Healthcare marketing is the process of developing communication strategies in order to reach new patients and improve patient care. An open line of communication between patients and healthcare providers starts with delivering valuable content and resources through websites, social media accounts, paid advertising, SEO, and more.
If you want to build a strong online presence for your business in the healthcare industry, find potential leads in a hypercompetitive industry, and retain patients to build a loyal community, then this practical guide is just what you need. We’ve compiled some actionable strategies that will help you achieve your healthcare marketing goals and show consumers that you’re looking out for them during the pandemic.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
1. Why is marketing important in healthcare?
2. The 5Ps of healthcare marketing
3. Healthcare marketing strategies for 2021
4. What are the ethical issues in healthcare marketing?
5. Healthcare marketing ideas to inspire you
A. To set your practice apart from other healthcare providers
It is important that healthcare providers have an effective marketing strategy so that they can stand out in an ever-growing industry. Right now there are 784,626 healthcare companies in the US and that number is always growing.
Global healthcare spending is expected to exceed $10 trillion by 2022, and if patients have to see a doctor, why not you? This is the question that doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other medical organizations seek to answer through healthcare marketing campaigns.
For example, the Southern Nevada Health District and Clark County recently rolled out a new “Back to Life” campaign, which was targeted to encourage Black residents, who are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 virus, to get their vaccines. This campaign helped the organization stand out from the crowd in many ways. First, it communicated that the system is aware of health issues that directly affect the Black community and that they have solutions to meet their patients’ needs. Second, by using several different media outlets to spread awareness they place themselves at the front of mind, so when a friend or a neighbor mentions they need a vaccine, others can easily point them in the direction of The Southern Nevada Health District.
B. To Establish thought leadership
Thought leadership instantly sets healthcare providers apart from the crowd by positioning themselves as a medical authority by showing patients that they are committed to their mission, innovation, and inclusivity. It shows patients that you are ahead of the curve and are among the best of the best in terms of medical care.
The Cleveland Clinic provides a great example of thought leadership, and has integrated thought leadership elements into everything they do. They sponsored the 2018 Innovation Summit, and released top 10 lists of projections for the future of medical care every year. They also use inclusive branding with people of several ethnicities and demographics, as well as make public their research collaborations with top physicians in the field.
While these are not marketing campaigns, the event provided them exposure and positioned them as top performing doctors and medical professionals in their field, and releasing articles about medical technology projections establishes that they are a part of the innovation process. Inclusive messaging shows that they are progressive in their care and that they believe everyone deserves high quality care.These are all key elements to establishing thought leadership and connecting patients to their mission.
C. To create patient relationships
Since emotions are often intertwined with healthcare, it's especially important that healthcare marketers keep ethics at the forefront when creating their healthcare marketing strategies, including maintaining HIPAA compliance, using secure technologies and building relationships with patients.
According to survey results, familiarity allows patients to build trust with healthcare providers and feel more comfortable going to them when medical issues arise. United Healthcare’s “We Dare You” campaign was an example of a successful healthcare marketing strategy for building relationships with patients.
This campaign encouraged their followers to make healthy changes through a series of dares, quizzes, and prizes. People shared videos and photos of themselves engaging in healthy dares with their friends and family on social media. This interactive campaign helped patients make healthier habits and created an online community with United Healthcare at its center. United Healthcare thus positioned themselves as a friendly healthcare provider whose goal is to create happy, healthy patients.
The 5Ps of healthcare marketing reflect the key marketing elements used to attract more patients to their healthcare systems, doctors, or services. They consist of:
Physicians set the standard when it comes to the level of care, and these expectations affect the marketing team as well. Physicians and healthcare administrators have a large degree of influence when it comes to adopting new procedures and expanding patient access to healthcare solutions.
The views and opinions of esteemed medical professionals are the beating heart of healthcare organizations. An organization can claim to be many things but the physicians are the ones that put an organization’s mission into practice.
That is why, when you’re creating a healthcare marketing strategy, consider using the physician's experiences, advice, and achievements as a part of a winning campaign. One way to do this is by sharing physicians’ profiles or a brief interview in a blog post that can be promoted on social media.
Watch this video by St. Luke’s Health where they introduce their Medical Director of Heart Transplant Services - Andrew Civitello.
