Healthcare Marketing Strategy: 10 Actionable Tips In 2020
Healthcare marketing strategy is used to support the practices of in-person healthcare providers and telemedicine providers. It facilitates the relationship between doctors and their patients. It also draws in new customers to a practice. In 2020, a healthcare marketing strategy can take many different forms and span multiple channels to target the right patients at the right time and in the right way.
In this article, ComboApp will discuss the essentials of building a strong medical marketing plan. Online medical marketing is one of the best ways for doctors and medical institutions to convey important information to their patients. This is why it is so important to have a healthcare marketing consultant to navigate the tricky landscape of regulations and rules which medical staff must comply with while seeking new patients, (while retaining existing patients.)
Regulations that Healthcare Marketing Strategy must comply with
Healthcare providers must comply with various federal health marketing laws and regulations that impact medical marketing strategy. The most important are:
- HIPAA – A regulation that mandates industry-wide standards for the sharing of healthcare information and electronic billing services. The aim of HIPAA is to protect patient privacy.
- GDPR – This is a law that first started in the EU and has made its way across the pond to the United States. The law sets out 7 principles for the lawful processing of personal data. It regulates the collection, organization, structuring, alteration, consultation, use, communication, combination, restriction, erasure, and storage of personal data. It protects how doctors, hospitals, and marketers can use patient information.
- The CAN-SPAM Act – This act regulates the context of information that healthcare marketers and physicians can deliver in emails. It also provides the patient the right to opt-out of receiving email from their healthcare provider, or other medical institutions.
These regulations only increase the need for a comprehensive healthcare marketing strategy. To enjoy a steady supply of patients, providers need to master the unique nature of healthcare digital marketing and stay on top of the latest healthcare marketing trends.
Why Is Healthcare Marketing Important?
A study by Prophet explored the current state of the patient experience and uncovered this alarming statistic: 81% of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience. What’s more, 43% of Millennials are likely to switch primary care providers in the next few years, according to research by Solutionreach.
In the old days, patients would typically find doctors through personal recommendations. In the digital era, social media networks have become an integral part of how patients find healthcare professionals. Online reviews posted on these networks by other patients play an especially important role in their selection process. Even a few negative reviews can convince patience to seek help elsewhere, which is why reputation management is a growing priority for all professionals in the healthcare industry.
Clearly, patient expectations have evolved considerably over the past decade. They now have more options than ever before to get the care they want for themselves and their families. For this reason, healthcare providers should see healthcare marketing not just as a great investment but as an absolute necessity.
~89% of consumers immediately turn to online search when they’re looking to solve their healthcare queries. In marketing healthcare services it is important to approach with a personalized strategy for each segment of the market, each individual specialty, and each specific practice.
According to an in depth study by Dr. Paul Stuart-Kregor, limited approaches to segmentation, overemphasis on “one-size fits all” campaigns, and lack of true customer insight are among the factors that are causing healthcare marketing strategies to fail. The industry needs to make a shift towards creating organic, sustainable campaigns that apply core marketing principles and deliver unique differentiators to the healthcare customer base. Otherwise, the legitimacy of marketing for healthcare is called into question.
There are a number of core healthcare marketing strategies that a medical marketing agency can deploy to effectively and personally market and engage customer bases. In this article we will discuss 10 of the most effective healthcare success strategies to use in 2020.
2020 Trend – Healthcare Apps and Telemedicine
The cost of developing a mobile app has decreased tremendously in recent years, and more and more medical providers are adding them to their marketing strategies as another way to communicate important data points about a patient’s health with a variety of stakeholders in the patient’s wellness. (Including the patient!)
In addition, patients welcome the option to get access to medical assistance from the comfort of their home, and healthcare providers shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to establish themselves as dominant players in the telehealth market.
10 Tips for Healthcare Marketing Strategy
Marketing healthcare strategy is an interdisciplinary practice. There are specific techniques that should be used in best-practices in marketing healthcare services. But how should a healthcare digital marketing strategy look like and what it should include? Let’s take a closer look at 10 healthcare marketing strategy tips that all providers should at the very least strongly consider when brainstorming their healthcare marketing plans.
Before we go into details, here is the summary of what we’ll cover in this section:
1. Stand Out and Be Consistent
The ACA (Affordable Care Act, 2014) has increased the demand for qualified physicians. And, with the advent of telehealth, it’s increased access for patients in remote or marginalized communities that previously haven’t had access to good care.
