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While digital marketing may well be a newbie to the education and health industries, it is not new to sectors like ecommerce and online entertainment. During my career, I spent some years working with pioneers of what is known today as digital marketing: a multi-disciplinary approach that includes marketing, user experience, product marketing and online business analytics. In my roles, I had the chance to lead product-marketing teams, with responsibility over consumer journey design and innovative business opportunities.
From my experience, online strategy and campaign success lie in targeting the right audiences with relevant messaging and content and being able to measure ongoing campaign effectiveness towards audience engagement, budget optimization and ROI. After several years, and millions of dollars invested in such activities, I have learned that the secret sauce is the close alignment between marketing and product managers on the one hand, and customer success and sales representatives, on the other.
The immediate question is, how can we take the over 20 years of ecommerce and online-industry lessons learned into important sectors like education and health?
Let’s investigate healthcare (the market I am closer to), and ask ourselves a few key questions:
- Why is digital marketing so important in healthcare?
- How do you do digital marketing in healthcare?
- What are a few good examples of creative healthcare digital marketing, and why?
Digital-marketing tools are critical in the post-Covid world
As in other sectors, digital marketing can help healthcare players reach a much larger audience, create awareness to drive their cause and attract patients by leveraging digital channels like Facebook, Google and other digital platforms.
Digital-marketing channels and tools became critical with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic as clinicians were faced with a reduced ability to interact with patients directly at the clinic. In a recent interview with Sleep Review, I discussed the shift towards home diagnostics and telemedicine, and the importance of delivering patient-centric, home-based and individualized solutions. While health-tech companies are focusing on improving the experience between health professionals and their patients, digital-marketing tools can help make the experience more convenient and accessible for patients.
The key for success, though, is the storytelling behind such an approach. Digital marketers can be very relevant to healthcare-tech leaders in their mission to simplify (and amplify) the full customer lifecycle, to effectively leverage the consumerization of healthcare.
Building experience and brand reputation
More than ever, establishing an online presence is critical to the growth of healthcare services. Digital marketing can enable health specialists with better formats to showcase their expertise and credentials and boost healthcare reputation. When done properly, it allows for reaching and nurturing wider and more diverse audiences. But managing a successful digital-marketing strategy requires particular attention to patient experience and brand reputation, which are key for organic positions and growth.
Globally, the healthcare industry spent an estimated $36 billion on advertising in 2020; 77% of people who search online for health concerns use Google, Bing and other top search engines, but more than 70% don’t go past the first page of the search engine. Implementing an efficient SEO strategy may help scale a successful healthcare business with lower advertising budgets.
Another successful and highly accessible channel is social media: 94.41% of healthcare centers in the U.S. have a Facebook account, 50.82% have a Twitter account, 99.14% have Yelp and 99.41% use Foursquare. The reason behind this may be that 91% of social-media users admit that the health information on social media has helped them make better decisions.
Content marketing (articles, blogs, infographics, video) is another great channel to share expertise with patients. Healthcare content marketing generates three times more ROI than outbound marketing, and ad spend is 62% less than other marketing plans. This may be the reason why so many companies adopt this strategy.
If content is king, mobile strategy is queen, as everyone uses smartphones today. In fact, 44% of people who look up hospitals on their mobile end up scheduling an appointment, 47.6% of healthcare emails are opened via mobile and 19% of mobile users have health and fitness apps on their mobile devices.
How well healthcare organizations integrate between the various marketing channels will determine their patients’ experience and their brand reputation. The glue, as previously mentioned, is the storytelling behind the messaging.
How to stand out online
Large and small providers have many ways to stand out from their competitors and inform consumers about how they can offer the best patient experience. And 20 years of digital-marketing best practices still hold sound: price, placement, product and promotion can load a marketing strategy that does the trick.
When patients are looking to make decisions online, almost 72% will read or watch online reviews before consulting with a new doctor, and 88% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
There are a few good examples of successful campaigns. The New York Presbyterian Hospital leveraged storytelling to enhance its brand identity with a video-marketing technique that stood out because people relate to visual content more than written text.
UnitedHealthcare’s We Dare You campaign encouraged its followers to make one small healthy improvement in their lives per month and share it on social media for others to get inspiration from. This resulted in the dream of every social campaign: interaction and virality! Mayo Clinic invests in nurturing trust with a blog promoting stories from patients, family members and the Mayo Clinic staff themselves to create a global online community for people all around the world.
There is no doubt that the digital revolution has finally reached the healthcare industry. Digital-marketing channels and tools are relevant not only in building direct relationships with customers and amplifying brand loyalty, but also in creating repeatable processes of revenue generation, adding measurable value and enabling data-driven marketing decisions.
What’s next? Healthcare companies need to help people improve their health and enable them to communicate this through their network. This is not a short-term strategy. Digital-marketing channels are key to health providers in their mission to inform, educate and communicate with consumers about their products and services.
By providing more than company credibility and service and product alignment as the solution to patient problems, digital marketing can ensure consumers access to insightful content that helps build a relationship, keeping them engaged and loyal. As with so much in life, personalization is key. Creative use of the consumer’s voice is a powerful motivator for change because consumers want to hear from other patients directly.