Word of mouth marketing drives $6 trillion of annual spending and is estimated to account for 13% of customer sales. Basically, it can make or break your healthcare business.
Word of mouth marketing in Healthcare is, at its heart, using happy patients to promote your business. The importance of investing in word of mouth marketing is to provide patients with such an incredible patient experience that they can’t help but share your services with everyone they know.
As human beings we are usually skeptical of spending our hard-earned money with new brands especially new healthcare providers that we no nothing about. This is why word of mouth marketing in healthcare is so important, because we also value the opinions of our family and friends -- and word of mouth marketing encourages patients to share their positive experience with them.
If done right, it may not even cost you a dime.
A truly happy patient will share their experience with the world without you even asking them to. Do you have that one business that you absolutely LOVE and would recommend to all of your friends and family if you could?
Effective word of mouth marketing also known as WOMM, should encourage that same emotional response with your patients. If your referral strategy doesn't currently have a word of mouth marketing strategy in place then here's why you should start.
The Advantage of Word of Mouth Marketing
in the Healthcare Industry:
You can Get More Patients while Spending less on Paid Ads
As unbelievable as that sounds it's incredibly true. Word of mouth marketing, (when done right) can almost eliminate the need to run as many paid ads.
How is that even remotely possible?
Well, consider this.
If your patients had an incredible experience at your business, chances are they will share stories online with their inner circle and that my friend is more valuable than any paid ad. A happy patient promoting your business on your behalf.
Just one recommendation from a happy patient can have a far greater impact than any sales-y paid ad. In fact, many best practices and healthcare marketing experts encourage organic word-of-mouth marketing over promotional content.
Plus, it costs five times more to acquire a new patient than keep a current one. So why not let your referral marketing work for itself? It saves you money in the long run and increases your patient retention.
I'd call that a win-win.
Word of mouth marketing in healthcare is becoming an increasingly essential part of your brand’s healthcare marketing strategy. Paid ads through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have become significantly more competitive, which is putting increasing pressure on your gross margins (when considering patient acquisition costs).
Consider cutting those costs by focusing your social media marketing efforts on alternative healthcare marketing tactics that save you more money like word of mouth marketing. HubSpot shows that 75% of people don’t believe the information place in ads, yet 90% trust suggestions from family and friends, and 70% trust customer reviews.
In other words... People trust friends, family (and even a stranger's!) opinions more than they trust your promotional ads.
In a world eager for more authenticity, can you blame them?
You can Increase Patient Loyalty & Trust in your Brand
Patients gained from word-of-mouth marketing convert much easier because they already have a level of trust and confidence in your healthcare business. Confidence has transferred to them from the patient who recommended you in the first place.
Patients who research your business online, might know nothing about your level of skill, commitment or company values and have to be convinced first. Their levels of ‘trust’ are lower and conversions are usually lower too. This is why it's important to invest in encouraging word-of-mouth marketing in your healthcare business.
A positive word of mouth healthcare marketing strategy keeps patients coming back to you again and again, AND encourages those happy patients to bring others to you as well. Suddenly you'll realize that you are increasingly attracting more patients who are all loyal to your brand.
Building a Healthcare Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy
Creating an epic experience for your patients is sometimes enough to get them talking about you and referring others -- but you need to move away from hoping that your patients tell their friends and family about you, to creating specific strategies that actively encourage them to refer you.
Here are some simple, actionable ideas to help you build a word of mouth marketing strategy that works:
1. Set up Word of Mouth Marketing Triggers
A word-of-mouth marketing trigger is that special thing that makes your business stand out from other businesses in the healthcare industry. Yes, I said 'that thing' but what I really mean, is your unique selling proposition, aka what makes you different from the competition? Is it your willingness to help the patient? Is it your expertise and results? Is it your stellar customer service?
Think about it and give your patients an experience that is so memorable they have to share it with someone else. Make it a positive patient experience worth talking about.
Another technique is to try using visual word-of-mouth marketing triggers that will encourage patients to screenshot, take photos of, repost online, or share with others -- for instance, jaw-dropping before and after results.
