Farotech breaks down why orthopedics practices that want to stand out must implement a systematic orthopedics digital marketing strategy that proves ROI.

Competition for new patients in the orthopedic space is persistent, but on search engines (a critical piece of digital marketing)––where the overwhelming majority of patients first seek out care in their area––orthopedics practices sadly only spend 25% of their marketing budgets. An effective orthopedics digital marketing strategy, especially if you’re a new practice, is essential for success in this growing, competitive environment.

If you’ve been in this space long enough, you’ll notice that some of your competitors are generating, nurturing, and converting patient leads––not because they’re necessarily a better practice or have the highest client satisfaction––but simply because they use better digital marketing strategies. Those competitors will leapfrog you (if they haven’t already) if you don’t implement a strategy soon.

Another thing to note is that marketing is moving fast and it’s way more than a one-person job. If you only have one or two people in charge of your marketing efforts, they’ll probably feel like a jack-of-all-trades and a master at none. We’ve found that in such a competitive landscape like orthopedics––you can’t afford not to be a master. That’s where the idea of a team-based agency approach comes into play.

Over the last 21+ years, we have played a role as a team of orthopedics digital marketing strategists for some of the most innovative orthopedics practices in their respective regions, helping them generate new patient leads, nurture those leads, and then convert those patients into raving fans of their mission, values, and services. Our systematic and team-based approach means our clients have access to subject matter experts when they need them. But when it comes to a killer digital marketing strategy––how can you get there? We’ll guide you through some best practices.


How Our Unique Process for Orthopedics Marketing Makes a Difference

Just as no two orthopedics practices are alike, the same goes for digital marketing. This means that your approach to orthopedics marketing, access to technology, and the expertise of your digital marketing agency can make all the difference. What we’ve found in our experience is that the #1 differentiating factor comes down to your agency’s unique process.

Here’s a diagram of our unique process, and while we can’t outline every part of it in this article, we have developed our entire process over on the following page.

Part of how we leverage our Unique Process for our orthopedics clients comes down to understanding the Practice Management Arc––something that separates Farotech as a digital marketing agency.


Unpacking the Practice Management Arc for Orthopedics

Probably the most important but neglected part of new patient acquisition is understanding the ideal Practice Management Arc.

Most orthopedics practices have portions of the arc, but very few know how to implement the entire arc. The result is that patients slip through the cracks, don’t get the critical information about your organization that they need to make a decision, and are therefore less likely to schedule an appointment.

The other phenomenon is that your website is being used effectively and patients are requesting to schedule appointments through your online forms, but what you find out later is that your appointment was not actually booked by your call center. So your marketing company believes that they’ve done a good job, but the physicians who run the practice are not seeing increased patient volumes. The arc was specifically designed to monitor a patient lead from cradle to grave and to see that a patient actually booked an appointment rather than just a request to book.

The Practice Management Arc consists of three critical elements:

  • Pre-Website Visit Experience
  • Website Engagement
  • Client Acquisition

Let’s break these down one by one.

Pre-Website Visit Experience. When potential patients begin to look for a physician, typically they’ll query a search engine for a doctor in their geographical vicinity. They’ll get this information from Google or Bing’s search engine page results, commonly connected to Google Maps. In this scenario, the potential patient has never and may never visit your website. They’ll simply call the number provided within the Google Maps result.

If that’s the case, here are a few critical things you must do in order for your practice to place first in those Map results.

  • Optimize your Google Business Profile
  • Make sure your name, address, and phone number are included on critical directories according to your industry
  • Develop an internal process that consistently garners fresh patient reviews
  • Physician reputation management services
  • Other factors related to local orthopedics SEO

Here’s a before and after picture of the reviews we were able to generate for one of our healthcare clients using our unique process.

Website Engagement. These are all the orthopedics marketing tactics that are required to generate, nurture, and convert new patient leads, including:

  • Developing ideal patient-specific, SEO-optimized content
  • Optimizing your website for orthopedics SEO
  • Connecting your content to HIPAA-compliant automation platforms & drip marketing
  • Establishing and maintaining a social media presence that engages with existing and potential patients
  • Establishing greater thought-leadership and humanization through video and micro-content
  • Using analytics to make data-driven decisions such as Google Analytics (GA-4)

The Flywheel Approach

We break down our system into a flywheel. This consists of four synergistic parts:

  • Lead Generation
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Conversion
  • Referrals

So how does this tie into marketing for orthopedics? We’ll translate the flywheel approach into how your practice can comprehensively generate, nurture, and convert new patient opportunities.

New patient lead generation for orthopedics

Assuming we’re not talking about referrals, the common sources of new patient opportunities derived from digital marketing come by way of:

  • SEO
  • Social media
  • Paid advertising
  • Email & newsletters
  • Links from associated websites

We won’t get into all of these here, but we will cover the first three.


