What Is Healthcare Marketing and Why Is It Important?
Healthcare marketing is the process of promoting healthcare facilities and guiding consumers towards the medical services they need. Healthcare marketing is important because it allows for your facility to develop and maintain long-lasting relationships with both new and previous patients.
Healthcare Marketing Trends that Have Shaped the Industry Today
In 2017, U.S. healthcare companies on average increased their marketing expenditure by $4.8 million. And we saw the effects in 2017. The healthcare marketing trends in 2018 included rising patient awareness and engagement as well as an increased focus on laser targeted content marketing.
Broader trends included more transitory content on Instagram, the evolution of live streaming, and several new Google algorithm updates. These trends played a role in shaping the new healthcare marketing trends for 2019.
So without any further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 7 healthcare marketing trends of 2018 that you can ride to success in 2019!
2019 Healthcare Marketing Trends
1. Patients Always On The Go
People are always on the go with their smartphone nowadays. And your patients are no exception. In fact, at the end of 2019 a staggering 265.9 millions of Americans owned a smartphone. And 58% of those smartphone users used their device to get in touch with medical professionals.
How did they get in touch with medical professionals? It was usually by first searching for healthcare information (62% of smartphone users used their device to lookup healthcare information).
Furthermore, according to Google, 77% of smartphone users have used their phone to find local practitioners in the past 6 months. “Near me” is one of the most searched queries on Google.
How Patients Use Mobile
You might be wondering when exactly your patients are using their mobile phone for healthcare purposes? This is a good question to answer because it’s at these times that you’ll want your company to be at the front and center.
There are many different examples, but here are just a few things that an allergy sufferer might check on a daily basis:
- The day’s pollen forecast
- The number of allergens in their location
- Air pollution level in their home
- Prescription refill status
- Referencing health records
- Looking at the symptoms from the current allergens in the air
You can place your healthcare practice in front of this person during all of the times that they check these things. And with responsive web design, you’ll make sure that consumers can effectively find and engage with your services, even while on the go. By doing so you’ll build a stronger patient-customer relationship, which is one of the biggest healthcare marketing challenges.
2. SEO Trends In Healthcare Marketing
Putting yourself in front of prospective customers leads into one of the other most important healthcare marketing trends for 2018 – SEO.
Healthcare SEO is very important for your industry. Consider the fact that 89% of people immediately turn to a search engine when trying to answer a healthcare question. In addition, 82% of those people use a search engine to find healthcare treatment.
So the big question with SEO is: how can healthcare companies rank higher in Google?
How To Rank
First of all, there are two different places that you can rank for – local SEO and the Local Pack. You probably already know what local SEO is, but you might not have heard about the Local Pack.
The Local Pack is an area that shows up above the organic results and it lists 4-5 different businesses. It’s especially useful for mobile users because they can see it without scrolling down.
The information contained in the Local Pack is pulled mostly from your Google My Business page.
In order to improve your ranking in the Local Pack, make sure that you’ve added the following to your My Business page:
- Correct business category
- Primary phone number for your business
- Clear description of your business
- Correct business hours
- Physical address and service area
- Include any reviews
Now as for ranking in local SEO, there are many different tips. Here are some of the easiest/most applicable ones that follow the latest healthcare marketing trends:
- Improve your website’s SEO: make sure that your website is fast, secure, and mobile friendly. Ensure that you have the right schema, as well as a content distribution plan. And finally, be sure to use the right keywords for the healthcare industry (some keywords are better than others). We can help with this.
- Videos: a video is 50 times more likely to rank organically in search. And by 2019 videos will make up 85% of online traffic in the U.S.
- Increase your site authority: get authoritative websites to link to you and reference you as an authority.
- Demographic targeting: accumulating big data will allow you to target specific demographics. For example, if you’re a pediatrician you could target population areas with a population of families with young children.
- Location based marketing: this will allow you to target consumers near your healthcare facility in real time by utilizing the (voluntary) GPS feature on their smartphone. Location based marketing ads can also be sent via geo-fencing by showing ads on devices in a defined geographical radius. You could even send personalized offers to customers near your facility.
3. Content Marketing
Many studies have shown that healthcare content is the 2nd most searched for service online. But what are the times when patients want healthcare content?
There are 4 key times that you’ll want to capitalize on:
- “What’s wrong with me?” Those times when someone searches for the cause behind their symptoms. Depending on the affliction, the person might be in great distress. You should have all the answers to their concerns on a web page in an easy to consume format like a video or infographic.
