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Referrals Alone Are Not Enough

Digital Marketing Channels

Word-of-mouth advertising has always been an amazing source of lead generation for all business types – especially healthcare. It’s something we hear all the time at Sesame when we speak with new practices: “I get all my business from word of mouth.” 

In reality, though, in the digital age potential patients don’t simply accept a friend, relative, or acquaintance’s advice. They also perform their own online research.

So let’s answer the question. Is word of mouth all you need to get new patients? The long and short answer is…no.

The Typical Process Undertaken by Prospective Patients

When is the last time someone gave you a referral and, without even Googling their name, business, etc., you just gave them a call? It’s probably been a while. Potential patients don’t do that either. 

When your business regularly gets great referrals, you definitely have a leg up over your competition. Still, potential patients who just learned about your practice from someone else typically pull out their phone and start analyzing your online presence. This process often includes reviewing your website, your online reviews, and your social media profiles.

Imagine you just got referred to a business and, when you try to look them up online, their website looks outdated or maybe they don’t even have one. Then you try to look at reviews and they have just a few from multiple years ago with questionable ratings and their social media profiles haven’t been updated in months or years. Many prospective patients will be turned off in such a scenario – even with a referral from someone else. 

That’s why ensuring that your digital presence and marketing efforts are consistent with what is expected from prospective patients is an absolute necessity. 

Requirements for Digital Success

You need a modern website that is easy to navigate and provides information existing and prospective patients need. Your practice also needs to build up quality reviews and consistent information on sites like Google My Business, and it’s important to have an active and engaging social media presence. 


Someone knowing either your name or your practice name is a great start, but a strong online presence to help convince the referred person to become a patient is equally if not more important.


—Phil Horton, Sr. Search Manager, Sesame Communications

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Sesame is an industry leader in integrated, cloud-based marketing and patient-engagement solution designed exclusively for your practice. We know that effective patient communication is vital to the success of your practice and the efficiency of your team. With Sesame, you can take your practice to the next level, allowing you to concentrate on what’s really important – your patients!