Healthcare Branding: What it is and Execution Strategies

healthcare branding strategies

If your goal is to build a sustainable business that isn’t dependent on one particular marketing channel, you have to build a strong brand.

Your brand is how your customers perceive the value of the company. 

This is very powerful as businesses with strong brands have loyal customers who refer them often and purchase repeatedly. 

Therefore, even if Facebook bans you or Google dumps your organic rankings, you’ll still continue to generate revenue as you have a loyal customer base that will continue to buy from you. Not only will they continue to buy from you, but Google and other search engines will also see that customers love and trust your company, and therefore, it won’t be long before you’re ranking again.

So how can you build a strong brand? We’ll discuss how to build a strong healthcare brand and several execution strategies below.

Table of Contents

Building a Brand

First, it’s important to realize that building a brand takes time – even years of consistency. So if you don’t think you or your team has the time to devote towards proper branding for your healthcare company, or you feel that you need additional guidance, you may consider bringing on a marketing partner

If you’re ready to do this yourself, here are some tips for healthcare branding that will last for years.

Create a Patient Centric Experience

If you revisit how I define a brand earlier in this post, it’s all about how a patient views a company. Therefore, it only makes sense that the first step to building a brand is understanding how your patients currently view your brand. Then identifying how you can improve that opinion.

Start by reading your reviews and surveying patients. This will help you understand where you’re at now. For example, if you have many patients complaining about your billing process or they want an easier way to schedule online, how can you make that happen? 

Or, if you have long wait times, can you take fewer patients and make your clinic more exclusive? 

Unfortunately, building a brand requires long-term thinking and short-term sacrifices. In fact, it could mean that you don’t hit numbers this month. However, by sacrificing short-term revenue gains, you stand to make a lot more money in the long term.

Amazon is an excellent example of this. Their one and two-day shipping policy cost them a lot in the beginning, though it paid off in the long run. 

Are there any issues you are avoiding because they would cause a short-term loss? If so, bring them up with the team and think about your long-term play.

Create a Marketing Engine

Now that you are executing a game plan to fix these issues and elevate your customer experience, scaling your healthcare branding requires a strong marketing engine.

So how do you build a strong marketing engine?

If you want to implement a marketing strategy yourself, we’ll discuss (in great detail) how we recommend planning and executing a strategy.

If you prefer a done-for-you solution to your healthcare branding, you can also hire a marketing partner.

SEO

The first step to any marketing strategy should be optimizing your website for search engines. There are plenty of other strategies you could execute first. However, none of them will create compounding growth if your website isn’t properly optimized. 

Sure, you may have visitors that find you through PPC or email marketing. However, they will likely bounce if your website isn’t user-friendly. In fact, even if your website is user-friendly but lacks content or detailed services pages, each dollar you invest in other marketing channels won’t go as far.

Therefore, assuming you don’t have any major technical errors in Google Search Console, we recommend starting with this checklist:

  1. Analyze your site architecture
  2. Build out your services pages
  3. Build quality links to those key pages
  4. Create a blog, post quality content regularly, and internally link

While this may seem oversimplified, it’s really the 20% of work that will ultimately bring you 20% of your results. Let’s dive into each one in a little more detail.

Analyze Your Site Architecture

Your user should be able to get to each page on your website in three clicks or less. Ideally, if it’s a key page (such as a services page), they should be able to access it in just one click.

For example, this website has excellent architecture. While they have many pages, it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for just by viewing the menu.

good website architecture for healthcare branding

So in short, your website’s architecture should look like this:

well optimized site architecture

Source

Rather than this:

poor website architecture

Source

This also applies to your content. For example, creating topic clusters (chaptered guides around a particular topic) is a great way to rank for difficult head terms.  

Brian Dean of Backlinko did an excellent job of creating a topic cluster for all of his content on technical SEO here:

healthcare branding technical seo

Build Out Your Services Pages

Once your website is set up in a way that makes sense to both the user and Google, build out your main services pages. 

These pages are most valuable to your business as they drive conversions. Therefore, if you don’t optimize them, you’re not only putting yourself at a disadvantage to rank on Google for people searching that service, but any paid campaigns you run to those pages likely won’t convert as well.

Therefore, comb through potential patient calls and look at the most commonly asked questions for each of those services. If you don’t already answer those questions on the page, add them to it!

For example, this page ranks very well for the term “couples addiction treatment.” When you look at the page, it answers almost every question you could have about couples addiction treatment, from techniques used in rehab to signs that it might be a good idea.

healthcare branding seo

I might argue that they could build it out even more with (anonymized) patient stories and additional FAQs, though it’s certainly a good start.

