In a year where a global pandemic is increasing the need for quality health information and the demand for tele-health has skyrocketed, the industry of healthcare marketing has seen many different shifts in the way users search for information and in the way Google displays that information. While people are demanding better access to healthcare and accurate information, search engines are also looking to meet that demand by providing users with vetted, reliable sources.
At the same time, there is hefty competition in the healthcare space, and if you want to keep up with the competition, you must stay up to date with the latest healthcare marketing trends. If you insist on using last year’s marketing techniques, the chances that your business will continue to grow are slim. As a result, it’s important to constantly evolve and adapt your healthcare marketing strategy to match consumer behaviors.
Here are 7 healthcare marketing trends in 2020 that your practice should be taking advantage of.
1. Content Marketing Has Gone Beyond Blog Posts
If you’re like many other people, you’ve turned to the internet to search for a possible answer to some symptoms you were experiencing. While the internet is no replacement for medical advice, this is often where people start before they visit a doctor. Healthcare providers who want to increase their online traffic and reach more potential patients must develop high-quality, SEO-friendly content that answers the medical questions that patients are searching for.
Traditionally, content has come in the form of blog posts. However, content marketing for healthcare companies in 2020 involve more than simply posting one blog each week. In fact, content can come in several different forms.
In addition to written content, many healthcare marketers are now providing content in the form of educational videos, patient testimonials, interactive forums, and even personalized tools and applications. If you’re looking to connect with more potential patients online and change up your content, you should consider thinking beyond blog posts.
Using Video to Promote Your Practice
If you’re not using videos to promote your healthcare practice in 2020, you’re missing out on a major method of user engagement. It’s easy to put a lot of time and energy into optimizing a 2,000-word blog post, however, many people enjoy watching videos rather than reading long articles. In fact, HubSpot reports that more than 50% of consumers want to see videos more than any other type of content. And, landing pages that have videos can increase conversion rates by more than 80%.
Videos have revolutionized how healthcare providers connect with and convert users into patients. After all, when choosing a healthcare provider, people want someone they can trust. Videos can help increase your credibility by giving you the opportunity to tell a story, connect with users on an empathetic and personal level, and educate users about their treatment options in terms that they can easily understand. Videos that are engaging, concise, and relevant to your audience can help catch user’s attention, keep them on your page, and establish you and your team as a trusted medical resource.
2. Search Engines Have Gotten Smarter – And Your Content Intent Matters
Google and other search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. However, some algorithm updates are bigger and have a wider impact than others. If you’re a healthcare provider, the biggest algorithm update in the last five years that you need to know about is referred to as BERT, or Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. BERT rolled out in October 2019 and impacted nearly 10% of all search queries.
According to Google’s official statement on BERT:
“These improvements are oriented around improving language understanding particularly for more natural language/conversational queries, as BERT is able to help Search better understand the nuance and context of words in Searches and better match those queries with helpful results.
Particularly for longer, more conversational queries, or searches where prepositions like “for” and “to” matter a lot to the meaning. Search will be able to understand the context of the words in your query. You can search in a way that feels natural to you.”
Essentially, Google’s algorithm is a constantly evolving machine that is trying to understand how humans talk and keep up with the latest trends in the world. Although this isn’t an easy task for a machine, BERT made it so that the search engine could better understand long-tail keyword search queries depending on the context the words are used in.
The underlying message that healthcare marketers should understand from the BERT update is that the quality and intent of content matters a great deal. Google isn’t just focused on keyword density and technical SEO – it is focused on providing users with the most accurate search results possible. That’s why you should always keep in mind your target audience when creating content. Consider what questions they are searching for, what words they are using to search for it, and what unique solutions you can offer.
When you tailor your healthcare content marketing strategy to the needs and searches of your users, you’re on the right track.
3. Zero-Click Searches Have Continued to Increase
The introduction of Featured Snippets and the Google Knowledge Graph has changed the landscape of Google search results. Oftentimes, users turn to Google to search for answers to their questions. If their question is one that is frequently asked, the search results may automatically populate Featured Snippets or the Google Knowledge Graph to eliminate the user’s need to click on a website and search for information.
