It’s no secret that the healthcare industry as a whole tends to lag behind other industries when it comes to marketing by about two years.
Between HIPAA compliance regulations that dictate how patient information is used and stored and FDA restrictions that put a microscope on how many healthcare organizations market their products, it can be scary to adapt to changing marketing trends in such a heavily regulated industry.
However, reaching and engaging today’s tech-savvy patients and physicians means digital marketing is no longer optional for hospitals/practices, insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers or other organizations in the healthcare space.
According to a recent study by Epocrates, throughout 2013 in the healthcare industry, 86% of clinicians used smartphones in their daily office activities – an increase of 8% from the previous year. Additionally, 53% of clinicians used tablets at work in 2013, up from 34% in 2012.
In addition, patients are using the interest to find and engage with healthcare organizations as well. According to a Think with Google study, 84% of patients use both online and offline sources for hospital research. Likewise, search drives nearly 3x as many visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search visitors, and 44% of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device scheduled an appointment.
If you’re in the healthcare industry and are looking to achieve results in digital marketing, here are three key elements that should be part of your digital strategy.
1) A Responsive Website
According to the same Think with Google study, about one-third of patients use mobile devices or tablets on a daily basis for research and/or to book appointments. Physicians routinely use them in-office to help their patients learn about procedures and medications, as well as to instantly access information, no matter their location. With the ever-increasing rate of mobile web usage compared to desktop usage, healthcare organizations should consider the benefits of transitioning to a responsive website design.
A responsive site is designed to adapt to the screen size of the device it is viewed on. Because the elements of the site adjust and react depending on the aspect ratio of the browser, content is easier to read and navigate with minimal resizing, zooming and scrolling. Although developing a responsive site requires more effort at the beginning, it eliminates the need for a separate mobile site and offers a cohesive digital experience for your audience – ensuring consistency on a wide range of devices, including computers, tablets and smartphones.
Additionally, managing one, responsive, efficient site allows healthcare organizations to focus on developing a single, strong web strategy, which increases visibility, reach and conversions, while decreasing expenditures and effort.
2) Search Engine Optimization
With an ever-rising number of consumers using the web to find medical and health-related information, it is crucial that your organization develops a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that allows you to be found when a potential customer conducts an online search.
In such a large industry, there is high competition for search traffic. For example, if a nearby hospital has a more effective SEO strategy than yours, it will appear higher in organic search results than your. Through a highly targeted SEO strategy, you can increase your search engine ranking and overall web presence.
Research keywords to find the ones that patients, physicians and healthcare professionals might be using to search for your organization or services like yours. There are quite a few keyword tools out there that can help you determine the competition surrounding key healthcare industry buzzwords. For example, should you optimize for “Phoenix cardiologist” or “Phoenix heart physician”?
Choose a relevant keyword for each of your website’s pages, as well as landing pages, social and blog posts and any other content your organization creates and publishes. These keywords should not be set in stone – analysis of keyword performance and adaptation are key, especially due to Google’s constant updates.
3) Content Marketing
It is impossible to build a successful SEO strategy without the right content. To succeed in today’s developing healthcare industry, companies need to constantly produce new content that not only gets them found but also enables them to capture leads.
From blog posts to social media updates, videos, ebooks, webinars and more, you need to publish content that will get you found online using the same search engines and social media channels that your target audience uses to learn about the healthcare services and products they use.
This content, when crafted correctly, will improve your search engine rankings and drive new traffic to your website, as well as nurture and nudge leads throughout the sales funnel, hopefully encouraging them to visit your practice or hospital for their healthcare needs or to purchase insurance or medical equipment.
When content is crafted correctly, it captures people’s attention, holds their interest, and successfully prompts them to take a desired action, such as clicking on a “Next” or “Learn More” button, picking up the phone to call your hospital or practice, or purchasing your healthcare equipment, supplies or insurance.
By implementing these three keys to digital marketing in healthcare, you’ll be ready to outshine the competition online! For more information on digital marketing in healthcare, download our free white paper, Next Generation Healthcare Marketing.
Originally published May 27, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated August 25 2017