Plastic Surgery Marketing Strategies to Drive Leads in 2021

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.

Table of Contents

Plastic surgery marketing can seem a bit bewildering to someone with no marketing background, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The same marketing strategies that work for plastic surgeons in other markets will work for you—you just need to learn them.

Whether you are a plastic surgeon that runs a practice or the manager of a plastic surgery practice that wants to figure out how to get more consults through advertising, you’re in luck.

This article will guide you through the basics of plastic surgery marketing and set you on your way to a better understanding of what specific marketing channels are good for. It will also present several tips that we’ve learned after years of specializing in marketing for plastic surgeons.

The Plastic Surgery Marketing Mix

Plastic surgery marketing typically consists of a mix of marketing channels, all with the aim of generating leads for a plastic surgery practice needed to drive patient consultations. While there are offline marketing channels that plastic surgery practices can use to promote themselves, in 2021, plastic surgery marketing is done mostly online.

Some of the most effective plastic surgery marketing channels are:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on the Google Ads platform
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok
  • Email marketing
  • The practice’s website
  • Billboards and other outdoor advertising
  • Radio and Television

The key is to understand the role of each of the marketing channels available to a plastic surgeon.

While some may be effective at creating awareness of your plastic surgery practice, others are critical as patients are weighing their options, and others are key when the patient is ready to make a final decision.

The Plastic Surgery Marketing Funnel

It’s important to understand that every marketing channel available to a plastic surgery practice plays a different role in getting patients to schedule a consultation.

There are four stages a patient goes through before reaching out for a plastic surgery consultation and different marketing channels play important roles in each of these stages.

These stages are referred to as the “marketing funnel.” The marketing funnel for a plastic surgeon typically looks something like this:

  • Awareness – finding out about your practice
  • Interest – driving the desire to have you perform the procedure they are interested in
  • Consideration – looking at your before and afters, as well as your reviews
  • Action – finally reaching out for a consultation

Below is an illustration of the plastic surgery marketing funnel:

plastic surgery marketing funnel-01

It’s important to note that while some patients may take minutes to go through this funnel, others could take months, or even years to go from becoming aware of your practice to scheduling a consultation.

In the following sections, I’m going to outline how the different marketing channels available to your plastic surgery practice map to this marketing funnel.

Build a Brand for Your Plastic Surgery Practice

Branding is an exercise in generating awareness.

Rarely will a branding marketing tactic result in a patient reaching out for a plastic surgery consultation, but it may get them into your marketing funnel and start them through the four phases illustrated in the previous section.

In other words, no one is going to see a phone number on a billboard, pull over to the side of the road, and call for a facelift.

They may, however, begin to mentally associate your plastic surgery practice with a procedure and if they ever become interested in learning more about it, look you up on Google and schedule a consultation.

In this case, the billboard would have served as the marketing channel to get the prospective patient into the awareness part of your marketing funnel.

What is Branding?

When most people think of branding, they think of logos and business cards.

While both of these are ingredients in building a brand, they are not synonymous with branding.

Branding is the process of positioning a plastic surgeon in a way that makes him or her stand out from competitors. The goal is to create a mental association between your cosmetic surgery practice and a procedure you perform.

What Does Successful Branding Look Like?

The automotive industry is particularly good at this; Volvo has built a brand around safety. Mercedes-Benz has built a brand around luxury. Consumers have mental associations between these brands and these ideas, often without even being able to explain why.

Plastic surgeons build brands regularly. In South Jersey, 20 years of “I Love Dr. Trocki” billboards have made his tagline an indelible mark on even people that are not in the market for plastic surgery.

In Portland, there are plastic surgeons who have made a brand for themselves as the go-to surgeon for exotic dancers that want breast augmentation.

As soon as a plastic surgery practice becomes synonymous with something, be it a procedure or a clientele, it’s built a brand.

This brand is a key part of the awareness phase of plastic surgery marketing.

Some basics on how to build a brand for a plastic surgeon

Building a brand could be a blog post in and of itself; books have been written on the topic. I’m not going to attempt to give you a roadmap to building a brand, but here are some tips that should get you started.

  • Focus on creating in between your plastic surgery practice and something. This doesn’t mean that you have to provide one type of procedure exclusively, but your messaging and marketing materials should be focused. Become the go-to for tummy tucks. Make a name for yourself as the best rhinoplasty surgeon for males.
  • Create consistency in all of your collaterals. There should be a color and font combination that distinguishes you from your competitors. This color and font combination needs to be consistent on your billboards, website, the sign outside of your office, everywhere. Branding is reliant on repetition, including repeating your colors, fonts, images, and message.

