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Healthcare Marketing in 2019: The Definitive Guide

Justin Knott
President, Intrepy Healthcare Marketing

This is the most in-depth healthcare marketing guide on the internet.

All the components of this guide with help you crush your healthcare marketing goals in 2019 and generate new revenue.

Time to get at it.

Table of Contents:

What is Healthcare Marketing?

Healthcare Marketing 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.

In the last five years, the amount of healthcare marketing professionals and agencies specializing in marketing for medical practice and dental practices has grown substantially.

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.

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.

healthcare marketing strategy

So, what marketing strategies for medical practices and dental practice 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 2019.

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 healthcare marketing:

  • 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.

Before we jump right into specific healthcare marketing techniques, I want to talk about some of the more critical healthcare marketing trends that are here to stay in 2019.

These will help paint a picture as to the importance of many of the digital marketing tactics as they relate to how a patient’s online experience is evolving.

Understanding where your patient is at, and their search intent is critical because it aids in formulating the ideal marketing strategy to reach and convert them.

Image for search intent

1. Voice Search is Growing Rapidly

This has caught fire with the growth of Siri, Amazon Echo and Google Home in the last 1-2 years.

In a recent survey, 71% of the participants said they would prefer to utilize a voice assistant to search for something instead of typing in their search queries.

This is especially true of the millennial generation and people under the age of 49 who say they utilize voice search 92% or more a few times a month.

voice search seo healthcare marketing graphic

Take into consideration that millennials now own the majority purchasing power in the US economy it is time to take notice that voice search has arrived.

2. Reputation Management & Reviews Matter

It can be the thorn in the side of many healthcare providers.

Reviews….

I cannot tell you how many healthcare professionals I speak with that I can hear the immediate angst in their voice when I bring up the importance of focusing on review generation.

Especially in the world of healthcare, some things come with online patient reviews that can be out of the physician’s control.

In particular, is insurance as it relates to billing.

This is often a significant driver of negative reviews for practices because, despite their best efforts to get in front of it, patients receive a large bill from their insurance post-visit.

Because many patients do not fully understand their insurance, premiums, co-pays, co-insurance and all the other items it falls back on the practice.

The practice then gets slapped with a 1-star review because the patient feels blindsides and somehow forgets the billing conversation you had with them in the office before any procedure being done.

However, it can not be understated how critical reviews are for acquiring new patients both for establishing trust and credibility and for local SEO.

88% of consumers trust online reviews for products and services.

online reviews statistics for healthcare practices

3. Search Results Have Become Hyper Localized

Google’s algorithm changes nearly 500-600 times per year.

It can be nearly impossible to even keep up with the major releases and their effect on your medical website traffic.

But if you don’t keep up with anything else in 2019 know that Google has turned its focus toward localized search results.

This is all too apparent with the addition of the Google “local 3 pack” in desktop search results.

google local pack healthcare marketing

For example, if I do a Google search of ‘Juvederm’ the keyword absent of “near me” or any geolocation keyword such as “Atlanta” the Google 3 pack appears right at the top of organic search results.

This means you need to have a proactive approach to increase for local ranking in search results and on maps for your targeted keywords.

4. Video is the Preferred form of Content

This will probably not come as a shock to you as it has been the trend for nearly a decade now.

Hubspot reports 45% of people watch more than an hour of video every single day.

That is a staggering number.

Hospitals and practices alike need to be integrating video into their healthcare marketing strategy on a routine basis.

Now that we have addressed some of the top healthcare digital marketing trends in 2019 we have set a baseline for the way patients are interacting and behaving online.

Healthcare Marketing Techniques

This is a comprehensive list of the most critical marketing techniques in healthcare that medical and dental practices alike need to include in their 2019 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.

Healthcare Website Design

A healthcare practice’s website is one of the single most important digital healthcare marketing assets they have.

Think about it?

What other salesperson 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.

medical website design home page example

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.”

medical website design tips search result

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.

chat functionality healthcare marketing

Source

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 2019 for your website to be built for mobile devices.

mobile website traffic graph healthcare marketing agency

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 medical SEO strategies.

website responsiveness medical website

Best Medical Website Design Examples 2019

We have put together a list of 5 of the best medical website design examples so you can see practices on the cutting edge to give you inspiration and recommendations for your next site improvements.

Search Engine Optimization

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

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 no ignore.

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.

medical seo title tag example

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.

medical seo urls ranking healthcare marketing

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 show how much Google values authoritative and complete content pieces.

They want to ensure the #1 slot fully answers that persons medical search query.

This is one of the biggest focuses you need to add to your healthcare marketing strategy in 2019. Improve and lengthen content.

google ranking for healthcare organization

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.

seo tools healthcare marketing strategy

Content Marketing

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.

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.

seo results medical marketing agency

They went from doing 3,109 page views in June of 2018 to over 7,467 page views in March of 2019!

That is a 140.17% increase in website traffic in 10 months!

healthcare marketing results intrepy

Keyword Research

It is imperative when marketing for medical practices that you start any 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.

keyword research healthcare marketing

Google My Business

Most practices and hospitals are incredibly familiar with Google My Business (GMB) at this point.

google my business local seo

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

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:

  1. Google My Business
  2. Facebook
  3. Yelp
  4. Real Self (if you do aesthetics)
  5. HealthGrades (for providers)

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 to connect 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.

review generation services healthcare

Luckily there are many affordable tools and options, and we recommend automating and involving text message whenever possible.

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.

citation building for medical practices

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 for Healthcare Marketing

Backlinks are the jet fuel that powers any successful medical marketing campaign in 2019.

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.

backlink building healthcare marketing

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.

Healthcare Digital Advertising

One of the top digital 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

The two most popular SEM platforms for healthcare practices are Google Ads and Bing Ads.

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.

search engine marketing agency

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 2019 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.

healthcare marketing dental facebook ad

Video Marketing

Video is the preferred method of how people consume information in 2019.

With a patients 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.

video marketing healthcare marketing

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.

Most of the time you can skip the fancy, expensive video equipment for monthly video content and go on Amazon and get a lapel mic, circle light, and phone stand.

video healthcare marketing lapel microphone

This will help get the sound and lightning right which is the most important.

Next, invest in getting a high-quality intro and extro 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.

Video 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.

Social Media Marketing for Healthcare

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:

Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms

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 2019 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? – H4

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.

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. Youtube
  4. Twitter
  5. LinkedIn
  6. Pinterest

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.

best times post on social media infographic

Pro Tip: I recommend posting on Facebook 3X per week and Instagram daily with up to 2-3 posts per day if possible.

Physician Liaison Marketing

Last but certainly not least in our look at healthcare marketing strategies is growing new patient referrals offline via physician liaison marketing.

Physician liaison marketing is when you have a physician liaison go out into the field to represent your practice to generate new referrals by establishing relationships with primary care and specialty providers.

If you are looking to open new locations, generate new patient referrals, hire new providers or handle more of a particular type of patient a physician liaison is for you.

If you are new to physician liaison marketing, we recommend physician liaison training to get you started.

You want to make sure to do a practice audit and run a detailed referral report to create a solid baseline before beginning a program.

Wrapping Up

When putting together a healthcare marketing plan 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.