A Guide to Developing a Healthcare Marketing Strategy
This is the most in-depth healthcare marketing strategy guide on the internet.
All the components of this guide with help you crush your healthcare marketing goals in 2020 and generate new revenue.
Time to get at it.
Table of Contents:
- What is Healthcare Marketing Strategy?
- Healthcare Marketing Techniques
- Build a Website for Patient Experience
- Focus on Increasing Local Search Rankings
- Utilize Digital Advertising to Target New Patients
- Invest in Video to Connect with Patients
- Build an Engaged Community on Social Media
- Track the Success of Your Marketing
What is Healthcare Marketing Strategy?
Healthcare marketing strategy involves leveraging a collective group of marketing channels both digitally and offline designed to specifically target new and existing patients for practices and hospital systems to improve patient care and generate growth and revenue.
Patients have become more sophisticated in how they utilize and integrate the internet into their daily lives.
As a result of constant advertising, patients have become somewhat “tone deaf” to the messages they receive.
They also want to feel that the marketing and advertising they do consume is extremely patient-centric.
Fortunately, more prospective patients are turning to the internet via search engines and social platforms to take their health into their own hands.
They are in search of finding information, practices, and hospitals to aid in their pursuit of optimal health.
80% of potential patients look online for health information about a specific medical problem or disease.
So, what healthcare marketing strategies for medical practices are most effective?
Patients are active and engaged more than ever online, so that is why it is critical to put healthcare marketing strategies in place for 2020.
Where do you start putting together a medical marketing plan?
This will not be surface-level theory that says “create a Facebook profile,” but we will look at each component of a healthcare marketing strategy:
- What tactics to use
- Why they are effective
- Real life case studies and examples
- Instructions to get you started
When you finish reading this, you will be ready to hit the ground running and generate real growth in your practice.
Healthcare Marketing Techniques
This is a comprehensive list of the most critical marketing techniques in healthcare that medical practices alike need to include in their 2020 strategy.
I will address specific things that we do in our agency and are seeing in the world of healthcare marketing working extremely effectively to grow healthcare organizations.
Build a Website for Patient Experience
A healthcare practice’s website is one of the single most important digital healthcare marketing assets they have.
Think about it?
What other salespeople can be on the ball 24/7/365 selling and delivering content to potential patients whenever they need it?
Whether it is midnight and you are asleep or 3 pm in clinics your medical website is always hard at work for you showcasing relevant content.
Great medical website design puts the focus on user experience and providing clear and immediate value from the second a patient enters your website.
Explaining who you are and what you do.
Answering questions and delivering value to get them to convert.
Best Medical Website Design Tips
An Individual Page for Every MAJOR Service & Provider
This is a big one I see TOO often.
Healthcare websites that create a main services page list the services they offer and call it a day.
I can tell you for about 99.9% accuracy that you will never rank for service-specific keywords unless you create excellent, keyword rich, long-form content about each service.
Say we searched for a plastic surgeon in Atlanta that does breast augmentations.
A typical search for that would be “breast augmentation near me.”
As you can see search positions 1, 3, and 8, which happen to be the only practice specific search results, are all service-specific pages.
These practices created an in-depth content on a page entirely dedicated to breast augmentations not just adding it to a list on their services page.
Book Appointment & Chat Features
One of the sole purposes of healthcare marketing is getting a patient to book an appointment.
Once a patient has landed on the website you need to make sure you are not only providing them the information they need to convert but also make it extremely easy for them to book an appointment.
One of the best ways to skyrocket customer service, begin to build a relationship and improve site conversions is integrating chat functionality.
96% of patient complaints were related to none exam room factors, and the #1 complaint was communication.
Once you get a chat function set up on your website and have a front desk person task to manage the conversation the options are endless.
There is tons of conditional functionality that you can integrate such as specific intro questions based on what page they are visiting.
It can even serve as a great way to generate new email address collection by asking for an email if you are away to follow up later.
Integrate into your CRM and add those potential patients into a drip email campaign if they don’t schedule.
Great Chat Options:
1. Lasso (HIPAA)
2. MedChat (HIPAA)
3. Ngage Live Chat (HIPAA)
4. Intercom (Non-HIPAA)
5. Olark (Non-HIPAA)
Mobile Responsive Website
It has become essential in 2020 for your website to be built for mobile devices.