2. Encourage User-Generated Content.
User-Generated Content is content created by your patients on social media. For instance, if a patient shares a selfie of her experience at your business and tags you!
Content created and shared by your patients can be much more powerful, engaging, and valuable than your usual company posts and promotions.
According to Adweek, 85% of users find user-generated content to be more influential than a brand's own social media content.
Consider having a two-way conversation with your audience to encourage them to start talking about your medical practice on social media while endorsing and referring you to their friends and followers. If you're finding it difficult to increase engagement this way, try offering discounts for post shares or run a social media competition with your own custom hashtag.
3. Ask for Patient Reviews & Video Testimonials
88% of patients trust online reviews and video testimonials from other patients as much as they trust recommendations from people that they know and trust.
And 74% of patients identify word of mouth marketing as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions.
If your patients are truly happy with their experience, why not share that with the world?
You can take screenshots of patient reviews on google or create and share patient video testimonials online with your audience as well. Just consider these facts:
94% of patients use online reviews to evaluate healthcare providers. (Software Advice).
It only takes 1-6 online reviews for new patients to form an opinion about your business. A single bad review can also scare away prospective patients (RevLocal).
So feedback (word of mouth marketing) from your current patients is crucial. That means asking and displaying honest reviews of your patient's experience in as many places as possible – your website, business listings, and social media posts.
When you ask your patients for reviews and video testimonials you're indirectly asking them to share the word about your business. This can be seen as honest and vulnerable which allows more people to trust their feedback more than yours.
The great thing about patient reviews and videos testimonials is that this form of healthcare word of mouth marketing lives on for a very long time on your website, business listings or social media platforms.
The more patient testimonials and reviews you have, the better. The goal is to use patient feedback to encourage new patients to trust in you as well.
If you plan on filming patient testimonial videos on your own then check out this blog post with the 10 most effective interview trigger questions to ask your patients to get the most ideal response or just grab our free downloadable template below.
4. Create Word of Mouth Marketing Referral Campaigns
Offer strategic referral rewards to motivate happy patients into referring others to your healthcare business.
After all, your biggest fan and greatest promoter is a satisfied and happy patient.
So make sure to create patient referral campaigns that will encourage your patients to share their experience by rewarding them for achieving specific milestones. Patient referral campaigns are a smart way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing in healthcare.
Here are some ideas for referral reward campaigns:
Offer gift cards for referring friends
Offer friend & family discounts
5. Create a Positive Patient Experience
Creating a powerful, personalized, and positive patient experience around a high-quality service can lead to all sorts of awesome publicity both online and offline.
The reverse is true as well.
In other words, if you treat patients poorly or provide treatments and services that don't do what they're supposed to, then people will know and tell others to avoid making the same mistake that they did. Social media amplifies this negative experience by giving them a platform to share it on where they can influence not only their friends but also friends of friends and even strangers to steer clear of your business.
It’s impossible to create a positive patient experience if what you sell just isn’t worth talking about. and if your customer service is not catering to the needs of your patients.
So it's important that you invest in informing your staff about ways they can create a positive patient experience at your business so that your patients leave happy and want to share their experience with others. Feel free to check out this post on how to enhance your patient experience with 8 easy steps.
Word of Mouth Marketing in Healthcare is EVERYTHING
The success of a building a powerful word-of-mouth marketing strategy in the healthcare industry relies ultimately on having a great product or service and an incredible brand that people can get behind and want to support.
Make sure that you’re already creating a great patient experience because patients can walk away from brands over just one negative experience. It's more important than ever to create that amazing patient experience and to get all of your team members on board so that you are all working together to keep your patients happy.
Positive word of mouth marketing in healthcare means encouraging your patients to share positive experiences of your brand with others to encourage potentially new patients to trust your brand and feel more comfortable making purchases with you.
Do you need help putting these tips into action?
Our team of content strategists, content creators, and creative marketers would love to help. Book your free virtual consultation with us at any time.