Despite the impressive results physical therapists deliver in their procedures, the realm of social media marketing is still foreign to them. Most of them commit so many mistakes when connecting with patients, leading to poor retention, higher self-discharge rates, and overall decreased clinic productivity. Nathan Shields aims to help his colleagues level up their online marketing game by sitting down with the Founder of GoGoDone, Heather Chavin. Heather shares her experiences in helping physical therapists improve their marketing tactics by using email marketing to better connect with patients even through home exercise programs, creating and leveraging landing pages, and taking advantage of the huge influence of customer testimonials.
Listen to the podcast here:
Common Mistakes PT’s Make In Social Media And Email – And How To Fix Them With Heather Chavin, MA
Using Email And Social Media More Effectively
My guest is Heather Chavin. Heather, thanks for joining us. I appreciate it.
I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you, Nathan.
Heather did an article in Impact Magazine and I thought it was valuable information for us in terms of marketing and maybe thinking about how to use different aspects of marketing differently if you will. I wanted to bring Heather on and explain some of that to us because she’s worked with a number of physical therapists in the past. Although she’s not a physical therapist herself but has a ton of experience as the Founder and CEO of GoGoDone. She is a productivity coach and does contract social media marketing. We could use a lot of insight from someone outside of our profession. I don’t know about you, Heather, but we’re not notoriously known for our marketing skills in the physical therapy business. We could do a lot better.
I’m well aware of that.
I’m excited to have you on. I should note that you’re also a member of the PPS Administrators Network. It’s cool that you’ve worked with physical therapists in the past. You know a little bit about us and where we’re coming from, our faults are and what you would recommend we do instead. Thank you for coming on. I appreciate it. Tell us a little bit about your experience in the PT world and how it worked with marketing and your experience with physical therapy in the past.
I started with a continuing education organization, specifically for physical therapists in manual therapy. I ran the gamut and that’s where I started to meet my first actual PTs and drew a lot of PT owned practices, small independent clinics, and clinic chains. I worked there and it was my first foray into the PT industry. From there, I worked for a clinic chain and I worked with Outcomes with an Outcomes product. If you get somebody who’s not a PT, you’re thinking, “How do you feel about technology?” They put me in those roles, which were good for me. I worked both with outcomes with sales and marketing around those in both organizations. I’m doing some contract work and getting that social media machine up and running and humming all for PTs or continuing education organizations geared towards therapists.
The article specifically called A New, Better Way to Use Your Patient Emails talks about how we can leverage the email addresses that we have on file to improve our engagement, especially patient retention. Talk to us a little bit about that. Start from a beginner’s perspective for some of those who aren’t using those emails at all to do these things. What would you recommend? How would we best utilize those email addresses for those purposes?
Starting from the human perspective, which is an area that PTs need to revisit when they think about the home exercise program. This article was specifically about patient retention, and in a previous life as a mental health therapist, having worked with behavior change, having worked with marketing, having worked with PTs, and having worked with technology. You take one look at this, a PT with a home exercise program would come from this medical model and you think you’re giving them a prescription and that is not the case. How many times have we been told to exercise more? How many of us succeed with that. That’s always a terrible example for PTs who tend to exercise more than anybody else on the planet. If it was easy, we wouldn’t have an obesity problem.
We’re looking at behavior change, which is challenging. Even the field of mental health is good at getting you to want to be different but, what are the steps to take to be different? There’s great research out there if you want to look, especially around environmental design and willpower. Willpower will always run out. One of my favorite books is called Willpower Doesn’t Work by Benjamin Hardy. It’s focused on environmental design. A PT could read that book, get the gist of it and create an email sequence depending on their writing skills but they could work with another staff person in their office to create an email sequence that helps communicate some of these principles.
There are a couple of principles that are the most important. I love the paradigm of shifting from a prescription to an experiment when it comes to a home exercise program. Number one, a prescription is I’m in charge, I’m the expert, you are the receiver and you’re unengaged. This is not shared decision making. This is not the patient involved at all. This is me on high telling you what to do. Maybe we do it or maybe we don’t. We probably don’t. We’re hurting, “Why don’t I take a Percocet instead?” They don’t come back. When you move to an experimental model, the patient must be involved. They’re the one doing the experiment. You’re advising them on the experiment.
