Healthcare marketing uses science-based strategies to promote health information and interventions to patients and caregivers. Put simply, the goal of healthcare marketing is to boost positive health behaviors. But you take it to a higher level when your healthcare materials improve patient experience, satisfaction and recruitment.
By infusing attention-grabbing visuals in your healthcare marketing materials, your patients can start to have an amazing experience. And as you transform the patient experience, you will also notice improvements in your recruitment and retainment efforts.
In this in-depth guide, we’ve put together the essentials of healthcare marketing strategies to keep your patients happy.
Venngage simplifies marketing for doctors. Even if you’re a non-designer, you can start making easy-to-understand, engaging and impactful visuals for your patients using Venngage for Healthcare templates.
The following best practices can improve your medical marketing strategies:
Consistent healthcare branding
Healthcare organizations (hospitals, clinics, private practices and home health) need branding to drive marketing strategies. Patients need to identify quickly what sets you apart from the rest.
But what is branding? Here’s everything you need to know about branding, in less than 3 minutes:
Consistent healthcare branding will make you stand out. The following strategies can help you achieve that:
1. Connect emotionally with patients
Your brand should connect with patients on a more personal level than just offering high-quality healthcare services. Use empathy and compassion in your branding.
Amy Fortunato, VP, creative director of the Bloc, said this in a Medical Marketing and Media (MM&M) article about campaigns of healthcare brands:
“Empathy is playing an increasingly large role in how healthcare brands communicate.”
Patients have unlimited resources on the Internet to shop around for various healthcare providers. What gives your brand a competitive edge is connecting to patients on an emotional level.
For example, you can use a company fact sheet like the one below to demonstrate that your company’s mission and values align with your patients’ emotional needs.
2. Be inclusive
Adopt diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in your healthcare branding strategy. This means creating content that reflects the diversity of patients.
A good question to ask as you create a healthcare marketing strategy is, “Can diverse groups of patients identify with your healthcare brand?”
A 2014 study in the Journal of Services Marketing showed that brands that establish “affective commitment” the moment when a customer begins to identify with a brand, end up having customers who become advocates for the brand. Advocates have the potential to bring in more customers through word-of-mouth and social media.
You can connect emotionally with patients by using healthcare digital marketing infographics that acknowledge that every one of your patients is different physically and emotionally. This can be done by using diversity and inclusion terminology and imagery.
Here’s an example of a healthcare infographic that uses diverse people icons:
The Web Accessibility Initiative explains inclusion in the context of creating a web page as being:
“…about diversity, and ensuring involvement of everyone to the greatest extent possible. In some regions, this is also referred to as universal design and design for all.”
According to WAI, inclusion addresses a broad range of issues including:
- Accessibility for people with disabilities
- Access to and quality of hardware, software, and Internet connectivity
- Computer literacy and skills
- Economic situation
- Geographic location
- Age, including older and younger people
This infographic by the American Hospital Association (AHA) is a great example of hospital marketing that connects with patients emotionally by demonstrating inclusivity.
3. Use data to highlight patients’ pain points
Do you want to improve how patients experience care at your practice? Use data! Ask your patients to provide feedback via surveys and questionnaires. And then, use their responses to improve patient satisfaction.
The Cleveland Clinic is a great case study for using data to find out how to improve patient satisfaction. After failing in patient satisfaction ratings back in 2009, James Merlino, MD, a prominent colorectal surgeon was appointed as Chief Experience Officer to spearhead the hospital’s improvement of the patient experience. He successfully transformed the Cleveland Clinic’s staff’s approach from “medical outcomes” to “patient satisfaction.”
Using data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) survey of patient satisfaction, Dr. James Merlino increased the ranking of the Cleveland Clinic. The hospital is now consistently ranked in the top five US hospitals for overall quality and safety.
You can use a sophisticated bar chart like the one below as your data storytelling template.
This chart easily communicates your data to patients and you can customize it as needed.
Reputation management and getting feedback
In the past, businesses hightailed in the opposite direction of bad feedback. But today, companies are learning that they can use their failures to make their brands better and bigger. This is best done through reputation management.
Reputation management, also known as online reputation management (ORM), is the process of influencing and controlling the reputation of your brand or business by engaging customers. Today, people will post their thoughts about your business publicly, either on your website or on one of the social networks.
Businesses are more transparent than ever before, and that’s what customers prefer these days. This is even more important in the case of health organizations.
Trust is only earned when you’re transparent, not only about your successes but how you turn your failures around. So you have to master both asking for feedback and addressing this feedback publicly.
One example of great crisis management is the case of Johnson & Johnson and the Tylenol crisis.
During the fall of 1982, an unknown person or persons managed to replace Tylenol Extra-Strength capsules with cyanide-laced capsules and deposited the packages on the shelves of at least six or so pharmacies, and food stores in the Chicago area.
This led to seven people dying a horrible death.
Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of McNeil Consumer Products Company which makes Tylenol, handled this crisis by forming a strategy focusing on protecting the people and saving the product. This was done by:
- Immediately alerting the public not to consume Tylenol
- Stopping the production and advertising of Tylenol
- Withdrawing all Tylenol capsules from the store shelves in Chicago and the surrounding area, then ordering a national withdraw of every capsule
They also recognized the importance of transparency during crisis communications, and worked with the media to communicate their strategy through:
- Issuing a national alert to warn the public from using Tylenol
- Establishing a 1-800 hotline to consumers wishing to inquire about Tylenol
- Establishing a toll-free line for news organizations to call and receive pre-taped daily messages with updated statements about the crisis
Johnson & Johnson also introduced their new triple safety seal packaging during a press conference, and Tylenol became the first product in the industry to use the new tamper-resistant packaging just 6 months after the crisis.
Not all businesses manage to handle crises so well. There are three well-known cases of businesses that faced backlash because of poor reputation management—Dark Horse Cafe, Nestle, and Amy’s Baking Company. Poor responses or unaddressed negative comments took a turn for the worst.
Lesson learned. Handle your feedback like a pro. Show empathy in your responses and address concerns adequately.
Improve your healthcare website
If your website is engaging enough, you will reach more people. You should focus on three main strategies for your website:
Let’s dive into each strategy.
1. Create great content: “Content is king”
You’ve probably heard the popular saying, “Content is king.” If your content is great, your marketing efforts will likely work to your advantage.
Your blog should have sufficient information that any new patient would want to know, for example, descriptions about medical conditions and the specific treatments you offer, all written in easy-to-understand layman’s language.
You can also repurpose blog content into visuals as part of your marketing strategy.
2. Use eye-catching visuals to captivate your audience
Visuals are like royal icing smeared beautifully on top of your content. No matter how informative your content, it may be overlooked if it lacks captivating visuals.
Yes, content is king, but when creating content, remember that most people are visual learners. Break up your text into bite-sized paragraphs and insert effective attention-grabbing visuals and infographics, like the one below.
3. Optimize your website for Google
For people to linger and find helpful information, you need to optimize your website for Google.
Make your website responsive. If it isn’t, there’s a good chance that people will go somewhere else for help.
Use tools like Google Analytics for tips to improve your user experience. On Google Analytics, click on “Conversions” to find out whether you’re hitting the right rate for your site.
Also, for people to stick around, your site should not load slowly. Test your site speed. Any delay greater than two seconds is enough to send your users away. In fact, according to Hubspot, website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time.
Free healthcare marketing
By following specific simple steps, your medical practice marketing or home health care marketing can reach more patients for free.
1. Optimize your website for patient experience
User experience (UX) is a huge factor in how your website ranks on Google. Know your target audience and meet their needs. In this era of COVID-19, customers want to see that you care about their wellbeing—physically and emotionally.
According to Anjali Lai, Senior Analyst at Forrester,
“Consumers are seeking out brands that care: At this moment, 52% of US online adults prefer to buy from companies that show how they are protecting customers against the threat of COVID-19. When consumers find those brands that prioritize the customer, they reward the companies with preference, advocacy, spend, and—the most precious currency of today—trust.”
You can optimize your website for patient experience by doing the following:
- Make it easy for patients to find your location and primary services
- Use imagery that matches your average patient
- Add easy-to-find interactive buttons for patients to contact you and book an appointment.
2. Use location-based SEO healthcare marketing
In location-based SEO marketing—or geo-targeting—you optimize your content for a specific target location. Each patient should feel like the messaging is speaking directly to them. Geo-targeting is important in healthcare because various locations cater to unique patient demographics, including race and ethnicity.
Location-based SEO marketing works for onsite locations as well as home care providers. Home health marketing can use geotagging to inform patients about the locations providers can come to.
Also, have an updated Google My Business page to get your landing pages in front of your targeted local audience. Your Google for Business profile will give patients your hours of operation, phone number, website and directions with a click of a button.
Using visuals like infographics can actually improve your local SEO strategy as well, as one of our users did:
3. Organic marketing strategies for healthcare
Organic marketing is the process of getting customers for your business without using paid advertising or sponsored posts. Organic marketing usually picks up momentum gradually, unlike paid marketing.
Some organic strategies that are great for marketing in the healthcare industry include the following:
The power is in the stats! According to Nielson, about 92% of consumers are happy to follow recommendations from friends and family over other forms of marketing. Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) influences 20% to 50% of all purchases, according to McKinsey & Company. That’s the power of organic marketing.
Patients with strong relationships with their primary care physicians often follow through with specialty referrals. Patients typically trust doctors if they’ve been using their services for a long period.
Physician liaisons are people who represent a doctor or practice. They typically acquire new patients by connecting and coordinating with other physicians.
Your healthcare staff can use simple tools like email to reach patients. But to make your materials stand out, your staff must use differentiating tools like infographics with great visuals.
Check out this case study of how Arun at BaptistCare drastically improved technology adoption for care staff. By teaching his staff to use Venngage visuals, Arun was able to increase email open rates by 60%. Also, by teaching his staff about using infographics to communicate, uptake rates were increased to 70%.