Most traditional advertising media—such as billboards, print ads, radio ads, and television ads—can effectively build a brand for a plastic surgeon.

Again, it is important to note that these marketing channels are not direct response ads. In other words, don’t expect to put up a billboard or magazine ad and expect to get business out of it right out of the gate. Brands need to be built up over time, and traditional advertising is good at this – but you have to do it over an extended amount of time.

Build your online reputation

plastic surgery marketing

Your online reputation drives a large part of your brand. Build it and guard it with all you have.

Patients check reviews. Your reviews play a critical part of the consideration phase of a plastic surgery marketing funnel; a lack of positive reviews can stop a potential patient in his or her tracks.

Be proactive about acquiring reviews.

Plastic surgery patients are  much more likely to leave a review when they are unhappy than when they are happy with your practice. This means that you have to be proactive about collecting reviews.

The reviews that you generate by actively asking for them will help offset the inevitable negative review’s impact. Plastic surgeons face unique hurdles when implementing a review acquisition strategy since many patients don’t want to announce they had a procedure done.

The upside is that you are not the only one with this problem; every plastic surgeon struggles to get reviews.

Review requests should be a standard part of your practice management. After every patient’s procedure, you or your staff need to reach out with a template email that makes it easy for a patient to leave a review. It’s even advisable to discuss it with them ahead of time and explain how incredibly helpful these reviews can be to both you and other people that are considering plastic surgery.

By making review acquisition a routine part of the follow-ups, you will steadily accumulate reviews that will both help your plastic surgery practice’s SEO and nudge prospective patients to choose you over other surgeons during the consideration phase.

Where Should Plastic Surgeons Ask Patients to Leave Reviews?

Where should you ask your patients to leave reviews?

There is no one single answer to this question.

You should probably be collecting reviews on several different websites; including Google My Business, Yelp, Healthgrades, or Yelp. It all depends on what pages are ranking for your branded keywords as well as the head terms used by patients researching plastic surgeons in a market.

Google My Business

No matter what, your plastic surgery practice should be collecting reviews on your Google My Business profile. At some point, it is highly likely that your patients will Google you. Having a GMB profile loaded with hundreds of positive reviews will inspire confidence in your abilities and help you rank in the local map results.

Directories that rank for your keywords

When someone searches for “best plastic surgeon in Miami,” they are rarely asking Google to tell them who the best surgeon is.

They are looking for comparison websites where they can read about the different cosmetic surgeons available to them. In a case like this, the directory website is getting the patient through both the awareness and consideration phases.

Perform these searches, see what directories are the highest-ranking, and create a process for getting your patients to leave reviews for you on these websites. Potential patients will be relying on these directories to choose a plastic surgeon, and it will be a good opportunity for you to stand out if you can collect lots of reviews on them.

Directories that rank for your name

Do a Google search for your name.

What directories are showing up? Do you have any reviews on these websites? If one or two patients left a negative review for you on these directories, how do you think it could potentially affect your reputation?

Before someone lets you operate on them, they’re going to Google you. The top results need to reflect well on you.

As I stated before, it is almost inevitable that you will get negative reviews. These negative reviews can be mitigated by having a proactive approach to drowning them out with positive reviews.

Actively monitor your online reviews and respond to them appropriately

It would be best if you made a habit of responding to your reviews, positive or negative.

When the occasional negative review comes in, please take a deep breath and don’t answer it right away. When you do, take strong consideration of how a third-party is likely to read your response. There are complete guides to responding to negative reviews; here are a few of them:

Building a website that converts

cosmetic procedure website

Your website will often be the first touch point your patients have with your plastic surgery practice, as well as the last one at the moment when they make a decision whether to schedule a consultation (or not)—the action phase of your marketing funnel.

They will draw their first impressions about your abilities and professionalism based on whatever knee-jerk reaction they have to your website.

This is not an area to cheap out or to not give much thought to. Get your website right by working with a good plastic surgery website designer.

Your website must have clear, compelling messaging

What do you want to say to your prospective patients when they first land on your website?

Say it clearly, and don’t make it fight for attention.

One of the biggest mistakes we see plastic surgery websites is cluttered design, with dozens of elements competing for attention. If a visitor scrolls down your homepage and there are multiple elements that they could be looking at, there’s a good chance they may miss something you want them to see. Design your website so you are dictating the messaging the visitor is looking at any given moment.