The most important thing that is involved in this experimental model is that failure is part of an experiment. When the patient goes home, they don’t do their exercises every day. It’s super easy. It’s an easy request. They don’t feel like a total jerk and they’re not afraid to come in full of shame and admit it or they come in and lie. Every PT has this story where it’s like, “I did a strength test.” They say stuff and then they do a strength test and I’m like, “They didn’t do anything.” Why aren’t we talking to each other? You’re not making it safe for them to tell you.
We have this out-of-date model because we think they’re non-compliant. Why don’t they care? You’ve asked them to do something astronomical. They’re already stressed out. I don’t know anybody who isn’t. If they’re seeing you, they’re in pain. Maybe they’ve had their body cut open and that could be a knee replacement or whatever it is. There’s so much going on and you’re asking them for this astronomical thing. You shift it into a shared decision making friendly model, which is this experimental model. You’re going to try something. Some of it’s going to work. Some of it’s not going to work. Maybe all of it doesn’t work. I need you to tell me. You’re putting them in charge of their own health, which we know for the long-term is more important. All those good things naturally come. Run it as an experiment. Let them know they’re trying things. Let them know failure is expected. This is a lot to say. This is where the emails come in.
You say, “We’re going to try something. These are some exercises that worked for others in the past. They may or may not work for you.” Is that what you’re talking about, that conversation? Instead of saying, “Here are your exercises.”
It’s like, “It’s important that you strengthen your glutes. Here are some ways we can do that.” Let’s start with shared decision making, “Here are some ways we can do that. Do any of these sounds like something you could do regularly at home, three times a week, seven times a week, two times a day?” You’re the practitioner. You know where you want them to get. Which one of these sounds like the best one to try first? We’re going to put this on your sheet. We’re going to put it on your printout, however, you send them their information for their home exercise program. You put it out there and say, “It’s hard to change a habit. We’re going to put you in our email system. You’re going to get some information on this. We’re going to do these email follow-ups,” which is what that whole article was about. It’s giving them a little email coach that goes with them and saying, “Try this. We’re not going to hit the nail on the head on the first go. We’re going to need to experiment with what’s going to work and what’s not going to work.”
You could go into all the behavioral change stuff. Pre-decide anything you can so they don’t have to make a decision at the moment. You could do implementation intentions for where they think they’re going to fall. What’s the most likely thing to get in the way? “My two-year-old has a tantrum every morning?” When your two-year-old has a tantrum every morning, what are you going to do? I’m going to ask my partner to take point on the days that I’m supposed to do my exercises and then I’ll take the off days. What’s going to happen when the two-year-old has a tantrum? They’re going to do that. All these little strategies, tactics and all of those things, you can get it from the books and you can get it from reflecting on it as an experiment to what you might do. Put those in an email campaign as reinforcement.
Anything you say to somebody in the clinic, on their first visit or their second visit, you’re the power person. You’re in your place of power, your clinic. I’m here, I’m the expert and I have all the power. The other person is scared and uncomfortable and is looking at social cues for how to not look like a jerk. They’re trying to be cool. It’s like a cocktail party. It’s like, “How do I behave here? This is a new environment for me.” There’s no retention. It’s the reason why we give it to them on paper or email them their home exercise.
Make sure that you tell them once, in person, with love and that connection. We’re building trust and follow it up with those emails that say, “It’s okay to fail. We expect it. You’re supposed to. We need this information. Please tell me when you come back in. Here are some strategies, the pre-planning on how you’re going to respond to the difficult things.” All these little pieces that they can get. Email is the most accessible but if you’re good with your iPhone or your Android and you want to put a little video together, I would recommend that modalities. Some people will prefer one over the other. They can click on a two-minute video that says, “This is what an implementation intention is.” Repetition is okay throughout the sequence. The most important paradigm shift is not a prescription, an experiment. We collaborate together on an experiment that must work for you and it’s okay to fail. We’re supposed to. That’s what experiments are.
I love that conversation that you have right off the bat. If physical therapists are going to implement this in their practice, they need to probably start role-playing it with the other providers or the technicians or the front desk. They get comfortable with what you’re talking about and recognizing that the people aren’t coming from a place of certainty but they’re trying to figure out their place in your clinic as you’re having that conversation. You want to make them feel as comfortable as possible.Failure is such a loaded word, even though it's the best way to learn and move forward. Click To Tweet
That’s why that repetition is important because half of their brain is like, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I safe?” It’s a new circumstance. The cognitive load is like, “How am I doing in this new environment? Am I doing the right thing?”
