Content Marketing

Power to the Patient: 5 tips for your unbeatable fertility marketing plan in the great information shift

By Griffin Jones

In this week's premier of the final season of Downton Abbey, one of our favorite characters, Anna Bates, reveals her struggle with recurring pregnancy loss. The season takes place in 1925. How different options would have been for Anna and her husband in that period, with respect to both medicine and information technology. How would Anna have learned more about her medical condition in 1925?

Anna sharing the news of her most recent pregnancy loss with her husband.

Anna sharing the news of her most recent pregnancy loss with her husband.

The world's collective knowledge was not at Anna's fingertips 90 years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Bates had one source of information, and likely a very limited one: their physician. The available doctor had all of the access to information and the patient had none.  Today, on Google alone, there are 10,500 average monthly searches for the phrase, "cause of infertility", in the United States and Canada and 276,500 monthly searches for "IVF". The infertility hashtag has been posted 122,534 times (and counting) on Instagram. What implications does this conquest for information have on how new patients come to find their fertility centers?

Some of the phrases people enter into Google to learn more about infertility and IVF

Some of the phrases people enter into Google to learn more about infertility and IVF

With all of the analytics before us, it's obvious that many patients are curious to know as much as they can before they ever contact a fertility specialist.  According to research conducted by Carnegie Mellon's George Loewenstein, curiosity occurs when there is a gap between what we know and what we want to know. For this reason, the websites of fertility centers with the most relevant information are usually able to attract more visitors, for longer periods of time than those with less information. Rather than spending money on conventional advertising, providing patients with the answers they seek is one of the most effective plans for attracting new patients. Here are five ways to begin to build your fertility marketing plan for 2016:

1). Use a tool like Marketing Grader or Moz Local Search. See how easily (or not) your website is found by search engines. These tools scan your website for checklist items to make sure they are complete. I use these tools, and I find them useful, but they are a start. Individuals and couples dealing with infertility are your real focus, not a checklist. 

2). Claim and verify your practice location(s) with the major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Claiming your listings on these major search engines helps prospective patients toward the end of their decision making process. They have all but decided on going to see a fertility specialist. Make sure that your most important contact information is correct:

  • Phone number
  • Office hours
  • Address/GPS location
  • Web address

This rings especially true for clinics with multiple locations. If you are in a large metro area like Dallas, for example, claiming offices in satellite cities like Plano and Ft. Worth may make the difference in someone finding your practice over another. The more complete these listings are, the better (real photos).

3). Complete your profile on the most relevant review sites. I distinguish review sites from the major search engines because they have different implications for fertility centers. The most popular review sites for fertility doctors include:

  • Healthgrades
  • ZocDoc
  • RateMDs
  • Yelp
  • Vitals
  • Fertility Authority
A completed physician profile looks much more professional.

A completed physician profile looks much more professional.

Some of these directories will charge you to complete your profile and respond to reviews. It's usually not a priority to claim all of them.  There will be two or three that are more widely-used in your area. RateMDs, for example, is very popular for reproductive endocrinologist (RE) searches in Los Angeles and Dallas but much less so in the Bay Area and Houston. 

When someone searches for information on these sites, they are given suggestions for competing fertility clinics and doctors. Here, complete information is a stark advantage. Would you prefer that your prospective patient view another physician's professional head shot as compared to a computer generated silhouette to represent you?

4). Increase your Facebook reviews. In this context, I prioritize Facebook above other social media for fertility centers because of its search value. Facebook almost always ranks among the top search results for your practice. Since 77% of adult women use Facebook, they will quickly find if any of their friends or acquaintances publicly "like" your practice, thus dramatically expanding your "word of mouth" referral network. Facebook reviews provide a wealth of social information to you prospective patients and women's healthcare influence has spread beyond the family. According to a survey conducted by California Healthline, 41% of women report that social media sites influence their choice of physician, hospital, or medical facility. 

