The medical marketing world has experienced large shifts in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic and the rising trend of medical digital marketing have changed how healthcare professionals reach out to their target audience. What steps should a healthcare marketer take to adapt to this new landscape, and what are the keys to creating a modern and effective healthcare marketing plan?
Why Should a Practice Build a Healthcare Marketing Plan?
There can be many benefits to creating a marketing plan for a healthcare practice. A good marketing plan can help a practice define its target market, develop messaging that will resonate with patients, and differentiate itself from its competitors. A practice can increase its visibility and name recognition through advertising and attracting new patients. A comprehensive marketing plan also helps to retain current patients by building long-term relationships.
Healthcare providers who have not updated their marketing plans recently may get left behind. As Gen X and millennials become a larger share of the healthcare industry’s consumers, having a robust digital marketing plan is more important than ever. As healthcare providers, you must keep up to date with current healthcare marketing trends, and implement new strategies and technologies to stay ahead of your competition.
Healthcare Marketing Statistics and Trends
The world of healthcare marketing is steadily moving towards digital marketing being the main way healthcare providers reach out to clients. In a 2020 survey, 71% of patients used Google search to research providers before booking an appointment with a physician or surgeon.
Another movement in healthcare marketing is the increased focus on marketing to the individual client instead of a large amalgamated target audience. This shift can be seen through these individual trends:
- Healthcare providers are shifting from a mass marketing “one measure for all” approach to a more specific approach.
- Healthcare marketing firms are increasingly using market research and customer data to create high-tech targeted online ad campaigns
- Healthcare providers are shifting from image marketing, marketing meant to improve their reputation, to marketing that describes their services.
- Healthcare providers are shifting their marketing from an emphasis on a single health episode to an emphasis on a long-lasting relationship between patient and provider.
Key Components of a Successful Healthcare Marketing Plan
All successful healthcare marketing strategies have a few common elements. To market yourself effectively as a healthcare provider you must first know your identity and brand as well as those of your patients and competitors. You can build a successful marketing plan by creating compatible messaging and integrating healthcare marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO) and digital advertising.
Creating a Cohesive Brand
Take a look at your business and figure out its purpose and brand. What sort of services do you provide? What market niche do you want to target? What are your goals and values? Once you have a clear picture of your practice’s identity, check if your branding and business messaging align with that identity. If you want your audience to know you are the right for their needs, your practice has to present a clear, unified and tailored brand.
Make sure you have a social media presence and keep track of your online reputation. Negative reviews may discourage people who were considering your practice. Studies have shown that reading one to six reviews may be enough for a patient to decide about a provider. Consider hiring a marketing agency to manage your social media accounts and monitor your online reputation.
Defining Your Target Audience
Look at your customer data and determine your target audience’s demographics. Data points include age, location, wellness habits, and the most common problems you treat. While sometimes healthcare providers may think that limiting their marketing to a specific audience will limit growth, this is not the case. By targeting a specific audience you can present yourself as the best fit for them, ensuring they always choose you instead of the competition.
Doing a SWOT Competitor Analysis
A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis, allows you to see where your practice stands compared to its competitors. Using quantitative and qualitative characteristics, compare your practice to others in the area. Points to compare include practice infrastructure, brand awareness, service quality, pricing, and online reputation score.
Here are some examples of things a practice may write down in its SWOT analysis:
- Personalized care
- High success rate
- Excellent location
- A strong brand name
- Longer patient wait times
- A limited number of physicians
- Higher costs
- Expansion to under-serviced areas
- Successful referral programs with other physicians
- Stiff competition
- Staff dissatisfaction
- Negative online reviews
Running a SWOT analysis can help your practice know what changes could be made to improve your patient retention and marketing strategy.
Making Sure Your Practice Is Well-known Locally
Local printed and television advertising may now be less popular than digital marketing, but a large portion of the population still uses it as their way of choosing a health provider. Do not neglect local ads like billboards or public transport ads.
Also, ensure a consistent presence in all local directories, such as local chambers of commerce, industry listings, or local business associations. Search engine algorithms consider these directories when ranking webpages and help increase your practice’s legitimacy. Consider a local citation service to maintain a consistent appearance in these directories.
Having a Well-designed, SEO-optimized Website
When potential patients search for healthcare providers, it is important they can see you right away. The top result for a Google search receives ten times more clicks than the tenth result. Therefore, it is essential that your practice be one of the top Google search results for your niche or location. Consider a search engine optimization service to help you move up in search rankings.
Once clients find and click on your website, they must be presented with a cohesive professional, convincing page that will incline them to make an appointment. If you believe your website may be outdated or could use some improvements consider a web design service.
Investing in Digital Advertising
Digital advertising on search engines, social media, and YouTube is seeing continued growth in the medical marketing space. In just one year — from 2021 to 2022 — digital ad spend in healthcare is projected to increase by 11.5%.
To stay ahead of your competition, make sure you run quality pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns targeting your niche audience. Leads generated by PPC ads get 50% higher conversion rates, while PPC ads enhance brand awareness by up to 80%.
Unlike traditional tv or print ads, PPC ads can be targeted by location, demographics, and other factors ensuring that only the people most likely to want your services see them. Digital marketing agencies can also provide your practice with the most cost-effective advertising method since you only pay when a prospect clicks on or interacts with your ad. A good digital medical marketing agency will create content that appeals to your target audience and gives detailed reports on ad campaign results. See how a managed digital advertising strategy could help your practice.
How Growth Squad Can Help You
If you’re looking for an assessment of your marketing plan, Growth Squad can help you. Our healthcare marketing service analyzes your SEO, copywriting and content creation, business citations, and website design and development to see how healthy your medical marketing strategy is. We offer comprehensive marketing for medical providers, allowing them to focus on growing their practice, while we focus on making sure patients see them as their best choice. Get a free Marketing Health Assessment today.