What is Healthcare Marketing?
Healthcare marketing is the link that enables patients in need of information, products, and services to connect with your practice organically.
While healthcare marketing is undoubtedly one of the most challenging marketing industries, here are some strategies that will help you steadily grow your clinic and strengthen your brand.
Healthcare Marketing Strategies
Patients are actively seeking medical information across the web, and it’s no longer enough to have just a website. Instead, healthcare providers should think about adopting an omnichannel marketing approach that will enable stronger brand awareness and more prospect touchpoints. Here are a few strategies you can leverage to create a predictable lead flow.
The first and perhaps most important aspect of a healthcare marketing strategy is customer research. This is typically one of the most overlooked aspects of marketing, though it is also the most important. While a doctor may know exactly what kinds of words patients use to describe an illness, there is often a disconnect between the marketing department and the doctor.
Therefore, before creating any marketing message, sit down with the doctor to understand precisely what pain points your patients experience and the words they use to describe the pain.
For example, if you’re about to launch several campaigns for a plastic surgery procedure, here are a few questions that you should ask the doctor or whoever interacts with patients one on one:
Notice that armed with this information, the campaign (regardless of the channel) will be much more effective than merely guessing.
For example, you may think that most people coming in for a facelift procedure are middle-aged women, though the ideal customer may actually be male executives that want to appear more friendly at conferences and business meetings.
Notice that if your messaging focused on how a facelift procedure can make a woman look younger and more attractive, it would not have resonated with the real target audience.
Therefore, regardless of the marketing channel you intend to tackle, always start with customer research.
The first marketing channel that any physical clinic should begin with is local SEO. Local SEO is the foundation of any marketing strategy, as this is how prospective patients will find your website in search engines like Google.
In other words, if you run any other digital marketing campaigns, but people can’t find your company when they search your name in Google, it’s unlikely those campaigns will materialize into ROI.
In addition, search drives three times as many visitors to hospital providers’ websites compared to non-search methods, making search engines the most popular way to find healthcare providers.
The map pack is the staple of local SEO and looks like this in search results:
As you can see, it’s essential to have this show up when people search your clinic’s name.
The first step to achieving this card is to create a Google My Business listing. Once you’ve created the listing, you’ll receive a verification code to your clinic’s physical address within 3 to 5 days.
At this point, it’s also essential to have Google Analytics installed as you’ll need it later on in the process.
Once your business is verified, fill out the requested information and add photos of your business. Note that it’s important to add images of the inside and outside of the building when adding photos, though it shouldn’t include any images that aren’t of the location itself. For example, don’t upload an image of your logo here.
The next step in local SEO is to add citations.
A citation is essentially your business listing in online directories like Yelp.
Citations are valuable because they not only increase your brand awareness but also enable a link back to your website. The more quality backlinks you achieve, the more likely you are to rank for high purchase intent local keywords like “rhinoplasty near me” or “addiction treatment in Los Angeles.”
While backlinks are certainly not the only factor search engines like Google take into account when ranking websites, they are an important part of healthcare marketing.
Therefore the more quality citations you have = the more likely you are to rank.
Note that you should only add your website to quality directories, as adding them to shady ones can actually harm your rankings.
Another important consideration when creating citations is that your NAP (name, address, phone) and other information should be consistent across all of your citations and Google My Business listing.
You can use a tool like WhiteSpark or BrightLocal to find more citations like Yelp and track citations your competitors have that you don’t have.
In addition to all of these local ranking hacks, it’s also essential to have basic SEO in order.
While I’d recommend reading this guide to SEO for a thorough explanation of many other key ranking factors, here are a few essential items to ensure your website is structurally sound:
- Mobile Friendly
- Fast Load Speed
- All pages are accessible to crawlers
About 52% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices, so you must have a mobile-friendly website. In addition, Google now practices mobile-first indexing, which means that they rank websites in their search results based on their mobile website, not their desktop website.
You can check if your website is mobile-friendly either by accessing it on a mobile device or using Google’s mobile-friendly test (though this is only for a single web page, not an entire website).
If you want a faster way to check your entire website for mobile usability, you can log in to Google Search Console (which you should have set up. If you don’t, read this guide to set it up now).
From inside Search Console, click on the “Mobile Usability” tab, and it will show you if you have any URLs with errors.