Your messaging has two parts: the text and the images.

Images are often an afterthought when building a plastic surgeon’s website. The web designer, who usually has no plastic surgery marketing background, picks the first stock photos he finds on Shutterstock and throws them on the website.

This is the wrong approach to selecting images for your website.

Your website images will say just as much about your practice as the copy. Ensure they convey a message congruent with your branding and the overall message you wish to deliver to your patients.

Include search optimized service pages

SEO for plastic surgeons begins with your website build. Each of the treatments and procedures that you provide needs to have its own search-optimized pages.

Getting your home page to rank for three different procedures is destined to fail.

This means that if you aim to rank for a query such as “acne scar treatment NYC,” you need to have a page dedicated to that specific procedure. This being the case, single-scroll websites are not an option if you want your plastic surgery website to rank well on Google.

search optimized service page for cosmetic surgery
Notice how all these results are for pages about this specific procedure in NYC.

I get further into the topic of SEO later in this article.

Your website needs to load quickly

A few months ago, Google announced its core web vitals will become a ranking factor in 2021. In other words, your website won’t rank as well if it is slow to load. You can check your website’s load times using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

While I am skeptical that Google will start penalizing websites that don’t load in under 2.5 seconds, I know that slow load times affect how people react.`

Patients are impatient.

If your plastic surgery practice’s website takes too long to load, there’s a good chance prospective patients will leave it and go to the next one in the search results.

I have seen pretty convincing evidence that when this behavior happens in large enough numbers, Google will demote it in the search results. The last thing you want is to miss out on potential consults and destroy your search rank because your website takes too long to load.

A plastic surgery website must show high quality before and after photos 

Your before and after photos are a critical part of the interest and consideration phases of your marketing funnel.

This is an area where your practice can stand out quite easily.

Most plastic surgeon websites feature terrible photography as before and afters. Most are something like these:

bad plastic surgery before and after photos
Do these make you say “I want to look like her?”

Given the widespread availability of inexpensive, good lighting and the high quality of smartphone cameras, there’s no reason for this.

Patients will not only be judging your work based on these photographs but will also imagine how you may be able to transform their physical appearances. There’s no reason to cheap out on the before and after photos.

Feature your plastic surgeons prominently.

Your patients are trusting their physical appearance to you. They want to know who you are.

Your website needs to prominently feature pictures that paint your plastic surgeons in the right light. Get high-quality photos. Make sure they focus on your face; visitors should be able to see your eyes easily, even if they are on a mobile device.

You were about us should feature all of the plastic surgeons in your practice. Each doctor should have his or her own bio page with a flattering headshot and fall Pio that outlines their training, education, and experience.

SEO is incredibly valuable to a plastic surgery practice

Let’s face it; many people do not want others to know they are considering plastic surgery.

Because of this, they are likely to do most of their research into the procedure they are interested in online. They are also highly likely to find a plastic surgeon by searching Google, making SEO one of the most common ways patients find a plastic surgeon.

Being one of the top results can be transformative for a plastic surgery practice.

We do SEO for plastic surgeons throughout the United States, and we see the data. Even plastic surgeons in small to medium-sized markets get dozens, if not hundreds, of visitors a day to their websites when they appear in Google’s top five results.

Assuming you have an effective website that converts those visitors into consults, you can probably expect anywhere from 5 to 10% of your traffic to call or fill out a contact form.

If you can turn those consults into patients, that can equal a lot of revenue for your practice.

Here are a few tips to get your plastic surgery website’s SEO on the right foot.

Use the language your patients use

If you are interested in getting breast augmentation consults through your website, you need a “breast augmentation in x city” page, not a just “mammoplasty” page.

When someone is looking into this procedure, for example, they are highly more likely to use terms such as breast augmentation or breast implants. By using these keywords on your page instead of the scientific term, you will increase the relevance of your page to the query the searcher is entering and increase the likelihood of your page ranking highly.

If you’re interested in learning more about plastic surgery keywords, we wrote an article about the topic.

Use the proper schema markup

Structured data is data that is entered into a webpage to help search engines better understand the content. This data is often referred to as “schema markup.”

There is designated schema markup for medical organizations, clinics, and now, even plastic surgery. Plug-ins such as Yoast SEO and RankMath make it easy to implement schema on your website, but you do need to know what you’re doing.

This is an area where you may be best served by finding a skilled SEO to implement your plastic surgery practice’s correct schema.

