The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the healthcare sector. In the past, healthcare providers and practitioners relied on traditional marketing methods to attract new patients. However, the pandemic has demonstrated that going digital is the way to go if healthcare companies want to remain competitive. Even in the post-pandemic era, it’s clear that marketing teams need to pivot their strategies and go digital, especially when dealing with problems like staffing shortages–the current healthcare marketing trends say it all. Thankfully, the appetite for digital solutions is increasing among healthcare providers. Therefore, you can’t afford to stick with traditional advertising to attract new patients and remain competitive. Below are universal strategies that will help fine-tune your healthcare marketing campaign and take your practice to new heights.
Table of Contents
What is Healthcare Marketing?
Healthcare marketing is a multifaceted discipline that includes the processes of communicating, creating, and providing healthcare information. For healthcare marketers, the primary goal is to increase awareness of various medical conditions, illnesses, and treatments, establish relationships with potential patients, and guide them through their journey.
Healthcare practitioners and institutions can achieve such feats by demonstrating thought leadership, implementing coherent marketing strategies, promoting patient-first digital experiences, and strengthening brand trust via social proof. With patient-physician discovery and interaction significantly transformed, healthcare marketing has become an invaluable tool of modern healthcare.
1. Leverage Local SEO to Attract New Patients in Your Geographical Area
If your practice has a physical location, you have likely relied on conventional methods like referrals and word of mouth to attract new patients. That’s hardly the case anymore since patients are becoming more tech-savvy by the minute and will use digital solutions like search engines for researching health-related issues and providers. Therefore, if you’re one of the many healthcare practices with physical locations, you should enhance your digital footprint with local SEO.
Outlined below are some proven strategies to increase your local SEO presence.
Optimize Google Business Profile
Consider this: Google Search is the most popular website globally, with billions of searches daily. Even more eye-opening is that a staggering 46% of all Google search queries have local intent. Therefore, your practice must show up consistently for these local searches. One of the most straightforward ways to optimize your local SEO is to claim and populate your Google Business Profile listing or GBP.
GBP is a free tool that allows small businesses and healthcare practices to promote their business information via Google Search. On top of claiming your GBP listing, you should optimize it by providing critical information such as:
- Practice name
- Website URL and appointment links
- Business hours
- Phone number
- Email address
- Customer reviews
- A short description of your practice
- Photos of facility/clinic and staff
Ensure this information is accurate and up-to-date, particularly with your business hours. For instance, if your GBP listing says open and your front desk can’t be reached, that’s a big problem.
In addition, you may also create FAQs or frequently asked questions about common patient inquiries, including services and treatments and accepted insurance. Ultimately, GBP is a critical local SEO tool, providing potential patients with information to help them convert.
Use Local Citations
According to Brightlocal’s 2023 Local Consumer Review Survey, 98% of consumers used the web to research information about local businesses. As such, local citations and listings can help bolster your local SEO strategy because these are some of the many ways search engines can validate your healthcare practice. Citations make it easy for Google to understand the nature of your service and connect you to your target audience.
Types of Local Citations
There are a few types of local citations that could work for your local clinic or health center:
- Structured Citations: A structured citation is when your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are listed on relevant directories such as Yelp, WebMD, Healthgrades, and ZocDoc. These structured directories generally have massive databases of reliable information, so search engines like Google prefer them.
- Unstructured Citations: These citations also include essential information about your healthcare business but in a less organized manner. They’re generally found in more traditional websites and apps and aren’t designed as directories or business listings. Good examples of these are local news articles, blog posts, social media, and reviews.
Acquiring structured local citations is simple enough: finding relevant large directories known as “primary data aggregators” and submitting your NAP. Meanwhile, getting unstructured citation opportunities is a more involved process. For example, you can look for the “big fish” in your local area (a prominent local publisher or influencer) for potential collaborations and PR ideas.
Reach Local Leads with Geo-Targeted Pages
Multi-location healthcare groups must create geo-targeted websites and landing pages to not only increase traffic but also convert more local patients. Geo-targeted websites and landing pages are optimized based on the geographical areas you serve. When you have multiple locations, patients will visit the location closest to them. By building geo-optimized websites and landing pages, you’re increasing the probability of local patients finding your practice–plus, you’re offering a more personalized experience to them and increasing their likelihood to convert.
