While the most valuable and powerful recommendation for health-care professional services is the old-fashioned word of mouth, a new digital feedback tool is available and it is just as strong—online reviews. People look up hotels, restaurants, shops or hairstylists before trying out a new place. The new generation of medical professionals is dealing with tech-savvy patients that are looking up nutritionists and dietitians before making an appointment. Online reviews are becoming a more important, relevant digital marketing tool.
If you haven’t thought about this part of your practice’s marketing strategy, it’s time you do so. It’s not only just large restaurant chains or hospitals that need to invest in it. And by invest we don’t necessarily mean money, but time. Online reviews are something to consider even if you are not a large company. They work even if you are a freelancer offering (almost any type of) services. As long as your career involves providing services or products for people, online reviews can help your business grow. Even though it might sound complicated, it actually isn’t. You will need to find some time to get used to the terms and strategies, especially if you are not familiar with how the internet works.
Why are online reviews important for nutritionists?
Still not convinced that online reviews are important? We have a few numbers for you. SEO BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey shows that 84 percent of the users trust an online review just as much as a personal recommendation. Even more surprisingly, 91 percent of consumers read such reviews regularly or occasionally and 86% of them hesitate when it comes to visiting a place that has negative feedback. The numbers speak for themselves. Just think about how many of us check online reviews for things like accommodation or restaurants where we plan to have dinner.
The medical system has been mostly reviewed on forums or Facebook groups until now, but with new social media features available, apps and Google updates, health-care services and professionals can now be rated as simple as any coffee place. So, what can you do to make the most of online reviews?
Encourage your patients to give feedback
Create the possibility for patients to review you. Set up a Facebook business page where your services can be rated and be consistent in adding updates or interesting information on the page as well as checking the online reviews from patients constantly. If you don’t have any ratings yet, you can encourage your patients to do so by posting a call-to-action status or ask them in person, at the end of a consultation. Promote your Facebook page on your business cards or customize your post-it notes. Digital marketing can be a lot of work, so if you think you don’t have time to do this, try to find a marketing intern or part-time freelancer to help out.
Most nutritionists and dietitians have a website. This is a great platform where patients can write online reviews. Now, some advice on how to manage the whole thing. Don’t filter reviews by excluding the negative ones (we don’t mean reviews that include inappropriate language, but reviews that are not laudative when it comes to your services). Not everyone will be thrilled with the experience they have with you, but the secret to effective online reviews is the way you manage them. First, you have to understand that getting some bad reviews is useful because they give your practice online credibility. A long string of positive comments might seem suspicious.
What you should NOT DO when it comes to negative online reviews:
- ignore them
- reply in anger
- use unprofessional, trivial language in your reply
- copy-paste the same reply for all the unsatisfied patients
When something like this happens, be prompt, admit you were wrong (if that’s the case) and make things right or fix the problem that led to the unpleasant situation. A personal, warm approach goes a long way. As long as you remember you are dealing with people, you’re half way there.
Strengthen your online identity
Another thing to consider is that these online reviews increase the volume of original content on your website, which will help your website rank better on Google. This will grow the chances of your website coming up among top suggestions whenever someone makes a Google search related to nutrition, nutritionists, diets etc. In translation, you will be recognized as a stronger and more relevant online entity. All this will help your personal brand identity. The impact is even higher if the positive reviews are on a third-party website.
This is why it is important to at least draft a review marketing strategy and mark down a few short-term and long-term objectives. Consider adding the online reviews component on your personal website, as well as Facebook, Yelp, Healthgrades, Vitals.
If you have any questions or comments regarding online reviews and their impact on your nutrition practice, let us know in the comments section below or on our social media pages. We have recently launched our Instagram account, so make sure to follow us there.