Mobile traffic owns about 50% of all website traffic now, and that is expected to continue to rise.
As of 2018, Google announced the rollout of mobile first indexing.
This means that the mobile version of your site is the priority that they index and serve in search.
Therefore, if your site is not responsive and built for mobile, it will become increasingly difficult for effective healthcare marketing strategy.
Focus on Increasing Local Search Rankings
An anchor of effective healthcare marketing strategies is excellent search engine optimization.
Medical SEO can be a complex and complicated landscape, so I am going to take you through the steps of creating a great local SEO strategy for a healthcare organization.
Medical Website SEO Checklist
To get started, check this video out on how to rank treatment pages highly in search results.
Website structure is a critical aspect of search engine optimization.
It is the foundation for all of the other local SEO initiatives, so it is critical to not ignore it.
The basis of any excellent web page or post is a focus keyword.
This is the main keyword that you are trying to rank a page or post for.
However, if you structure things correctly you for rank for many more long tail keywords.
#1 Include Your Focus Keyword in Specific Places on the Page
There are a few critical places to make sure your keyword is included to ensure the highest level of ranking impact.
In the Title Tag of the Page – Close to the Front
This may seem like a given but just placing your focus keyword in a title tag is not near as effective as positioning it as close to the front as possible.
Place Keyword in URL & Keep URL Short
URL length plays a vital role in ranking a page.
A study of 1 million searches on Google showed that short URLs rank the best in search results.
Answer Your Page Topic In Totality
What I mean by this is to rank for a completive keyword Google rewards the best content.
The average length of the #1 organic search result is 2,416 words.
That shows how much Google values authoritative and complete content pieces.
They want to ensure the #1 slot fully answers that person’s medical search query.
This is one of the biggest focuses you need to add to your healthcare marketing strategy in 2020. Improve and lengthen content.
Let’s go back to that search results for “breast augmentation near me.”
If you recall the first search result is below.
Take a look at their page here.
See how in-depth on the top they go?
They answer close to every common question a female patient could have about breast surgery.
That is great content.
A great way to get ideas for questions people are searching for is a free tool called Answer the Public.
Type in your page focus keyword in this case “breast augmentation” and voila!
Items in darker green are higher volume searches to target first.
Content Marketing is Critical
An active content marketing arm of your overall healthcare marketing approach is the perfect ongoing SEO you need after you perfect your on-site SEO.
Check this video out on what thin content is and why it is killing the SEO for your healthcare marketing strategy.
This is where the rubber meets the road for building long term digital marketing success and growing organic website traffic.
Just take a look at one of our clients since we took over an implemented an effective content marketing strategy.
They went from doing 3,109 page views in June of 2018 to over 7,467 page views in March of 2020!
That is a 140.17% increase in website traffic in 10 months!
Invest in Keyword Research
It is imperative when any healthcare marketing strategy for medical practices that you start content marketing planning with keyword research.
A few great places to start that are FREE are…
Trusty Google Suggest
This couldn’t be easier.
Go to Google and start typing in the keyword you are planning content for, and Google will spit out popular topical suggestions.
Make sure to include some of those long-tail keywords in your content.
Google My Business is a Top Local Ranking Factor
Most practices and hospitals are incredibly familiar with Google My Business (GMB) at this point.
If you are reading this and have not you need to go and claim or create your Google My Business for your medical practice right NOW.
Here are the step by step instructions to set up a Google My Business profile.
I will skip over that for now.
The biggest thing I want to focus on is making sure you complete your profile IN ENTIRETY.
Go under the info section and max out the relevant categories and fill out the rest of the areas.
info page google my business, and don’t foreget to add pictures.
Pro Tip: For the business description make sure to mention your name, main focus keyword, and city in the first 150 words.
Reputation Management & Online Reviews
We brushed on the critical importance of online reviews in the trends section now we will get into how to generate new reviews for a practice.
Essential places to target new reviews on:
The best way to generate new reviews is by working it into your patient check out workflows via an email or SMS text message.
I recommend connecting with patients within 1-2 days of the patient visit so it is close to the point of service.
Often all you need to do is ask!
When polled 70% of patients said they would leave a review for a medical practice if they were asked.