“The use of telemedicine has been shown to allow for better long-term care management and patient satisfaction; it also offers a new means to locate health information and communicate with practitioners (eg, via e-mail and interactive chats or videoconferences), thereby increasing convenience for the patient and reducing the amount of potential travel required for both physician and patient.” (AJMC, 2017)
This has been great for the healthcare industry. However, it’s created challenges for creating effective healthcare marketing plans.
From the patients’ point of view, most healthcare providers look more or less the same, advertising the same services while wearing the same white coats. Taking time to find out your patients specific needs and pain points will yield you strong results. Being able to address these issues in a personalized manner will put you heads and shoulders above the competition.
What is it that makes your practice different from the competition? It is important to figure out what distinguishes your practice from others and reflect this uniqueness in your healthcare marketing strategy. There can be many angles that will make you stand out from the competition. Leverage these aspects in your healthcare marketing plan. Some ideas for you to consider in helping you present yourself in the most compelling way include:
- The way you treat your patients. Do you care for your patients in a 360 holistic manner? This personalized approach will be attractive to patients who feel their previous providers have not listened, or paid attention to their whole body issues.
- Your friendly staff. One of the big pain points of many patients is that they feel like they are shuffled through a system where they are treated coldly, with little attention to bedside manner. If you have an extremely empathetic, friendly, invested staff – that is a big differentiating factor from many other practices. This would be a key aspect to emphasise in your healthcare marketing efforts.
- A modern facility. This essentially resonates with patients who haven’t had access to top-tier facilities. Compared to what they are used to, having a clean, modern, attractive looking facility will make a favorable impression on many new patients. The day of the fusty doctor’s office is over, in the age of technology, people want to see streamlined, airy, bright facilities with the most modern treatments available within.
- Hosting online events. This is a novel way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Especially in an era with a major health crisis, being able to speak 1:many and answer questions in real time will really make an impact on your organization or practice’s visibility. When people are anxious about their health, they want reassurance that their healthcare practitioner is thinking of them, even when they cannot see them in person.
Highlighting what makes you unique in a consistent way will ensure that patients remember you. This is one area that healthcare marketing services can help you with the most. They can help you boil down your brand proposition into memorable slogans and messaging points. Healthcare marketing services can also assist in creating a consistent design ethic that you can deploy across all your communications channels. Not only that, but many firms can help you develop spiffy online and mobile products to make you stand out to your patients even more.
Just ensure that your efforts are consistent. Confusing and murky marketing can mean the downfall of any business. Even in healthcare. Constantly reassessing your existing efforts and improving upon them, while implementing new ideas is great. Just make sure to stay within your brand guidelines.
2. Take Advantage of Paid Search Ads
In 2020, marketing strategies for healthcare organizations must include programmatic advertising. Search engines have become the first stop for 8 out of 10 people seeking health information. This represents a huge opportunity for healthcare providers. Leveraging paid search ads and including them as part of your healthcare marketing strategy will be critical to your overall success. PPC (pay-per-click) ads can be precisely targeted to reach the specific people who will be the best fit for your practice.
Patients search for doctors or practices that are anywhere from 5-to-7 miles from their home. PPC ads can be tooled to be microgranular in their targeting and will only be served to local traffic. Generating targeted keywords and key phrases that command the attention of local traffic will improve your reach. Since you’re only paying for clicks, not impressions, your ROI will be much higher compared to regular display advertising.
The importance of market analysis in healthcare cannot be overemphasised. Make sure your team analyzes your targeting on an ongoing basis. There is nothing wrong with tweaking the campaign to optimize results. All the best agencies will recommend you do this with them. If they don’t, raise an eyebrow. You must A/B test everything to determine what collateral or calls to action are converting at the best rate. You also need to do this to determine if your keywords are correctly targeting who you intend them to.
3. Focus on How You Help
When businesses engage in marketing, they often focus on what they do because that’s where their expertise lies. They describe their technologies, past results, important partnerships, and future goals. The only problem is that they often forget to mention the most important piece of information: How they help their patients.
Medical marketing strategies and hospital marketing strategies are very different from the marketing practices of other consumer focused businesses. These organizations are in a unique position where they can actually help people. Sometimes in life and death circumstances. In 2020, research shows that one of the top trends in marketing will be personalization. Marketing, in general, gives your brand a megaphone. Using that amplified voice to express how you can help the community, or providing reassurance that things will be okay, is a strong way to align your practice or organization as one that is on top of what is happening. And, that you are there to provide help. Speaking to your community’s needs, or addressing a crisis through your practice/organization’s voice, highlighting your core values will build brand loyalty from patients.
