Healthcare marketing involves developing communication strategies to reach new patients and improve patient care. Creating an open line of communication begins with delivering valuable content and resources on a variety of online platforms.
It’s also important to set up different social media accounts, paid advertising, SEO strategies, and other channels of communication that will allow you to connect with your target audience. Video is another essential tool for developing a robust online presence for your healthcare company.
Patients in the medical field now have more options than ever before since there is so much information available via search and online. These patients are no longer restricted to the nearest hospital or clinic. They are willing to travel further to find a medical facility where people care about them and they can connect with the right doctor. For this reason, a well-developed healthcare marketing strategy is critical to reaching new and returning patients in your area at the right time.
Even if you’re satisfied with your current patient volume, healthcare marketing is impossible without a well-thought-out medical marketing and PR strategy to keep your medical facility top of mind. Consider all of the reasons someone might decide to switch healthcare providers. These include changes in healthcare insurance, relocation, dissatisfaction with wait times, or a single negative experience. As you can see, you cannot guarantee that your patient volume will remain constant indefinitely.
Do you want to build solid online visibility for your healthcare business, find potential leads in a highly competitive industry and retain patients to build a loyal community? Then this practical guide is precisely what you need. Before diving into some healthcare marketing strategies, let us examine why marketing is vital in healthcare.
Why is healthcare marketing important?
A good healthcare marketing strategy helps set your practice apart from other healthcare providers. Healthcare providers must have an effective marketing strategy to stand out in an ever-growing industry. There are currently 784,626 healthcare facilities in the United States, and that number is constantly growing. If patients want to see a doctor, why shouldn’t it be you? With the right healthcare marketing campaign, you can make sure these patients put your doctors, hospital, clinic, or other medical organization at the top of their list.
Healthcare marketing also helps to establish thought leadership. Thought leadership instantly distinguishes you from your competition by painting you as a medical authority. A good marketing strategy will also demonstrate to patients that you are dedicated to your mission, driven by innovation, and committed to inclusivity. It indicates to patients that you are ahead of the curve and among the best of the best in medical care.
How the Cleveland Clinic does this
The Cleveland Clinic is a good example of a healthcare provider that has used thought leadership well. In fact, they have incorporated thought leadership elements into everything they do. Every year, they sponsor the 2018 Innovation Summit and release a top ten list of projections for the future of medical care. Their involvement with this event has established them as top-performing healthcare personnel in their field. As a result, they’ve gotten recognition for their articles about medical technology projections based on their involvement in the innovation process.
It also helps that they’ve adopted inclusive branding with people of different ethnicities and demographics. They’ve also publicized their collaborative efforts with medical specialists in the field. Inclusive messaging shows that they are thinking ahead of the curve in their care and believe that everyone deserves high-quality care. These are all necessary ingredients for establishing thought leadership and connecting patients to their objectives.
Marketing in the healthcare industry also helps to create positive, long-lasting patient relationships. Since emotions are frequently intertwined with healthcare, healthcare marketers must keep ethics in mind when developing marketing strategies. For example, it’s important to maintain HIPAA compliance, utilize secure technologies, and grow patient relationships. According to survey findings, familiarity allows patients to trust healthcare providers and feel more at ease approaching them when medical issues arise.
How United Healthcare does this
The “We Dare You” campaign by United Healthcare was an example of a successful healthcare marketing strategy for building rapport with patients. This interactive campaign encouraged patients to adopt healthier habits while establishing an online community with United Healthcare at its heart. Through a series of dares and quizzes, this campaign encouraged its followers to make healthy changes. People posted videos and photos of themselves participating in healthy dares with their friends and family on social media. As a result, United Healthcare has positioned itself as a welcoming healthcare provider whose goal is to create happy, healthy patients.
Top tips for your healthcare marketing strategy
1) Use consistent branding
You may believe that your expertise distinguishes you from other healthcare providers, doctors, or hospitals. But, let’s face it, to a patient, one white coat looks exactly like the next. What’s more, consumers are notoriously reluctant to buy a product or service from anyone they don’t know or trust. When you build a solid and recognizable brand, you can significantly reduce your overall cost-per-acquisition.
