digital marketing

Should I fire my fertility center's marketing manager?

By Griffin Jones

Fertility doctors frequently ask me, “Is it better to have an in-house marketing person or contract an outside marketing firm?” You might expect me to favor the choice of hiring the firm. I don’t. The two are not mutually exclusive; each role is critically important to the other. In fact, across the board, your staff are paramount to your fertility practice's efforts to recruit new patients. There are assignments that your in-practice marketer should and should NOT be tasked with to maximize effectiveness and cost-efficiency. The same is true of your agency. Depending on the size of your practice, it may seem redundant to have both an internal marketing person and an agency on retainer. When used correctly, they will each pay for themselves and then some. 

marketing manager or clinic liaison?

If the practice has only one dedicated marketing person, his or her greatest productivity may very well come from the assignment of practice liaison. This is a function that is extremely difficult to outsource. As a marketer, my focus on digital media is owed only to its powerful results in attracting new patients. Digital’s proven ability to grow fertility practices doesn’t make physician referrals any less meaningful. Even in 2017, OB/GYN referrals still count for a tremendous share of new patients. Having someone who can regularly schedule physician-to-physician lunches, deliver semen analysis kits and information about infertility support, and educate OB/GYN staff in your area is tremendously valuable to the practice. Markets differ widely on the return on investment (ROI) of MD referrals, but in some cases, it may be a fertility center’s fastest path to growth.

physician referral case study

I asked an expert on the topic to share her experience on nurturing relationships with referring doctors. Shirley Sinclair is the practice manager of the Fertility Center of Chattanooga.

"For over 10 years, we’ve tried to find the magic source of how to bring in more patients and one of the top ways is still through referring physicians.  This process has taken us some time to fine-tune, but it has proven to be very successful.  We know our physicians are very busy, especially OB/GYN’s, so it is critical to remember that every minute of their day is valuable.  With that in mind, we developed a few different ways for doctors to easily consume our message.
•    Distribute referral packets in a beautiful folder filled with
o    information about our clinics
o     fact-sheets about infertility and testing
o    semen analysis kit.  
•    Provide a referral sheet for the referring physician, in which they can
o    add the patient name,
o    check off the type of appointment they are requesting (such as semen analysis, consult, etc.)
o     Fax back to our office

"We contact the patient to set up the appointment, thereby freeing up the referral’s time.  We take these packets to each office about every 6 weeks, along with some type of goodie for the staff.  This is not the time to ask to speak with anyone!  They will remember you more if you do not become a nuisance.  Also, do not leave too many packets; the idea is to show consistency and for you to become familiar with the staff.   

"Another great tip is to set up lunches with referring practices.  While this can be time consuming, this is a wonderful tool to use, especially when you have a new program or new protocol that you would like to share with the doctors.  Always take one of your physicians and, in addition, it is helpful to take someone from your staff that is familiar with the clinical side, as well as financial.  Physicians are always curious about what insurance will pay for as it is one of the first questions patients ask their doctor when they are encouraged to see a fertility specialist.  

"Use this time to assure the physicians that you would like to set up a partnership in providing the best care for their patient.  In other words, remind them that your goal is to help the patient become pregnant and send them right back!  Also, educate the physician that referring a patient sooner, rather than later, will save the patient precious time, money, and especially undue emotional stress.  Hanging on to a patient 6 months longer could be the deciding factor of what type of treatment the patient will end up having, therefore, adding additional hardship to the patient.  

"While these tips are vital, they are worthless unless you track them.  We use an EMR that is designed for fertility clinics, called eIVF, to track our referral sources.  Keep track of which physicians’ offices refer to you! In addition, make sure your physicians follow a protocol to send letters to the referring physician after the patient’s visit. Then send a follow up letter when you send the patient, hopefully pregnant, back to her OB/GYN.  Keeping your referring physician in the loop about their patients will solidify a long, successful relationship that will not only be beneficial to each of you, but, most importantly, to the patients for whom you both care!"

