At the end of reading this article, you’ll be ready to start a plastic surgery marketing plan.
We’re going to go over:
Before I begin, here’s an infographic that summarizes well the concept of inbound marketing:
Because plastic surgeons, unlike other fields of medical practitioners, don’t get referrals from insurance companies, and so obviously you need to market yourself. But there’s a double-edged sword: advertising can be seen as beneath the dignity of a medical practitioner. “If he’s so good, why does he need to advertise?”
What is Inbound Marketing?
For the above reason, doctors don’t like to be on billboards. Doctors don’t like to be on bus station benches with their face and their phone number. Doctors don’t like local TV ads. It can come off as low-rate.
These are all the traditional types of marketing (known as outbound marketing) that are usually available to small businesses (which most plastic surgeons are), but they don’t really jibe with the type of brand that most surgeons want to create for themselves — that of a highly regarded professional expert. This is a common problem.
The solution: internet-based inbound marketing. Begging the question: what is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the opposite of outbound marketing, for starters. Outbound marketing is interruptive — trying to reach people where they are and interrupting their day, conveying their message about your services, and then hoping that a connection was made with a statistically significant percentage of people that you’ve communicated with.
For example: if you broadcast a TV commercial to 100,000 people are watching, and you get 0.5% of that, you’re going to get roughly 500 people, right? So that’s one way of marketing, and it’s been used in one way or another since marketing began.
Inbound marketing refers to the art of being where people are looking for you.
It’s also known as permission marketing because implicit permission is given to the business to market to the consumer. If I search for ‘plastic surgeon near me’, I am giving you permission to market to me via a search engine.
What you’re saying is, “Okay, I’m looking for these services, tell me about yourself.” That can come in the form of email newsletters, search engine marketing, or social media marketing, which falls under the broader category of content marketing.
Let’s look at each one individually. Search engine marketing is the umbrella under which pay-per-click advertising falls and search engine optimization, which is largely what we do.
2. Email Marketing
The first step in proper email marketing is creating an email list. There are those who still purchase email lists of prospective clients and email them ‘cold’, but this is a less effective technique and really belongs in the category of ‘outbound marketing’.
The more effective inbound technique requires that you obtain permission to email people, by having them opt-in. This can be done by:
– Opt-In form on your website
– Email collection in your practice
– PPC Ads that send browsers to an opt-in page
Emailing prospective clients or prior clients is a great way to let them know of new services or products that your clinic now has available.
New filler? Email your list! New laser resurfacing machine? Email your list! Are you having a big event? Email your list!
If you’re trying to build up an email list, you want to have it as direct as possible, just one big contact form on the page. Click here to fill in, and then when you click, maybe it’ll send you to the website itself, but you’ve had a focus for that.
I think that having dedicated landing pages is an excellent idea, but if you’re doing something for a service, it’s okay to use your landing page, or use your service page as your landing page, provided that it does work. And these are things that you want to check with data and numbers, and if you’re finding low conversion rates, then you might want to look into what to change.
This is why I love digital marketing so much! Unlike outbound marketing, in which you’re relegated to estimating the efficacy of your campaign, you know at what percentage it’s working, and you can gauge, “Is this a good percentage? Is this a bad percentage?” And from there, you can make better decisions.
Email marketing has the highest conversion rate percentage of any digital marketing technique. The secret is in the list. Make sure you are constantly increasing your list through creative methods, obtaining the permission of those who truly want to know new information about your practice.
PRO-TIP: Email Marketing Best Practices
How do you boost your opt-in percentage? Offer an incentive!
Plain-text emails get better open rates than emails with graphics!
Keep the amount of info you request TO A MINIMUM. Don’t ask for their blood type. 2 to 4 fields is the sweet spot.
Use search engine marketing to grow your email list! Send browsers to an opt-in page.
3. Search Engine Marketing = PPC + SEO
In order for your website to work as a lead generation tool, you’ve got to get people to your site. How?
Search engine marketing.
I’d like to briefly touch base on pay-per-click, and why I think that is a good option and things that you can do.
PPC for Leads
There are different types of ads these days. It’s not just Google Ads (formerly Adwords) or Yahoo; there’s also Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and some other social media.
Aside from growing one’s email list, you can use PPC campaigns to directly increase your lead generation. How does this work?
Most everyone understands PPC, so I’ll quickly summarize: you bid on keywords that relate to the service you provide and based on your bid, your ad appears, either in a search results page (like for Google Ads) or in a feed (like for Facebook). Each time someone clicks on your ad, you pay the cost of the bid. You’re essentially buying (or rather renting) good positions to be found in.
