07/27/2015

Inbound Marketing for Physical Therapists: Part 4

Inbound Marketing Infrastructure

In an earlier installment of this series, we alluded to certain infrastructure requirements you'll need in order to launch your inbound marketing campaign. We'll elaborate on those requirements in this section.

First and foremost, you need a website. Your site will be the hub of your marketing efforts. It is the face of your business, and you should not go too far down the road with any marketing plan until your website "house" is in order.

This does not have to be a particularly expensive proposition. That said, it shouldn't be treated as an afterthought, either. How expensive and complex the task of getting your website in order has a lot to do with how comfortable you are with designing your own site. If you don't already own a site, there are countless, low-cost, do-it-yourself options on the web. We don't want to endorse any particular vendor or method, but a few simple web searches will give you dozens of options. If your budget allows, this might be the time to invest in some third-party help. We'd only caution you that many vendors will want to sell you additional services that may or may not be worth your investment.

The most important part of your website setup is that it accommodates at least the following three features:

  1. The ability to set up landing pages (see "Landing Pages" section later in this document) for your content
  2. The ability to host a blog
  3. The ability to post "calls to action" throughout your site that lead to your landing pages (more on this, later, too)

Let's dive a little further into these three requirements.

Landing pages

Landing pages are the fulcrum of the inbound marketing machine. Remember that great document you wrote, "10 Fall Prevention Tips That Could Save Your (or Your Loved One's) Life"? After a few hours worth of writing and revising (while you're at it, maybe throw some images and pull quotes in there), you finished it. It's filled with practical tips and easy-to-digest information about the type of exercises and precautions one can take to prevent falls, the very kind of advice and therapy you'd give one of your own patients who was a fall risk (see how that works?). Now you're ready to post this on your website so that people can find it, and find you.

But you don't just want to post it so that anyone can freely download it. That wouldn't do much for you, in terms of giving you leads for future patients. Instead, you need a landing page that forces the user to give you some information in exchange for downloading your free document. This is how you turn your content into business leads. When a person wants to download your fall prevention document, for example, perhaps you'd want to get from them:

  • Name and email address (and/or phone number)
  • Age
  • Main health concern (with a menu of choices or a box where they can describe their issue, if any)

You don't want to ask for too much, of course, lest you discourage them from downloading your content. Just ask for enough to give you an indication about whether or not this is someone with whom you should follow up.

The landing page infrastructure needs to be able to capture this information in a database that you can access (or, at the very least, needs to be set up to send you an email when someone has just filled out your form).

Let's say you've posted your fall prevention document on your landing page with the brief questionnaire. You check your database and see that three people have downloaded your document. Here's the information they posted prior to downloading:

  1. NAME: Sally Smith (ssmith@email.com); AGE: 55; MAIN HEALTH CONCERN: Fall prevention
  2. NAME: John Doe (jdoe@email.com); AGE: 25; MAIN HEALTH CONCERN: None
  3. NAME: Fred Jones (fjones@email.com); AGE: 48; MAIN HEALTH CONCERN: Elderly father - injuries from falls

At this point, you've accomplished a couple of interesting things—you've gotten three people interested enough in what you have to say that they not only visited your site but they also took the time to give you some of their personal information in order to access your content. You've also just created three possible leads for your practice.

What do you do next? This is where things get a little complicated, but these are good problems to have. What you do next requires a lot of trial and error, and there are many theories about what to do with the leads you've captured. You can spend countless hours on the internet reading about "sales funnels" and "lead nurturing" and you'll read a lot of (often contradictory) advice about the leads you've acquired and how best to handle them. Most agree that a certain amount of "cultivation" needs to happen at this point.

This process of cultivation ("lead nurturing," in industry parlance), is not unlike owning an orchard. It's hard to grow an apple—you don't rip the fruit off of the tree the second it shows up on the branch. It needs to be nurtured.

What's the marketing equivalent to "ripping the apple off of the tree" in this context? Let's just say you probably shouldn't look up Sally Smith's address and knock on her door. Perhaps the first thing you should do is to send each of your leads an email thanking them for downloading your guide and, gently, inviting them to get in touch with you if they have any further fall prevention questions or concerns. Perhaps Sally and Fred should be kept in a special database to send a follow-up email about the fall prevention seminar your holding next month. We don't know much about John. Maybe send him an email the next time you post some content and invite him to download it. Perhaps he'll give you more details the next time.

The most important thing is to experiment, then learn from your experiments and apply that knowledge to future efforts. For instance, take all of the responders who seem to be future patient candidates and try two different approaches: with half of them, follow-up their download with a specific solicitation ("Ms. Smith - thank you for downloading my fall prevention document. I would like to set up an appointment for a free consultation about how to put a fall prevention strategy in place for you or your loved one."); with the other half, try to cultivate the lead a little further (email them to acknowledge the download and invite any follow-up questions), then wait for responses before soliciting their business. Encourage interaction and build trust. Over time, you'll have enough of a track record to decide how to employ these tactics going forward. The idea is to maximize the conversion of prospects into patients, and to keep from turning good patient prospects off by being too aggressive.

Is this easy? Nope. Is it fun? It certainly can be. When you "unlock the code" and achieve some positive results, it's a satisfying and rewarding process.

Let's not paint any false pictures about what your first campaign will look like. You might get three people to download your article. You might get 300. Posting your article might result in a steady stream of leads you can barely keep up with, or it could produce a trickle that never materializes into a single new patient. Either way, you will have laid the foundation of a productive marketing plan that has a legitimate shot at bearing fruit further down the road.

Inbound Marketing for Physical Therapists
Inbound Marketing for Physical Therapists
A primer on marketing techniques anyone can use to build a physical therapy practice