If you are looking for a more automated approach look for an agency that provides reputation management services or search online for a HIPAA compliant review generation tool.
Luckily there are many affordable tools and options, and we recommend automating and involving text messages whenever possible. Text messages make it easier on the patient and are a faster way at generating reviews. SMS messaging has a 98% open rate!
Citation Building for SEO
Building new directory listings for a healthcare practice is known as citation building.
Standard listings sites are Yelp, Foursquare, Google My Business, and more.
You want to focus on making sure the NAP (name, address, and phone) on your contact page get added to as many local and national directories as possible.
This will help grow you ranking for your website as well as your GMB.
Some of these verifications will require a phone call to the practice to verify it is a working office with real people in it.
Start with the most recognizable pages as the backlink they create to your website is the most important.
Here is a massive list of 1,000+ local and niche citations by business category that will keep you busy for a while!
Backlink Building as a Focus of Your Healthcare Marketing Strategies
Backlinks are the jet fuel that powers any successful medical marketing campaign in 2020.
What is a backlink?
Backlinks are links from external websites and relevant content that link to a piece of content or page on your website.
Why do backlinks matter?
Backlinks are critical because they give Google an “upvote” that someone else on the internet has seconded this content as a reliable source of information.
It’s like having someone vouch for your website.
This helps build trust in SERPs for that content, and ultimate is a significant deciding factor in how the page will rank.
Therefore, once you create an excellent piece of content as part of your healthcare marketing strategy, you need to focus on building high-quality backlinks back to that piece.
Utilize Digital Advertising to Target New Patients
One of the top digital healthcare marketing strategies is leveraging paid advertising in the right way to reach highly targeted, local patients.
However, we see many practices blow through ad budgets with little to no ROI or even an effective way to know if the results were positive.
I have broken down a good rule of thumb for each of the popular digital advertising platforms and when to leverage them for your practice.
Search Engine Marketing
What is fantastic about Google Ads is the level of search intent targeting you can do based on which keywords you are bidding on.
This will help determine how “purchase ready” a potential patient may be.
A great example is an orthopedic practice that could bid on the term “knee replacement” which is theory is a great fit.
However, their budget could end up being spent on people looking to educate themselves on what a knee replacement is and not looking for a provider in their area to perform the procedure.
However, you could be better served bidding on “knee replacement surgeon Atlanta” which would highly correlate to a patient that is a very warm lead.
Google Ads and Bing Ads are great for practices looking to target specific keywords for procedures or surgeries that they make a considerable margin on and able to spend some funds to acquire high dollar patients.
Social Media Advertising
One of the top healthcare advertising trends in 2020 is leveraging social media advertising to promote and grow medical practices.
There are so many options and platforms to leverage how do you know which are best?
Now that Facebook owns Instagram we find a combo of the two platforms, depending on your target marketing, is ideal.
The most effective types of digital advertising campaigns on social media are retargeting or “offer-based” ads.
Retargeting ads are when you drive traffic to your website via organic or paid search methods and then retarget those people with ads on social media.
This is effective because these ads are not cold outreach because the potential patient has already been to your website in search of information and maybe not ready to book an appointment.
Offer based ads leverage some offer or a free piece of material to provider savings or value to their patient in return for their information.
A great example is a dental practice offering new patients free X-rays with your teeth cleaning or a contest to win a free teeth whitening.
Invest In Using Video to Connect With Patients
Video is the preferred method of how people consume information in 2020.
With a patient’s attention span now barely that of a goldfish around 8 seconds you need to capture and communicate quickly.
Video marketing is a highly effective healthcare marketing strategy to reach new patients.
The fantastic thing is creating video does not have to be as expensive or daunting as most healthcare organizations think it is.
We have tons of practices creating highly engaging and compelling video content and reaching new patients.
Youtube is the second largest search engine behind Google and can be much easier to rank for highly competitive keywords over Google search.
Above is a client that we got set up on Youtube to promote a new laser machine for skin resurfacing that they had purchased.
Invest in getting a high-quality intro and outro animated graphic that you can reuse on all your videos.
This will help add a touch of high quality to it without crushing your budget. Below is a recent example of one we created for a radiation oncologist.
