If you’re reading this, then the chances are that you’re either a physical therapy private practice owner trying to wear ALL hats or the single marketing person in a practice that’s trying to get new ideas…but you have one burning problem around solving the physical therapy marketing mystery.
You want new and innovative ways to market your PT practice, get net new patients to convert into plans of care, and you want to grow the overall valuation of your practice…
consistent patient volume
more direct access patients
more business from your past customers
If that’s the case, then you’re in for a treat.
In this article, you’re going to find out some of the best ideas I’ve found over the years in physical therapy marketing for my practice.
Now more than ever, physical therapists must take marketing into their own hands.
Implementing the right physical therapy marketing ideas as part of your business strategy is key to remaining relevant in today’s competitive market. This is new for many physical therapists. In the past, most businesses came from doctor referrals.
However, with a steepdecline in referrals and increased hospital- and physician-owned clinics, physical therapists must now develop their own marketing strategies to build patient demand and grow their practices.
Today, more doctors and patients are turning to pain medication and surgery as the primary solutions, despite physical therapy proving more effective in many cases. Many patients don’t even know that physical therapy is an option.
According to anAPTA report, sixty-seven percent of nonusers and 62% of previous patients believe a referral is necessary to see a physical therapist. Taking a proactive approach to marketing helps educate patients about their options.
With the right marketing tools and tactics, you can significantlyincrease patient demand and drive new business. Let’s look at what this entails with simple steps to build your client base, improve patients’ lives, and boost your bottom line.
1. Leverage Email Marketing to Reactivate Past Patients
When considering the ideas to help with physical therapy marketing, we believe your past patient list is your most valuable asset. Previous satisfied clients are more likely to do business with you again and refer you to others.
This target audience will also be the most responsive to your communication since you already have a relationship with them. They’re the perfect group to cross-sell your services, such as massage, nutrition, or small-group fitness. You can also treat them for different conditions than you previously treated them. If Sarah saw you for shoulder pain and later has back pain that needs addressing, you want her to think of you first. You can foster engagement and connection through email and offer them special offers.
Email marketing is the most cost-effective way to reach clients and boost revenue. Consider these best practices that can truly make or break your marketing efforts whenstarting out:
Recipients aren’t going to open your emails unless there’s something of value for them. These could be top tips to manage back pain, the best low-impact exercises, or stretches to do every morning. Focus your content on the readers’ needs and aim to solve their problems.
Decide when and how often you will send emails, and be consistent. For instance, if you choose a weekly newsletter, send it out on the same day each week. This will train your audience to look for your messages on that specific day.
Include a Call to Action
Try always to include one focused call to action (CTA) that you want recipients to take. Examples include registering for a workshop, watching a video, or scheduling an appointment. Ensure the link stands out from the rest of your copy, and again—give them only one CTA.
The only way to know what type of content is most successful is to measure open rates, click-through rates, and reply rates. You should also A/B test everything. Change one element at a time —the subject line, image, even the time you send the email—to see how it impacts your results.
Balance Value and Offers
If you only send promotions, you’ll burn out your patient list, so balance offers with educational content. Most of your messages should be strictly value-adding—meaning you’re not asking for anything in return.
2. Use Two-Way Texting to Nurture Patient Leads
When choosing the best physical therapy marketing ideas, texting is an obvious option with numerous uses and a great return on investment (ROI). Consider thesestatistics:
Text messages have a 98% open rate and a 35% click-through rate Within an hour, 95% of people will read a new text, and 91% will respond
The engagement rate for SMS marketing is six times higher than for email marketing
Approximately 90% of leads prefer a text to a phone call
Many practices already use texting to communicate with patients today. But this same tool can be a great way to follow up with and nurture new leads. For instance, if someone submits a web inquiry, you can follow up with an automated text and an email. This can help you reach new inquiries immediately and improve conversion rates, so leads don’t fall through the cracks.
You can also let your patient leads know about workshops and promotions. When a new lead books an appointment, registers for a seminar, or signs up for an event, you can use two-way texting to confirm their attendance and send reminders.
3. Run Online Advertising Campaigns to Attract New Patients
Social media and digital channels offer various physical therapy marketing ideas and strategies. If you use them correctly, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Google advertising are cost-effective channels to reach new and existing customers. These channels enable you to reach a specific target group and make it easy for viewers to engage with you.
Identify a Specific Objective and Strategy for Every Ad Campaign
This might include getting your audience to sign up for a webinar, click on your website, or make an appointment via a booking landing page.
Target the Right Audience
Make sure you only target people in the geographic location you cater to. Then, consider other traits of your ideal target audience—such as age or occupation—to ensure your ads display to the correct people.
Lead with Patient Education
We have seen that campaigns work best based on a particular condition, such as shoulder or lower back pain. Highlight the pain point in your ad and direct them to a landing page that delivers more information.
Support Paid Campaigns with Organic Content
Posting on social media platforms is one of the first things that comes to mind for many practices when they think of marketing ideas. However, it’s not where we recommend prioritizing your time unless you enjoy it. Some of the biggest social platforms, such as Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram), have changed their algorithms, so it’s unlikely your followers will see the posts of business pages they follow.
Targeting specific audience groups through organic social is much more challenging than paying to advertise. We recommend posting about once a week on the organic social platforms you’re advertising on. This way, if someone sees your ad and clicks on your page, they’ll see you’re active and can browse your content.
Leverage Video Content
Regardless of the platform, make sure to engage viewers with short videos. Video content has proven to be the best way to capture people’s attention. Remember, you only have a few seconds to capture your viewers’ attention—so keep videos short, to the point, and impactful. Use subtitles in your videos to help draw in scrollers who aren’t watching with volume.
Include a CTA on the Landing Page That Presents a Solution
This could be an invitation to sign up for an educational workshop to learn about solutions for their problem or to book an initial evaluation. The key is that your ad and landing page focus on the patient and their problem in layperson’s terms. The campaign (including the ad and landing page) should focus on the patient, not you and your practice.
4. Follow SEO Best Practices for Better Online Visibility
Search engine optimization (SEO) is optimizing your online content for visibility on search engines like Google. Since more people than ever use online search engines to gain information—especially about medical and health topics—it’s essential that your website stands out from competitors.
This is undoubtedly one of the more complicated physical therapy marketing ideas on the list. However, you can do a few small things to boost your SEO ranking.
On-Page Ranking Factors
To optimize every page of your website, make sure your page titles reflect what your content is about. Use one H1 heading per page—this helps Google understand the focus point of your content. In addition, make sure your content is helpful, informative, and unique. Never copy and paste someone else’s article. Finally, include images throughout your website and blogs.
Keywords are the exact words your customers will use to search for the type of service and content you offer. They are vital to include in your web pages and blog posts. These might include “physical therapists near me” or “best exercises for lower back pain.” Free tools likeGoogle Keyword Planner orAnswer the Public can help you understand what keywords people search for; they can also offer great ideas for topics to focus on in your marketing content.
Publish High-Authority Content
You might think medical content is dry and uninspiring, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Get creative and produce engaging content such as blog posts, articles, checklists, white papers, and videos to reach and attract customers. These five types are popular and effective, mainly when maintained consistently.
5. Establish Partner Workshops for Additional Revenue Streams
Partnering with other providers and businesses is a fantastic way to boost referrals and promote the value of your services in your local market. The key is finding organizations or providers in your area with lookalike audiences matching your ideal patient profile. This is often one of the most overlooked physical therapy marketing ideas.
You likely already partner with service providers for referral sources. In addition, you can try partnering with non-physician providers such as massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and mental health providers. You might be surprised at how often people visit numerous types of service providers. Through these relationships, you can be a referral source to them, which ensures long-term loyalty.
Additionally, connecting with community organizations, private businesses such as gyms and sports clubs, and educational institutions can open many doors and create strong relationships within your community. For instance, you couldoffer educational sessions on injury prevention or rehab practices.
Finally, partnering with local employers enables you to expand your reach by providing workers with wellness management and ergonomics training.
6. Launch Direct Mail Campaigns to Reach Your Community
When it comes to physical therapy marketing ideas, direct mail is probably one of the last strategies on your list. However, you shouldn’t discount this method. We strongly believe in amarket-message-media match:
Consider your market
Tailor your message to suit them
Choose the best media outlet to reach this audience effectively
With direct mail, you can ensure the target group in your local area receives your marketing. In addition, middle-aged or older demographics are more inclined to read their mail, which is the target audience for most physical therapists.
Digital marketing is often found in pages cluttered with other ads. As a result, information is easily lost. In contrast, recipients can pin a physical pamphlet, letter, or brochure onto a refrigerator as a tangible reminder and information source.
Transform Your Practice and Your Bottom Line with Breakthrough
Now more than ever, physical therapists must take marketing into their own hands to build a successful practice. Launching and executing these physical therapy marketing ideas may seem overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be.
Breakthrough offers a complete, all-in-one patient demand platform that empowers practice owners and their staff through proven, top-performing marketing campaigns to attract new patients and reactivate past patients. Our comprehensive platform even offers prebuilt optimized campaigns—so you don’t have to build anything from scratch.
Your team can effortlessly track leads from all your marketing campaigns and manage your information in one system. You can also send and receive text messages straight from the platform. This lets you quickly book more appointments with instant patient connections.
With intuitive reporting, notifications, and call tracking in a single hub, Breakthrough’s Patient Demand Platform is designed to precisely deliver transparency, efficiency, and success for physical therapists.
The Breakthrough Team can provide a free PT marketing assessment of your practice to help you identify which PT marketing strategies could work best to help you achieve your unique practice goals.
In this how-to guide, you’ll learn why physical therapy marketing is the key to better profit margins. You’ll also discover how to implement revenue-generating marketing strategies in your private practice.
Physical Therapy Marketing: How to Win in Today’s Healthcare Environment
As a private practice physical therapist, you’re operating within a complex system that can be incredibly challenging to navigate. You’re faced with declining reimbursements, inflation, and diminishing physician referrals. If you feel undervalued within the current US healthcare system, you’re not alone.
Take the fact that a whopping $4.3 trillion was spent on healthcare in 2021, yet less than 1% went toward physical therapy. The US spends significantly more on invasive procedures and addictive medications than on conservative care like physical therapy.
In this environment, some practices will, unfortunately, be forced to close their doors for good. But there will also be those who overcome the challenges and succeed.
Practice owners who prioritize revenue growth and take a proactive approach to physical therapy marketing will gain the ability to increase revenue per patient, boost profit margins, offer competitive wages, and leave a lasting legacy in their communities.
Common Physical Therapy Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
Before developing your physical therapy marketing plan, it’s helpful to consider what not to do. Every physical therapy practice has a unique selling point to convey to consumers; however, most practices fail to convey their benefits in a compelling way. Refining your marketing will take some trial and error. But you can skip a lot of the headaches by avoiding these common pitfalls many owners fall into.
1. Failing to Understand Your Target Market
Many practices miss an important step in marketing: defining the target market. A thorough understanding of your ideal patient profile and your target audience is crucial—after all, your entire marketing strategy centers around them. Ask yourself questions like:
How old are they?
What is their gender?
How much money do they make?
How do they talk about their health problems?
What activities do they enjoy?
How and where do they spend their time?
Understanding your target market helps you align your messaging and marketing channels with your audience. This will drive better results from your marketing and attract more of your ideal patients.
2. Focusing Too Much on Features, Instead of Marketing Your Benefits
The key to attracting patients is to let them know how you can solve their problems. Touting your qualifications and cutting-edge techniques (aka your features) won’t do this—but telling them how they can quickly relieve pain and regain their lives will. Communicate your benefits and advantages to show how your patients’ lives will improve by working with you. Avoid focusing too much on your practice, and focus more on your patient.