What I also like about having that conversation is projecting forward. What could be the hurdles to being successful with this home exercise program? At the moment, they’re going to sit there and say, “I can do these three times a day. That’s no problem. They only take two minutes. It’s no big deal.” Inevitably, three days later, they’re like, “I forgot to do any of those.” Projecting forward and saying, “What is it going to take for you to remember to do these every day? Do you have reminders on your phone?” This is where you get in the article specifically, it was like, “Expect some emails from us that are going to help you.”
You can imagine that simply telling them about this email drip campaign is going to increase the likelihood of them opening it up, to begin with. Also, be a supportive coach when you’re not there to guide them through their home exercise programs and what to expect, the possibility that they might fail, and what to do when they do. If you’re having concerns, note them down. Let them know that this is what’s happening and this is what could happen. we’re going to support you along the way in the form of this email drip campaign that you laid out.
Teach them and coach them along.
You laid out seven days’ worth of template campaign. Tell us a little bit about that.
It is step-by-step starting with making sure that they understand. It’s like, “It’s okay to fail.” Communicate what’s working and what’s not. I don’t use the word fail. What works and what doesn’t work? Failure is such a loaded word even though it’s the best way to learn and move forward. To do that, give them a little bit of information and encourage them to open up and have that open conversation with their physical therapist. A lot of times, that’s the sticky point. Nobody wants to come in and say, “I didn’t do it.”
When I worked for the Outcomes company, there’s this phenomenon I found in the data everywhere. There were maybe 1 or 2 clinics that were an exception and it’s in the patient satisfaction. They had multiple questions but two questions in particular. One was your NPS, your Net Promoter Score, which I’m sure your readers know. How likely are you to recommend this clinic to friends, family, colleagues? Off the charts, PTs are the best in the world at NPS. The next question is, how satisfied are you with your progress during treatment? Fifteen to twenty points lower across the board, across clinics, across the country, across size, across hospital outpatient, everywhere. I don’t know this for sure because we don’t have the data around it. This company didn’t have the data. We didn’t get to dig into that.
From my experience in mental health and behavioral health, it’s because they’re not doing their home program which they see is their fault and not your fault, “My PT is great. They have all the answers and they love me. I’m the jerk who can’t do two exercises six times a week. What’s wrong with me?” They put the blame on themselves. They can share the blame but if your job is wellness, which the PT industry is moving towards, behavioral health is a huge part of that. If you find somebody who has a disorder, that’s for mental health. If you find a human being trying to make a wellness change, if you want to be in wellness, that’s now under your belt. I challenge PTs everywhere in any rehab, it can be PTAs, it could be your aides, and somebody in there needs to be getting on this information because the patients aren’t happy. PT, as an industry, freaked out about how many people we could be helping who could use PT but we cannot retain the people we have.
The other statistic that floored me was the self-discharge rate. It’s 60% of people self-discharge, half of them early on and the other half towards the end. We’re not keeping the patients that come in. Don’t tell me about the 95%. Why don’t we work on that 5% that are in our door and not satisfied and not getting better or not as much as they could? There’s this huge gap. You don’t have to learn a ton. Learn some of those basics about behavioral health. You guys are doing it. You do it every day. Learn a little bit and implement it. Your patients will teach you far more than any book can. Read Benjamin Hardy to get you launched and then start doing it. You guys are doers. Go out there and do it. You’re brilliant. You’ll find the patterns. You’ll analyze it all. You’ll figure out what works and move forward with it. You have to start thinking that basic behavioral health is part of wellness and I need to learn it.
That’s great information. I’m with you. It’s because those patients fall off quickly, they’re not getting the results that we expect and the results they could get. It turns into, “Physical therapy didn’t work for me.” That gets pushed out into the environment and everyone around them. We don’t get the patients and the referrals that we should be getting and the message doesn’t come across that physical therapy works in general. It’s important.
This fits in marketing. Those patients you stay with for 10 or 11 visits and drift off because you don’t do an official discharge. There’s so much that people have at their fingertips and don’t use and the official discharge is one of the big ones. Speaking of environmental design, if I know this is the last time I’m going to see a patient, it’s going to cue a series of behaviors. If I think I may or may not see the patient, it’s not going to cue those behaviors. What behaviors are cue? Telling them they did a good job, telling them they’re successful, celebrating like crazy, taking their picture and putting it on your wall of success, asking for a testimonial. All these marketing, word of mouth activities get cued at an official discharge and not to mention the message, “You got better.” We have this, like, “Am I better? We’re not ending but maybe I make another appointment or maybe I don’t.”