Be extremely thorough in your web copy

Make sure the copy on your service pages covers that procedure comprehensively. This does not mean you need to write a 4000-word article on Botox in order to rank well for that keyword, but covering the subject matter thoroughly will increase Google’s trust in your expertise.

It will also signal to Google that your Botox page is a better resource for someone looking into Botox in your market than your competitors’ pages.

The web copy on your entire website needs to be written in a way that demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

Websites that Google categorizes as “your money or your life” websites go through specific algorithms to weed out untrustworthy sources. Google does not want people to encounter inaccurate medical information through the search engine, and part of the way they are ensuring this is to look at your website as a whole.

A website that is loaded with poorly written content is unlikely to inspire confidence in Google. Make sure all of your web copy is expert-level quality.

Build service/geographic pages

Generally speaking, people search locally for a plastic surgeon. They often perform searches such as “cost of rhinoplasty in Chicago” or “tummy tuck upper east side” (assuming that’s where they live in Manhattan).

By creating service pages specific to the geographies where are your patients are searching, you can increase the likelihood of having your website show up in the search engine results for these searches.

Answer questions through blog content

Your plastic surgery practice’s website probably has a blog, whether you use it or not. It would be best if you learned how to use it.

However, it is essential to note that the blog’s purpose is not to share your musings about plastic surgery. It’s also probably not for sharing the latest going on unless you have people that visit your website just because they want to see what’s new.

Your blog needs to answer the questions people have about the procedures you perform.

This accomplishes two things. First, it allows you to get in front of potential clients as they are early in the process of having a procedure performed. For example, you should have blog posts outlining the typical costs of each procedure you perform in the cities where you perform them.

In other words, queries like “acne scar treatment cost in NYC” could be a valuable keyword for a dermatologist to rank for since it indicates an interest in the procedure.

The second benefit of answering the source of questions on your blog is reputational. Google refers to websites where one may make a life decision based on the information it provides as “your money or your life” (YMYL) niches. Belonging to a plastic surgeon, your website is clearly a YMYL website.

This means that the expertise of the person producing the constant on your website is of utmost importance. Google has been leveraging its AI to understand the level of expertise of an author, and if you have any questionable content on your website, it will ding you. Your blog can become an evergreen source of content that answers questions related to the cosmetic procedures you perform.

As more and more Internet users find the answers to their cosmetic surgery questions on your website’s blog, the more trust it will earn.

As Google sees that the author of the content on your website is an expert in the subject of cosmetic surgery, the better your entire domain will rank over time.

Here are some blog topics your plastic surgery practice’s website should cover:

  • The costs of procedures and the variables that can increase or reduce those costs
  • Recovery time for each procedure
  • Comparison articles that explain the differences between different procedures

PPC ads for plastic surgeons

What are PPC ads?

Pay per click (PPC) ads are advertisements where an advertiser pays only when someone clicks on the ad.

PPC ads can be particularly effective for a plastic surgery practice. My plastic surgery marketing agency has managed dozens of PPC campaigns for plastic surgeons, and we have never run one that was not profitable.

There is a lot that goes into making a PPC campaign work well, but we’ve a/b tested our way to creating a highly optimized PPC campaign that can be dropped into almost any market and produce profitable leads.

If you’d like to talk with us about PPC ads on the Google ads platform or Facebook, click here and fill out the form.

Social Media Marketing for Plastic Surgeons

More visual social media platforms tend to work better for plastic surgeons than those that are more text-based.

Twitter, for example, is typically not as effective as Instagram in creating engaged audiences for plastic surgeons. For this reason, TikTok is likely to show itself as being an effective medium for plastic surgeons to market themselves in social media as well.

Plastic surgeons that share beauty and health tips on social media tend to grow their audiences most quickly. As that audience grows, the social media channels can be quite effective at creating trust and even some level of celebrity for the surgeon. Cosmetic surgeons with large social media followings report getting consults from all over the United States.

If your practice gets social media right, it could find itself in a position where patients are willing to wait months for a consult and travel across the country to see you.

Don’t rely on any one marketing channel

Regardless of the plastic surgery marketing channels you decide to utilize, don’t ever put all your eggs in one basket.

Social media platforms do come and go.

Search engine algorithms change.

YouTube and Facebook accounts do get shut down out of nowhere.

You wouldn’t want your lead generation to be entirely shut down overnight because you relied too heavily on one marketing channel. Building a brand over time, combined with direct response digital marketing can be a recipe for a thriving plastic surgery practice. If you’d be interested in talking to someone about how Sagapixel may be able to help your practice with its plastic surgery marketing, please reach out.

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