3. Not Building and Capitalizing on Your Patient List
When it comes to physical therapy marketing, your pastpatient list is one of your most valuable assets. Too many practice owners focus their marketing entirely on attracting new patients and ignore their past patients. This is a big mistake. Your past patient list is the lowest-cost, highest-return audience you can market to.
Be sure to maintain a past patient list and communicate with it regularly. Past clients who previously graduated from a plan of care are more likely than any other audience to become future patients. You already have a relationship with them, so it’s easier to sell additional services. They’ll also refer you to friends and family.
4. Inconsistent Marketing
Here’s a far-too-common scenario we see in private practice: Practices only invest in marketing when they see patient visits decline. At that point, they do some marketing, and it works! Then things get busy, and maybe they even get a waitlist. So they stop marketing. Eventually, visits decline again, and the cycle repeats itself.
We call this roller-coaster marketing—and it’s not effective. To maintain a consistent flow of patients year-round, it’s important to decide on a regular cadence of marketing activities and stick to it.
5. Investing Too Much in Branding
Far too many practices shell out all their marketing dollars on brand marketing that doesn’t convert any patients. Think logos, signage, and newspaper ads. The problem isn’t the exact medium, but it’s the focus on brand marketing rather than direct response marketing.
Branding investments make sense for large companies selling commodities to consumers. They don’t make sense for physical therapy practices.
Direct response is, as the name implies, marketing designed to elicit an instant response by encouraging prospects to take a specific action. Unlike branding, it’s easy to measure, cost-effective, and begins generating ROI immediately. Direct response can also build your brand while maintaining a positive ROI.
6. A Leaky Sales Funnel
Once you generate leads—whether through marketing, word of mouth, or doctor referrals—it’s essential to follow up and nurture them. The process of a lead becoming a patient is called conversion. Conversion is a major issue for many practices, and most don’t realize it. Many new patients are lost as a result of not adhering to conversion best practices during their follow-up process. This is called a leaky funnel.
Various factors can cause this. It could be as simple as your front desk staff taking too long to follow up on an inquiry, not following up enough times, or using ineffective follow-up call scripts. Try to consistently nurture leads and audit your follow-up process to ensure your staff is following conversion best practices.
7. Ignoring Marketing Analytics
When it comes to marketing, most practice owners don’t know what’s working and what’s not. If you continue to use ineffective marketing tactics, you’ll waste resources, time, and money—and hand opportunities to your competitors. Instead, monitor your marketing initiatives and analyze the data to identify successes and failures. Use analytical tools to track site visits, email opens, social media interactions, and conversion rates.
The Fundamentals of Physical Therapy Marketing
Now that we’ve covered what not to do, let’s pivot to what you should do. But before diving into specific strategies, let’s start with a high-level overview of core marketing principles to integrate throughout your patient journey.
1. Market-Message-Media Match
The first important principle of marketing is Market-Message-Media Match. For your physical therapy marketing to be successful, these three elements must be in alignment. Let’s break this down further.
This is the ideal target audience you want to focus on. If you don’t identify your primary audience, you can’t formulate an impactful message or choose the right media to reach them.
For instance, you might focus largely on sports injuries, older adults, or even workers’ compensation cases. These are very different demographics—and each target group will require a different marketing strategy.
Your message comprises the words you use (and even the audiovisual elements) in your communication. This should align with your target market; after all, how you market your services to college sports teams will vary significantly from how you approach the elderly.
Regardless of who your target market is, your marketing should be about them and how you can solve their problems—not about your qualifications and services. Your audience wants to know that you can relieve their pain and aid in injury recovery. You only have a few seconds to capture their attention, so nailing the message is essential.
Legacy media such as print, radio, and television are costly. Even worse, it can be difficult to measure the results of these strategies and determine whether your marketing is effective.
Digital marketing includes any media consumed on your mobile phone or digital device—social media, emails, and online videos. When you apply direct response marketing principles to digital media, it enables you to target the specific audience you want, while maintaining cost-effectiveness and ROI visibility.
When choosing the right media channel for your audience, consider where your target audience is most active. Track tangible outcomes, such as whether you’re gaining new clients and whether your list is growing. You can get an idea of what media your audience uses by talking to your patients: ask what media platforms they’re active on and prefer communicating through (e.g., email, text, Instagram, or Facebook).
2. Direct Response Marketing
When you think of marketing, you probably think of branding. But as mentioned earlier, focusing on direct response marketing presents a more effective, less costly way to attract new patients. So what sets direct response marketing apart?
For starters, with direct response marketing, there’s always an offer, and it’s always measurable. Every ad has a clear CTA, such as: book an appointment, call today, register for workshop, read a blog, or get a free screening.
In addition, direct response marketing enables you to provide your clients and prospects with valuable information through videos, workshops, podcasts, or blogs. This ties in directly with the next physical therapy marketing fundamental: patient education.
3. Patient Education
In physical therapy marketing, patient education helps build trust and credibility. Your patients or prospects can also better understand their condition, treatment options, and overall health through education. Educated prospects who see you as a source of trusted information about their health are more likely to think of you when they have a health concern and become loyal patients.
You can offer educational content through workshops, seminars, webinars, and podcasts. You can also post videos, blogs, landing pages, and social media material. The key is that your content must be valuable and relevant to your clients’ needs. Answer pressing questions and offer tips to solve common problems, such as lower back pain, shoulder pain, or knee pain.
Providing engaging and informative content can greatly expand your reach beyond your local community. This is ideal if you offer online consultations or coaching services.
4. The Patient Demand Flywheel
The Flywheel Effect is a business concept developed by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. It’s inspired by the working principles of mechanical flywheels: it’s tricky to initiate the spinning of a flywheel, but once it gets going, it offers continuous power with little force required to keep it in motion.
“Imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible. Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first… You keep pushing in a consistent direction… the flywheel builds up speed… Then at some point — breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor… the huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum.” —Jim Collins, Good to Great
Similarly, building the foundational systems and processes needed to grow a business can take time and effort. But once these are in place, your wins will build on each other to create repeatable, predictable growth without much effort. The key to realizing the flywheel effect and its benefits is to build systems and processes that grow patient demand. When you have high patient demand for your services, you have the ability to consistently reactivate patients, increase revenue per patient, easily add and sell new services, and improve margins.
There are three essential components of building patient demand: Attract, Convert, and Measure. As you develop your marketing plan, be sure to include systems and processes that support all three.
This is the first point of contact, where you introduce and draw customers to your practice. Attract your target clients by creating and distributing educational content on their pain points. For new prospects and past patients, you can leverage various channels such as email, social media, online advertising, and your website.
Next, engage your prospects by communicating with them via email, calls, and texts. Train your staff to follow up quickly on inquiries, leveraging multiple mediums. Data shows it may take up to seven tries to connect with a prospect following an inquiry—so don’t stop contacting them after only one or two attempts. Leverage email and call tracking software to ensure your staff follows best conversion practices.
By measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns, you can make better decisions about what to continue and what to stop. It’s much easier to repeat what’s successful than to reinvent the wheel all the time. By analyzing results, you can do more of what works—and stop wasting time and money on marketing that fails to drive results.
Building Your Physical Therapy Marketing Plan and Budget
Developing and implementing a physical therapy marketing plan is your biggest lever for improving top-line revenue. Your plan is a comprehensive strategy designed to get your patient demand flywheel rolling so you can attract prospects, retain patients, and expand your referral sources. It also streamlines marketing efforts for increased effectiveness, simplifying the tasks ahead.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing a Comprehensive Physical Therapy Marketing Plan
A physical therapy marketing plan will require thought and clarity about your vision for the practice. Block out several hours to develop it, and involve your team throughout the process as much as possible to increase buy-in.
Step 1: Determine Your Practice Goals
First, think about your vision for your practice. Where do you want to be in five, 10, or 15 years? From there, you can set annual, quarterly, and monthly goals.
Step 2: Decide on Your Marketing Goals
When setting your goals, be specific about what you want to achieve. Marketing performance should be measurable and tangible. Aim to triple the return on your marketing investment.
Your goals should also be achievable and align with your business vision. Finally, be flexible and adjust your goals based on feedback and results.
Track high-level metrics such as new patients, visits, gross monthly revenue, and attendance. If these numbers are healthy, your marketing strategy is working.
Step 3: Determine Your Market/Message/Media Match
Outline your target audience and the pain points you want to address. Highlight the key messages and call to action you want to promote to that audience. Determine the media channels that best enable you to reach your target market.
Step 4: Decide Your Budget
Setting your budget shouldn’t be guesswork. Instead, calculate your marketing budget concerning your total revenue. For business-to-consumer (B2C) service businesses, 10–11% of annual revenue is the generally recommended amount for marketing. However, this will depend on what you want to achieve. Businesses that just want to keep running can go as low as 5%, while those aiming for aggressive growth may opt for more than 10%.
To calculate your budget:
List your expected revenue for the year. You can start with a number between the past year’s actual revenue and your growth target.
Calculate 7–10% of your expected revenue, depending on your growth goals.
Divide the number by 12 to get your monthly average marketing budget.
Step 5: Decide What Metrics to Track
When discussing goals, we mentioned tracking high-level targets such as new patients, visits, gross monthly revenue, and attendance. Think of these as your overall practice vitals.
In addition to these high-level goals, it’s a good idea to track marketing metrics as well. This helps you get a better idea of what’s working and what’s not.
Important metrics to track include leads, cost-per-lead, cost per plan-of-care, and lead-to-plan-of-care conversion rate. Let’s take a look at each:
Leads are potential patients who express interest in the practice’s services by filling out one of your online forms, calling your office, or emailing you. Tracking leads is key to understanding how well messaging and media are working to drive interest in your practice.
Cost per lead measures how much it costs to generate each new lead.
Cost-per-plan of care measures the total cost of the marketing campaign against the number of plans of care sold.
Your lead-to-plan of care conversion rate is important for understanding how many leads are turning into actual patients. Let’s say that on average, 50% of your leads converted into patients last year. But this year, you’ve noticed that only 30% of your leads are converting to patients. That information could indicate you have a leaky funnel and may need to audit your staff’s follow-up processes.
Tracking metrics is crucial for understanding what’s working and what’s not at each stage of your patient acquisition process.
Step 6: Share the Plan
Consider how to share the plan with your team to ensure everyone works together to reach these goals. Furthermore, focusing on the “why” behind each goal can improve employee buy-in. Schedule regular meetings to review performance and feedback.
Step 7: Revisit and Revise
Metrics can help you deliver better patient care, make your practice more profitable, and optimize your marketing plan.
By analyzing your conversion rates, bounce rates, ROI, and the average cost-per-lead for each marketing channel and campaign, you can identify which are the most effective and where you may be wasting resources. You’ll then want to fine-tune your budget distribution accordingly.
Test new elements for campaigns with a low ROI. If most viewers are dropping off on a certain web page, sign-up, or contact form, you might consider a redesign for smoother functionality.
Your practice’s overall patient satisfaction rate also significantly impacts growth. Track this by analyzing the average wait time, cancellations, return visits, and referrals. Low ratings here can mean unhappy patients and fewer referrals or online reviews. In this case, engaging with unhappy clients is essential to see if you can patch dissatisfaction. You’ll prevent poor reviews and win back loyal customers.
Once you’ve analyzed marketing campaign performance, you’ll know what works best, what can work with some adjustments, and what won’t work at all.