Create geo-targeted websites and landing pages for each of your locations. Ensure each page has accurate and reliable information, including your NAP, URLs, maps, business hours, etc. You may also add custom content for each location page for further personalization, such as clinic tour videos, FAQ videos, patient reviews, facility, and staff photos, etc. Lastly, ensure you provide call-to-actions to help patients convert with actionable steps.
2. Provide Patient-First Digital Experiences via Your Website
Any healthcare marketing team should prioritize the ability to provide the best user experiences through its website. Why? Your healthcare website is a core pillar of your marketing efforts and is the first touchpoint for most patients. Thus, your web design and user interface (UX) must be purposeful and offer high-quality digital experiences. Below are some ways to improve your healthcare website’s user experience.
Check Your Site Speed, UX, and Mobile Performance
When more than 80% of users jump ship from a website following a poor experience and close to 40% will outright quit a poorly-designed one, marketers can’t afford to have a non-optimized website. Remember that your website is one of the best ways to make a good first impression among potential patients. Therefore, all messaging and design elements should align with how you want to be perceived by patients.
For starters, your website should implement basic web design practices like readable fonts, easy-to-navigate menus and layouts, high-quality professional images, and prominent call-to-actions (CTAs). In addition, you should also prioritize page speed since it can affect your bounce rates. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to effectively gauge your site’s performance and make proper adjustments.
Lastly, you must ensure your website works correctly on all mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, etc. Mobile traffic accounts for 56% of global website traffic, so the last thing you want is your website to not display correctly for mobile users. The key is to implement responsive design, which helps your website to display properly across all devices, including desktop and mobile.
Create and Leverage High-Value Content
Content marketing remains king, and it’s not just a buzzword.
Patients and their loved ones will visit your website with health-related concerns and questions. On top of providing a comfortable user experience, your website must have valuable content targeting ideal patient personas. This means high-value content that answers the visitors’ questions and concerns, and they can walk away with real-world value.
When done right, high-value content will help establish your practice as a thought leader and trustworthy brand within the community. True enough, high-quality content does more than just sell your practice; it builds trust. Through content and overall messaging, demonstrate that you understand the patients’ pain points and are capable of providing solutions to their health concerns. Think of engaging articles, blog posts, video content, and website copy that resonates with your target audience.
Furthermore, providing valuable content gets you on the good side of Google, thanks to the recent Helpful Content Update.
Eliminate Conversion Barriers
If you want people to choose your practice, make sure you make it easy for them by removing potential barriers to conversion. Eliminating unnecessary barriers will provide patients with a more seamless experience. For instance, streamline the process of contacting your business office through AI chatbots, live chat apps, and click-to-call phone numbers.
In addition, you can invest in patient scheduling software such as AthenaONE and DrChrono for a more efficient appointment process. As a result, you are making it easier for patients to book an appointment and decreasing the burden on your staff due to lower phone call volumes.
3. Run a Proficient Google Ads Campaign
Google Ads or PPC advertising remains one of the paid digital marketing solutions for growing patient volume. For the uninitiated, PPC puts your practice in front of consumers by placing your ads at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). PPC puts you in front of your ideal patient personas and provides opportunities to capture bottom of funnel (BOF) leads–aka people ready to see a healthcare provider.
In the post-pandemic era, healthcare organizations face unprecedented pressure to cut down patient acquisition costs while growing their patient base. However, any marketer will tell you that a healthy balance of both spectrums is a fine line to walk. In other words, success in PPC means you have to do it right. Otherwise, you’ll overspend for glorified traffic volume and clicks with no conversion.
Below are some best practices for a more proficient Google Ads campaign.
Choose a Suitable Account Structure
Campaign segmentation has changed over the years. Modern PPC dictates that there are three spectrums comprising three different approaches depending on the level of control you need.
- Segmented: PPC marketers wishing maximum control over their accounts should capitalize on the segmented approach. Segmentation excels in controlling budgets and other business objectives. However, it’s not very effective in increasing performance since segmented accounts restrict algorithm learning and leave little room for improvement in messaging, tracking, and post-click experience.