Load time is another essential SEO factor, in part because Google has named it a ranking factor, and also because it dramatically impacts bounce rate. One study showed that pages that load within two seconds have a bounce rate of 9%, though pages that take five seconds to load have a bounce rate of 38%.
You can check your load time with Pagespeed Insights, and be sure to check both the mobile and desktop versions. You can also check your page speed for both mobile and desktop in Google Search Console under the “Core Web Vitals” tab.
Finally, it’s essential that Google can crawl all of the pages on your website. If a page can’t be crawled by Google’s bots, it won’t exist in Google’s index, and will therefore never exist in the SERPs.
There are plenty of other aspects to SEO, but without these three fundamental items, it won’t matter how great your campaigns are, as the user will likely bounce or have trouble finding these pages.
Once you have your local SEO in place, it’s important to think about reputation management.
Reputation management is vital to every business, though it is essential to healthcare facilities as there is nothing more valuable than your health.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that 90% of healthcare patients read online reviews before selecting a provider.
In addition, the bar is high for healthcare providers as the majority of patients look at the volume of reviews to judge your legitimacy and then only read one to six reviews before forming an opinion about your product or service. Therefore, just one bad review can severely damage your brand image and reduce leads.
The best place to start is to contact the people that have left poor reviews and see what the company can do to resolve the situation and ultimately change the bad review.
It’s also a good idea to respond to the negative review online as people want to see how you handle situations.
Here’s a great response to a negative review.
Another way you can solve the issue of poor reviews is to generate more positive reviews. After all, would you prefer to book a consultation with someone with 425 reviews (even if they aren’t perfect) or someone with zero reviews?
Probably the one with 425 reviews.
While it’s illegal to offer bribes (discounts, etc.) in exchange for positive reviews, you can make it easier for customers to leave a review.
When they are in your clinic, ask them to leave a review online, and tell them exactly how to do it. Make it easy to leave a review.
For example, this clinic does a great job of taking the friction out of the review process. They have a dedicated page to leave a review…
…and the page itself makes it simple and easy to do so.
You can also include a follow-up email with a link to leave a review.
In fact, offering a computer monitor in the office with a page open to reviews and showing it to people will drastically increase reviews.
For the most part, this is really all you have to do for reputation management. If you already have numerous poor reviews, you may consider reevaluating your services and working with a reputation management company to improve the experience and make up for the negative online reviews.
The only other instance where reputation management comes into play is if you have negative fake reviews from the competition. If you identify suspicious reviews, check them against this chart:
If this graphic confirms your suspicions that the reviews are fake, here are some steps you can take to mitigate damage.
First, you can respond to the negative review and politely state that you’ve never had this person as a patient. For example:
This way, the audience can tell that this is likely a fake review.
You can also report the review by clicking on the flag button…
…and then answering with the violation.
Note that you are only allowed to flag a review if it is fake. If a customer left a legitimate negative review, you can’t flag it.
Once you have your local SEO in place and some reviews (or at least a strategy to generate positive reviews), it’s time to drive people to the website.
One of the most effective ways to do that for your healthcare company is to leverage content marketing. Content marketing generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing and is 62% cheaper. In addition, it will massively improve your SEO efforts as content marketing allows your website to rank for key terms that relevant prospects are searching like “(type of clinic) near me” or “(procedure) price.”
Finally, unlike paid ads, it will continue to drive results with very little maintenance and zero additional investment.
For example, a post you paid $400 to publish a year ago will continue to drive customers today and into the future with little additional marketing spend.
The screenshot below is of a blog post that has consistently grown organically over the past year with little maintenance.
In fact, as you build an arsenal of quality content and improve your domain authority (how authoritative search engines see your website), Google will begin to reward all of your other content and rank them higher as well.
So how should you start doing content marketing?
The first and most important thing to do is to start with the answers from the customer research you did earlier. If you need a refresher, here they are:
Once you have these questions, create a page that describes each procedure in depth. For example, if you offer inpatient addiction treatment, you might have a page with an outline like this:
From there, you can create blog posts around addiction treatment. If you begin creating content simply off of what your think your customers want, you stand to lose all of your content marketing spend.
