13 Aug Crafting a Winning Digital Marketing Strategy for Healthcare Professionals
Digital marketing is the new norm for many industries. Most businesses have learned to appreciate digital marketing and even embrace the role of online platforms in brand building and promotion. However, the healthcare industry is coming in a little late in the game when it comes to adopting online marketing strategies due to HIPAA compliance and stringent FDA regulations. Also, for healthcare practitioners and service providers, marketing is not usually a top priority. Understandably, they put patient-welfare first over any marketing strategy.
Implementing digital marketing strategies while remaining compliant to HIPAA and FDA regulations can be challenging but given today’s highly digital environment, the results can be rewarding.
Increased Healthcare Related Searches
A recent study has shown an increase in health-related online searches and that online research on health topics is one of the most popular activities on the internet today. This indicates the power of the Internet to influence health and wellness decisions. The same study also found that people tend to conduct online searches for someone else – e.g. child, friend, spouse, etc.
Here’s one interesting find from these studies: people do not necessarily find what they are looking for online all the time. There is a big gap in terms of finding relevant information on the Internet. There may be tons of content online but the quality of health services related information still needs to be improved.
Hence, the need for an effective digital marketing strategy.
Online Presence Matters
We cannot stress this enough – businesses need to be online to reach their target market. The same could be said for healthcare providers. This is the Digital Age and you would be wise to remember that consumers – potential clients – are more Internet savvy. They rely heavily on the Internet for information on virtually anything, including health-related topics.
If you want your potential clients to find you, building your online presence is essential.
So now that we’ve established that even healthcare providers need an online presence, the next step is to implement a digital marketing strategy. You start by going through a period of discovery – identifying your brand’s objectives, goals and target market. Your approach to online marketing will depend on this first step.
Digital marketing is an umbrella term referring to a number of different strategies that aim to build and/or improve online presence in this competitive healthcare space. We will discuss the most effective ones below.
It starts with a website
Digital marketing initiatives typically start with a website. Your brand and suite of services should be housed on a website that embodies your objectives and goals for your business. The website can serve any number of things including providing relevant health-related information, an online appointment tool for patients, or simply a way to contact you for a discussion on the kind of assistance you may be able to provide. For instance, a home care provider may need a website to help families decide on the options that are available for elderly care. A therapist may want to establish an online appointment system to make his or her clinic more accessible to clients.
In a previous post, we have discussed your options in terms of developing your website. You can either engage a professional to handle this for you or, if you have time, start off with a website builder. No matter which route you take, it’s important to make sure that your website contains the kind of content that your target audience will find useful.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
A study by Think with Google found that search drives more traffic to hospitals than non-search counterparts. And about half of the patients who do their health-related research through mobile devices scheduled appointments.
Including SEO in your overall online marketing strategy is crucial to the success of any digital campaign. With this in mind, it’s important that your website is searchable and it contains relevant and informative content. You also want to make sure it is mobile-friendly to accommodate mobile searches.
Health is a personal matter so your digital marketing campaign should be highly-personalized. Understanding the information gaps on the Internet vis-a-vis your target market’s challenges and pain points is key to creating personalized content.
Pay attention to market analytics. Identify the kind of people you want to reach through your content and create a message that speaks directly to this audience group. In health services, empathy and reliability are the most common themes of marketing campaigns.
Email marketing remains an effective way to reach out to potential clients but given the sensitive data connected to healthcare services, it’s important to keep the privacy of patient information in mind when implementing email campaigns. Newsletters and electronic direct mailers must also be optimized for mobile delivery. In terms of content, users are more receptive to messages that contain reliable advice and information such as wellness tips, suggestions for the relief of symptoms, etc. Your audience needs to find value in the messages you send to them.
Social media engagement
Social networks are valuable platforms for content marketing exercises. Social media is another way to reach out to your target audience directly. Participate in online discussions related to your services, answer questions and actively promote information on public health and wellness. Be an active member of the online community. These are some of the many ways you can tap into the power of social media to build your brand.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, we see new opportunities for healthcare marketing to grow. Increased online presence through heightened social media engagement, improved market analytics, and a highly optimized and intuitive website can help bring health and wellness services to every corner of your community.