Creating a Physical Therapy Marketing Calendar
A marketing calendar is a tool for scheduling marketing activities over a set period, whether a month or a year. The calendar should cover your marketing activities for attracting new patients and reactivating past patients. A pre-planned marketing calendar helps your team stay on track so you achieve the goals set in your marketing plan. It also allows you to reduce your reliance on physician referrals.
During the planning stage, you identified your business and marketing goals. Now, you’ll schedule and implement the campaigns and activities to help you achieve them.
When it comes to physical therapy marketing, consistency is key to success. Determine a consistent cadence of marketing activities. If you plan to email your past patients, decide how frequently you want to email them, put that in your calendar, and stick to it.
You might also identify holidays that could influence availability or demand, or time your biggest campaigns around traditional slow seasons to boost demand.
Your calendar can include a variety of organized campaigns, from virtual workshops and webinars to in-person events, social media content, email campaigns, blogs, and promotions.
Pick one target market to focus on monthly and break down the steps needed to launch your campaign. This will include creating content, setting up your campaign structure and metrics tracking, and following up on inquiries.
It can be helpful to block out several hours each week to devote to marketing. Encourage those involved in executing your marketing plan to do the same.
Once you establish your marketing calendar, use it as a template for your entire team. This creates a marketing system that will ensure you stay on budget, offer consistent value to your patients, and keep your flywheel turning continuously.
Top 5 Digital Marketing Strategies for Physical Therapy
When deciding on your digital marketing plan and filling in your marketing calendar, consider these top strategies:
Email and Text: These are undoubtedly the top tools to reactivate past clients.
Content: Quality content is vital to support email and search engine optimization (SEO).
Online Advertising: This is a powerful way to attract new clients.
Reviews and Testimonials: These play a significant role in building trust and converting patients.
Website SEO: This ensures your content ranks high in search results and gets seen by your target audience.
Let’s take a deeper look at each and the tools you need to take advantage of digital marketing channels.
1. Physical Therapy Email Marketing
Most baby boomers (74%) view email as the most personal communication channel for businesses and brands. Gen X follows with 72%, millennials with 64%, and Gen Z with 60%. Email marketing can be leveraged to attract past patients to your clinic, engage new patients, and nurture prospective patients who have responded to an online ad or website inquiry.
Email marketing is an effective way to build relationships by providing valuable information and driving engagement. It’s also the most cost-effective way to reactivate past patients, increase bookings, and generate referrals. Your emails can be single-question emails, workshop invitations, or special offers.
Email marketing is a key channel for physical therapists to leverage. There are a few best practices that can make or break your efforts:
Offer value by focusing on the readers’ needs and solving their problems. This could include stretches to relieve back pain, post-op recovery tips, or advice on injury treatment.
Be consistent with the frequency of your email campaigns. Whether you send one email a month or a week, stick to a consistent cadence.
Always include a clear CTA, such as registering for a workshop, leaving a review, watching a video, or scheduling an appointment.
Measure results such as open rates, click-through rates, and reply rates.
Balance offers and educational content.
SMS Marketing for Physical Therapy
Your audience is most likely texting: 81% of Americans text regularly. Seventy-eight percent of those Americans wish they could have a text conversation with a business, too—perhaps yours can be the first.
Texting is the ideal marketing and communication tool for instant, direct notifications. It puts your number at your client’s fingertips, which makes engaging with your practice effortless.
Texts are useful ways to notify patients about specials and discounts and follow up after appointments to gauge patient satisfaction. You can also send texts with a link to educational information online and payment information. In addition, mobile messaging is the preferred means to send appointment confirmations, holiday operating hours, and emergency updates due to power outages or weather-induced closures.
All of these communications contribute to building your client relationships and supporting past patient reactivations.
2. Content Marketing for Physical Therapy
Content marketing encompasses various digital media types, including email copy, videos, blogs, ad creatives, and social media posts. Simply put, you’re creating content that’s valuable to your target audience and then distributing it in channels where they will see it.
Follow these best practices to create physical therapy marketing content that will engage and convert:
Adopt a Patient-Centric Mindset
Select a specific pain point or difficulty you want to resolve for every piece of content you create. This applies regardless of whether you’re creating an educational article or promoting a service or product. Essentially, this is why people engage—they want their problem solved.
Research how people experiencing pain express themselves. YouTube comments, Reddit posts, and Facebook or Google reviews are great sources to get feedback. Utilize any descriptions from patient comments as an alternative to how you would describe the pain.
By tapping into the first-hand experiences of patients, your content will be incredibly relatable. Readers or viewers will feel understood and more hopeful about their situation.
Leverage and Repurpose Video Content
Video has become the most engaging medium and is often more convenient for users to consume than traditional written forms—so leverage it whenever possible. Free online transcription services can quickly turn your video into blog content, boosting SEO. You can then turn part of that blog post into a social media feature and repurpose it into email material for your patient list.
Use the AIDA Copywriting Framework
The AIDA copywriting framework is widely used for creating effective marketing messages. There are four stages:
Attention: Grab the reader’s attention with a compelling headline or opening statement.
Interest: Generate interest in your message by nailing your audience’s pain points.
Desire: Build desire by showing how your product or service can solve the reader’s problem or meet their needs.
Action: Encourage the reader to act by providing a clear and compelling CTA.
Find a structure that attracts your exact target audience. Be specific about what you offer and how it will change the reader’s life. Use particular phrases to get their attention: “Are you in chronic pain?” “Do you have shooting pain in your legs?” Then, follow with interest, desire, and your CTA.
“Tired of being in chronic pain? Our new Shockwave treatments help you walk pain-free, get up without help, and play golf again. Stop letting your pain rule your life. Call now and get back to doing what you love.”
Leverage free stock photo sites and use images your audience can relate to. Ideally, you want happy people from your key demographic—this conveys that there’s hope for becoming pain-free. Also, include relevant images of specific areas of pain (i.e., someone with shoulder pain) or someone receiving therapy. People want to see themselves in the imagery.
Implementing the market-message-media match principles, leading with education, and displaying a clear, actionable CTA is key to generating new patients online.
Here are some of the differences between running ads on Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram), TikTok, and Google.
Meta (Facebook and Instagram) Ads
Facebook and Instagram—both owned by Meta—offer you the opportunity to reach a large audience. They offer advanced audience targeting options, allowing you to focus your advertising spend on people matching your ideal patient profile. You can target people based on factors such as age, location, interests, and behaviors. Both platforms are relatively cost-effective compared to other advertising channels such as print, TV, or radio ads, so you can set a budget that suits your needs and goals.
When advertising on these platforms, it’s key to lead with educational messaging that focuses on your target audience’s pain point to grab the user’s attention. You can use the platform to educate people in your community about how physical therapy can solve their health issues. When a user clicks on your ad, you can direct them to a landing page that offers additional education and encourages the viewer to take the next step with your practice, whether that’s to book an appointment, register for a workshop, or attend an info session. Meta makes lead tracking simple, so you can ensure you’re generating a positive ROI.
Many service professionals in other industries are successfully growing their businesses through TikTok advertising. Yet data shows that physical therapists are underutilizing the social network. Unlike other platforms like Facebook and Instagram, your competitors are likely not advertising on TikTok. That means it’s a wide blue ocean: you can reach your target audience with very little competition. And there’s a good chance you can get more eyeballs on your content at a lower cost than other, more saturated channels.
Think your target patients aren’t on TikTok? You’d be surprised. The fastest-growing audience segment on TikTok is baby boomers. The amount of baby boomers on the platform has doubled each year in the last two years.
TikTok is a video-based platform, so you’ll need to create video ads if you want to advertise there. Tony Cere, Practice Owner at Kinetix PT, has gained local attention and credibility in his community through video advertising on TikTok.
“I wasn’t quite sure about TikTok, but so far it’s been working really well. It’s definitely getting out there because people we know are saying they’ve seen me on Tiktok. Most people think it’s only kids, but people my age also have TikTok and they’re seeing the ads. So it’s been nice to have another avenue to get the word out.” —Tony Cere, Owner, Kinetix PT
Advertising with Google can be a great addition to your physical therapy marketing strategies. It’s estimated that more than 3.5 million searches are conducted on Google every day, making it the world’s most popular search engine. With Google, you have the opportunity to reach people who are actively searching online for physical therapy. It’s different from Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, where you have to interrupt and grab peoples’ attention while they’re doing something else.
On Google, you can advertise to help ensure that you show up when people are searching for services like yours. It can help you compete with other providers in your area. There’s typically less education and content creation required to advertise effectively on Google. You can use the platform to drive people directly to book an appointment on your website or call your office.
Be Sure to Verify Platform Rules
No matter which advertising channels you use, it’s important to verify the platform rules before running any healthcare-related ads. Some channels—especially Facebook and TikTok—have stringent regulations around healthcare in the U.S.
Partnering with a service like Breakthrough, which has run thousands of ad campaigns for physical therapy clinics, helps ensure your ads get approved, follow best practices, and avoid account suspensions. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for PT providers to experience account suspensions when they try to manage their own ads or work with an agency that lacks experience in running
4. Patient Reviews
Google and social media reviews are essential to maintaining your local reputation and acquiring patients. Having lots of positive reviews can help you rank higher in online search results, which attracts and builds trust.
Consider Primus Physiotherapy, one of Breakthrough’s clients. Primus PT averages an impressive three to five new reviews each week without extra spending. Since its inception in 2018, Primus has received 397 reviews, the most in its city (which has 207 clinics).
These reviews have resulted in eight to 15 new patient appointment requests through the website monthly. Primus also gets 12–15 new patient calls directly to the clinic. That’s 25–30 new patients monthly without spending money on other marketing. By generating consistent high-rating reviews, Google places Primus as a top result for physical therapy searches in its area.
Knowing your patients will give reviews creates additional accountability for clinicians around treatment effectiveness and service. Consider these tips when setting up a system that drives reviews for your business:
Let your admin team handle feedback requests so clinicians can give their patients the best service.
Send a Net Promoter Score (NPS) feedback request via text within 30 minutes of appointment completion. The experience will remain fresh in your client’s minds, and they’ll be more likely to open and respond to your messages.
Make it easy for clients to post reviews.
See poor reviews as an opportunity to improve. Always respond to patients who have had a poor experience by trying to rectify the situation and regain their trust.
5. SEO for Your Website
SEO can help your website stand out from competitors on search engines like Google. With more people relying on online searches for health and medical information, optimizing your site to improve visibility is important. While this can be a complex process, there are some simple actions you can take to boost your SEO ranking.
Keywords are critical for boosting SEO. These are terms used by your customers to find your services and content. Examples might include “physical therapists in [location]” and “best exercises for back pain.” Research relevant keywords and include them in headings and text on your web pages, blogs, and even social media.
Publish High-Authority Content
Medical content doesn’t have to be dry and uninspiring. Create engaging content to reach and attract customers, such as infographics, blog posts, articles, checklists, white papers, podcasts, and videos. These types of content are popular and effective, especially when maintained consistently.
On-Page Ranking Factors
To optimize every page of your website, ensure page titles reflect what your content is about. Use one H1 heading per page. This helps the search engine understand the focus topic of your content.
Don’t copy and paste articles or blogs from other websites—you’ll get penalized. Your content should be helpful, informative, and unique. Another way to boost SEO is to include images throughout your website and blogs. Ensure images aren’t subject to copyright and that they’re unique and relevant to the content.
Backlinks, which are also known as inbound or external links, are hyperlinks that point from one website to another website. They play a critical role in search engine optimization (SEO) as they are used by search engines like Google to measure the credibility and authority of a webpage.
