Frank Olivo

Frank Olivo is the founder of Sagapixel. He writes on a number of topics related to digital marketing, but focuses mostly on web design and SEO.

The Ultimate Guide to Medical Weight Loss Marketing

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If your medical weight loss clinic faces the same challenges faced by most medical weight loss doctors across the country, lead generation is likely one of your biggest pain points.

Over the last several years, we have had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of medical weight loss marketing, with a particular focus on digital marketing channels, including Facebook ads, Instagram ads, SEO, and Google ads.

What are the best channels for marketing a bariatric surgeon or medical weight loss clinic?

Is social media or search engine marketing better at generating consistent leads?

What channels have the lowest costs per acquisition?

In this article, I will open up the playbook and share what we have learned about medical weight loss marketing after working with clinics throughout the U.S.

The Medical Weight Loss Marketing Funnel

Medical weight loss marketing aims to generate consistent patient consults at the lowest cost per acquisition. Channels such as SEO, PPC, organic and paid social media, as well as traditional advertising are all commonly used. The best results come from an effective combination of all these channels.

In marketing, we often refer to this combination of advertising channels as the “marketing mix.”

Each part of the marketing mix is designed to move a customer – or in this case, patient — through what we refer to as a “marketing funnel.”

The marketing funnel for a medical weight loss clinic consists of three main parts:

  • Awareness (top of the funnel)
  • Consideration (middle of the funnel)
  • Action (bottom of the funnel)

The most important takeaway is that no one channel can optimally move all of your potential patients through your clinic’s marketing funnel.

While prospective patients may discover your weight-loss clinic through organic search, they are also likely to look at your social media.

They will often check your profiles to view your posts and/or reviews at some point before going through with surgery or signing up with your clinic.

At the same time, a robust social media presence can also generate wide awareness and trust at the top of the funnel, with your website playing a more prominent role during the consideration and action phases at the middle and bottom of the funnel.

In other words, there are many ways your marketing mix can help a prospective patient through the funnel and into your medical weight loss clinic.

Medical weight loss marketing usually involves a combination of:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Pay-per-click advertising on Google Ads
  • Having a well-optimized website
  • Organic social media
  • Paid social media
  • Email marketing
  • Old-fashioned brand building through billboards
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Marketing on directories such as Realself or Yelp
  • YouTube

In the following sections, I will break down the tactics and strategies we’ve used for marketing surgical and medical weight loss doctors through the aforementioned digital marketing channels.

SEO for Medical Weight Loss

Over the last couple of years, we have learned a thing or two about SEO for medical weight loss clinics.

The good news is that the same advertising strategies and tactics that work for other areas of healthcare SEO also work for medical weight loss SEO.

SEO for medical weight loss primarily consists of activities that fall into three buckets:

  • Ensuring Google can optimally crawl and index your website
  • Maximizing the relevance of the content on your website to the search is your prospective patients are performing
  • Maximizing be trustworthiness and authoritativeness of your website through expert content and backlinks

Technical SEO

This article is far from a guide to technical SEO, but there are a few basics you can cover on your own:

  • Ensure your website is fast to load and it passes Google Core Web Vitals
  • Use breadcrumbs on any child pages, as well as find any opportunities to optimize internal linking and site architecture
  • Claim your Google Search Console and monitor for any coverage errors
  • Have an SEO run a crawl of your website to uncover any technical errors that could be holding it back

Technical SEO is a complex subdiscipline of search engine optimization. I strongly recommend you work with an SEO agency that knows what it’s doing if you have an older website with many pages. They may find opportunities to significantly increase your search engine visibility through a few simple changes.

On-Page SEO and Content Marketing

On-page SEO and content marketing aim to maximize the relevance of the content on your medical weight loss clinic’s website to the searches your prospective customers are performing.

Target “medical weight loss + city” queries through dedicated pages

The creation and optimization of pages targeting “service + city” searches such as “medical weight loss doctor Tampa” and “medical weight loss doctor Clearwater.”

In a market such as Tampa, getting the same practice page to rank for Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and all of the suburbs surrounding Tampa would be challenging.

Honestly, it would only be possible by building dedicated practice pages for each city in which you would like to attract patients.

Target queries on the buyer’s journey through blog articles 

The blog on a medical weight loss clinic’s website can be particularly effective at getting a prospective patient through the awareness and consideration phases.

For example, a potential patient could perform a search such as “how long does medical weight loss take” or “lose 40 pounds.”

A medical weight loss clinic with an article ranking highly on Google for either of these queries has the potential to create awareness and pixel the prospective patient. This will enable it to retarget visitors on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok (Google Ads does not allow retargeting for health-related content).

If done right, your blog’s content can earn the trust of a potential patient, demonstrating your expertise and serving as the first touch point they have in your marketing funnel.

Build Authority through Backlinks and Expert Content

A medical weight loss doctor’s website falls squarely into a category Google refers to as “your money or your life.”