The message is, “You are 100% better. If you have a flare-up, you come talk to me. If you decide you’re not better, and then come talk to me.” They’re oftentimes discharging patients before they get their full gain because they’re already on the path. You’re like, “You got this. You don’t need me anymore. I’m going to discharge you. You’re going to keep getting better over the next couple of months. If you have a flare-up, call me.” Get to that endpoint. Do your marketing asks and you send a message, “PT works. You got better.” They’re not even getting that message. They’re ending with like, “I’m better. I’m going to maybe make another appointment if I’m not better, which I’m not sure.” It’s like, “How is the patient?”
I had someone on and he talked about how they implemented in their clinics a policy that was part of the new patient intake paperwork that said, “In order for you to discharge, you have to show up in person.” You can’t call and say, “I’m done with physical therapy.” They have the choice not to come in. Our form of policy and what the front office and what the provider would say is if they call in and say, “I’m good with physical therapy.” Remind them, “Our policy is that if you’re going to self-discharge, we have to see you in person so that we can get that final report and all the measurements to the doctor and finalize your case and see exactly where we finished up.”
That goes back to whatever we can do to formalize that process and not miss out on the things that you’re talking about. Don’t let them self-discharge because that cues many things to wrap that up and say, “It works. We made this progress. Here is the objective measurement to show you as much and you’re subjectively better. Here’s your gift. Here’s your mug, your t-shirt.” All that stuff. It’s important to have that discharge. What’s the rate that you came across? I hear it’s about 15% of our profession that complete their full plan of care.
Somewhere between 15% and 20%.
That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars that are lost right there.
Think about the missed appointment. Think about your poor administrative staff, “I’m keeping these fifteen files open because they might come back.”
There’s so much lost productivity. The cool thing you talked about in your article is, “Day one is to positively reinforce their decision to engage in therapy. Day two, list common barriers and possible solutions to those barriers. This could be a single paragraph. Day three, positively reinforce their continued engagement even if it’s reading their emails and giving them suggestions of what to do if they’re struggling. Day four, provide another set of suggestions and short success stories for more social proof. Five, acknowledge the drip. That newness is wearing off and life is getting in the way. Give them tips for staying consistent. Day six, encourage reflection on what’s worked and what has been challenging. Day seven, congratulate them on making it for a whole week and remind them that even if they haven’t completed all the exercises, they’ve learned something about themselves.” These can be pre-written into an automatic drip campaign.Post something on your page and nobody would ever see it. Tag someone and then people would care. Click To Tweet
You’re not typing these one at a time.
They simply go and do a drip campaign and there’s plenty of software programs that can do this automatically for you.
A tip on that if you can, use personalization. Use their first name or maybe Mr. or Ms. or if they have a preference on that route. Depending on how it’s set up, sometimes you can do condition-specific or body parts specific or pain. You might have some campaigns that are specific if you’re specializing. If you’re specializing in pelvic health, make a special one for your pelvic health patients and funnel them through that because they’ll have some different considerations. Anytime you’re specializing in an area I would make a special campaign for those and make that personalization a little bit different.
You recommend that this not be the only drip campaign. As soon as discharge hits, there’s another drip campaign that’s going to go out maybe a month or two afterward. Tell us about that.
I would make sure that because you’re collecting emails, you need to stay in conversation with your patients. After they’ve left, I would do maybe a couple of emails to help facilitate word of mouth. People get obsessed with the knee and they’re like, “You do shoulders too.” That message needs to come out there as well. You can give them another thing and you give them a reminder that you guys are there when they have questions. They don’t even have to make an appointment. Maybe they can make a phone call. Make yourself accessible. You can also ask for a testimonial if they haven’t done a testimonial.
Google reviews at about this time as well.
Email because you got links and they can go straight there. Keep that in mind. It’s not extensive after they’re discharged but a couple of touches. I would say most generic rehab clinics who are in ortho patients would be emailing my entire list, potentially segmented into this type and that type depending on what’s going on or what kinds of patients you want to have in. Maybe quarterly putting something out there. It can be small and simple. PPS, Private Practice Section, has some great freebie stuff that you can use. They let you use it if you’re a member. They’ll give you an article. PT First has a lot of stuff. You want to make sure it’s of high value to the patients. They’re doing great stuff there. You put it in a newsletter. It’s a no brainer. You put a tickler on your calendar or assign it to somebody like, “Check this every two months. Get it ready for the third month and go.” You want a little bit.
