Think about the last time you went online to search for healthcare information. Maybe it was for quick answers about possible causes of the lingering headache you’ve had over the past few weeks. Or maybe you wanted tips on the best way to remove a stubborn splinter from your first grader’s foot.
It isn’t surprising that your first inclination would be to open up a browser in Google – before even calling your doctor’s office. Pew Research Center data shows 77% of all health inquiries begin at a search engine. What’s more, 72% of total Internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year.
So what does this mean for healthcare marketers?
In today’s digital world, it’s crucial for marketers in any industry to develop a multichannel approach that reaches consumers on the channels they prefer to use. For healthcare marketers in particular, the challenge is to develop tailored messaging across channels that promotes patient engagement and a healthier society overall.
Let’s take a look at 10 campaign best practices for healthcare marketers to improve their organizations’ bottom line and create better outcomes for patients:
1. Allocate sufficient digital marketing spend
Digital marketing isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a new concept: Statistics show online marketing will account for 35% of overall marketing budget spend by 2016.
The trick, however, is for marketers to determine where and how to allocate the online portion of their budget among various channels (i.e., search engine marketing, online display advertising, social media, mobile, etc.). With a healthcare CRM system in place, marketers can expand their patient marketing reach by building, deploying, and tracking multichannel messaging that maximizes their return on investment.
2. Develop a collaborative process for the marketing team
Given the wealth of patient information available to today’s healthcare marketers, it’s critical to not only integrate multiple data sources in a healthcare CRM but also to align marketing efforts with other departments (sales, contact center, etc.) across the organization. A truly integrated marketing program requires a cross-disciplinary approach that leverages patient insights from across departments and ensures a coordinated effort and consistency.
3. Incorporate new ideas and channels
A cross-disciplinary strategy can’t just be added on top of existing marketing infrastructure, however. In order to maximize marketing effectiveness, it’s important to keep current with the shifting healthcare landscape, incorporating new ideas and channels into the program as needed.
FICO data, for example, shows 80% of consumers now want the option of using their smartphones to interact with their healthcare providers. What this means for marketers is that the consumer public has gone mobile – and marketers must tailor programs and messaging accordingly.
4. Align with consumer information
Despite increasing pressure to move toward digital media, marketers also need to be able to show a positive ROI associated with digital efforts. The best way to do this is to align marketing efforts to consumer insights and business intelligence.
This is where the analytics side of the healthcare CRM platform comes into play. After data has been compiled and integrated into the system, marketers can explore and analyze information, attributing marketing efforts to clinical and financial outcomes.
5. Leverage social media
As noted in Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey, 92% of consumers trust opinions from people they know. In the healthcare space, this translates to patients trusting online healthcare content that comes from doctors and nurses.
The challenge, of course, is getting this inevitably busy group to contribute the kind of content patients are looking to consume. A Fathom article offers sound advice on how marketers can leverage the power of social media to engage patients: “Increasingly, doctors see social media as an extension of their job (87% under the age of 56), so [marketers need to] find these rock stars within the company and continue to curate/recycle the most valuable and relevant content.”
6. Be proactively reactive
No industry is experiencing as much transformation as healthcare is. For healthcare marketers, this presents both challenges and opportunities. Proactive marketers will watch for changes in trends and consumer interests and behaviors – and be ready to respond.
By leveraging real-time reporting and analysis, marketers can take advantage of unexpected opportunities (i.e., mobile marketing, live tweeting, etc.) that may not have been possible in the past.
7. Don’t be afraid to experiment – and fail
Already, the year 2015 has seen explosive digital innovations that are reshaping the healthcare landscape. Early adopters of the Apple Watch are, for example, are reporting that the device is motivating them to make healthy lifestyle changes, including walking more often, making healthier dietary choices, and playing sports more regularly.
The resulting imperative for healthcare marketers is to embrace change – because change in the healthcare industry is here to stay. It can be daunting to explore a new tactic or channel, as opposed to relying on proven techniques, but, without experimentation, it’s impossible to know what works and what doesn’t.
8. Establish trust
As any healthcare marketer knows, establishing trust is integral to patient engagement from the first office visit throughout the entire care continuum. But creating the type of connections that inspire proactive patient care over the long term is easier said than done.
The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics shows that 40% of online healthcare advice comes from social media, providing healthcare marketers with the opportunity to engage a large percentage of patients via the networks they seek out for medical information.
9. Leverage competitor intelligence
As the $2.8 trillion healthcare industry continues to evolve, competition among healthcare organizations will become increasingly significant. Proactive healthcare marketers understand this and keep current on what their competitors are doing to inform their own strategies and remain top of mind with consumers.
Specific tactics will vary among marketers, but examples of how to leverage competitor intelligence might include competitive auditing or simply monitoring competitors’ social profiles. The end result is understanding the competition and getting actionable strategies based on analysis.
10. Look toward the future – and stay grounded
Since the nature of digital marketing is to be constantly evolving, effective healthcare marketers make it a priority be aware of shifts in legislation, technology, innovation, etc. At the same time, marketers may also need to take a “wait and see” approach in some areas.
As noted above, we have already seen the impact of newer communications channels such as mobile and social media on the healthcare industry. The question then becomes: How can healthcare marketers prepare themselves for the next wave of digital marketing innovation?
A shifting healthcare landscape demands a proactive approach to healthcare that is more efficient, effective, and personal. The above tips represent a few of the ways healthcare marketers can leverage their messaging to educate, inspire, motivate, and engage consumers to the extent that they become actively involved in their own care and healthier over the long term.