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SEO: Pharmacy’s Missing Secret Weapon

In this presentation delivered at The Pharmacy Show in 2021, Saam talks about how Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help plant your private services on the first page of Google and drive significant revenue from them

 

SEO_ Pharmacy’s Missing Secret Weapon

The presentation has been transcribed below:

 

Slide 2

That graph represents the most remarkable story for a particular independent pharmacy up in Scotland.

Can you see that red arrow there…that’s when I still classed the business as a pharmacy back in May 2020.

Its private service offering was doing well but like most other pharmacies, its bread and butter were prescriptions.
But fast forward to today, I can no longer call this business a pharmacy. A more accurate description would be along the lines of:

Slide 3

“Hollistic Primary Healthcare Hub”

Let that slide sink in for a second.

Look at how the private service offering today now dwarves its NHS services, and look at the variety there. Not only can you get your prescription, but this “pharmacy” can also help you:

  • Get your yellow fever vaccine before you travel
  • Remove that excess build-up of wax in your ears
  • Feel more energetic with a Vitamin B12 injection
  • Clear up your chest infection with antibiotics through its private GP offering
  • Access a dentist immediately to help with your persistent toothache
  • Help you lose weight via the most powerful POM treatment on the market

And much, much more…

It truly is a one-stop-shop for many of your healthcare needs.

Slide 4

Whatsmore, this business is absolutely thriving financially. The private service side is generating more revenue than its NHS side, and much more profit. Prescriptions have become their secondary source of income. They are now working on automating more of their prescription journey so that profits can improve on that side too.

Slide 5

For me, that’s the future of Community Pharmacy. Automating the prescription journey as much as possible and focussing on the provision and growth of clinical services.

Not only will you be building more avenues of revenue, but you’re stepping away from the mundane tasks of checking prescriptions towards a more fulfilled holistic service approach, and improving access to healthcare in your area.

This kind of opportunity exists for all pharmacies around the Nation. It’s how your gonna survive and massively thrive.

Slide 6

Now, getting to this position requires that you innovate and think about your business in a different way.

There are many factors that you have to consider, such as:

  • Getting trained to provide these services in the first place
  • Making sure you have the right resource levels to deliver
  • You’ve developed strong SOP’s , and so on.

Essentially, you need to be in a position to be able to deliver these services well to your patients.

But aside from delivery, you will not get towards the success levels of this pharmacy without the right digital infrastructure around your services, and investing in marketing. And in terms of marketing, one of the secret weapons to driving 100’s of clinic bookings every month is Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.

SEO is what I’m gonna talk about primarily in this session. It is the most underutilised marketing tactic in pharmacy but one that offers the biggest opportunity, and I firmly believe it can change the landscape of Clinical Community Pharmacy.

Slide 7

So just before we get into the juicy world of SEO, a little bit about me. I’m a pharmacist..have been for the last 14 yrs, and I’ve managed all sizes of pharmacy businesses, from large chain multiples to the single independent.

But for the last 8 years, I’ve been building websites and marketing digitally, two things which I absolutely adore doing. So much so, I ended up building Pharmacy Mentor, which is a specialist marketing and development agency, for pharmacies.

Now, of all the marketing channels that I know, SEO has always been my fave.

But, also I know how business-changing SEO can be. And it’s one of the main reasons Pharmacy Mentor gets business…if you take your phone out now open chrome and type either of the words “Pharmacy Marketing” or “Pharmacy Website Design” – you’ll see PM right at the top there, just below the Ads. That’s SEO. I want people to find our company for those specific keywords.

Slide 8

So what is Search Engine Optimisation exactly?

In the words of the SEO guru himself, Neil Patel, he describes SEO as “the process of taking steps to help a website or piece of content rank higher on Google.”

So, just from that definition there, we know we need a website or content online to make this work.

Slide 9

To take it a bit further, SEO is all about ranking higher on Google organically and not paying Google to be at the top.

