Why Healthcare Marketing – 8 Reasons to Invest in Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare marketing is the use of various marketing strategies, tactics, and channels to reach, communicate, and influence target audiences to take specific actions or make specific decisions. When done effectively, successful healthcare marketing campaigns help increase a medical provider’s brand awareness in the markets they serve, brand consideration among potential patients, and overall patient volumes through an increase in online conversions.

When a prospective (and qualified) patient begins their search for a specialty clinic in their area, it is important for providers to be visible and positioned well against their competitors online. Whether using digital advertising or more traditional channels, healthcare marketers can drive new patient volume and cultivate brand loyalty through consistent marketing outreach, activities, and touch points across the continuum of care.

The key to effective healthcare marketing is delivering the right message to the right audience on the right channels at the right time.

Why is healthcare marketing gaining traction?

In the last few years, healthcare marketing agencies who serve urgent care clinics, specialty clinics, and regional health providers have increased to support the growing medical/healthcare industry. Healthcare marketing is increasingly relevant to providers as they seek to increase new patient volumes while maintaining relationships with their existing patients. In 2021, spending on healthcare advertising in the United States is expected to increase by 18% over 2020, with almost 46% of that increase going towards investments in digital advertising [1].

The internet has fundamentally changed many aspects of healthcare, including how people find and locate information about medical care and specific care providers. In many ways, patients are taking their health into their own hands as they prefer to use search engines and social media to find health-related information and locate medical care providers most suited to address their specific needs.

Today, many patients research providers in various ways before making a healthcare decision, such as requesting references from friends/family, requesting physician referrals, and reading online reviews on WebMD or Google My Business. Often, the determining factor in someone deciding on a provider is overall brand awareness and affinity, and although this takes time and resources to develop, if done right, it will provide measurable returns on investment for a medical provider.

Here are several relevant medical marketing statistics to consider:

  • 60% of consumers use search engines (like Google, Bing, and others) to evaluate healthcare providers before scheduling an appointment [1]
  • 94% of patients use online reviews to narrow down their search [1]
  • 80% of consumers believe that the experience they have with a healthcare provider is just as important as their products and services [1]
  • 65% of consumers have decided against a specific healthcare provider based on their initial experience [1]
  • More than 50% of American households use the internet for health-related activities [2]

With consumers increasingly starting online to find healthcare information and reviews to help them decide what company/provider to choose, it is vital for healthcare companies to reach, influence, and convert potential patients during their online activities.

Why invest in healthcare marketing?

Healthcare marketing, when done with knowledgeable marketing partners, provides the following benefits:

1. Helps identify specific audiences to target and connect with

2. Rise above and stay ahead of the competition

3. Increase brand visibility and awareness

4. Develop brand authority using content

5. Increase patient volume by providing seamless patient experiences

6. Make business decisions based on first-party data

7. Develop and expand your online presence

8. Earn patient referrals

1. Helps identify specific audiences to target and connect with

While traditional media channels can generate large numbers of ad impressions, digital marketing offers much more granular targeting using demographic data (age, gender, income, education level, etc.), affinity data (based on interests) and location data (DMA, City, Zip Code, Radius, Geofence). Healthcare marketers can also leverage targeted keywords (based on competitor research and keyword analysis) in website and blog content to be visible to potential patients online when they are searching for specific services, treatments, or procedures in a specific location.

“Keep in mind: not every patient might be the right patient for your practice. “

A healthcare marketing strategy should begin with asking the following questions:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What treatments, procedures, or services are these audiences looking for?
  • What types of information are these target audiences looking for to make a decision?
  • On what channel(s) do these target audiences prefer to find their healthcare information on? And on what device?
  • What content do these target audiences see value in?
  • What is the best way to reach, communicate and positively influence these target audiences online?

Once a target audience is identified, healthcare marketers can tailor website content and brand communications to match the needs and wants of this audience to gain visibility and engagement with them. This level of analysis, targeting, and tracking is not obtainable with traditional media channels, and is important in making data-driven decisions.

