Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy Around the Patient Experience
Digital marketers recognize the major challenges that healthcare providers and marketing managers face daily. Whether they are a part of a small practice or a large healthcare system, marketing managers wear many hats. We see our healthcare partners juggling doctor expectations, implementing new healthcare programs, managing compliance and keeping up with technology. It can be easy to forget that all these efforts are really for one thing… to bring in patients.
Understanding How the Digital Landscape Influences Patients
Have you ever seen a toddler play with an iPhone? It is one of the weirdest things to watch. These little tots know exactly what to do and it’s second nature for them to navigate. Think about how important the digital landscape will be for them one day in making decisions. The good news is right now marketers are just dealing with their parents – who are less savvy with an iPhone – but just as knowledgeable on where to get information.
Today’s patients are proactive and empowered, turning to the web to conduct health-related searches and use that information to make informed decisions about healthcare providers. In this regard, digital marketing has far surpassed traditional media channels in importance. Research shows that patients use digital platforms (from social media to Google) to find the answers to the following questions:
- Does this provider have good reviews and a good reputation?
- Do they accept my healthcare plan?
- Are they recommended by a physician?
- Do they use the latest technology?
- Are they recommended by my friends and family?
Okay we get it. Digital is important. But how do we help these patients believe in our brand and find the information they need? The answer: create a patient-focused digital marketing strategy.
3 Steps to a Patient-Focused Digital Marketing Strategy
Creating a patient-focused marketing strategy is essential to having a successful digital campaign that draws in new patients and delights current ones. Below are the steps to developing a marketing strategy focused on patients. Need help? Contact our healthcare digital marketing specialists for unique insight.
1. Map Out Patient Interests
We recommend starting with mapping out patient interest by service line. Take a piece of paper and write down a service line that needs the most marketing attention to bring in new patients. To be effective, we would recommend going through this process for each service line that a practice has. For a physician’s group with 5-10 healthcare service lines, it might take an hour to do. On the other end of the spectrum, a hospital might need to start with just 2-3 of the most important areas they are trying to grow (i.e. bariatrics, cardiology, ortho).
After choosing your top healthcare service lines, answer the following questions for each:
- What motivates patients?
- What health issues do patients encounter?
- What are patients searching for related to this health issue?
- What questions do patients have about their condition?
- Who are patients and who brings them to their appointment?
After answering the questions for a specific service line, keep the notes handy. These patient interests will be helpful to reference.
2. Generate Useful Content That Answers Patient Questions
After identifying patient interests for a specific service line, the next step is to develop content around those interests. Start with a content strategy that outlines each topic and subtopic. An example of valuable content could be patient education about a specific health issue and how to recognize the symptoms or questions to ask a doctor when dealing with a health condition. Another example could be a video tour of the clinic or wing where the patient will go for their appointment.
A good example where we developed a patient-focused digital marketing strategy is when we worked with Children’s Orthopaedics of Atlanta (COA). Being a pediatrics practice, parents were frequently looking for more information about their child’s condition. We not only created helpful content surrounding the practice’s services, we also generated content that helped parents prepare their children for different exams. Through content generation, we were able to increase COA’s traffic by 800% in 8 months and increase patient conversions by 47% in a year.
Conversions from Search Results
3. Utilize Content on All Marketing Channels
A study from Google found that 84% of patients use both online and offline sources for research. Today’s patients are better informed. The more information a healthcare provider can give to meet patient needs and answer questions, the more trust the provider can build with them.
After spending valuable time creating content to meet the patient’s needs, utilize the content on all marketing channels. The obvious place to first integrate content is on your website. Make sure user experience for both mobile and desktop users is top notch while you’re here. Once the content is on the website, incorporate it on other channels. This could be billboards, social media, brochures or even a speaking event. Reference all these other channels back to the website’s original content to create a unified approach and encourage sharing.
It’s likely marketing managers for healthcare providers already have a lot of this information floating around. Take a close look at your current marketing efforts and the resources being put out on the digital landscape to assess if it’s patient-focused. If it’s not, change it. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint… unless you’re doing Pay-Per-Click advertising. But that’s another blog post.
Need help? Full Media works with a variety of clients but have found that we excel when working with healthcare clients. We pride ourselves on providing quality digital marketing services to help healthcare clients succeed.