Now, this bit is really important to understand. SEO involves optimising a piece of digital content so that when someone searches for something in particular, in a search engine like Google, that piece of content shows up towards the top of the results.

You can always pay for Advertising space to drive traffic immediately. However, if you can get there without paying for Ads, you’re gonna yield a much stronger return on investment and it will be much more cost-effective for you in the long run.

Slide 10

To help you understand this visually, take a look at the following slide. Let’s say you’re a pharmacy owner, which in this audience, most of you probably are, and you’re looking for some help to grow your EPS numbers. You’ve heard from a friend of yours that another pharmacy grew their item numbers quite successfully by doing a mailshot in their area. So, you decide to do some research into it.

You log onto Google, and you search for something like “mailshot service pharmacy” or “mailshot for a pharmacy”, for example.

Get your phone out now and try it yourselves now if you can log onto Google.

Right at the top there, you can see company’s paying for that Ad space and are getting charged every time someone clicks on the link. This is Pay Per Click.

But, right underneath this, you can see a page for our company that has been optimised for those keywords. We don’t pay to be there and we don’t pay every time someone clicks on the link. And of course, out of all of those options on the slide there, you’re gonna click on our link because it talks to you so perfectly. “Let’s drive prescription numbers” – Yes, please – click! And because of this article and the way that it speaks to pharmacy owners on Google, we get business from it.

That’s SEO in action right there.

Now the thing is, this pharmacy owner had never heard of Pharmacy Mentor before today. They would have never have typed the words “Pharmacy Mentor” into Google.

Slide 11

Rather, pharmacy owners are looking for the services they require on Google and that’s how our company gets found. Over the years, we’ve optimised content for 100’s of pharmacy owner specific keywords and as a result, we obtain 10,000’s of page views every month that is super targeted for our audience.

Slide 12

Also, incredibly interestingly, with Google’s Keyword Planner, I can check what kind of monthly search volume each keyword has which will help me work out which of them I should focus on more than others.
And this can even be location-specific. So, for example, if I wanted to find out how many searches were made for the keyword “pharmacy websites” in Manchester, I can view that data.

Slide 13

So, how does all this translate for your business?

What keywords should you guys be focussing on?

And what do you then do with those keywords?

Slide 14

Well, the best place to start off when trying to find these is to follow the basic formula that you can see on the screen right there.

That formula, although very simple looking, is worth hundreds of thousands every year to a pharmacy, especially one that offers private clinics. And I’m not exaggerating in the slightest here.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that there really isn’t a limit to the number of keywords you can target. There are 100’s, if not 1000’s of them of various lengths and combinations, and that’s one of the reasons SEO is a never-ending game. You can’t really run out of SEO and I’ll talk more about the other reasons why a tad later.

Slide 15

So, following this formula:

1. Firstly, make a list of all the services and products you really want to push and make more money from:

  • NHS and Private Prescriptions
  • Flu vaccineTravel Clinic
  • Yellow fever vaccineMeningitis Vaccine (Hajj and Umrah)
  • Malaria TabletsAesthetics Clinic
  • Botox
  • Lip fillers
  • Vampire Facial

2. List the geographical locations you want to target

3. Begin developing the keyword list using the formula above:

So, understanding the services I want to promote and where my target audience are, some of these would be:

  • Yellow fever vaccine Warrington
  • Flu Vaccine Warrington
  • Lip fillers Warrington

And so on.

So as you can see there, I’m now starting to create a list of top-level, highly powerful keywords for my business.

So let’s say I’ve made a list of 20 keywords and I’ve checked on Google’s keywords planner that they are in fact being searched for by people in my area.

What now?

Slide 16

Well, it’s time for me to start creating content. I need to get some content up online and I need to optimise it for the keywords I’ve just listed. That’s where my website comes into play.

So, how do you optimise content exactly?

I’ve only got a short time with you guys today, I can’t go into the full details of optimisation, because it’s technical and extensive.