- “Where can I get help?” This type of search has doubled since 2015 according to Google Trends.
- “Who is the best doctor?” After the searcher identifies their healthcare concern and locates a nearby hospital, they’ll likely start to do some more research on specific doctors. To build trust with them you’ll want to present them with content such as testimonials, awards, academic papers, etc.
- Ready to schedule an appointment – after they’ve gone through the above steps, they’re probably going to be in a rush and ready to book an appointment. Make the process of discovery and booking as simple as possible.
Besides these key questions, you’ll need more topic ideas to generate new content. Here are some more tips:
- Consider the types of questions you get when patients phone your office. Document these questions so that you can answer them in a future blog post. This will help bring in new customers through web search. You will improve your company’s efficiency since you’ll cut down on phone time spent answering repetitive questions.
- Natural language is becoming a more integral part of Google’s algorithm. This means that you should focus more on natural sounding keywords. For example, take the keyword “Atlanta physician.” Compare that to “who is the best physician in Atlanta?” The latter keyword is better because it’s conversational, more specific, and long tailed – meaning that it’s more likely to rank higher in the search results.
- Writing blog posts that highlight the importance of annual tests, checkups, and immunizations is a good strategy. Well written content on these subjects will attract searchers and convert them into a new customer at the same time.
And finally, there’s one more key element to your healthcare content marketing strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked. And that’s landing pages. Their importance for converting visitors into making a phone call or booking an appointment cannot be overstated.
So what should your landing pages say? Well, the purpose of a landing page is to convert visitors, and the best way to do this is to answer the visitors’ most important questions.
A creative way to do this is to make a simple on site quiz that can help diagnose someone. If they complete the quiz, then the next step is to prompt them to book an appointment.
4. Social Media Marketing
The latest healthcare marketing trends revolve around social media. Attitudes are changing towards social media. People are now using it for advice and as an informational resource for making healthcare decisions.
The proof is in the numbers: 41% say that that social media content influenced their choice of which hospital to go to.
Social media is also a place where people go to look at health related reviews.
In short, social media has become intertwined in every part the customer relations. Be sure not to miss the boat on this one, and read on.
Social Media Healthcare Marketing Challenges
Some of the most powerful healthcare marketing trends are based on social media, but they don’t come without challenges. Healthcare in particular is a topic that isn’t very “sexy.” It will take a different approach than, say, sports marketing.
Healthcare marketers can utilize Facebook and Twitter as they still remain popular. But there are also other types of social media apps that are gaining in popularity, like Snapchat for example. You can use all of these apps to build stronger relationships with your customers.
The thing to remember with all of these different apps though, is that you have to stay compliant with HIPAA regulations.
Video marketing has been gaining a lot of steam on social media, and this is especially the case with healthcare companies. It’s one of the healthcare marketing trends generating the highest levels of engagement.
Statistics are hardly needed to prove that videos can be extremely effective in marketing, but here’s one anyway: 80% of Hootsuite users said that they would rather watch videos of content instead of reading it.
And as we mentioned earlier, healthcare isn’t a very attention grabbing topic on its own, which is why video marketing is even more useful for healthcare companies. Videos will help you drum up interest for your company’s services.
But what kind of videos should you make? You could make a video about any of the topics we mentioned earlier. Another particularly effective type of video for healthcare marketing is testimonials from patients and staff. These will help build up your trust and credibility with potential customers.
Social Media Ads
Finally, one of the most important aspects of healthcare marketing on social media is ads. If you don’t use ads, you’re unfortunately more likely to be overlooked.
Thankfully, ads on social media are starting to blend in better and better with normal content. These new types of ads mimic normal posts almost perfectly.
This phenomenon is known as native advertising. It’s one of the latest and greatest healthcare marketing trends and it’s spreading throughout social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
However, even though social media marketing is a great way to start growing your healthcare practice, it can get complicated sometimes. This is because of the many different targeting restrictions on healthcare marketing companies. If you want to stay away from potential legal issues, then you should work with an agency that specializes in healthcare marketing, like us!
5. Professional Website Design
If you’ve read this far, then we’re sure you already know how important your website design is for getting new customers. But did you know that 83% of people visit a hospital’s website first before booking? And that 48% of people judge website design as the #1 factor in a business’s credibility? Furthermore, when your website page loads, users will form an opinion in approximately 0.5 seconds.
