Over the past few years, we have seen the boom period of digital marketing. It has begun to infiltrate into almost every industry. Although it was possible to do things without first digital marketing and go for more traditional methods, today, however, healthcare digital marketing is indispensable. Let’s take a look at the role of digital marketing in the healthcare industry. Although many industries have embraced digital marketing, the health care industry has been slow to adopt digital strategies. Today’s health care consumer, patients, and health care professionals are very different from health care consumers of the past. Today’s patients are able to do extensive research online which means they get more specific services. Health information is key to looking after the digital marketing area. In today’s digital world, prospective patients are now active partners in their medical journey.
In the past year, 72% of global Internet users looked for health information online. It is included e.g. Treatments and procedures, symptoms, conditions or diseases.
- 77% of patients use search media as well as other channels such as social media to start their research
- Over 40% of patients use Facebook on the main platform (e.g. for general information, compare offerings in different brands and assess specific features of products/treatment)
- 45% of them are online on YouTube (e.g. patient testimonials, patient-generated content, information about treatments, or understanding complex procedures, etc.)
With so many patients and caregivers active online and looking for solutions to their health problems, it is important that every medical professional or healthcare company has a digital marketing strategy. It enables them to promote their products, services, treatment options, etc. and differentiate themselves and their services from other providers.
“The discovery of health information is the 3 most popular online activity”
The trend in the healthcare industry to see in 2019
A change has appeared in the healthcare industry, which creates both opportunities and challenges for marketers. There are two variables that run this change. One is the upliftment of the digital healthcare consumer, and the second is the change in the fee for service payment for the health service delivery model on the basis of patient satisfaction, quality results, and transparency.
It affects both ‘who’ and ‘how’ of marketing strategies in the medical industry. Therefore, the role of physicians in the form of decision-makers has changed.
There are five major trends that should be considered by every health care market:
1. The consumer is now a researcher
Today, consumers are no longer happy to accept blindly what the doctor tells them. They like to do homework before going to the doctor. This means that the doctors are no longer just talking about drugs, hospitals, treatments and more. Healthcare is like a collaboration between doctors and consumers, thus fulfilling the needs of digital marketing for hospitals.
2. Healthcare marketers to target payers and consumers
Healthcare Marketers, there are different audiences. This section is the primary ‘Who’ on the basis of the product or service offer. Not surprisingly, doctors are the primary marketing goals. And why not? They still recommend products, services, write, advocate and buy. However, the doctor’s decision-makers are gradually shrinking healthcare consumers and payers as decision-making shifts. Therefore, the emerging trend is that healthcare marketers need to target fast payers and consumers.
3. Digital marketing monitoring of traditional marketing
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, today’s health care consumer is very different from the health care consumer’s past. Today, consumers do not want to blindly accept what a doctor has to say, preferring to do their homework/research before visiting a doctor. This means that patients have a greater impact on medications, hospitals, treatments, etc. Healthcare is becoming more and more collaborative between physicians and consumers, so digital marketing has become the most effective way to increase healthcare brands and increase sales. Taking advantage of sophisticated targeting options, brands are able to promote their products and services to the most relevant audiences, the right platforms and the right time.
While digital marketing is popular in almost every field, the healthcare industry is one of them. In the past few years, the priority of digital marketing on traditional marketing in healthcare service has increased. According to the study of MM & M, the biggest growth of biotech, medical, diagnostics and pharmaceutical equipment marketing budget is increasing in digital sales material, mobile applications and social media. Since consumer marketing tricks are changing a lot in digital advertisements, social media, and mobile apps, therefore, there is no wonder for the changes in the healthcare industry for digital channels.
4. Think of Insights with Google’s ‘The Digital Journey to Wellness: Hospital Selection’
Before booking an appointment, the search engine is used by 77% of patients.
Drive the search for approximately 3 times more visitors to hospital sites compared to the number of visitors to other affiliates/referral sites.
44% of patients schedule an appointment that researches in hospitals on mobile devices.
The decision process is empowered by digital content.
Before Booking an Appointment –
77% of patients use the discovery.
26% of the revenues generated by the consumers were reviewed.
50% used health information sites.
54% of patients used the health insurance company’s sites.
83% used hospital sites.
There are health care marketers for different target audiences. The primary goal is for health care professionals to use, prescribe, advocate and purchase products and services. But as patients and caregivers become more health-conscious and their awareness levels increase, they become an important target audience in the health care industry. They may follow the doctor’s advice blindly, but they are becoming more aware and are able to give their advice to doctors on the products/treatments they are using. Digital marketing helps with this by pushing and advertising products and services across multiple platforms, such as apps, websites, blogs, and social media.