There is so much you can do to make your content appear higher in search results, but the two things I should mention for now are the following:

  • Make sure you create and optimise an entire page for each service and keyword that you want to target, and blog consistently every month.
  • The more content you can create…

If you get these two nailed, you can expect to begin driving tonnes more traffic to your website, hence revenue and profit.

But like I said before, SEO is a never ending game. My advice of creating optimised content on your website through service pages and blogging represents about 20% of the vast universe that SEO is. Site Speed, SSL certificates, site maps and metadata to mention a few all play a role in ranking your content higher. But the real reason you can’t run out is the world of backlinks and off-page SEO.

Slide 17

So, going back to the formula and on-page optimisation, this is exactly the strategy we executed when working with this pharmacy I showed you at the start. We took care of a lot of technical SEO for them naturally, which I’ll remind you is very important, but we followed the same formula I described before.

We developed a keyword and content strategy for them and got to work creating optimised content on the website.

The graph shows how many website link clicks and how many people have viewed those links on Google since May 2020 last year.

Now, I can’t deny that Covid helped our cause a lot in this scenario but it’s the optimised content that we have developed, and continue doing so, that has caused the increase you can see here.

You see, COVID accelerated digital behavioural change. People became glued to their phones and began looking for services and products near them at a level never seen before in human history. People didn’t know what was open or closed and people had to do their research via Google.

For this particular pharmacy, COVID testing services, ear wax removal, phlebotomy and private GP proved to be hugely popular keywords in their area.

If you have a look at that green box there, it tells you that over the period of this time, we developed 70,000 website clicks and over 2 million people have seen these links on Google. Purely organically. That’s a mind blowing result.

That’s why this pharmacy is generating £millions of pounds in revenue every year from private services, and the more work we do for them in terms of SEO, the more they will make.

And that’s really why I can no longer class this business as a pharmacy.

Slide 18

So, how do you get started?

Well, of course, you can try to find the time to learn how to do all of this yourself and if you do want to, I’ve popped some really useful links there to help get you started.

But, your pharmacy owners. And that means you haven’t got much time.

So the best thing for you to do would be to find a freelancer or an agency that specialise in SEO to do it for you.

But remember, first and foremost, you need a good, solid website to begin developing the optimised content on, and you need to develop a content keyword strategy to work from.

And lastly, this is a long-term strategy designed to develop traffic and revenue over time. It’s important to note that you’re not going to see results immediately. It takes time for Google and other search engines to index the content you create and it’s not certain how long this can take. It may take a week to index, or 3 months. Plus, we need to keep on top of how Google is altering their bots and algorithms at all times.

But you have to start somewhere and if you’re offering private services, the marketing channel that I would be focussing on is SEO.

Slide 19

My name’s Saam and we’d love to talk to you about how wwe can help your pharmacy business succeed.


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Digitise your Prescribing Clinic & Revolutionise your Pharmacy

In this presentation, delivered at The Pharmacy Show 2022, Saam will show you how you can turn your PGD or Independent Prescribing status into £10,000’s per month. He shows you what digital tools, mechanisms and formulas you need to adopt to make it work.

 

 

The presentation has been transcribed below:

Slide 2

After she said those words and shot me down in front of a room full of people, I did something that would change the course of my life forever.

I got up, adjusted my tie, and said “I won’t do this anymore”. And walked out.

That was the last meeting I ever had with them, back in 2012.

I was working for one of the big corps and I had a very well-paid job. But towards the end of my time there, it felt like I was wearing a straight jacket to work instead of a suit jacket.

I had so many ideas for growth, but they just didn’t get listened to. I understood, of course. It’s tough to get anything through the big corporate red tape.

But I needed to grow.

And the only way I could do that was to break free and personally innovate.

Slide 3

As much as I love the NHS, I see it as a bit of a straight jacket for Community Pharmacy.

It’s very restrictive.

The market for prescriptions is heavily saturated, you’re getting paid less, and you don’t set the prices.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t focus on driving item numbers – it’s always gonna be part of your business model.

