Medical practices across the board continue to face shifting norms. Not adapting can threaten the health and success of your practice. Patient flow may slow as patient conversion and retention drop. An expert healthcare digital marketing strategy, however, builds a flexible marketing foundation. It allows you to continue to attract and convert patients no matter the circumstances. In this article, we will walk you through the basics of building a healthcare digital marketing strategy and which components are most important to your practice.
Why is Digital Marketing Essential for Healthcare Organizations?
Healthcare digital marketing is more than a pretty website, monthly email and a Facebook page you might post to. It’s a powerful force to help you connect with potential patients by helping them on their search for answers. A Pew Research Center survey revealed one in three adults in the United States has gone online for info about a medical condition. Be the trusted name for patient education resources.
COVID-19 changed consumer habits and attitudes, and it’s important you know how to respond. A Google study on consumer trends shows consumers care about:
- Social Responsibility
This study found searches related to things “to do at home” globally increased 600% from 2019 to 2020. Health-related searches within this category saw one of the highest surges. Strategic healthcare digital marketing provides you with the power to be nimble to respond to changes like this.
COVID-19 isn’t the only thing that changed the consumer’s buying process. The Internet already revolutionized patient access to info, providers and treatment options. But now, how patients find you is different. They use mobile searches, and they want frictionless, app-like experiences. You can’t have a digital presence stuck in the past.
In short, your practice cannot survive without successful healthcare digital marketing. Let’s further review a few reasons it’s time to invest in your digital strategy.
Convert Leads and Increase Patient Flow
Google processes an estimated over 7 billion searches every day, and the number only continues to grow. One in 20 searches relates to healthcare. When you do the math, that’s 35 million healthcare-related searches every day. That’s millions of potential patients already looking for you and searching for answers. Be the one to give them answers. Effective healthcare digital marketing strategies ensure patients find you.
Attracting new leads and converting them into patients keeps your practice running and healthy. However, marketing efforts lacking focus can mean missing key chances to bring in new patients and wasting money. Effective healthcare digital marketing aligns tightly with what people are seeking. A well-crafted strategy allows you to reach people actively seeking your services and info about conditions you treat. It enables you to convert them with helpful info.
Good healthcare digital marketing goes beyond just increasing your patient flow. Marketers know repeat loyal patients are your bread and butter. Leverage tools like social media and email marketing to stay connected with prospective and current patients alike. Improve your patient loyalty to increase patient retention and maximize your ROI.
Patients Seek Healthcare Solutions Online First
Your practice should always be ready to adapt to how patients may find you. The research found over 93 million Americans have, at some point, searched for a health-related topic online. Patients are capable of trying to self-diagnose through research. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 35% of searches are people trying to figure out their condition. Your role in their search is to provide them with answers.
That’s a big change from conventional marketing based on simply touting on your expertise.
Research shows 77% of patients perform an online search before they book an appointment. Patients need to be able to find you online, and the content you provide should be helpful to them. Prove your credibility. Show them why they need your guidance.
Helping patients online exceeds just providing answers. Telemedicine is not a new concept, but its importance only continues to grow in the wake of COVID-19. More than 71% of practices offer two-way video services, and this number steadily increases. Cement your online presence with convenient telemedicine paired with effective healthcare digital marketing.
Build and Maintain a Strong Reputation
Whitecoat syndrome is nothing new. From the dentist’s chair to the doctor’s exam table, many people dread and even fear regular checkups. People are more hesitant right now than ever before to pursue any type of medical treatment. Forget just aesthetic and elective treatments. Many are postponing essential annual checkups out of safety concerns. However, healthcare digital marketing can help you.
Digital marketing tools like content marketing promote your safety practices. Utilize social media to update patients with your latest safety measures. Reassure potential and returning patients alike you have their best interests in mind.
Your reassurance goes further than you may think, especially when it gives patients something to rave about online. The research found 90% of patients search for online reviews when looking for providers. Reviews can make all of the difference for your business. In fact, more than 50% of users searching for providers won’t choose a doctor missing star ratings or reviews. Beyond that, just one negative review on the first page of results can cause serious damage. It hurts your ability to convert patients and, in turn, your practice.
Conversely, positive reviews bring substantial value. A Google study found 94% of patients care more about your facility’s online reputation more than if their doctor recommended you or if you accept their insurance. Another study found 47% of patients are willing to go out of network based on reviews alone. Positive reviews from your patients reinforce your credibility to potential patients. It shows they can trust you. Even in the advanced technical world of healthcare digital marketing word of mouth is a powerful tool.
