymore.
  • Non-text content needs to have text alternatives
    • This is why Google encourages use of the alt attribute or video transcriptions on non-text content.
  • Well-organized content
    • Content that is easy to consume and understand.

As you can see Google’s algorithms are sophisticated and there is more to a website than just hitting “publish.” Start by analyzing the pages on your website. Make a list of high priority edits you need to make and use this list to guide you.

If your website is not living up to your expectations and you want to improve it, contact us! Whether you need a few tweaks or just content added to your current site, or a completely new, mobile-friendly website design, contact TotalCom Marketing to discuss what the process looks like.

 

healthcare budget

Healthcare Marketing: Why You Should Increase Your Paid Social Budget

These days, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms are changing the way patients interact with their healthcare providers. Social media is certainly something that you can’t afford to ignore.

Paid social is having a banner year in 2017. Analysts from HootSuite predicted that social ad spending will top $35 billion this year.  Judging by the past several years, which have each seen consistent growth, that growth will continue into the future.

As long as you do it right – paid social is an excellent investment in your healthcare marketing plan. Here are 3 reasons why.

Paid social is a necessity if you want your brand to be seen on social media.

When you post something on social media, you’re competing with what feels like 1,999,999 other healthcare businesses- and we’re just talking about ones that are advertising. Realistically, there’s no way that your posts are going to get engagement from more than a few people unless you pay to promote them. With social media algorithms becoming more and more complicated, it makes it even harder for current and potential patients to see your content.

Organic social is still important, but if you want your posts to be seen, it’s time to set aside some budget for paid social ads. 

Paid social allows you to target users with incredible specificity.

It’s really amazing how specific you can get with your ad targeting these days.

Look at Facebook, for example. You can customize your audience by everything from level of education and field of study, to online activities, to simple demographics.

This ultra-targeting means that you’re a lot less likely to be wasting your ad dollars. Instead of showing your ad to people who almost certainly aren’t going to buy what you’re selling anyway – men and gynecologists, for example. Through targeting, you won’t be annoying people with ads they would never be interested in and you’re cultivating an audience that may eventually lead to a loyal customer.

It’s highly resource- and cost-effective.

When you’re just starting out with paid social advertising, you don’t have to know it all. You can create relatively basic ads with a relatively basic audience and budget. You also don’t need a huge budget to begin with. Base your budget on factors including your company size, the number of people you want to see your ad, etc… This is especially helpful when your hospital is just starting out and not sure where to begin.

The key is to be patient and be proactive. Watch your analytics, stick to your goals, and don’t be afraid to experiment when needed.

Social media can be hard to navigate, to improve your chances of succeeding, allow TotalCom to help you.

 

 

 

A Guide to Keyword Research for Your Healthcare Facility

There’s no need for me to go on and on about why keyword research is essential for your hospital’s marketing success. It is important however, to note there is no universal approach to executing keyword research. It will vary based on:

  • Website (authority, number of pages, quality of content, etc);
  • Goals and objectives (branding, exposure, traffic, leads, sales);
  • Budget, resources and deadlines;
  • Industry and competitive landscape.

I am going to give you a keyword research framework that can easily be adjusted depending on the goals and resources of your healthcare facility.

  1. Evaluate top healthcare websites.

By doing this, you can identify the most common navigation items and categories on leading industry sites. Just by studying your niche well, you can discover some great keywords.

  1. Use advanced search operators.

While searching for top healthcare websites, you can use Google’s advanced search operators to dig even deeper. You have operators at your fingertips that can provide significant and useful information.

Example: Searching “related: health.com” will bring you to sites similar to health.com. From here you can find more content and common keywords on other sites in the same industry.

  1. Google Suggest

The best free tool for keyword research is Google itself, especially with all of the features it uses to help searchers find exactly what they’re looking for. Google Suggest, is the feature that drops down a list of suggestions from the search box as soon as you start typing. For example, Google “doctor” and don’t hit enter. Instead make note of the drop-down search suggestions.

