June 7, 2021 | Net Health

4 min read

Is a Positive Online Presence Really Necessary for Physical Therapy Providers?

You don’t have to go far in today’s business climate to hear a barrage of digital marketing buzzwords about the quality of your online presence. Reputation management…Search Engine Optimization (SEO)…Business Citations…Revenue Funnels.

And while these words certainly sound important, here are the real questions. Is a positive online presence that encompasses these concepts really necessary for physical therapy providers? Or is traditional marketing enough to stay relevant?

First, Let’s Get On the Same Page

Before we can effectively answer this question, we need to define what an online presence is and how these concepts play into the big picture.

Our “online presence” refers to anything and everything on the internet that a potential patient can find about your company and services, whether that information is on a platform or medium you control or one controlled by a third party.

Some of the concepts that go into your online presence include:

  • Reputation Management – A concept that refers to the process of managing the quality and presence of your online reviews, generally on third-party sites like Google My Business, Yelp, etc.
  • Business Directories – These refer to your online directory listings. Consider these like the new-age Yellow Pages.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – This concept refers to a collection of strategies that can be used to help your website rank higher on the popular search engines like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, etc.
  • Lead Generation Funnels – A step-by-step process that maps out the road a customer takes from first hearing about your business to them becoming a paying patient.

So, Does Any of This Really Matter? Here’s What the Data Says

The best place to find a concrete answer to this question for those in the outpatient care setting is the data. Does data support the need for these concepts, or are there better uses of your time, money, and resources?

Here’s what you should know. In a 2020 data survey conducted by Sofwareadvice.com,1 the company found several key pieces of information:

  • 90% of respondents use online reviews in some capacity to evaluate healthcare providers.
  • 71% of respondents use online reviews as the first step in finding a new healthcare provider.
  • 43% of respondents said they’d go outside of their insurance network for a healthcare provider with favorable reviews.
  • A 2017 survey from the Professional Research Consultants (PRC) found that 72% of consumers use the internet to find healthcare information. This was an increase from the 2015 findings of 60%.
  • According to a recent BrightEdge Research study, 68% of all trackable online website traffic starts with a search engine.3
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as direct recommendations from friends, according to Inc.com.4
  • According to Zenith Media forecasting, digital advertising spending will overtake traditional television advertising for the first time in 2021.5

The answer is clear. Your online presence matters—a lot. The majority of patients now utilize the web to not only evaluate the quality of a provider they’ve heard about but as the very first step in finding a place to go. And a large majority of those patients are starting that process through a search engine.

If your online presence is existent, positive and outshines the competition, you’re positioned to continue taking market share and growing your business’s reach.

If you don’t feel like your online presence is quite there yet or as good as it should be, that’s okay. Your expertise is taking care of patients. Thankfully, there are some simple ways you and your team can begin leveraging this knowledge.

The Right Follow Up Questions

Here are some of the common follow-up questions and some additional helpful resources to continue your journey into taking your physical therapy practice to the next level.

How do we know if our online reputation is good or bad? Or if we even have one?

The first step in managing your company’s reputation is clearly defining where you’re at. If you’d like some help, we’d invite you to check out our free marketing audit that looks at over 80 different online directories and review sites with a dedicated focus on the healthcare industry.

Are there any strategies we can use to better manage our reputation?

Absolutely. A great next step to answer this question is to check out our blog titled 7 Rules of Reputation Management for Physical Therapy Marketing. The blog looks at things like benchmarking, accessibility, driving response rates, leveraging the right experiences, and more.

Revenue funnel? How do we know if we have one and if it’s effective?

One of the best ways to capitalize on the vast amount of business up for grabs online is through an effective revenue funnel. If you’d like to learn more about how to create and optimize your team’s funnel, take a minute and check out our free e-book Top 6 KPIs to Understand and Optimize Your Rehab Therapy Revenue Funnel.

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1. SoftwareAdvice.com, https://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/how-patients-use-online-reviews/, April 3, 2020.

2. Professional Research Consultants (PRC), https://prccustomresearch.com/what-is-important-to-healthcare-consumers/. May 5, 2017.

3. BrightEdge Research, https://videos.brightedge.com/research-report/BrightEdge_ChannelReport2019_FINAL.pdf, May 2021.

4. Inc.com, https://www.inc.com/craig-bloem/84-percent-of-people-trust-online-reviews-as-much-.html, 2017.

5. Zenith Media, http://www.zenithmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Healthcare-Adspend-Forecasts-2019-executive-summary.pdf,  August 9, 2019.

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