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Healthcare Marketing

June 30, 2020

Running a medical practice without proper healthcare marketing in 2020 can be disastrous. No matter where your clinic may be, from New York to LA, developing an effective marketing strategy with healthcare marketing experts is the only way to keep your business safe and give it the chance to grow.

Your practice requires new patients all the time, and getting those new patients walking through your doors increasingly relies on the strength of your healthcare marketing. Don't let smaller and less experienced competitors outgrow you, simply because they made the switch to full-time healthcare marketing first. 

In this article, we discuss exactly why healthcare marketing has never been more important than right now, what healthcare marketing entails, the tools and strategies required, and everything else needed to begin your first or best healthcare marketing campaign yet.

Why Healthcare Marketing Is Absolutely Necessary In 2020

Today’s healthcare industry is more sophisticated and advanced than ever before. Not only are clinics and healthcare providers equipped with the equipment and technologies to offer their patients the best treatments possible, but patients now also have certain expectations with their healthcare providers that they might not have had just a few years ago.

Simply put, the healthcare industry has evolved and continues to evolve at a pace many doctors and clinics may be unable to match on their own. With that evolution, it’s no longer enough to keep your training, techniques, and equipment up-to-date; now doctors need to think about their healthcare marketing, and whether it’s doing enough on its own at all.

Here are some reasons why healthcare marketing is now an absolute necessity:

1) The world has gone digital

For a long time, it was enough for doctors and clinics to grow their business through reputation and word-of-mouth alone. Their main source of new client acquisition came from referrals from others in the healthcare community to satisfied patients. 

But the mass adoption of the Internet has opened everything up and healthcare providers that refuse to adapt have consistently found themselves losing patients to healthcare competitors and shutting their doors. Here’s why:

  • Patients are now more aware than ever of all the healthcare providers in their area. They can assess and compare all their available healthcare options: 5% of all searches on Google are health-related
  • Patients are now less likely to ask for healthcare recommendations from their primary care physicians and their personal networks; instead, they are more likely to ask help from Google, meaning natural word-of-mouth is no longer as effective
  • With more patients searching for their best healthcare options through search engines rather than their personal networks, interest in a doctor’s service now rely more on their online presence rather than their personal reputation

2) General consumer behavior has changed general patient behavior

The digital world has changed general consumer behavior, for better and for worse, and this means patients have different expectations when it comes to all services they use, including healthcare provider services. 

Healthcare marketing covers the bases of the digital world that you might not have much experience with yourself, making you just as dignified and experienced online as you are in person.

Some of the expectations patients now have (that they didn’t have ten or twenty years ago) include: 

  • Being able to connect with their doctor and healthcare practice across multiple channels
  • Being part of a transparent online community that works to retain and grow their long-term loyalty. One study found that “media richness had a strong, positive, and direct effect on brand loyalty
  • Being given timely and relevant content through online outreach across social media, newsletters, and emails

While it may seem unnecessary for healthcare providers to invest so much in their online presence, the extensive role of these online activities across all industries has trained consumers (your patients) to trust businesses with active and contributive online platforms over those with none. 

This includes clinics and the general healthcare industry. Millennials are actually much likelier to switch practices than previous generations, with an estimated 43% of US millennials changing doctors every few years.

3) Online and virtual services make growth limitless

Healthcare organizations have traditionally never had to worry too much about growth: your number of patients is bottlenecked by the number of working hours in a day. As long as you keep a full schedule of patients, you can consider yourself a success.

But the online world and the rise of telemedicine over the last few years has blown the roof off the growth possibilities of a local healthcare provider and healthcare practice. Here are some of the reasons why growth potential is much higher with telemedicine than it was before:

  • Telemedicine allows doctors to save time between appointments, allowing doctors to treat more patients throughout the day
  • Telemedicine lessens the barriers patients have to go through to book an appointment and get expert advice, meaning they are likelier to become more active patients
  • Telemedicine still has a long way to go in terms of growth, with one study finding that 82% of Americans still haven’t used telemedicine services. Growth over the next few years will be the most significant change in the healthcare industry in decades

With a proper healthcare marketing strategy that aims to maximize upward growth, your clinic could multiply your overall patient count several times over.