It’s a good idea to obtain backlinks from credible sites. There are a few strategies you can implement, such as creating high-quality content that other websites are likely to link to, guest posting on other websites, influencer outreach, and promoting your content on social media.
However, it’s important to note that the quality of the backlinks is more important than the quantity. Obtaining high-quality backlinks from reputable and authoritative websites can significantly improve your search engine rankings.
Systems and Tools to Support Your Marketing Strategies
Successfully executing these physical therapy marketing strategies and campaigns can seem overwhelming. But with the right digital marketing tools, it doesn’t have to be. These physical therapy marketing tools will speed up and optimize content design, schedule and streamline campaigns and help you stay on top of your client database.
Email Marketing Tools
Email marketing tools often provide generic, one-size-fits-all templates and enable you to email many subscribers. At Breakthrough, we’ve designed an email marketing platform with physical therapy-specific emails ready to go from day one. Furthermore, you don’t have to spend hours building your emails from scratch. The platform also offers performance analytics so you can understand what drives results.
CRM or Lead Management System
A customer relationship management (CRM) tool is key to staying on top of your client database. For instance, Breakthrough’s lead management tool tracks leads from all your marketing campaigns in a single dashboard. That means you can quickly follow up without missing any hot leads. You can also see where clients drop off and make the necessary adjustments.
Social Media and Digital Ad Tools
Designing, posting, and managing comments on multiple social media channels can be a full-time job. Breakthrough’s optimized, done-for-you ads use patient-focused direct response messaging. We work daily on your ad campaigns so your marketing runs smoothly with 100% HIPAA-compliant, media-approved ads.
Tracking the performance of all your campaigns on multiple channels is labor-intensive. Breakthrough puts all your marketing campaign metrics in one place. This empowers your team to review real-time results for data-driven decisions. You can easily compare campaigns and view performance data in an actionable, easy-to-understand format.
A call-tracking system automatically keeps track of inbound calls and patient follow-ups. So, there’s no need to manage multiple systems, no additional paperwork, and no searching for that sticky note with the call you were supposed to return.
Two-Way Texting Platform
A two-way texting system lets you send and receive text messages from the office desktop. This lets you send bulk texts for urgent updates, instantly connect with patients, and conveniently confirm or book appointments.
Achieve Your Desired Revenue without a Bunch of Complex Systems
Remember the patient demand flywheel? It’s the process of attracting leads, converting leads to patients, and measuring results.
There’s no doubt that it can be challenging at first to get the Flywheel turning and working for you. But the systems you put in place today will over time gain enough momentum to make revenue growth a seamless, repeatable, and predictable process.
Still, the fact remains that you’re likely faced with shrinking margins, are time-starved, and have a million responsibilities in the clinic. So how do you find the money to invest in all these systems and the time to manage them?
Here’s the big secret: You don’t have to.
Breakthrough offers an all-in-one patient demand software that makes marketing easy. No separate systems for email automation, advertising, SMS/text, or call tracking are needed—all of that is built into a single system with Breakthrough. Our Patient Demand Software empowers private practices to attract and convert patients through proven, top-performing marketing campaigns.
From prebuilt and optimized emails written specifically for physical therapy campaigns to two-way texting and database management, our all-in-one platform enables you to:
Physical therapy ads, email, and SMS marketing help fill your schedules fast
Done-for-you past patient reactivation campaigns enable you to increase the lifetime value of your patients
Pre-built email campaigns and ad templates for popular cash-based products and services empower to you boost revenue per visit
Lead management and automated follow-up reminders take the guesswork out of following up with prospective patients
Instant access to hundreds of online training videos and certification courses makes it simple to train your staff on conversion best practices
Call-tracking makes gives you visibility so you can identify areas for process improvements
Intuitive reporting makes it easy to measure the performance and ROI of your marketing campaigns
Lead-to-plan of care conversion reports help you identify or rule out possible leaks in your funnel
Breakthrough’s Patient Demand Software has helped hundreds of physical therapy practices get more patient visits, increase revenue per patient, boost profit margins, and grow practice value.
“My practice was in a rough patch financially when we found Breakthrough. Since working with Breakthrough, we’ve doubled our patient visits in 3 years. It gives me peace of mind to know I have a trusted partner to help bring in patients who continue to come and see us, who help spread the word, and who help guarantee our continued financial profit.” —Sean Weatherston, Owner and PT, Altitude Physical Therapy
It’s time to reverse the downward revenue trend in private practice PT. Get your patient demand flywheel turning more quickly—and get your profit margins back where they need to be—with our patient demand platform. Talk with our experts today to see how Breakthrough can transform your practice and bottom line.
5 Ways to Make Up for Lost Revenue in Your Clinic
Are you a physical therapy or chiropractic clinic owner looking for ways to increase revenue and create long-term practice growth?
Many of us are in the same boat. Today’s market conditions have created downward pressure on revenue, upward pressure on costs, and shrinking margins for many private practice physical therapy clinics. A lot of practice owners I’ve talked to recently are wondering how to grow revenue.
So what do you do in this situation?
We need to figure out how to make up for lost revenue in our clinics, and for physical therapists, we need to make up for the recent 4% Medicare Reimbursement Cut.
Here are some of the ideas to help you think through this, get your mindset right, and make meaningful changes long-term that create practice growth.
1. Avoid the Urge to Pull Back — Instead, Focus on Practice Growth
For most of us (95% of the population), we’re wired so that we usually pull back whenever there’s any sort of danger or threat. This is how our lizard brain works to make us feel safe.
Robert Kiyosaki shares a story in Rich Dad, Poor Dad that’s relevant here: As a helicopter pilot, one of the key things he was taught was that if you get hit in wartime, you should push forward rather than pull back.
Although it can be counterintuitive, the same is true for practice owners. When things get tough, we need to double down and develop creative business solutions to create practice growth rather than pull back and get small.
But that’s easier said than done.
I’ve been through it myself. Early on in private practice, when I would take a loss or lose money, I would pull back my marketing. I’d try to minimize our costs and somehow think that was going to help me come out on the other end.
It never worked.
Usually, I’d go a few months before I figured out that I needed to course correct.
After surviving that a couple of times, I eventually figured out that when there is revenue loss, when we’re in the red, and when we have more costs than we have income coming in, it is very easy to pull back.
The only way to get out of it is to go forward. To figure out a way to grow your revenue.
Financial Analysis of a Hypothetical Physical Therapy Clinic
To show you why it’s important to continue growing revenue, let’s look at some hypothetical numbers.
Let’s say you have a clinic producing $100,000/month in revenue, with $95,000/month in costs. In that situation, it’s very difficult to create margin.
What if your revenue goes from $100K a month down to $97K in a month?
You had a $5,000 margin per month, now it’s $2,000. So you had a 60% decrease in margin.
That’s a pretty big deal.
A lot of owners, at least when we’re being reflexive and reactive, we’ll try to shrink costs down. We think that we can somehow go from $95,000 in costs down to $50,000 or something like that and create margin again.
That’s not how it works.
Instead, we have to think about how to take the $100K that went down to $97K, up to $110K or $120K. It’s a better way to business problem solve.
So that’s the first thing to work on in terms of creating a practice growth mindset. You’re almost never going to be in a situation where pulling back and clamping down on costs helps you succeed.
2. Aim to Fill Space and Fill Schedules
The second thing for creating practice growth is to understand the game and the scoreboard that we’re playing.
We’ve invested in space. That’s a fixed cost. We should aim to fill the space.
If we have 3,000 sqft and we’re seeing 100 visits/week, then we have way too much space.
We can either choose to fill the space or cut down on space.
Let’s say we estimate the capacity for the space to be 300 visits, right?
Then we need to ask the question, “What do we need to do to create enough demand for my services that we’re seeing 300 visits a week in this space?”
If we can’t get visits up or don’t want to, then the next time our lease is up, we can cut back. Maybe we bit off more than we can chew and we need to adjust. That’s fine.
But eventually, we need to get to a point where we can control the space that we’re in and can maximally fill it.
In addition to space, we need to fill schedules. If we have four full-time clinicians and each clinician can see 50 visits a week, then our capacity is 200 visits a week.
Let’s say we’re at 130 visits/week today. Then the game we’re playing is to get up to 200 visits/week.
When I talk to practice owners, I often hear some variation of this story:
“I don’t have a problem of not having enough demand for my services. I have a waitlist. My problem is keeping therapists and hiring. I recently lost a therapist who was with me for years. They went to work for the local hospital system.”
This is a very real pain. But if you think through it further, you realize the solution really comes back to building demand for your services.
Let’s say your space was full, schedules were full, and you had a $20,000 margin instead of a $5,000 margin. In that situation, you’d be able to compete better with the hospital system on salary and benefits.
It’s hard to have that conversation without talking about payer mix as well.
If we can generate $120/hour instead of $90/hour, we could create a lot of lot more margin for the business.
How do you do that if the schedule is already full and you have a waitlist?
You increase revenue per patient.
Bob Kawalick has talked about this, saying something like, “We’re seeing patients covered by $60/hr capped payers, while we have prospective patients covered by $120/hr payers on our waiting lists.”
I’ve heard some owners talk about the waitlist as a bad thing.
But if we’re created enough demand that we have a waiting list, it might be time to consider either a) adding cash pay services or b) going out of network with those lower payers. In both cases, we’re increasing revenue per patient and generating more revenue without increasing our capacity.
So don’t be afraid of the waitlist and consider optimizing your payer mix.
4. Increase Per Patient Revenue with Cash Pay Services
This one is a must in today’s financial climate. There are a number of cash pay services you can add to your practice that both provide value to your patients and provide more cash flow to you. By adding cash pay services you can charge more for a plan of care and create more income to support your traditional services.
Examples of cash pay services that are working for many practices include therapeutic lasers such as the Lightforce Laser, electrical stimulation such as Neufit, dry needling, fitness classes or facilities, e-commerce (e.g. supplements or other relevant products), or coaching.
Adding cash pay services is a key way to create practice growth.
5. Develop Ownership Mentality and a Practice Growth Mindset Within Your Team
The final way to create practice growth is something that was a really big error for me in the beginning. And I’ve talked about Jack Stack and the great game of business and also stake in the outcome. They’re essentially the same book. The Great Game of Business is the one that I prefer, but it’s how to be. So most of us, if we have very thin margins, we’re like hiding that from our staff. So they’re not even sure what the score of the game is.
And that’s not healthy or good. It means we’re internalizing and carrying all the stress with us.
The team doesn’t understand exactly where we’re at as a company. They don’t know the scoreboard and we’re not being transparent.
In the Great Game of Business, Jack Stack talks about how he made that transition back in the 80s and he developed owner mentality across everybody in this company. From the C suite the whole way down to the Janitor and everybody else in between in their organizational structure, everybody had ownership mentality.
When I made that transition, it was a significant for us. It was a game changer. It took a lot of pressure off of me.
Now, when we have a bad month or a bad quarter, we’re asking ourselves better business questions and getting to a solution more efficiently rather than me having to create the solutions for 100 plus team members that we have here. That’s impossible to do.
We have very competent, smart people on our team, so I don’t need to carry all the weight of the company. I’ve empowered my team with transparency and they are going forward, producing solutions, creating new policies, and developing new procedures that help our business across the board.
Cultivating a Practice Growth Mindset
So we’ve talked about mindset and we’ve talked about some specific strategies you can implement for practice growth.
I hope you got something out of this that helps you shift your mindset and generate some ideas for you so you can increase revenue and create forward practice growth in 2023.
