In today’s ultra competitive healthcare market, patients have more choices than ever before. As we’ve seen during the pandemic, where to go for medical care when there’s an emergency isn’t a matter of personal preference. A lack of ICU beds in 43 hospitals for a recent Alabama heart patient meant no care for the man. If your mom falls and breaks her hip, there’s no time to Google where to go. She’ll be admitted to the hospital that’s closest and has a bed. This reality can lead hospitals and medical practice marketers to avoid “marketing” their services. They can rely on the status quo, right?
Hospital and medical practice branding and marketing is necessary for all of those non-emergent care decisions.
SEO for Hospitals
In 2019, there were 5,141 community hospitals in the US, with a total of 787,995 staffed beds. Of those, 107,276 staffed beds were in Intensive Care Units (ICU). There were 34,078,100 admissions to these community hospitals in 2019 according to the American Hospital Association’s annual survey. If you’re spearheading your hospital’s branding and marketing efforts, you have a large audience interested in your services. The goal of your marketing strategy needs to be staying top-of-mind when individuals can choose where to go for their healthcare.
We know a significant number of people are deferring healthcare, including surgeries and time-sensitive care, because of the pandemic. Data from the Epic Health Research Network and published by KFF shows an 8.5% decrease in expected admissions for 2020. When the time comes to reschedule elective surgery, begin cancer treatments or address other medical issues, who will they turn to as their trusted healthcare provider? Chances are high, they’ll do exactly what they’ve been doing during the pandemic. They’ll turn to Google. Will your content be there in the top search results?
Brand and Marketing on Repeat
A smart medical practice or healthcare facility marketing strategy should be focused on your audience’s needs. The best way to grow your audience, your reach, and to increase brand loyalty is to establish your expertise. But to do this effectively, you need to educate your consumers. And you need to keep doing it over and over and over again.
It all begins with understanding your diverse audiences. There are three primary audiences for every healthcare facility’s content marketing: your internal audience, patients, and upstream healthcare professionals. Each audience requires a customized marketing strategy.
Optimize Your Patient Experience
In the 21st century, if you’re not leveraging digital technology to provide a fast and painless experience on your website, you’re headed for the land of dinosaurs. Everything from page speed to navigation can make the difference when prospective patients are choosing a healthcare provider.
Why do these matter? Because we turn to search engines for answers for everything in our daily lives. Because there are more than one billion health-related searches on Google every single day. Because 44% of people who used their smartphone to search hospitals scheduled a healthcare appointment!
Take this simple test without looking at your website.
- Can new visitors find information easily?
- Is it easy to email physicians or schedule an appointment?
- Are educational materials readily available and consumer focused?
- Do you provide content for niche populations?
- Is your social media presence on brand and engaging with your audience?
- Are you responding to negative feedback and reviews?
- Does any of your website content appear as a featured snippet or answer to questions people also ask on Google?
If you can’t answer yes to every question, your marketing strategy needs help. The patient sales funnel, and make no mistake, it IS a sales funnel, needs to move users gently from those searching to loyal brand advocates. The best way to do this is by providing them with engaging content. But patients aren’t your only audience. What is your digital strategy to engage with upstream healthcare professionals?
Engage with Outside Practitioners
Upstream medical personnel influence your admissions in ways you cannot directly control. Your healthcare marketing strategy needs to address them in a different way than the one you’re using for your non-medical audience. If this audience has privileges at your hospital or medical facility and other facilities in your area, your message needs to persuade them you’re the better choice. Telling them simply isn’t enough. Your message needs to show them how you can help them achieve their goals.
These upstream practitioners can become an extension of your marketing team when you provide them with the tools to help educate their patients. The digital channels you’ll use for this audience will be separate from those for your non-medical audience. Even the type of messaging will differ as you leverage more professionally-focused messaging to persuade them to choose your facility.
Acknowledge Your Internal Audience
The third audience your message needs to reach is your internal audience. Did you know that 84% of consumers trust reviews as much as they trust recommendations from someone they know? And they form an opinion after reading 1-6 reviews? Did you know that 94% of patients use online reviews to make decisions? And did you know that 81% of patients were unsatisfied with their healthcare experience? Wondering what you can do to counter this? Ask your internal audience to help!
Every single employee of your healthcare facility should be a partner in your marketing strategy. They can help you share your message in a number of ways. Ask them to like and share your social media content. Encourage them to share their own positive experiences online through your blog, your social media, or in personal reviews. Help them understand what makes your facility the best choice by sharing content with them that speaks directly to them as a special audience.
If you’d like to discuss how to more effectively craft a hospital or healthcare facility marketing strategy, our experts would love to chat. Please reach out to EVG to see how the right message for the right audience can help raise brand awareness for all of your audiences.