By Christina Ross
Digital marketing, while often overlooked, is a powerful tool in the modern-day healthcare industry. The rise of convenient technology and social media has opened the door for healthcare professionals around the world to connect to and build relationships with their patients. With digital marketing, healthcare professionals can expand their services to better serve their patients, and perhaps provide more insight into specific conditions or health concerns.
Digital marketing also provides healthcare professionals with a unique opportunity to reach more potential customers or patients by building up their websites and social media presence. Unbeknownst to many healthcare professionals, digital marketing is actually a powerful tool that can help nearly any organization or business connect with their target audience. Yes, even healthcare!
As the current President and Marketing Director at Silver Frog Marketing, I firmly believe that digital marketing and strong communication methods go hand in hand. Over the last six years at Silver Frog, my team and I have designed and implemented many websites, web systems and platforms and marketing strategies for a variety of industries. At Silver Frog, we deeply value and respect the creative processes associated with marketing and share a common passion for helping a variety of businesses grow.
Digital Marketing and Healthcare
Despite digital marketing’s popular association with industries such as entertainment, sports and technology, its tactics and strategies can be applied to almost an infinite variety of different industries. Especially industries that are heavily reliant on word-of-mouth marketing.
Moreover, the rise in popularity of social media platforms have made physical advertising methods next to obsolete. Marketing professionals are now focused on creating personalized, convenient digital marketing materials, often preferred by younger generations. According to recent data collected by Econsultancy, 74% of marketers say that personalized marketing materials actually increase customer engagement levels.
From a healthcare perspective, doctors and other healthcare professionals want to draw in educated patients who comprehend their conditions, treatments and procedures. If and when patients don’t fully understand, they are often less likely to come back for a follow-up procedure out of fear from their last medical experience.
In turn, doctors have been keen on developing a strategic approach to communicating with clients using digital marketing methods. Digital marketing would provide healthcare professionals the appropriate strategies, tactics and tools to both educate their patients and continue to form long-lasting relationships with them.
Beginner’s Approach to Digital Marketing in Healthcare
We know digital marketing is vital to the success of a small business or company, but where does one begin? What is the correct approach? Healthcare professionals should begin to approach digital marketing by first placing themselves in the shoes of their patients. Instead of asking yourself, “how can I sell to this client?” Ask yourself, “how can I prove the value of my services and business to this client?”
Healthcare professionals should prioritize making themselves available and different from their competitors. Targeted ad tools provided by platforms such as Facebook – or even geotargeting – can generate a specific audience for clinics to market to using their online platforms. Clinics can use these ads to advertise a wide range of services that may appeal to future patients such as:
- Free consultations
- Loyalty and referral programs
- Discounted pricing for first-time patients
- Making telehealth options available to patients
When In Doubt, Survey It Out
Surveys are an excellent tool used by many marketing, advertising and even human resources (HR) professionals to effectively gauge the wants and needs of their target audience. Qualitative surveys, or surveys that use open-ended questions to produce opinion-based and long-form answers, can be used to specifically pull valuable information from patients – rather than exclusively pulling numerical data.
Surveys can ask a variety of questions such as:
- What kind of online content would you like to see on our website?
- How can we improve our services?
- Are you satisfied with the current services and resources on our website? Why or why not?
Using sign up forms and collecting email or phone number information from clients is also an excellent way to begin to cultivate relationships with clients or patients. Something as simple as sending patients appointment reminders or prescription refill reminders can be incredibly useful to both clients and healthcare professionals and can cause an increase in client satisfaction overall.
In-Depth Research is Key
In addition to researching the current market, your target audience and potential clients as well as relevant competitors, healthcare professionals should continue to further their research methods to uncover what kinds of marketing materials will increase engagement levels.
Healthcare professionals can accomplish this by researching information that clients may find relevant or may want to learn more about. For instance, if a chiropractor hears that his patients are curious to learn about tips for back pain, or what tennis shoes are best for people who stand for long periods of time, the chiropractor can then create digital marketing materials to provide that information to their patients.
For example, a chiropractor can then take the information collected from his patients and produce a monthly written blog that discusses a wide range of topics related to back pain. In turn, the doctor or healthcare professional can also include SEO strategies to pinpoint specific keywords for their business or clinic. Additionally, these blogs can also be cross-posted across a variety of platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook, and included in a monthly newsletter sent out to patients.
The following methods are excellent ways to provide educational information to clients, in an effective and relevant way:
- Bi-monthly Blogs
- Podcast Episodes
- Email Marketing and Newsletters
- Virtual Q+A Sessions With Industry Experts
Remember, clients want quick and efficient access to information at their convenience. Creating a separate section on a website can be an effective way to expand communication between patients and their healthcare providers and in turn can create an increase in overall trust between doctors and their patients.
Why Branding Tools Are a Marketer’s Best Friend
Because healthcare professionals tend to work closely with patients who frequently use Google Searches to research their conditions – as well as a large number of competitors – it is important for them to properly evaluate their Google search results and comparatively analyze their social media platforms by taking a step back.
Healthcare professionals should evaluate their current tone or voice used for long and short form copy, logo, colors and their website to ensure that all of the digital marketing is consistent across all platforms. There’s nothing worse than researching a company or a business only to find stark contrasts between the company’s tone, colors or logo on LinkedIn versus Facebook. Inconsistency breeds distrust when it comes to digital marketing.
Graphic design tools such as Canva can become a convenient tool for healthcare practitioners looking to create anything from a new logo to new marketing materials to include on their social media platforms or website.
The Future of Digital Marketing
The future of digital marketing is bright, and full of innovation and adaptation due to the evolving nature of technology and communication. Digital marketing has been praised for its ability to increase revenue and profit by multiplying patient referrals, increasing patient satisfaction and boosting overall patient retention rates. Healthcare professionals should remain focused on building their reputation both online and offline in order to continue building awareness for their brand and services.
While the digital marketing machine may seem like a hard beast to tame, with consistent practice and a strategic approach it is possible for healthcare professionals to use their developed digital marketing skills and use the different working parts of the digital marketing machine to help a variety of healthcare professionals meet their goals.
Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.