Building an active social community takes time and resources, but to start, make it easy for your best patients to find you so they can leave high-quality reviews.  At the very least, every fertility practice should have an

  • Updated cover photo
  • Updated profile picture
  • Current contact information: phone number, website, address, hours, etc. 
  • Reviews enabled (If reviews are turned off, your best patients won't be able to vouch for you)

5). Resume your blog. Hubspot's data shows that blogging is the #1 cause of increase in a site's web traffic. When your REs and other experts from your community blog, you effectively increase the number of answers to potential questions that lead new patients to find you online. But how do you face information overload?

According to a study by the University of Southern California's Institute for Communication Technology Management, we consume 74 gigabytes of information every day; the capacity of 9 DVDs! With so much noise on the internet, how do you ensure that your blog post will be found, much more read? You can

  1. Use Google's Keyword Planner to find  "long-tail keyword" searches. "Infertility" is a "short-tail" keyword where "blood tests for infertility in women" is a long tailed keyword. Often, there is less competition for these terms and you can even localize the planner to your geographic area.
  2. Go from memory. The twenty most frequently asked questions you receive from patients during their initial consultation are topics for blog posts. The way the patients ask each question is often the best way to title the post. Even if not optimized well, archiving your personalized answers to your most frequently asked questions on your website brings extra value to your patients. It gives them another resource to check if they forget your answer or want more information.
  3. Subscribe to inbound marketing software. The most efficient way to increase new fertility patients by blogging is to use inbound marketing software like the platforms offered by Sales Force, KissMetrics, or Hubspot. You can waste a lot of time, money, or both by guessing which content to create. Let inbound marketing software focus on the data so that you can focus on creating the content and answering the question.

The shift in access to information has certainly changed since the epoch of Downton Abbey. In 2016, patients have virtually unlimited access to information. They need a fertility specialist to help them unpack this information overload with context and insight. Today's fertility marketing is based on the principle that this exchange of information begins not at the first consultation, but online, before your new patient decides on her fertility doctor. I'll do anything I can to help patients find the answers they're looking for, I hope that involves you.

Increase your IVF cycles this year by creating better content than any other fertility practice in your area. Download my completely free e-book, "Digital Marketing for Fertility Centers: How to use digital media to acquire new IVF patients in 2016".

The Future of Content Marketing for Fertility Centers

By Griffin Jones

I've mentioned before that every fertility center is, in fact, a media company. This thesis should inform your fertility clinic's entire content marketing strategy. First, let's define content marketing as the process of creating and curating relevant and valuable content. So how do we know what's relevant and valuable? We have to reverse-engineer the attention of couples and individuals struggling with infertility.

Sites like the Huffington Post produce some of the most popular infertility content on the internet. I believe that the future of content marketing for fertility centers will look more like this.

Sites like the Huffington Post produce some of the most popular infertility content on the internet. I believe that the future of content marketing for fertility centers will look more like this.

Do people experiencing infertility pay attention to clinical information and FAQs on a fertility clinic's website? Of course. But this educational content represents only one segment of the patient's attention. Generally, this attention-segment is the only one that fertility centers compete for. Other fertility centers are your competition with respect to the services you offer. But when it comes to the attention of your prospective patient, your competitors are people like the Huffington Post.

For example, this post about how fertility is especially painful at the holidays, received over 2,500 likes on Facebook. When is the last time that happened for an article you posted from ASRM's Fertility and Sterility? Educational content is necessary, but the narrative of infertility doesn't end with clinical information. Who is relating to your patients about a gut-wrenching silence at the Thanksgiving dinner table? Who articulates the spectrum of emotions they feel when they see a friend post a pregnancy announcement on Instagram? You may or may not feel comfortable speaking in that voice as a fertility center. I understand.  You don't always have to be the messenger. You can be the medium. 

Media companies have contributors. You will need HIPAA release authorizations, a media policy, and public disclaimers, but you have an abundance of contributors to court. Some of your existing and former patients would likely love to write about their own experience and share it on your site. Dozens of infertility blogs  need greater distribution and promotion. Authors and books like The Doctor and the Stork provide some of the group-connection that your patients seek online.

This is the (hopefully near) future of content marketing for fertility centers. People experiencing infertility have shown us what content they want to view and read. The question is, will it come from the New York Times or will it come from you?