You can also share health tips and recommendations on a social media post, on YouTube or as a written blog.
Using a doctor’s testimonial video regarding their experience working with a healthcare organization can also prove to be a great way to build trust and authority with patients.
Healthcare marketing should always focus on patient care first and foremost. Today’s patients are more informed and aware due to easier access to information and so, providing concise, relevant, and up-to-date information is key.
Since patients are the customers in this business case, they hold the keys to a successful healthcare marketing campaign. Some information about patients that would be useful to marketers:
- Specific medical concerns
- Community health hazards
- Population demographics like adults with children or obesity rates
- Seasonal illness awareness
Marketers can use surveys, market research, patient analytics, and automated softwares to extract meaningful information about the patients in their community, their medical concerns, and healthcare information they are interested in in order to create healthcare ads targeted toward specific patients.
For example, the Mayo Clinic released their Mayo Clinic Sharing Campaign, which revolved around stories and experiences from Mayo patients and staff members alike to create inspiration for everyday people and started a diverse global following. The result was that the campaign was shared frequently and helped to boost Mayo’s reputation.
3- Professional Healthcare Administrators
Healthcare administrators need to remember that healthcare services are not isolated products, but rather form an overall patient experience. While some companies have specific merchandise that their marketing team needs to promote, healthcare organizations also have the overall patient experience to market.
For example, administrators can keep patients satisfied at every step of the journey by providing services like easy-to-use scheduling platforms and payment procedures.
For example, here is a video that showcases in-home care services that can be provided by a healthcare organization.
You too can create a video like this in minutes by using this template
Your healthcare marketing campaign should showcase the ways that an organization provides an outstanding patient experience through:
- Utilizing state of the art technology to achieve patient results
- Fast service
- Easy appointment scheduling
- Specific medical specialities
- Comfortable waiting areas
- Clinic amenities
- Private rooms
Then, use the information that you gathered about your patients to discover what it is about the patient experience that is most important to those in your organization's community and highlight those values in your next healthcare marketing campaign.
4- Policy Makers
Policy makers, in the context of the health industry, are those who determine how healthcare is provided to people. “Healthcare” is too broad of a market, so policy makers should ensure their marketing teams focus on niche medical markets in order to promote relevant services to prospective patients.
Using data, experiences, and other information collected regarding the previous Ps - physicians, patients, and product, policy makers in the healthcare space should have their marketers create content that engages their target audiences.
For example, one of the biggest policy makers, especially in the times of the pandemic was the World Health Organisation (WHO). Their marketing team ensured a surplus of informative videos, social media posts, written blogs and also illustrations that could be amplified by other healthcare agencies.
5 - Payers
It’s important that medical services are accessible for payers (i.e. patients), and marketing teams can help ensure that patients can easily find healthcare clinics, websites, and other places where health services are practiced, like vaccination pop-ups or blood drives.
Marketing teams should ensure that medical payers are informed about an organization’s location, their website, phone number, blogs, social media, and any other outlets that are associated with a specific clinic.
To make it easy for patients to make an appointment or get information from a healthcare provider:
- include contact and other relevant information on your organization’s social media pages (such as in the above example)
- provide links to a hospital’s blog or website on social media posts
- include a phone number or QR code on every physical piece of marketing material like posters and flyers
To promote your healthcare organization successfully, you must create strategies that are inclusive and informative by using content tools to tell stories like:
- Physician experience
- Patient testimonials
- Facility tours
- New equipment purchases
- Access to new insights
We, at InVideo, have made it super easy for healthcare practitioners to create informative and engaging videos in just minutes. With InVideo’s super-intuitive online editor and templates you can create professional quality videos even if you’ve never edited before!
You’ll have at your disposal 5000+ ready to use templates, an in-built library of 8M+ stock footage and images and 24/7 online support. Check out this tutorial to know more about what makes InVideo such an easy and effective alternative for you.
Just as important as what you post is where you post. Refer to your market analytics to discover where patients in your community are likely to come into contact with promotional content. For example, marketers can use these platforms to promote health care organizations:
- Social media
- Community center bulletins
- Local newspapers
- Local magazines
- Organization website
Promotion is about bringing it all together and delivering valuable content to patients in forms that appeal to them.