Learn Youtube SEO
Once you have your video templates and have a content calendar created go about producing 3-5 videos per month including your providers and demos.
Videos show up in search results now so they can be a quick and effective way to rank well in organic search for highly competitive healthcare marketing keywords.
Pro Tip: Get your videos transcribed and put them up on the website with your Youtube version embedded,
This will allow you to benefit from the blog post style SEO and the video SEO when people watch the Youtube video on your website.
Here are more Youtube SEO Tips to watch before posting any videos.
Build an Engaged Community on Social Media
I am going to skip what social media is.
I know 99.9999% of practices and hospitals reading this post understand at some level the power and reach social media carries.
The problem is answering “is it really effective for healthcare marketing?” and “what platforms should I be on?”
I have written an in-depth post on this already so take a look:
To answer the effectiveness question simply YES.
If done right social media is one of the most effective ways to reach new patients and create brand loyalty.
A great example is we have a medical spa client that was present on Facebook and Instagram when they approached us but severely underutilizing the platforms.
We revamped their strategy and focused on building engaged, local women that fit in their target demographic surrounding their 3 locations.
When we got started, their Instagram was two years old with around 200 followers.
Their Instagram was driving little to no real traffic to their website which is what is most important.
Generating leads via social media to the website or via messenger.
After 12 months of implementing a proactive and dynamic social media marketing strategy, they have grown to over 2,200 followers generating 100s of website visitors a month.
Check out the numbers below from Feb 2020 and the fantastic news is the followers by city graphic that shows the core of their followers are in the cities they have their locations in.
High quality, local traffic!
That is the power of social media. In just one isolated example.
What are the best social media platforms for healthcare practices?
There is value in each of the major platforms; however, we think there is a priority of platforms that are the best fit for medical practices.
Facebook and Instagram are the two most critical social media platforms to include in a healthcare marketing strategy.
We created a handy optimal posting time infographic for you to reference.
Pro Tip: I recommend posting on Facebook 3X per week and Instagram daily with up to 2-3 posts per day if possible.
Track the Success of Your Marketing
Successfully tracking your healthcare marketing strategy implementation is critical.
Analytics and reporting should become a great healthcare marketer’s best friend.
It starts with making sure you are tracking your program effectively.
Some of the most important free platforms to make sure you have as non-negotiables are:
Google Search Console
This is a free tool provided by Google that allows you to track the search engine rankings of your medical practice website.
Not to mention it helps you catch errors that can pop up from time to time and cause search ranking issues on your website.
This is a mainstay that every practice must have on their website.
To say it just tracks traffic to your website is a major disservice.
There is an extremely powerful analytics tool that can show you loads of valuable information about how patients behave on your website.
Google Tag Manager
A must for tracking not only Google Ads but may other tracking tools and software.
Get it on your website. I have seen too many people go for years without embedding the Facebook pixel.
Then in walks a healthcare marketing agency and we are missing years of data that we could have leveraged to advertise and remarket to your patients.
Attribution is King
Attribution is powerful.
It shows you the journey that your patients are taking from the first conversion to what they are doing the rest of the time in the marketing funnel.
It is essential when we market for our clients because it allows us to show them not only what is driving the most leads, but ultimately what is converting patients into booked appointments.
Which is what really matters!
Finally, invest in marketing analytics dashboards.
I just scratched the surface on all of the tools and resources for executing and tracking your healthcare marketing strategy.
That means it can seem nearly impossible to pull all of those in a way that paints a picture as to what is working and where we need growth.
That is why we provide marketing analytics dashboards to every client that partners with us at Intrepy.
Because we see the immense value in seeing the bigger picture through data.
Wrapping Up Creating a Healthcare Marketing Strategy
When putting together effective healthcare marketing strategies for your practice make sure to include the components outlined in this guide.
The core components include a well-designed medical website, local SEO, digital advertising, physician liaison marketing, and social media.
Remember to focus on the quality of the content you are making and focus on delivering REAL value to your patients.
If you do that, all you need to focus on is hiring for help on the technical execution.
I hope you found this in-depth healthcare marketing guide helpful and were able to glean some ideas to help improve your marketing strategy.
If you are struggling to get started feel free to reach out for a free consultation. We are a healthcare marketing agency focused on generating new practice growth and revenue.