These numbers are all about first impressions. First impressions matter, both in and outside the office.
When your patients enter your office, you want them to have a good experience right? That’s why you invest in cleaning services and decorations.
Now think about your website as your building’s exterior. You’ll need to spend money on it to keep it looking nice and inviting.
The Future Of Healthcare
Now let’s get into some specifics. What is the future of website design based on the current healthcare marketing trends? Here are a few key factors to keep in mind:
- Users now expect an Amazon quality experience when browsing healthcare websites.
- 89% of consumers wish for easier access to their personal health records.
- 71% of millennials prefer online scheduling over other forms of scheduling, and they also prefer receiving digital reminders.
As you can see, the above factors all tie into the user experience (UX).
The Importance of UX
UX has been brought up recently along with the topic of electronic medical records. But why is UX being so heavily discussed?
In today’s day and age, an attentive UX can help you build stronger relationships with your audience. In fact, 79% of consumers say that they’re more likely to revisit and share a website if it’s easy for them to use.
There are also negative consequences of creating a site with a bad UX. According to Klein and Partners, 11% of visitors to a hospital website left the website with negative feelings about the brand.
Here’s how to design your website UX so that your visitors won’t leave your site feeling unsatisfied.
- Start by having a mobile first mindset. Ensure that the layouts work with small spaces, improve page loading speed to counteract any mobile connectivity issues/slow cellular data speeds, and make sure that content is designed for finger scrolling.
- Loading speed: your website needs to be fast – meaning that pages should load in 3 seconds or less. If not, then 50% of people will hit the dreaded back button.
- Make sure that your website has high contrast in fonts and colors to cater to those with visual impairments.
Now those are the modern UX elements that you should address. But what future UX elements are also worth considering?
In a similar fashion to the healthcare marketing trends above, consumers are more interested in taking care of their healthcare concerns online.
- Virtual healthcare services: 78% of consumers say they would be interested in this.
- The number of virtual healthcare visits increased from around 54% in 2014 to 71% in 2017!
- Accenture predicts that by 2019, 66% of healthcare companies will offer self scheduling, and 64% of patients will take advantage of it.
If you want your website to provide the best UX, then the following elements are required:
- Online scheduling, bills payment, and prescription renewal.
- Current waiting time in the emergency room.
- Live chat/instant messaging so customers can reach out quickly to providers.
- On site search function to help visitors find specific doctors.
- Option for virtual healthcare appointments.
- Security measures in place: you wouldn’t want to put your patients’ medical records in jeopardy. It could literally put their lives in danger if you can’t monitor their health records accurately.
Other Healthcare Marketing Trends
Now that we’ve covered the 5 biggest healthcare marketing trends, we’ll touch briefly on a couple more that are also important to consider.
6. Patient Portals
Patient portals are places where customers can easily and securely access their personal health data. Patient portals have been a thing for many years. But now they’re becoming more and more user friendly and sophisticated as more companies’ catch on to these latest healthcare marketing trends.
But it’s not too late to capitalize on patient portals. According to a recent CDW healthcare survey, less than 30% of patients would give their healthcare provider an A grade for technology. And a whopping 89% wanted a more user friendly experience.
The lesson to take away here is to apply user friendliness to all aspects of your healthcare marketing efforts.
7. Voice Driven SEO
As we mentioned earlier, natural and conversational language is a big part of Google’s new algorithm. And increasingly these types of searches are being done through voice and not through manual text searching.
In fact, voice search already accounts for 20% of all searches.
Most voice searches are also done on mobile, which is another reason why you should design your website with a mobile first mindset.
And since voice searches are a lot different from typed queries, you need to optimize your content especially for this. Voice searches use natural or conversational language. Most users talk to voice assistants as if they are talking to a real human. That’s why they often use long phrases and questions when searching the internet. Consider phrases that starts with wh- questions such as what, why, where, when and how when optimizing your content.
In summary, modern healthcare marketing trends are all about connecting with your customers online and then intensely focusing on what these customers want. You should then provide it through the media that’s most accessible to them.
We know that there are a lot of changes in the healthcare digital marketing industry to keep up with. And this makes it harder for you to keep up with your competitors. Which is one of the main reasons why you should consider working with a digital marketing agency that specializes in your field.
We can keep your healthcare marketing strategy up to date with the latest healthcare marketing trends. We help you implement these strategies effectively and in compliance with HIPAA and other laws. If you’re ready to take your healthcare marketing to the next level, then contact us to get started!