What sets your healthcare network, hospital, or medical practice apart? At least one thing distinguishes your medical team from any other, and that is how you make patients feel. Create a positive experience for every patient who walks through your doors and they will remember the name of your healthcare facility and share it with everyone who needs a doctor. Do you treat your patients gently? Do patients feel at ease when you’re treating them? Your healthcare marketing strategy will eventually come together as you learn how to best represent your company with strategic marketing materials. However, how you treat your patients can either provide a firm foundation for your marketing strategy or leave you with a shaky foundation for a marketing strategy that is sure to collapse.
2) Assess the online patient experience
A decade ago, a website was all you would’ve needed to impress prospective clients and encourage them to pay you a visit. While you need more than a website these days, your website is merely the first step of many in your marketing strategy. After all, the website is frequently the first thing patients see. Put yourself in the position of a patient. Are the imagery and wording in your healthcare clinic or practice inclusive and welcoming for the average patient? Would a visitor to your website be able to find your facility easily? Can they get in touch with the people they need to reach easily?
When designing a website, it is critical to consider the user experience. Small changes, such as moving the “Contact Us” form higher up on the page, could make a huge difference. Observe how patients typically engage with you, whether this is in person or online. This includes channels such as your website, a third-party listing service, digital ads, and so on. What patients find on these platforms is also part of the patient experience. Today’s consumers want to interact with you on their terms. For this reason, your healthcare marketing strategy must provide a variety of ways that people can use to connect with your company.
Examine the path customers take after first contacting you. Do they eventually call you or sign a form? Mapping the client journey can help you understand what consumers are looking for and what you need to do to convert each lead into a paying patient.
3) Create a responsive website
Responsiveness is standard practice in website design nowadays. It’s also something search engines look for when crawling any website homepage to determine how and where you’ll rank. Google prioritizes competitors with mobile-friendly websites because it values user experience. Responsive websites, in general, provide the best mobile digital healthcare experience. Even if your company already has a responsive website, double-check that your content and imagery load properly and quickly on mobile devices.
4) Test website speed
Today’s patients are less willing to deal with slow loading times than ever before. According to healthcare marketers who study user (i.e., prospective patients) behaviors online, a slow website can cost you patients. As a matter of fact, it only takes seconds to lose a prospective patient who decides to seek care elsewhere due to your slow website.
There are a ton of other potential user experience (or patient experience) issues that can cause your medical or healthcare website to drop lower in the search engine results. You can test your site’s speed using Google PageSpeed Insights. If your load times are slow, talk to your web developer about improving them. Another healthcare marketing tip to keep in mind is to look at the site speeds of your competitors.
5) Optimize SEO
Search engine optimization is a robust approach for propelling your medical practices or hospital network to the top of search engine results pages. Even so, SEO is far more complicated than most marketing professionals realize. You can’t simply repeat the phrase “healthcare practice” 100 times on your website and expect to rank first on Google among the doctors offering healthcare services in your area.
A large part of SEO involves using the appropriate optimal phrases and keywords. This way, Google can understand your healthcare website and ensure you rank for relevant and pertinent healthcare-related search terms that patients could use to find their next healthcare provider. However, you also need to use those terms naturally throughout your content, as Google prioritizes readability above all else. Other healthcare marketing SEO best practices include:
- Including links to each page of your healthcare website.
- Obtaining backlinks from reputable health-related websites.
- Taking care of your site’s index or sitemap.
- Creating a Google My Business account that links to your healthcare website.
6) Use social media to connect with patients
Too many hospitals and healthcare practices base a large portion of their digital healthcare marketing strategies on organic social media. Organic social media includes posting photos, updates, events, and more directly to Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. It’s true that this is a viable strategy for building your brand and informing patients about new developments. It should not, however, be your sole social media strategy. Paid social media advertising is a better way to reach the right people who might be looking for your services.
Other than your current employees and current patients, few people will share posts from your healthcare facility online. For this reason, you can’t rely on organic word-of-mouth marketing on social media. It’s wise to complement the referrals you get from employees and patients with a paid social media approach. Doing paid social media is more than just clicking the “Boost Post” button. PPC or display advertising requires planning and budgeting, as well as filtering to reach your desired audience.