WAYS YOUR MARKETING MANAGER CAN HELP YOUR AGENCY

If you have more than one practice marketing person, or you live in a market where physician relations is not a full time job, your marketing manager is irreplaceable for a number of tasks that need to be accomplished within the practice. 

hiring a fertility marketing agency

Content sourcing. I don’t fly a member of my team to Honolulu every time we want to post a picture of the Fertility Institute of Hawaii’s staff to Instagram. Homemade and frequent content is vital to any practice’s content marketing strategy. In-practice marketers can serve as “brand journalists”, collecting the necessary images, stories, and videos to be sent to the agency for editing and distribution.

Operational changes.  You may find that your online reputation is not as great as it should be, simply because of one or two common patterns. Patients might love your staff, but report your response time to be abysmal. The practice manager super-serves the practice when he or she is able to implement systemic changes that are needed to improve the marketing imprint of the practice.

Tracking. Your marketing agency will be able to tell you how many people RSVPed to your practice’s IVF informational session. Your in-practice marketer will tell you how many actually showed up. If using a CRM or not, the in-practice marketer is critical in measuring and reporting the volume and sourcing of new patients.

WAYS YOUR AGENCY CAN SERVE YOUR MARKETING MANAGER

Not the first time I've included a Jerry Maguire meme on my blog 

Not the first time I've included a Jerry Maguire meme on my blog 

One stop shopping. Your practice manager has enough to do without searching for a website developer, a photographer, a graphic designer, a writer, or a cinematographer every time your practice needs something. Your agency can provide that to you under one roof. 

Social Media and Online Community Management. It’s not a good use of your practice manager’s time to respond to every comment on social media or online review sources, or to have to scour for content to post every day. Your agency can handle online interaction and take the lead from your practice manager when specific questions arise. 

Content Development. Your agency can turn the raw text, photo, and video your practice sends into polished infographics, edited e-books, and maximize their distribution on social media and the web. The creative content and design that your agency helps you create doesn’t have to stay on your online properties, either. Digital materials like infographics and guides make for valuable resources that turn your clinic liaison’s visits into less of a sales call, and into more of a service to the referring doctor. 

Advertising. It’s possible to waste a lot of money on bad advertising. Does your team know how to target same-sex couples, who married within the last year, who recently visited your website and live within 25 miles of your practice? Mine does.

Tracking. Your business manager doesn’t have to be an expert in Google Analytics or using a customer relationship management (CRM) software. Your agency can be in charge of mastering your conversion system. 

THERE IS NO "I" IN aggregate TEAM MARKETING EFFORTS

A clinic liaison or marketing manager can be very effective for your practice. So can a hired agency. When they work in tandem, they return their investment exponentially. Studies find that marketing leads convert seven times more frequently when employees are fully involved in the process.  Patients often mention their favorite staff when they leave positive reviews about their fertility center, and the compassion of team members can be invaluable in the fertility journey. Some personnel may want to be the star of a video, and others may prefer a “behind the scenes” role. From contributing to blog posts, to planning events like the baby reunion to promoting support networks, there are plenty of ways to engage staff in the practice’s marketing strategy.

The 25 Best Words to Describe REs in Fertility Clinic Reviews

By Griffin Jones

Now, on to the good news.

In an earlier post, I had written about the 28 harshest words that people use to describe reproductive endocrinologists. Paying attention to the words that people use to desrcribe their REs and their fertility clinics begins to offer insight on how we can improve their experience. This time, I made a word cloud of the most common positive adjectives that people use in RE reviews.

A word-cloud of the 25 most common positive words to describe reproductive endocrinologists in online reviews

A word-cloud of the 25 most common positive words to describe reproductive endocrinologists in online reviews

Once again, using ratemds.com, I analyzed the descriptive words used in four, four and a half, and five star reviews. 

The vast majority of reviews centered on the doctor's demeanor, personality, and communication. Interestingly, however, the most commonly-used adjective does not tell us anything about a physician's bedside manor. The word knowledgeable appeared in 175 reviews. As in the previous phase, I only counted an adjective once per review. If a review didn't use any adjectives to describe the physician or staff, I skipped over it.

