How do you feel about your practice’s marketing efforts?
If you’re anything like a lot of established business owners, whether in healthcare or not, you’re probably feeling out of control and a little behind the times. You’ve probably seen a decent decline in the effectiveness of some of your tried-and-true marketing channels—radio, TV, yellow pages.
Before you boost your budgets, we need to talk about how the way consumers buy everything, even healthcare services from doctors and hospitals, is changing and what this means for your healthcare marketing.
The once ubiquitous yellow pages are a shadow of their former selves, and it’s no wonder when was the last time you reached for a copy? They are downright hard to come by these days; most never even get delivered. Don’t think radio and tv are immune either—according to a recent Omnicom Media Group study, 47% of people under about 50 years old fall into a group dubbed the unreachables. A segment of the population, who view their TV as just another screen for YouTube and other streaming services. They are never going to see your expensive ad in the middle of the prime time lineup because they don’t watch traditional TV.
Where does this leave us? It’s time to evolve the way we deliver and market healthcare to meet our patients where they are.
Healthcare marketing in 2018 is all about evolving these tried and true methods to meet the growing consumerization of healthcare and laying the groundwork for capitalizing on the latest developments in technologies like artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and live streaming video.
To help you boost your healthcare marketing efforts, we’ve prowled the web looking for 20 great tips from healthcare marketing rockstars. From using technology to better connect with your patients to leveraging the latest advancements in voice search, these tips will help your healthcare organization maximize marketing efforts.
Coping with the Consumerization of Healthcare
Dan Dillenbeck, Senior Director of Consumer Experience at Influence Health, on consumer conditioning:
“If there’s one major challenge that healthcare organizations face in the quest for a stellar patient experience, it’s consumer conditioning.
That’s because by the time someone begins the healthcare decision-making process, they’re not just a patient. They’ve been conditioned by years of interaction with retailers, financial institutions, and food service companies to expect a seamless experience that’s focused on their needs and expectations. Basically, by the time they get to your door, they’re conditioned to make choices, even healthcare choices, as consumers.”
Jason Brown, CEO & Chief Strategy Officer of Brown Parker & DeMarinis (BPD), on focusing on the customer experience:
“Healthcare is a uniquely personal industry, but it is also infamously opaque.4 Think about what Amazon stands for—more ease, convenience and speed without compromising quality. The Amazonian effect will force healthcare to become more consumer-centric. Walk through every moment of your customer experience and ask yourself, “What would Amazon do?” with each step – then beat them to the punch. Imagine what scheduling an appointment, talking to your pediatrician or getting your mammogram results could look like and work toward that enhanced customer experience.”
Todd Johnson, Chief Executive Officer at HealthLoop, Inc., on ‘digital empathy.’
“The sick and the injured need the attention of a physician, but the country is facing a physician shortage. People are waiting longer to see their physicians and their visits are getting shorter.
But there are solutions that keep empathy at the forefront. The solution involves technology but never as a replacement for human empathy. Rather, the technology amplifies and extends the empathy of the physician so that it can reach more patients and reach them more regularly than has ever been possible in the past.”
Clay Johnston Via Daniel Kraft, MD on the current state of the consumer experience in healthcare and how AI and technology can help improve outcomes:
“We have a better consumer experience at the DMV than in doctors office” @ClayDellMed with @MichaelDell “Healthcare tech will assist caregiver in creating better outcomes… human plus machine not machine minus human” #AI #MedEd #SXSW18 pic.twitter.com/S9PvDMJSyM
— Daniel Kraft, MD (@daniel_kraft) March 10, 2018
“The first rule of marketing, patient experience and delivering satisfaction is to deeply know and understand the audience. And, in many instances, it is audiences—plural. It’s vital to know exactly how the people you serve perceive you, your staff and the overall experience. The systems that you create to serve these needs must actually connect to and address the people and issues.”
The Medical Futurist on making sure your patients’ voices are heard:
“We must put patients in the center of care. This is an ongoing movement worldwide, but we are far from finishing the job. We have to invite patients and their organizations to every project from hospital advisory boards to conferences in order to let their voices heard. They are the most important elements in healthcare and today we design care without their participation. This must stop.”
