The healthcare industry is progressive in many ways, but marketing strategies tend to lag behind other consumer-centric industries. Why? With closely monitored HIPPA regulations, and the FDA constraining marketing efforts, it’s difficult for healthcare organizations to keep up with other industries’ marketing innovations. Additionally, marketing strategy is not the priority in healthcare — patient care is (and rightfully so).
That being said, a recent study found that 77% of patients perform online research prior to booking an appointment. Even more profound, another study by the Pew Internet & American Life project found that 93 million Americans (approximately 80% of Internet users) have searched for a health-related topic online.
It has become clear that consumers and patients are taking advantage of online resources both during initial research and ongoing care – thus, it is increasingly important that organizations take advantage of digital marketing to boost patient engagement and, ultimately, care outcomes.
First, let’s take a step back to discuss how healthcare marketing has evolved:
The Evolution of Healthcare Marketing from Traditional to Digital
In the past, healthcare marketing has focused on traditional tactics such as print, TV, radio, and direct mail. Marketers would launch campaigns and hope for the best, unable to make real-time adjustments once the ads were published.
Hospitals also had an easier time acquiring patients because the population was, in general, less proactive about their health. Plus, healthcare costs were much lower than they are now, so patients did not reject or delay procedures based on cost, as happens presently.
Today’s healthcare consumer is much different than the healthcare consumer of the past. Patients are healthier, live longer, and rely on healthcare organizations less. Today’s patients are also able to do extensive research online, which means they are more particular about the services they receive. They also have access to physician reviews, ratings, and online forums to interact with other patients who may have similar conditions.
As Becker’s Hospital Review explains, “Hospitals are dealing with consumers who are remarkably smart, demanding transparency and two-way communication from their healthcare providers.” To appeal to this new brand of consumer, healthcare marketers need to adopt innovative digital marketing tactics.
6 Digital Marketing Strategies to Leverage in 2020
As we’ve already seen, healthcare marketing is in the midst of a revolution. These six digital tactics are critical to engaging patients and driving ongoing growth in today’s competitive healthcare landscape.
1. Optimize for Search (SEO)
According to a Think With Google Study, search engines drive three times as many visitors to hospital websites than other sources. The study also found that 44 percent of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device end up scheduling an appointment. As a result of consumers’ extensive use of search engines to find facilities or inquire about their health, healthcare marketers must keep search engine optimization (SEO) front-of-mind when considering overall digital strategy.
Healthcare marketers can help search engines recognize and rank their organic content – such as blog posts, patient testimonials, and informative images or videos – by tagging a page with relevant keywords, writing informative page descriptions, and creating strategic HTML titles, among other techniques. With the rise of voice-activated search, in particular, marketers should make sure to create content that is likely to align with the unique phrasing and structure of these queries.
In addition, since mobile searches make up more than 50% of web searches overall, it’s important that your site is also designed for easy mobile navigation. This means optimizing web pages for mobile search and browsing, prioritizing a dynamic design, and maintaining fast load times.
2. Produce Video Content
Video marketing is taking over as the next major opportunity to engage consumers – especially in healthcare. According to a study by Eyeview Digital, using video on landing pages can increase conversions by up to 80%. Since healthcare is an innately personal, narrative-rich industry, video can have incredibly powerful applications. Patient stories are brought to life with dynamic storytelling and visuals, allowing new site visitors to develop a sense of trust in the organization even before making an appointment.