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Marketing & Business Development

Medical Tourism Websites: Lead Generation

Marketing & Business Development

Have web developers promised more clicks and traffic to your medical tourism site? Have they shown statistics to back their claims? At what point did you realize that “clicks” cannot be identified and contacted?

Those questions were a driving force behind my plan to build a better lead generation platform for my plastic surgery practice website, which also attracts medical tourism patients from Australia and New Zealand. And you can apply this strategy to your medical tourism site, too.

My Story

About a year-and-a-half ago, I moved from Louisiana to San Francisco. I had been in practice for six years as an employed plastic surgeon in a large hospital in Louisiana until I decided to be in a bigger city. I had a great relationship with the hospital administration, so parting of ways was pleasant.

I found a plastic surgeon in San Francisco who was retiring and had the type of practice that I wanted — mostly, cosmetic and an accredited in-office operating room. We worked out a contractual arrangement; wherein, he would stay for about four-and-a-half months after my arrival in June, 2013.

When I arrived, he had a 200 email addresses in his database. I knew that my success would depend on my ultimate competence and rapport with former and new patients, but I certainly wanted to retain as many of his as possible, in addition to finding new ones.

So, I started going through old records looking for email addresses that weren’t already in his database. Humorously, I found that prior to 2001, the patient intake forms didn’t even ask for an email address, either because that was deemed too personal or because many people didn’t have one.

I needed to build my own database of new patients interested in cosmetic surgery. However, I couldn’t just build the database from patients walking through the clinic doors. I needed a way to capture new leads online in the hopes that increased leads would generate more consults — both domestic and foreign.

And that’s what I did. A little more than one-and-a-half years after my arrival, I’ve grown my database to more than 3,000 email addresses.

Turning Traffic into Leads

Everyone talks about lead generation, but to be effective, you have to offer consumers something that makes them want to leave contact information. So, that’s what I did. I provided a list of services on my website or Facebook page — without revealing the cost — and consumers had to provide contact info in exchange for pricing on procedures of interest. The promise of pricing was the “carrot” to incentivize them to leave their contact details.

By making cost information automatically available after the consumer provided contact details, I obliged their desire for instant information and received a lead in the process. In addition to following up on every one of these leads, I synced the patient’s email address to my marketing software so each successive month’s online newsletter went to more and more subscribers.

To be clear, our pricing information is in a database so once consumers choose services of interest and submits their “wish-list,” the database automatically sends them a breakdown of costs they’re requesting. This way, the office manager doesn’t have to manually tabulate the costs – it’s done automatically after they provide their contact info, which my office captured.


• Database grew from 200 to more than 3,000 email addresses in 1.5 years;

• In the first year, alone — June 2013 to June 2014 – without any advertising, we collected 412 wish-lists from 208 unique consumers from one lead generation platform, with a total of 1,628 unique consumers submitting thousands of wish-lists from June 2013 to January 2015. This includes an increase in consumer engagement after we started advertising in the fall of 2014 and directed consumers to the pricing page on our website *17.8 percent of all wish-lists from the first year came in for a consultation; 62 percent of those that came in booked a procedure;

• 82.2 percent of consumers submitting wish-lists learned that services were out of their budget and didn’t schedule an appointment (better to recognize their financial constraints before coming in for a 45-minute consultation), but we still captured their contact info for future marketing;

• Consumers that booked a procedure accounted for more than $92,000 of revenue from that one lead source;

• When compared to consumers who came in without knowing cost ahead of time, price-aware consumers were 41 percent more likely to book.

Out-of-Pocket Services

Regardless of out-of-pocket services offered, cost is always the ultimate question of every medical tourist. So, why not let them get that pricing information early in their research process and, in turn, you’ll be able to select among the most serious of patients.

Therefore, consider offering hard-to- find information like cost on your website behind an “iron curtain.” The elusive information the consumer is willing to trade an identity for may be something other than cost. Your “carrot” may come in the form of a discount on a service or an online-only special.

Consumers who are interested enough in what you have will provide contact information as long as they get that information automatically (or at least quickly) — instant gratification is a corollary to this theorem of lead generation.

One additional bit of advice: the secret isn’t advertising and SEO alone – that will only get you more clicks and traffic. You also need something to motivate the consumer to hand over their identity!

About the Author

Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, Calif., and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod, an online market- place for healthcare services that allows consumers to determine cost of out-of-pocket procedures, and purchase non-surgical services from its database of more than 100 board-certified plastic surgeons, dermatologists, primary care, dentists, ObGyn’s and other health- care providers that believe in price transparency.

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