  1. Google Keyword Planner

Using Google’s Keyword Planner, paste your saved keyword list from the steps above into the “Product or Service” category and then evaluate the average monthly searches and competition for your area. Keyword planner will also suggest keywords and phrases to use based on your categories. Remember high competition is not always a reason to give up on a keyword. It all comes down to the balance between the business value of that keyword.

 

Since it all begins with words type into a search box, keyword research is considered one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the digital marketing field. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your healthcare website. By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole.

 

Let us do the keyword research for you! Contact TotalCom to learn more about our healthcare marketing options.

Market Your Hospital to Stand Out

Market Your Healthcare Facility to Standout from the Rest

Are you taking advantage of new opportunities for generating exposure?

When potential patients do not have a recommendation from family or friends on what healthcare professional or facility to use, they typically turn to conducting their own research online. This could entail using anything from search engines to social media – as long as the information they find is trustworthy and extensive.

Ensuring your healthcare facility is listed everywhere that potential patients are searching online is key to driving more traffic to your hospital website and therefore, more foot traffic.

Create content that educates

 Creating content that educates is beneficial for SEO, driving long-term traffic from search engines to your website. More importantly, quality content in the form of blog posts, articles and social media helps give value to readers and build trust between your patients and your facility.

Put yourself in the patient’s shoes when you write your material and then ask the following questions:

  • Can I easily interpret the information?
  • Are these health terms and definitions understandable, even if I was only 12 years old?
  • Is the content accurate and informative without being overwhelming?
  • Is the explanation sufficient?
  • Are all my questions answered?

Fun with Facts

Consumers like facts, especially in healthcare. Weave facts and statistics into appropriate content to complement the information.

The true beauty, however, is the simplicity. Health facts are short and to the point. They are easy to digest, easy to generate, easy to verify.

Video Marketing is Important

 Last, but certainly not least, spend time on video marketing to really stand out. Offer testimonials from your patients. Ensure they are genuinely interested in speaking on your behalf for more authenticity and effectiveness.  Create videos to introduce doctors and put a human touch to the faces patients will be seeing.

Utilize YouTube as a hub for your video marketing efforts online. Embed those videos throughout your website. YouTube is a search engine owned by Google, making your uploaded video content discoverable in search results and wherever the video is embedded (like your website.)

Again, just like the written content being produced for your web properties, your video content must educate your audience on your expertise in the healthcare industry.

Marketing for the healthcare industry doesn’t have to be difficult. We just need to think about who the target audience is, understand what information they want and of course how best to reach them. Let us do the thinking for you. Contact TotalCom today to learn more about our healthcare marketing options.


ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications with over 30 years experience helping many kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience is in the healthcare industry.  He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

Hospital Social Media Strategy Checklist

Are you satisfied with your hospital’s social media efforts?  Perhaps it is time to review and possibly revise your social media strategy. Here are some social media strategy DO’s and DONT’s for healthcare marketers.

Common Mistakes in Hospital Social Media Strategy

FIrst of all, taking a look at what “NOT” to do can be helpful. So here are a few of the “DONTs”.

  • Poor planning up front. “We need to be on Facebook” is not enough. Therefore, clearly define the goals, objectives, and metrics for measuring. After all, knowing what success looks like is important.
  • No content calendar. Creating a content calendar is an essential part of the process. In addition, the calendar needs to coincide with other hospital communication efforts, local events, and even the seasons.
  • No set schedule. Most posting is haphazard. Instead, post content at regular intervals, at opportune times.
  • Don’t leave it to marketing. Effective social media execution requires participation from all levels of the facility. Therefore, involve the service line managers, physicians, HR, and department heads.
  • No procedure for responding. Because patients and others in the community will attempt to engage with your hospital online, have a system for handling these comments and responses, ahead of time.

Essential Elements of an Effective Healthcare Social Media Strategy

In addition, your social media strategy should answer many of these questions.