If you’re branching into wellness, you need to look at more frequency because they could come in for a massage anytime. They should be coming to your Pilates classes on a weekly basis. You’re looking at a different cadence. The bulk of the clinics that I worked with were ortho patients. They weren’t following up. They weren’t saying, “Six months later.” You can if you have that level of sophistication. You could take all your lower back pain patients and put them in one bucket and make sure there’s a more focused campaign. It can get complicated. Even with a simple email system, a simple newsletter, one to everyone, make sure it’s short and sweet and has something of value, which PPS can provide, something personal. If somebody is pregnant and had their baby or what you dressed up like for Halloween is a popular one and stuff like that. It says, “We’re normal, safe, friendly human beings. We love you.”
A patient success story would be a great thing to put in there, especially on the target market. If you’re going after acute lower back pain, put in an acute lower back pain patient success story there. Anybody who has been near anybody or is somebody who has experienced lower back pain says, “Yeah.” They forward the email, they can give you a call or what have you. Knowing what your target market or markets are and making sure there’s a success story there. It’s three little bits. They don’t take a lot to do. It’s a cool picture from your clinic. It’s a thing you took from PPS and put a nice picture on and a success story from a patient, which hopefully you’re collecting on a regular basis or quarterly. It’s not rocket science.
If you take a day, you could set those up for the entire year. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
I don’t know if you want to make everybody dress up for Halloween and not on Halloween.
You could have the template in place. You could have the content all ready to go. All it is a matter of, “When that time comes that is supposed to go out, I need to insert this picture there and that picture there and a testimonial here.” I like the recommendation that you’re sending testimonials to past patients. I hadn’t considered that before.
They need to come back at some point. We have long lives. If you’re going to have your clinic open for a long time, they’ll need to come back for something. You saw them for the knee and they forget you did shoulders and their mom has a problem with their shoulder. In psych terms, it’s called priming. You prime them with this information so that when it happens and they cross that information in real life, they come back to you. Once I’ve sent you an article about acute lower back pain, you might not see anything for two weeks.
If I’ve sent that email to you and two weeks later it occurs to you, it’ll be a little tickle in the brain because I have primed you with that lower back pain success story. I put it in a story format with somebody’s face in there and you got emotionally connected to it and you felt good for them and you’re like, “I rocked it at PT too. I should be a success story,” which hopefully they are. They’re more likely to bring that up. That’s why you want to make sure you feature your target market. If your payor mix is too heavy on Medicare, don’t be putting the Medicare success story in there. You want to put the person with Blue Cross, Blue Shield, or whatever it is you want. Feature those so that’s on everybody’s mind as they’re moving through life.
You’ve worked with many physical therapists in the past, in different capacities. What are some of the issues that routinely pop up that bug you about a physical therapist and their marketing efforts?
There are two things, in particular, that are huge missed opportunities that I see everywhere. Number one, not knowing what to post on social media or posting random stuff on social media and not having a focused campaign or an idea of what your social media is. People are good at posting on their own Facebooks and their own Instagrams and all of that. It’s different when it’s business. You need to be thinking with your business mind. What’s this channel for? What do I want to say and who do I want to say it to?
You don’t probably want to cater to your Medicare patients or Medicaid or whatever is. You look at your payor mix. You look at your target market. You look and see who you want the most of. If you’re going after workers comp, what do you post on your Facebook? Does it have anything to do with workers comp? It’s like, “I post whatever is easy and convenient so I can check this thing off my overloaded to-do list.” The number one thing that any clinic can do is figure out who your target market or markets are and get testimonials. A lot of people do testimonials but your testimonial must be a picture or video. I highly recommend one of the care providers is in the picture, even if it’s an aide but especially if it’s the PT.