But, I’m sure you’ll agree, things a getting tighter.

But because you’re an Independent Pharmacy where no red tape exists and where you make the decisions about where your business goes, there are no boundaries like I had all those years ago.

You’ve got room to innovate.

And that tightening NHS grip can loosen if you put more time and energy into offering private clinical services.

It’s incredible what pharmacies can offer today.

And, with the help of the brilliant companies in this expo, you can become, I believe, the most powerful, diverse health hub in your city.

There’s so much potential for growth down this route.

Slide 4

Yet, like my store manager all those years back, I’m still hearing these sentences from time to time.

The way of the NHS has been a habit.

But these comments don’t stand any more, and here’s why…

Slide 5

I’ve broken it down into chunks:

  • Your sphere of Influence
  • The Boom in Private and Digital Healthcare
  • How our behaviour has now altered
  • Your ease of access to training
  • Revenue Potential
  • And Digital Marketing

Slide 6

When you go down the clinical route, your sphere of influence as a business grows significantly.

Traditionally, with the NHS dispensing model, you cater to the people who live within the 1 to 2-mile radius around you.

However, if you start offering a Travel Clinic, a Weight Management Clinic or an Ear Wax Removal clinic for example, you’ve immediately expanded your target audience to cover the entire city.

This is what we need to understand.

People are willing to travel much greater distances for these services, meaning you’ve 10 times’d your sphere of influence.

Slide 7

If I open Google Maps and type in the word “Pharmacy”, I get a load of pharmacies pop up, naturally.

It’s saturated.

However, if I type the keywords “Travel Clinic” or “Weight Loss Clinic”, less than a handful of clinics pop up and none of them are pharmacies.

Question: Do we have any pharmacy owners from Sheffield in the audience today?

Because if I was that pharmacy owner from Sheffield, I’d go home after this show and work out how I’m going start delivering a Travel and Obesity Clinic.

Then, I’d optimise them so well online that I’d literally sink the competition that I can see on there.

My clinics would show up first with 100’s of reviews on them, and I’d be making a fortune.

That’s how unsaturated this market is still.

Once again, my target audience is the city, not just S10.

Slide 8

The pandemic has also helped private healthcare boom over the last couple of years.

More people are looking for alternative ways to get better because the NHS is so rammed and people prefer to pay to get better quicker.

Slide 9

And many of these private entities are online too. Now is as good a time as ever to get in on this growing space.

Slide 10

Our digital behaviour has changed too. We’ve become supercharged digital users.

The stats there that should glow for a local pharmacy is that…

  • “Near me” searches for healthcare services have doubled since 2015.
  • And roughly 97% of people who use online search, look for local businesses.

They are very powerful indicators of the opportunity that is in front of a clinic service-oriented pharmacy.

Slide 11

It’s also easier to get started delivering private services.

More of us are becoming independent prescribers, and firms, like PharmaDoctor, make it super easy for us to begin supplying POMs under a PGD.

TympaHealth, another fabulous company, allows you to provide an ear clinic in your pharmacy.

Medicheks allows you to supply blood testing kits.

And Nurokor means you can operate a pain clinic in-store.

Essentially, you have the opportunity to become a complete health hub in your community, which…

Slide 12

Can generate a shed tonne of new revenue for you.

Take a look at this pharmacy for example. They offer a plethora of services, including a Travel Clinic, a Private GP, Blood Testing and Vitamin B12 injections.

The graph you can see is website traffic over time. They reached an all-time high between 2021 and 2022, achieving 5000 website page views a day at one point, and they were generating over £100,000 a month from their private services alone.

The way I see prescriptions now is not about the money you make from them under the NHS.

I see them as a vehicle for converting those patients into private service customers.

Slide 13

And that’s where digital marketing comes into play – which is the way you’re going to drive as much revenue from them as possible.

It’s time to think of your NHS patient database as a pool of clients you can upsell to.