The effectiveness of a specific brand communication strategy depends on the specific audience being communicated to. For most practices, healthcare marketing efforts should focus on two core audiences with a distinct message for each one:

  • Prospective patients (people searching for specific services, procedures, treatments online)

    For prospective patients, brand communication should support their journey from awareness to consideration to conversion with each layer of communication delivered strategically and potentially delivered across multiple campaigns (such as PPC, SEO, or Display/Video). Content to prospective patients needs to be timely, informative, and considered valuable to convince them to take the next step in the conversion process.

  • Current Patients

    For current patients, messaging should communicate quality of care, products/services, features/benefits, and use cases. For example, patient testimonials, clinic updates or expansions, new doctors, personalized email/message reminders, online access to medical records, virtual services, social media posts and comprehensive information about specific conditions/treatments are often seen as valuable touchpoints and help foster patient trust and retention.

A patient relationship is initially based on trust and expertise and strengthened through consistent communication and continued value. Healthcare marketing is an important element in maintaining the strength and longevity of patient/provider relationships.

2. Rise above and stay ahead of the competition

The quality of healthcare delivered by a particular practice will always be a primary factor in most consumer healthcare decisions, although online visibility and ranking in search results is increasingly critical for a brand to effectively compete for consumer healthcare/medical-related spending.

Success in the highly competitive healthcare space depends on how visible, valuable, and communicative a brand is compared to their direct online competitors. Now more than ever, healthcare providers are competing for the best visibility, top rankings, and patient reviews online, and a robust healthcare marketing strategy is needed for businesses to rise above (and stay ahead) of their competition.

3. Increase brand visibility and awareness

Healthcare branding is increasingly important for clinic operators to stay visible and relevant in a saturated healthcare market. Consumers are usually more willing to consider and engage with a healthcare company with a strong brand image, message, and representation across a host of websites and online marketing channels. Logos, content, taglines, brand colors, and facility design all help to develop and solidify brand awareness and affinity in a consumer’s mind.

Effective medical branding then requires disseminating messages and campaigns across various platforms and channels to maintain visibility and earn consideration among target audiences. The trick is matching the right content to the right audiences on the right platforms. If campaigns are effectively tracked using Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Tag Manager, brands can experiment with various audience/content/platform variations and first-party data will clearly show what combination drives engagement and conversions for specific audiences.

Like all marketing, reach and frequency should combine to help medical clinics increase visibility, foster recognition, and build affinity with the audiences that matter most to them.

4. Develop brand authority using content

Content is key in developing brand authority with both consumers and search engines. Brand content provides opportunities for providers to educate, engage, and convert target audiences. Brand content also educates search engines on words and phrases they want to rank for when consumers search for them online. This is done by including specific keywords in specific content written to specific audiences – including main landing pages on a practice website. Relevant and current information about medical conditions, treatments, tips, physician’s profiles, and patient experiences can be valuable to consumers and help increase a brand’s reputation and authority in relation to their competition.

To gauge the effectiveness of content in elevating brand authority, healthcare marketers can evaluate engagement using first-party data and search engine analytics. Here are several key engagement metrics to analyze:

  • Website/webpage rankings
    Position 1-4 on Page 1 of SERP is the always the goal
  • Blog rankings
    Position 1-4 on Page 1 of SERP is the always the goal
  • Number of new website visitors
    Are new people finding you? Is your online presence expanding?
  • Number of returning website visitors
    Are people seeing value and coming back for more?
  • Number of pages viewed per session
    Are people visiting enough pages to convert?
  • Amount of time spent on the site
    Are people spending enough time on site to convert?

Engagement is a clear indicator of relevance to search engines and these signals significantly impact ranking metrics on search engine results pages (SERPs). With so many brands competing for consumer healthcare dollars, building brand authority is necessary to maintain the level of online visibility needed to compete.