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What does success look like? Furthermore, how will we measure success?
  • Who is responsible? In addition, who is on the team?
  • What are the priorities?
  • Who are the target audiences?
  • Where will the content come from? Also, what about photos?
  • How will we involve doctors and other professionals?
  • What is the posting schedule?
  • How and who will  handle comments and responses?
  • What level of integration will there be with other communication efforts and channels?
  • What about boosted posts? And if so, what about budget?

In conclusion,  if you are looking to improve your hospital’s social media efforts, a review of the basics may go a long way.


ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping many kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

Collection of People in a Review Bubble

Maximize Medical Reviews to Market Your Hospital

When it comes to healthcare, patients are consumers. And just like any other industry, consumers like to read and share reviews  about their experiences.

The average adult spends over 20 hours a week online, with 28% of that time on social media sites. So it’s hard to ignore the potential of internet marketing and reputation management.

It’s imperative to understand the clout of online patient reviews.

One in four new patients report having chosen a physician based on a website reviews. Furthermore, the power of influence is growing, with some insurance companies even linking patients back to these sites. While posts on medical review sites (such as Healthgrades, Yelp, Vitals, etc.) are anonymous, there are tactics that can be used to elevate the good and combat the bad, overall boosting a hospital’s online reputation.

Visibility

With around 80% of customers searching the Internet for information on doctors, it’s important your healthcare facility is visible on all of the most important medical review sites.

Studies have shown that Healthgrades® is the most searched medical review site, with Yelp following close behind. Placing your hospital on these sites gives consumers an enormous amount of confidence in the brand. It is greatly advised that you do not discourage patients from critique with tactics such as a contractual agreement that prohibits a patient from public reviews. Many hospitals and practices have such tactics in place and are building a relationship of mistrust, suspicion, and hostility.

That being said, too much visibility can negatively affect your online reputation just as easily. Be sure to have a policy in place that advises all of your staff to have private social media accounts for socializing, and public/professional accounts for engaging in medical groups and gaining public trust.

Request

Positioning yourself online, in any platform, makes your hospital open to extreme criticism. There are a few tactics one can take to encourage positive reviews and dissuade the bad from emerging.

As each new generation enters the age where they are seeking health care without parental supervision, the Internet savvy of hospital consumers increases. Newer patients searching for online medical reviews can tell the difference between an authentic and fake review. When requesting reviews, ask your patients directly. Do not rely on family and friends to boost your positive feedback. Advise physicians to ask their patients they have a strong relationship with to take a moment to review their work and the hospital. Not all patients will oblige, but some will.

Another tactic to generate positive commentary is to give surveys to recurring patients while they wait for their scheduled appointment. Linking to an online review site at the end of a survey could generate traffic. You can also link to review sites through a follow-up email. Think of your follow-up emails as a medical thank you card. Kindness goes a long way with patients, and sending a thank you card encourages a strong bedside manner.

Want to discourage consumers from ranting and raving their negative experiences online for the world to see? Presenting complaint cards to patients provides the consumer a chance to get their anger out before going public, declining the likelihood of taking it online.

Reply

Once placed on any medical review website, commentary on your services (good and bad) will begin to appear. It’s important to do a consistent scan of these sites for new reviews. It is highly likely that more than a few patients will be disappointed in the outcome of their treatment and say so online.

Respond to these reviews in a timely and conscientious manner. With a proper response, other patients may even come to your defense. Acknowledge the person’s complaint, show a commitment to improving your service, and encourage the distressed patient to contact you directly in order to discuss their complaint and come to a resolution.

Utilize the power of medical review websites! Not only do they encourage more patients to use your healthcare facilityl, with enough positive reviews, you can boost your credibility with Google and receive a higher ranking on search engine results!

Want to learn more tips to market your hospital online? Check out this blog for more information!

Need help marketing your healthcare facility? Contact Jimmy Warren today.


ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!