Online ads for healthcare marketing
Advertising and marketing have slightly different definitions. Companies use advertising to place a message or brand in a particular location, while companies use marketing to understand their customers so that they can better meet their needs. Advertising is a type of marketing.
Online advertising is achieved by placing ads on the internet. Everyone is online these days. With the right targeting, your online ads can meet patients right where they are.
In your online ads, use vibrant imagery and bulleted lists to help patients identify your services easily. For example, this community healthcare services flyer below is perfect for advertising free medical screenings.
Online ads for lead generation
Your online ads can also be used for healthcare lead generation when you collect data from people who click on your ads. You can use this data to build your potential patient database.
When done right, Google ads can get you hundreds of leads. The higher you can rank on Google’s search engine, the more leads you can get that connect prospective patients to your healthcare business. Ranking higher on Google Maps will get you even more leads.
One case study of a healthcare company that was successful in lead generation from online ads is CareSpot, an urgent care center that has locations across the country. Using a 4-pronged PPC strategy—center-level budgets, geofencing, direct response keywords, and ad structure—CareSpot was able to rank #1 in local map listings in 50% of Google searches.
According to Ariel Geifman, co-founder and CEO at Dealtale, 74% of marketers spend more than $50 per lead and 12% more than $1,000.
Traditional advertising: does it work?
Traditional marketing uses media that existed before the invention of the Internet, such as newspapers, magazines, flyers, billboards and television.
With the rise of medical digital marketing, does traditional advertising still work? What we know is that consumer attention is shifting from traditional to healthcare online marketing. So don’t focus all of your advertising efforts on traditional advertising alone.
This chart by Dentsu shows the share of global ad spend by medium, and you can see that digital marketing ad spend is forecasted to rise to more than half of all global ad spend by 2022.
But traditional marketing is not dead. You can still use a percentage of your budget to target people who still read newspapers and flyers. Here’s a great example of a flyer with captivating infographics that can be used to attract new patients.
Social media healthcare marketing
Medical marketing for doctors should not be restricted to traditional methods. Just like consumers of other types of businesses, your patients are on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok and Twitter. You can use healthcare social media marketing, an increasingly popular type of digital marketing, to meet your patients where they are.
Promotional videos and sponsored content are great ways to implement social media marketing. Your promotional content should use empathy, reliability, and attention-grabbing visuals to compel people to click on your content. Your sponsored content should be posted by the most relevant influencers, typically people who need your service and have high visibility on Social Media.
By 2020, Instagram had the potential to reach 928.6 million people with ads, according to Digital 2020. And 92% of Instagram users have followed a brand, clicked on their website, or made a purchase after seeing an Instagram ad or sponsored product. This shows that Instagram is an effective social media marketing platform for all industries, including healthcare.
Analyzing and improving your healthcare marketing strategy
As the digital world keeps changing, so should your medical marketing strategy. You need to keep learning what works and what doesn’t. You also need to measure your metrics for success.
You can analyze and improve your medical marketing strategy by taking the following steps:
1. Track how many patients are engaging with your campaigns
You don’t want to waste time with healthcare digital marketing strategies that are not working. Track the level of engagement for your public health marketing, and switch your strategies if you’re not getting the kind of responses you envisioned. You can use tools like HubSpot and Google Analytics to gauge engagement.
2. Improve your landing page site speed
Your landing page captures your leads. It should never have a delay of more than two seconds. Set a consistent, frequent schedule for testing your landing page site speed. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to get a feel for your site’s speed.
3. Perform A/B tests often
You should use A/B tests for different sections of your landing pages to analyze what drives the most conversions while marketing your medical practice.
4. Monitor your online presence
You need ongoing feedback to be successful. You need to know what types of reviews patients are leaving on the Internet so that you can respond appropriately.
Healthcare marketing FAQs
What is healthcare marketing?
Healthcare or health marketing is a type of marketing that uses science-based strategies to create, communicate, and promote health information and interventions to patients and caregivers. Like any other kind of marketing, healthcare marketing focuses on increased revenues, in this case by acquiring new patients and retaining old ones.
What is a healthcare marketing strategy?
A healthcare marketing strategy is a detailed healthcare marketing plan extended over a specific period (for example, one year) to achieve key performance indicators. It can include:
- Details about your target audience
- Competition analysis
- SWOT analysis
- Product roadmap
- SEO strategy
- Social media strategy
What does marketing mean in healthcare?
In healthcare, marketing focuses on acquiring new patients and maintaining old patient relationships. The competition is tough. To be successful, a marketing strategy for hospitals must highlight a unique value proposition that sets your healthcare business apart.
The key to today’s healthcare marketing landscape is to prioritize your patients. With sound healthcare content marketing materials, you can improve the patient experience, satisfaction, and recruitment, mostly by implementing visuals that captivate your patients’ attention.
Venngage for Healthcare helps providers with marketing visuals that speak deeply to patients. We reduce your work by providing easy-to-use healthcare templates.