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 In Independent Pharmacy

Bringing in new foot traffic and initiating customer relationships through the website are important goals for an independent pharmacy. Online marketing offers many options, but can an independent pharmacy compete against national chains with six- and seven-figure marketing budgets?

The answer is yes. Here are three [MORE] ways you can promote your pharmacy online and start attracting more customers.

1. Local SEO

Local SEO (search engine optimization) is a marketing option used to make pages of your website appear prominently on Google and other search engines when people are searching for a pharmacy. With mobile search on the rise, local SEO can be particularly effective because people may be looking for a pharmacy while driving or on foot.

A number of techniques are used to improve your organic (as opposed to paid) search engine visibility. A few of the most important are:

  • Making sure your name, physical address and phone number appear consistently on all pages of your website
  • Cultivating positive customer reviews on major, influential review sites
  • Setting up and adding content to a Google My Business page
  • Listing your site on local business and healthcare-related websites.

Because as an independent pharmacist you have very strong customer relationships, you may be able to outperform larger competitors in your ability to cultivate customer reviews. This could be an important advantage. Many competent local SEO specialists are available, and the budget for a focused campaign is well within a typical small business’s marketing budget.

2. PPC Advertising

PPC (pay-per-click) advertising also tends to focus on Google advertising through its AdWords platform. Google gives ads top placement in SERPs (search engine results pages), so when your ad appears, it is bound to be noticed. The big advantage of PPC is speed. Whereas local SEO can take months to start improving your search visibility, PPC is immediate.

Pharmacies are naturals for PPC because your ads can include enticing offers year-round as well as seasonal offers such as free or discounted flu shots. A PPC campaign involves careful keyword selection (keywords are the phrases people use in their Google searches), strong ad copy, a persuasive landing page people go to when they click on the ad, and ongoing testing.

Since ads cost money and you need a professional PPC campaign manager, the challenge is to arrive at a campaign scope focused enough to fit in your budget. It is possible, but it will require careful planning and execution. As with local SEO, there are many PPC agencies and freelancers adept at helping local businesses succeed.

3. Social Media

Social media has one big advantage: You can join and participate in the big platforms free of charge. If you have someone on staff who is social media-savvy and can dedicate one or more hours a day to social media, you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Chain pharmacies may have sophisticated social media accounts with many followers, but those followers may not be seriously engaged. As a local pharmacy, you have an engaged community of customers built-in — people who may be very eager to share ideas and learn more about healthcare-related topics.

If your social media accounts generate comments and other interactions, that activity will be seen by followers of your followers, building a solid base of prospective customers over time. In addition, social media advertising (particularly on Facebook) could be quite fruitful, and it is easy and relatively inexpensive to set up a test campaign.

You should be able to run your own campaign in the initial stages, but investing in some social media marketing consulting could be worthwhile — specialists can help you select the right platform(s), content strategy, conversion strategy and performance metrics.

Brad Shorr

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an online marketing agency headquartered in the Chicago area. Visit them online at http://www.straightnorth.com/locations/chicago-il/seo.

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