Constant change has become the norm for healthcare marketers these days, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down as a new administration will inevitably mean changes to the healthcare system. That being said, there is one trend that isn’t going away in digital healthcare marketing, and that’s the focus on the patient. Healthcare has made the shift towards a value-based system, and healthcare organizations depend on patient satisfaction to not only maintain their current patients but to get referrals and gain new ones.
The good news is that organizations that promote themselves digitally will benefit from the increasing consumer involvement in healthcare. Providers are at an advantage, because health is one of the most important topics in people’s lives, and digital marketing is facilitating an exchange of information between these providers and their patients. But what are the best strategies for reaching patients? We’ve outlined some of the most effective ones below:
The goal of many healthcare organizations should be to focus on brand awareness, as well as gaining and retaining patients. The best way to do this is to draw patients in by framing your healthcare facility as a caring and engaged organization. Your story needs to be about putting the patients first. These days, patients are turning to the internet to research their healthcare. By consistently providing them with up-to-date information about diseases and conditions, treatments and procedures, and the doctors and health care professionals in your organization, you can engage the patients that are out there researching. In addition, healthcare marketing is cyclical and should focus on what the patients are experiencing throughout the year. During Mother’s Day, you can run maternity stories, weight loss after the holidays, flu shot information in the winter, and men’s health around Father’s Day. Of course, healthcare organizations need to keep in accordance with HIPAA, so focusing on general and educational information should be the priority.
Don’t forget – content doesn’t just mean the written word. Video marketing is extremely effective for healthcare organizations. Creating videos to post along with your content can greatly enhance your content marketing strategy: according to a study by Moz, posts with videos receive nearly 300% more inbound links. Consider creating patient education videos that explain a complex subject in a short but compelling way, or interview doctors in your office to bring the human factor to your healthcare organization. Make sure to post these videos on your website and share through social platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
Engaging with patients means that healthcare organizations need to take it one step further than just posting information on a website. That being said, social media is an important component of healthcare marketing. In fact, 90% of adults 18-24 say they would trust medical information shared by others in their social networks, while 41% of all patients say social media impacts their choice of healthcare providers. Replying to patient concerns in a timely manner is important for healthcare organizations, and encouraging patients to provide feedback on their experience can be an effective social strategy. Healthcare providers should be using social media as one channel to amplify their story. Another great way to use social media to the benefit of a healthcare organization is by creating groups and forums where patients can discuss various aspects of the healthcare field. Keep in mind though, that social media is only effective if it is consistently managed.
Website and Search Engine Optimization
All websites these days are at the mercy of search engine algorithms, and healthcare organizations are no different. If you want your organization to be discovered online, you need to have your website content optimized for that purpose. So what does that mean? In terms of Google specifically, there are two primary metrics: relevance and authority. Relevance is a measure of how relevant your website content is to your business. This used to only be measured through content related to keywords and back-end tags and meta descriptions, but the algorithm has gotten much more sophisticated and can now understand the content as it is related to the intent of the search. Authority is the measure of how trustworthy and valuable a page is based on rankings that include how many times people share or link back to content, how well the site runs, and if it is optimized for mobile usage. In basic terms, the best way to optimize your website is to make sure the content you create to tell your story needs to be valuable, up-to-date, and of good quality.
The truth is, email marketing is still the standard for business reaching their audience, it just needs to be done in the right way. The best email strategy is a targeted and personalized one that reaches the right audience with the right message. Use personalization techniques that enter in recipient’s names when sending, include a catchy subject line, fill the email with relevant and useful content for the readers. It always goes back to the story and making sure that the patient is getting quality information that aligns with your brand.
By using digital tools to communicate relevant information and educate your patients, you will inevitably build relationships that will help you retain your current patient base and build a community of well-informed and engaged patients that are loyal to your organization.