Depending on whom you ask, you will get different definitions around the word “marketing”. To Merriam Webster, marketing is “the the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” Your 13-year old nieces and nephews may be more familiar with marketing in the form of branded content being pushed towards them on social media. To your website team, it may be all about SEO. While these definitions and executions are all extremely impactful, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to prioritize your team’s resources.
Marketing for urgent care centers
Marketing for urgent care centers involves all of the tactics you use to bring patients into your clinic. Urgent care marketing includes your brick-and-mortar business (your front doors!), any out-of-home marketing tactics, and your digital footprint—your website, Google My Business profile, and anywhere else your brand shows up for patients searching for care on the internet.
Target market for urgent care
What’s specific to urgent care marketing is your target audience or who you want to attract into your clinics—a crucial thing to understand when you’re pulling together your marketing strategy. The target market for urgent care brands includes families with active lifestyles (who incur episodic injuries) who have employer-provided insurance. They place a premium on convenience and understand the cost difference in emergency room versus urgent care.
Urgent care clinic marketing
The biggest piece of urgent care clinic marketing is choosing the correct location for your clinic. Traditional urgent care marketing also includes out of home touches like billboards, refrigerator magnets, and print advertising.
As the digital transformation continues, most urgent care locations have websites, Google My Business profiles, and are doing digital marketing. 70% of patients start their search for care online, so if you’re not leveraging the internet to acquire patients you could be missing out—especially if your competitors are taking their marketing strategy online.
How to analyze your urgent care marketing spend
When you're analyzing the success of your urgent care marketing, you should be looking at two metrics: cost of acquisition (of a patient)(CAC) and lifetime value (LTV). CAC will paint a picture of how much marketing spend brings you a new patient, and LTV tells the story of the return on investment of your marketing dollars.
When an urgent care spends marketing dollars to attract new patients, you need to know if you have spent the right amount to optimize for volume. To measure this effectively, you need to know what the customer acquisition cost (CAC) is and how much money—over the lifetime of the patient—we can expect them to spend in the clinic. In urgent care, a good LTV from a visit perspective is 4 years, or a 25% loss per year.
Definitions & Context
How much money should my clinic spend on marketing?
Let’s walk through an example: Let’s say an urgent care company spends $10,000 to acquire 1,000 new patients. Their net revenue per visit is $150, and the cost to treat is $100 per patient. The clinic retains 75% of their patients each year:
- Patient contribution margin = $50
- LTV = $50 / (1-75%) = $200
- CAC = $10,000 / 1,000 = $10
- LTV/CAC = $200/$10 = 20X
So in this example, this clinic needs to spend a lot more money on marketing, because they’re getting 20x return. When they get closer to 2x, that’s when they would know to slow down the spend.
3 types of urgent care marketing: owned, earned, and paid media
It can be easy to feel lost or overwhelmed at all the different opportunities for marketing. You’ve probably heard of (or may already be doing) things like direct mail, social media, or influencer marketing. You may even have somebody at the clinic who wants to start up a TikTok account.
But which of these channels will actually generate a return on investment for your clinic? Marketing can be broken down into three separate buckets: paid, owned, and earned media. Here’s what that means:
Think about anything that you control digitally. This is called owned media. Examples of your owned media include your website, your Solv listing, and your social media channels. Owned media is a powerful channel because you have much more control over it (and don’t have to spend any money) but it can have less reach.
This is something that your business pays for. In traditional advertising, it might be television ads, billboards, etc. In digital marketing, it might be ads on Facebook or Google, or influencer marketing where you pay for a post.
Paid ads can drive almost-immediate results. They can also scale well; increase the ad spend budget, and increase your conversions
However, you need a budget to make this work, which will reduce your profits. It can also be complicated to run, which may require you to partner with a marketing agency or consultant. It’s tricky to set a dollar amount for paid media if you’re not already advertising. It will also depend heavily on your location and competition. If you’re in a region with many other clinics, all bidding on the same PPC keywords, you may have to allocate more budget to see results.
Pay-per-click (PPC) and Display ads for urgent care
- In these ads (mostly on Facebook and Google) your business will pay per click. As an example, if you run an advertising campaign on Facebook, you might pay $10 per click. That means every time a user clicks on your ad to go to your website, Facebook will charge you $10.
- Another common example of PPC ads is on search engines. If you Google a phrase or a product, you’ll see PPC ads at the top of the search result page.
- Display ads are like virtual billboards. Ad banners appear on many sites around the internet. These can be pay-per-click or pay-per-impression.
Have you earned any press for your clinic? Have patients left your clinic reviews? Earned media includes all the places where you’ve earned feedback from others—they’re talking about you.
