Every marketing strategy encounters challenges. However, when it comes to the healthcare sector, the challenges involve more complexity than found in other industries due to government regulations, the nature of third-party payment, and consumers’ inability to make informed healthcare decisions. Marketing your healthcare business represents unique challenges for healthcare providers. Indeed, at the core of the healthcare journey, the unique relationships a doctor builds with their patients can be crucial to their success. Today, we’ll discuss some helpful marketing tips.
Marketing is an essential component of any successful business. However, unique restrictions and regulations specific to the healthcare sector can establish strict boundaries for a marketing plan that don’t happen in other industries. HIPAA compliance, as an example, is a tricky element as it affects data management in efforts to protect patient privacy. With the tight connection between data and marketing, it is important that the marketing strategy reviews the confidentiality of users’ data and set up clear rules for using patients’ private information, including their likeness, in their marketing campaigns. An additional challenge is that healthcare marketing budgets are often on the small side. Therefore, marketing teams must learn to make the most of their existing tools and activities.
This blog post discusses five essential marketing considerations for healthcare providers. Keep reading to learn more about marketing your healthcare business to achieve success.
Marketing your healthcare business
1) Medical SEO
Medical SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing a medical website to improve performance in a user’s search. By showing up closer to the top in a search, your website receives more traffic, which means more opportunities to serve patients. SEO involves developing a strategy that optimizes a website for relevant keywords related to medical services, products, and/or topics including these top factors influencing your rank in search:
- valuable content produced on a consistent basis
- using the keywords appropriately both in the content and on a sitewide basis
- gaining backlinks from authoritative sources
- creating engagement with social media users
- providing a great customer experience on your website
The main difference between general SEO and medical Seo is that medical SEO requires a deeper understanding of the content needs and restrictions in the healthcare sector. One of the most important medical SEO tips refers to understanding the language limit in this sector imposed by search engines, as some terms and phrases could bring hefty penalties that reduce your rank. Additionally, when it comes to keyword research, there is more than meets the eye. Using medically relevant terms is important. However, the healthcare audience, namely patients, is unlikely to be familiar with technical terms. Therefore, keyword research should target both common terms and complex vocabulary in parallel. Additionally, since medical search terms are often very competitive, medical SEO must also employ tactics such as link building to improve visibility.
2) Social media goals
Social media offers a powerful tool for healthcare businesses, just like any other business. Social media is used to help inform the public about the latest medical advancements and to share important health-related information. However, social platforms also contain a vast amount of misinformation and topics sometimes become politicized. Therefore, healthcare businesses serve a societal good by having a presence on social media in order to reduce the spread of false information and to establish authority in their industry. One way to ensure accuracy on social media is by addressing viral content that shares false information. This is often the result of misinformed influencers creating inaccurate content. As a medical provider, it becomes your responsibility to correct and educate for the benefit of your audience. This helps establish authority on social media by responding to medical queries and trends in a timely manner.
The politicization of some medical topics may also cost you prospective patients or lead to losing patients if your information doesn’t correspond to their worldview of healthcare. For instance, during the worst of the pandemic, everyone on social media seemed to be an expert on virology and epidemiology. They saw their opinions as equal to the facts shared by medical experts and thought experts who disagreed were not suitable as doctors or other providers.
3) Real photos
High-quality, real photos are essential to establish trust and credibility in the healthcare sector as well as many other industries. People turn to healthcare institutes to find comfort in a time of need and want to know they’re receiving the best care possible. This means showing potential patients what you have to offer. Stock photos can often be too generic and impersonal, which isn’t a good look for any business, let alone those in the healthcare industry. However, medical providers have limits to sharing patient images online. One orthodontist I know got around this using user-generated content, which negates HIPPA privacy rules. He held a contest where patients shared images on social media showing them wearing his t-shirt in interesting locations. Every so often, he’d award an iPad to the patient he judged as the winner.
Using real photos of your equipment and venue can give potential patients a better idea of what to expect when visiting your healthcare institution. Healthcare tends to show a certain stickiness that keeps patients from switching providers except in the most extreme situations. By showing prospective patients what to expect in your office and how the process works, you overcome some of this stickiness.
Showing real photos of your staff in action helps build trust and increases patient confidence in your services. Plus, it can help you stand out from competitors who might be using stock photos. Real photos can also be used on social media and websites to show people how advanced your medical facility is while also highlighting the comfort and safety of the environment you create.
4) Different content on different platforms
Having an online presence for your healthcare business is essential in today’s digital world, but it’s important to understand the different audiences of each platform and adjust your content accordingly. For example, if you have a blog, you may be writing more detailed and educational posts than you would place on a social media platform. You might prepare content on one platform to take advantage of user characteristics while you might use different content on another platform due to a different user base. Below, you can see some of these differences with respect to age between social platforms.
Yet the tone of voice should remain accessible and similar regardless of where the post appears. Social media also relies on an approachable and accessible voice to connect with potential customers, but it requires shorter and more engaging content with a strong visual focus.
Specialist medical platforms are a great way to share your knowledge and expertise with other healthcare professionals. Here, the tone of voice is sector-focused, meaning that it doesn’t need to be accessible to the general public. When creating content for these platforms, make sure to focus on providing helpful and informative articles that are backed up by research.
5) Third-party payments
In the medical industry, patients don’t usually pay directly for their healthcare; making marketing your healthcare business challenging. Not only can’t you compete on price with other providers, but patients also don’t have control over their choice of providers. Most healthcare plans require patients to choose a provider from their network of providers. By the same token, providers don’t have unilateral control over healthcare because rules imposed by insurers might require a series of tests before moving to more advanced procedures even in cases where the provider doesn’t need the test to make a diagnosis. This situation creates friction from patients who want to avoid the expense and disruption (and sometimes pain) involved in these unnecessary tests.
Hopefully, these few tips can give you food for thought when it comes to marketing your healthcare business.
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