Google Ads: A Numbers Game
Keywords in the plastic surgery market are fairly expensive and above average. For example, if you bid on breast augmentation in a competitive market like Los Angeles, you’re talking about $15 a click.
So let’s do the math.
If a doctor decides to ‘test out the waters’ with an initial investment of $1000, that would amount to around $30 a day. Assume that your PPC specialist has made an efficient campaign, bringing the average cost per click (CPC) down to $5 a click (keeping in mind that the high-volume terms are usually most more costly).
$30 divided by $5 = 6 clicks a day. From this, you would expect about 5% of those who visit the site to contact you in some way (your conversion rate). At 6 clicks a day or 180 clicks a month, that would give you about 9 contacts a month.
Of these 9 contacts, we can assume once more a lead-to-conversion rate of 20%. This would result in about 1 to 2 new clients each month.
Depending on the services you’re advertising, you may actually lose money!
My advice: make a minimum investment of $3000 a month. The numbers work much more in your favor; in fact, the more you spend, the better your margins will be. Indeed, the most successful campaigns I’ve seen spent roughly $10,000 a month (there’s also evidence that Google “likes” campaigns that spend more money, and your campaign’s efficiency improves).
PRO-TIP: PPC Must-Dos!
Always have an excellent landing page that matches your ad
Use Ad Extensions!
A/B Test your ads — if an ad isn’t working, replace it!
FACEBOOK ADS & Other SM Advertising
Facebook ads allow you to directly target your demographic. This is the great thing about Facebook. Directly target your demographic, and with that, you can ‘cold call’, in a sense, but to a captive audience.
A quick aside: in marketing terms, the temperature refers to the connection you have established with them (cold = you don’t know them; hot = you do and well); the level of movement to the readiness that person is to obtain your services (a snail isn’t buying and a runner is).
If you run a Google Ads campaign, you’re going after a cold runner.
With Facebook, the audience is going to be in general a more captive audience than say the internet as a whole. So the prices come down considerably. Because these people aren’t ready to go, so you can broadcast your message to about two million people or so if you narrow down your demographic to say women between the ages of 25 and 45, for a much more affordable CPC.
You can get even narrower and pick income demographics, likes, dislikes, things that fit with your buyer persona.
That’s a term that I want to expand on a little bit. A buyer persona is the type of person who is likely to want your product. The better defined you have your buyer personas, the clear your message can be when creating marketing material and a strategy.
PRO-TIP: Create Buyer Personas
Create different fictional “people” that mirror the demographics
4. CONTENT MARKETING: The Secret to Great Visibility
I’m not going to define SEO or how to create a campaign (I’ve already done that!).
What I will do: discuss content marketing, one of the main pillars of SEO I discussed in my previous post.
Content marketing is simply creating content in order to expand your audience and to expand your visibility.
To reference my last post one more time, I explain how important obtaining backlinks is and the importance of links in establishing authority in the Google algorithm. This is still true. But a much larger portion of how Google decides upon which pages to show over the last five years, maybe a little more, has to do with the quality of the content.
What is considered quality content? This can be a little tricky because we’re not talking about writing, you know, Hemingway or Shakespeare here.
We’re talking about content that resonates with the intended searcher. In fact, in terms of quality of writing, it’s considered better quote-unquote SEO to write at a lower level of reading. You don’t want to be writing a college thesis, you really want to be writing something closer to like a diary. You want to write how you speak.
That is easier to read, especially for stuff like blog posts. It’s more easily digestible by a reader who could be on their phone. They could be in a distracted area when they’re reading.
A lot of times, people are just looking to get the general information. What helps with that can be scannability of a page. What does that mean? It means large headlines, small paragraphs, bullet points, broken up with images and graphs and other diagrams that help inform the written content.
The two most common types of content found on the websites of plastic surgeons: procedural descriptions and blog content.
Your procedure pages should have every single bit of information about your service that you can think of. You need to answer every potential question that you get. Often, people have separate sections of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
There’s no need to do this.
Modern SEO dictates that you want to have all that information on a single page, including before and after images. A searcher looking for information about breast augmentation wants to find the best information as easily as possible without having to jump around a bunch of pages.
In fact, content length is a signal to Google of quality, as it believed that short pages cannot be informative or authoritative on any important subject. And plastic surgeons are held to a higher standard. The last major algorithm update affected medical websites more than average sites, based on a Google concept known as “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL), which states:
There are some pages for which PQ is particularly important. We call these pages Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages. They are pages that can have an impact on your current or future well being (physical, financial, safety, etc.). YMYL pages should come from reputable websites and the content should be created with a high level of expertise and authority. (emphasis mine)
Clients will frequently say: “I don’t think that people are going to read all this.” The stats bear out that they do. People read long-form content with longer time on page and more interactivity when you write robustly about a subject (if you’ve made it this far, you’ve proved my point!).