In this example, if a user is simply wondering whether or not it is time to schedule their routine teeth cleaning, they are able to find the answer to their question without clicking on any of the search results.
Although some industries are hit harder than others by zero-click searches, the effects of this on the healthcare industry are minimal. Plus, there are endless unique medical questions out there that people are searching for the answers to, so there are a lot of opportunities to create targeted content and even earn a Featured Snippet for yourself.
Even though Google’s Featured Snippets are known to reduce click-through-rates, they are extremely valuable in terms of SEO. If you can manage to claim the top spot to a question, you’ll see more traffic coming into your website. Furthermore, you can use snippets to encourage searchers to look up additional information or search for additional information. For example, if someone is searching for symptoms, you can provide them with the answer to their symptoms, then guide them to their possible solutions.
Lastly, all healthcare providers should claim their Google Knowledge Panel. Doing so allows providers to become the owners and editors of their results that show within the panel. This way, you ensure that your audience sees the best and most accurate information about your business. This eliminates the need for users to visit your website as they will be able to call you or schedule an appointment directly through Google.
4. Healthcare Consumers are Searching for Trusted and Reliable Sources
Google is the first place many people turn, whether they are starting to experience strange symptoms or are looking for a specific type of doctor or practice. However, other people turn straight to established medical resources, such as WebMD, HealthGrades, GoodTherapy, or Psychology Today.
Each of these websites has proven its credibility among both search engines and healthcare consumers alike. As a result, if you want to keep up with the latest healthcare marketing trends in 2020, you will want to make sure your public profiles are filled out on any and all applicable websites.
Many of these websites will allow doctors and healthcare professionals to create enhanced profiles that help them stand out or promote their practices through direct advertisements. If you fail to complete all of your online profiles, you’ll miss out on opportunities to reach patients who are searching for medical providers using these search engines. Absent profiles may also negatively impact a prospective patient’s perception of your practice.
Here is an example of a search result for family medicine providers on Healthgrades.com.
As you can see, prospective patients can see basic information such as the doctor’s location and phone number, and they can also click on the profile to see even more details. However, the one thing that all of the top listings have in common is positive reviews.
Making Your Online Reputation a Priority
Google, other search engines like Bing, social media networks, and online directories are all sources in which people may find solutions to their healthcare needs. Before choosing a medical provider, most people will look to customer reviews or ask family and friends for referrals. In 2020, people trust online reviews just as much as they do word-of-mouth recommendations, which is why all healthcare providers should make their review strategy a priority.
Negative reviews may discourage people from choosing you as their medical provider, and enough of them can be detrimental to your practice as a whole. Of course, getting positive reviews starts with forward-thinking practitioners who are constantly looking to enhance the patient experience. At the same time, negative reviews can also come from the look of your office, the warmth of your administrative staff, and your wait times. But, if you make the patient experience come first, the 5-star reviews will fall into place.
There are many ways to get reviews in 2020, ranging from sending a follow-up email after an appointment or reaching out to a patient directly about their experience. Reviews are powerful and have a massive impact on the way people perceive and make decisions about your practice. As a result, it is necessary for healthcare providers to develop a strategy to obtain new reviews, respond to all reviews, and address negative reviews when they occur.
5. Healthcare Providers are Using Social Media to Stand Out
More healthcare marketing trends that doctors and healthcare professionals are using in 2020 is social media. Statistica reports that approximately 3.6 billion people worldwide use social media and this number is expected to increase to 4.41 billion by 2025. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and, more recently, TikTok, are powerful tools where information can be spread far and wide in just minutes.
Sadly, the number of inaccurate medical claims circulating on social media is higher than ever before. Between celebrities and influences making non-medical claims to false COVID-19 treatments and speculations, it’s hard to find vetted medical information on social platforms.
As a healthcare professional, you are in a unique position to combat misinformation by sharing factual and accurate information regarding public health. If you haven’t been on social media, many doctors and nurses are already doing this on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Not only does sharing factual information help combat false information, but it also establishes yourself and your practice as a trusted source of medical information.