(a) Social media
It’s important that doctors and hospitals maintain a social media presence so patients can learn more about the provider and their company culture. Content marketing and social media marketing strategies often go hand in hand, as social media is the perfect place to post updates about new innovations, patient success stories, offer healthcare advice, host webinars or events, and even advertise.
Here’s a stellar example of a heartwarming testimonial post on Instagram by St. Luke’s Hospital.
Start by creating social media accounts for your healthcare organization on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Complete your business profile and include photos of your healthcare facility, physicians, and recent patients (with permission). Your phone number, address, website, and other social media links should all be listed publicly on these social media profiles so that people can easily find a doctor, clinic, or other healthcare provider.
The goal of social media is to build a community and provide a way for people to become a part of your organization. There are many tools and techniques that can be used to form a successful social media strategy using photos, videos, links and flyers that patients can share and interact with.
Pro-tip: Use InVideo to create amazing videos to share on your social media pages. Simply log on to invideo.io and type ‘healthcare’ into the search bar. If you are looking for something specific, like ‘covid’ then you can put that keyword in the search bar instead.
Social media platforms typically come with free analytics that businesses can use to evaluate things like how many people are seeing and interacting with your posts. Use this information to hone your content and create ads that are carefully targeted toward specific audiences.
And if you want to dive deeper into which social media platforms are the best fit for you, be sure to check out this guide where we cover the 13 most prominent social media platforms worth using in 2021.
(b) Paid ads
Paid ads are a highly effective strategy to get noticed when prospective patients conduct online searches about their health and medical conditions. Every minute 70,000 health related searches are conducted using Google. That means there are 70,000 opportunities each minute available for healthcare providers to get noticed by the patients who need their input the most.
For example, when you type ‘asthma test’ on Google, the top most link is of Mayo Clinic. While this is not an ad, you can place an ad with Google so that your website’s link will be the first option shown to someone who is actively searching for services that you have to offer.
To get started using paid ads on Google Search and Google Ads:
1. Decide what you would like to achieve with your ads. For example, you might want to increase the number of scheduled appointments or drive traffic to your organization’s website.
2. Google will ask you to decide whether you would like your ads to be posted locally or globally. For most healthcare organizations, local ads will be the most effective for increasing patients and appointments.
3. Google Ads will help you create a few lines of copy for your ad. This will also be your chance to use images or video to create dynamic banner ads to be posted on relevant searches.
Additionally, do not neglect paid ads on other platforms such as YouTube or Facebook for different use cases that are more appropriate for those platforms. We have written a detailed guide that will help you create ads that convert on both Facebook and YouTube - so make sure you check those out.
You can also set a cap for your budget so that your healthcare organization never goes over its advertising budget. Additionally, Google Ads provides actionable insights about your ad performance so that you can tweak it as needed to reach the right audience and reach your advertising goals.
(c) Content marketing
Building up content on your site serves two primary purposes: to rank pages on your site higher on search results pages to drive natural traffic to your site and to provide information to patients. As a general rule, the top spot on a results page will get clicked 30% of the time, with 15% for the second spot and 10% for the third.
You can follow these simple steps to create a successful content marketing strategy:
First- start by defining the purpose of your marketing strategy. As an example, perhaps the purpose of your strategy is to have common questions and concerns patients have answered by healthcare providers.
Second- Research keywords that you can use to drive traffic to your content and update it regularly. For example, use the search term “doctor’s office near me” and you will receive results like “doctors in your area,” “doctor’s offices in Florida,” “Florida doctor,” and so on. Use these keywords as the foundation of your content creation. Alternatively, you can also use keyword tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to do the same and get better results. Check out this video to learn how to do a thorough keyword analysis for your content strategy.
Third- decide what you want to achieve with your content. Each piece of content should have a specific goal. For example, one blog post’s goal might be to inform your target audience about the location of your facility, and another might be to show them how easy it is to set an appointment.
PRO TIP: If you'd like to dive deeper into content marketing for your organisation, we highly recommend you check out this guide where we take you through the exact steps you can follow to arrive at a solid content marketing strategy.