Why on Earth Would an RE Review Google and Yahoo?

By Griffin Jones

Did I miswrite the title of this blog post? Aren't reproductive endocrinologists reviewed on Google and other search engines, not the other way around?

If you believe in content marketing, it's because you've seen results from it. If you've seen results from content marketing, then you likely agree with Gary Vaynerchuk when he says that every company is a media company.

Your fertility center is a media company. This is the thesis of the free e-book, Digital Marketing for Fertility Centers. Content marketing works because it engages, educates, or entertains people. 

The issue of IVF coverage as part of employee compensation is a hot-topic issue for many professional women, especially in silicon valley. Hot issues invite commentary. Most fertility centers will leave this commentary to CNBC, CNN, the Huffington know, the media companies.

But you're a media company too, remember? People find and choose your practice online because of the connection they form with you. Content builds connections. This is a simple assignment for you, as an RE, to baby-step your fertility clinic into a small media company.

Take a look at all of the benefits offered by different  companies in the US and Canada. This message board may give you a head start. Just do a little bit of research to make sure the information is correct. You can rate companies from your own experience, you can interview company representatives, or you can simply add your take to the latest news article on the subject. You can record video or  write a blog post; this is just an assignment. The habits toward a much greater shift from fertility center to media company/fertility center are what enable your practice to grow in the Digital Age. 

INVOcell and Educational Content for Fertility Center Websties

By Griffin Jones

We can expect this type of headline in fertility news to be the new norm: Simpler, less expensive infertility treatment gets FDA green signal.  For a patient researching infertility online, this is attention-grabbing. The first thing most patients search for on a fertility center's website is IVF cost. On page 18 of the free e-book, Digital Marketing for Fertility Centers, we look at the dominance of IVF cost in search behavior.

No one looks forward to paying twelve thousand dollars for an IVF cycle. Anything that promises to reduce my expenses and give me the desired result is worth at least some of my attention. The only problem is, how can Nasdaq explain to me the difference between a revolution in assisted reproductive technology (ART) and a sales pitch? For this, I really need the advice of my RE. If I am still deciding on an RE, this would be very valuable information on their website. Here are questions for your fertility center to answer on your website or blog:

  • Will you/have you used the INVOcell procedure in your clinic?
  • Why or why not?
  • What does INVOcell involve that IVF does not and vice-versa?
  • Will treatments like INVOcell really reduce treatment costs for patients?
  • What do people struggling with infertility need to be aware of when new devices, treatments, and medications come to market?

As a rule of thumb, keep your eye out for any infertility headlines that discuss cheaper and easier treatments. Your current and prospective patients research this information online, but you are much more qualified to answer their questions. Writing a blog post about each development as they appear in the news will help your fertility clinic's website attract more new patients as well.

Infertility and Ovarian Cancer Risk As a Blog Post for Your Fertility Clinic

By Griffin Jones

As I mentioned in my post about how to come up with topics for your fertility center's blog, one of the best habits you can develop is to write about the latest news in the field of infertility. I am not suggesting that you re-post a link to a news article on your site. You can do that if you absolutely don't have ten minutes to write your own post, but I'm concerned with increasing your fertility center's search engine optimization (SEO), not that of

This article published yesterday, (October 29, 2015) for example, raises as many questions for prospective IVF patients as it answers. ASRM president-elect, Owen K. Davis, does a good job of explaining that the correlation appears to be between ovarian cancer and infertility as opposed to it being between ovarian cancer and ART. I venture that you can explain it even more clearly to your prospective and current patients. Here are some questions to answer:

  • What does it tell us that there was no increase in risk with increasing number of ART cycles?
  • What does it tell us that there was no increase in women undergoing ART for male factor infertility?
  • What should women diagnosed with infertility do in the interest of early detection of ovarian cancer?

Neither I, nor a reporter from the Huffington Post, are qualified to answer these questions. You are.  Adding your expert opinion as an RE provides valuable context to what may be complex research. As an additional marketing benefit, covering topics as these may increase your fertility center's chance of being found in a patient search. 