You must tag the patient. Make sure you get your legal in order. You have to have a process. Partner with your administrative staff and with all of your staff. This is a staff anything. What is our process for collecting a testimonial? Who asks when, where, and what? The PTs will have to get to official discharge, which will be an important part of this. Probably, the aide is going to do some, which care team looks like. Who’s going to talk to who? The front office staff is going to have the release and they’re going to make sure that the release is signed properly. Not only for pictures or videos if that’s the case. They’re going to gather the written testimony if there’s a written testimony. They’re going to help them write that written testimonial because the patient is like, “I don’t know what to say. It was great. Thanks, Bob.” It will prompt them. Make sure that they get permission to tag them on the social media outlet that you’re posting to.To build great content, always know who you are writing for. Click To Tweet
Everybody should have Facebook, it’s the biggest number still. Instagram is growing, it’s growing in younger markets. Who’s your target market? Where are they at? Everybody should be on Facebook based on the numbers and based on the PTs that I’ve seen. They know how to post there. You could post there and tag the patient and then it shows up in the patient’s feed. Guess what? All their friends see it and their mom, aunt, niece sees it, and whoever else sees it. Instead of a post on your page, which nobody ever sees because the algorithm is mean and it won’t show your stuff to anyone unless you pay it. You tag somebody and then people care. You have to get that. It has to be a picture. Otherwise, it’s a tiny text and nobody is insignificant on social media. Get your picture or video and you tag that person. You should tag the therapist and the aide and whoever else.
As many people as possible.
All the relevant people. If that’s all you use your Facebook for, it’s a radical improvement from what I’ve seen across the board. Also, put the Halloween pictures up, Susie’s new baby, Bob shaved his beard. Give it a personality. Those testimonials with tagged patients to the core on which you build your social media.
I love that you shared that. One simple thing is to tag the patients and your staff. How else are you going to promote these? No one’s going to your group page. You tag the people and that promotes it to all their friends and then all their friends. Adding a picture or a video gets higher open rates.
If you can have the PT comment on it and say, “Jane was the best patient ever. I’m excited for her to run her first 5K next month.” Make her a hero. Make the patient the hero and make the PT care enough. It’s like, “How nice is that? There’s somebody in her court pushing her.” It’s like, “I want to go to that PT.”
For people to get a release if they don’t have that social media release form, can you get one pulled off of Google?
I’m not a lawyer. I’m probably going to defer that question. That would be my first move, Google it and be like, “What’s on there?”
You didn’t say that.
That’s what I would do for myself. It’s not because I know what’s the right thing to do.
That’s one of your pet peeves. It’s like, “People aren’t posting relevant stuff on social media and tagging with pictures and video testimonials.” Number one, if you’re not doing any social media, at least do that. What’s number two?
I don’t know why somebody would go to PT school because they like people and bodies and face-to-face interaction and then think they can be a writer. You guys are not writers. A small subsection, if they would like to be writers, are probably writers or could be writers. If I say to you, after a long day, all your patients, you’re not even done with your case notes and I’m like, “Write me a blog article.” You’re like, “Are you kidding? Do I have to be on the computer?” No. I’m going to go home to my kid. I’m going to go train for my marathon. I’m going to do whatever. PTs do not want to be writers. It’s a nice fantasy that if you could wave a wand and be a great writer, you might do. It is a tough skill. There are billions of people out there already doing it well.
Here’s what you do instead. If you’re in the wellness industry, you probably need a blog. If you’re PTs doing generic ortho patients, instead of a blog, you have a couple of landing pages. A landing page is a static page on your website, although make it a little less static. It’s not like I have to do something every week or every month. It’s one beautiful page that you put extra time and energy into because you’re doing the one.
Let’s go back to that target market acute lower back pain. I have one page on my site that specializes in getting great knowledge that I want in the patient’s brain on acute lower back pain. You’ll have a little bit of the stuff in there. Within two weeks, you want to be talking to us, “Here’s what happens here.” All your genius. You don’t even have to write it. Somebody in your office is probably a better writer than you. Write it collaboratively or go to Upwork or Fiverr and they can have your crappy writing. That’s okay. Crappy writing is great. Crappy first draft and send that to them and they’ll do all the nerdy grammar stuff and the headings and subheadings and the search engine optimization stuff. They know how to structure it.
If somebody knows something about headings, subheadings, search engine optimization and grammar, they’ll do it all pretty and they’ll throw some pictures on there. Getting your own pictures of your own people in your own office would be best. Put that together and have a great acute lower back pain-landing page. Every so often, you’ve got to go back and refresh it. You’re probably reading the research or something’s come out and you go out and you put a tweak in there and not a rewrite. Whoever is managing your social media site can link to that page and they can link to that page all the time. You don’t want to do it five times a day, every day. You could do it once a week or you could do it every third week or something like that. They could take a piece of wisdom from that article and put it out there. You can have it on your page instead of blogging. If you’re going to put all the time and energy into making an issue about it, social media is a great way to do that.
