Marketing plans for any type of business tend to focus heavily on their websites for connecting with new patients. This makes perfect sense. Your website is the portal through which most qualified, prospective patients will travel. However, it’s always important to remember all the things that affect whether or not people wind up getting to your website. It’s not always your excellent web content or your smart keyword strategy; sometimes it’s as simple as what people are reading about your practice before they even see your website.
A positive patient experience is naturally something you strive for, and it’s that experience that needs to be appreciated in online reviews. Yet, a surprising number of behavioral health care centers don’t actively monitor what online reviews are saying about them. They also aren’t usually doing enough to get patients to give online reviews.
There’s no getting around the fact that reviewing businesses online is popular. Google and Yelp are two of the most popular venues, and people look to such reviews with even greater frequency since the onset of the pandemic. If you aren’t paying attention to online reviews, don’t be offended if your census is lower than you’d like. There’s definitely a direct correlation between online reviews and the amount of web traffic you’re getting.
One reason behavioral health care providers may not encourage and monitor online reviews is that doing so is work that’s ongoing and never stops. For some behavioral health care providers, this may be beyond what they can reasonably accomplish.
Dedicating a team member to regularly monitor your online reviews is a good idea. However, the day-to-day work routine doesn’t always allow enough time for staff members to do so. If that’s the case, it’s important that you consider partnering with digital marketing professionals who can assist with this task (as well as other digital marketing responsibilities). After all, smart businesses know when it’s time to delegate certain tasks.
Online reviews are important because the hosting sites—Yelp, TripAdvisor, and others—have high domain authority. When they link to your site, you’re getting a very powerful backlink boost.
While sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor pull in their fair share of people leaving reviews, it’s Google reviews that are of particular importance. The reason couldn’t be more obvious: What do you see when you Google search a local business? You see prominent real estate on that page for that business’ Google reviews—it’s nearly impossible to miss. For that reason, you should give Google reviews special attention. A lot of people read them and, at the very minimum, they’re looking to see the average rating a business is getting from all the reviews.
When people search for behavioral health care services, they’re often unfamiliar with particular providers. They’re in research mode, hoping to discover who looks like the right fit for them and their unique needs. That’s when online reviews become increasingly important. They’re hoping to get frank, candid views, which they probably think they won’t get from your website. When they do this, you need to do anything you can to make sure your reviews are as positive as possible.
Is Your Business Listing Complete and up to Date?
One critical step in getting good Google reviews is something most companies don’t always realize: being Google verified. Most likely you’re Google verified because you went to the Google My Business webpage and registered your business address. However, there’s a good chance you didn’t completely fill out all of the requested information, or you’ve never updated it. That’s one reason negative Google reviews happen.
Let’s say, for example, your business has moved to a different location or changed phone numbers recently. Did you update your Google My Business information? If you haven’t, both Google and individual reviewers will have a problem with that. If Google My Business lists one address and your website lists another, it just looks shady. Never let something like this go. If you do, you’re more or less begging for some negative reviews.
Are You Asking for and Responding to Reviews?
Asking for reviews is an effective way to get them. When patients are satisfied with what you’ve done for them, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them for a good online review as part of your alumni follow up. Most of the time, they’ll be only too happy to speak well of you.
However, getting reviews is only part of the process. If you don’t monitor your online reviews, you’re blind to what the general public is saying about you, which is certainly not a good position to be in! Remember that online reviews aren’t necessarily one negative one after another. There will be many positive reviews as well, and you need to know about them. However, you want to do more than just read them. You should also respond with an enthusiastic “Thank you!” The reviewers and other web users will see that and be impressed you’re trying to keep up with what people are saying about you. That, in turn, should bring you even more good reviews.
Not all reviews will be positive; it’s just unavoidable. However, some of these should be responded to as well, especially if reviewers are presenting information that you know isn’t true or isn’t a fair reflection of your center. When you do respond, remain calm, collected, and of course, professional. Avoid the temptation to get hostile. Other readers will always be impressed by your professionalism and ability to not resort to name calling.
It’s quite possible that Google reviews are the only reviews people will ever see when they research their behavioral health options. If you’re doing everything right and you’re getting overwhelmingly positive reviews, people will notice that. Word-of-mouth advertising works, and that’s what online reviews are. In fact, they may be one of the most effective marketing tools you’ll ever have because you can mention these reviews on your website and in your social media.
The question remains: Have you done everything you could to benefit from positive online reviews for your behavioral health care practice? Are you leveraging the power of these reviews on your website and on social media? Whether you can take advantage of the marketing benefits of online reviews yourself, or need help from an outside expert, please make sure you are taking advantage of this free and powerful marketing tool in 2021 and beyond.
Dan Gemp is the president and CEO of Dreamscape Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency serving the health care industry based in Columbia, Maryland. A graduate of Villanova University’s School of Business, Gemp applies financial modeling to Dreamscape’s business intelligence campaigns to advise clients on a cost-per-action marketing model. He is a nationally recognized speaker on ethical health care marketing and maintains a year-round speaking schedule. Gemp’s unique perspective at the intersection of business, digital marketing, and health care has made him a thought leader and go-to contributor to many health care podcasts, webinars, and publications including Bloomberg and The New York Times.