hospital marketing

Review rating bubble speeches on computer vector illustration, flat style laptop reviews stars with good, bad rate, concept of customer testimonials messages, notifications, feedback experience

Responding to Three-Star Reviews of Your Hospital or Doctors

You have alerts set up and scour review sites for those dreaded one- and two-star ratings. You jump on the ones that start with, “If I could have given ZERO stars, I would have.” And rightfully so. How you respond to negative reviews affects not only your relationship with the reviewer but your reputation with anyone who reads it forever after. But it’s just as important to respond to neutral reviews for a few reasons:

  1. The neutral reviewer might be on the fence about whether or not to give your services another try. Responding in earnest could be what encourages him or her to come back, and who knows, perhaps post a new or updated review that’s more favorable.
  2. A thoughtful response may ease concerns of potential patients who are coming to your hospital or physicians for the first time.
  3. Search engines including Google reward businesses that respond to customer reviews—all of them—with more favorable local search rankings.

Basics for Responding to Online Reviews

Whether positive, negative or neutral, there are some guidelines you should stick to when responding to online reviews:

  1. Respond promptly. Almost 52 percent of reviewers expect a response within seven days, and nearly half of those expect a response in 24 hours or less. We know you’re busy, but do what you can to respond in as little time as possible.
  2. Be professional. It’s unfortunate this needs to be stated, but it does. Try not to take patient reviews personally. No matter what’s said, be thankful you have the opportunity to learn your patients’ perceptions.
  3. Can the canned responses. Your patient took the time and energy to write a review specific to your hospital. Do the same in return and pen a personal response. Canned “Thank you for your review! We hope to see you again!” responses have the potential to do more harm than good in hospital marketing, where the subject matter is highly personal and sensitive.
  4. Show empathy. Nearly half of all reviewers don’t expect a response at all, which tells us people are more interested in being heard than anything. Make sure they know you appreciate their thoughts and understand their concerns.
  5. Listen and learn. Patient reviews are a goldmine of insight straight from your patients’ mouths (or fingertips). Don’t waste it. Use the feedback when brainstorming content topics and crafting future messaging.

How to Respond to a Neutral Review

You’ve tackled the negative reviews, and now it’s time to respond to the neutral ones. What should you say? While we don’t advocate using canned responses, following a formula makes the work easier:

three rating star speech bubble like neutral feedback. concept of average attitude to product or person and abstract website banner symbol. flat trend unusual graphic ui design on white
  • Thank them for sharing his or her thoughts.
  • Acknowledge any positive comments.
  • Apologize for the specific complaint.
  • If applicable, tell about any updates in procedures, equipment, parking (!) involved in the complaint.
  • Invite them to call your patient representatives directly for more help.

Here is an example:

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us! We’re so pleased to hear you had an excellent experience with our nurses when you were here for knee surgery. We think they’re pretty great, too. That’s a shame we didn’t have any breakfast items that sounded appealing to you. We’re actually just about to revamp our café menu. If you have some ideas for what should be included, please email us at café

Ignoring reviews is the last thing that you should do! If you want to create a solid review base of satisfied customers, then they need to know that you care about their experiences – positive, negative, and neutral. If you have any questions about this process, don’t hesitate to contact us for help with the entire review process!

TotalCom Marketing is a full-service healthcare marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories – our clients’ stories. Contact us for more information or view our work here.

Online Directories: A Necessary Evil of Hospital Marketing

If we suggested you use a portion of your healthcare marketing budget to take an ad out in the Yellow Pages, you’d think we were crazy—and we would be. After all, the Yellow Pages are no more! But business directories still exist—this time digitally—and they’re just as important to your hospital marketing efforts today as those massive yellow tomes.

How Online Directories Work

Online directories, also called web directories or citations, are essentially virtual lists of businesses and their contact information, including web addresses. Online directories take submissions from businesses, and most offer free basic listings, which include address, phone number, and web address. If you want to include additional profile information, such as your hours of operation, photos, description of services, or links to your social media accounts, there may be a fee. The fee can vary widely depending on the directory. Some directories, such as Yahoo Local and Better Business Bureau, charge for even basic listings.

If you don’t submit information, online directories will collect it from other sources. Often the information is wrong, outdated, incomplete, or inconsistent. Not staying on top of your listings will cost you customers in more ways than one, which we explore below.

Two Reasons Accurate and Consistent Listings are Critical

Submitting your hospital contact information to online directories is tedious but absolutely necessary. You also need to do this for other locations such as clinics, urgent care centers, and physician offices.

1. Competition for Patients

First, because patients actually use the directories to look up businesses. You don’t want even a handful of people choosing your competitor by default because you’re not listed or your information is incorrect.