Wearable technology has enormous potential beyond the fitness market, and healthcare is one of the industries where it can really make a difference, potentially saving human lives. By embracing this technology and developing their own wearable products, healthcare professionals can be with their patients around the clock and provide proactive health support when an anomaly occurs.
When advertising your practice/organization you should always lead with a help focused headline. This is strategy healthcare that seems natural for healthcare providers to embrace.
Using top-tips as a selling point is a personal and strategic way to incentivize users to learn more about your practice. Specific headlines like “Top 10 Tips to Get Instant Relief From Headache Pain,” provides far more ROI than a general headline about headaches. This suggests a solution to a problem – rather than a medical, wonky, science-y article. Science is great, but not everyone is equipped to understand the technical aspects of your practice. The difference may not seem important to physicians, but it has a profound impact on patients seeking a solution to their problem.
To take it a step further, in creating strategies for healthcare organizations, ComboApp recommends making all of the information you present online accessible to the common person. Whether you are emailing, creating blog posts on particular topics, or promoting your practice on social media, being able to connect and resonate with your audience is something that you must do.
4. Ask for Reviews
Consider the following 3 facts:
- 72% of patients in 2019 used online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor
- 88% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- 48% would go out of their insurance network for a doctor with great reviews
The conclusion is clear. In the age where UGC (user generated content) is a key personalized way of getting referrals, you need to ask patients for reviews. Then you need to display them prominently on your website and social media.
When you receive a review—both negative and positive—respond to it within 12 hours, maximum. Be polite, even if the reviewer is being unreasonable. Listening and addressing their pain points will give you an opportunity to incentivize them to give you a second chance. It will also show other patients or potential patients insight into how you work with your patients. You can even hire a healthcare marketing consultant to help you craft responses.
5. Partner with a Healthcare Marketing Agency
Balancing your online medical marketing with your patient care and professional growth is not easy. In order to optimize your ROI in all areas, you should strongly consider partnering with a healthcare marketing agency that is capable of helping you connect with patients across all digital platforms. Healthcare marketing consulting is a very specialized area of communications. There are several areas that you may not have thought of touching upon that your healthcare marketing agency can advise you on. Such as:
- Building an app to provide your patients with an easy way to schedule appointments and get basic questions answered
- Creating longform tutorial video for your social media that addresses common issues seen in your practice
- Reaching potential patients on more informal platforms and engaging with patients using pop-culture (like the Dancing Doc on TikTok, we love Dr. Adkins!)
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that digital marketing channels continue to dominate healthcare marketing in 2020. Potential patients are reading online reviews, visiting social media profiles, and consuming many different forms of content.
6. Build a Mobile-Friendly Website
Over 60% of people access the internet from their mobile device. Google and other search engines are favoring websites that are optimized for mobile.
It doesn’t take too many Google searches to notice that most reliable medical information is found on a few large websites, such as WebMD. Knowing this, many patients bypass Google and head directly to these healthcare-specific websites, virtually all of which have implemented some sort of search functionality. To keep these visitors from leaving, healthcare-specific websites should make good use of hyperlinks and intelligently suggest additional content based on the information they collect about their visitors.
What does being “optimized for mobile” mean?
Websites that are optimized for mobile automatically adjust to the size of a screen, reduce load time, and improve the speed of the site.
A study from Aberdeen Research group says that a 1-second delay in your site speed can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. That may not seem like a lot, but that is a potentially huge chunk of potential traffic you are missing.
Are there other reasons that optimized mobile websites are important?
- Indexing means that Google bots are crawling your site looking for keywords that pertain to popular search terms.
- Ranking affects where and how your website appears in Google search results. The goal of any business is to rank first in ads or last on the first page of Google.
This makes it critically important that you create a mobile website.
ComboApp recommends tools like Google’s Pagespeed Insights to monitor and improve the speed of your healthcare website across all types of devices. Healthcare website design that’s optimized for both desktop and mobile devices may require a larger initial investment, but it is well worth it.
In 2019, marketing analytics firm Jumpshot revealed that 48.96 percent of all Google searches in the United States ended without a click. Seasoned marketers understand the implications of this important finding: people pay attention to the information in Featured Snippets and the Google Knowledge Graph, and they seem to be content with answers that don’t exceed a couple of sentences.
