The medical industry isn’t exactly known for shaking up the online space.
But times are changing for healthcare, and by extension, healthcare marketing.
Below, we’ve put together a list of healthcare marketing strategies proven to help you win more patients.
Make Your Website Easy on Buyers
Millennials are changing the game when it comes to healthcare. As this group starts to represent the dominant market share of health consumers, providers must understand their expectations.
Many patients see going to the doctor as a chore and as such, healthcare providers need to make it easy to book appointments and check in. If possible, allow patients to fill out medical histories online before their visit.
Some ways to add more convenience to your site:
- Fast page load times
- Online booking
- Online bill pay
- Messaging capabilities
- Virtual visits
- Online prescription renewal
- Ability to look up doctors
Use Content Marketing to Your Advantage
Blog content provides another avenue for making connections with your audience. While medical professionals might not think that blogging is a natural fit, it’s actually one of the best ways to increase your reach. Key benefits include positioning yourself as a thought leader, generating leads, and improving your performance in Google’s search results.
Develop a Content Strategy
Wondering how to start your healthcare blogging effort? Having a content strategy is a lifesaver. First, establish a set of goals.
What do you hope to accomplish with the content? Possible content goals might include the following:
- Lead generation
- Demonstrating expertise
- Ranking higher in Google results
- Educating patients
Once you’ve got a sense of what you want the content to do, start coming up with some ideas that play into your healthcare marketing strategy. Think about the questions patients ask you most often or the latest developments in your field. Content should educate your audience and feel fresh and relevant to your readers.
Cedars-Sinai blog does a great job of segmenting out subjects and providing a range of topics that cater to their audience.
Aim to have several blog posts in the pipeline so that it’s easy to stick to a regular schedule.
Your blog content should feature a range of posts, some with an educational bent, others that are lighter and more fun. Still, all should center around a unified theme—health-focused content related to your practice.
Types of Content:
- Listicles—think top ten fitness trends, easy recipes for heart health. Listicles tend to be on the “lighter” end of the content spectrum
- How-To Guides–How-tos are both easy to write and highly clickable, as they tend to answer questions people search for on Google.
- Articles—Traditional articles are the best way to show expertise. Talk about new research breakthroughs and what they mean. Or, look at the science behind a fad diet or describe what it’s like to get a nose job.
- Infographics—use infographics to present statistics or “dry” data sets in an approachable, visually exciting way.
Additionally, opinion posts can help you demonstrate thought leadership in your field, while anecdotal stories from inside the clinic can give readers new insight. Of course, if you do plan on sharing stories, keep privacy laws top of mind.
For the Best Healthcare Marketing, Hire the Right People
Some physicians take care of the blogging process themselves, while others rely on help from marketers and writers.
One of the biggest challenges in content marketing is regularly generating content. When you have a blog that you update on an irregular schedule, you lose out on some of the critical benefits of content marketing.
Identify and hire writers, editors, and designers that can transform medical expertise (from doctors and nurses) into content people connect with.
You’ll want to channel that “friendly expert” tone, which builds trust with patients and helps them understand complex terms. Sometimes experienced medical professionals forget that the average patient isn’t as invested in technical details or sorting through datasets.
Write for Your Audience
Carefully consider your audience as you develop a content plan. If your practice primarily serves children, speak to parents’ concerns about things like common illnesses, vaccines, or nutrition. If it’s a hospital, take a zoomed-out view—covering everything from preventative care to what you should expect while recovering from knee surgery.
Patients want to hear stories about your experience and receive recommendations from you and your team.
Make Connections with Video for Healthcare Marketing
Video content is a great way to build connections with any audience, but it’s particularly useful in the medical space. When patients look for a new physician, video content can help put them at ease before they book that first appointment.
YouTube videos can be used to explain procedures, share information about preventative medicine, and go over what to expect after surgery. Video marketing allows you to build brand awareness while educating the public. It’s also a great way to boost credibility by showcasing testimonials or offering a peek behind the curtain.