SEO for Orthopedics Practices

SEO for Orthopedics Practices

SEO (or search engine optimization) is an art and a science and, transparently, very few companies are effective at it. Google is constantly changing the dials, minute by minute. To win in this landscape requires true subject matter expertise and knowing what is under your control and what isn’t. It’s imperative that you concentrate and do everything possible to do what is required to rank. Here are the critical factors you need to know about orthopedics SEO:

  • On-page SEO. The first thing you need to know is that this is entirely within your control. It will be very important for you to do the following:
    • Speed: get your website on a server that is as fast as possible, because speed is a critical ranking factor.
    • Optimization: optimize your website strategically by honing in on keywords and metadata that address your specialties and treatment areas that will drive qualified traffic to your website.
    • Structured content: utilize Google’s best practices to structure your site’s architecture so that each page is part of a hierarchy that is linked internally to relevant pages and compounds.
  • Off-page SEO. This is the approach that is also referred to as “backlinking”, which is the idea that high domain authority websites that link to your website will increase your site’s domain authority. That domain authority is used by Google to determine whether or not your website ranks for certain keywords and phrases.
  • Certain backlinks can make or break your website’s ranking potential. The more physicians that can get published on websites (assuming they link back to your site) that are .edu, .org, or high authority and reputable .coms, the better.
  • It’s best to work with a digital marketing agency that utilizes best practices when it comes to backlinking. Less than reputable agencies can get you penalized if they use tactics that don’t accord with Google’s best practices.
  • Content-based SEO. As an orthopedics content marketing company, we recommend a proactive approach to content by developing an editorial calendar that breaks down deliverable pieces of content by month, quarter, etc. This way, you have a roadmap for which pieces of content are to be written next without any guesswork. The development of consistent content is a signal to Google that you’re an established thought leader.
    • Having content ideas laid out for the next 30, 60, and 90 days helps your practice to stay on track with deliverables and indicates to your marketing team where they should be in terms of published content.

Social Media for Orthopedics Practices

Social Media for Orthopedics Practices

In our experience as an orthopedics social media company, it’s important to use social media platforms effectively in order to win. The first thing that you need to do is figure out which platform works best for your organization. Focus on one platform with 80% of your energy and syndicate to the remaining 20%.

  • Resist the urge to be a megaphone. One of the primary mistakes that most healthcare companies make is that they use social media simply as a megaphone. Social media is about engagement. Companies that just use the platform to communicate who they are and how great they are often lose the engagement necessary to generate leads.

Developing content specifically designed to engage should be your most important takeaway. This deep engagement allows your readers to better know and connect with your brand. When it comes to marketing, people will typically buy from organizations they “Know, like, and trust”. In orthopedics, of course, the trust part is paramount.


Digital Paid Advertising for Orthopedic Practices

Digital Paid Advertising for Orthopedic Practices

Paid advertising (Google ads, social media ads, and programmatic ads) can be very effective for orthopedics marketing. It has a ton of benefits including the ability to target and reach audiences that may not know your organization exists. It’s also very trackable, so it’s easy to understand the ROI of a campaign and it makes it easier to establish your CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) of a potential patient.

Compared to SEO, which often moves at a snail-like pace, Paid Ads are all about speed. They can be placed and optimized in days or weeks rather than months or years. One of the drawbacks is that it can be expensive if you don’t understand how to leverage your ad budget effectively.

When done effectively, you’ll have developed a target audience that you can advertise to. The goal is to get your ads placement price to reduce over time so that your impressions, click-through rate, and conversions should improve.

Lookalike audiences. This paid advertising feature will allow advertisers to target specific audiences based on demographic data. For example, someone looking to provide orthopedic services might want to reach men between 45 and 65 years old living in New York City who are considering a knee replacement, for example. Now, they’ll be able to see ads targeted at those same demographics.


New patient lead nurturing

The key to understanding this topic is that it is probably the most neglected part of marketing. It’s made even more difficult for orthopedics and others in the healthcare space because of HIPAA compliance. It’s very hard to drip market to an individual about your specific specialty treatment areas without invading their privacy.

Just because it’s more difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We utilize a third-party program called LuxSci that enables organizations to communicate securely at scale while protecting sensitive data with HIPAA-compliant email and web solutions.

Common forms of lead nurturing include drip marketing tactics such as:

  • Overview of the practice
  • Features & benefits
  • Cost of procrastination
  • Testimonials/case studies
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Taking the first step

Converting new patients for your orthopedic practice

As discussed above, you’ll want to use technology to make sure that leads that are derived from your website and phone inquiries actually convert into booked appointments. A great practice is obsessed with its analytics. These analytics are great tools to help you make data-driven decisions and convert potential patients into actual patients.

Client Acquisition. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. This expression is characteristic of digital marketing, particularly in the orthopedics industry. If your digital marketing approach pushes leads to the appointment form on your site, but the booking of the appointment is a bottleneck where patients slip through the cracks, that’s not good strategy.

With our approach to technology, we’re able to seamlessly connect forms and phone inquiries to a unified system that integrates with the most common EMRs. This enables practices to be 76% more effective at scheduling relevant new patient opportunities.