Word-of-mouth carries extremely high credibility. Earned media is the same. When other people talk about you, your audience may take that message with more trust than if it had come from you directly. However, it’s not always easy (or inside your control) to create earned media.
If you have a reputation management system in place, you are well on your way to expanding your earned media. You should let patients leave star ratings and reviews on Google and on Solv to increase digital word-of-mouth marketing of your clinic.
How do you market your urgent care clinics?
To market your urgent care clinic effectively, you need to combine your earned, owned, and paid media into one marketing strategy. You need a website in order to compete digitally with other locations in your community.
Creating an online presence gives you a place to point patients to online—in 2022, it’s table stakes. When you make your online presence bookable, you start turning online searches for your clinic into actual patient acquisition.
Claim your location on Solv (it’s free!) to add another layer of bookable places for patients to find you online. Add in reputation management to your patient experience workflow to create an online presence and word-of-mouth marketing for your clinic (Google reviews also make a huge impact on your website’s SEO!)
5 urgent care marketing ideas
Let’s start with things you can add to your urgent care clinic’s business plan to increase its web presence and community engagement. There are five marketing tactics that will specifically help your clinic increase web traffic, community engagement, and all around profit.
Build a Good Website
Your patients are finding healthcare providers online. That’s a given. In fact, Solv’s consumer research shows a 77% preference for online booking among patients.
Your website will be the first impression that your potential patients have of you. You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars building a brand new website but you should make sure that what you build is modern, easy to navigate, and features great content.
Follow the checklist below to make sure that you have addressed these non-negotiable website features:
- Patients can easily find my clinic’s location
- Patients can easily find my clinic’s hours
- My contact information is clear, available, and correct
- The services we do and do not provide are clear
- The insurance and payment types we accept are clear
We’ve found that 70% of patients who want to book with an urgent care on Solv are on their mobile device—so a majority of your patient population is probably looking at your website on their phone (not a desktop). Make sure your site is optimized for mobile!
Make Sure People Can Find Your Website
Once you build or update your website, you need to think about how you will navigate consumers to your content and site.
For patients to find you easily, you need to be ranked on Google. Don’t worry about getting ranked for every term. Instead, focus on the simple, intuitive keywords that patients will search. For example, imagine you needed an appointment, what would you search? (*Hint*: e.g. urgent care in “[city]”, “[city]” walk-in clinic, etc.).
Assuming your website was built with searches in mind and you follow a basic checklist for getting found in local searches, you’ll see your clinic climb in the rankings. Remember, it does take time, tinkering, and persistence across your website, content, social media, and directory sites.
Use Online Local Directory Sites
Yes, there are dozens of sites like Yelp and YellowPages out there. There are even a handful that focus specifically on finding and sending people to an urgent care near them.
You may not think you need these sites, but the reality of the matter is that your patients use these sites. There is a simple understanding in marketing: go where your customers live and don’t wait for them to find you.
Intelligently participating in local directory sites means that all the information they have on you (and, yes, they have information on you) is accurate and represents your practice well. Of course, you can amplify your participation through paid advertising, on-site and off-site promotion, enhanced listings, etc. But cover the basics first, and go from there. You’ll probably even get a heavily valued inbound link to your website!
Market your urgent care for free on Solv
Check to see if you already have a business page on Solv and make sure that your information is correct and a high resolution image is associated with your clinic locations.
Engage in Social Media
Social media is an umbrella term for what used to be referred to as “public relations.” Today it is social media, blogger outreach, influencer relations, community education and awareness, and much more.
Simply put, public relations comes into play anytime you are engaging with the public or with people who have access to large numbers of people. Social media gives you an opportunity to tell your story in a way that is memorable and relatable to the patients who are choosing your clinics over a myriad of alternative and seemingly similar options.
What kind of things could you talk to your prospective patients about?
- Your usual wait time
- A feature about a staff member
- That you are having a flu shot promotion
Network With Other Businesses
Urgent care centers are local businesses, and local businesses network together. They do so at chamber of commerce events, grand openings, and many other organized and unconventional forums. You need to be active in these.
Maybe you have a business development person to handle these, but most often it is going to be the physician entrepreneur that takes on these activities. Consider going door-to-door to local businesses, as well. Bring brochures, magnets, first aid kits, break room posters, or any other durable, branded items that articulate who you are, why you exist and how to contact and visit you.
With any luck, this networking will result in not only employers directing their employees to you for urgent care, occupational medicine, and workers’ comp, but it may also result in a few on-site flu shot sessions or health screenings for their employees.
These are just a sampling of the highly effective marketing strategies for urgent care clinics.