Video is good for SEO, too. When website visitors watch a video, it increases the average amount of time spent on your site. As such, you’re more likely to show up on the front page of Google than you would if you relied exclusively on text-based content.
Invest in a Patient Experience Strategy
People trust online reviews almost as much as they believe a personal recommendation from a friend. Healthcare companies that want to compete in the online landscape know that reputation matters—a lot.
Today’s health consumer is more empowered than ever to take to the keyboard and find the hospital or practice that best meets their needs. They’re no longer stuck with the option dictated by their zip code.
But a successful healthcare marketing strategy takes more than digital into account.
A winning patient experience strategy lays the foundation for the great reviews that attract more business. But that experience is about more than the doctor visit alone.
Instead, it’s the sum of multiple interactions spanning website functionality to wait times. Did the patient feel like the doctor listened to their concerns? Was the facility clean and comfortable?
While patient experience is an expansive category that demands a strategic approach, here are some areas that make a big difference for patients.
Be an Active Listener
The relationship between patients and providers is changing. People want to take an active role in their own healthcare and may wish to discuss what they’ve learned online or ask several questions.
Taking the time to converse with patients and explain procedures or how a medication is supposed to work makes patients feel like they have some control. While this effort might add a few minutes to the visit, taking the time to answer questions puts patients at ease and makes them feel like you care.
Encourage Participation in Care
Patients should be given the tools needed to stay on top of their health. If patients have a condition, doctors should point them toward several ways to manage their symptoms and stay healthy long-term. Approach decision making like the team-effort it is, and you’re bound to see better patient outcomes and satisfaction.
Technology and patient satisfaction go hand in hand and in healthcare, function as a way to improve communication between providers and patients.
The right technology takes communication outside of the facility walls and facilitates patient engagement.
The ability to view test results or book an appointment online is a big deal. It’s these little things like SMS appointment reminders or the ability to go paperless that add up to a better experience.
Create a Comfortable Office Space
Though this one may seem a bit outside the bounds of healthcare marketing, the physical elements of your office play a role in how your patient views the overall experience, and should be taken into account in your strategy.
If your waiting room is cold, drab, and uncomfortable, patients will focus on how miserable they are. Which, in turn, colors how they view the quality of care.
It’s the same principle you would use when selecting a logo or website design. You want it to be memorable, easily recognizable, and a place that people want to spend time.
Medical facilities are known for long wait times. Make the experience better by keeping customers informed of delays and adding a few amenities to the space. Comfortable chairs and access to drinking water or coffee and tea can make a difference.
Additionally, free WiFi, work tables, and charging stations can make the waiting room an active experience—allowing patients to make the most out of their time and walk away with a positive impression.
Take Feedback Seriously
Continuous feedback is central to improving the healthcare experience. Are patients happy with the care they receive? Do they feel like they’re spending too much time in the waiting room or feel that the facilities could improve?
Find out what patients think by asking them to complete a survey. In this instance, you can use paper surveys to collect feedback, but people often throw these out or fail to return them. Instead, it may be worth investing in an automated survey delivery service that connects with customers via email or SMS.
Finally, make a point of asking happy patients for reviews. When patients are satisfied with your service, they won’t mind spreading the word. Gain insights into what patients like—or don’t like—about your practice.
Focus on Facebook
Social media and healthcare marketing are a match made in heaven, particularly Facebook, due to its massive user base and targeted ads, and groups. Healthcare marketing content tends to have a personal, positive tone, making it a perfect fit for the platform.
A few areas where Facebook can boost your healthcare marketing efforts:
Promote Content on Facebook
Fill up your feed with blog posts, video content, and testimonials. Facebook is a great way to drive more traffic to your website and generate leads. Take advantage of targeting tools to segment organic posts and make sure they reach the right people.
According to a recent survey, consumers are three times more likely to say content created by a consumer is more authentic than content created by a brand. Why not get your patients to do some of the marketing for you?