2. Search Rank Results

Second, search engines such as Google use direct listings as part of their algorithms that determine your search engine rankings. Online directory listings are only a small factor in those calculations, but they still play a part. More importantly, however, is that incorrect, inconsistent, or missing listings can actually hurt your rankings.

More About Consistency in Online Directories

Remember that search engines are computers and they are scanning massive amounts of data. If your hospital address is formatted differently in different web directories, those computer programs read that as two separate entities. This effectively halves your reach. So if in one directory, you list your hospital’s address as 123 N. 8th Ave. and 123 North Eighth Avenue in another, search engines won’t recognize it as the same organization and will essentially make the two entries compete with one another.

Avoid errors and inconsistencies by keeping a log of your web directory entries and updating as necessary. And check your listings often. Some directories allow users to modify your company info or use algorithms that automatically update info it believes to be true.

Top Directories to List Your Hospital on Now

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of online directory listings. You can’t possibly submit information to each individual web directory. Thankfully, there are some shortcuts.

The easiest way to update your directory listings is to use a paid service, such as Moz Local or Yext, to manage these for you. But if you don’t have the budget and need to handle listings in-house, we suggest you start with the directories listed below. (Note: We have not included social media accounts in our list, but you should have profiles with consistent contact information on all the major social media engines including Facebook and YouTube).

Check these obvious sites first for accuracy and consistency:

  • Google My Business
  • Bing (Bing is particularly important for seniors because the browser comes pre-loaded on many computers and seniors may not change it)
  • Yelp

Then these three top healthcare specific directories:

And if you still have time (and energy), grab these listings:

  • Yahoo Local (Unfortunately, Yahoo has chosen to team up with Yext, which requires you to pay for a listing. But you can get a free listing through its Localworks for small businesses, which allows you to put in multiple locations.)
  • Best of the Web (BOTW)
  • Yellow Pages

There are tons more to choose from, and the more directories you’re listed in, the more visibility you’ll have. But you’ll also need to consider resource management, as entering listings can be time intensive. If you have the time to tackle more directories, check out Vendasta’s list of top 100 online directories. If you click on the directory in the list, it will give you a short description with a direct link to that directory.

However you decide to proceed, make listing your hospital with the top web directories a priority. Your competitors do.

TotalCom Marketing 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 how we can help you tell your brand story.

Confident diverse female healthcare professionals speak at a health seminar

Meet New Patients with Event Marketing for Hospitals

The best-performing hospitals from a marketing standpoint are hospitals that are active parts of their communities. That doesn’t just mean donating to the local park and recreation league or hosting a fundraiser. It also means getting out into the community through event marketing.

Event marketing involves taking your brand off campus to reach people where they are. It could be something as simple as having a table at a job fair or something more involved like hosting a charity event.

An event can be anything that takes place outside of the hospital that involves the public. (You can even host events inside the hospital, which is a good idea, but for this post we’ll focus on off-campus events.)

Here are a few great ideas for how you can get involved with the public in a positive way.

Host Health Classes and Seminars

People need to know more about their health, and hospitals have a duty to supply that information to their community.

Sharing health-related knowledge is a great way to meet new potential patients and convince them that your team is a trusted authority on whom they can rely whenever they need care.

Talk to local universities and community colleges. Work with local libraries. Find places where the public will be, so you can host a class, a series of classes, or just a talk. Plenty of community programs would love to hear from you.

Mature Caucasain brunette woman is smiling while walking in charity marathon race event. She is wearing pink athletic clothing and a breast cancer awareness ribbon. Diverse teams of people are walking behind her to raise money for breast cancer research

Give Back through Fundraisers

You can build strong partnerships with local nonprofits by helping them raise money. You can use your existing networks and your marketing program to raise awareness of the fundraiser and even contribute to hosting an event – such as a dinner, a 5K, or a chili cook off – for the nonprofit.

It’s a win not just for the nonprofit, but for your hospital and the community you serve. And it’s a great way to raise awareness for both your hospital and a good cause.

Go to Local Events with a Booth

All through the year, your area probably has tons of events, ranging from fairs and festivals to concerts, holiday celebrations, and other occasions.

Create a booth, load up on giveaways, get a great prize for a raffle, and show up for these events. It’s a great way to get the word out about your hospital in a friendly way. Attract people to your booth by offering giveaways like t-shirts, cups, lanyards, and other creative items, and get people to sign up for a raffle to win a nice prize. (This is a great way to get their email addresses, too!)

Event marketing for hospitals can be powerful. Get out into the community; you’ll extend your reach and get fantastic word of mouth exposure.

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 or view our previous work to see how we have helped tell our clients’ stories.

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.