Core Aspects of Modern Healthcare Marketing

So what are the core aspects of modern healthcare marketing that healthcare marketers focus on to get the best results? Modern marketing healthcare practices should revolve around the following core aspects:

  • Healthcare Customer Relationship Management: Also known as HCRM, this type of platform should utilize the clinic’s existing database to better build and optimize multichannel healthcare campaigns that are fine-tailored to maximize outreach to your specific audience. This improves customer service, patient experience and engagements, and encourages loyalty and long-term relationships.
  • Marketing Automation Strategies: Marketing in healthcare means getting the most out of automation softwares, or working with an online marketing team that can develop content distribution and engagement plan activities that trigger based on the patient’s interaction with your platform. These can be used in conjunction with a healthcare marketing strategy through email, social media, and other paid campaigns.
  • Content Management System: Also known as CMS, this is the philosophy by which you build healthcare marketing content and integrate it with your HCRM to align your content strategy with your marketing strategy. Digital marketing efforts that maximize content marketing and distribution engage in content marketing and repurposing across multiple channels, helping any medical practice get the most out of their budget.
  • Patient Engagement Center and Marketing Pipelines: Marketing for healthcare requires setting up some level of patient engagement center that prospective patients and new patients can interact with to enhance their pre patient experience. This can be done online, over the phone, through text, and more.

What Makes Good Healthcare Marketing: Tools and Techniques

Understanding the exact healthcare marketing tools used by healthcare marketers to attract your next patient can be difficult, as this requires a level of experience and expertise that medical practice teams might not have. Here are some tools that healthcare marketers use to make the core aspects mentioned above truly work:

Web Design and Development

web design and development illustration

No respectable marketing efforts begin without a focus on web design and development. Your online platform is the core of your online presence; no matter how active your social media pages may be, without a professional and accessible website, your expertise and legitimacy is suspect.

Patients must get a flawless experience when they visit your page on whatever device: computer, tablet, or smartphone. Speed, navigation, content, call-to-actions; all of these and more will influence whether or not your new patients or prospective patients schedule their first appointment.

Ads and Analytics: PPC, Facebook, Instagram 

Ads and Analytics_ PPC, Facebook, Instagram concept illustration

With so many of your prospective patients spending so many hours per day online and on social media, there is no better way to reach them than with carefully tailored online ad campaigns. And making sure your ad is optimized to hit your next likeliest new patient is essential towards maximizing your ROI.

Your digital team should utilize marketing strategies that get the most out of PPC marketing (also known as paid search marketing, search engine marketing, and pay-per-click), Facebook ads, and Instagram ads, and they should have the expertise to perform analytics that make each campaign more successful than the last. 

Reputation Management

Reputation Management concept illustration

Did you know it only takes 1 to 6 online reviews for a potential patient to form an opinion on your health practice or clinic? So what do you know about your online presence? What are people saying about your health medical practice on all the relevant platforms? No health care marketing strategy is complete without time spent on pruning and refining a business’s online reputation. 

With a good health system digital marketing team like PracticeBloom, you can get your reputation under control before it gets out of hand. This means monitoring the general vibe and discussion around your medical practice, and developing the right reputation digital marketing strategies to improve and enhance the way your healthcare services are viewed online. 

Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing

Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing concept image

There’s a lot more to it than sending out funny Tweets and publishing weekly blogs. The difference in outreach effectiveness between your average online platform handler and a professional digital marketing team with customized marketing strategies is the difference between zero organic visitors and too many of them.

Healthcare marketers study everything around your clinic to gain the necessary insight and make the proper tweaks and adjustments to evolve your site from invisible to number one. This means utilizing all relevant information: site navigation, information architecture, WordPress security, word count, and more, and letting data scientists engineer the most cost-efficient SEO and social media marketing strategy possible.

Call Tracking

Call Tracking

Results are the name of the game when marketing for health care, and a health marketer team should equip your business with the patient call numbers you need to see to truly understand the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. 

Even the top New York healthcare practice cares about their call numbers and works to understand and utilize their call tracking data. And calls are even more important than web leads, with caller retention rate being 28% higher than retention rate from the web.