Build Quality Links to Those Key Pages

Once you have optimized your key pages, build links to them! While there has been a lot of debate around the future of link building and its importance, it is still a key measure Google uses to determine the authority of your page. 

The number of links pointing towards your page may not matter as much. However, a few high-quality links will still positively impact your rankings.

So how can you generate a few high-quality links?

One way is to be active in your community and work with partners. For example, if you donate to a local charity or event, ask them to provide a link back to that services page. You could also be a resource for an educational institution. This can include a school or college for example. This will help provide you with more high-quality links.

This is how Google intended link building to work. Essentially, the most trusted brand within the community should rank. So, rather than trying to manipulate Google’s system, just think about building your healthcare branding and ask everyone you create a genuine partnership with to send a link.

Other link-building tactics can work, though my favorite is guest posting. Here, you can create a genuine relationship with that website.

Another method is to scan through all of the websites linking to your competitor’s service pages. Then you can reach out to them for a link as well.

To do this, just log in to Ahrefs, enter the competitor’s service page URL, and look at the websites linking to them. 

healthcare branding link building

Create a Blog, Post Quality Content Regularly, and Internally Link

Finally, post quality content regularly. 

While this may sound like an insignificant aspect, it’s really the bulk of your SEO strategy as people only come to your website if you have content that answers the questions they type into Google. 

In fact, this was recently one of the hot topics among SEOs on Linkedin:

healthcare branding content

However, the biggest question is: What should you write about?

Ideally, write about topics your potential customers are searching. For example, if you’re an addiction center, writing about a celebrity with addiction will likely generate a lot of traffic, though it won’t generate any relevant traffic. 

Most people Googling about that celebrity’s addiction are probably just fans of that celebrity rather than people struggling with addiction themselves. 

Similarly, writing posts about which drugs are most addictive, or the current opioid crisis likely won’t generate qualified traffic. These people are likely just curious rather than those with a current addiction problem.

Instead, create content for keywords like:

  • How effective is addiction recovery?
  • How to help an addicted loved one
  • Most effective addiction treatments

Notice that people searching for these terms are much more likely to make a purchase?

If you’re having trouble generating ideal keyword topics, ask your sales team what questions patients commonly ask or the most common qualifiers (for example, couples, women, or men). 

Once you have an excellent topic, be sure to address it fully. For example, Google that keyword and look at the top-ranking results. If they are addressing more points within their content than you are, you probably won’t be able to rank. This is true even if you have more links.

While you won’t see your SEO strategy produce results overnight, it is an excellent place to start. The results will compound over time and make your other campaigns more effective.

PPC

Now that you have an excellent baseline to build your healthcare marketing and branding strategy, use PPC (Twitter ads, Facebook ads, or Google ads) to start generating some immediate results. 

Typically, most websites begin with conversion-focused keywords to generate the biggest ROI in the shortest amount of time. However, if you already have a steady patient stream and your main goal is to generate brand awareness, you may want to run ads to your content. 

Not only is it typically cheaper to run ads to your content, but it is also a great way to get them acquainted with your healthcare branding and build trust to eventually soft sell them. 

Here’s an excellent example of a PPC campaign focused on generating brand awareness:

healthcare branding ppc

Rather than immediately selling the visitor, this campaign builds trust with someone at the beginning of their journey. Therefore, when they decide to look for a treatment provider, they will already know the brand and be more likely to schedule a consultation with them. 

Email Marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most powerful and often undervalued marketing channels available.

People on your email list already know about your brand and have a pain point around your solution. Therefore, they are qualified and interested.

In addition, email marketing is very cheap, with some estimates stating that the ROI is up to $42 per dollar invested.

However, most healthcare brands aren’t leveraging this form of branding effectively. Rather than just sending generic news about new physicians or events, make an effort to connect with your audience and understand their pain points genuinely. 

While I couldn’t find any great examples of this in the healthcare industry, there are plenty of examples in other industries. 

For example, Ramit Sethi’s emails drive most of his sales and effectively carry his entire brand. When you look at his emails, you can see why it’s so easy to become sucked into them. They are written in a personal manner, and he has a deep understanding of his audience’s pain points. Add in a hint of entertainment, and it’s easy to see why they are so addicting:

email marketing example for healthcare branding

Connect With Patients Through Email

Though the healthcare industry is different, is there a way to connect with your patients on a deeper level through email? Building a strong brand is all about creating something that people feel connected to. So, how can you better resonate with your audience?

That may be sharing patient stories or informative (yet entertaining) interviews with doctors.

While it may take some time to find the right format that resonates with your audience, track your subscribe rate, bounce rate, and click-through rate. Ideally, you want an open rate of 15-25%. However,  if you make them more personalized, you can probably get an even higher open rate.