If you’ve got 5000 patients on your PMR system, you have to get them enrolled onto your website.

And even better, WhatsApp or an email marketing solution, so you can communicate with them directly.

But that’s only 5000 people.

Remember earlier, I talked about how your sphere of influence has increased – we’ve got another 500,000 people we can potentially service.

So we need to think about SEO, Paid Ads and Social Media to communicate to those. I’ll come onto these later.

But firstly, if you’re prescribing POMs, or you’re delivering any other clinic, you’ve got to think about how you can digitise them.

Why?

So that you can make it as convenient as possible for the patient to use the service.

Making it digital reduces the administrative burden for yourselves, and ultimately increases conversions.

That’s what I’m going to talk about now.

Slide 14

To demonstrate this, we’re going to focus on the following services that are in growing trend and popularity:
Prescribing POMs as an IP or through a PGD

And, what I’ve termed the more “Invasive Clinics” where you have to get more involved, such as a travel clinic or ear wax removal service.

Slide 15

As an IP, or if you’re working with a private doctor, you can offer all types of POMs, whether it be under the condition of Asthma, UTIs or Migraines, for example.

To make it as easy as possible for the patient to begin their consultation with you, you must digitise it.

And the best way to do this is through your website.

 

Digitise your Prescribing Clinic & Revolutionise your Pharmacy - PS 2022

 

Slide 16

That’s why we had to build a solution for it.

Following a digital consultation, a patient can pay for their medicines online and collect them in your pharmacy, or have them delivered.

Let me give you a short tour of it right now…

Slide 17

A patient can select the condition that they are wanting to treat and learn about the treatments available under that condition.

Slide 18

They’ll then be able to begin a consultation via a risk assessment form online or by booking in for a virtual meeting with you.

Slide 19

This where you ask the questions required for supplying the medicine.

As an IP, you’re able to add and edit as many questions as you want, to make them unique to you.

Slide 20

Following the consultation, the patient can then choose which medicine they prefer to purchase.

Slide 21

They’ll then go through the checkout process where they can choose whether they want to collect in the pharmacy, or have it delivered.

And finally, they’ll be able to pay for the medicine online.

Slide 22

As a patient, I can access my personal dashboard and understand where my order is at in the process, and I can message the pharmacy directly too.

It doesn’t really get any easier than that as a consumer, and that patient pathway is in line with the current GPhC guidance.

Slide 23

Now as an IP, you’ll be notified of the order via email and you’ll see the order come through in the back of the system.

This is where you have to decipher if you’re happy with the consultation that’s just happened.

This is a very important step, and you have to be confident that the medicine they have selected is suitable for supply.

The GPhC are increasingly asking for evidence of intervention at this stage – so you have to make sure you can show it.

Slide 24

If you’re happy with everything, then you can approve the consultation.

This will automatically generate a private prescription for you, so you can dispense it.

That’s how you digitise your IP clinic and you can now service the entire UK if you wish with that system.

Slide 25

If you’re offering POMs through a PGD, you can use a variation of the system I’ve just shown you.

However, it also does depend on the PGD that you’re using, and it must comply with the regulation set by it.

Slide 26

But, as an example, let’s look at Norethisterone, which is a common treatment given under a PGD, for period delay.

Firstly, make sure you’ve got content on your website about it, whether that’s through a page or a blog.

But then you’ve got a few options about how your patient interacts with you.

If the PGD supplier has their own online portal, which a lot of them do, then we can redirect them to that system.

Alternatively, they may be able to go through the Ultimate PM software, which I’ve just shown you.

Or, the patient can access a booking calendar where several things can happen before dispensing:

Slide 27

They can book in to speak with the pharmacist virtually

You could ask them a series of questions, just as a risk assessment does

And you can take payment for the medication online before they pick up the medicine in-store

The virtual world is pretty boundaryless.

There’s loads of ways you can digitise the process but the way you do it depends on how you’re offering it.

Slide 28

So what about the more invasive clinics where you have to do a physical examination, injection or procedure?