This works fairly easily for procedure pages. But what about blogs?
Blog posts from businesses have been underutilized as a method for content marketing for years. Instead of writing interesting articles on topics that matter to both general audiences and peers alike, businesses have been content to publish perfunctory, low-quality posts based on bad advice from SEO companies.
Blogging for businesses, when I started in this industry, was seen as a very different enterprise. It was believed that frequency and proliferation of posts were correlated with good SEO and good traffic, that a site needed to be seen as active and publishing on a regular basis.
In 2018, this is not good SEO. This is seen as a wasteful enterprise. The point of view of Google is we don’t want to waste our resources indexing nonsense, useless pages. If we feel that you are creating useless pages, we are not going to … once we’ve spidered them, we’re not going to really check your site very often because we feel like this is just kind of what you’re doing.
We know what you’re doing. We know what you’re trying to do. We’re not going to reward that any longer. So you’re just wasting your time.
If this is you: stop! And start writing “power pages.”
What’s a power page? It’s a term coined by SEO expert Brian Dean, designed to engage readers and to attract links, social shares, and of course more traffic in order to increase your website’s value.
In practice, a power page is a deep investigation into a single subject with a lot of information about that subject (in the olden days, they called them monographs; in the not-so-olden days, white papers). They answer any and all questions an inquisitive searcher may have about a given topic, and it’s presented in a modern-device-friendly way.
Power pages work well in the form of lists. Think: “The 5 Most Mind-Blowing Facts About Mommy Makeovers.”
This technique may seem common or hackneyed, but the secret is to actually blow their minds.
Quality is the major factor for a power page. It should be useful, it should engage the reader, and it should be easily scannable for the modern reading device.
PRO-TIP: How To Punch Up Your Power Page
Use Infographics! The facts don’t lie (case study here).
Power Pages for Your Peers: The Way to Next-Level Your Link Building
There’s another way of doing content marketing, and this is much more SEO-minded. You create a power page, but you don’t create it for your intended client base. You create it for your industry. You create it for your peers. You create something of interest to authority figures in your field.
Now, why would you do this? Why would you want to put stuff like that on your website for your peers? The reasons: outreach and link building.
You’re creating content that you want people to link to. This can happen for the general audience as well, but in this case, you’re going after authoritative links. If I get a link from Susie’s health blog, that’s great! But it probably doesn’t help my authority very much.
Maybe people read Susie’s health blog. But I would really rather have a link from an august body such as the American Society of Plastic Surgery. If I wrote something that they thought was of interest that they would want other doctors to read, they might link to that because that’s their content. They need to publish content. They may say, “Hey, you know what? We found something of interest. Check this out.”
I know many plastic surgeons, and I know that they publish on a regular basis. They publish papers for medical journals and so on.
There are many doctors who are prolific writers and excellent scientists, and they have information that they share, something that I think is very admirable characteristic of the medical community.
However, rarely do I see this level of content production leveraged as a method for increasing one’s online visibility. It’s a missed opportunity!
What to Write
You can take one of your published ideas, running hypotheses, et cetera, and create something that may be a little bit less formal than a published paper. What that might be obviously depends on your comfort level — perhaps something that you would share at a cocktail party with other doctors that you think, “Hey, you know what? I think I stumbled upon something really interesting.”
Maybe it’s data-based and you can create an infographic. These do very well in terms of sharing (I’ll link to it again!). Perhaps it’s a video that you perform an operation. Perhaps it’s audio. Any type of content obviously qualifies as content.
Outreach: 21st Public Relations
Now, how do you get them to link to you? That’s an aspect of outreach — an aspect of digital public relations. This is a component of good content marketing.
You want to make a list of who in your field would potentially link to your website if you wrote something of interest. You then reach out and contact those people. Simple, right?
I recommend hiring, for a full-time position, a digital PR specialist (you can always hire us!). But short of that, you can get somebody in-house who would do that kind of work.
Next step: get them to link to your site.
What does that do? That increases your visibility because you’ve got sites that have high authority, in Google’s eyes, linking to you. So you must be somebody if they’re linking to you. That is an aspect of content marketing. I refer to it as digital PR. And that is something that can build up your visibility.
The corollary to the Power Page idea is that of writing guest posts. The idea is kind of the opposite, wherein you create content that you want to be published on other people’s blogs, to get your name out.