Health system marketing teams understand the importance of tracking every patient and their call, and helping your health system staff push those numbers higher while making each patient call count for more. It’s all about maximizing the patient experience, and the patient experience can live or die depending on that call.

Main Challenges In Healthcare Marketing and How to Overcome Them

Healthcare marketing isn’t as simple as putting up a beautiful website and expecting patients to book appointments left and right. The healthcare industry is quickly becoming oversaturated as more practices and clinics launch their own sites to gain online visibility. Nowadays, creating a website is the bare minimum to healthcare marketing. 

With telemedicine, video conferencing, and remote health system consultation gaining a strong foothold in the digital age, you’re no longer competing with other clinics within the vicinity. These remote access clinics entertain patients from different parts of the globe, and if they beat you at your marketing game, it’s difficult to attract even the patients closest to your location. 

As competitive as it may sound, coming up number one through healthcare marketing isn’t impossible. It begins with understanding the challenges specific to the healthcare industry, and finding solutions to overcome them.

1) Incorrect Targeting

Incorrect Targeting concept image

Traditional marketing would have you thinking that casting a wide net gives you a better chance because you’re accommodating more people. This simply doesn’t apply to modern consumer behavior. 

Healthcare is a broad field with multiple disciplines involved. Each health discipline involves a specific skill set and expertise. Modern patients are looking for hyper targeted clinics that focus on one thing and nothing else because dedication communicates expertise. In the sea of clinics, they’re bound to choose one that addresses their specific concern. As such, modern consumer behavior favors clinics that clearly highlight their specialization. 

If you’re a podiatry clinic, target clients who have foot and ankle ailments. If you’re a chiropractic clinic, target patients with chronic back pain and spine alignment issues. Understanding your target market or best patient group and hyperfocusing on them are the first steps to creating a healthcare marketing campaign that works. 

2) Outdated Marketing Tactics 

Outdated Marketing Tactics concept image

The general internet is savvier than ever before. Your patients can see through attempts at upselling unnecessary services and overbearing sales talk. Nowadays, healthcare marketing, as is the case in every industry, is focused on authority building and value proposition. 

Your relationship with your patients doesn’t start when they walk through the doors. With an online presence, your relationship with them begins the moment they click on your website and visit a page or read an article. Modern consumer behavior is predicated on heavy research and individual assessment before they get in touch with a sales representative. 

It’s not that ads are no longer important; it’s that content is now just as important as ads. The content you publish, the words on your website, the reviews you have online - all these contribute to your clinic’s image. Cultivating that image through trust-building assets is the foundation of effective healthcare marketing and building loyalty with every patient.

3) Insufficient Budget

Insufficient Budget concept image

Healthcare marketing is a complex organism with different internal processes. These processes include targeted ads, setting up landing pages, producing valuable content, and showcasing a beautiful and functional website. Too many business owners believe that you only need one or two ingredients to make the full recipe. 

It doesn’t work this way in healthcare marketing. To drive real results, you need to invest in every single aspect that comprises healthcare marketing. If you don’t do it, your competitors will, with healthcare global advertising expenditure expected to rise 3.6% this year to an estimated $36 billion.

The good news is that ROIs are well-defined and immediate. Good healthcare marketing agencies provide monthly reports on your progress. ROIs aren’t immediate (at the very least you need 3-6 months to see real results), but reputable agencies will always provide a clear status to help reframe your expectations. 

Making the Most of Your Healthcare Marketing Strategies 

Coming up with a patient strategy is just one aspect of healthcare marketing. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of your resources and get the best results, every single time: 

  • Find And Focus On The Best Channels 

Different patients respond to different channels. If your target market responds best through email instead of text, consider funnelling all your resources onto email marketing. The idea of hyper targeting doesn’t just apply to your patients - it should also apply to how you’re utilizing your marketing channels. 

While presence on multiple social media platforms is helpful in establishing ubiquity, running multiple ads on Instagram, Facebook, Google Adwords simultaneously can easily bleed your budget dry.

