Until the beginning of this year, the adoption of telehealth across healthcare practitioners has occurred at an obtusely slow rate. Although the industry began to see some growth in 2019 due to increasing customer demand, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked significant growth in the use of virtual health services.
According to a consumer survey conducted by McKinsey earlier this year, consumer adoption of telehealth has skyrocketed from 11% of U.S. consumers using telemedicine in 2019 to 46% of consumers as of April 2020. As a result, providers are now seeing between 50-175 times the number of patients via telemedicine than they did in the previous year. Of course, with the urgent need for virtual health services also comes the necessity of telehealth marketing.
The Rise of Telemedicine in 2020
Earlier this year the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began lifting certain restrictions that made telemedicine more easily accessible to people who needed it in an effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak and better reach underserved populations. However, many experts and healthcare providers alike anticipate that the success of telemedicine thus far will make virtual visits an integral part of the healthcare system from this moment forward.
Telehealth isn’t just helpful while people are trying to social distance and reduce the strain on healthcare workers. It also gives healthcare providers an opportunity to provide care to people regardless of their location or time constraints. Whether someone lives too far away from a mental health clinic or is too busy playing the role of both an employee and a caretaker to visit their doctor, telemedicine helps bridge these gaps and make medicine more accessible to everyone.
Between pressure from patients who are demanding virtual services and the dire need for healthcare in rural communities, it seems as though telemedicine is here to stay – which means healthcare marketing experts need to be prepared to deliver meaningful results in a fairly new and evolving space of the healthcare industry.
Telehealth Marketing Strategies that Will Drive the Growth of Your Practice
The first issue marketers come across when it comes to a new business or service is awareness. It’s likely that you have many prospective patients who either don’t know telehealth is an option, don’t trust it, or simply don’t know enough about it. It’s up to an experienced telehealth marketing team to get the word out in front of the right audiences, nurture leads, and help your telehealth services grow.
1. Use Captivating Messaging to Attract the Right Patients
Depending on the age and background of your patient base, their level of comfort with telemedicine may vary. While millennials and Gen Z were raised with technology at their fingertips and may be more eager to trust telemedicine, Gen X and Baby Boomers may take some more convincing. You might also consider the zip codes you are targeting or the types of health concerns your patients usually have. It’s important to consider the demographic of your patient base and use the right messaging to inspire them to book an appointment.
Your messaging should not only address your prospective patient’s questions and fears, but it should also demonstrate the various benefits of virtual healthcare. Your messaging should make your patient base feel heard, understood, and reassured that your services will be able to help them – even without being face-to-face. Remember, your patients are real people and your marketing communications should be targeted to appeal to their needs – whether they need flexible appointment times or weekly follow-up care. Think about how your services can benefit your patients’ lives, put yourself in their shoes, and build your telehealth marketing messaging from there.
Telehealth marketing is new, so don’t be afraid to spend time writing, rewriting, and testing new types of communication to see what works. You may even conduct third-party studies to measure the results from different messaging styles. Ultimately, understanding your audience and designing your marketing strategies to target that demographic is the most important part of launching and marking your telemedicine line. If you don’t reach and engage the right patients, someone else will.
2. Create Content to Entice Potential Patients
We already know that telehealth provides a lot of benefits, such as:
- Reduced costs and co-pays
- Appointment flexibility
- Saving time and money on travel or taking time off work
- Reduced wait times
- Improved patient access
And, we know that there’s a lot of competition in the telemedicine industry, so it’s likely that you have a lot of competition in the local areas you serve. As a result, it’s crucial to position your telemedicine services in a way that highlights these benefits while showcasing what sets your service line apart from the biggest and the best competitors.
You can start by developing marketing materials that speak directly to your existing patients. You’ve already identified your target audience, their needs, wants, and priorities, so now it is time to demonstrate exactly how your telehealth services provide the things your patients want. Some ways to put this content in front of your existing patients include:
- Create an email newsletter highlighting your telehealth service line
- Add a message to your patients’ billing statements
- Offer a coupon or promotion that can be used on their first visit
- Create and place a telehealth brochure or flyer in your waiting room
- Boost your telehealth service line on social media
- Publish a landing page on your website explaining your telehealth services in detail
All of the information about your telehealth service line should be housed on an easy-to-find landing page on your website. This will be the page you link to in your emails, social media, paid advertisements, and more. This will also be the page you optimize for your target keywords, such as “telehealth services,” “medicare telehealth,” or “telehealth counseling.”
Your telehealth landing page should answer all of the common questions patients may ask, such as:
- What types of services are provided via virtual visits?
- What are the costs and fees associated with your service line?
- Which types of insurance do you accept?
- How do virtual visits differ from traditional office visits?
- What conditions/symptoms can be treated via telehealth?
- What can patients expect during their virtual visit?
- How does telehealth remain HIPAA compliant?
- Who are the doctors and what are their credentials?
For example, MDLive, a telehealth service provider, answers many of their patient’s FAQs at the very top of their home page. Users can see exactly what types of conditions they treat, how much visits cost, and more.
You may also include visual content like videos, infographics, a step-by-step visual guide to virtual visits, headshots and bios of the doctors, and patient testimonials. The more high-quality and engaging information you can publish on your webpage, the better.