If you would like to look at the raw data, e-mail me at griffin@fertilitybridge.com and I will be happy to send it you. Otherwise it included:

  • 592 total reviews 
  • 144 REs
  • 167 different adjectives
  • 54 greater metro areas or states/provinces 

Two crucial qualitative observations carried over from the other phases of the project.

  1. Physician=staff=physician. Although the reviews are for the physician and not the practice as a whole, the staff are reviewed in the majority of reviews. Often, the feelings regarding the staff are the same as they are for the physician. Sometimes however, opinions toward staff either bring down or raise the rating of the doctor.
  2. It's not about success of treatment. Oh wait, it is. Clearly, patients are reviewing the physician based on their bedside manner. But positive reviews disproportionately mention a baby or pregnancy, while negative reviews disproportionately mention leaving the practice without success. The next phase of my project will be to analyze how many reviews contain mention of a baby, and how they correspond to the star rating of the review.

What observations do you have? I've been getting more feedback than ever and sometimes your ideas become a new phase of the project!

If you're not on my e-mail list, and you would like a little bit more explanation of the study, you can watch my video post below.

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 Post...you 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. 

28 Scathing Words for REs Across Fertility Center Reviews

By Griffin Jones

If you are a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), you don't have an easy job. I don't mention this to state the obvious, nor flatter you, nor am I referring to surgical talent, study, or training.

It's heir-apparent that one of the most difficult aspects of the role of an RE is serving a population under enormous emotional and mental stress, who are often financially burdened, subject to unfair social pressure, all within great deal of outcome-uncertainty.

I chose to make the wordcloud from the 28 most common negative adjectives used, those that were each used in five or more reviews.

I chose to make the wordcloud from the 28 most common negative adjectives used, those that were each used in five or more reviews.

When the fragility of this accord is overwhelmed, the RE's public image often suffers in the form of negative online reviews. I'm not referring to recurring themes across several reviews that really help us understand the personality of a doctor before meeting him or her. If twelve different reviewers use the word "arrogant" to describe you, then you're arrogant. If it's common enough, then it's true that perception is reality.

I'm concerned when an RE's message is interpreted in a completely different way than it was intended. It's bad for the practice, and above all, so many of you have told me how it really upsets you. I have begun a project to comprehensively analyze RE and fertility clinic reviews, to establish a resource of actions that lead to the highest possible level of patient satisfaction.

This second phase of this project is an in-depth analysis I did of 130 RE reviews on ratemds.com. I formed several key anecdotal observations, but I was most interested in aggregating a set of data for you.  So I focused only on the negative adjectives used to describe REs and their staff. I skipped over those reviews where no adjectives were used. Each adjective counted only once per review, regardless of how many times it was used. The final tally included:

  • 130 REs 
  • 349 reviews
  • 119 different adjectives

As you can see from the word cloud above, the word "rude" was the most common adjective used. In fact, it appeared in 91 different reviews. The data is important because it frames how certain experiences are later recounted to a much broader audience on the web. Understanding the language of dissatisfied patients provides insight to the interactions that lead to their expression of frustration.

Equally, analyzing the language of positive reviews is just as important. Will those words be the exact opposites of the most common negative adjectives, or will others be used? More importantly, the feedback of delighted patients is the compass for the growth of the practice. Comparing the languages of delighted patients and of aggrieved patients will help us form a support-guide for maximizing patient delight and improving staff and physician morale. I expect to have the positive review word cloud done for you by Thanksgiving (2015).

If you would like the raw data from this report, I will be happy to send you the spreadsheet. Just e-mail me at griffin@fertilitybridge.com or leave a comment below.

If you'd like a little further explanation of the data, you can watch my video post here:


Forget Twitter: The 2 Most Important Social Networks for Fertility Centers

By Griffin Jones

It's annoying, isn't it? So many social networks come and go, how can a Reproductive Endocrinologist and her practice manager be expected to be fully engaged in a dozen social media platforms?  The task becomes much less daunting when we reverse engineer our patients' attention. We don't have to be experts of every social network, we just need to know on which our prospective patients spend the most time.