Your click-through rate will depend largely on your offer and how warm the audience is, so be careful not to sell too much in each email. A good cadence is roughly one sell for every 3-4 emails.

If your emails still aren’t doing well, you can always ask a professional email copywriter to look at them for you.

Social Media

A strong social media presence is synonymous with a strong brand these days. If you look at parallel industries, plenty of Instagrammers and YouTubers have built their companies the other way around. 

Rather than establishing a company and then building a following and promoting it to social media, they focused on creating amazing content, building a following, and then creating a product/service. 

This is the same approach that healthcare brands should take towards social media marketing and overall branding. Rather than thinking about how you can sell your product or service on social media, think about what your target audience would love to see on social media.

In general, people on social media love to see personal stories or epic photos/videos. This is very different from a search engine like Google, where the searcher is actively looking for answers to a specific question and wants to be educated. 

So what are some examples of entertaining or inspiring posts that people love to read on social media?

Here’s an excellent example of a captivating patient story that generates brand awareness within the healthcare industry and makes patients reassured that they are working with the very best of the best. With 80 shares and nearly 40 comments, it is certainly generating brand awareness for this hospital.

social media healthcare branding

This is particularly interesting to those with Cystic Fibrosis and will likely help the hospital generate many more patients with that condition.

While you may not have the budget to create a professional video starring your patients, you can still write captivating stories like this and include a photo of the patient.

Monitor and Test

Your marketing engine is up and running, and patients love the customer experience. 

Now the challenge is to monitor your growth and ensure that you can handle the influx of patients. Therefore, actively watch your reviews and notice if any other complaints crop up. You should also keep an open line of communication with receptionists and doctors as they will be the first to hear patient complaints.

If you hear that the demand is too much for doctors and nurses, limit the patients you accept to maintain high quality. The most important aspect of building a brand is satisfying your patients, so make that a priority in the business.

In addition to monitoring patient happiness, monitor your analytics weekly. Are the changes causing engagement to increase or decrease? Are you bringing more qualified patients or fewer? How do your patients view your brand? You can do sentiment analysis with a feedback tool like Qwary for this.

Improving your healthcare branding requires tests, though not every test will be better than the last one. However, if you watch your analytics weekly, you’ll find that over time, your tests continue to elevate your brand’s status and hopefully grow the brand to be an industry leader.

Examples of Strong Branding in Healthcare

Executing the strategies above will have you well on your way to building a strong brand, though I also wanted to leave you with a few examples of strong brands in the healthcare space.

Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic truly understands what it means to be a brand. Whenever you search for something health related, you probably see their articles in the search results, click on them, and feel confident that you are reading accurate medical information.

This is because they have established an omnipresent brand that has consistently produced accurate information for many years. There really isn’t anything special about what they have done other than maintaining unwavering consistency with their messaging and brand image. 

Even if you don’t have the bandwidth write content for every healthcare topic under the sun, think about how you can be omnipresent and create content for every condition your treat. 

New York Presbyterian

The New York-Presbyterian hospital has a similarly strong brand like the Mayo Clinic. However, rather than building their presence through SEO, they’ve leveraged social media to share captivating stories that patients and other followers are happy to share.

These stories are not only emotional and noteworthy, but they also subtly show off the expertise of the New York-Presbyterian hospital’s talented staff.

strong brands in healthcare example

Fortunately, you don’t have to have thousands of dollars to create social posts like this. Instead, ask doctors what some of the most heartwarming stories they have come across are. Then write patient stories with a simple image (which they can submit). If you have a little more money to invest, you can also create a video of the story.

7 Summit Pathways

Even though there are ways to duplicate what NYP and Mayo Clinic are doing on a smaller scale, you may want a more niche brand to emulate. Therefore, 7 Summit Pathways is an excellent example. 

They rank for plenty of important purchase intent keywords and are a leader in the addiction treatment industry.

In fact, they earn about 15,000 visitors to their site monthly and own over 16,000 keywords. 

high ranking addiction treatment center

They also have excellent reviews. This isn’t always common as addiction treatment isn’t always successful. They are clearly delivering a wonderful patient experience.

healthcare branding quality reviews

Therefore, if you are a small brand, emulate 7 Summit Pathways by consistently producing high-quality content in your niche. Also provide the best patient experience possible.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t have the capacity to consistently produce content and promote your message, consider hiring an agency. Find the right agency that is experienced in healthcare branding and can automate these tasks for you.

Stodzy Internet Marketing has helped some of the largest recovery centers and other healthcare companies improve their brand presence and become recognized as international leaders. 

Contact us today for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help improve your brand presence.

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