It’s hard to keep up with the changing landscape in healthcare marketing. It’s a digital world we live in and the pace of progress is both relentless and daunting. It can leave you baffled and bewildered as to what to do next, how to balance your marketing budget, and where to put your marketing emphasis. The only sure thing we do know is that we can’t stop. With competition at such a high level, we must find ways to market smarter and more effectively to find and keep new patients. Having a clear marketing strategy in place has become critical to survival. With that in mind, we’d like to give you the top five healthcare marketing trends to pay attention to this year.
Treat Healthcare Marketing Like a Consumer Good
There has been a shift in the last few years in how patients see their healthcare options. Adobe Communications may have said it best in a recent blog about healthcare marketing trends when they called it the consumerization of healthcare. “Patients now approach healthcare with a consumer mindset. As a result, healthcare organizations must market to their target audience like they would traditional consumers.” Today’s patients have more options and more access to healthcare than ever before. To stand out in this crowded marketplace, we must put the patient first and find ways to gain attention and build trust. Here is a quick rundown of what to focus your attention on in the coming year.
1. SEO Is Critical – Especially Local SEO
Because the patient journey begins online, we must focus much of our marketing efforts on being found there. That means search engine optimization is crucial to success. Your practice needs steady traffic. There are two basic ways to get traffic – either build it or buy it. Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is effective. It is also very expensive, and very temporary. You get patients from the ads you run, until the ads stop. Search engine optimization through on-site keywords, links, backlinks, and other strategies set your website up for slower, steadier growth over a longer period of time. The truth is, you need both short-term and long-term SEO strategies.
Another area of SEO you can capitalize on is local SEO. Local SEO is usually less competitive because you narrow the search area down from everyone to a much smaller geographical area. Local SEO is any search query that includes “…near me” or “in Kansas City.” Urgent care near me” or “Audiologist in KC” are examples of local searches. Because it’s a smaller search area, you will rank higher. Local SEO also catches the low-hanging fruit of people who are ready to act now. Local searches usually have a higher urgency/intent which means location trumps all. They don’t have time to read reviews or look around for other options.
2. Website User Experience Matters
If it’s been awhile since you’ve evaluated or updated your website, take a closer look at it. Getting people to your website is critical, but converting visitors into patients once they are there is just as important. If your website is a hodge-podge of information that’s hard to navigate, your visitor is gone with a simple click and off to find your competitor whose site loads quickly, makes it easy to find information, and provides clear and concise calls to action. All of your SEO efforts will be in vain if your website fails to convert.
Mobile Websites Are Equally Important
Lest we forget, your mobile website design and user experience is just as important as your desktop version. Smartphones are overtaking desktops as the device of choice. As of November 2022, 49.78% of the total web visits are currently mobile, compared to 50.22% coming from desktops. That means that HALF of your prospective patients will find you on your mobile site. If their mobile user experience isn’t up to snuff, you lose. Design, navigation, load time, calls to action, and SEO are all extremely important factors.
3. High-Quality Content Will Convert
Content is simply a catchall term for everything you create for your brand – web copy, landing pages, blog posts, social posts, white papers, videos, newsletters, Google ads, social ads, podcasts, radio spots, billboards, etc. Anything a consumer could see or hear with your brand associated is content. It’s a wide net.
Today’s healthcare consumers are smart and savvy. They research hospitals, physicians, symptoms, treatments, medicine, and more. They look for reviews and patient testimonials, and want to know all of their options when it comes to their healthcare. They are proactive and educated. What they find online will affect whether they trust and choose you or not. Trust is the key word here. With so much to focus on, we thought we’d break it down into the content we’ve found most effective for building trust within the healthcare sector:
Reviews Build Trust
Patient reviews and testimonials are one of the best and fastest ways to build trust. Sharing those on social media creates social proof. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that makes others feel that it’s okay to do something because others have already done it and had a good outcome. You can attract more patients and build trust with patient reviews. Look for ways to increase your reviews. Set up a place in your office where patients can leave a short review on a postcard, or send follow-up emails or postcards after a visit. Once you have the testimonials, use them everywhere you can – websites, social media, emails, etc. And don’t forget to manage your reviews. Make sure to respond professionally to negative reviews by unhappy patients. Remember, you are building trust, so you must show that you hear and respond to good and bad reviews.
Video Content Tells a Story
Videos are one of the best ways to tell your story. They are quickly and easily absorbed by the target and offer a more emotionally stimulating way to tell your story. Videos used to be more labor intensive to create, but with better technology came improved camera quality as well as easy ways to share videos. Creating videos is fast, easy and affordable now. From patient testimonials to doctor explanations to “what to expect” videos, the possibilities are endless and the sharing capacity is broad. You can use videos on your website, in social media, send them in email campaigns, or even send direct mail with a QR code to guide people to them. Using video can dramatically increase your reach and engagement and help you rapidly grow your social media following. Videos are versatile, affordable, and most of all, effective.
Social Media Helps Build Your Brand
The beauty of social media is that the platform is naturally casual. This allows you the opportunity to tell your story in a more informal, more personal way. Don’t discount social media in your marketing plan. People do business with people, not companies, so the more you can show you’re human, friendly, and approachable, the more trust you can build. Social media provides an easy way to create awareness and boost brand visibility while telling your story in an informal setting. It’s a great platform to promote your staff, your office, your specialties, and to make prospective patients feel comfortable. Social media also offers another avenue to run ads. We have found that our healthcare clients have had good success with advertising on social media including Facebook, Linked-In, and Instagram.
4. Telehealth Appointments Will Increase
Along with more patients relying on technology comes the transition to tele-health appointments. Telehealth was in its infancy just a few short years ago, but the pandemic accelerated its acceptance and forced many to adopt this new form of treatment before they probably would have if the choice of in-office appointments had not been taken away. Regardless, it’s something that many patients now expect, so as a provider, you should be providing this option for your patients who prefer it.
5. Digital Ad Spending Will Rise
Of all the healthcare marketing trends, digital ad spending is the steadiest. It makes sense considering the rapid and continual adoption of digital ways to communicate (smartphones, mobile sites, tele-health visits, voice command, etc.). Healthcare digital ad spending increased by 14.3% in 2022 reaching $15.84 billion. That figure is projected to reach $17.79 billion – an increase of 12.3% in 2023. Digital communication shows no signs of slowing down. To remain competitive, healthcare providers have to be prepared to invest in digital advertising. To make the most of your investment, you must have a strategy in place for both your message and your delivery methods. You should be careful to deliver the same message across all of your marketing platforms for maximum impact.
There are plenty more healthcare marketing trends out there, but we felt these were the most important and most actionable areas where healthcare providers could leverage their marketing dollars to the fullest. Marketing always involves making choices, and choosing the most effective tools, content, and platforms to disperse your brand message will make your budget go the furthest and produce the best results.