Interested in learning how Breakthrough can help you increase revenue and create practice growth? Request a demo.
Eliminate Your Slow Season and Create Consistent Patient Flow Year-Round
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering how to get more physical therapy visits scheduled.
In an ideal world, your physical therapy practice would have a steady flow of clients coming in the door all year long. Yet the reality is that most practices have slow seasons, usually around the winter holidays or in the summer months, when they experience a steep decline in visits. During your slow season, you may start looking for ways to get more physical therapy visits — and fast.
Many practice owners I’ve talked to feel like they’re on a roller coaster throughout the year. There are times when they can’t seem to keep up with the high number of visits, and there are times when visits slow down substantially.
I’ve experienced personally how a slow season can result in as much as a 20% loss in annual revenue. This is far too common in our industry.
The revenue loss that practices experience during these slow seasons can make it challenging to predict hours and pay staff. It can also have a significant impact on the practice’s long-term profitability and ability to stay afloat.
During these slower times, it’s critical that practice owners change their approach to marketing. Yet what we often see are two common scenarios:
Accept slow seasons as inevitable and do nothing to change it.
Continue with status quo marketing. Essentially, they continue with the same marketing they’ve been doing or they even cut back on marketing, which makes the lack of patients a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How to Get More Physical Therapy Visits: 6 Proven Strategies
In this section, we explore how to get more physical therapy visits and prevent drops in patient flow during historically slow periods. You will learn 6 proven strategies for creating predictable, consistent growth all year long.
Identify Your Slow Season and Target Past Patients
The first step to getting more physical therapy visits is to determine when your slow seasons are. For most practices, it’s between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and during the summer months when kids are out of school and people are away on vacation.
By identifying when visits slow down, you can avoid working nine months out of the year only to lose profitability within a few months.
The next step is to look for ways to reconnect with past clients and encourage them to come in again.
Your past patient list is the lowest-hanging fruit for your marketing activities. This is true not only in private practice; but in about any business in just about any industry.
Why? Because the people who have done business with you in the past, if they are satisfied and if they are happy, are much more likely to buy from you in the future.
Over time, your past patients will be more likely to respond and return for additional care and services, than any other group you could market to.
This is especially true during the holiday season when the price of advertising to cold traffic goes up and physician referrals often slow down.While various marketing channels can be effective, it’s important to first identify your audience personas and use channels that target those specific populations to achieve the best ROI.
Plan Your “Greatest Promotion Ever” To Increase Plans of Care
One of the best ways to get more physical therapy visits throughout the year is to plan a large, “greatest promotion ever” campaign, such as a day of free assessments or exams.
This approach is an effective way to net you a backlog of patients and plans of care to treat during your typical slow season.
By doing this, I have turned the slow season at my practice into the busiest time of year. And through my work with Breakthrough, I’ve helped hundreds of other practice owners do the same.
Below are a few keys to success for your promotion:
Before launching the campaign, double-check you are staying compliant with your local practice act. You can tweak the name of the service as needed, e.g. ‘assessment’ or ‘exam’ to remain compliant. I checked with Paul Welk, a health law attorney who focuses on PT, to ensure compliance.
Announce it to your past patients as a celebration of something. That could be a celebration of a milestone in your practice such as an anniversary of a certain number of years in practice. Or it could be a celebration of a staff member’s life event, such as a wedding. Keep it authentic and genuine. Past patients will be more likely to attend to celebrate and congratulate you.
Launch the campaign in the weeks leading up to your slow season and be sure to target past patients in the right channel (see #1).
Run these campaigns only twice a year. This ensures consistent patient flow without overwhelming patients with the same promotion over and over again.
Prioritize Email Marketing
Scheduling automated emails at least once a week, every week, is a good rule of thumb. It becomes especially important before and during your slow season to promote reactivations and word-of-mouth referrals.
Emails can include promotions for events and workshops, as well as educational content with a blog post, new report, or video. Be sure to balance promotional content with goodwill that purely delivers value through education.
One of the most effective types of emails is the single-question email. It’s a short email that poses an easy question to reply to, such as “Have you experienced back pain in the last week? Let me know.” The goal is to start a conversation with past patients. If a majority of people say yes, for example, it’s important to think about how to respond to them in a way that delivers value and ultimately converts them to patients.
One of our clients who sent 500 emails with a single-question email received more than 60 responses and generated 11 plans of care.
Once you discover an email is effective, put it into a regular, annual rotation.
For new practices who don’t have established lists, compiling a list of 150 or so friends and family in the local area and promoting a grand opening, a one-year anniversary celebration, or a new location can be a great way to get patients in the door.
Deploy Direct Mail
A marketing misnomer is that direct mail is dead, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, a recent report by The Association of National Advertisers found direct mail has a 112% ROI, higher than SMS (102%) and email (93%).
When you plan your “greatest promotion ever” campaign, also use direct mail to your past patient list.
Once a month, you may also consider sending a simple print newsletter to your patients with a mix of personal stories, education, and promotions.
Invest In Online Advertising
If you would like to expand your reach beyond your past patient list, market your “greatest promotion ever” to cold traffic via online advertising channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
We recommend running ads a few weeks before the slow season.
For one of our clients, investing in online advertising for a free event netted 67% of all attendees and resulted in 70 plans of care.
Create a Marketing Calendar
For any marketing campaign to be effective, you need a plan. Creating a marketing calendar for each month can ensure your team is organized and accountable.
Be sure to include all marketing campaigns and tasks for every target market, including past patients, the general public, partners (for instance, large employers in your area, or a local gym or yoga studio), physicians, and other referral sources.
For your big promotion events, schedule direct mail and email campaigns 6 weeks prior to the launch and include a series of social posts in the weeks leading up to the event.
It’s also important to carve out time in your schedule and / or your staff’s schedule every week to devote to marketing to ensure results.
With a consistent plan in place and a multi-channel marketing strategy, you’ll get a clear understanding of which tactics net the best ROI, and where you’ll need to focus your efforts to have a consistent flow of patients every month.
As you continue to reactivate past patients and attract new ones, you’ll be able to hire more team members or increase staff hours.You’ll be able to invest in growing your practice and gaining more market share.
How to Get More Physical Therapy Visits with Breakthrough
Breakthrough offers a complete, all-in-one patient demand platform that provides a simple, repeatable way to consistently grow your practice by attracting leads, converting leads into patients, and measuring success.
Our team of marketing experts has years of experience working with hundreds of private physical therapy practices and delivering guaranteed revenue growth.
Find out how to get more physical therapy visits and generate consistent visits year-round.
How to Grow Revenue and Help More People in Your Community
In a recent episode of the Grow Your Practice Podcast, chiropractic marketer Dr. Jeff Langmaid shares his top marketing tips for chiropractors.
Known as the “Evidence Based Chiropractor,” Jeff is devoted to increasing chiropractic utilization. His great-grandfather was a chiropractor who studied under BJ Palmer nearly 100 years ago. His goal is to continue that legacy as a chiropractor himself and by highlighting the power of chiropractic adjustment through research and marketing. He believes it’s time for conservative care practitioners of all types to step up and create a healthier world by scaling their unique healthcare professions.
Chad and Jeff discussed the top marketing tips for chiropractors. Some of Jeff’s key principles are to start with your patient database, lead with educational content, and create monthly recurring revenue. By implementing these practices, owners of chiropractic clinics and integrated wellness centers can improve profitability and generate consistent visits.
Why should practice owners care about marketing?
Dr. Jeff shared an unfortunate approach that he sees many clinicians make. He labels it the “journey of professional indifference.”
Every day in your community, there are people undergoing unnecessary surgeries, taking unnecessary medications, and receiving unnecessary injections that affect them and their families for the rest of their lives. Opioid addictions are by far the worst they have ever been, largely due to doctors overprescribing opioid painkillers after surgery.
The “journey of professional indifference” describes the approach where a practice owner passively waits for patients to come to them. These patients may have already undergone surgery or another intervention. They could have been referred by their physician or found you as a last hope.
Whether you’re a PT, OT, or DC you are an integral part of a patient’s journey. You have the ability to get in earlier in a patient’s journey and help them take their health into their own hands. So they can avoid the fate that so many people in your community fall into.
“If you care about the health of the people in your community, you need to get out there and tell your story,” Langmaid said. “You have to be proactively answering the questions people have about their health. The more you can build trust and rapport, the more you can help people in your community avoid the fate that so many have fallen into.”
So you want to help more patients. Where to start?
Dr. Jeff and Chad both recommend that you always start with your warmest audience. These are the people you have already seen. People who likely already know, like, and trust you. Reach out to your existing or past patient database. Email them consistently to let them know you’re around.
Share educational content in your emails and invite them to something to learn more. A webinar, a workshop, or an appointment. Avoid using jargon or overly medical terms. For instance, if you’re writing an email to educate about radiculopathy, use terms like ‘how to tell if your arm pain is coming from your neck’ instead of the actual term ‘radiculopathy.’ Use patient-centric language and offer something of value. Then invite them to come in if they’re still not seeing relief.
The key is to engage with your patient database consistently. Being consistent is what most practices struggle with most. Patient Demand software can help you automate this process, enabling you to choose from hundreds of pre-written and customizable campaigns.
Top 3 Marketing Tips for Chiropractors
When it comes to getting started with marketing, the lowest-hanging fruit is marketing to your past and existing patients. But that’s not where your marketing should end. To reach a broader audience and help more people in your community, you eventually need to create demand beyond your existing list.
Here are the top 3 marketing tips for practice owners:
1. Lead with Patient Education: Teach and Invite
Jeff’s core philosophy is to teach and invite consistently. If you show up and teach, engage, entertain, and then invite – and you do that consistently – then you’re going to see success. Lead with educational content, then invite them to something: Say give us a call, hop on the schedule, join the webinar, or come to a workshop.
This methodology applies to all audiences: past patients, existing patients, and cold traffic (people who haven’t interacted with you before). As practice owners, we often have this resistance to sales and marketing. We think we’re going to provide high quality-of-care and evidence-based practice, then just grow by word-of-mouth referral. But we need to be getting out there and educating, building marketing systems, teaching, and inviting. The reality is that marketing is just educating people in your community and showing them how you can help solve their health problems.
Most people equate marketing with paid marketing and discount advertising. That’s just a small piece. The majority of your marketing should lead with education.
2. Avoid Discount Advertising
Tens of thousands of providers are offering deep discount advertising on a regular basis. This is not a cost-effective marketing strategy. Why? Most often, patients that come in because they saw an ad for a discounted service are not the people that are going to stay, pay, and refer. They are deal shoppers. And what do deal shoppers do? They shop for deals! So when they take advantage of that offer, you’re going to notice that there’s a small percentage of them that actually stick around. You’re going to get dramatically fewer visits from someone who comes in from discount advertising compared to someone who comes in through educational content. In most cases, Jeff recommends sticking to the teach-and-invite methodology over discount advertising.
When IS it okay to offer discount advertising? If you’re doing it to keep your doors open in the short term, that may be appropriate for you. Or, if you’re already doing everything else right, and you want to sprinkle on some discount advertising, that’s fine. But Jeff recommends first leveraging free or lower-cost options. This includes marketing to past and existing patients, teaching and inviting, and leveraging retargeted online advertising.
3. Create Monthly Recurring Revenue
There are ways to create monthly recurring revenue and this is a great way to diversify your income stream. You can make your practice more durable and less vulnerable. The goal is here to create monthly recurring revenue that meets your minimum viable monthly expenses each month. If you can have recurring revenue that meets your expenses, working in your practice becomes a lot more fun and way less stressful.