This means that the website is subject to a dedicated algorithm to determine its trustworthiness, the expertise of the authors of its content, and the accuracy of the information it shares.

Part of this algorithm is the number of authoritative backlinks linking to your website.

A website that regularly earns links from other trusted websites is likely to rank more highly for any relevant keywords. For this reason, building and earning backlinks is a critical part of SEO for a medical weight loss doctor. Why all this is not a guide on medical weight loss link building, here’s a video that explains some of the processes:

The expertise of the writers on your website is of particular importance. Google identifies websites that relay medical information as being “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) websites, meaning this content goes through a specialized algorithm to determine the level of expertise of its author.

Through natural language processing, including its newly introduced MUM, Google is improving at distinguishing between content written by a subject matter expert presenting information that reflects medical consensus and laypersons.

Tread lightly with any topics related to non-FDA-approved medical weight loss treatments or medications, and be sure to cite your sources and link back to authoritative websites in your content.

Some legitimate medical websites have suffered collateral damage in Google’s battle against fake news and pseudoscience. Minimize your risk by presenting your information as authoritatively and accurately as possible.

Google Ads for Medical Weight Loss Doctors

PPC advertising through Google Ads can be a highly effective channel for driving new medical weight loss patients to book a consult.

Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC for short, is an advertising channel where the advertiser only pays when someone clicks on the ad. We have managed Google Ads campaigns for several surgical and medical weight loss doctors and have yet to see one fail to drive a profitable return on investment.

While Google Ads does not allow medical weight loss doctors to retarget on the Google Display Network or YouTube, it does allow for paid search. Google currently has three types of paid search campaigns, each of which will enable you to bid on keywords and have your weight loss clinic’s ads appear on Google and its properties.

We found that in almost every instance, there are traumatic differences between the performance of these three campaign formats. In nearly every case, one will deliver a significantly lower cost per acquisition than the other two, so it is important to split test them.

Traditional Paid Search Campaigns

Traditional paid search campaigns have been around for roughly 20 years. These campaigns allow  the most control, enabling you to optimize your clinic’s ad delivery manually.

In some cases, particularly when Google’s artificial intelligence struggles to understand your target audience, these campaigns outperform its other two formats — Smart Campaigns and Performance Max.

Smart Campaigns

Smart Campaigns are similar to traditional paid search campaigns in that your ads can appear at the top of the Google search results, but it relies much more heavily on artificial intelligence to optimize bids and keyword targeting.

Smart campaigns can also deliver ads across Gmail, YouTube, and the Google Display Network, so unlike traditional search campaigns, your ads are not limited to the search results.

Smart Campaigns are getting phased out in the near future, so by the time you read this, Performance Max may have completely replaced them.

Google Ads Performance Max Campaigns

Google Performance Max campaigns are its newest type of paid search campaign. These campaigns rely heavily on artificial intelligence and allow the least amount of control. They can appear across Google properties such as the Google display network and YouTube, as well as Gmail and Google Search.

We’ve found that they either drastically underperform or outperform traditional paid search campaigns. If Google’s artificial intelligence is able to identify the target audience for your ads, it should perform significantly better than traditional paid search.

Social Media Marketing for Medical Weight Loss Doctors

There are two sides to social media marketing: paid and organic.

They work very differently, yet both can be equally effective.

Organic social media is particularly good at building a brand for a medical weight loss doctor. It creates awareness, trust, and disability that paid social has trouble equaling. There are patients willing to fly across the country to see a weight loss doctor they have been following on social media for months.

Paid social, on the other hand, allows for precision targeting and scalability that organic social media cannot provide. Social media platforms have information on their users’ interests and demographics and the websites they visit. This allows for an unprecedented ability for a medical weight loss stocked her to deliver the right message to the right person.

Either way, social media can play a potentially valuable role in marketing a medical weight loss clinic.

Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok can all be effective channels for creating awareness and trust at the top of the marketing funnel, resulting in patients willing to travel considerable distances to see a physician they discovered on social media.

In addition to generating awareness, social media can also be an effective channel during the consideration phase. Patients often check the social media profiles of the medical weight loss doctors they are considering, whether to read reviews on a Facebook page or view some of the photos and videos on the account.

In this case, a well-curated social media presence can help drive some of your SEO and paid search leads down the funnel from consultation to becoming a patient.

Holistic Digital Marketing is the Way to Go for Any Medical Weight Loss Clinic

To wrap up, the key is to create an integrated digital marketing campaign for your medical weight loss clinic.

Do not rely on just one advertising or marketing channel.

Doing so runs the risk of your medical weight loss practice grinding to a halt should something go wrong with that channel.

It also misses the opportunities for each of these channels to build upon one another. If you’d like to discuss your medical weight loss clinic’s marketing with me or someone from my team, click here to schedule a time.