While many of the tactics used in traditional marketing can be applied to healthcare marketing, there are certain ways that healthcare marketing stands apart. One big differentiator is that healthcare customers often begin looking for information when it’s more urgent, so it’s critical to be able to provide them with the kind of precise, targeted information they’re looking for — exactly when they need it.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use many of the traditional marketing strategies to build more awareness about your brand and your practice, but it does mean that you should also have a very targeted healthcare marketing strategy in place to provide potential new patients with specific, time-sensitive information.
Here are five effective ways to turbo-charge your healthcare marketing strategy for 2020 and start improving the results of your overall marketing efforts.
1. Start With SEO
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the foundations of effective marketing. SEO can increase the amount and quality of the traffic your website receives by placing you higher in online organic search results. For healthcare businesses, SEO is particularly important, since users are often searching for a specific type of care. They may be searching for a healthcare provider by specialty and/or location; making sure that you have a solid SEO strategy in place is critical to ensuring that your practice will rank high on the page where patients will see it.
It doesn’t matter how great your information and content is if nobody can find it. About 75% of internet users never make it past the first page of search results; without a good SEO strategy, your services simply might not be found when they’re needed.
One component to add to your SEO strategy is to optimize your content for featured snippets. Featured snippets are blocks of content that contain an exact answer to a search question. They may show up as a boxed paragraph at the top of the search engine page, or they may appear as a list or chart. A featured snippet can draw traffic away from the first search result, which makes it a great way to show up ahead of your competitors, and it can also establish you as a trusted expert.
You can optimize your site’s content for featured snippets by adding words that are likely to be used in searches throughout your site and beefing up your FAQ section. Using citation building, in which your company name and information is mentioned on other sites (review sites, Google My Business, social media pages, etc.) and schema markup, which provides users with more information in search results, will also help your site rank higher in search results.
Because the algorithms of SEO are constantly changing, it’s important to work with SEO specialists who stay on top of those changes and can actively work to get you ranked on search engines and optimize your website to perform better. And that brings us to No. 2. …
2. Make Your Website Work for You
You wouldn’t dream of opening your doors without putting a lot of thought into decorating your office. You want to make sure that everything — from the placement of chairs to the magazines on the coffee table — is done with the patient’s comfort in mind. That same approach should be used for your website, too. Your site often gives new patients their first impression of you and your services, so think carefully about the message it conveys.
A professional, well-designed website that’s informative, attractive and easy to navigate says a lot about your practice. It builds confidence in your staff and your services, and it should help patients feel comfortable enough to make an appointment. Have plenty of content and information, but avoid making your site look too busy. Instead, make sure it’s well-organized and that the content is easy to find.
While you want information to be easy for visitors to find, you also want it to be easy for search engines to find, too. Site navigation plays a key role in SEO, and moving certain information higher up on the page to your main navigation bar will make it more visible to search engines. Instead of listing your blog or FAQs in a footer on the main page, move them up to the main navigation bar.
Speaking of content, it must be well-written and accurate; wrong information, no matter how minor, undermines your credibility as a whole. If you have a blog on the site, make sure that it presents information in an engaging tone that makes readers want to spend time there — think of it as having a one-on-one conversation with your patient, not an academic dissertation. And make sure you have content and resources for every stage of the buyer’s journey so you’re meeting each potential customer with exactly the information they’re looking for.
The types of services you provide should be clearly spelled out, and it’s also helpful to go more in-depth to talk about each service, who they might be right for and to answer some common questions about each procedure.
Finally, make sure that your site is optimized to perform well on all types of devices, from mobile to tablets to desktops. If a potential patient can’t access your site from the device they’re on, chances are slim they’re going to switch to another device; instead, they’re more likely to move on to another site.
3. Introduce Your Staff
Regardless of what type of healthcare you’re providing, your staff is the heart of your operations. Including a thorough page on each key staff member is a great way to introduce them to potential patients, showcase their abilities and prove how qualified your staff is to meet patient needs. (You can also include a page on your front office staff, so new patients will see a familiar face when they walk in your office for the first time.)
