Doing marketing well is tricky, even at the best of times.
It involves juggling a lot of initiatives at once and trying to do them all successfully, making hypotheses about people’s behavior and trying to corroborate or disprove them, rigorous testing, and a lot of hard work.
Healthcare Marketing is particularly tricky, because of the nuances and special considerations involved. It takes data-driven decisions and a multi-faceted approach You need to deal with everything from patient acquisition to retention to outreach, while still managing the sensitivity of your patient’s care.
Healthcare practices, similarly to law offices, have been somewhat slow to adapt to the ever-changing world of online marketing. That being said, they’re catching up quickly.
To summarize, here are some of the reasons why marketing is important in healthcare:
- Brand awareness: having a well-optimized website that has content about the symptoms and issues your patients are having helps them to find you
- Patient retention: demonstrating your authority in your field makes your patients want to keep booking you for appointments from among their other options for healthcare providers
- Patient communication: sending your patients marketing emails gives them valuable information on how to manage their symptoms and treatment
After defining healthcare marketing, we’ll cover topics like the best practices involved and how healthcare marketing can benefit your practice.
What is Healthcare Marketing?
Healthcare marketing is the practice of leveraging various channels, both online and traditional, to acquire new patients, turn those patients into qualified leads, retain them so they turn into long term patients, and grow your practice.
Creating a healthcare marketing strategy involves treating your healthcare practice, doctor’s office, or hospital, the same way you would a business.
This is an unpalatable idea for many in the healthcare industry. Ask your average doctor or nurse about best practices for marketing in healthcare, and you’re unlikely to get a favorable or sympathetic response.
This isn’t altogether undeserved. In 2018, 8.5% of Americans did not have health insurance at any point during the year. Critics of the healthcare industry would attribute this to it being a for-profit system.
Whether or not you agree, the harsh reality is that maintaining a patient’s health is expensive, resource-intensive, and time-consuming. That time, money and resources need to come from somewhere. Such is the world we live in.
It’s not just about having a positive ROI and growing your bottom line either. Healthcare marketing is an essential part of your patient’s care.
For them to be your patient they first have to know who you are. The way they do that is through your online presence. A well-rounded healthcare marketing strategy should include:
- Having a website optimized for search engines helps your patients find you when they have a problem.
- Posting social media videos demonstrates your knowledge by answering common questions your patients have about their symptoms.
- Email marketing can help your patient communication by providing them with relevant health information.
- A content strategy that positions you as an expert in your field, helping your patients understand and address their health concerns while building trust and confidence in your expertise.
Benefits of Healthcare Marketing
Brian Cairns, the founder of ProStrategix consulting and an expert in marketing and business management for healthcare, has this to say on the subject of the benefits of healthcare marketing:
“There are 3 things I would say are the most beneficial:
- Awareness – patients can’t come to you if they don’t know you exist
- Differentiation – patients often think a doctor is a doctor – most doctors don’t see the need to create a point of difference for patients to care. The same is true for facilities and other specialties
- Life-time value – patients need reminding to come back – marketing can provide that.
Search based vehicles are usually great for healthcare, as someone is already looking or doing research about a topic that your client can solve.”
The empirical facts seem to back him up. A research study done by the Pew Research Center showed that 77% of healthcare patients begin researching their health problems on search engines.
Here are some of the overarching benefits of healthcare marketing:
Brand awareness is important for acquiring new patients – helping the patients who need your knowledge and expertise to find you. This can be done through a combination of digital advertising, and an optimized web page.
Your patients aren’t likely to stay healthy if they just see you once and never come back again. Staying healthy is a lifelong practice, one that requires active and consistent care, and health checkups at least once per year.
By sending your patients appointment reminder emails, you can remind them to schedule visits at regular intervals for their health maintenance.
The patient reviews and online surveys you collect on your website, patient intake forms, and marketing emails can also help improve your practice and learn more about your patient’s needs.
