Summary: As powerful as reviews and testimonials can be, there’s still so much untapped potential out there. Potential to expand their reach and visibility—to relate with patients and get them over the finish line. Here are a few ideas to get as much out of your online reviews as possible.
Healthcare consumers care a heck of a lot about reviews. Going online to check out the Google reviews for a particular practice, for example, or directory ratings for a specific surgeon is now an essential component of the decision-making process.
I know it is for me!
And I know that, as with many people, bad reviews are a bad sign. Whether these poor reviews are reliable indicators is beside the point. They send a strong signal.
According to an NRC Health Study:
- Almost 60 percent of patients have avoided a doctor based on the negative reviews that they read online.
- More than ⅓ of patients look at reviews as the first step in finding a healthcare provider online.
- 83 percent trust online ratings and reviews more than personal recommendations and referrals!
- Nearly 75 percent want to see seven or more reviews before deciding to trust a brand.
It’s a topic we’ve written at length about. And while reviews are certainly a core part of your Google My Business (GMB), Healthgrades, Yelp, and other listings, you can do more with the positive reviews you’ve already generated. Here are a few ideas about using your existing reviews to increase visibility and enhance your brand image and reputation.
- How important are healthcare reviews?
- How do I improve people’s perception of my brand?
- How can I encourage people to choose my healthcare organization?
- How do I put my reviews onto my website?
- How do I take all the reviews I have and turn them into marketing material (ad copy, graphics, etc.)?
WORD TO THE WISE: Before you do anything with reviews or testimonials, you need to get the person’s permission. It’s a big deal in the medical world, one fraught with potential liability. So be sure to get their written consent and always follow relevant HIPAA regulations.
You can significantly extend the reach of your reviews by giving a publicly visible shout-out to people who leave good reviews. Share a direct quote from their review. Tag them, if possible. And use this as an opportunity to ask others to share their experiences, too.
Many review sites offer an embedded option to share reviews to your connected social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on). You can also do so manually. Here’s an excellent example from Google My Business:
No matter how you choose to share your reviews, each one is a free opportunity to let just a couple more people see the review. Sharing reviews is an opportunity for engagement and visibility on social, which can only help (algorithmically and in terms of your brand equity overall).
I like to remind our healthcare clients of a simple thing: adding reviews to your website isn’t braggy. It’s a good user experience! For instance, most people who come to your website via Google search might not know your reputation. In fact, it’s likely the first thing they want to see. You know, what’s this brand about and where can I find some reviews?
Don’t make your healthcare consumers go searching for this information! A couple of clicks—MAX—if any at all. Instead, here are a few ways to thread these important reputation indicators (reviews, ratings, etc.) throughout your entire site:
- Create branded graphics that highlight your overall five-star rating. You can add five-star graphics to your about page, footer, service pages, appointment scheduling page, etc.
- Consider embedding reviews directly from your review platforms using embed codes, review platform tools, or site customizations. What’s nice about these embeds is that they’re often automatically updated and refreshed.
- Add a scrolling banner section that features quotes from your testimonials and reviews (include names and photographs where possible). I like the homepage—near the top—as a nice spot for these.
- Create a dedicated reviews and testimonials page that presents your most impactful reviews in an engaging way (your “trophy case,” so to speak). However, give this page some structure and context (supporting headers and copy), instead of just providing a flat list of reviews for a patient to sort through.
- Consider putting together video testimonials, one of the most potent reviews you can get (more on this later).
While it may seem overboard to include reviews and your ratings across your entire website, alongside a dedicated testimonials page, remember this: prospective patients find and arrive at your site pages from many different places. The homepage isn’t always the entry point! But wherever your patients land on your site, they need to immediately see that you’re an experienced and reputable provider of choice.
This tip takes a page right out of Branding 101. Are we suggesting that you print beer koozies and keychains with your logo and five-star rating on them? Not entirely appropriate for healthcare consumers. But you might consider adding your composite ratings—especially official “five-star” recognition from companies like Google and Yelp—to patient, partner, and client communications.
You might have seen these badges around the web, or even pasted onto the front door of brick-and-mortar businesses in your area. Here’s a good example of a review badge from Yelp:
Google and Facebook Business publish similar assets, badges, and graphics. We find that they’re just the right thing for email signatures, invoices, and receipts. Taken on their own, these measures might not amount to any measurable outcome. When deployed alongside other reputation boosting activities, like those we’ve listed above, they can help reinforce your brand’s reputation as a five-star provider. Not only will people begin to associate your brand with a splendid digital reputation, but it can also encourage more people to leave their own reviews.
As potent as they can be, testimonials require significant time and resources. Willing patients can be challenging to track down, too! Start by shortlisting candidates for testimonial content. Usually, these are “champions” of your services, staff, or brand. People who have had successful outcomes from an experience, therapy, or even surgery. Assign testimonial outreach to an internal stakeholder (marketing or customer relations, usually) and contact these people directly. Incentivize their participation, if appropriate.
The idea here to get the most mileage out of your case studies as possible. So when you do snag a testimonial agreement, put some process in place to be as productive as possible. This includes any agreements and signatures required upfront and interview questions and talk tracks that help tell the right story. Ideally, your video recording session will also yield photography and soundbites that can be repurposed for “testimonial graphics,” which are perfect for use across social media. Video, in particular, lets you tell a more compelling story that connects with prospects.
Once you have your core testimonial content, repurpose it into the collateral mentioned above that can be threaded throughout a broader advertising, social media, and/or email marketing campaign. A push around a newly introduced plastic surgery procedure, for example. Or a new campaign to build awareness among the senior citizen demographic.
Once your organization is established on various review sites, you’ll get access to your own unique shareable review link. Here’s an example from Google My Business:
In this example alone, we see four channels (Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Email) that you can share this “Request review” link in a click or two. Indeed, clicking a link and going straight to the review form is a lot easier for patients than tracking your review form down on their own.
Less friction = more reviews!
It used to be that review volume was the only most important thing—the holy grail of digital reputation management. Now, it’s but one of the most important factors. While a high volume of frequent reviews is still quite important, patients have shifted their focus. Authenticity and relatability matter most of all. People—especially healthcare consumers—can smell fake or manufactured reviews from a mile away.
Your reviews are an opportunity to showcase the strength and integrity of your people. It’s people that run healthcare organizations and create positive patient experiences. This is what we’re after and the kind of reviews we want to showcase and share.
What I’m talking about, in the end, is storytelling. We’re drawn most to the narratives we can relate to—the ones who share our pain, journey, and ultimate triumph. My favorite movies and novels “hold up the mirror,” welcoming me to see myself in what I’m watching or reading. The same goes for patients who go online to read reviews.
They’re picturing what it will be like if they leave their important healthcare decision to you.