Getting patient inquiries from paid advertising takes time, money, and coordination. You expect that effort to yield a respectable return on investment (ROI) in the form of paying patients.
Of course, not every person who contacts your practice is ready to become a patient right away. How you deal with inquiries who are not quite ready to book can be the difference between falling short, breaking even, or achieving a positive return on your advertising spend.
First, remember that all inquiries are created equal until you know better
Making sense of where your inquiries are in their journey is critical for following up with them in an effective way that increases their likelihood of eventually booking with your practice. But you risk forestalling promising patient connections if you make assumptions or jump the gun at this step.
Your first priority should be to follow up with all of your inquiries as quickly as possible—take no more than two days, but RealSelf recommends following up within five minutes if possible. At this stage, you should not attempt to discern which inquiries look like hot leads, nor should you answer only those inquiries that specifically mention consultations. Here’s why: after analyzing 20,000 calls, RealSelf found that no matter what stage a consumer said they were in—”ready to book,” “interviewing,” or “researching”—they were equally likely to book an appointment.
Eliminate the no-gos
Some of the inquiries you engage with during this process—again, even those who seemed early-stage—may book a procedure with your practice.
For those who aren’t ready, the booking conversation will reach a natural endpoint sometime short of a booking. This is your cue to add them to your pipeline of inquiries to be “nurtured,” with the objective of converting them into patients at some point in the future.
The most important information you can know at this phase is why the conversation has stalled, and the best way to know is to ask. This information should influence the nature and timing of your followup conversations, and whether you should have a followup conversation at all.
So ask inquiring aesthetic consumers outright whether they decided to book with another practice. You should also give them the option to opt out of having you contact them again. Maintaining a “clean” list of eligible candidates will help focus your efforts on consumers who are truly in play.
Get inside their decision making
For those who have neither opted out nor selected another provider, your goal is now to figure out what their decision making process looks like. Specifically, you’ll want to understand:
- Whether they have decided to go with you as their provider if they ultimately book a treatment, or are still considering other providers,
- What questions they need answered—or externalities they need to address—before they ultimately book a procedure, and
- What their time horizon for getting the procedure looks like.
The answers to these questions will empower your team to have the right conversation with your prospects at the right time. A three-months pregnant woman who is conducting preliminary research on a mommy makeover will require a much different followup cadence, and follow-up conversation, than a woman who is interested in a forehead lift before a breakthrough acting gig that begins in six weeks.
Use content to fill in gaps
Your team has limited time. A simple-yet-thoughtful content strategy can go along way toward helping them triage their efforts following up with inquiries. Content lets you defer direct outreach to consumers who need more time to reach a decision while still keeping those prospects “warm.” This lets your team manage more time-intensive one-on-one outreach with inquiries who require that level of personal attention now.
Consider the mommy makeover candidate who is inquiring about the procedure early in her pregnancy, well before she would be eligible to have it done. Automated email content can keep her engaged with your practice and deliver information that increases her likelihood of booking with you at the appropriate time. That content can include articles you’ve written, videos you’ve recorded, questions you’ve answered about the procedure on RealSelf, and a collection of RealSelf reviews written by patients who you have treated previously. You can even share an article written by a third party.
All of those communications are relevant, maintain your relationship with the inquiring consumer, and keep your practice top-of-mind so that she has an effective reference point when your team recommences personalized telephone or email outreach with her.
Think about the areas of focus for your practice and pull together thoughtful, helpful, and interesting content that can keep conversations warm with inquiries who are not quite ready to book a consultation.
Applying this type of portfolio management style to inquiry management helps you extract the highest return on investment from marketing activities you have already planned and paid for. They also smooth out the boom-and-bust cycle of bookings that can occur if you only pursue inquiries who are ready to book now as a result of recent advertising campaigns. These tactics can replace that frustrating cadence with a smoother and more predictable cycle of business for your practice.