Ultimately, social media marketing can strengthen your relationship with existing patients and help you reach new ones. Whether you’re sharing information on current events, cutting-edge studies, or breaking medical technologies, posting regularly on social media and interacting with your followers will benefit your reputation as a professional.
An Increase in Facebook Advertising
With more than 2.7 billion monthly active users as of August 2020, Facebook is the largest social network. They are also one of the most powerful advertising platforms. Although other industries have been taking advantage of Facebook ads for several years, healthcare marketers have just recently begun investing more of their budgets into social media advertising.
Facebook ads are versatile, as you can create ads in the form of content, videos, promotional offers, and more. You can also target specific demographics based on age group, interests, and location. If you want to connect with more local patients and have a specific target audience you want to shoot for, Facebook advertising is the way to go.
6. Patients Want a Great Digital Experience and Access to Innovative Online Tools
In 2020, one healthcare marketing trend we’ve seen is that more and more medical providers are offering online chat options, e-visits, online bill-pay, and online patient-scheduling. Similarly, there has been a huge increase in the use of Electronic Medical Recorder Systems (EMRS), tools that provide patients with useful, real-time health information.
EMRS systems may contain graphs and charts that track patient progress, data collection of blood and other lab tests, as well as opportunities to renew prescriptions or schedule appointments online. These systems will not only help streamline your business, but they are also beneficial from a marketing standpoint.
When you have convenient and easy to use online systems, patients are more than willing to use them. In fact, a study released last year by Accenture Consulting estimates that 68% of patients are more likely to choose a medical provider who offers the ability to book, cancel, change, or track appointments and information online – a number that is up 10% from 2016 and will continue to grow in the coming years.
While these tools are helpful in engaging and keeping patients, it’s important that they work correctly and don’t slow down your website. User experience is increasingly important in Google’s algorithm, so websites with poor navigation or slow site speed will struggle to rank well and keep users on the page. Instead, you want to optimize your website so it loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and is SEO-friendly.
7. Telemedicine Has Grown Rapidly
Perhaps one of the largest healthcare marketing trends in 2020 is telemedicine. Even before social distancing guidelines were set into place in the Spring of 2020, many doctors and healthcare professionals were starting to offer telehealth services. After all, patients are tired of long waits, inaccurate information, and less than optimal care. Telemedicine can help doctors meet these demands while delivering superior patient care. If you want to beat the competition, earn new patients, and keep old ones, you must keep up with the latest trends – including telemedicine.
According to a recent press release, doctors have begun seeing more patients via telehealth in 2020 than ever before with virtual healthcare visits being on track to reach one billion by the end of the year. In addition, Blue Cross Blue Shield estimates that the use of telehealth has grown 1.6x times since last summer – projecting that the telehealth sector will be worth more than a quarter-trillion dollars in the near future. Some telehealth apps have over 3,000 licensed practitioners and nearly 3 million patients. Clearly, it’s safe to say that telehealth is huge – and if you’re not doing it, you’re seriously missing out.
Even though telehealth saw a boom due to COVID-19, healthcare marketers, industry specialists, and researchers alike agree that it is here to stay. After all, digital services such as these not only help reduce transmission of viral illness, but they also better serve the needs of mobility-impaired individuals, families in rural communities, and other individuals who otherwise would not have easy and affordable access to medical care.
Keep Up With the Latest Healthcare Marketing Trends
The landscape of digital marketing is ever-changing and constantly evolving to better meet the need and intent of online users. Although it is easier than ever before for people to obtain health information online, that also means there is a lot of competition in the healthcare marketing space. In order to continue growing your business, it’s essential to keep up with the latest healthcare marketing trends.
If you’re looking to get an advantage over the competition by enhancing your digital marketing strategy, contact Stodzy Internet Marketing today to see how we can help you grow your practice. Or, sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay up to date with the latest healthcare marketing trends, and information you don’t want to miss.