Hammer another nail in the coffin of the Yellow Pages. Consumers have not only ditched the long-time staple of American life when it comes to finding phone numbers, they also no longer access the big book to research local establishments and service providers. With a rare few exceptions, people are far more likely to grab their devices and pull up sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google or Home Advisor to give them the information they need to decide who gets their business.

When it comes to looking for a health care provider, Google data reveals that more than 80 percent of consumers perform an online search prior to scheduling an office visit. Those who end up booking appointments typically perform three times more searches than those who do not make an appointment. According to Local Search Association, those researching optometrists, physical therapists, and nursing homes are most likely to use search engines.

Health care marketers recognize the immense opportunity afforded by this trend and are investing accordingly. In 2018, US-based health care providers spent nearly $3 billion on digital ads, a 13 percent increase over the previous year, according to eMarketer. Clearly, such leads don’t come cheap, as HubSpot reports the average cost for a healthcare lead is $286.

Clearly, consumers prefer to research potential health care providers online, but when it comes time to make an appointment, they strongly prefer to do so the old-fashioned way. A whopping 88 percent of health care appointments are scheduled by phone, according to Sequence. Thus, driving the conversion from Internet search to phone conversation is critical. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies health care marketers can employ to increase the likelihood of that happening:

  • Make it easy for web searchers to call you by using call extensions on Google ads and including a “Call Now” action on web pages
  • Personalize the caller experience to make potential patients feel known and valued
  • Keep a record of commonly asked questions and address them in your online content to improve SEO and boost conversions
  • Track the calls driven by online ads in order to allocate your digital marketing budget more effectively

While the ease and convenience of online access has immense appeal, the vast majority of consumers prefer to continue their journey via phone. Thus, it’s incumbent upon marketers to ensure the experience from online search to interested caller to new patient is smooth, comfortable, and informative, so that consumers will feel confident trusting a new provider with their most cherished possession – their health.