For example, you might find that people that are about to pull out their credit card and select an addiction treatment center are actually loved ones caring for an addict. In this case, posts like these would attract their attention to your brand:
- How Can I Convince a Loved One to Try Rehab
- What Options Do I Have if a Loved One Already Failed Rehab?
- Research: Survey of 100 Addiction Survivors on How They Wished Someone Helped Them
- (Case Study) How John Smith Helped His Reluctant Son Conquer Rehab
- A Doctor’s Response to The Top 10 Excuses Not to Attend Rehab (Including Withdrawal Fears)
Obviously, these blog posts are exactly the kind of topics that would pique the interest of a friend or family member struggling with a loved one’s addiction. However, note that these ideas were a guess, and it’s always best to do your customer research first.
In addition, Google cares a lot about the credibility of the content produced, particularly the content from healthcare companies. Therefore, try to have doctors or medical professionals write the content. If this isn’t possible, have a freelance writer interview them and then write the article based on the interview. You can then have the doctor or medical professional fact check the article and post it as their work.
The Levels blog is an ideal case study of this. They recently started publishing content written by their medical staff, and it is performing incredibly well. As a result, their traffic skyrocketed from basically zero to nearly 10,000 monthly unique visitors in the past year.
You can tell just by glancing at their content that it is wildly more effective than typical surface level “how-to” content.
Instead, this is very specific content written by authoritative medical professionals targeting a particular audience. They also include stories (How Amanda Bloom Used Glucose Monitoring…) to provide content that resonates with their target audience.
The key to content marketing in the healthcare space is to realize that you won’t see immediate results. Therefore, if you need immediate results, you may want to consider running PPC ads to your website for the first several months while you’re building your content, and then once your content is working, you’ll be able to turn it off.
Social Media Marketing
There are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide.
Rather than trying to capture attention, try joining platforms where the attention already exists.
Once you do build a social media account, there are a variety of ways you can leverage it to engage your audience.
One way to do this is to have your medical professionals go live and answer customer questions on the air.
This gives patients a one on one experience with your doctors, which will allow a relationship to develop and ultimately increase consultation bookings.
A great marketing example of a healthcare company that does this very well is Connect Hearing. They did several live conversations during the first lockdown and basically would answer any questions that listeners had.
Sometimes they have a guided topic, like Tinnitus, and other times it’s simply an open Q&A.
Another great way to engage your community is to share success stories. This works particularly well for treatment facilities or any other clinics that offer results people enjoy sharing.
Finally, if you’re running out of social campaign ideas, you can also sit down and interview one of the alumni from your program. Ask them to share their story, how they felt going into recovery, how they got past the first several bumps, and how they plan to move forward with their recovery.
As someone that is considering recovery, this would be an incredibly powerful speech and would make them much more likely to pick up the phone and call your facility after seeing that they can have the same happy ending.
Social media can also be used to promote your blog posts, though it shouldn’t be as simple as slapping a link to your most recent blog post every week. Instead, take some time to thoughtfully approach why your blog post is interesting.
Here is an example of how to pique the right audience’s interest rather than just posting your link.
Notice that it actually provides a story of something impressive before dropping the link? This is the best way to capture reader’s attention in an authentic way. You can do this on your own social media channel or in other online communities, such as Facebook groups.
Finally, if you need immediate traction, paid ads are one of the best ways to achieve that. Whether you are on Google or Facebook, you can drive people directly to your website.
One of the most important aspects of succeeding with paid advertising is to send your prospects to the right pages.
For example, if you send them to a sales page, but your purchase cycle is usually about a month long, it likely won’t convert very well.
Therefore, it might be more valuable to send them to a piece of content rather than sending them to a landing page. For example, you might consider testing these two ads:
You can read more about how to set up an adwords campaign and find keywords to bid on, but be sure to have Google Analytics installed and track what’s working and what isn’t working.
If you choose to run Facebook ads, you can use a free tool like Facebook Ad Library to look up your competitor’s ads and discover which ones are working by analyzing the tests they’ve run and which ads have run the longest.
From there, you can develop your own ads and improve them.
Healthcare is one of the most challenging industries with numerous high-budget competitors and a market demand for painstakingly accurate information.
Nevertheless, these marketing tips and strategies will be more than enough to help you achieve long term growth that will continue to compound year over year for your healthcare business.