Patients Want to Find and Engage with You Online
Once a patient finds you, they should be able to contact you or book an appointment with ease. Don’t make them work hard just to get the care they need. Even more so, don’t give them a reason to change their mind about your practice.
Remember, your competitor is just another Google search away.
Take a look at your current website. When was the last time you updated it? If you were a patient, would you be convinced you are the best provider in your industry? Try putting your bias aside and really dig deep into your site. Don’t underestimate how finicky users can be. Something as simple as a website taking too long to load can drive away over half of your users.
Look beyond just your own website to create a strong online presence. Your practice needs to be accessible anywhere patients may be able to find you. Sometimes that isn’t just your website. Create relevant profiles in places like:
- Google My Business
- Apple Maps
- Real Patient Ratings
Building profiles on websites like these can help with your healthcare digital marketing. Linking your website on these creates a backlink. Backlinks are a critical part of any SEO strategy. Backlinks, especially those from credible websites, strengthen your website’s domain authority, which helps with your Google ranking. Websites ending with .edu and .org offer the most credibility. If you work with any groups with these websites, ask to include your website in a relevant way. For example, let’s say you are an adjunct professor at a local college. Ask to link to your practice in your online staff profile.
It’s important to note you need to be careful when building your profiles. All info and the NAP need to be consistent on every profile you create. NAP stands for:
- Phone Number
Don’t give users any reason to doubt your credibility. Making mistakes with your NAP may seem inconsequential, but it can cause issues with your SEO. Working with a healthcare digital marketing agency helps remove some of the risk. Their experts know what kind of profiles to create and what info to include.
Stand Apart from Competitors
When people search for medical care, they know they have nearly endless options. That’s why it’s critical for you to set yourself apart from the rest. In many cases, since patients do so much research, they know what they need from a provider. You need to prove to them why they should choose you. Position yourself as an experienced leader and expert. Provide them with the answers they seek. Establish your credibility and show yourself as a helpful, caring provider.
Another way to separate yourself from others is to perform a classic healthcare digital marketing assessment — competitor analysis. Take a closer look at what your competitors do. See for yourself what their website looks and compare it to your own. As a user, which are you more drawn to? If you’re lucky, your competitors may be slow adopters to digital marketing. Take advantage of this gap to show patients you are the expert to choose.
Essential Healthcare Digital Marketing Strategies to Leverage
Approach your healthcare digital marketing the same way you would treating a patient. You assess their symptoms, consider their health history and give informed advice. You would never prescribe medications that don’t mix or perform treatments a patient doesn’t need.
Your healthcare digital marketing strategy is your custom treatment plan for success online. Trust the skills of digital marketing experts to analyze your data, current website and strategies. Let them determine the best methods and tactics for you to achieve your goals.
Here are some healthcare digital marketing strategies you need to leverage in 2021.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
According to Pew Research Center, 8 in 10 online health inquiries start with a search engine. SEO needs to be at the core of your healthcare digital marketing strategy. Your strategy shouldn’t just help you rank higher. It needs to reach the right people with the right message at the right time.
Experts develop this custom strategy based on thorough research to determine how to reach your most ideal leads. Keep Google and SEO best practices in mind as you build your entire website. This ensures patients can find you. A healthcare digital marketing agency can help.
You can’t deny the power of proven SEO methods. A Google study found search engines drive three times more traffic to websites than any other referral source.
Use Data to Measure Success and Refine Your Strategy
Many studies have proven consistently that businesses that use a data-driven marketing strategy outperform those that don’t. Track the success of your healthcare digital marketing and SEO efforts with Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These tools trap essential data about your users and provide key metrics to best adjust your strategy. Don’t worry — you can set HIPAA compliant guidelines that trap generic data metrics.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC campaigns laser in your best patients. With extraordinary control, you can place a search ad in front of people using only the language that signals they are seeking your service. In 2021, there’s no need to market to everyone. Everyone is not a potential patient for you. With paid search, you can be as exact as targeting users with specific symptoms in a specific geographic radius. Spend less time chasing the wrong patients and more time reaching and treating the right ones.
Local search continues to grow in importance. This special version of SEO focuses on improving local search rankings. This is critical as nearly half of searches include some type of geographic preference by the searcher. On top of that, almost half of users search on their mobile devices. The number of users who complete health-related searches on mobile is even higher. This enhances how important local SEO is for healthcare digital marketing. Over 68% of health-related searches happen on mobile devices.
Google My Business is a cornerstone of local SEO. These easy-to-maintain profiles allow you to share important updates with patients, such as changes to your hours or policies. They also display your NAP, show patient reviews and play an important role in your local search rankings. Research found 84% of Google My Business views came from discovery searches. These are generic, simple searches like “dentist near me” or “family doctor Orlando.” Make sure patients can find you and have the easy answers they need most.
