Eight hundred percent. Let’s say that again: 800%. That’s the increase in search volume for the terms “telemedicine” and “telehealth” in just the last month. It shows remarkable growth.
This year has turned many industries on their heads. Some have reaped huge rewards. Some have tackled unprecedented struggles. Telemedicine, clearly, is in the first category.
The reason for this is obvious. People all over the United States are being encouraged not to visit physical medical practices in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. As a result, many people are making greater use of telemedicine services.
In recent weeks, some have begun suggesting that social distancing will need to be extended beyond the end of 2020, with one study from Harvard University even going as far as suggesting that some measures will need to be continued until 2022.
This is going to lead to a new normal, in terms of how people go about their daily lives.
Even after the end of social distancing, telemedicine is likely to remain the new normal, for good reason. It provides lots of advantages to both providers and patients, including:
- Lower chances of spreading infections among sick people
- Sick people are more comfortable at home, don’t have to travel
- Less space required for examination rooms, therefore less rent
- Coverage can be extended to people in rural and remote areas
How can your functional medicine practice capitalize on the surge in demand? It’s simple: marketing! Here are five steps to launching a successful marketing campaign for telemedicine.
Step 1. Identify the target market
One of the most critical elements in marketing is to identify your target audience. If you don’t know who you’re aiming your product or service at, you simply can’t target them. Knowing who you want to reach with your telemedicine service will influence how you market it.
For example, if you want to increase telemedicine bookings at your functional medicine practice from environmentally-minded millennials, you might point out that it reduces travel, thereby reducing vehicle emissions.
However, if you’re targeting those with young families, it may be more effective to mention how much less hassle it is to have a check-up in your own home, rather than convincing four rowdy children to get in the car and sit in a doctor’s waiting room.
A few simple questions can help define your target market:
- What is their demographic? Think about age, income, location. All of these affect people’s relationships with their medical practice.
- Where are they located? In rural areas, people may have less access to a doctor, while in busy cities people may want to avoid the hassle of travelling.
- What time of day do people want appointments? Telemedicine is a great way to extend your hours and reach people who can’t schedule appointments during the day.
Step 2. Make telemedicine easy to access
This part is vital to the success of any new technology. If it isn’t more convenient than the current options, people won’t take advantage of it. What does this mean in practice?
Simply put, it means making it as easy as possible for your pre-existing functional medicine patients to sign up for the online service, or even remove the need to sign up at all! (From personal experience, even the online appointment booking system at my practice took too much time to sign up for, so I never used it and just picked up the phone instead.)
If you make telemedicine easy, people will be more likely to use it.
This ease of access should also be clear in your marketing. If your ads take people directly to a quick sign-up process, or if you provide an easy sign-up from your website homepage, you’ll get more conversions. It also helps if you make it obvious that the sign-up process is quick and easy.
Step 3. Know the market demands
This step is closely linked to the previous two. The telemedicine service at your functional medicine practice will be most successful if you know what the needs of your target market are so that you can design it around what will work best for them and leverage their needs to make conversions.
For example, some of the most common reasons patients choose telemedicine include:
- Rural location
- Time constraints
Knowing why people are using your service allows you to create a marketing campaign around those factors. It’s like having a pet cat (bear with us for a second here). If you are trying to entice a cat, chasing it will just make it run away; however, if you have what the cat wants, it will come to you.
The cat represents your patients; if you want to get more patients using your functional medicine practice’s telemedicine service you need to provide it in a way that adds value to their lives. It summarizes the basic philosophy of inbound marketing (you can click here to read more).
Step 4. Integrate existing marketing
This one is kind of obvious, but using your existing marketing to show the benefits of your service is a winning strategy. Social media is a great way to distribute your functional medicine practice’s messaging cheaply and effectively. Utilizing multiple platforms also allows you to target different demographics, for example, Facebook tends to be used by older users, while Instagram tends to have more of a millennial user-base. You can learn how to optimize your social media here.
Another useful online tool which is really gaining prominence is Google My Business. This allows you to claim your Google Maps listing and allows you to post in the Business box that appears in people’s search results. It makes is really easy for people to find your services when they need you.
Finally, make sure your website is polished and up-to-date. This is where patients come already to find your contact details or make online appointments, so it’s an important tool to encourage people to take up telemedicine services instead of in-person appointments.
Step 5. Hire a marketing company!
If you really want to capitalize on the current surge in demand and gain market share for the future, it might be better to take advantage of the expertise a professional marketing team could bring. This will allow you to get information about your telemedicine service out there as quickly as possible, in a way that is sure to gain results.
If you own or run a functional medicine practice and would like to work with an expert partner to market your telemedicine service, give us a call. We have years of experience working in the field of health and wellness that we would love to share with you and your practice.