A patient-doctor arrangement is a relationship, one that can last years or even a lifetime. The foundation of any good patient-doctor relationship is communication.
This involves distributing health information relevant to their symptoms and conditions. Advice on how to reduce their risk of heart disease if they have a family history. Demonstrations on how to do a breast self-exam if they had a mammogram recently.
This is also done to establish credibility in your field. By providing your patients with these resources, you are positioning yourself as an authority compared to your competitors – the other options for healthcare facilities and doctors your patients might have.
Healthcare Marketing Best Practices
SEO in Healthcare Marketing
Healthcare decisions are a life-impacting decision that requires a lot of research.
A study by the Pew Research Center showed that 77% of all health inquiries begin with a search engine.
A separate study done by Google concluded that 48% of their users take over two weeks to research facilities before booking an appointment and of those 61% visit two or more hospital websites.
For this reason, it’s important for your private practice or hospital to have a well-optimized website so that new patients can easily find you online.
Test your site speed and make sure it loads in under three seconds, any more than that, and your users can bounce off the page and visit a competitor’s website instead.
Your website should also be easy to navigate – it should be immediately obvious what everything on your website is and does.
You should also consider setting up a Google My Business account to improve your local SEO presence – improving your rankings for local queries such as “hospitals near me.”
Remember also to make sure your website displays well on mobile devices.
Google made the switch to mobile-first indexing in 2019. That means they give a search ranking preference to websites that have a website experience that’s optimized for mobile devices.
You may also want to compliment your SEO strategy with PPC search ads. These can be very effective for local businesses, such as doctors’ offices. For this, you can take advantage of Google Ads’ location targeting feature.
Email Marketing for Healthcare
Set up an email CRM for email marketing. This will give you a way to communicate with your patients and help to retain them.
Use the analytics from your CRM to understand who your patients are. With this data, you can answer questions like: “what jobs do my patients have? What problems do they ask me about? How do they find me?”
You can send them direct mail and email alerts. This would enable you to:
- Remind them of their appointments
- Send health and wellness information related to their condition
- Alert them to take their medication and manage their treatment
Content Marketing for Healthcare
Patients tend to do their own research first before going to see a doctor. Additionally, Google prioritizes websites that are updated frequently with fresh and relevant content with preferential search rankings.
Content marketing is a great way to provide a good experience for your patients and make search engines happy.
By giving them both content which gives them information about your practice, your knowledge, and new trends in your field, you’re essentially removing the hard work that your patients would have to do by researching that information themselves.
Elena Blackaller, the Co-Founder of insurtech startup PagoMed, agrees that content marketing can be beneficial for your practice if used appropriately:
“Writing blogs about your specialty will:
- Increase your credibility as an expert in a field
- Increase patients
- Position yourself vs competition.”
If you decide on a content strategy, it’s important that you prioritize informational content.
35% also start a search with non-branded queries about their symptoms when they are in the early stages of research. This is a good place in their journey for them to find you and see how you can help them.
Use your CRM data and most frequently asked questions on your website, find the most common questions your patients have about their symptoms or treatment, and make content around that.
A 2018 study by Ceralytics showed top-performing content topics in the healthcare industry based on engagement and traffic. They include:
- Heart Disease – “How to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease”
This one has a lot of potential that’s largely untapped. Only 56% of healthcare sites have created engaging content about this topic.
2. Diet – “Best Heart-Healthy Diets”
19.2% of content about diet also relates to heart disease.
3. Tips – “Tips to Prevent Osteoporosis”
4. Recipes – “Recipes to Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes”
5. Pain – “10 Ways to Manage Chronic Pain.”
Hopefully, that should give you some ideas.
Healthcare marketing can provide your practice with many benefits like outreach, awareness, finding new patients and taking better care of existing ones so they keep coming back.
At NexHealth, we provide healthcare marketing solutions that help you manage your online booking, send your marketing emails, and aggregate your reviews. Browse our plans today!