This, again, can be done for a general audience. And this is another aspect of digital PR. You reach out to bloggers and say: “Hey, you know, I think that your readership of health or beauty-minded people would be interested in what I have to write.” This is another way of not only expanding your outreach, getting expanding your brand awareness but also increasing your visibility via links.
So you’re creating content with the express purpose of getting links back. The writing needn’t be as intensive as say, a power page, but it’s another aspect of digital PR that you can then leverage to ultimately increase your visibility, because how does that work?
Once Google indexes more authoritative sites linking to you, your search traffic increases. Your keyword positions rise for the relevant terms on your website, and you get more traffic.
How the Pieces Fit Together
You’ve written your power page; you’ve reached out to others to link to it. You’ve published your guest blogs on other websites. Now what?
These power pages and these guest posts should be linked to the relevant page of your services on your website — again, your extensively described process of answering questions that people want to know about when they come to you for a service.
These pages then increase in visibility, and you get more traffic to those pages. Those pages should be written around a theme which relates to a high volume keyword, such as your rhinoplasty page. It should be optimized via basic SEO standards, and then linked to via your power page and/or your guest posts to your rhinoplasty page.
This increases the visibility, so you’ve got everything working. Provided that you’ve built this on a technically sound website, and you’ve optimized it for your location, for local SEO. You’ve got excellent content. You’ve got links, both to your domain and deep to these pages, so that increases the page authority, not only the domain authority, two different concepts.
And your overall content marketing strategy has now increased your visibility. It’s increased your traffic and hopefully increased your conversion rate optimization. This is gonna be the last point that I talk about, with respect to content marketing. If you have designed a detailed, well-written web page, the people that come onto these sites tend to convert more.
5. Audiovisual Content: The Last Piece in the Content Marketing Puzzle
Everyone knows that video marketing works. But few know why it works or how to do it well. In terms of videos that work in the aesthetic practitioner field, the type that I see that gets the most views are usually well edited before-and-after type work, and the procedures themselves.
Before and After Videos
The cameraperson meets somebody. There’s a quick interview period. That person says, “Hi, my name is Bob. I’m looking to get liposuction and I’m excited about the process.” Then you go meet the doctor.
You see what is going to happen. You see how the doctor looks at him. So what’s going on in the mind of the viewer is, “Here’s what is gonna happen to me when I walk in. I’m gonna get interviewed by the doctor. He’s gonna check out my body. He’s gonna tell me what my options are, and then I’m gonna go through a process.” Maybe you don’t really show the graphic aspect in this type of video; maybe you do. I’ve seen both types; I’ve seen both types work.
You show the after. You show what the person looks like, not just directly after, but six to eight weeks after, when they’re all healed, and their enthusiasm and how much they loved what they did. That’s a really good type of video. It does cost money. It does take time to plan.
The other type I mentioned is the actual surgery itself. This is almost like a documentary. You’re shooting the process itself, and these can be long. These don’t have to be edited. These can be 15 minutes. People want to know what’s gonna go on. Not everybody, but a lot of people do.
So those are two different types.
There is a third type, which is a short video of the surgeon explaining general questions. These can work. People do look at these and listen to these, but I find that they’re less effective than the other two, just from the numbers that I look at.
Video on your pages is an absolute must, especially your power pages and your procedure pages. You want to have some video on there, for different types of learners. Some people learn better through video.
In fact, for a power page, I think you might even give a quick two-minute summation of your power page and almost recap what you’re talking about on that page, as a way of sparking people’s interest, almost like a trailer for your power page.
The intent of these techniques and these types of content is to get people and to keep them on the page, sending those signals to Google that these are quality pages that people are interested in. Because really, that’s how Google assesses quality. It’s through these outward metrics.
There is evidence that they have internal metrics to gauge quality. I don’t really trust those, and I don’t know how they work. To be 100% frank, no one does. But they would have to be some sort of Flesch-Kincaid hybrid test of reading what you’re writing, and I think that it makes a lot more sense to try to get people to spend time on your site, engage in your website based on that. Those are signals of healthy content.
Before and after photos
You must have before and after photos all over your page. You should have video before and after videos. You should have all different types of before and afters, because that, more than anything, is what people visiting your site want to see. They want to see people who kind of looked like them before so that they can get an idea of what they may look like after. And they want to see the quality of your work. This is all highly important.
What’s the end goal of all of this? The end goal for plastic surgery marketing is to expand your sales funnel: increasing the number of people who can visit your site and become interested and enter that sales funnel. You want to capture as much of their information as possible to build up your email list for further marketing, with different newsletters, on specials, on things that you want to do that keep them in your universe. And then ultimately, you want to have information for closers, for people who want to know what they’re looking for.