7) Ask for reviews
More than half of Americans say patient reviews are critical when choosing a doctor. Before scheduling a visit, consumers want to see that others like them have had a positive experience with you. For this reason, obtaining positive reviews from your satisfied patients is critical. Patients typically only leave reviews when motivated to do so or in the event that they’ve had an extremely poor experience.
If you don’t solicit feedback on your healthcare services, you’re passing up an opportunity to highlight positive feedback from patients who were pleased with their visit. In addition to asking your front office staff to gauge each patient’s level of satisfaction as they leave, you can create an anonymous feedback system to encourage patients to share their feelings with you. However, you also want other people to hear what your patients have to say. So encourage them to share reviews on your Google profile, on your website as well as on your social media pages.
8) Follow up
Let’s assume a patient has a poor experience at your practice and leaves a negative review on a third-party website such as Yelp. It’s easy to ignore the negative review and hope that it’ll be buried by other more positive reviews. Nevertheless, if you want to maintain a positive reputation, you need to address all reviews, whether positive or negative. Sites like Yelp enable you to respond directly to patient feedback. You can reply to any patient feedback and demonstrate that you are working on the problem they encountered.
Patients may consider updating their review to promptly let others know the issue was resolved if they receive the appropriate follow-up. Any healthcare marketing strategy should include reputation management. In order to manage your reputation, the last thing you should do is be defensive in the face of negative reviews. Rather, use negative reviews as a learning opportunity and fuel for growth.
Patients will feel better if they see that you’re using prior feedback to upgrade your processes and equipment and ensure the best possible patient experience. In fact, more often than not, they’ll be happy to withdraw their negative reviews.
10) Establish yourself as a trusted authority
If you establish your brand as an authority or opinion leader in the medical industry, prospective patients will remember you. Your PR strategy should include reaching out to the appropriate media outlet when you have something to share, as well as creating educational content for your current as well as potential clients. Both these approaches will generate free advertising for your healthcare brand.
Using LinkedIn groups and other online forums, you can stay updated on your specific healthcare industry niche. Keep in touch with media professionals so that you know when there’s a new interview opportunity and you can pitch one of your doctors as the ideal interviewee. Submit press releases to the healthcare community regularly and consider hiring outside help to increase your visibility – both online and offline.
How Pressfarm can help with this
Pressfarm is a PR agency that helps startups and established companies create memorable content to capture attention in the media as well as among their target audience. Their PR experts and writers work with companies to help them understand what it takes to stand out in their niche and create quality content that makes heads turn. With a professional press release, some compelling feature articles, and a creative media kit from Pressfarm, your brand can make a splash in your industry.
By submitting your brand to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can boost your online presence, ensuring you rank in relevant search results. With a custom media list as well as a database of 1 million+ bloggers, journalists, and influencers, you can connect with the best storytellers and thought leaders in your niche.
One of Pressfarm’s affordable PR packages could be exactly what you need to take your healthcare facility to the next level.
10) Track your marketing efforts
You should constantly track the ROI from your marketing efforts. By doing this, you can gauge how well your medical marketing strategy is paying off. You should adjust your healthcare marketing budget each year based on what you want to focus on this year, as well as a careful examination of your metrics (performance analytics) thus far. This type of patient marketing tracking can be accomplished in a variety of ways:
- Track how patients interact with your campaigns via emails, call centers, or targeted landing pages
- Use Google Analytics to determine which terms you rank for in search engines and which terms you aren’t ranking for yet.
- Set up Google AdWords to track your pay-per-click campaigns.
- Use a HIPAA-compliant system to see how well your paid advertising is working and keep an eye on your front desk.
Are you ready to embark on a comprehensive healthcare marketing strategy that will propel your practice to the next level? The best part about having a solid healthcare marketing strategy in place is that you get to focus more of your time and energy on improving your healthcare practice rather than wasting time experimenting with different tactics that don’t complement each other. With the actionable steps in this article, you can develop an effective healthcare marketing strategy for 2023.