Marketing, be it any form, traditional or digital, is significantly relevant for consumer-centric industries. The healthcare industry is one such consumer-centric industry, but marketing in healthcare remains a tricky concept. People fail to understand the essentials of healthcare marketing and what strategies would work the best. Also, the biggest challenge is that unlike other industries, devising and implementing an effective marketing strategy is not a priority in healthcare. Healthcare service is not a luxury or an additional service that the consumers need to be made aware of its importance. It is a necessity of life, and people would avail of these services, with or without marketing.
Thus, the question arises that is there any need for healthcare marketing, and if yes, then what are the best practices related to it.
When it comes to healthcare services, people are not looking for novel value propositions, what they are looking for, is an assurance about the quality of service. Healthcare marketing builds on this issue only. Through healthcare marketing, healthcare providers, practitioners, insurers try to spread more awareness about their services and attract more patients. With time and technology, healthcare services have improved, and many new healthcare providers have come up. The essential nature of healthcare services makes it all the more important that people get more information about these enhanced services. Also, the increasing dependence of people on the internet has made the healthcare sector adopt digital marketing practices.
Statistics related to the use of Digital Marketing in Healthcare
- Various surveys have found that information on social media about health or health-related issues drive the decisions individuals make about their health. 40% of the respondents actively lookout for health-related educational content on social media. While other people’s opinions and suggestions are noteworthy, what matters the most is the content that medical practitioners provide on these social media sites
- The age group of 18-24 years is more susceptible to using social media for health-related purposes. They use social media to discuss health-related ailments more frequently than the age group consisting of 45-54-year-old people
- 90% of the people belonging to the age group of 18-24 years accepted that they trust the information present on social media sites. This age group has a higher degree of trust and acceptance for the community of healthcare professionals present online
- 19% of the respondents who have smartphones have a health-related app on their phone. The most common apps are related to exercise, weight maintenance, and diet. Thus, it points towards the consciousness that millennials and Gen Z have towards their health. Healthcare industries should take a cue from this and develop a mobile focus regardless of the size of their industry
- As per a study by Mediabistro, 54% of the patients have no issues if their healthcare providers take advice from online communities while treating them. They feel it will enhance the quality of treatment, and they would get better soon. Also, it reflects the trust that individuals have on the internet and the way they perceive the internet as their greatest benefactor
- MedTechMedia confirmed that 31% of healthcare professionals use social media for professional development. They use channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter for networking, enhancing their awareness and increasing their professional circle
- Social media has immense power to influence a person’s choice related to a medical facility, treatment, or doctor. According to a study by Demi & Cooper Advertising, 41% of people referred to social media before making a choice, and information they found there affected their decision. Thus, healthcare organizations should monitor social media channels and use these mediums to attract and retain patients
- Studies have shown that 60% of the doctors themselves feel that the use of digital media (social media sites, online communities, websites) have improved the quality of service delivery
- There is a 119% Y-o-Y increase in YouTube traffic to hospital websites. Thus, it proves that video marketing is more effective than the other forms in driving website traffic and generating leads
The above statistics assert the importance of digital marketing in the healthcare industry. However, to get the desired results, healthcare marketers must understand the key trends shaping the industry today. The digital marketing strategy should take these factors into account to be successful.
Trends shaping the healthcare industry
- People are now avid researchers. Gone are the days when a patient blindly accepts whatever the doctor says. Patients now research thoroughly regarding their health condition, present ailments, and medication. They also collect information about the doctor and his history of medical practice. Healthcare today is more of a collaboration between doctors and patients
- Healthcare marketing should focus on healthcare consumers (patients) and payers. Healthcare services are not just limited to doctors. The decision-making process has shifted to patients and healthcare payers. Thus, digital marketing strategies should address their needs
- Marketing in the healthcare industry is more via digital means than the traditional practices. Since consumers have shifted online, marketing has also become digital. Pharmaceutical companies, diagnostic centers, research labs are all using mobiles apps, social media, and digital ads to attract more consumers
- Search engines and digital content are huge influencers when it comes to choosing medical services. A study has shown that 77% of the patients use search engines before consulting a doctor and booking an appointment
- The global healthcare industry had a stable growth rate of 4.82% in 2018. Although political and economic uncertainties might cause the growth rate to fluctuate, this industry would still have an upward trend in the future
Let us now discuss the digital marketing tools that healthcare marketers are adopting and the associated fundamentals they should keep in mind for top-notch healthcare marketing.
Website Development & Maintenance
A good healthcare web design should capture all the customer touch-points and portray the healthcare facilities accurately, making it look like the ideal choice for customers. It needs to be mobile responsive and compliant with ADA regulations. Web design companies in California create websites that are user-centric and follow the guidelines given below:
- Data Visualization is an essential feature of the website. Patients should be able to interpret their medical data themselves without the help of physicians.
- The website should provide actionable insights to the healthcare consumers so that they understand their medical condition and are aware of the future course of action
- Mobile Responsive web designs are necessary for driving organic traffic. People look for healthcare experiences today that help them consume medical data easily.