5. Increase patient volume by providing seamless patient experiences

Ease-of-use and convenience are key considerations for consumers when evaluating healthcare providers. A clinic website is the foundation of their online experience for consumers, and should be up-to-date, mobile-first, comprehensive, yet easy to navigate.
Convenient options for communication and scheduling should be integrated to ensure seamless patient experiences at each point of engagement. Contact forms, chatbots, online check-in capabilities, telemedicine offerings, online payment options and scheduled text reminders are all features that support positive patient experiences.

Efforts to improve patient experiences are not easy to implement or manage and will require commitment from clinic stakeholders to provide ongoing resources to maintain and test current setups and analyze results on the key benchmark: patient satisfaction.

6. Make business decisions based on first-party data

Traditional marketing is unable to track and measure important consumer engagement metrics, and digital marketing needs to be tracked correctly to ensure data reliability. The first-party data and analytics generated from a clinic’s digital marketing and outreach activities coupled with analysis from their healthcare marketing partner should produce actionable insights to support data-driven decisions. The use of analytics and first-party data can support and validate a myriad of business decisions and patient outcomes while lowering costs and evolving internal operations.

7. Develop and expand your online presence

Healthcare marketers can implement various strategies to introduce a brand to potential patients online by elevating their brand visibility.

Here are examples of key strategies to develop, expand, and elevate a healthcare organization’s online presence:

  • Website optimization for mobile devices
  • Search engine optimization
  • Local SEO strategies
  • Developing content
  • Creating/updating web directories
  • Improving webpage load speeds
  • Increasing backlinks
  • Increasing patient reviews on popular review sites
  • Developing Google My Business profiles for all doctors & clinic locations
  • Paid search advertising (PPC/SEM/Pay-per-Click)
8. Earn patient referrals

A strong team of physicians, nurses and support staff are the most important and influential advertisers, for a healthcare organization. Physicians with a track record of resolving health conditions and improving patient’s lives is always foundational in earning patient referrals.

With competition levels at an all time high for urgent care and specialty medicine, brands should not wait for referrals to come to them. Instead, they should invest in proactively developing referrals by communicating and promoting patient testimonials, use cases, and positive online ratings for those linked through email addresses or social channels to grow brand awareness and reputation within the communities they serve.

Take the time and effort to communicate well-earned patient praise. This type of marketing is authentic, highly engaging marketing, is often free to promote, and can significantly elevate brand visibility and attention with potential patients.

References

[1] https://www.invoca.com/blog/healthcare-marketing-statistics

[2] https://www.ntia.gov/blog/2020/more-half-american-households-used-internet-health-related-activities-2019-ntia-data-show

Organix Digital offers digital marketing strategies, campaign management and reporting/insights for healthcare organizations. We specialize in SEO (search engine optimization) which help our clients:

  • Develop their online presence to reach and influence target audiences
  • Create a winning healthcare marketing strategy
  • Increase patient volumes & patient retention

Organix Digital provides practice stakeholders with the following healthcare marketing tactics and strategies:

  1. On-Page & Off-Page SEO
  2. Content Creation
  3. Local SEO
  4. Keyword Research
  5. Competitor Analysis
  6. Metadata Optimization
  7. Image Optimization
  8. Inbound Link Building
  9. Call-to-Action Development
  10. First-Party Data Tracking & Analysis
  11. Conversion Tracking
  12. Landing Page Optimization
  13. Comprehensive Website Audits
  14. Monthly Performance Reporting Dashboard
  15. Monthly Campaign Review/Meetings (w/ Dedicated Account Director)

If you want to leverage the full power of the internet to grow your practice, call us at 512.668.9897, email hello@organixdigital.com or submit a contact form.

We would love the opportunity to learn about your practice and evaluate how Organix Digital can help boost the impact of your digital marketing.

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    Organix Digital is a healthcare marketing company providing SEO (search engine optimization) services to multi-location specialty practices and urgent care clinics in the US.