Your website is often the user’s first impression of you, making web design so important. Users need to be able to easily access the info they need with a frictionless experience. Pursue sleek but effective design that guides users and creates a modern feel.
Many users report waiting a long time for a site to load to book an appointment frustrates them. Research from Google revealed over 53% of users abandon a website that takes too long to load. Ensure your website makes it easy to reach you and book an appointment. Your website needs forms paired with clear, strong, calls to action that motivate users to schedule a visit.
More than anything, your website needs to be mobile responsive. Over half of searches happen on mobile. A Google study found 44% of patients who found a hospital on a mobile device booked an appointment. This may be largely in part to Google’s mobile-first indexing. This approach favors mobile responsive websites and penalizes outdated websites. In fact, if your web design isn’t mobile responsive, Google largely excludes you from search results. Patients will only be able to find you if they search by name. New patients won’t be able to find you. Avoiding updating your website only costs you leads, patients and money.
Blogs and Content Marketing
Content is the foundation of your healthcare digital marketing efforts. Patients go to your website to educate themselves. Keep in mind their search is very personal. Most users search to find answers for themselves or a loved one. Position yourself as a caring expert who understands their concerns. It’s more important for you to establish credibility than sell your expertise. Blogging and content marketing help.
Create strategic content. Each blog or page you write should focus on a specific keyword related to your SEO strategy. This helps drive organic search traffic. Build an editorial calendar of content like blogs, social media posts, and FAQs to educate patients. Consider special events and themed months as you create your calendar. For example, you run a women’s healthcare practice. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Write a blog about how important self-exams are and when to contact a doctor.
Just like the rest of your healthcare digital marketing strategy, don’t put it all on your own plate. Seek the talents of experts. Digital marketing pros can help you find keywords and write the content. Most are happy to work with you on the content. Ask how you can contribute to making the content your own.
According to Pew Research Center, 72% of the entire public is active on social media. To be quite frank, you have no choice but to use social media. However, posting an offer or responding to a comment every once in a while doesn’t cut it. You need a complete plan of strategic posts. Posting relevant content — and doing it often — shows off your practice’s personality and engages users. In fact, a study found 57% of consumers decide to receive treatment because of a provider’s social media connection.
Your social media marketing needs to be well-planned and logical. You don’t need to be on every platform, but you do need to be where customers can find you. With as many as two billion users on Facebook, this platform is a must. It gives you the best ability to target specific groups. LinkedIn helps you establish your expertise, while Instagram provides excellent visuals and before and afters. TikTok and Pinterest are popular, but niche. TikTok’s popularity continues to soar for sharing quick videos. Pinterest is often helpful for women-focused practices, such as OBGYNs. You don’t have to be on every platform. Being helpful and meaningful on one is far more effective than being simply present on all of them.
Email marketing is powerful for creating loyal patients. Inbound tactics allow you to reach a specific audience who wants to hear from you. Drip campaigns help you stay in contact with leads and potential patients. Contact them often with tailored emails to encourage them to schedule a consultation or book their next treatment.
It’s important your email marketing matches the rest of your healthcare digital marketing strategy. Many users like content that informs them. Your content should inform the reader and encourage them to act, such as make an appointment. However, avoid any potential messaging that may cause panic and drive them to an urgent care office.
Mobile responsive design’s importance carries through to the emails you send. Nearly half of users open healthcare emails on a mobile device. A healthcare digital marketing agency has the know-how to create engaging, attractive, mobile-friendly emails.
Getting Started with Healthcare Digital Marketing
As a healthcare professional, 2020 was an unprecedented and challenging year for you. Take a proactive approach to your digital marketing health this year. It’s more critical than ever before to have experts on your side to strategize and maintain your digital presence. Now is the time to put your healthcare digital marketing in the hands of an agency.
Put your patients first. Stop trying to do it all. Hiring a digital marketing agency allows you to spend more time caring for your valued patients. No more spending valuable free time and money on researching the latest healthcare marketing trends. Trust experts who know how to develop a strategy for you to attract your most ideal leads.
Look for niche agencies who already understand your specialty. A healthcare digital marketing agency that understands your practice minimizes the learning curve in finding leads and converting them into loyal patients. Increase your ROI when you lower your new patient acquisition costs.
At ROAR! Internet Marketing, we have over a decade of experience with healthcare digital marketing. From family-owned practices to multisite hospital groups, we know how to make practices of all kinds successful. Don’t compromise the health of your digital presence any further. Set up your consultation with our experts today for a no-obligation discussion. Let our experienced professionals diagnose your digital marketing today.