- ADA compliance is vital, both from a customer experience point of view as well as a legal point of view.
- The website should be easy to navigate through. Consumers should find it user-friendly and should need no assistance to handle and understand the website content.
Content generation is not a task limited to the healthcare provider’s website. While posting educational and informative content on the website is crucial for engaging consumers, there are many more opportunities for attracting attention in the domain of healthcare services. People are always likely to read an article talking about technological advancements in the healthcare industry, news about new diagnostics, or some other miraculous invention or drug discovery. A general health-related guide is always sure to catch people’s attention. Thus, content creators should be vigilant and regularly post content on various social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram) as well. It is not just the verbose articles that count as content, panel discussions by doctors, discussion forums, or educational videos hold equal relevance.
Video marketing has proved to be a successful and foolproof way of reaching the audience. Surveys have shown that video marketing is an indispensable part of online marketing in California and other places across the globe. Healthcare companies should also have a definite video marketing plan wherein they use amiable videos to reach closer to their customers. The medical profession, though respected, is intimidating at times. Thus, video marketing can serve as a bridge to connect customers and healthcare professionals. The more customer touch-points the video addresses, the better.
Using SEO Techniques
Applying Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the best way to gain visibility and increase brand awareness. The growing usage of the internet for all purposes (from education to healthcare) has led to increased opportunities for SEO. It is the best way to drive organic traffic to the healthcare website. Companies that offer the best SEO and SMO proposal place health-specific keywords, metatags, and phrases in the website content with a formulaic density. Further, healthcare providers that have a physical location use location-based SEO and geotag their location in posts on social media.
Use of Social Media and Personalized Campaigns
75% of the American population uses social media sites to research their health condition. They study their symptoms and corresponding ailments on the internet. 80% of the people using the internet search for health-related information on social media. Thus, having a sound social media strategy is essential for healthcare marketers. Many medical professionals use social media to increase their engagement with patients, increase the reach of their medical practice, and emerge as thought leaders in the medical field. It is prudent to focus on a select few platforms, instead of going for all the social media channels. Community discussions and frequent posts on various networking platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram can help healthcare providers leverage the power of social media.
A personalized approach in providing healthcare service works wonders. Health is a very subjective topic. The same information or treatment does not apply to all. Thus, healthcare providers should focus on each individual’s requirements, pain-points, and expectations. A tool that helps in this regard is the Healthcare Customer Relationship Management (HCRM) Platform. It stores comprehensive data about the patients and helps healthcare providers to build well-targeted healthcare personas. A persona includes demographic information, healthcare data (diagnosis details, reports, prognosis plans), and relative propensity details for treatment. A well-made persona helps in targeting the right patients and meeting their expectations. Also, healthcare providers garner more reputation for their excellent quality of service.
Heavy Use of Analytics
The use of analytics is necessary to track the progress of the marketing campaign. From campaign planning to execution, marketers use marketing analytics tools as a guiding principle for their decision-making process. They should have a robust platform to deal with the humungous amount of data that the healthcare-related marketing campaigns generate. This data includes information about blog traffic, click-through rates, brand awareness data, and conversion metrics. Constant monitoring and analyzing the data will help the organizations to plan their campaigns better. CRM platforms and the use of Google Analytics tools help to achieve this feat.
Health-related information is highly private and confidential. Thus, marketers should ensure that their data collection tools and platforms are in adherence with the relevant laws and regulations.
Some future trends and applications in the Healthcare Industry
Apart from the regular digital marketing tools, several other aspects hold importance in healthcare marketing. There is a wide variety of new products that will have applications in the future. The increase in the tech-savvy attitude of consumers and evolving consumer preferences make these trends and products highly relevant.
- Beacons are Bluetooth-enabled devices that provide enhanced healthcare services to consumers. It can be integrated with the mobile phone and will provide services like follow up appointment messages, real-time questionnaires for consumers
- The use of voice assistants would increase a lot in the future. The voice assistants help in performing a faster web search and would come more in use
- 20% of internet users use ad blockers. Thus, it makes it difficult to reach the audience through ads, and paid advertising becomes futile. Marketers should come up with ways to tackle this challenge. Using an omnichannel strategy would help, along with a more concentrated effort towards content generation
- Push Notifications are opt-in online messages that help to enhance customer engagement, customer retention, and increase conversion rates. It gives them a clear idea of the services they will receive and helps to stay connected with their healthcare providers
- Virtual Reality would be a much-used concept in the future. It is already in use by opticians and some other fields. But it will have more applications in the healthcare industry due to changing customer preferences and evolving technology
- 360-Degree Photos and Digital Video Tours of the healthcare facility, hospital, or doctor clinic increase the visual appeal and engage customers well
The healthcare industry has joined with digital marketing, and this collaboration has a very bright future. Healthcare marketers must design their strategies taking into account the new technology, changing consumer preferences, while keeping in mind the priority of healthcare services.