7. Optimize for Search Engines
SEO (search engine optimization) remains an essential part of healthcare marketing services. This means marketing medical services via keyword placement in both your content and within your website. Your healthcare marketing agency needs to spend time researching the best target keywords to optimize both your content and your site.
Especially important are long-tail keywords, composed of three and four keyword phrases, which are ultra-specific to your business. Instead of using the term “optometry practice,” it’s a much better idea to target long-tail keywords such as “optometry practice in central London” or “wheelchair accessible optometry practice Chicago.”
While long-term keywords see much less traffic than shorter keywords, they are also much easier to rank.
Smartphones and wearable devices have made ultra-precise location-based SEO one of the most effective tactics healthcare marketers can use to target patients at the right time and in the right place.
In addition to keywords, SEO also involves image optimization, sitemaps, backlinks, meta tags, crawl errors, and more. Have your marketing team create a highly optimized landing page for your practice. There is absolutely no reason not to use an optimized landing page in marketing for healthcare.
8. Social Media and Healthcare Marketing
Consider these facts:
- Two-thirds of all internet users are active on social media on a daily basis for at least 10-12 minutes
- 41% of consumers say that content found on social media will likely impact their choice of hospital or treatment center
Too many healthcare providers refuse to include social media in medical practice marketing because they don’t consider it to be a good fit for them. In reality, social media marketing should be an integral part of every healthcare marketing strategy.
To many internet users, especially those in emerging markets, social media is synonymous with the internet itself. They visit different social media platforms to socialize with friends, read current news, and get information and advice from professionals they trust. When used for healthcare marketing, social media can deliver an excellent ROI, making it an essential part of any healthcare marketing strategy.
How social works in healthcare marketing:
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube make it easy to engage a large number of users with organic content as well as paid advertising.
Engaging in healthcare social media marketing provides you with an opportunity to engage personally with potential patients and build long-lasting relationships with them. It allows you to be authentic and personal while reaching out to a new audience.
Take The Washington Post for example. In using the novel video app, TikTok, they have leveraged humor based content to reach millions of potential subscribers ranging from Gen X through Gen Z. (That’s 229 million potential subscribers!)
The same strategies can work in healthcare social media marketing (the Dancing Doc is a prime example.) Make them laugh and they’ll remember you and your practice/organization.
Social is one of the medical marketing strategies that is most overlooked by practitioners. Don’t fall into that trap.
The year 2020 is expected to be the year when 5G mobile connectivity hits mainstream, and it’s very likely that it will lead to the explosion of video consumption among mobile users. Healthcare providers can capitalize on this trend with video marketing on sites like YouTube and Instagram.
9. Don’t Neglect Content Marketing
Content marketing is extremely relevant in 2020. This type of marketing encompases collateral such as videos, blogs, social media posts. Sharing this material online will promote a brand, attracting a clearly defined audience and improving retention with existing audiences.
Healthcare content marketing can help medical providers build authority in their field, which is why it’s such an important part of healthcare public relations and medical marketing in general. It is a key component in how social marketing works in healthcare.
Here are some examples of healthcare content marketing:
- Health tips
- Blog posts on relevant conditions
- “Meet the doctor” interviews
- Virtual AMA (ask me anything) sessions
- Patient testimonials
The opportunities are virtually endless.
10. Track Your Healthcare Marketing Strategy
It is essential you track your healthcare marketing strategy. In order to get the best ROI from your strategy, track its performance with your preferred analytics software solution and tweak it when the data suggests it will perform better in a different way. Tools such as Google Analytics are easy to implement and use. Measure using hard metrics. Revenue, CPL (cost per lead,) the traffic to your website, and landing page conversion rates are the best measure of whether or not you are on the right track with your campaign. Relying on data points, rather than intuition, will provide you with the best results. But, you’re a doctor or healthcare professional, you already know that.
The healthcare market is becoming increasingly competitive, and it’s the job of marketers to stay on top of the latest healthcare marketing trends to know how to convert leads into patients.
Healthcare digital marketing continues to evolve as technology keeps on advancing and creating new marketing opportunities. It is important to combine the techniques discussed above in a manner that makes them stand out from the crowd. In addition to technical methods (like in-site SEO, creating a mobile optimized website, or an app,) healthcare providers must be savvy about reputation and authenticity based marketing strategies. Social and word-of-mouth marketing through UGC is just as important as tech solutions like wearable technology and location based SEO. Taking a 360 approach to crafting a digital healthcare marketing plan will, in the end, provide you with the best results.