We see this change in practice as well. For many years, working with one of the largest international medical device companies has seen a shift from health care professionals to campaigners/caregivers. Not only do we promote the products, its features or services, we also promote lifestyle content that provides an emotional connection to the brand/health provider.
Keys to a Strong Healthcare Digital Marketing Strategy
- An Easy-to-Navigate Website
Your website serves as the welcome mat to your organization. It typically is the first impression your company will make and plays a strong role in a patient’s decision to choose your facility or go elsewhere, so you want the user experience to be as easy as possible. Chances are if someone is on your website, they are looking for answers for themselves or a loved one and want to find what they’re looking for quickly so they can take action.
Patients already are looking online for health information, so make sure your website is patient-focused and easy to use.
- An Informational Blog
Your blog goes hand-in-hand with a strong, user-friendly website. With 1 percent of all Google searches related to medical symptoms and 3.5 billion Google searches, that’s 35 million online medical searches every day. Take advantage of all those searches with rich blog content that provides information on health conditions, answers to questions, quick tips and advice they can get without going to the doctor. Be sure to plan your editorial calendar around health months or other timely topics relevant to your organization.
And don’t forget, people take comfort in reading about other patients who have experienced a treatment, condition or surgery they are facing, so this can help boost your blog’s readership numbers. While you can feature testimonials in various places around your website, your blog is a great place for reading in-depth about another patient’s success. Rather than short clips, blogs are trending toward featuring in-depth patient stories on their journey from diagnosis to recovery.
- Resourceful E-mails
It’s true that patients go searching for information, but email is a way to be a step ahead. What if the information was in their inbox before they had to even look for it? By sending out an email newsletter at least once a month, you’ll continue to educate patients by providing them with fresh content they can apply to their own health.
The key is to provide your email database with a variety of information to best capture your audience’s interest. Use email personalization and segmentation based on a recipient’s interests and needs so they’re receiving information relevant to them. Send out a video, a current blog post or provide industry news that will give readers information on various topics. Be sure to plan these ahead of time so they are timely according to what’s going on at your organization or in the health industry.
- Videos That Educate and Inspire
Audiences increasingly are leaning more toward visual content. According to Wordstream, one-third of online activity is spent watching the video. If you can get your physicians on camera speaking about their area of expertise, it inevitably will add to their credibility and capture an audience that is out there looking for the expertise your physicians have.
Watching a doctor in a video describing a condition or procedure can make a patient feel more at ease about what they’re experiencing, especially if they’re seeing that physician for treatment. Video can make a patient feel as though they’ve already met the physician and increase their comfort level by seeing their facial expressions, mannerisms and even hearing their voice.
Like the blog, another appropriate place for testimonials is in your video resources. The only thing better than reading about another patient’s experience is getting to see it in action through video, and hear the doctor, patient and family members describing the experience from beginning to end. A video is a powerful tool; the lighting, music and story structure work together to draw out emotion when telling the story in ways a blog post can’t. These elements can evoke feelings of passion, hope, courage, fear and many others that the written word alone can’t capture.
- Strong SEO Attributes
You can have the best-looking, most informative website, blog posts, emails and videos, but what good are they if they’re not being found? Through the process of search engine optimization (SEO), you can increase the quality and quantity of organic traffic by centering your content on specific keywords your patients actually would use in their searches. If you’re a hospital with several service lines, you’ll want to do some keyword research with a tool like SEMrush or the HubSpot keyword tool to determine the best-ranking keywords to use on each page. You’ll want to look for what keywords are currently driving traffic to your website, as well as your competitors’.
When searching in SEMrush for healthcare, you’ll see the top keywords, their search volume, keyword difficulty score and cost per click (CPC):
- Engaging Social Media Strategy
If your healthcare organization isn’t on social media, you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with your audience. Social media is an excellent promotional tool when used right.
In fact, 60 percent of social media users are most likely to trust social media posts and activity by doctors over any other group, according to Infographics Archive. So plan your posts wisely—make sure they are written ahead of time and offer a variety of content on your page. A social media presence expands your reach to patients.
The hospital shares videos, blog posts highlighting its staff caring for patients, upcoming events and dozens of positive patient reviews. A great feature is a “Book Now” button that takes patients to the hospital’s physician page, so patients can easily locate a doctor for their needs.
- Tying It All Together
A strong healthcare digital marketing strategy is most effective when it is managed in a streamlined way, where each component is in sync with one another, rather than siloed. In addition to regularly meeting with your team about your marketing strategy to discuss changes or updates, connect these elements through a content management platform. This enables you to track the performance of your efforts as a whole and identify areas for improvement. Doing so helps them review previous efforts, and makes planning their future strategies easier.