This does not mean changing your business model or giving up patient care. This is about diversifying income streams, reducing stress and increasing revenue in a patient-centric way. Dr. Jeff and his business partner Jason identified three primary ways that most clinicians can implement this in a way that makes sense:
Provide ongoing services
This can look like a monthly movement assessment, a monthly check-in, or any type of maintenance care that makes sense for you. After your patients complete their plan of care, have them check in with you once a month. A majority of the time this is warranted and is not overtreating. Your patients come in because they have a problem and they come back for accountability. It’s better for the patient and better for you. Many of us have movement-based facilities that can be leveraged for a monthly check-in, but most of us don’t do it. A monthly check-in is a great way to increase patient visits and create monthly recurring revenue.
Open an e-commerce store
Sell items that supplement your services. Supplements are a great example of what you can sell in an online store. We know that between 50 to 70% of people going to conservative care providers take supplements each and every day, whether it’s a multivitamin, Vitamin D, Omegas, etc. Other options could include exercise props, therapeutic heating/cooling devices, and ergonomic products for sleep or work as examples. The key here is to create auto-recurring revenue to have an online store that drop-ships direct to your patient. This way, you don’t need to have the inventory and utilize space in your clinic. Better for the patient, better for you.
Offer online coaching
This could look like anything from telehealth all the way up to lifestyle coaching. For many providers, this may feel like very new territory, but there’s an avenue there to create monthly revenue by providing value on an ongoing basis. This can be leveraged at scale online. You can create courses that can be sold online without actually requiring significant amounts of your time on an ongoing basis.
Summarized Marketing Tips for Chiropractors
Practice owners wanting to grow revenue and help more people in their community can start by:
Consistently engaging your past and existing patient database. Lead with patient education. Teach and invite.
Avoid overusing discounts in your online advertising.
Come up with a strategy to create monthly recurring revenue.
Would you like to be able to automatically create educational campaigns for your patients and community, without much effort? Patient Demand software can help.
Recently, Breakthrough Co-Founder Chad Madden and Customer Success Manager Daniel Mina hosted a webinar on the biggest marketing mistakes made in private practice physical therapy and chiropractic clinics. And how to get more patients by fixing a leaky funnel.
The majority of practice owners — although they often don’t know it — are losing money spent on marketing. Usually, the culprit is not the marketing tactics themselves. The mistake is in not setting up and maintaining an ineffective follow-up process on marketing leads. This mistake creates a leaky funnel.
What is a Leaky Funnel?
A leaky funnel is the secret killer of new patient opportunities. In a perfect world, when you get a new patient inquiry (whether through online advertising, referral, your website, etc), someone follows up with that lead by phone within several minutes of the patient inquiry coming through. The person handling this could be your front desk or office manager. If they’re adhering to best practices, they have a good conversation with the individual and follow up as many times as necessary (up to seven times) until that lead comes in for an initial patient evaluation. It’s then your clinician’s job to sign them up for a plan of care.
But what happens when this process is not followed closely? You start to get leads falling through the cracks — your funnel becomes leaky. While a lot of practice owners *think* this process is working perfectly for them, they lack the visibility to know that something is wrong. They end up missing out on a lot of patient opportunities. For most, something is going wrong at some step of that process and this creates a leaky funnel. We frequently see practices that don’t realize they have a problem!
The fact is, most practices generate leads that never get followed up on. Some leads get followed up with too late, and some aren’t followed up with enough times. Ultimately, an ineffective follow-up process produces numerous drop-offs amongst would-be patients.
What’s the Impact of a Leaky Funnel?
By now, you probably get the message: A leaky funnel is incredibly common and most practice owners don’t know it’s a problem. You could be losing out on dozens of patients each month and not even realize it.
If you have a leaky funnel, you’re wasting money and getting a lower return on investment (ROI) on your marketing spend. Plus, you hurt your own brand reputation by not following patient inquiries all the way through to a plan of care. Those leads may go elsewhere to your competitors. Worse yet, those would-be patients of yours never get treated and their problem gets worse until they need surgery, injections, or pharmaceuticals. For the sake of your practice and the community you serve, it’s important to be able to identify and fix a leaky funnel.
How Do I Know If I Have a Leaky Funnel?
As a practice owner, it may not be obvious that you have a leaky funnel. It’s unlikely you get into the weeds around tracking leads and their follow-up. Most practice owners have poor visibility into metrics around lead follow-up. They’re usually not involved in lead follow-up on a day-to-basis. And if your team is working out of spreadsheets, it’s near impossible to pull out learnings from the data.
There are warning signs you can watch for to help identify a leaky funnel. Here are the warning signs to watch for, and helpful tips for fixing your leaks:
If the front desk or marketer seems busy and has a very hard time keeping up, then make sure you have a clear process for following up on leads.
Alternatively, it may seem like things are in control, but if there’s no accountability for those who are following up on leads – or if you don’t measure this – then follow-up can often be delayed or skipped completely.
Best practices are for your marketer to follow up on a lead within a few minutes of lead creation by giving them a call.
Many leads that could be patients never convert if you only call leads a couple of times before giving up. Inefficient processes like these result in a lower ROI on your marketing spend.
How to Get More Patients: Fix Your Funnel!
Most practices miss out on potential new patients by thinking their funnel ends when an individual in need responds to an ad. But conversing with potential patients, giving them workshops or assessments, and reviewing the results are also crucial steps toward enrolling patients or members.
Poor calling practices reduce the number of appointments scheduled from a given number of leads. Poor follow-up processes reduce the share of scheduled appointments that are kept. Some owners think email blasts are enough, but email is for driving patient interactions – not for sending people to the homepage of your website for the first time.
What Your Staff Needs to Know
Follow-up conversations turn interested individuals into actual leads.
Do confirmation calls within five minutes of signup. If at first you don’t succeed at connecting, keep trying! Seven attempts is the power number, so aim for that. After 7 failed tries, connection becomes very unlikely. But hit ‘em hard in the first few days following their signup, and be sure to use multiple channels – like text, phone, email – for best results.
Never say “If…” on a follow-up call.
From hundreds of hours of call tracking data, we’ve identified a key trend that does NOT perform well. Ending on “If” statements. What we’re talking about are statements like: “If you’d like to schedule an appointment, just let me know.” At the point that “If” statements are used, a lead has typically already inquired about your practice and demonstrated interest. So instead of saying “If you’d like to come in,” you can assume they want to schedule an appointment.
Have Patient-Centric Follow-up Calls.
What should you train your staff to say instead of ‘If’ statements? After a short introduction, ask your potential patients questions about them and their pain. What’s their health concern? How long has it been going on? What have they tried for treatment? Patient-centric conversations turn leads into patients; talking about how great your practice is doesn’t. After plenty of discovery questions, your caller can ask, “Do you want to get that taken care of?” “When’s a good time to start the healing process? We have time on Monday at 11am or after 3pm, what time works for you?”
Use Initial Evaluations and Free Screenings as a Conversion Mechanism.
The goal: to raise awareness and increase patient respect for the treatment plan. A killer exam begins by asking what their pain is stopping them from doing. Next, consider their history, including whether they’ve had PT before. Then test, treat, and re-test their issue. Help them understand the cause of the problem in lay language. Afterwards, formulate a treatment plan agreement, along with a financial plan and schedule for their treatment. Track who among your staff is best at converting new patients at this stage, so you can work to get your whole team to that level.
How Breakthrough Can Help
Breakthrough offers a complete, all-in-one Patient Demand Platform that empowers practice owners and their staff to:
Attract patient leads through proven, top-performing marketing campaigns
Track leads through the funnel and easily identify stages of the funnel that need improvement. Plus, access hundreds of hours of training content to help your staff more effectively turn leads into patients.
Gain visibility through measurement and intuitive dashboards. Do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.
A patient demand platform is the simple, repeatable way to consistently grow your practice by attracting leads, converting patients, and measuring success.
How would you like to have a team of experts audit and fix your funnel to fill up your practice?
Do Google and YouTube Ads Work for Attracting Physical Therapy and Chiropractic Patients?
Whether you’re a private practice physical therapist or a chiropractic clinic owner, you need to get more patients coming into your practice on a consistent basis. Consistency is the key. The alternative — busy periods followed by significant slow-downs — is simply not sustainable. Whether caused by seasonality, macroeconomic conditions, or changes in your marketing, this type of rollercoaster scenario makes financial planning for the future nearly impossible.
Online advertising can help bring stability to your practice by increasing demand for your services in your community. Regardless of how marketing savvy you are or aren’t, you can get started with Google advertising and YouTube ads to reach people in your community who need your help. These platforms offer some of the most effective marketing plays available to you today.
Getting Started with Online Advertising
Advertising can be overwhelming at the beginning and does require some management and upkeep. You can reach a massive audience with the click of a button, but it will burn money very quickly if you aren’t careful with your targeting.
In this article, we will share the do’s and don’ts of online advertising to help you get started. We’ll go over why you might choose one platform over another. Our focus will be on two of the biggest advertising platforms: Google Ads and YouTube. They’re both owned by Google, and they leverage respectively the largest and second largest search engine in the world.
Hundreds of millions of people visit these websites every day, and among them, are those who need your services. Thus, knowing when and how to use these platforms will give your practice a consistent patient flow. That way, you can focus on growing your business, rather than hunting for patients.
How to Choose Your Advertising Platforms
Picking the right advertising platform is a challenge in itself. Choices abound, and all of them offer powerful features that make reaching the right people a breeze.
What you want from an advertising platform is:
People who need your service
Targeting option that lets you connect to these people
Reach them when they are interested in buying from you
The first step in choosing where to allocate your marketing efforts is understanding who uses these platforms, and how.
Let’s take Facebook for example. It is very likely that at least some of the people on it need your service, if not now in the future. But most of them are scrolling their feeds looking for entertainment. They will see various ads during their scrolling, but they probably aren’t looking for a solution to their problem while on Facebook.
These people might notice your clinic’s ad, and even take a mental note of it, but the chances of them scheduling an appointment through a Facebook ad are lower than other platforms. Unless you are doing retargeting advertising on Facebook, this audience will likely be less familiar with physical therapy or chiropractic care.
In contrast, someone conducting a Google Search for ‘chiropractic care near me’ indicates a much stronger awareness level and demonstrates higher intent to move forward with care.
YouTube is similar to Facebook in that people use it primarily for entertainment. But it has advantages, such as being video-based. Videos tend to be more memorable than image or text.
But the wide reach isn’t the main reason we suggest using Google Ads. What makes this platform so valuable is how you can target keywords that highlight a specific intent. For example, when a user types in the search bar “physical therapist near me” you know that—most of the time—they are looking for a PT to visit them.
Compare this with TV or Facebook advertising. You’re interrupting people’s activity (enjoying a movie or scrolling through their feed) to market your service. People who see these ads most likely don’t need your services at the moment, so you won’t see much new business as a result.
Not to say that these advertising methods don’t work, because they do; they just achieve different goals.
With Google Ads, you can reach the people who are looking to buy, and present them with the solution they need.
Why Advertise on YouTube?
YouTube is a completely different beast. It’s the world’s 2nd most used search engine, with over 126 million unique users just in the United States.
Advertising your clinic on YouTube offers a unique set of advantages over other platforms:
Videos are more memorable than text or images
People can see who is actually going to take care of them
People can get a feel for the experience they’ll get in your clinic
Advertising on YouTube is also more challenging than on other platforms. Good videos are harder to produce, but this is an advantage if you think about it. How many other clinics are willing to invest in video production? You have way lower competition on YouTube.
