Healthcare consumerism has drastically changed the way healthcare professionals need to market and deliver their services. Today’s consumers expect a healthcare experience as innovative and digitally advanced as any other industry.
Hospitals, health systems, and medical practices must evolve to meet these changing needs to remain competitive or risk falling behind.
As more healthcare professionals provide accessible online services and shorten the red tape between physician-patient communications, consumers no longer feel the need to visit the closest option. Instead, they’re empowered to choose a healthcare business offering a consumer experience that meets or exceeds their expectations.
Planning Your Healthcare Marketing Strategies
Rapid changes in the healthcare industry markets require agility and focus. You may need to hire a marketing agency and plan for a larger budget than you have in the past. But in the end, it’s worth it for that peace of mind—and to see your bottom line grow faster than ever before.
To help you along, here are our top 5 strategies to include with any well-planned healthcare marketing plan.
1. Use consistent healthcare branding
You might feel confident your expertise sets you apart from other healthcare providers or businesses. But let’s face it—to a healthcare consumer, one white coat looks just like the next, and consumers are famously unwilling to buy a product or service from someone they don’t know and trust.
When you build a strong and recognizable brand and promote awareness of it, you go a long way towards reducing your overall cost-per-acquisition and growing your ROI.
First, you’ll need to determine what your brand is all about. In other words, what’s unique about your healthcare business? Is it the way you treat healthcare consumers? Your family-friendly office? Your spa-like environment?
There is at least one thing that makes your medical team unique, and that’s what helps consumers remember your healthcare organization’s name. Promoting awards or accolades for this sort of achievement is a terrific way to build trust in your brand, especially because you’re asking consumers to trust you with their health.
It may take time to determine what works best for your brand. But eventually, a sound healthcare marketing strategy with consistent branding and marketing materials will come together and represent your brand in the best possible light.
2. Evaluate the online patient experience
Twenty years ago, simply having a website was enough to impress prospective healthcare consumers and help them find your healthcare brand identity.
Today, consumer engagement has become increasingly complex as the healthcare industry shifts more readily into virtual care experiences, like telehealth and remote monitoring.
A website is your organization’s front door. It’s often the first thing consumers see; if it’s not optimized, it may also be the last time a person considers your hospital or healthcare practices.
Aside from ensuring your site has accurate and easily accessible contact information (e.g., locations, phone numbers, contact form, and primary services), the imagery and wording represent your consumer base.
On top of that, to encourage better engagement, healthcare businesses must include value-add experiences, like easy access to information, timely appointments, and high-quality communication with healthcare providers. It must be baked into every experience they have with your brand, intentional or not. User experience is an essential part of website design. But sometimes, designers are so focused on making the website look good that they forget to focus on the patient experience. We often find that websites need to be completely reimagined. But, we also look for ways to make small but immediate improvements to drive more business, like positioning the “Contact Us” form above the fold.
Creating a positive patient experience also means analyzing how most consumers typically engage with you (e.g., website, social media, paid ads, third-party listing service, etc.).
Consumers want to interact with you on their own terms. Your medical marketing strategy must account for every consumer touchpoint.
Examine the path consumers take after first engaging with your business and whether they call or submit a form (or not). Mapping your consumers’ journey can give you a better understanding of their needs and what can trigger a conversion.
3. Build a responsive healthcare website
A responsive website automatically adjusts to the size of a screen, so the experience is the same whether the site is accessed from a computer, tablet, phone, or another mobile device.
It’s the norm in website design today—but more than that, it’s something search engines look for when crawling any medical website to determine how and where you’ll rank.
Google cares about the user experience. As of September 2020, Google committed to a mobile-first index of all websites, including Healthcare websites. This means it ranks responsive sites higher than non-responsive sites. However, even if your site is responsive, it’s important to confirm that your content and imagery load properly (and promptly) across all mobile device types.
4. Test site speeds
Healthcare marketers who study user (prospective healthcare consumer) behaviors online have proven that consumers are less willing to put up with slow loading times than ever before. It only takes 5 seconds to lose a prospective consumer.
What’s more, poor site speed may cause your medical or healthcare website to fall in the search engine results. You can test your site speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. If load times are slow, talk to your web developer about ways to speed it up. I also recommend checking the site speeds of your direct and indirect competitors to see how your site stacks up.
5. Optimize organic search engine results
Search engine optimization is a powerful tool for getting your medical practices or hospital network to the top of the search engines. However, it’s a lot more complex than most people realize.
You cannot simply use the term “orthopaedic surgeon” 100 times throughout your website and hope to rank #1 on Google among all doctors, physicians, and surgeons providing healthcare services in your area.
SEO involves using the right optimal phrases and keywords so Google can understand your healthcare organization‘s websites. Focusing on organic SEO tactics helps you rank for the proper, relevant, and pertinent healthcare-related search terms (e.g., medical conditions, healthcare professional treatment of any type). However, you must also use those terms naturally throughout your content because Google cares about readability first and foremost.
This is only the beginning of marketing best practices for healthcare SEO, which also include:
Developing content pages full of high-quality information and optimized with your keywords.
Having internal links pointing back to relevant pages on your website.
Gaining external backlinks from reputable health sites.
Managing your site index or sitemap (making it easy for search engines to read and rank).
Claiming your healthcare website on Google Business Profile and complete your business listing with complete, accurate information.
Fill out every available section for each location
Incorporate photos and videos
Optimize local listings and reviews
Post frequently asked questions in the Q&A section
Optimizing your site with local SEO tactics (increasing your likelihood of appearing in the Google Local Pack).
Submitting your website to Google.
By Melissa Wick, Marketing Manager