Today’s Digital Medical Marketing – The New Age of Digital Referral Marketing

Traditional media channels are giving way to “personalized” digital channels that utilize keywords, digital communities and digital media in their provision of marketing messages. Prospective patients no longer simply refer to their yellow pages, newspapers or radio and network television in making their medical service purchases, rather they are relying on their online “friends” as referral sources and on targeted websites that have what they are searching for.

Looking for Dr. Goodbar online

No longer do prospective patients simply type in “Plastic Surgeon” in a search bar and expect a response full of irrelevant content unrelated to their query or location. Instead, both the searcher and the search engines have become more sophisticated. First, the searcher is using more “longtail” searches where the search phrase is made up 2 or more words, and sometimes for more than 5 words, in order to narrow their search results from the outset. Secondly, search engines are now employing a local bias to their results, which means that a searcher initiating a query from Tulsa, OK, will receive results that the search engine has classified as Tulsa related.

Today’s digital medical practice marketing must anticipate and respond to the specific keywords being utilized by their existing and prospective patients in search for their medical practices and expertise. For example, if your patient demographics utilize the phrase “breast enlargements”, you would be wise to optimize your digital presences in your website, Facebook Fan page, blog, Twitter account, etc. for exactly that search phrase. In this way search engines are expected to determine your online presences to be relevant to such a search phrase.

Choice of Digital Medical Marketing Media

Choosing the digital delivery channels through which to send your medical marketing messages should take into account the defining aspects of your target patient demographics. Is the medium of choice a Twitter Tweet? A Facebook post? A YouTube Video? It’s a good idea to find out where your patients and prospective patients are digitally, and then be there with them.

Of particular note is that the mobileweb is growing quicker than did the online web. Nowadays the bulk of the population are so interdependent on the information freedom offered by mobile devices that they are unlikely to leave home without their mobile phone. Advances in network speeds and device functionality permit rich media to be delivered on the mobile platform with depth and content equivalent to an online experience. Implications are that your patients and prospective patients will increasingly be digital, in their content consumption and their searches. The future of your medical marketing media channels will therefore be to optimize your digital assets to this new mobile frontier.

Your Patient Referral Community is Socially Networked

The new “word of mouth” referral is coming from today’s digital social networks. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, are communities amongst themselves. Specific groups, lists, locations, all function to integrate and concentrate individuals. The key benefit of these social networks and derived communities is that there is an infrastructure by which members can communicate and interact with each other. This is where you have to be. Referrals will increasingly be digitally based and leveraged to your benefit if you have a digital presence therein.

Defining Today’s Medical Marketing Outreach Strategy

Traditional ways of driving business to your doorstep are expected to become less and less effective in a world of digital fragmentation, where everyone has their own “personal channel”. This means that your medical marketing outreach strategy must appear to be near personal and yet have sufficient economies of scale as to be cost effective. This is today’s quandary. Solutions include repurposing of digital content from your website to social media channels, aggregation of outreach mechanisms to a central source, and simply putting in the effort necessary to socially interact with these new digital demographics.


It’s akin to a new language, a new frontier, but one that will pay dividends to those that can be found where and when these digital patients are searching. So have your medical practice marketing start to deliver engaging content through relevant media channels valued by your target patient demographics, and start filling your new patient funnel.