Patient reviews are a great way to improve the credibility of your practice, as we’ve mentioned above. Share positive comments or patient testimonials on your Facebook account to encourage engagement.
Patients want to see that there are other people that understand their health challenges. It’s isolating to deal with a chronic illness or a sick family member. Encourage your audience to share positive stories on your platform.
Facebook advertising is a great way to reach potential patients. Ads provide more context than what you’d see in the average Google ad, with photo displays and fewer limitations. But keep in mind, Facebook ads depend on more than boosting posts.
You’ll need to put together a well-thought-out strategy with a specific approach toward targeting.
Consider your patient base and whether you’d like to expand that audience. For example, if you’re a cosmetic dentist, you might generally advertise to women in their late 20s through late 40s who are higher earners. In this case, you might run one ad for this group, but also a slightly different one for professional men in this age group.
Local Search is Huge for Healthcare Marketing
What do people look for when trying to find a new healthcare provider? They want the best quality care closest to home. Most patients start their search on Google but also look at healthcare directories like RateMD or ZocDoc, as well as general sites like Yelp.
If someone can’t find you online, they probably won’t find you at all. And if by some miracle they do hear about you, they might see your lack of online presence as suspect.
As such, it’s important to take some time to make sure your information is correct and easy to find.
Register with Google My Business
Google My Business is a free listing service, perfect for all types of brick and mortar businesses. Most healthcare searches are local, and people are looking for a practice that’s convenient for them.
How it works is, Google My Business uses data provided by verified Google My Business Accounts. So, if a patient types in “doctors office near me” or “Los Angeles pediatrician” your facility has an opportunity to appear as a top listing, based on proximity to the user’s location.
Your Google My Business account shows up on Google maps and lists Google reviews alongside your name and address. As you earn positive reviews, you’ll start to perform better in local search results, thus driving traffic to your site.
A few tips to improve your listing move closer to the top:
- Add hours—This helps patients see what times they can call to book an appointment or call your office
- Include clear, recent photos of your practice — Patients want to see what the doctors and the facility look like before they schedule an appointment.
- Choose categories — what types of services do you provide?
If you don’t have a ton of reviews yet, consider running local search ads to boost your visibility and get more calls. Before you launch a campaign, make sure you complete your profile and upload photos so that you nail that first impression.
Register with Directories and Review Sites
Make sure all of your information is consistent across web directories and citations. Your business name, address, and phone number (NAP), as well as your URL, should be the same across every channel that features your information.
This process can be tedious and time-consuming if you update all entries manually, so you might want to invest in a tool that automates the updates. Yext and Moz Local offer paid local search tools that can save you some serious time here.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that all doctors are listed on sites like BetterDoctor, ZocDoc, Vitals, and Healthgrades. Being registered and collecting positive reviews will make your practice easier to find.
Incorporate an Employee Advocacy Program in Your Healthcare Marketing
Lean on your doctors, nurses, and administrative staff to promote your practice. Even something as simple as liking the company Facebook page, re-sharing a post on Twitter can send a positive message about company culture.
Get Support from the Top
Make sure you have support from senior leadership. Employee advocacy works better when leadership takes an active role in internal social media culture and sets an example by sharing content, anecdotes, and relevant content.
Establish Clear Posting Guidelines
Healthcare presents some challenges where social media activity is concerned due to patient confidentiality regulations. As such, some staff might not have a clear picture of what kind of content is appropriate to post.
Successful employee advocacy programs rely on guidelines that give employees a sense of what to promote, without concern that they are posting something they didn’t realize was confidential.
Wrapping Up Healthcare Marketing
Healthcare marketing doesn’t have to be hard. The strategies above work together to ensure that patients receive a positive experience that empowers them to make healthy choices.
Consider your target market and how you can best connect with that audience. Your goal is to show that you’re there to help, so focus on building trust over trying to pressure patients into booking an appointment.