In this age of ever-changing healthcare policies and high patient expectations, developing a solid healthcare marketing strategy is crucial to your success in the healthcare industry. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
To help you tackle the task, we recently surveyed a group of healthcare marketers to better understand their goals and challenges as marketers in the healthcare industry.
More than half (51%) of the marketers we surveyed said their main objective in 2019 is to grow the number of new patients to their organization. Another 30% indicated that improving their website and growing their overall online presence are top objectives.
What might hold them back from achieving these goals? The top challenge (reported by 22% of survey respondents) is the changing behaviors and expectations of consumers. In other words, marketers are struggling to keep up with rising expectations for easy, accessible, digital communication and care.
The good news? Over 80% of healthcare marketers expect their marketing budget to stay the same or increase for 2019, so they aren’t trying to improve their strategy with a shrinking budget.
To help you decide where to allocate your time and money in 2019, we’ve pulled some key insights from our healthcare marketing research. Here are the top three marketing investments your healthcare organization should consider making in the next year:
#1: Social Media
Believe it or not, social media has emerged as a top channel for healthcare marketers. Among those we surveyed, 30% said social media has been their most important marketing channel in 2018.
Another 24% of healthcare marketers said they expect social media to be the channel that experiences the most growth in 2019, which tied with SEO as the top answer (see below for more on that).
Nearly 80% of Americans use social media, so it makes sense for healthcare organizations to create visibility there. If you’re looking for a relatively easy way to organically promote your practitioners and services, get on social media. Setting up your accounts is easy, but you will need to dedicate a good amount of time to staying active and promoting useful content. You might also want to invest in videos, since they tend to get a lot of engagement from social audiences.
#2: Search Engine Optimization
In addition to social media, healthcare marketers are starting to pay more attention to search engine optimization (SEO). As mentioned above, the healthcare marketers we surveyed reported both social media (24%) and SEO (24%) as the top channels where growth is expected in 2019.
Every year, roughly 93 million Americans search for a health-related topic online. If you want your organization to be on top of the search results, you need to implement a strong SEO strategy.
What does that mean in 2019? For starters, location-based searches and voice searches are gaining popularity. More than 43 million people across the United States now own a smart speaker, so it’s important to optimize for both voice and text searches. Use appropriate keywords (including those related to location), use natural language, produce content that answers people’s health questions, and pay attention to your reviews (more on that below).
#3: Reputation Management
Did you know positive online reviews can enhance the performance of your other marketing efforts, including paid, social, and SEO? What about that more than 80% of patients are now consulting patient review websites with some frequency to gauge provider reputation and/or to leave ratings and reviews?
If this is news to you, you’re not alone.
Only 5% of the healthcare marketers we surveyed saw review sites as a top marketing channel in 2018, and only 8% indicated that online reviews would be a top area for growth in 2019.
Reputation management may not be on your radar, but it should be.
About 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family, so investing in reputation management software and taking charge of your profiles on public review sites is worth it. You can also issue patient satisfaction surveys and solicit positive reviews from those who indicate high satisfaction.
If you’re looking to improve your healthcare marketing strategy, consider making strides in the areas of social media, SEO, and reputation management. Want to learn more about these and other healthcare marketing trends you should watch for in the coming year? Click below to check out our Top 5 Healthcare Marketing Trends for 2019.