- Consolidated: Meanwhile, consolidated account structures work best for achieving maximum efficiency. In this account structure, your ads will be grouped in a way to maximize the number of impressions, and algorithmic solutions like responsive search ads can deliver better performance. ThinkWithGoogle recommends marketers to consolidate their accounts for better reach and performance.
- Hybrid: A hybrid account structure makes the most sense for multi-location healthcare organizations that want to focus or un-focus on specific locations. Your campaign benefits from consolidation with maximized ad impressions and better Smart Bidding performance, along with tighter budget control and more precise targeting with segmentation. Hybrid brings the best of both spectrums.
Develop a Funnel-Based PPC Strategy
A funnel-based PPC strategy aims to align your ads and campaigns with keyword intent along the funnel, i.e., covering each step of the patient journey. As such, you’re sending the right message at the right time to the right audience. Your conversion funnel should look something like this:
Lower Funnel “Product Aware” Leads
These are BOF or “provider aware” healthcare leads. They’ve gone through the prior funnel stages (problem-aware and solution aware) and may be familiar with your clinic or health center via your ads targeting prior funnels. These leads have decided that they need to see a healthcare provider. Direct the algorithm to show ads with high-intent, product-aware keywords at this stage.
Mid-Funnel “Solution Aware” Leads
Many high-intent leads will fall into the mid and upper funnels. Solution aware leads are already looking for solutions because they know they need something but are still determining what type of treatment they should get. Leads in this funnel are prime targets for nurturing and education. Use solution aware keywords that educate patients about your services and treatments.
Upper Funnel “Problem Aware” Leads
Upper funnel leads are people who aren’t ready to become patients yet. This is the research and solution discovery phase, so these are lower-intent leads. This person knows they have a healthcare concern and are asking questions. For the upper funnel, use problem aware keywords like “signs of diabetes in your 40s.”
4. Use Social Proof So Patients Advocate for You
As I’ve mentioned earlier, patients are more tech-savvy, which means they rely on the Internet when looking up healthcare providers. This closely ties in with your digital reputation. With that said, 72% of healthcare consumers count on online reviews when evaluating doctors and other medical professionals.
What does this mean for your practice?
This means you should have a solid reputation management strategy and use your social proof to build trust and credibility within your community.
Best Practices for Managing Your Digital Reputation
Social proof may come in different forms, social media profiles, user reviews, and testimonials. For instance, if you have a healthy following on social media, you’ll want to showcase that on your websites and landing pages to build trust and credibility for your brand.
For healthcare practices, the most important social proof is patient reviews. As mentioned, healthcare consumer behaviors have changed, and they no longer rely on referrals, word of mouth, and traditional advertising (e.g., TV, radio, print, etc.) when searching for providers. Instead, they will evaluate providers by reading patient reviews.
To generate patient reviews, the quickest and most reliable way is to encourage patients to leave reviews–and this is where a proper review collection strategy comes into play. You can train your front-facing staff to ask patients for reviews following an appointment. Thankfully, satisfied patients will be more than happy to leave their feedback. Ensure you provide multiple, accessible ways to leave reviews, including short review forms and follow-up emails.
Investing in reputation management platforms like Birdeye and Podium is also worth considering. These systems can seamlessly integrate with your CRMs, and help automate the review collection process.
5. Develop an Engaging Video Marketing Campaign
When it comes to engagement, video content is hard to beat. As such, consider investing resources in creating video content for your brand. If you haven’t been paying attention, social media is quickly becoming a go-to source for healthcare advice and information, especially for the younger population.
For instance, many healthcare marketers are missing out on TikTok advertising because it targets younger audience groups. However, Gen-Z patients are aging, and many of them can make decisions for their health. TikTok is an excellent platform for building brand awareness because it’s a more user-centric network with a strong sense of community.
TikTok is also an excellent resource for healthcare marketers because you can use the platform to collect patient insights, refine brand messaging, and source content ideas and trending topics. However, TikTok marketing isn’t the right approach for all healthcare practices. For your reference, some specialties with the most engagement on TikTok include mental health, pediatrics, addiction treatment, cosmetic surgery, women’s health, and more.