Instead, run analyses on each platform to determine which social media platform is getting the most traffic. Choose the platform with the most engagement and focus all ad spending there.

  • Personalize When You Can 

Modern patients don’t just prefer personalization, they expect it. With tools like CRM and email management platforms, it’s easier now more than ever to deliver that touch of personalized service. 

But personalization in health care doesn’t stop at mentioning their names on emails or remembering what their last appointment was about. This also includes creating sequenced campaigns and delivering content and messaging that’s appropriate for them.

For instance, a new patient who just signed up to your newsletter won’t be needing the same resources as a patient who has already undergone a treatment or two. Keeping the content relevant to your patients’ health care journey with your clinic will make every interaction feel more special and thoughtful. 

  • Design Marketing Techniques With Objectives 

A disconnect among upper level management, health care professionals, and marketers could bring down marketing initiatives. First and foremost, healthcare marketing campaigns should be working in favor of your professionals. That means adopting new technologies, services, and tools that will accommodate the influx of traffic and new appointments. 

Keep in mind that not all marketing campaigns are created equally. Campaigns that are driven by brand awareness goals are focused on building the brand and promoting the clinic or practice. This may focus more on value provision instead of opportunities to sell. On the other hand, sales-driven techniques are typically ad-heavy and utilize email and text messaging campaigns to increase bookings and drive profits. 

While it’s possible to launch these campaigns simultaneously, taking the time to build your practice or clinic from the ground up is the best way to make sure that all bases are being covered in the most effective way possible. If you have a good enough presence, it might not make sense to stick to brand building. Talk with your team to align your marketing efforts with organizational goals.

What an Effective Strategy Looks Like 

Health care marketing campaigns vary on a per clinic basis; what one practice needs may not be what the other one requires. However, there are fundamental elements necessary to guarantee a campaign’s success.

Listed below are some things we’ve done in the past as a healthcare marketing agency, and how we were able to drive results by utilizing these different components.

It Starts with the Website

website concept image

At PracticeBloom, we implement healthcare marketing strategies from the ground-up. Clinics, practices, and similar institutions in the health care industry are usually too busy to design beautiful websites. Common issues involve having an outdated design, a confusing and clunky interface, bad copy or no copy at all. 

Healthcare marketing begins with a beautiful site - one that your patients will want to visit. This embodies your brand and what you stand for as a clinic, and sets the tone for the rest of the content you publish. 

High-Quality Content Marketing 

High-Quality Content Marketing concept image

Having a beautiful site isn’t enough. Publishing top-quality SEO content that’s designed to rank well on search engines is there to boost your site ranking and make you visible on targeted keywords. 

In return, searchers looking for specific services (colonoscopy in NJ, colonoscopy visit, do I need a colonoscopy) are funneled to your site. Even if the reader’s intent isn’t to book an appointment, having your site as a viable resource puts you on their radar. When it’s time to book, a patient is more likely to make an appointment with a clinic that helped them understand the topic instead of going for an entirely foreign clinic.

Targeted Ads and Social Media Campaigns 

Good healthcare marketing agencies believe in the power of organic traffic. But to drive even faster results, they spend their time creating targeted ads on social media or any other channel most relevant to your clinic or practice. 

Think of content as the lure and ads as the bait; it’s the final piece of the puzzle that gets your patients to bite on an offer. Marketing for a patient is different from marketing for the average consumer. Including specific offers in the call-to-action (book a free chiropractic adjustment; get $100 off your podiatrist visit) is guaranteed to get the bookings you need to see significant returns on your investment. 

Successful ads are driven by two crucial factors: targeting the right audience and creating a hyper targeted message. Knowing the demographic that needs to hear your messaging the most (and figuring what it is) is what defines success when it comes to paid marketing. 

Let Your Practice Bloom with PracticeBloom

At PracticeBloom, we have turned healthcare marketing into a science. Using a combination of proprietary SEO tricks, email and content marketing, and smart ads on social media and Adwords, we give your practice or clinic the boost it deserves. 

Learn more about what we do in our case studies section. Schedule a quick call with us to learn more about what makes PracticeBloom the choice healthcare marketing agency in NJ and beyond. 

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