For truly great staff profiles, give each doctor or care provider their own page complete with a bio — be sure to include personal interests, not just professional information — and a professional photo. Include their specialties/areas of interest and special training, as well as any awards or recognition. Another nice personalized touch is to add a short video of an interview with each care provider; they can talk about such things as their history and background, their personal philosophy regarding care, why they chose their profession, etc. Videos can humanize the care provider and create a feeling of familiarity before the patient ever walks in the office.
4. Develop a Solid Content Marketing Strategy
Potential patients are typically hungry for information and are looking for content that can help them make the right choices. Whether it’s an urgent, complicated medical condition or an elective procedure, consumers are searching for ways to stay informed.
This presents a tremendous opportunity for your marketing efforts. You can position yourself as a leader in your field and provide educational content in a variety of formats that will attract potential new patients. Working hand-in-hand with your SEO strategy, your content marketing strategy will provide consumers with information on the most-searched terms, conditions and phrases — which also happen to be services you provide.
Late last year, Google introduced a new search algorithm, BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), which uses artificial intelligence to understand the language used in searches, not just search for keywords. That means you need to keep your users’ questions and search criteria in mind as you create content to make sure your pages remain relevant both to Google’s algorithm and to potential customers.
Your content will take many forms, and you should be looking beyond social media posts, blogs and e-books. Video marketing has become a powerful, effective tool for all industries, and it has some unique advantages for healthcare companies, such as humanizing your organization or letting patients “meet” a new doctor before they have their first office visit.
Podcasts have also gained popularity quickly, thanks in part to their accessible, on-demand format. Whether you’re providing health and wellness information to patients or are targeting physicians and business leaders, podcasts provide an efficient, well-received vehicle for delivering your message.
Finally, don’t overlook the value of FAQs in your overall content marketing strategy. Instead of letting the outdated information on your FAQ page collect cobwebs, make it a dynamic part of your marketing strategy. Update questions frequently, make it easy to search, and reference it on other pages on your site. Doing so can give it the kind of value readers are looking for and help drive traffic to your site.
As long as every piece of content you create is factual and informative, you will continue building brand awareness and increase engagement. You’ll repeatedly prove that you have the knowledge and expertise that patients can rely on when they need quality healthcare.
5. Get Social
The power of social media extends to all industries, and healthcare is no exception. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can reach new customers, build your name/brand recognition and help drive more traffic and leads to your website. By using multiple channels, you can reach a broad audience and connect with them in ways they find relevant.
You’ll need to put some thought into your social media strategy and identify where your customers spend their time. If you’re marketing to other healthcare professionals, LinkedIn is an effective channel to use. And while Facebook and Twitter have been widely adopted by healthcare companies, Instagram is not always given the same consideration. Because it’s seen as a photo-sharing platform, Instagram is sometimes ignored as a component of healthcare marketing. But with 1 billion users a month and an average time of 28 minutes a day per user spent on the platform, Instagram offers a powerful marketing tool for healthcare businesses. Posts on Instagram can go far beyond photos and are a great way to build relationships with existing patients and attract new ones.
However, don’t limit your social media strategy to posts. The reach of organic content has declined in recent years as the social media space has become more competitive, so implementing a paid advertising strategy for your social reach can help reach more potential customers more quickly. Social media advertising is an effective way to target your audience on specific networks using well-defined demographic information. It allows you to boost your visibility, expand brand awareness and drive more traffic to your site.
A solid hashtag strategy should also be part of your overall social media marketing plan. When used properly, hashtags allow you to boost both your engagement and your visibility. Using well-researched keywords as hashtags will increase the likelihood of attracting a target audience that engages well with your content.
Avoid overuse of hashtags — using three per post is plenty — and make sure they are relevant to your post. Popular, common words aren’t likely to do well, since it makes users dig through thousands (or millions) of results when they search by the word. But choosing relevant, specific keywords as your hashtags can help you find your audience and help them find you.
Start Your 2020 Marketing Vision
Implementing these five tips into your healthcare marketing strategy can help you find greater ROI in 2020 by helping you connect with potential customers who are looking for your services and specialties. Whether you are a relatively new business or have been established for several years, these strategies can help increase your traffic, build brand awareness and ultimately lead to more patients walking through your doors.