If we want to successfully usher potential new patients towards choosing your services, solutions and products, then it goes without saying, that you need to know their purchasing path (how they make a decision to become a patient). In short, this means being aware of the patient’s entire journey and the steps that ultimately lead them to select your practices to receive the services they are looking for. If we, as chiropractors, are pushing answers to questions potential new patients are not asking, or are offering to solve problems they’re not aware that they’re experiencing, all we’ll end up with is wasted resources and annoyed contacts.
Understanding the new patient’s journey and being able to assess and address the exact point that your contacts are at will help:
- Understand the concerns and needs of your target patient base, and of each individual you’re trying to connect with
- Offer content and solutions specifically tailored to each contact’s situation
- Focus on genuinely delivering value and ensuring success for patients, rather than just worrying about your own short-term stats
- In the long run, reduce patient churn and establish your brand as one that truly delivers dramatic and lasting results – in other words, your solutions will start to sell themselves!
There are a few ways of mapping out the patient’s journey, and in the article below we’ll cover the most widely known model (the traditional patient journey) and the model based on the modern marketplace (Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT). While not necessarily mutually exclusive, each model has its own emphases, and, depending on your practice, you may find some tips and structures more helpful than others as you think about how to best get your service, product or solution into the hands of your potential new patients.
Table of Contents
Traditional Buyer’s Journey
Zero Moment of Truth
Traditional Patient Journey
The Traditional model of the Patient Journey is most often represented with three stages, though it can have up to five – rarely (but occasionally) even six. We’ve chosen to represent a patient’s journey that consists of four stages, including one on the end that we feel is too critical to be neglected.
These four stages of the traditional patient journey include:
- Loyalty (sometimes called Advocacy)
The first stage is called awareness for two reasons:
1) your potential new patient may not be aware of your practice or solution, and
2) your potential new patient may not even be aware of their problem (or the potential improvement to their health that you could offer them).
The awareness stage is the time for them to become aware of their problems, and possibly (hopefully) become aware of your solution as well.
Awareness can be brought on simply by potential new patient encountering road blocks in the activities of daily living, but can also come about through some kind of accident or injury; in other words, potential new patients may not be aware of a problem until you open their eyes to it.
At this point, a potential new patient is aware of their problem, and begins actively looking for solutions to solve it. They may not initially know how to address the problem, or if any help exists; their consideration may start with trying to figure that out, and then grow more specific as they go along. Though it can happen at any point of the process, ideally the potential new patient finds your practice at this point, if not before. If they miss you here, you may have to increase your marketing efforts, and will definitely have to review your online presence.
While we’ll talk about this more below, these days, the consideration stage is much more involved and generally takes longer than it has in the past. The internet offers potential new patients the opportunity to be more informed, and they are taking advantage of it. This is why being present and clearly visible on the web is no longer optional for chiropractors. If you don’t show up at any one stage of the patients journey, you fall off the train right there and get eliminated for the rest of the trip – including the decision to seek out care.
At this point, the potential new patient definitely knows the direction they’re headed in, they just need to decide who is going to take them there. They’ve likely whittled things down to a few options and are just trying to figure out which is best for them. They’re probably dissecting websites, reading reviews, talking to receptionists, and reading comparison charts, all leading to them ultimately making a decision. If you’re doing your job and making sure they get the information and relational reassurance they need, then congratulations! Your potential new patient has now become an actual new patient!
This stage isn’t included in all models, and may not apply to all industries, but it’s a very important one for chiropractors. Patient churn can be a major problem for some chiropractors, and if you want to address it, you need to continue your marketing strategy past the purchase decision. This involves consistently demonstrating and reminding patients of your value, and paying close, personal attention to all your patients’ needs. Not only will this reduce churn, but it will also add momentum to your original marketing strategy as your satisfied patients organically become brand ambassadors and advocates.
To foster brand loyalty, partner with patients to genuinely improve their health, rather than just focusing on practice growth. Keep communication lines open, and check up on them often to make sure your services, solutions and products still fit their needs and discuss if there are any additional issues you can help them with.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and feedback, encouraging your patients to spread the word of their success to others.
In 2011, Google recognized a shift that was happening in the way consumers were making purchases. Briefly mentioned above, consumers whose purchasing decisions were previously made at the mercy of word-of-mouth and traditional advertising, were now equipped with the tools to become deeply informed about the products and services they were purchasing.
Namely, the patient’s journey had gone digital.
Google recognized that businesses had to shift their marketing strategies according to this new consumer environment, and came up with ZMOT, or the Zero Moment of Truth mental model of marketing (this is now sometimes called micro-moment marketing).
They began with a popular traditional mental model of marketing, the FMOT (or First Moment of Truth). This model involved three stages:
- First Moment of Truth (Shelf)
- Second Moment of Truth (Experience)
In the stimulus stage, the potential new patient encounters the service, solution or product through advertising (perhaps a paid ad). In the second stage, the first moment of truth or “shelf” stage, the potential new patient comes face-to-face with the service, solution or product in a physical environment (your practice). They become a paying patient. They then move on to the second moment of truth where they use the service, solution or product and find out whether or not it delivers on its claims, and decide whether or not they are satisfied enough to continue as an ongoing patient, or tell friends and family to.
Many will remember these days, and probably still take this route for some smaller-investment items or simple things they use day to day. However, according to Google and Shopper Sciences’ research, the average patient journey looks very different now.
It is in-between the initial stimulus and the face-to-face first moment of truth that Google identified a new stage: the Zero Moment of Truth.
Check out the two brief videos below to learn what ZMOT is, and find out what it could mean for your practice.
It is important to note that the findings from this video are almost a decade old. If an online presence was recognized as being influential in the patient’s journey back then, can you imagine how much more critical it is now?
Check out this video for a cupcake shop (because who doesn’t love cupcakes) and their experience with ZMOT in practice:
Traffic Catapult incorporates ZMOT into the Traditional Patient Journey to capitalize on proven techniques, while staying on the cutting edge of today’s market trends.
Traffic Catapult exists to cover all the ZMOT bases – for you. Find out more, or request a consultation.
As mentioned, the above ways of thinking are not necessarily mutually exclusive. There are ways of combining ideas from both patient journey models to create a journey map that makes sense for your practice. In fact, doing so will ensure you have standard operating procedures that you and your team can truly internalize and build an effective marketing strategy around.
How Traffic Catapult can help
Whichever model you choose, Traffic Catapult has turnkey digital marketing tools and solutions for your practice marketing needs. Let us help make you an indispensable part of your patients health plan, keeping them satisfied and preventing them from seeking solutions elsewhere. For more information, request a consultation.