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It's Not All About You

Studies point to patient experience as a powerful web marketing tool.
By: David Evans, PhD, MBA


Ask any aesthetic surgeon what the most important factor is in choosing a provider, and he or she will undoubtedly answer “extensive experience.”

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Place testimonials, before-and-after photos, and reviews on platforms outside your website. Every time you get a new testimonial or review, post it to social media and add it to your directory listing profiles on medical advice websites.

But if this is true, how come the newbie down the street is raking in the patients, procedures, and profits?

New data helps to explain the disconnect. Survey results recently published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal describe how prospective patients choose surgeons for breast augmentation, facelifts, and combined breast/abdominal surgery. Years in practice were not high on any list. Instead, testimonials and before-and-after photos were the two most important factors in choosing a surgeon. These factors received more than 30 percent of the “most important” vote in all three of the abovementioned surgical groups. Reputation of the surgeon (i.e., reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations) ranked third in all three groups with a vote of 18 percent, followed by pricing and then years in practice.

This data is consistent with Pew Research that found 52 percent of online healthcare information seekers want to learn about experiences from other patients when investigating a procedure and/or deciding on a doctor. In aesthetic surgery, the three key ways to do this are testimonials, before-and-after photos and reviews.

Make these findings work for you by:

  • Creating dedicated pages for testimonials and reviews, as well as a dedicated section for the photo gallery.
  • Ensuring that the before-and-after gallery is easy to access from every page, and easy to view and sort, particularly on mobile devices.
  • Mixing it up. Patients often want to learn about the experiences of people similar to themselves, so testimonials, reviews, and photos from a variety of patient age groups, weight ranges, ethnicities, and life experiences can be very beneficial.
  • Not focusing solely on your experience, years in practice, and/or board certification.These continue to be very important, but are not the primary pieces of information sought by consumers. These elements should be included on your website and other promotional materials, and discussed during the consultation process, but they will not get patients to your waiting room.
  • Spreading the wealth. Data from The Consumers’ Path to Healthcare Purchases Study from CareCredit show that prospective patients use information from search engines, medical advice websites, social sharing sites, and reviews to determine the final cut. Take advantage of this trend by placing testimonials, before-and-after photos, and reviews on platforms outside your website. Every time you get a new testimonial or review, post it to social media and add it to your directory listing profiles on medical advice websites. Keep in mind that Facebook and other social platforms have limitations on nudity, so breast augmentation or body contouring photos should not be used there.
  • Including patient experiences in your e-blasts.
  • Instituting an aggressive reviews strategy so that positive experiences from your patients show up on the predominant third-party reviews sites, like Yelp, Google, RateMDs, Healthgrades, and Vitals.

Giving prospective patients what they want is the best way to get them through your front door, and this is when your experience, years, and practice and board certification will wow them. [Mic drop]

David Evans, PhD, MBA, is the CEO of Ceatus Media Group, based in San Diego. He can be reached at devans@ceatus.com