The healthcare sector has been at the forefront of a global stage since the COVID-19 outbreak. The disruption shone a sizeable spotlight on the need for a faster adoption of digital strategies across all industries, and those who had been slow to embrace digital transformation stuck out like a sore thumb.
Despite healthcare being one of the most advanced sectors in terms of technological innovations, like artificial intelligence (AI) enabled medical devices and much more, healthcare and pharmaceutical markets have fallen behind when it comes to implementing digital strategies. Just 7% of companies in this sector report to have gone digital in comparison to 15% of other industries.
There are over four billion people active online worldwide. Whether an organisation is looking to sell medical devices to healthcare professionals or a private hospital is targeting new patients – these audiences are all individuals, people, that are active digitally. They’re the same people who expect their groceries to be delivered at a click of a button, or to make a table reservation at their favourite restaurant via an app or website. People expect to be able to access healthcare as conveniently when they’re ‘patients’, as they do ordering from brands as ‘consumers’. We are in the depths of a digital era, and healthcare marketing can’t afford to be left behind.
What is healthcare marketing?
Healthcare marketing is the term given to the strategy used to promote, inform, educate or recruit within the healthcare sector. A healthcare marketing strategy is carried out to serve the objectives of the organisation implementing it, it might leverage digital marketing tactics like social media, paid advertising email marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), and offline approaches to achieve the organisation’s goals.
Why is marketing important for healthcare organisations?
Successful healthcare organisations put their patients or ‘customers’ at the centre of their strategy. Marketing is essential in engaging, informing and educating those people throughout their healthcare journey through various channels. It’s also an essential tool to manage how patients perceive your organisation or brand.
Producing relevant content, sending helpful direct communications and being easily accessible are just a few ways healthcare organisations can build trusting and meaningful relationships with their patients. Doing so lays down a solid foundation to be agile should there be any changes in the industry that might impact the service. Putting your healthcare business in a strong, leading position, whatever the circumstances.
Five top tips for an effective healthcare marketing strategy:
1. Put your foundations in SEO
SEO is the digital marketing technique that is going to help drive quality traffic to your website, and Google (and it’s algorithm) is key to this. Google dominates the search space and receives 3.5 billion searches daily! 5% of these are healthcare related and often are patients looking to book an appointment. Across the sector the majority of healthcare consumers will carry out an online search before engaging with a healthcare provider. Ensuring your brand has an SEO strategy in place can help rank your website at the top of Google, gaining your organisation organic traffic, visibility, accessibility and authority to a relevant audience.
2. Make your website work harder
Just as any hospital waiting room or facility would ensure impeccable cleanliness, a welcoming reception area, and signs to help visitors find their way to the right area of the building, websites should give visitors a similar positive experience.
Your website gives your patients a perception of your organisation’s values and services. Your site should be well-designed, easy to navigate, and provide all the information to make visitors feel at ease and confident in your organisation. For example, you could try including an FAQ section or an online portal to allow patients to login to their own account and manage their appointments or documents.
Key elements to consider on your website:
- Loading speed – 40% of people will abandon a website that takes over 3 seconds to load. Organisations that fail to improve their loading time risk losing opportunities.
- Mobile optimised – mobile accounted for 54.8% of global traffic in 2021. Making sure your site is optimised across all devices is paramount to attracting and retaining patients / customers.
- User experience (UX) – Simply put, make your website a pleasant place to be. Good experiences = happy customers. The chances are if someone is looking for information about healthcare, there’s already some stress involved. Just as you’d want to make patients comfortable and calm offline, create an environment online that does the same.
3. Content is King
If your website is your racing car, content is the high-performance fuel that’s going to help you to zoom towards your goal and leave the competition behind. There are so many advantages of creating great content in healthcare marketing. First and foremost being that you are able to share accurate, useful information for your patients / customers and be in complete control of your messaging. Content marketing can be used to improve patient engagement, retention and brand reputation, which in turn builds trust.
Google’s algorithm uses AI to give a deeper understanding of its users’ intent. This means content that effectively answers common queries and is relevant to search queries will be ranked higher on Google’s search results pages. Making sure you’re creating a portfolio of helpful content is key to keeping and building meaningful relationships with patients. Content mediums are extensive, but important content types to include in your healthcare marketing are:
- Thought leadership articles
- Email / newsletters
- Industry reports / downloads
- Social media
The most important thing to start with is considering your audience, what you are setting out to achieve with content, and then what is sustainable.
4. Introduce your team
Healthcare and medical is personal. Putting some friendly faces to your organisation’s services is a great way to build trust and authority. Not only does introducing staff members give an opportunity to discuss expertise that can be reassuring to your patients that your practise has the specialisms they need, but it’s a good way to connect the patient’s on and offline experience. Receiving medical treatment can be scary – add a friendly face and bio to your website to add a human touch to a digital space.
5. Be social on social
Social media is transforming the healthcare sector in really exciting ways. Where legacy social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have had a much more formal feel to their content, newer creator platforms like, TikTok are giving healthcare marketing a complete overhaul.
TikTok is playing an important role in engaging patients thought social media, with healthcare professionals trending terms like #nurse and #pharmacy to billions of viewers. TikTok is proving to be a great channels for HCPs to boost patient engagement and to develop a broader professional network.
Understanding the different social channels and what your audience wants from you in these spaces is important. Content you post on TikTok for instance might not be suitable for LinkedIn. Online audiences increasingly expect seamless experiences and for brands they interact with (including healthcare) to know them and be accessible to them around the clock, on any channel or device.
Ambitious and digitally savvy healthcare brands are already investing in social media as part of their wider marketing strategy, those who overlook this trend risk losing out and becoming irrelevant to modern customers.
Giving your marketing strategy a health check
Digital continues to be a significant disruptor for healthcare marketing. The COVID-19 pandemic, patient expectations for seamless, multichannel experiences and the rise of new platforms are putting more pressure on healthcare organisations to adopt digital trends to provide a premium patient experience.
Understandably, this can be overwhelming for organisations that don’t have the internal resource or expertise to implement new activity. Partnering with a marketing specialist that understands the healthcare sector is a great way to alleviate this pressure and help your organisation achieve the results you want most.
We are TrunkBBI, a full-service healthcare marketing agency with over 30 years’ of combined experience in the sector. We are a team of strategists, creatives, developers and digital experts that help ambitious healthcare brands achieve their goals. Get in touch to discuss your next project – we’d love to help!