Common Advertising Mistakes
Creating performance ad campaigns is a mix of art and science. It’s also quite complicated when you’re a beginner, but even beginners can start seeing results by knowing the common pitfalls of online advertising.
The most common advertising mistake we see happen over and over is a lack of direction. We’ve seen clinics set campaigns that target everyone, and therefore they ended up targeting nobody.
You need to know exactly who your ideal customer is, and how to best reach them. When you’re creating a campaign, do it with a specific target in mind. Targeting everyone will exponentially increase your costs and make you miss a lot of clients.
The second most common mistake we see is making the ads all about you/your service. People don’t really care about you or your clinic. They have a problem and want it solved as quickly as possible. Writing patient-centric copy is crucial to getting people interested in your service. If you’re doing video ads, then start with a strong hook, don’t try to sell your service immediately.
Last, we see people who don’t test new ads regularly, or who give up too early. Your first few ads will most likely perform poorly, you need real-world data to adjust your messaging and see what resonates with your patients.
This might seem complicated at first, but creating an advertising campaign that gets you sales is easier than you think.
How to Get More Patients: Online Advertising Best Practices
If you want to build a campaign that will grow your practice, you need to follow a few simple steps:
Spend a lot of time on keyword research: Keyword research is the most important step in creating online campaigns. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes. What would someone with their issues search on Google/YouTube? And of those searches, which ones are likely to bring you a sale? For example, if someone types “why does my back hurt” they’re most likely looking for exercises, not for a physical therapist. If, instead, they type “who can fix back pain” they’re way more likely to click on your ad.
Use geo-targeting: A person who lives far away from you is unlikely to come to your clinic. Keep the advertising targeted around you. Also, think of what issue you’re dealing with. Someone with knee pain would rather get to the closest physician possible, and someone with shoulder pain would most likely avoid driving.
Set up a sales funnel: Ads are only a small part of the customer journey. You can’t rely on them entirely. Make sure you have a system that takes people from not knowing you to becoming a loyal customers of yours. Your ads should get people to your clinic, and once they’re there, get them into an email/texting funnel. Another thing to consider is retargeting: not everyone who clicks on your ad will buy immediately, but if you keep poking at them, eventually they will.
Tailor your messages for your ideal customers: You can’t please everyone. When you write your copy or video script, make sure it’s custom-made for your ideal customers. Don’t use generic ads like “We’re the best clinic in [location]”. Think about your customers: what do they need help with? Always create your ads with your ideal customer in mind.
If you follow all of these steps, you’ll create a strong marketing campaign that will bring in leads. But you must be careful, as Google’s ad guidelines are way more stringent when it comes to healthcare.
How to Avoid Setbacks and Ad Rejections
Google has a strict set of regulations regarding healthcare advertising. And every ad that doesn’t follow these regulations gets rejected, losing you money and visibility.
Before publishing an ad, make sure it follows these guidelines. The main things to keep in mind are:
You aren’t allowed to hint at knowing the user has a certain medical condition, as it’s private data. Even if Google knows it, it can’t use it to target these people. Avoid asking things like “Hate your [condition]? Here’s how to treat it”.
You can’t promise results. Even if you are 100% certain your treatment will solve the user’s pain, you aren’t allowed to say it. You can say you’ll help them with managing pain, or alleviating the symptoms, but
Do not, under any circumstance, mention chronic medical conditions. Words like diabetes or cancer should never ever appear in your ads.
An important thing to note is that Google, unlike Facebook/Instagram, also scans your landing page (where users end up when they click your ad) in your ad’s evaluation. This applies to everything in your landing page, including testimonials. So, make sure your landing page also follows these guidelines.
How to Turn Advertising Leads Into More Patients
Once the right people have interacted with your ad online, they’ll schedule an appointment with your clinic. This is where your staff’s qualities have a chance to shine. People will get to your clinic, and interact with your front office and doctors.
You want your physicians to be top-notch and care for their patients. If a patient feels like they’ve received great treatment, they’ll gladly come back. They’ll also tell their relatives and friends about you.
Want to create a constant patient flow through online advertising? Request a demo today to harness the power of online advertising and marketing automation.
Physical Therapists Have Become Masters of Adaptation
If there’s one thing we’ve had to become really good at as physical therapists, it’s how to adapt.
The list of changes we’ve adapted to is long. Here are a few:
The way we treat patients has evolved over the years as new research comes out.
We’ve incorporated new types of treatment and medical devices into our practice.
We’ve had to learn how to compete with hospital-owned and physician-owned clinics.
Every year, we see changes in reimbursement policies and compliance.
One of the biggest adjustments for private practice owners has been the transition from a complete reliance on physician referrals to direct access. As a result, we’ve had to figure out how to balance time spent treating patients with time spent growing and marketing our business.
The technology sector has not always kept up with the changing healthcare sector – in many ways, healthcare gets left behind in the traditional technology sector. Many marketing software platforms are not a great fit for the changing needs of private practice physical therapy.
In this article, I’ll share my understanding of how physical therapy marketing has evolved over the years. This pulls from my own experience as a private practice owner and from what I hear working with hundreds of practices at Breakthrough. I’ll share how I think about physical therapy marketing today and what to look for in physical therapy marketing software. You’ll learn about tools that help you create consistent growth and adapt in our ever-changing field.
The Old Way: Physician Referrals
Over the last decade, customer acquisition in private practice has changed dramatically. When I started my practice in Central Pennsylvania twenty years ago, the name of the game was physician referrals. In order to get new patients, I was driving around to doctors’ offices, visiting physicians several times a week to drum up business.
At my practice, physician referrals peaked around 2008. I was generating 154 physician referrals per month and nurturing 200 referral sources in a year. No physician represented more than 4% of total referrals. I had mastered physician referrals!
The New Way: Direct Access Ends Reliance on Physician Referrals
The next year, everything changed. Between 2009 and 2011, referral sources started drying up as competition from hospitals and healthcare systems increased. At the time, 90% of physical therapists in the US relied on physician referrals and almost none were marketing direct to the consumer — yet.
For decades, the APTA focused legislative efforts on increasing customer access to physical therapy care. And throughout the 2000’s and 2010s, direct access legislation passed widely in states across the country.
While direct access opened up a wider market for practice owners, it completely changed how we had to go to market and acquire customers. We no longer had to rely so heavily on physician referrals. But we had to learn marketing — something they never taught us in PT school.
The Transition to Direct-to-Consumer Marketing in Private Practice
For many, the shift to direct access happened suddenly, over a short period of time. By 2011, I was spending much less time visiting physicians. Like many other practice owners, I was forced to become a student of marketing.
Today, no matter where you are in the country, your practice has to dedicate resources towards marketing.
To help practice owners learn the ins and out’s of marketing, Breakthrough launched the first Killer Marketing course in 2016. We taught skills like email marketing, online advertising, promotions, and how to host workshops. Hundreds of owners and their staff went through the course and implemented its strategies. They implemented tools like CRM, automation, landing pages, and advertising across multiple channels. They captured new patient demand throughout their communities.
But even the best of us have found marketing to become more challenging over time. Privacy changes have made advertising online more complex. It seems like there are always more platforms to learn about. Loads of marketing automation platforms and engagement tools are available, but they’re often overly complex and bulky. Practice owners find they’re not getting their money’s worth because they simply don’t have the staff time or resources to use these tools.
The Future of Physical Therapy Marketing
In his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, Jim Collins presents the flywheel concept. The concept is based on his observation that successful companies found their success in a series of gradual actions that built momentum over time.
Unsuccessful companies frequently launched new initiatives, chasing the shiny object — the one big move — that would transform their business. Successful companies, on the other hand, built momentum over time through a series of repeatable processes.
The main premise behind the flywheel is once you get it moving, it requires very little effort to keep it moving. It builds on itself.
At Breakthrough, we believe the future of physical therapy marketing will be built around a flywheel that enables private practice marketers to create repeatable processes that: Attract patient prospects, convert them, and measure the results.
This is how we think about private practice marketing today and in the future.
1. It Starts with Attraction
When marketing our practices, first we must Attract potential patients with our advertising.
One of the most effective ways to buy market share in an area is to begin with online advertising. Specifically, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube. (I’m not seeing consistent, repeatable results on other platforms…yet).
Rather than just advertise for the sake of advertising, we see direct-response campaigns working the best. This allows for full coverage of all awareness levels, from unaware to solution aware to aware of your practice.
This includes capturing the information of ad responders so we can communicate with them over time and nurture the relationship potential. We do this with proven landing pages and compelling offers.
2. Next, We Convert
Once people respond to our ads, we must have processes to convert them from ad responders to a plan of care.
Back in 2011, when I started posting YouTube videos, we started receiving emails and phone calls literally from all over the world – 5 continents – requesting more information, etc.
After a few months of trying to answer every one, with frustration setting in, I simply started to ask, “When can you fly to Harrisburg?” It was a big ask. And it started to work.
The lesson: conversion is the key. Marketing activities, generating patient demand, are not worth 2 cents, without conversion.
Conversion can include automation (and increasingly does). However, all roads eventually lead to a human-to-human conversation. It’s worth your while to master this as an organization.
How do we do that at Breakthrough?
It starts with Lead Management. If you’re truly generating patient demand – and the ad responses that come with it, sticky notes and spreadsheets aren’t going to cut it. There’s too much wasted time…too many dropped balls. That’s where Lead Management saves the day. Your staff will know exactly who to call or email and when. You’ll be able to update a contact with one click and automatically send reminders.
Then we have email automation. Email automation done well provides value, establishes your authority, celebrity, and expertise, and ultimately increases the likelihood that the lead has a human-to-human conversation with your practice. Included in the automation are pre-built email sequences you can pick and choose from to save time on follow-up.
Rounding out conversion is Two-Way Texting. Why? Some people prefer email, others are collecting thousands of unread emails in their inboxes. Almost all who don’t prefer email will respond to a text message. We want to get through.
3. Finally, We Need to Measure It
As this Attraction and Conversion is happening, we must Measure what is happening, so we can do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
This means ROI Intelligence. Which platform are we advertising on that is generating the most plans of care? Where are we having drop-offs or leaks in our processes?
Benchmark Insights – What’s a solid conversion rate in a workshop? What % of the First Appointments (free screens, IEs or Discovery Visits) result in a plan of care – broken down by each clinician? These are variables we want to benchmark so you know where to focus your energies.
Training and Coaching – What are the workshop closes that work the best? What should we say to the registrant who’s already tried PT and failed? This is where a collection of best practices start with a coach walking you through the learning curve.
As your team improves their skill sets and competencies, you buy more market share, and the cycle repeats, beginning with Attraction. This is the exact process I’ve used to open our new locations and build to 5 full-time clinicians within 18 months (now 3…almost 4 times).
The Attract / Convert / Measure flywheel is the key to consistent growth. The flywheel will be the backbone of private practice marketing today and in the future.
Conquer hiring fears with PT marketing strategies that create a steady stream of new patients.
As a Private Practice Owner, there are several tell-tale signs when it’s time to hire.
You consistently have a full patient load
Or you spend all your time treating and not enough time working on your business
You may even have a waitlist (this could mean it is far past time to start!)
Yet even when the signs are apparent, many practice owners still harbor doubts when it comes time to hire.
You may wonder if you can attract enough clients to your clinic. Or think that your patients have grown attached to you and your current staff. That they wouldn’t want to be treated by someone new. You may fear the costs of hiring would exceed the increased revenue.
Many practice owners experience these fears of expanding their business. But there are plenty of successful practice owners who are able to grow, hire, and expand each year. Their secret? Implementing effective systems and repeatable processes to consistently produce a steady stream of new patients.
