As patients grow increasingly concerned about the quality and cost of health care, they also are actively using the Internet to help them make health-related decisions. This includes choosing the right surgeon. Nearly one-third of the US population uses the Internet to obtain information about their health. Additionally, an estimated 50% of professional services-related decisions involve Internet research conducted by patients.1 These numbers are staggering because surgeons simply are not able to carry on using old marketing techniques. Furthermore, online advertising has become an increasingly powerful method of marketing. For example, results released by the Advertising Research Foundation as recently as 5 years ago revealed that online advertising increased marketing effectiveness for personal care items by as much as 42%. In addition, after a product or service is introduced via an advertising campaign, Internet advertising has been shown to be the most cost-effective method of increasing sales. Finally, research has shown that this method of advertising can increase people’s awareness of your marketing campaign by up to 300%.2,3 For this reason, professional health care organizations and physician groups should make maximum use of the Internet resources available to them.
They should use multiple forms of advertising—including radio, television, and Internet marketing. Effective use of these media can lead to a significantly increased market share compared with those who don’t make use of these tools.4,5 Developing an effective marketing plan involves much more than merely listing one’s practice on a Web site, however.
Unfortunately, many physicians follow outdated strategies for implementing practice Web sites. In their disappointment over an initial, failed foray into Internet marketing, they may revert to traditional forms of media advertising.
Successful firms that wish to launch a new advertising campaign usually do not design their own advertising campaigns. Rather, they hire marketing firms to help them develop successful strategies to attract new customers. Likewise, perceptive practices understand that effective, aggressive techniques that can increase Internet market share are essential for effective online advertising.