After you have your testimonial situation in order and you’ve got that system set up, the next thing you want to do is a great landing page for one of your target markets and then have whoever’s doing social media on whatever cadence you feel is appropriate for you. I wouldn’t go more frequently than once a week. Once a month might be pretty good if you’re having multiple target markets. You could maybe do two. On Twitter, you can do as many as you want. Twitter is all about frequency and recency. For your Facebook, put a piece of that out there.
If it’s a short landing page, you don’t want to put a duplicate copy out there. With a longer landing page with different sections, you could do something and then you can cycle back through. There’s an 80/20 principle that applies to content. You should spend 20% of your time making the content and 80% of the time promoting it. The PT doesn’t have to do the promoting. When you think of a piece of content, how much time has been spent promoting it, and how much time has been spent creating it? Bait that great landing page and promote. You can promote it on social media. Maybe you put an excerpt from it in a newsletter.
Look at who you’re talking to and what you want to say to them and how you’re reaching them. Once you have that, then you do your second landing page. Have a collection of landing pages. Once you have enough, you put them in a little pull-down menu in your bar so that you’re not cluttering your navbar in your website. You have a little pull-down and specialties or something like that. You can have these more detailed pages. Once you have half a dozen landing pages, then you could do 2 or 3 times a week. You’re cycling through and taking different sections. You can do somewhat duplicate content if it’s six months to a year later. You could put the same part of that article six months from now. Refresh the pictures occasionally, whatever. Look at it as a nice piece of patient education that needs refreshing maybe every six months or a year. If you get a student come in, send them that page. Tell them, “What research have you been reading? What am I missing?”
“How do we need to update this? What would you change about it?” When I learned about landing pages in the past, it’s usually related to a Facebook Ad or a Google Ad or something like that. People come in and go to the landing page and you capture their information. Are you talking about the same thing here, you could have that capturing information at the bottom?Let go of the things that are not working well and learn from them. Click To Tweet
Yeah. I should get a little more specific about that. First of all, every page on your website should have a call to action that should bring people further into your sphere, whatever that looks like. You might want to capture an email if you’re doing regular update emails. You might want them to make a phone call, “Call us if you have lower back pain questions.” Free consultation if you do a free consultation on the phone, whatever it is. Those are a call to action. The reason I say landing page, even if it’s mostly geared towards patient information with that call to action at the bottom, is when you’re doing your website and putting it together. It’s a static page. I want people to think of it not as, “I’m going to do the blog and the blog is going to have six posts on it.” It’s not a blog. You could make it a generic static page on your website. Landing pages take away the top nav and all of that. Make it a static page, it doesn’t have to be an official landing page to try to get you to download.
eBook or something like that.
It doesn’t have to be that. It’s a static page, which you’ll update, but it’s not the sequential blog. Don’t turn on your blog. Do these pages that are patient information. If you want to make it a lead magnet to be able to get somebody’s email, you’ve got to have a lead for that. If I’m bringing somebody to my site for acute lower back pain and my call to action is to make a phone call, if you don’t put the call to action to be the email, that’s not going to solve their problem. It needs to be the phone call to help me with my lower back pain. If you have a regular series going out about lower back pain, then you can collect the email and then put that drip campaign that I talked about for the patients. You could do a series there.
If somebody is signing up for an email for that acute lower back pain, the clock’s ticking. You want to be talking to them right away, “If you have acute lower back pain, please call me right now. Here are some things to know about getting an intervention right now.” Maybe it’s chronic. Maybe you have a great resource. If you don’t have an email set up, don’t capture their email because they came to you for lower back pain. You wanted them to call you and to connect. You don’t have to be an official landing page as long as you know it’s not turning on your blog. It’s a nice page that stays there.
We got to do better on our social media posts, tagging patients, putting it out there frequently with pictures and testimonials. We got to set up some landing pages for our websites and refer people. You don’t have a landing page just to have a landing page. You start using that as a vehicle to get people to go to the landing page again. We got to the two issues that you have with physical therapists and their marketing. Is there anything else that you got to cover, that you got to get off your chest to a PT owner audience?
Those are my biggest soapboxes are behavior change and that experimental model and that patient retention. We think of marketing as a new patient. Retain your patient. Provide what you’re supposed to provide. You know how smart you are. You need them to benefit from all of that. They need to grow as well. You have that usage of social media and your newsletter and your landing pages and all of that. Remember the 80/20. Make a little bit of great content and don’t stop talking about it.
I love that 80/20 principle thrown in there because I worry so much about the content and once I have the content, I promote it once or twice and then I’m done. Your focus is to make content. Take it down into bite-sized pieces, find ways to promote after that, spend more energy doing that, and then generating the content.
