How to engage patients online without being pushy

Improving Patient Engagement on Your PT Website 

In marketing, there is a fine line between sending enough information and coming across as pushy. Consumers receive thousands of advertisements every day, so they’ve learned how to filter it and ignore the messages that they perceive as a nuisance.

People are even pickier about the marketing messages they choose to pay attention to when they’re online. Users close intrusive ads that interfere with their browsing experience without even glancing at the message.

Let’s be honest: we all know how annoying targeted ads can be if not done correctly, or how despised pop-up ads are when you’re trying to read an interesting article. In these cases, the ads fail to serve their purpose. Aggressive or annoying advertising won’t make prospects click on them. Quite the contrary – it’s a surefire way to make people tune out any further messages from your company.  

But, here’s the thing: if you want to grow your physical therapy clinic, you need to engage with current and prospective patients online. Too often, patients feel like they are just walking dollar signs to their doctors and not real people with needs, desires, and dreams. In this delicate context that connects to their health, engaging with your patients online should be thought of at a deeper level.

This article will talk about some of the most common mistakes that drive prospects away from your physical therapy clinic and what you should do when trying to engage with your patients.

Common Mistakes That Annoy Patients Online

Although they have the best intentions in mind, most PT clinics make the following mistakes when trying to engage with patients online. Read about them carefully and examine your strategy to ensure that you’re avoiding them.

  • Applying a Script to Your Communication

One of the most common mistakes is thinking that creating and applying a script indiscriminately to all your patients will streamline your communication efforts. In all honesty, there are instances when a formula can help you engage with your prospects effectively and turn them into loyal patients. But, don’t assume this trick can be a foolproof recipe for all the future interactions. Scripted communication is not a guarantee of success, especially if you are using it more than once and with the same audience. Patients will eventually get bored and feel neglected if they see that you are using the same tactics over and over again.

Not only that your patients will notice you’re using a script, but it will also make them feel like you don’t take them seriously. Understand that each patient has specific needs, motivations, and desires and they are expecting you to create personalized experiences. When you are addressing them with a rigid script, you might give away the impression that you are treating your patients as sales numbers and not real people.

  • Overloading Your Patients

As said in the beginning, it is easy to cross the line between rich content and annoying, pushy content. It is a balancing act to find that right amount of information that interests your prospects and enables you to engage them but without overloading them.  

Sometimes, being unsure about the right approach can make PT clinics use a lot of different strategies. Some get too overzealous and bombard their patients with daily newsletters, pop-up surveys, phone calls or new offers that distract them from the main purpose. Others only publish content or send newsletters every once in a blue moon, which again it’s not ideal.

Throwing different strategies blindly at the wall to see what sticks will make you lose more patients than get new ones.

  • Focusing on Sales Instead of the Actual Patients

It is understandable to wish for more patients since they are the blood of your physical therapy clinic. But don’t make the mistake of seeing them as a resource because this will drive them away quicker than you may think, leaving you with low chances of re-engaging them.

Quite often, PT clinic managers train their employees to sell and reward them when they bring in new patients. This approach will quickly turn into a contest of numbers and a wrongful prioritization of sales reports instead of focusing on solving your patients’ needs.

When you treat your patients as mere sales numbers, their reaction will range from annoyance to anger in most of the cases.

Sale-focused strategies have a big flaw: they focus on the immediate result. So, if one of your patients refuses a new offer one time, you might be tempted to insist and come up with a better offer on the spot or even criticize the patients for their unresponsiveness. Instead of promoting this aggressive, hard-sale approach, focus on creating a long-term relationship with your patients, and the rewards will come eventually.

What Strategies to Use Instead

If you recognized some of these common mistakes in your behavior, it is time to switch the approach and start applying more friendly types of engagement.

  • Ask for Feedback without Being Annoying

Feedback is a valuable way of finding out what your patients need, directly from the source. People are open to expressing their opinion and react to calls to action inviting them to leave feedback. But if you are too pushy, your invitation will most likely be ignored.

Choose your timing and tone wisely, and you will get your precious feedback. For example, it is not reasonable to add a pop-up survey to your page the second a visitor lands on it. Isn’t that counterproductive? The visitor did not have enough time to form an opinion, so your invitation will not only be useless, but it will create a bad image of your judgment.

Choose to show surveys and polls after your patient stays on the page for more than a certain amount of time. You can also introduce feedback collecting tools at the end of different processes, such as when making an appointment. Once your patient finishes the appointment, it is a great time to ask about their experience and how they would improve it.

  • Find out What Your Patients Truly Need and Focus on That

That should be the number one rule to take into consideration when trying to engage patients, online (or offline for that matter.) As shown above, when your priority is the sales report or the amount of money you earn, the patient will feel neglected and treated with disrespect.

Focusing on the needs of your patients will not only teach you what to emphasize in your future campaigns, but it saves time and effort in the long run. You will no longer have to play the guessing game and test various strategies because you already know where to insist. That is why feedbacks are so important: they are an excellent way to collect precious insights about your patients.

  • Invest in Great Customer Service

Training your staff to be supportive and friendly is one of the best ways to keep your patients happy. Creating an organizational culture that focuses on a friendly environment for your patients will show in all the details. If you show your patients that you truly care about their problems and take their requests seriously, they are more likely to return and bring their friends with them too.

For each level of interaction, make sure that your employees know what the most common problems are and how to solve them. Prepare them to meet your patients’ requests in a confident and friendly manner.

For the online experience, hire a department or a person that can respond in real-time to your prospects’ questions and requests. For example, having a live chat option on your website can be a huge advantage. It is a fast and efficient way of clearing any confusion your prospects may have. The service is there if needed and it doesn’t need aggressive pop-ups for visitors to notice it.

  • Create a Personalized, Multi-Channel Experience

Having more than one-way to reach people will expand your audience and patient base. Give your audience the chance to choose their preferred channel of communication. For example, some people prefer engaging on Facebook while others like to connect via telephone.

Make it simple for your prospects to get in touch with you but don’t be too pushy about it. Create valuable content for all platforms that are relevant to your physical therapy clinic and encourage your audience to connect with you if they need further information or assistance. Let them know that if they need anything, you are just a few clicks away. Then, let them decide if they want to engage with you or need your help.

  • Ask for Recommendations

Don’t underestimate the importance of the feedback you get on review sites. Studies have shown that online users trust reviews more than advertising messages. It doesn’t matter how hard you’re trying to promote your physical clinic as a state-of-the-art facility. If you ignore the negative comments you get on review sites or social media, prospects will think twice before choosing you.

Personal experiences are extremely valuable to prospects looking for a PT clinic. Encourage your existing patients to write reviews and give honest feedback about your physical therapy clinic. Organic, authentic reviews are very valuable, as they already show engagement between you and your patients.

Also, you can invite your existing patients to recommend your clinic to their friends, family, colleagues, etc. You can offer an incentive when someone brings a new patient, such as discounts or free consultations.

Conclusion

People like to interact with businesses online, but they want to do it on their own terms. The main takeaway is that if you want to build a long-term relationship with your patients, you need to learn what they need, what they want and how to provide the best experience for them. Then, with this information at hand, you can be certain that your engagement efforts will be fruitful.

If you’re having a difficult time finding the right nurturing strategies and growing your PT clinic, then PatientSites is here to help you. Get in touch with us, and together we will turn your business into a success.