In this article, you’ll get a blueprint for how to never run out of patients. The strategies in this article will help you consistently attract patients, scale your business, hire more, and keep growing your practice.
Once you build a system that works for consistently getting more patients to your clinic, you can hire without fear. You can even open new practices and use the same tactics to grow them.
The State of PT Hiring in 2022
Before diving into PT marketing strategies, let’s look at the hiring landscape for physical therapists now and in the future.
At the macro level, an aging population and advancements in medicine are helping people live longer. This creates increased demand for physical therapy and other types of conservative care. Physical therapy is also becoming more accessible as more states open up for direct access.
What does this mean for your practice? A couple of things:
The demand for physicians will keep growing for the foreseeable future.
Because of increasing demand, the job market will become very competitive (it already is). Finding new hires that fit your needs will get harder.
With increased demand, salaries will go up. This means that each clinician you add to your staff is more valuable than they were a year ago.
A competitive job market means you’ll have to attract the best clinicians. You’ll face stiff competition by the hospital system.
How to Compete in Today’s Hiring Market
The key here is to make your practice an appealing place for people to work. More patients equals the ability to deliver higher salaries and better benefits. A demonstrable track record of consistent patient demand will show potential hires that they’ll have job security. You also want to be able to paint a clear picture of future growth. This motivates future and current staff members.
Being able to quickly and consistently attract patients and fill a new hire’s schedule helps make your practice attractive to potential hires. In fact, you should start attracting new patients even before onboarding new staff.
When Should a New Hire Have a Full Schedule?
The timeline for having a full schedule for a new hire depends on various factors, like your practice’s location and popularity. Many successful practices follow a timeline such as this:
90 days before hiring
If you’re not already at full capacity, this is a good time to implement a patient demand system to create a steady stream of patients for your new hire. A patient demand system includes solutions for marketing across platforms such as online advertising, email automation, and two-way texting.
First 90 days after hiring
Once you’ve hired someone, it usually takes about 90 days to fully onboard a clinician. This includes getting the PT used to their operations, acquainted with the front office, and taught to deliver the standard of care expected from the clinic. It’s normal to have a new PT work at a lower capacity during this time.
After 90 days on the job
After this first probation period, the new hire should be working at full capacity (or close to it). They should be integrated with the system, and visit as many patients as possible. A great way to structure your staff’s schedules is to have experienced clinicians seeing existing patients and to fill your new hire’s schedule with new patients from cold traffic.
PT Marketing Strategies for Attracting a Steady Flow of Patients
You have way more control over the client acquisition practice now than in the past. Back in the day, clinics relied on word-of-mouth and referrals to keep their practices working. These tactics are great to keep in the mix, but should not be relied on for all of your business.
Nowadays, a complete recipe for growth goes beyond referrals and word of mouth. It includes a plethora of channels and tactics for reaching potential customers, including online and offline strategies.
Typically, growing practices should budget around 10% of revenues for marketing. Marketing includes strategies to engage existing and past patients, such as automated email blasts, two-way texting, and direct mail. It also encompasses advertising (both online and offline) for cold traffic. You can advertise online on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube. A comprehensive direct-to-consumer marketing strategy should also include automated lead management and follow-up to ensure a strong ROI for your ad spend.
Creating a Successful PT Marketing Campaign: A 5-Step Process
It may feel a little overwhelming at first, but with the right processes and system in place, you can generate a constant influx of patients. You can avoid the dreaded feeling that you are continually reinventing the wheel each month by implementing plug-and-play campaigns that repeat throughout the year.
Step 1: Start by defining your audience. For example, if your clinic serves an older demographic, you’ll want to focus on means of communication favored by older folks. Things like snail mail and phone texts can yield amazing results for you. Conversely, younger audiences are easier to reach with digital marketing.
Step 2: Your messaging should be patient-focused. Most of your patients don’t know what latissimus dorsi is, or that they have tendonitis. They know they have pain, and only care about fixing it. And that’s how your marketing messaging should be. Make it patient-focused by using everyday language.
Step 3: Identify the channels you’ll start testing for both cold traffic and past patients. Different media types can be appropriate for different stages of the patient journey. For instance, Facebook and YouTube ads are great for cold traffic. They help educate a large, unaware audience that you have a solution for them. Google is more appropriate for advertising to a more aware audience that is already looking for physical therapy clinics in their area. Email, direct mail, and two-way texting are great tools for engaging past patients.
Step 4: Design a compelling offer. “Attend a workshop on solving back pain.” “Give the gift of a free screening to a friend or family member.” “Schedule an appointment easily online.” These are examples of call-to-actions, or compelling offers, that you can promote in your campaigns. Each campaign should highlight one clear call to action. For cold traffic, workshops are an incredibly powerful offer to promote online. This strategy lets you showcase your clinicians’ expertise on the workshop’s topic. Instead of telling people you can solve their health issues, you get to show them. And you enhance efficiency by driving multiple potential patients into your clinic at once.
Patient Demand Systems for Consistent and Predictable Growth
You can’t rely exclusively on referral marketing anymore. If you want your practice to thrive and grow, you must build a system that takes people from being unaware of your services to paying customers.
In marketing speak, this is called a funnel. Patients are either unaware of your service, aware of it but unsure if it’s the right one for them, or ready to buy. The perfect marketing system gets people from all of these places and gently accompanies them to the bottom of the funnel, which is purchasing a care plan.
That’s why here at Breakthrough we built an all-in-one platform that does the heavy lifting for you. Its beauty lies in how it sustains itself. It starts by giving you the right tools, like our powerful online advertising tools and done-for-you campaigns to attract clients to your practice. Then, through email automation, two-way texting, and lead management tools, it converts them into paying customers. This process generates lots of data you can then use to optimize your messaging throughout the customer acquisition process and beyond.
Do you want to learn more PT marketing strategies for consistently increasing patient growth? Request a demo today.
See how our platforms can help you create a self-sustaining marketing system that makes filling a new hire’s schedule easy.
Get More Patient Visits and Make Life Easier on Your Staff
Running your own physical therapy practice is extremely rewarding, but also challenging. Caring about patients is only part of the business. You have to hire the right staff. Build a profitable business. And to do all of that, you have to consistently attract patients. Physical therapy marketing technology can help.
The name of the game is no longer about physician referrals. Nowadays, people are searching for healthcare services online. It’s the perfect time to establish your online presence and use the power of physical therapy marketing to grow your practice.
Make marketing technology work for you. Leverage automation to improve your processes, so your team can spend less time on activities like following up with leads, and focus more time on delivering the best possible customer experience.
In this article, we are going to see how marketing technology can impact your business, and why you should embrace technology to increase your staff’s efficiency.
Identifying the Right Technology for You
Technology simplified our life, and keeps simplifying it with each passing day. What once took lots of people and inefficient processes can now be automated. Automatic systems aren’t prone to error—unlike humans—and free up people to work on higher value tasks.
You have likely had both good and bad experiences implementing new technologies in your practice. Learning a new system takes effort, and some are overly complex and time-consuming. One good rule-of-thumb for avoiding this problem is to identify technology that is designed specifically with the physical therapy practice in mind. These technologies have the best chance of integrating seamlessly with your existing processes and operations.
So what can technology do for your practice?
5 Benefits of Using Marketing Technology in Your Physical Therapy Practice
There are 5 main benefits to using marketing technology to increase your business’ efficiency:
You attract more patients
Technology simplifies the customer’s decision making process. If I have some sort of pain and I’m unsure if I should bother getting it checked out, the last thing I want to do is call 4 different practices to figure things out.
But if I regularly see educational advertisements from your practice about my condition, then I know to think of your practice when I’m in pain. I will think of you as the authority on the subject, and look up your practice when in need.
Relying on a single channel—be it referrals or ads—is risky. You never know when it will stop working. But with technology, you’ll build up multiple acquisition channels.
Make it easy for people to find you and get an appointment, and you’ll notice that your practice will grow on autopilot.
2) You convert more leads into paying patients
Nobody likes calling a physical therapy practice and finding a busy landline. People are used to setting up appointments online, where they can see a range of available hours. That way, they don’t have to plan their day around the visit but can pick a time that works best for them.
Plus, calling comes with other inefficiencies. Your front-desk operators could make mistakes when writing down customer information, or the call could drop at any moment. These moments are extremely frustrating for all parts, but technology like two-way texting can help you avoid them. A study conducted by Avochato showed that across all generations over two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents would prefer an unfamiliar company to contact them via text rather than a phone call.Research shows that 3 out of 4 consumers actually get frustrated when they can’t text a business back.
Imagine what could be possible with technology like an automatic messaging system. For example, a patient could call you, find a busy line, and get a text that suggests visiting your site to schedule an appointment. These types of process improvements can go a long way in helping get more patients in the door.
3. You can centralize lead and customer data
What we’ve seen from businesses all over the country, is that most are quite disorganized. They have customer data scattered through emails, drawers, and Excel sheets. That’s fine when you’re just getting started, but it gets confusing real quick.
This is particularly important in physical therapy marketing because your messaging determines how well your ad campaigns will perform. And it’s impossible to get the messaging right without in-depth knowledge of your customers.
But with technology, you can centralize your data in a single hub. No more wasting time and energy combing through your records to find your customers’ information. With Patient Demand Software, you can see all your leads with actionable guidance on who to follow up with and when. Your front desk will be grateful for this.
4) You gain a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not
Phone calls and traditional flyers have a huge weakness. They don’t give you any data on their effectiveness. Digital marketing solutions like ads and patient demand platforms solve this issue by giving you ROI intelligence and metrics tracking. Clear insights into marketing and staff performance allow you to ditch the spreadsheets and see the performance of your marketing efforts all in one place.
5) You improve employee satisfaction and make it easier to hire
Aside from preventing mistakes, your front desk operators have more intellectually stimulating tasks to do. Starting at spreadsheets all day is mind-numbing and time-consuming. It’s also a low-value activity that lowers their productivity.
Is your front desk spending most of their time on the phone booking appointments? That could easily be improved with technology.
Use QR codes to get people to book appointments from you. Redirect people to your website when you can have online forms to automate data collection. Automate Insurance eligibility verification.
All of these activities are performed by front desks of inefficient practices. But with a little investment in the right technologies, you can get computers to perform then. This will lift a huge weight off your front desk’s shoulders.
Since these people are the face of your practice, you want them to always be in top shape.
By automating processes, you free up lots of time that your staff can spend on more fruitful activities. They’ll also be more satisfied with their work because you’ll have lifted them from tasks that nobody enjoys doing.
The Big Picture: Why Technology Matters
Implementing a solid physical therapy marketing strategy will make your practice thrive. You’ll be able to open more offices, add more clinicians, and improve your practice value. There is something special about seeing your business grow.
You’re not only improving your patients’ lives, but you’ll also make your employees’ lives better. Everybody wins.
Technology, if used well, will drastically grow your practice. You can improve your services, attract more people who can benefit from your services, and streamline your processes. But, the key phrase is “if used well.” You need everyone who works in your practice to understand the advantage of using technology, and must be trained accordingly.
For physical therapy practices, technology can be looked at as a tool to improve your patients’ lives. If your patients are satisfied, they’ll gladly suggest your clinic to their peers, and become your best marketers.
It’s an investment for the future. Technology will turn your clinic into a sustainable business that grows on autopilot.
Are you interested in giving your business the boost it deserves? Request a demo today, and see how Patient Demand Software can help you make your practice thrive.
Join hundreds of practices accelerating their growth with Breakthrough.