Slide 29

Well, for some of them, I would always build a separate website around that particular service, and connect it to my main website.

That’s primarily because of the demand and search volume around them, and how much money you can make from it.

If you’re looking to really dominate your city, I would always create a separate website for your:

  • Travel Clinic
  • Weight Management
  • Ear Wax Removal
  • Aesthetics

I’d arrange the websites to be sub-sites, with links in between all of them, to maximise SEO, which I’ll get onto in a minute.

Slide 30

The next thing I need to consider is an online booking system. I touched on this just now.

Slide 31

And I’d always have a live chat system connected so that I can talk to my patients directly.

I’d also install a solution, such as Mailchimp, where I’m building a patient database.

That right there, is an immense, beautiful, digital, revenue-generating, sustainable clinical pharmacy ecosystem that can revolutionise your business.

Slide 32

But, once you get your digital base set up, it doesn’t right stop there.

We need to get people to find these services online, so we need to market ourselves.

So, what’s the best way of doing this?

Slide 33

Let’s split this into internal marketing and external marketing.

Internal being the patient base you already have, such as those on your PMR system and those people that walk into your pharmacy.

And external being those people who don’t know your pharmacy or services exist as yet.

Slide 34

If you’re an established Pharmacy and you already have a patient database in your PMR, that’s the first move you’ve got to consider.

They are your patients already, and they trust you. Trust is the biggest influencer in using a service.

So you’ve got to find a way to communicate with them digitally.

Also, get large, bright TV screens inside your pharmacy and the shop windows.

And, very importantly, get your team trained up and involved in the services.

Make them champions for particular clinics, and even incentivise them for getting people to sign up.

This can make a huge difference.

Slide 35

So that’s internal. What about external?

How are you going to influence them?

Well firstly, you’ve got to understand how people are searching for these services, and work from there.

Question: Any idea where people might be looking?

Yep, you guessed it. Google.

You have to start dominating this search engine locally.

And the two best ways of doing this is through SEO and Paid Advertising.

In last years’ Show, I dedicated a whole session on SEO. It is truly business changing and cannot be ignored when offering private clinics.

There’s loads of information on our website about it, and I’ve popped a link to a great guide on there, that you can read later.

But to get to the top of Google immediately, whether that’s on Search or Maps, it’s all about Google Ads.

Again, I’ve popped a link on there to a comprehensive guide.

It’s a massively powerful tactic, but it’s important to know that Google have clamped down on advertising POMs and pharmacy-related services.

It’s because of the nature of the content. So you do need to tread carefully and that’s why LegitScript on there too.

This certification helps legitimise your business for the giant advertising platforms out there, like Facebook and Google.

And of course, we can’t forget about Social Media too, the best way to generate engagement in your Community.

Post about the services you’re offering, but make the posts as engaging as possible!

It’s pretty saturated, so you really need to cut through the noise with excellent content.

Slide 36

Video.

People want to see a video of their local pharmacist talking about these services and it’s the ultimate way to build trust.

As well as the biggies out there like Facebook, Insta and Google Business, it’s well worth exploring TikTok now too.

Slide 37

So, how do you get started?

Well, the first thing you need to do is to seek help.

You can’t do this on your own, and that’s why you have the amazing organisations in this expo today.

But the important first step is delivery.

You’ve got to make sure that you can deliver on the ground and give great customer service

And following that, a digital strategy needs to be developed that can be embedded into what you’re offering.

Whoever you work with, it’s important that they understand your business through and through.

Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time explaining what your business is and how it works.

Slide 38

But it all comes back to mindset and innovation, and a strong drive to change and evolve.

One of the big blockers in pharmacy today is time.

So you need to think about how you can release more of it to be able to head in this direction.

Are you ready to go beyond the boundaries of the NHS?

Are you ready to step into private clinical territory?

And are you ready to digitise with it and revolutionise your pharmacy.

Slide 39

My names Saam and thank you so much for listening.


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