2022 Healthcare Marketing Trends: What is Healthcare Marketing?

Did you know that effective healthcare marketing is one of the most important factors in running a successful medical office? It can be tough to attract new patients and retain existing ones, but with the right marketing strategy in place, your medical office can thrive. So what is healthcare marketing, and what makes it so important? Keep reading for more insights.…

Healthcare marketing is an active process. It involves strategically designing outreach and communications to attract healthcare consumers, guide them through their healthcare journey, and keep them engaged with your health system.

The best healthcare marketing strategies have to be exceptionally sophisticated. They’re omnichannel, highly segmented, and use targeted online and offline tactics to get customers to engage with providers and accelerate enterprise growth. Health systems measure marketing success through specific metrics that are aligned with key performance indicators (KPIs), and/or marketing return on investment (ROI).

Healthcare Marketing Strategies

A successful healthcare marketing strategy has several essential building blocks. With trends changing daily from TikTok to Twitter, it’s important to have the right principles in place. Since almost everyone seeks healthcare at some point in their life, customer profiles are incredibly diverse. Layering in the fact that there are so many providers providing similar services in the market, it becomes even more challenging to deliver an effective strategy.

Here are nine essential pillars of an effective healthcare marketing strategy (Mercury Healthcare, 2021):

Create a seamless digital patient experience

An effective marketing strategy starts with creating a smooth, integrated digital experience for your patients. Potential customers will be connecting with your healthcare system through several different entry points such as: directly through your website or social media, using an insurance provider or under third-party listings.

Wherever customers are coming from, they need to have a smooth, consistent journey. These multiple entry points make up what’s known as the Digital Front Door. That first experience through the threshold, more than anything, will determine whether an engagement leads to a conversion. Start by testing a wide range of journeys across your organization. Ask questions like: Are there unnecessary hurdles? Are the options and information presented at each stage the ones a patient needs? Are there changes that could make it more likely for the patient to continue exploring our services?

Build a consistent brand

Customers in any sector value familiarity and trust but when it comes to healthcare it’s essential.  Healthcare decisions are some of the most important your clients will make and they need to know their care team is reliable, effective, and stand-out for all the right reasons. Building that brand takes time but most importantly you need to have thoughtful strategy and investment.

The biggest question to think about when developing your brand is: what qualities are most important in making our health system unique? There won’t be one answer, and certainly not an easy one. But identifying one or a small set of qualities is essential to have a clear message at your brand’s core. Is it your level of trust? Your focus on health technology? Or maybe the care and kindness of your staff up and down the organization? Identifying these qualities and setting a brand direction early will lower your system’s cost per acquisition so the right budget is upfront.

Build engaging relationships using personalization

All healthcare systems carry a wealth of data and information about their patients. While the majority of that data will, of course, be carefully protected and secure the most effective marketing strategies will leverage the demographic information in their electronic health record (EHR) system and their customer relationship management (CRM) software to strategically reach their clients. You may have heard about how a retailer knew a customer was pregnant before her father did (Hill, 2012). While this may not be the kind of data-based targeting insight to strive for, it shows the power of using all of your available data effectively. In a healthcare setting, it could be life-altering.

Create a strong website

In modern marketing, a website is more than an information hub. Designed correctly, a good website is a multi-layered funnel, gathering information and personalizing the patient journey with each tap or click. The website also serves as a canvas for the brand you’ve carefully developed, telling the right story to your customers and potential customers, and guiding them to the information and services they need.

One of the main roles of a strong website is search engine optimization (SEO). Getting to the top of the list on your clients’ preferred search engine can be the keystone to a fully developed marketing strategy. It’s easy to overlook or under-evaluate the importance of features like responsive design, meta tags, and optimized site speeds. No matter how many resources go into your website your existing and potential customers won’t find it without the right SEO or, increasingly, mobile SEO.

Evaluate the best marketing channels

With so many platforms for digital information, your healthcare marketing has to be omnichannel. As you get started, you’ll have one budget and you’ll be testing content across social media, display ads, organic and paid search, and much more. Business intelligence (BI) tools can help track how well each of these channels performs and, with time, hone in on the best channels for different types of customers. The best BI will give you a sense of which geographies, personas, and service lines are best served by which channel.

Manage patient reviews

From Yelp to Amazon crowdsourced opinions and reviews are here to stay. Medicine is no different. The Journal of Medical Internet Research (Hong et al. 2019) reports that when choosing a physician 59% of Americans think that reviews from other patients are very important or somewhat important. With such clients giving them such importance, your health system needs the right reviews in the right places.

For those concerned about the inevitable negative feedback that arises, be assured that there are tried and tested strategies to respond to such reviews to maintain reputation and help alleviate dissatisfaction. Generally, negative feedback should get an empathetic, timely response that addresses the specifics of the comment while staying HIPPA compliant. The standard for trust and reliability is not perfection. Even the most scathing review can be addressed by responding with gratitude for the customer’s feedback and as much detail as possible on a plan to address their concerns.

Use analytics to secure your budget

Creating a marketing budget is an iterative process. It’s all too common to see marketing budgets being created by upper-level management in a way that’s disconnected from the marketing teams implementing the plan. To get started, rely on any and all existing data from your previous campaigns and set clear expectations on who you’re trying to meet. If you’re implementing a new plan or trying a tactic for the first time, make sure to track your spending and impact closely. And also have a plan in place to adjust your budget based on your ROI. With the right expertise and impact, your marketing budget is likely to grow over time as you acquire new customers.

Align marketing with organizational objectives

Marketing cannot sit outside the overall business strategy for your health system. There needs to be dialogue in both directions, between the marketing team and management. Having a deeper understanding of the organization’s goals is essential to creating the right marketing approach. Having the right marketing perspective and, ultimately a customer-focused view of the organization, can help with making even stronger, long-term decisions about the system’s operations.

Analyze your market

The pace of change in health care systems seems to be increasing every day. The healthcare industry is seeing increases in both consolidation and disruption. Weathering these trends needs deep business intelligence on what’s happening in your health care system, as well as the ability to transform that into the right decision-making to help drive growth, unlock segments of the market and, most importantly, meet market needs.

The Bottom Line

The main technologies used in Healthcare marketing are The Healthcare customer relationship management (CRM), the Content management system (CMS), Marketing automation, and an Engagement Center.

Bringing customers to your health system is as much about understanding how they receive and process information as it is about being able to deliver the healthcare they need. Medical professionals are no strangers to this kind of user-centered design thinking. From creating a kid-friendly MRI experience for young patients terrified of cold dark rooms to the proliferation of wearable technology and wellness apps, the patient journey is something every health system leader can understand. Effective healthcare marketing should be no different in centering the patient experience to lower the barriers to entry for health care and present the right information at the right time.

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Sources:

George Washington University’s Online Healthcare MBA. (2021, September 9). What Is Healthcare Marketing? George Washington University. https://healthcaremba.gwu.edu/blog/what-is-healthcare-marketing/

Hill, K. (2012, February 16). How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did.

Hong, Y. A., Liang, C., Radcliff, T. A., Wigfall, L. R., & Street, R. L. (2019). What Do Patients Say About Doctors Online? A Systematic Review of Studies on Patient Online Reviews. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 21(4), e12521. https://doi.org/10.2196/12521

Mercury Healthcare. (2021). What is Healthcare Marketing? https://www.mercuryhealthcare.com/faq/what-is-healthcare-marketing

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