You want to track your analytics if you can. I don’t want to bring up too many numbers or freak too many people out. There are some simple ways to track analytics. There’s a company called Databox.com and they do these dashboards. You can hook them up to your social media and be like, “Which posts are the most popular?” You can look at the performance of your post over time. You might have some dads out there. Nobody cares. It’s too nerdy. It’s like, “All the PTs are reading it and none of my patients are reading it. I went too nerdy on this.”
Some of them you let quietly sunset but you’ll have some that are more popular than others. Those ones, you update them and put, “For 2021,” in the title or those different things. It’s called evergreen content. To your best stuff, you can let stuff that’s not doing well go away and learn from it. The stuff that is doing well, that’s your core evergreen content. You can promote that. Continually update it so it’s nice and fresh and your call to action is appropriate. Promote the heck out of it for potentially years to come.
Seth Godin is one of my marketing gurus. He talks all the time about his blog and he says, “His most popular blog posts are never his most recent ones. They’re the ones that are coming up in search engine searches and being read again and again.” Seven years old or something. You’re an expert at the edge of your field. Many beginners are searching. They don’t need to be at that top 10%. They’re like, “Please get me from 20% to 30%. Please get me from 30% to 40%.” As physical therapists, you’re dealing with patients who maybe aren’t even living in their bodies, people that are disconnected. They don’t know the first thing about it. You don’t have to have the smartest thing out there.
When I talk about building great content, it’s great content for who you’re speaking to. You got to know who you’re writing it for. You’re writing it for your patients. You can reference the research at the bottom, in the footnote. If you’re that one nerd out of the 1,000 people who read this, I got you covered. That doesn’t go up top. It’s the stories and the love and the human connection and what a PT relationship is like with a patient and all of those great things. They’re starting probably from square one, maybe square two. You don’t have to have the most up-to-date research and all that. As much as it’s relevant, a fourteen-day piece would be an important up-to-date research piece to have. You got to think about who you’re talking to and they don’t need that top 10%. You’re getting them. You’re getting their training wheels off. That’s the goal.
Do you recommend that maybe before you post on social media you run it by your grandma or something like that, somebody who needs the bare minimum information?
Consumers’ feedback, absolutely. For the first couple on social media, if you’re concerned about it, the nice thing about social media is you can do it again and again and it disappears. Don’t put too many high stakes on that. Your landing page should go by grandma, mom, whoever the target market is. The more you can do that, the better. Doing social media posts is not a bad idea. Here’s your ROI. Is this bringing money into the clinic? Should I spend an hour doing it? A landing page, absolutely. Social media posts, you’ll learn from the interaction. Because they go out to the world, they should be able to give you feedback. If you’re not good at reading your Google Analytics, then it’s harder to get that information from your landing page.
It’s imperative nowadays. The way we marketed at the end of 2019, now we’re at the end of 2020, early 2021, even later, if people are reading this down the road, it’s different. Much of the staple was to go to the doctor’s office and generate that relationship so you can get referrals. We can’t physically go into doctors’ offices because of COVID concerns. There is a huge focus on generating new patient referrals through social media. It’s forcing the physical therapists’ hands, in most owners’ cases. We’re a couple of decades behind when it comes to this stuff. It makes us come up to speed and it’s imperative to get information from experts like you on exactly how to do that.
Not to rain on my own parade, at least from what I’ve seen, the number of referrals that you can generate from word of mouth on social media, you can’t give up physician referrals yet. It’s not there yet. PT as an industry needs to do better and be more visible to churn out. This is why I’m like, “Don’t have a blog. Have a landing page.” What’s your social media testimonial machine? Do the bare minimum and then build on what works. Unless you’re a specialized industry, we need some time for it to be a real huge revenue generator.
If people want to reach out to you, are you available? Are you willing to share your contact information if they want some more info?
Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I appreciate you being on. Especially considering the specific expertise, you have a physical therapist. What you shared with us was valuable beyond measure. I appreciate you helping us out.
You bet. My pleasure. You guys do such good work in the world. I want more.
We need to get the message out. We got to do it the right way, start tagging patients. Thanks, Heather. I appreciate it.
- Heather Chavin – LinkedIn
- PPS Administrators Network
- A New, Better Way to Use Your Patient Emails – Impact Magazine Article
- Willpower Doesn’t Work
About Heather Chavin
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