3. Build Trust and Improve Your Reputation Using Patient Testimonials
Whether someone hasn’t tried telehealth before or is a brand new patient, they may be hesitant to trust your services or to switch providers. However, one way to convince people to use telehealth is to demonstrate exactly how helpful and effective virtual visits are. One of the best ways to do this is through patient reviews and testimonials.
You can do this by contacting past or current patients to inquire about their experience. If they are willing to participate, you may ask them to complete a brief survey or even conduct a video interview to place on your website.
Another place where reviews matter is on your social media platforms. Reach out to your patients by phone, email, or directly on social media asking for feedback. Not only will doing this help you pin down a load of success stories to help earn the trust of prospective patients, but it will also help you identify any shortcomings in your services that you may need to improve. Use these testimonials on your website and your social media profiles to show your audience that other people are benefitting from telehealth, so they can, too.
Another way your telehealth service line can earn more reviews and benefit from word-of-mouth telehealth marketing is through your online listings. Make sure your medical practice and your telehealth line are listed on the common doctor review websites, like HealthGrades.com, RateMDs, and WebMD. When reviews appear on these listings, make sure to reply to them – whether they are good or bad. This involvement shows prospective patients that you care about your patients and have a desire to be as helpful as possible.
4. Use Paid Advertising to Market Your Telehealth Practice
Some people don’t know that telehealth is an option. Others simply don’t think of it because they have always gone to the doctor in person. There are millions of people searching for healthcare-related services online and paid advertising allows you to place your information directly in front of your target audience.
When people search for a healthcare provider, they often turn to search engines like Google to look for the type of provider they need. More often than not, searches related to a medical product or service will populate results with paid advertisements at the very top. As a telehealth provider, you can use Google AdWords to bid on keywords and get your telehealth service line ad placed in front of your desired audience.
Another way to use paid advertising in telehealth marketing is to use Facebook ads. Like Google Adwords, Facebook hosts PPC ads, but they allow you to add more than a title and a summary. You can use Facebook ads to boost pictures, videos, or content promoting your telehealth service line. Using Facebook ads, you can promote your ads to targeted audience segments based on their demographics, location, interests, and more.
5. Focus on Improving User Experience to Boost Your Conversion Rate
When it comes to telemedicine specifically, users must have a seamless digital experience from the moment they find your website all the way to their follow-up appointment. For example, if a user clicks on your ad, they should arrive quickly at a landing page related to the ad. Whether the person is on their phone, PC, or tablet, the website should be laid out nicely with images scaled to the screen. From the landing page, they should be able to find the information they need in addition to CTAs that make it convenient to schedule an appointment online rather than by phone or in-person.
After a patient books an appointment, they should receive an automated confirmation email, text, or message that gives them their appointment date and time, the option to add the appointment to their calendar, step-by-step instructions on how to begin their virtual appointment, any required consent form, and contact information to be used if they have any questions.
Similar to the moment a patient steps foot in your office, their pre-virtual visit experience is important because it is the first impression people will make about your telehealth service line. If it is a hassle to schedule and get set up for a virtual visit, it may give off the impression that telemedicine is more difficult than it is beneficial. For instance, if a person has an outdated version of the app you use, you don’t want them to wait until five minutes before their appointment to learn that they can’t access the session. By making sure your patient’s pre-visit experience includes everything they will need to access their appointment, you’ll improve the patient’s experience and show them just how beneficial telehealth can be.
There is a lot that goes into user experience, especially when it comes to marketing a telemedicine service line. You want to make sure your website loads quickly, is responsive across all user interfaces, and provides even novice internet users with the detailed instructions they need to take advantage of telehealth.
6. Increase Your Web Traffic With SEO
No matter how much effort you put into the rest of your digital marketing strategy, the way to achieve long-term results with the best possible ROI is through search engine optimization (SEO). During each step we’ve discussed, from patient messaging, reviews, PPC, and content creation, you should be keeping SEO in mind. SEO for telehealth will allow your website to appear in more search results, so more patients will find your practice and inquire about your services.
When considering who your target audience is, you can put yourself in their shoes and think about what types of searches your audience usually conducts. Better yet, you can use tools like SEMrush to conduct keyword research and identify which keywords your prospective patients are searching for. After you’ve chosen the best healthcare keywords, you’ll want to keep these keywords in mind when creating content and optimizing your website.
There’s a lot that goes into SEO besides keyword research and content creation, including:
- On-page SEO (image alt text, title tags, meta description, internal linking, site structure)
- Off-page SEO (Backlinks and citations)
- Mobile site optimization
- Local SEO
- Google Analytics setup and tracking
- Competitor analysis and tracking
SEO is a long-term telehealth marketing strategy that helps your website move up in the organic search rankings. The higher you can rank for your keywords, the more website traffic and conversions you can expect to see. Although you may not see results in the first month, if you optimize your site correctly you’ll slowly see an increase in traffic, phone calls, and conversions that will last for years to come.
Get Started With Telehealth Marketing Today
There always has been and always will be a need for healthcare, and telemedicine is helping expand access by reducing travel times, wait times, and office visit costs. It’s safe to say that telehealth is here to stay as long as providers use the best practices to market their services and continue connecting with patients.
Stodzy Internet Marketing specializes in healthcare businesses and is dedicated to keeping up with the latest digital marketing trends to ensure the success of our clients’ marketing efforts. Call today to see how we can market your telehealth service line and help you grow your practice.