By Shawn Miele, MyAdvice
Patients are more likely to switch physicians than ever before — especially if they’re under 40. Consequently, digital marketing continues to become more competitive among healthcare providers every year.
Fueled in large part by the pandemic and remote work-life trends in recent years, digital advertising spending grew 12.2% year over year in 2020, while global marketing and advertising is on pace to hit $78.6 billion by 2026.
Given that every health care provider in a city or region is competing online for the same patient pool, using the same old, tried-and-true marketing tactics that similar organizations use will no longer help your practice shine. To ensure success, online medical services have begun implementing sales enablement platforms for life sciences. These can help reach the right customers through the most effective channels at the right time. They also close the feedback loop in your marketing and sales operations and increase effectiveness by optimizing operations and communication.
New rules governing Google algorithms, as well as online behaviors and consumer expectations and preferences, have turned traditional best practices in physician marketing upside down. This means that what helped physician practices earn Page 1 Google spots in 2018 or 2019, such as optimizing SEO, is now the minimum standard for sustainability.
Physician practices will need new ways to evolve their marketing strategies without going broke in the pay-for-play domain.
Attracting New Patients in 2022: 3 Things to Consider
To win over new patients and retain existing ones, healthcare providers need to know:
- Who they want to attract to their practices (e.g., seniors ages 50+, millennial women, or new parents),
- what will attract that demographic (by cutting through the noise), and
- how current digital marketing trends, such as the role of consistent online directories in Google ranking, will impact their efforts.
The first two points are basic, but important ones to reiterate. Knowing who your patients are, as well as their needs and preferences, is the key to good marketing for any practice, whether primary care, aesthetics, or women’s health. And knowing how a social media campaign will influence online behavior can help in creating targeted campaigns.
Studies like this one (it’s just one study right?) shed some light on differences in online behaviors between generations, which can influence outreach and marketing campaigns. For example, 65% of millennials (ages 25 to 40) said they prefer to continue remote work after the pandemic. This means they prioritize convenience and work-life balance — key factors that should influence the design of marketing campaigns.
However, if practices aren’t paying closer attention to bullet point #3 — how current digital marketing trends, such as the role of consistent online directories in Google ranking, will impact consumer behavior — all the wisdom in the world about generational differences and target demographics won’t matter much.
Boosting Your Curb Appeal
Once you know who your patients are, you’re in better shape to grab their attention. Here are five areas to focus on to boost online curb appeal and attract potential patients:
1. Google Analytics: Because of the increase in paid advertisements, organizations that regularly ranked on Page 1 of Google may find themselves on Page 2 due to circumstances beyond their control. Use Google Analytics to identify any weaknesses (e.g. low click-through rates for certain content), or work with a third-party digital marketing expert to interpret analytics for the purpose of leveraging insights to drive changes.
2. Social media: Gone are the days when simply having multiple social media handles gave clients the impression that you were cool and edgy. Save time by streamlining or discontinuing accounts that aren’t serving the practice and using channels for specific purposes. For example: Facebook is one of the best platforms for announcing the availability of vaccines or practice closures, while Instagram may be better for humanizing your practice or elevating the profile of your staff through sharp visual images.
3. Online directories: Updating online directories by checking that contact information is accurate and consistent across the board is a powerful and easy way to boost SEO. While simple in theory, this effort requires constant monitoring as information mishaps occur all the time since listings are often generated or modified automatically by bots and data aggregators.
4. SEO: We can’t say enough about the importance of SEO, but in 2022, practices will need to go above and beyond the usual, using the right long-tail keywords (that are significantly easier to rank), at the right time. Conducting keyword analysis can help to ensure the most potent keywords are highlighted in the web code tied to content assets. Look for low-cost online tools that can perform basic keyword analysis functions. A third-party partner can also help ensure website content aligns with language or terms consumers type into search engines when they are close to the decision-making point.
5. Ratings and reviews: One bad rating or poor review won’t blow your business, but several in a row could impact consumer perception. Studies have shown that bad reviews actually lend credibility to online reviews as a whole as having too many perfect reviews can result in skepticism. Bad reviews also provide an opportunity to showcase a practice’s customer service. The catch is ensuring timely responses that are HIPAA-compliant. To stay out in front of negative feedback, practices can employ damage control tactics such as asking satisfied patients to post a positive review.
The new year is always a good time to reset, refresh, and reconsider. Use these strategies to elevate your digital marketing plans and stand out when potential patients are looking for practices. By elevating your digital marketing A Game, you’ll be more likely to connect with the clients you really, really want — individuals who are excited to engage with your better-than-basic practice.
Shawn Miele is the CEO of MyAdvice.
The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.