It’s no surprise that word-of-mouth marketing is the most valuable form of marketing that your practice can utilize. People trust the opinions of friends and family when it comes to making purchasing decisions, especially when those decisions impact their overall health and wellness. If your practice has an active referral program in place, then you are already aware of the power of patient referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.
As the marketing landscape changes and digital marketing continues to grow, businesses now have a space to encourage conversations between current and potential patients: online review sites. Platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Google+ provide a space where consumers can post reviews of the service they experienced or product they purchased. We are at the crossroads where traditional WOM marketing practices meet new digital marketing opportunities.
Why do online review sites matter?
Think about your own decision-making experiences. When is the last time you went to a new restaurant or purchased an item online without looking at the reviews first? A reported 92% of consumers are reading online reviews prior to making purchasing decisions. With the power of the Internet, research is easier than ever and people want to make sure they are fully educated about a business’ goods and services before making any financial commitments. When it comes to healthcare industries, people want to trust their health to the best professionals with the highest recommendations.
Having positive reviews helps build credibility for your practice name – in more ways than one! Patients searching the Internet for hearing providers will often compare one practice to another based on the number of positive reviews, their star rating or their overall score, depending on which site they are looking at. Having a higher rating than other experts in your area can give you the competitive edge needed to generate more leads for your practice, and convert prospects into patients.
From an SEO standpoint, online review sites are excellent for increasing your practice’s rankings on search engine results. For each review left by a patient, your practice becomes more “relevant” and has more perceived “authority” – two criteria essential to boosting SEO rankings.
What about negative reviews?
Some practices are hesitant to work with review sites out of fear of negative feedback from patients. Instead of looking at a poor review as a deterrence, your practice should see them as an opportunity to handle any patient issues head-on and grow from that negative feedback. Make sure you are responding to any negative reviews to try and solve the problem for the patient. When other viewers see that you are taking the initiative to help a patient who had an unsavory experience, they are more likely to remember the positive customer service provided instead of the negative review.
Consider negative feedback as a training tool for your staff – there’s always room for improvement!
Where do I start?
If your practice hasn’t had any previous experience in online reviews, the best places to start are Yelp, Facebook, and Google+. For hearing professionals, Healthy Hearing is another platform that is great for encouraging reviews. Remember, it is one thing to be listed on online review sites, but you will also need to make sure your practice is actively asking patients for reviews.