 In 2017, I may well have new recommendations regarding into which platforms you should invest your time and resources. Through 2016, however, the two social media networks on which every fertility center should be present are Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook can be the best review site for fertility centers as well as a referral source.

Facebook can be the best review site for fertility centers as well as a referral source.

1.    Facebook. 
Facebook is by far the largest, and most widely used social network in the world. 70% of Facebook users check their accounts daily, with 43% of users checking every day .
There are 49 million women between the ages of 25 and 45 on Facebook in the United States and Canada. The ad targeting capability on Facebook is unparalleled to any other medium, period.

Yet, on their own, none of these are reasons for your fertility center to be on Facebook. The reason fertility centers need to be active on Facebook is because content of babies and children is central to the DNA of the platform. 97% of US mothers who use Facebook every day, post pictures of their children . If your practice is active on Facebook, you know that former patients will post pictures of their children from every occasion to your Facebook timeline, sometimes on the day of delivery.

Facebook is also a meeting point for peer support. The Infertility Inspirations community has over 13,000 members for example. Dozens of other closed groups account for thousands of members each.

2.    Instagram. 
Instagram has surpassed Twitter to become the second largest social media network in the world . It took Instagram only eight months to reach 100 million photo uploads. The growth rate of Instagram is astonishing. But again, it’s not Instagram’s massive numbers that make it a necessity for fertility centers. Like Facebook, baby pictures and inspirational content are inherent to the platform. The popular #ttc (trying to conceive) hashtag on Instagram counts for more than 300,000 posts. Related hashtags, #ttccommunity and #ttcsisters account for more than 25,000 and 67,000 respectively. 

The number of emerging social networks can appear overwhelming for an already swamped RE and practice administrator. But your practice does not have to be, nor should be, involved in more than a few. Social networks require a commitment of time, energy, and resources. One should be reliably served before beginning an additional. Priority is determined by the social nature of the network and the attention of the patient.  In 2016, Facebook and Instagram are the two most important platforms for fertility clinics to utilize. 

In taking my own advice, I have admittedly neglected Pinterest. Is your fertility center active on Pinterest? Please tell me about it, I would love to hear what you've found.


Turn Your Social Media Channels into an IVF Referral Network

By Griffin Jones

A fertility center’s Return on Investment in social media can be traced back to the activism of its community.The value of social media is not that we have a free broadcast mechanism to reach people with any time we like. None of that is true—it’s neither free, nor a broadcast mechanism, nor will people see our message whenever we please.

The value of social media is your community.  Fertility centers acquire new patients through social media when they have a passionate, connected, community of people that zealously advocates for them.  This is "word of mouth". Communities will gladly rise up for their fertility centers—providing better advertising than we could ever hope to buy—but only if they are engaged. To engage your community:

•    Respond to all direct messages as quickly as possible
•    Reply to all comments and posts
•    Thank those who leave reviews and compliments
•    Crowdsource: Ask for input on various practice initiatives

Responding to comments and reviews is a critical part of community management for infertility clinics. 

Responding to comments and reviews is a critical part of community management for infertility clinics. 


The most direct way to use social media to attract new IVF patients is to empower current and former patients with a "word of mouth" referral network. When you interact with your community of supporters, the number of people who are they are able to refer to your practice increases dramatically.  If you look at the Facebook pages of the vast majority of fertility centers in North America  you will find that patient communities are largely ignored. If you are unable to dedicate the time it takes to respond to, thank, and inspire your community, your ROI on social will be very limited.

 

What Makes Online Reviews Different For Fertility Centers

By Griffin Jones

I shot this video post back in June after the 2015 Midwest Reproductive Symposium. The way infertility patients use online reviews for their Reproductive Endocrinologists and their practices is vastly different from most other categories. Facebook is by far the most positive review source for fertility centers. Yelp is certainly the most negative. Other sites, such as RateMDs, ZocDoc, HealthGrades, and Fertility Authority tend to fall in between the two ends. 

I explain how reviews from your practice and other healthcare categories, how they differ for each platform, and what that means.