What Every IVF Patient is Looking For On Your Fertility Clinic's Website

By Griffin Jones

The average IVF patient visits the websites of five different providers  before she makes her decision. So all other things being equal, your fertility center has a twenty percent chance of being selected. We can improve those odds.

The two most popular Google search combinations for IVF are IVF cost and IVF rates.

The two most popular Google search combinations for IVF are IVF cost and IVF rates.

If you want to convert more of these website visitors into actual patients, your site needs to be designed to help people make their decision online. Increasingly, people are making their financial decisions online before the first point of contact .

To convert website visitors to patients, we need to examine what patients are looking at when they are comparing fertility centers online. Take a look at your Google Analytics account. The most commonly viewed page for the websites of nearly every fertility center in the United States and Canada is, you guessed it, cost. Overwhelmingly, your cost page is likely the most viewed page on your website.

For this reason it is unwise to omit your IVF cycle pricing from your website. If you fail to provide patients with the information for which they are searching, they will find it from another clinic, which will potentially cause a drop in your search ranking.

The mistake I see most fertility centers make is that their cost page is exactly that: a page with the pricing of their IVF packages and nothing more. This is problematic for the practice because with only this information, the fertility center is competing with other providers on price alone. We can’t take for granted that prospective patients will click on the other tabs on our site and consider all of the other reasons why our practice is the best choice. We need to have other decision-impacting content on our cost page that benefits and influences the patient. For more complicated issues such as cost and success rates, online video is an excellent resource.

4 Simple Fertility Blog Topics to End Your Practice's Writer's Block

By Griffin Jones

Many physicians tell me they just can't think of what to write for their fertility clinic's blog. They know they need to blog, but they're often unsure about which topics to write. This is often an indicator that we need to review why blogging is important in the first place . Bing, Yahoo, and principally, Google, have all tremendously improved their algorithms to help people find the exact information they want. In short, the search engines will help patients find you if you are the source of the answers for which they're looking. 

While search optimization is necessary, the single greatest priority is making sure that your fertility center's website is a source of as many answers to patient questions as you can author. So how do you know what content to create?

1.   Start with your experts. Ask each of your nurses and physicians to write down the five most common questions they receive from new patients. This information should comprise the pages of your website.

2.    Remember the phrasing used by the patient. 15-20% of Google searches have never been searched before. So every time a patient asks a question in a new way, or inquiries about something that you haven’t heard before, that is an idea for a new blog post .

3.    Say it simply. Did you attend Ira Flatow's plenary lecture at the ASRM meeting, titled, "smart is the new sexy"? The most consumed content in health and science education is that which entertains and/or simplifies. If you can answer them in a more fun or direct way, every frequently asked question on the ASRM patient site, is the topic of a new blog post.

4. Add your take to the news. Whether it's ASRM's headlines in reproductive health or the latest celebrity couple to announce their struggle with infertility, there is usually room for commentary. Physicians can use their blog to provide context for these broader issues.

If you're an RE, do you get writer's block or does blogging come naturally to you?



Tribe Marketing For Fertility Centers

By Griffin Jones

If you're not familiar with one of my favorite authors, you may want to check out Seth Godin

Godin says “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” 

Most healthcare categories do not have tribes. Dermatology patients are not connected by an idea. They have no shared interest and thus no leader or way to communicate. Couples and individuals struggling with infertility are connected by an idea however. They are connected by the feeling of loneliness and exclusion. They are connected by the feeling that they want to know their problems are human. 

They communicate with each other through blogs, support groups, and social media. The problem is that they often find each other on their own. Very often, their fertility center fails to be the leader. Who is a leader? The one who gives the tribe a way to communicate. The one who connects them with each other. This role is immediately available to fertility centers. As the front line for people's reproductive health, we are expected to be their resource for their problem, not their medical condition.

Individuals and couples struggling with infertility want so badly to connect with one another for support. They want resources and information that will help them with their journey. Fertility centers have an advantage that most healthcare practices do not. They have people who are deeply passionate about the issue at which they are the center. They don't have to interrupt people with unwanted marketing messages.

People are waiting for you to lead them.