Other features include:

  • Easy integration with the most prominent VOIP & telephonic systems in the healthcare industry
  • Intuitive dashboard that communicates conversion data, marketing efficiency, and customer service impact
  • Speed to lead functionality: allows customers service to reach out to web forms and missed calls within 60 seconds of a potential patient scheduling inquiry
  • Ideal messaging and script development for patient booking, including:
    • A dashboard to figure out which representatives are booking the most patients by utilizing the nine critical steps for patient acquisition.
    • Monitors improvement and impact of coaching over time
  • Displays data for peak call times, number of voicemails according to day and hour, and web inquiries received vs. coverage gaps
  • Enables providers to figure out which patients booked, when they booked, and which treatments they are scheduled for, in addition to which specialists or primaries they booked with.

Rothman Orthopedics’ successful conversion strategy

These analytics should also be connected to ROI all throughout your orthopedics digital marketing strategy. For example, when we first started working with Rothman Orthopedics, we were able to connect goal conversion tracking to their blogs. From there, we were able to figure out what new appointment forms originated from blogging:

  • In a two-year period, we were able to understand that we generated 2,911 conversions from blogs that led to over $873,000 worth of first-time appointment revenue (our ROI metric was $300 for the net value per conversion). This put their marketing ROI well north of $13 million for first-time appointment revenue with all digital marketing efforts including blogs. Please note that none of these numbers include follow-up treatment, surgery, or physical therapy.

To get the full case study, you can follow this link.

Your metrics should tell a story. Once you know that story, we recommend that you double down and hone in on the parts of your approach that work. You also shouldn’t be afraid to discard what isn’t working.


Identifying Buyer Personas–“Rothman First”

The next step of our process is to identify all of your ideal buyer personas (as well as influencers) who might engage with your orthopedics marketing efforts.

Buyer Persona Example

As an example, let’s take a look at the approach we used for Rothman Orthopedics…

According to US News & World Report, Rothman Orthopedics is one of the largest orthopedics practices in the United States. We helped lead their digital optimization strategy for nearly a decade.

At the time, Rothman had a very successful marketing campaign called “Rothman First.”

We piggybacked on that campaign to create a wide-net approach. The wide net approach allowed us to create generalized messaging that would apply to anyone who had pain in their hips, knees, spine, etc…

“If you have pain, think of Rothman First.”

But that was just the beginning….

We decided to take it one step further. Rather than trying to sell orthopedic services one client at a time, it was our vision to sell orthopedics to one COMMUNITY at a time.

And here’s the logic behind it.

If we’re trying to target individuals with back pain, it’s going to be pretty difficult to do that because nobody advertises to the world that they have back pain. But they will advertise things about their life, such as their hobbies. In this case, the hobby that caught our attention was cycling.

In Philadelphia, cycling is HUGE. It turns out, orthopedic practices like cyclists a lot because…

Well, they tend to hurt themselves frequently. And they’re often plagued by chronic pain. So, we identified some of the most common sports and activities that eventually lead to joint pain and deterioration.

We knew that if we established Rothman as a thought leader in those communities and if we found ways to service influential people in those groups, it would just be a matter of time before the large majority of cyclists in the region would think of Rothman first whenever they had joint pain.

By investing in the entire cycling community and creating inroads with cyclists, we positioned Rothman as a thought leader in their circle.

Influencer Buyer Personas

Not only were we marketing to the cyclists, but also to influencers.

Because everyone knows…for every cyclist that has a bad back, there’s a spouse who is tired of hearing about it.

Performing Buyer Persona Exercises

So, how do we do buyer persona exercises?

Well, this is one of the most critical parts of marketing, but it’s also one of the things that many companies don’t do. Why? To put it bluntly: because it is hard. In order to effectively create buyer personas, we conduct something we call “war room sessions” with the subject matter experts from your team.

In those sessions, we ask a series of really important questions about your products and services. And then analyze how the answers to these questions vary from one buyer persona to another.

Because what we don’t want to do is market to all the same potential targets with just one message.

Right Message, Right Client, Right Time

Let’s say, for example, you have a torn ACL. But then you start to get messages from an orthopedic practice about how they have the best spine center in the country.

It’s probably very unlikely that you would even open up that email. Why would you care?

But if the same orthopedics practice did proper segmentation of their list and sent you messaging about knee pain, well then there’s a really good chance you would open it!

So, the goal of the buyer persona exercises is to get the right message to the right potential client at the right time.


Taking the First Step: Starting Your Gap Assessment

One thing we’ll leave you with is this: orthopedics digital marketing is moving so fast that it’s beyond a one-person job. If you only have one or two people handling your digital marketing strategy, chances are they won’t be able to optimize for all marketing channels, leading to wasted ROI for your orthopedics practice. Ask our orthopedics clients and they’ll tell you––an agency with a team-based approach works best when it comes to generating patient leads, nurturing those leads, and converting those patients into raving fans of your brand. Why?

Well when you have a well-organized system where all parts work in synergy with one another, more areas of opportunity open up. Because this is extremely difficult to do from within your own organization, it is our firm recommendation that you have a team-based agency review your marketing strategy, identify critical gaps, and build a 3-5 year road map to scale your company’s marketing potential. The first step in this journey is to develop a Gap Assessment.

If you would like to know more about this, please click on the following link. We’re ready to build a customized solution to scale your orthopedics marketing and prove ROI to your practice.