Rob Pittroff, Regional Vice President of Patient Access at DocASAP, echoing Google’s simple truths of patient expectations:
Kyra Hagan, SVP, and GM of Marketing and Communications at Influence Health, on the importance of using consumer experience tools patients want:
“One consumer experience tool that is emerging as a solution for time-crunched consumers is digital self-scheduling — online tools to book appointments yourself, on your own time, for yourself or a family member. For healthcare systems that offer online self-scheduling, usage rates are high. However, most systems have not yet rolled out this tool. Only about 40% of the top 100 largest healthcare systems currently allow patients to schedule appointments online, according to a study by Accenture published in April 2017. Yet, according to the same Accenture report, 77% of patients said that the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online is important in their choice of healthcare provider.”
Connecting With Your Patients
Alice Epitropoulos, Board certified ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, on the role of social media in patient decisions:
What role does #socialmedia play in patient decisions?#healthcare #healthtech #healthtalk #HCIT #digitalhealth #mHealth #HIMSS #doctors20 #patientexperience #patientengagement #hcr #healthcareforall #healthcareIT #digitalpatient #digitaltransformation #telehealth #telemedicine pic.twitter.com/pcvAGzwBe2
— Alice Epitropoulos (@aepitrop) March 25, 2018
Marie Ennis-O’Connor, Director and Social Media Strategist at Health Care Social Media Monitor, on the key to compelling, viral content—telling a real story:
“Humans love stories and we love to share heart-warming stories. Effective stories inspire people by creating human connection and emotional resonance. In 2015, an article about a husband and wife celebrating 82 years of marriage, topped USA Today’s most shared content. Not only was the story uplifting and inspirational, it shared insights on reaching over 100 years of age (the couple describes a healthy diet and frequent naps as the secret to growing old).”
Rupen Patel, CEO of Influence Health, on powering healthcare marketing campaigns with a CRM:
“Wellness and screening initiatives: Social media is an ideal channel for wellness, screening and ‘pop health’ use cases. CRM can power these campaigns by helping an organization build targeted or look-alike audiences for platforms like Facebook. These campaigns can span anything from flu education and prevention, to targeted weight loss or tobacco cessation programs, to healthy eating and exercise.”
“Agility is the name of the game. Be nimble. Be agile. Be quick. Healthcare marketing needs to move from the tried and failed to the exceptional, the innovative, the engaged and the motivational. You can’t reach the healthcare consumer on an emotional level to make the right choices, treatment and lifestyle decisions as well as purchase decisions in your favor unless you are sufficiently engaged.”
Alex Mangrolia, Director of Marketing at PracticeBuilders, on the importance of mastering multichannel medical marketing:
“You must understand your target audience: You cannot expect potential patients to change their behavior. You must instead be attentive to their preferences and be willing to act across all channels to reach the target audience at the right time and place.
You must deliver right messages at the right time: Plenty of choices today mean your messages must be targeted and relevant to cut through the noise. Channel planning should be done considering the preferences of your target audiences so that the message is delivered accurately and reliably.”
Amanda Todorovich, Senior Director of content marketing at Cleveland Clinic, on multichannel dominance by using internal experts:
“ understand, they want to be a part of it. Some of them even come to us now proactively, with ideas.
Some of them have their own personal social media handles now in a much more meaningful way than they’ve ever had before. Doing things like a Facebook live Q&A are things that they want to do and they see the value. It’s been a journey, but I think the most important part of it has been that two-way communication the entire way.”
Artificial Intelligence and Voice Search are Poised to Positively Impact Healthcare
“No one doubts that artificial intelligence has unimaginable potential. Within the next couple of years, it will revolutionize every area of our life, including medicine…artificial intelligence will redesign it completely – and for the better. AI could help medical professionals in designing treatment plans and finding the best suited methods for every patient. It might assist repetitive, monotonous jobs, so physicians and nurses can concentrate on their actual jobs instead of e.g. fighting with the tread-wheel of bureaucracy. Mining medical records is the most obvious application of AI in medicine. Collecting, storing, normalizing, tracing its lineage – it is the first step in revolutionizing existing healthcare systems.”
Thomas Schulz, technology and healthcare expert, on how chatbots are already being used in healthcare:
“Chatbots are already working successfully in healthcare; mostly in doctor-patient communication where the chat delivers a first-level exchange in the sense of a preliminary talk. Another field where bots are helping out is in building digital communities where health experts exchange with patients about certain topics, and chatbots act as a welcome and help desk. Chatbots can also help to respond to frequently asked medical questions, where the chatbot delivers information from a peer reviewed server, 24/7 support.”