(d) Mobile optimization
Any digital marketing strategy involves driving traffic to a website, and in healthcare, it's even more important that information, products, and services are easily accessible to patients. With so many people using their smartphones to schedule appointments, use telehealth services, and read about medical procedures, it is critical that organizations make sure their websites are optimized for mobile browsers.
Tips for optimizing your website for mobile users:
1- Reconsider your webhost:
Some hosts provide better speeds than others, so consider choosing a webhost based on their page loading times and optimization tools. Check out this guide where Google lists the 4 steps to choosing the right web host.
2- Consult a web designer:
If your site is difficult to navigate on the web, then it will be even more difficult on mobile. Hire a web designer to create a streamlined navigation and include features that will increase your website’s usability. Net Solutions has put together this mobile-friendly web design checklist with examples and illustrations that will help you understand web design better.
3- Test your website
There are several online tools, such as WebPage Test or Uptrends, that can help you test your website’s performance for things like average response time, peak response time and error rate. By improving these metrics you will also improve your mobile optimization.
(e) Create video testimonials
Patient testimonials are a great way to reach new patients who may be hesitant to receive medical care. In fact, one study showed that 71% of patients use online reviews as their first step in making a decision about healthcare providers. A video testimonial is even more powerful because it allows potential patients to see that real people have received quality care from a certain doctor, hospital, or clinic. We have tons of awesome testimonial templates for you to choose from, making it super easy to create testimonial videos to share.
Here’s an example of a patient testimonial video by the Bumrungrad International Hospital.
Professionals who are involved in healthcare marketing have a responsibility to keep in mind the code of ethics of the medical profession, as well as maintaining honest marketing communications. Creating inaccurate expectations, slandering other healthcare providers, and tasteless messaging can all have a damaging effect on the medical industry according to doctors at the University of Bucharest Hospital.
There are 4 main ethical issues in healthcare marketing:
- HIPAA compliance
- Local medical board advertising restrictions
- Guaranteeing results
- Speaking poorly against other doctors or fields of medicine
In order to ensure that ethics are at the forefront of all healthcare marketing activities:
- Ensure that all marketing communications consist of honest and proven messaging
- Follow all advertising guidelines that are mandated by your local medical board and make sure that you are in compliance with HIPAA
- Never guarantee results of any kind in healthcare advertising
- Avoid using superlatives like “the best,” or “most effective,” unless you can prove it
If you’re still at a loss for ideas on how to get started, take a look at some existing successful healthcare marketing examples.
1- St. Louis & Shannon Miller for Ovarian Cancer
Healthcare provider Ascension in St. Louis launched a campaign themed around the Tokyo Olympic summer games. Their ad includes the voice and likeness of seven-time Olympic medalist Shannon Miller, who encourages women to get early screenings to help detect and then prevent the onset of ovarian cancer.
2- Montefiore Health System’s Live and Let Live
This idea of taking patient survivors of life threatening medical conditions was taken a step further by New York City’s Montefiore Health System. They recently partnered with advertising agency Alto in order to launch an entire ad platform called "Live and Let Live." This unique and interactive platform allows people who are in need of an organ transplant to create a short film about their lives in order to attract potential donors.
Here’s an ad clip from the Live and Let Live campaign by Alto Advertising:
3- Allegheny Health Network & Marvel Comics
To help generate even more publicity, Allegheny Health Network out of Pittsburg partnered with Marvel Comics in their latest healthcare marketing campaign. The ad showcases the dedicated care that their nurses have been providing to COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic. In Marvel Comics fashion, they released a comic book titled "The Vitals: True Nurse Stories." Watch this heartwarming video ad from their campaign:
Wrapping Up -
In this article, we’ve covered actionable steps that can help you create your own healthcare marketing strategy in 2021. Not just that but we have also covered the ethical issues that healthcare providers can get into so you can avoid them at all costs. Now, it’s time for you to pick up the mantle and put together a marketing strategy for your own healthcare services.
And while you’re at it, we’ve made it easier than ever for you to create super effective videos to assist your marketing strategy for this year with 5000+ ready-to-use templates that you can get started with for free.
If you have any questions or want to continue the conversation, hop over to the InVideo community and learn from 25K other marketers and video creators just like you!