Nurturing Inquiries Into Lasting Patient Relationships

January 19th, 2022 by Bailey Waltzer

Key Insights

  • Your prospective patient could be in any of the three patient funnel phases, and so it’s important to meet them where they are with the information and communication provided.
  • Responding quickly and in a valuable way to inbound patients can be the differentiating factor between booking an appointment and losing that appointment to a competitor.
  • Sometimes, even if your marketing strategy does all the “right” things, some inbound patients don’t take the next step and book that appointment. But, by providing them valuable, various touch points throughout their journey, you can put yourself in a position to further nurture them.

Every inquiry has the potential for a new patient to make the jump from interested to committed. However, in the healthcare industry, competition is high. Patients may be willing to travel great distances for the right provider—but that prospective patient may just move on to the next option if they don’t hear from you quickly or get the right answer. If you do not respond quickly enough, this could mean you run the risk of losing potential new patients.

In this post, we will walk through the three different phases your prospective new patients can fall within the marketing funnel, the most valuable ways to communicate with those patients in each of those phases, and a few platforms to aid in nurturing these newly formed relationships.

Graphic displaying medical marketing funnel

Top of the Funnel Marketing

Top of the funnel marketing (also known as the awareness phase) refers to any marketing efforts with the goal of improving a business’s online presence and overall brand awareness. Your initial touchpoints should align with where the potential patient’s place in the marketing journey. At the top of the funnel, the patient seeks educational information. They will conduct research online for relevant, valuable information related to the issue and/or illness they’re navigating.

Key metrics to consider in a brand awareness campaign include impressions (or views) on your paid advertisements and/or website traffic.

Types of content to offer:

  • A website that houses clear, search engine optimized content so that patients can find your website and understand that your offerings are relevant to their needs
  • Testimonials from previous patients advocating about their pleasant experience/results
  • A frequently asked questions page to help resolve any often-asked questions, such as insurances accepted, office hours, or office location
  • Paid advertising efforts, such as Facebook Display, with high-level messaging that has the goal of building brand awareness

Middle of the Funnel Marketing

Once this prospective patient has some initial education, they move from the top of the funnel to the middle (also known as the consideration phase). Marketing efforts within the consideration phase use metrics such as increases in: clicks on paid advertisements, the average session duration on the website or views on videos.

In this phase, the patient seeks a deeper level of information and spends more time absorbing content. Similar to the awareness phase, the types of content offered should provide answers and insight for the patient.

Types of content to offer:

  • Expansive, detailed website and/or blog content that speaks to your office’s specialty, the types of options you offer patients, etc.
  • Option for patients to schedule a complimentary education call with a member of the staff to ask any questions and learn more
  • Paid advertising efforts, such as Facebook Display and Remarketing, with more targeted messaging that has the goal of driving a conversation

Bottom of the Funnel Marketing

The last and final stage is the bottom of the marketing funnel, also known as the decision phase. Once a patient has entered this stage, they’ve absorbed information about their symptoms and options (likely both online and via education calls), and feel ready to make a decision on next steps. Most likely, these next steps will come in the form of a booked appointment. This means, more than ever, it is important to respond quickly. Ideally, you have an appointment management system that conveniently allows patients to book appointments.

According to The Lead Response Management Study conducted by Dr. James Oldroyd of MIT, the odds of qualifying an inquiry (potential patient) are 21 times less likely when comparing a response rate of 5 minutes vs. 30 minutes. Additionally, the odds of successfully scheduling a qualified inquiry (potential patient) decrease by over six times in the first hour. Because that patient likely identified a few options during their consideration phase research, failing to quickly reach out could result in them scheduling their appointment with another doctor/office.

Once the patient has scheduled their appointment, you can still provide valuable content, such as:

  • Outreach confirming the appointment, location, and other useful details
  • Downloadable PDFs that include information about what to bring and what to expect during the initial appointment
  • Success stories and testimonials from previous patients who had similar symptoms, underwent similar procedures, etc.
  • Paid advertising efforts, such as Facebook display & remarketing, with messaging that includes a very clear call-to-action

Doctor showing patient information via tablet

How to Nurture Past, Current, and Prospective Patients

Sometimes, regardless of how effectively you provide value to prospective patients, it may not result in a newly scheduled appointment or surgery. However, even if they don’t convert at the time, another benefit to providing avenues for potential patients to engage (e.g., downloadable PDFs, Facebook display advertisements) is the opportunity to identify them and further nurture them.

The most important thing to consider when developing a nurture strategy is that any efforts deployed are HIPAA compliant. There are some limitations here, and so it’s important the strategy adheres.

A few HIPAA compliant nurturing methods:

Email Marketing

There are a few different tactics that can be deployed through this avenue depending on the ultimate goal and quite a few different email marketing platforms that can be used to ease the creation and distribution.

  • Newsletters to past, current, and potential patients highlighting updates to the office, any changes in personnel, etc.
  • Messaging to past, current, and potential patients promoting upcoming specials to help entice appointments booked, reminders about upcoming appointments and/or that appointments are due to be scheduled
  • Outreach that includes more information about the office or testimonials to potential patients who have previously shown interest

Facebook Display & Remarketing

Remarketing to users on Facebook is HIPAA compliant and a beneficial way to get back in front of potential patients. When creating this strategy, consider:

Creative and messaging

These two elements should look and sound different to patients in different funnels. Identifying what types of questions could be answered within each phase, the types of content that would be beneficial to consume, etc., are a few great ways to curate both the creative and messaging.


Identifying and honing in on the target demographics, geolocations, and other relevant audience specifics will help see that advertising dollars are only spent where they are likely to produce more qualified inquiries.

Overall strategy

Facebook offers a variety of objectives (conversion, traffic, lead generation) to pursue. This effectively tells Facebook how to best optimize campaigns.

How to Ensure You Make an Impact

It can feel overwhelming to determine how to market your business online. With so many different best practices, strategy options you can make an impact by considering the phases of the marketing funnel and the most valuable ways to communicate with the patients in those phases. By providing your prospects with different valuable touchpoints, you put yourself in a great position to nurture them through the funnel.

Contact Search Influence for help with all your digital marketing needs. Our team of experts can help you implement all the best practices and strategies needed to turn inquiries into long-lasting relationships.