Jonathan Catley, Director of Sales and Marketing at MD Connect, Inc, on the importance of context for voice search:
“With voice search, context becomes even more important, as there are multiple ways of asking a question with the same underlying intent. “Cardiologist near me” could be phrased as “Find me a cardiologist” or “Who’s the best heart doctor in my town?” On their own, these questions are nonspecific, but users expect that their phones or home assistants like Amazon Alexa will understand context and fill in the gaps.
So, how do medical practices ensure that they’re optimizing for context? FAQ pages — what many voice SEO guides recommend — are an easy (and ineffective) way out. Instead, create a map of a potential patient’s journey to your site, considering their intent, how they might formulate a question, and which results will be helpful to them.”
Joel Headley, Director of Local SEO and Marketing at PatientPop, on enhancing your web results with Google’s rich snippets:
“Rich results are more eye-catching than results without rich snippets. Therefore, you might think prospective patients will click links with rich snippets more often.
You’d be right. Multiple studies have shown that rich snippets can increase click through rate (CTR) by 30%. PatientPop studies, which use data from Google’s Search Console, have shown even higher CTR. Additionally, we’ve seen URLs that received zero clicks prior to rich snippets get their first interactions after stars related to patient reviews appeared.
Although structured data markup does not impact search rankings, rich snippets can help grab attention, drive more prospective patients to your website, and result in more appointments.”
Healthcare Marketing Via Video
Marie Ennis-O’Connor, Director and Social Media Strategist at Health Care Social Media Monitor, on live video’s continued dominance:
“Live streaming video will continue to dominate and capture attention in 2018. Buffer’s 2018 State of Social Report offers insights into how 60% of social media marketers publishing live video events reported success with this strategy. 80% of users said they’d rather watch a live video than read a blog post, while according to Facebook, people are spending 3 times longer watching live content than prerecorded videos. Thanks to the rise of Facebook Live, Twitter Live, and Instagram Stories’ “Live” mode you now not only have the ability to communicate with your audience via social media, you can also do so in real time.”
Stephanie Daigle, Senior Digital Analyst at Influence Health, on the importance of thinking big and being thorough when considering your video marketing initiatives:
“Think big — Video content factors into a variety of potential real-time and on-demand use cases, including clinical care (such as live streaming or recording of grand rounds and sharing of advanced techniques), continuing medical education or training, patient education (e.g., available care options and insurance information), and organizational messaging. Identify the thought leaders in your organization who are most likely to apply and share the technology, and who can help it go viral, recommends Alan Greenberg, senior analyst at Wainhouse Research.”
Annie Zelm, Content Manager at Kuno Creative, on defining your ‘why’ to keep ‘humpty dumpty’ out of your video marketing strategy:
“In the famous words of author and marketing consultant Simon Sinek:
‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.’
To arrive at that truth, healthcare organizations need to take a step back and start with what they’re trying to achieve on a larger scale. As Sinek says, most organizations can articulate what they do pretty well. They also may be able to explain how they do it. But the most successful ones have a well-established message around why they’re in business, and they communicate it clearly and consistently.”
Creating Amazing Content to Educate
22. Jonathan Govette, CEO of ReferralMD, on the importance of teaching not selling.
“Becoming an authority on a subject is all about educating the market on a subject matter by creating highly engaging long-form content, 3000 to 10,000-word articles. I write about healthcare technology, marketing guides, healthcare policy, and education (how to improve our staff’s lives while at work). By creating weekly content articles that are mini-books in themselves, we not only help our readers, but we are liked by the major search engines like Google. They tend to place us at the top of the list, helping us rank #1 globally for all our key search terms. We get the word out to everyone about who we are, educate people in the process; without spending a dime for marketing.”
Many people ask, will people even read long-form content that is 3000 words or greater as described by Niel Patel, the answer is a resounding yes!. Not only do readers come back regularly, but they share the content much more than a short 500-word article that has no usefulness or detail. Here is a very detailed guide on the subject via Quicksprout.com.
If we were pushed to summarize these 22 tips into a single overarching piece of advice for your healthcare marketing, we’d point to the basic tenet present throughout all 20—understand what your patients want and deliver it to them where they are and how they like it.
No matter where your marketing initiatives take you in 2018 and beyond—whether digital or analog—meeting your patients where they are and giving them something they find valuable will enable you to successfully market your practice by showing your patients you value them and allowing them to connect with you as a provider. As healthcare providers more generally turn toward more patient-centric models of providing care, so too must healthcare marketers begin to turn toward more patient-centric marketing.