7 Reasons Your Health System Needs Digital Marketing

For those who are still wary about digital marketing in healthcare, this article is for you. And for the healthcare thought leaders, you may learn a thing or two!

“We don’t know what we don’t know.” I heard this last month when on the phone with a friend who works in advertising. He was talking about a recent campaign that was deemed a failure by their client.

They did all the right things: met, brainstormed, storyboarded, take one, take two, published. It was a swing and a miss with no increase to the bottom line and their audience didn’t find the content resonated with them. He said that they did all they could…

Or did they?

In this day and age, where data is at our fingertips, is “not knowing” an excuse?

It’s not.

eMarketer predicts that total digital ad spend will equal $77.37 billion and surpass TV ad spend by more than $5 billion. Additionally, note the steady decline of market share in print. More and more systems are shifting their advertising budgets around to prioritize digital.

It’s time to get involved in digital. If these metrics don’t resonate and you still need that extra push to incorporate digital, here’s a quick list of the 7 benefits of using healthcare digital marketing.

1. Real-Time Results:

“What Call to Action worked?” “Where are the best leads coming from?” “What are they typing into Google to get to our page?” “Which image works better?”

Twenty-eight percent of marketers have reduced their traditional advertising budget to fund more digital marketing. Additionally, Gartner found 41% are plowing saved funds back into digital efforts.

Clients want results, and, without data and true KPIs, you struggle to justify your traditional efforts.

We often hear from clients that, with traditional marketing, like billboards or TV spots, they nervously monitor the bottom line hoping for results and they aren’t able to make adjustments once the ads are published. With digital marketing, you can see real-time engagement with your audience with up to the minute metrics, including impressions, clicks, comments, and even lead numbers (more on ROI below).

With a healthcare CRM platform, such as the Evariant Marketing Solution, you can see who is converting on your calls to action. In doing so, you can make smarter media investments to deliver measurable results on your target audiences.

2. Leveled Playing Field, When Done Right:

Digital marketing, if done right, can help to level the playing field.

Put simply, the right expertise can help you get better AdWord placement for a lower cost. In fact, Google rewards marketers if the keyword they are purchasing is relevant to the ads that bring users to the types of landing pages that match user interests and intentions. The better the user experience, the better your chances are to show higher in search results.

There are two digital marketing tactics that are crucial for being effecting with a smaller budget – advanced targeting and geo-fencing.

Advanced Targeting: Patient Modeling is something we take seriously. Patient/predictive modeling provides marketing departments the ability to score potential patients based on a set of criteria, identify and target the ones who are most likely to respond and tailor communications to them.

As our own Dr. Bill Disch says:

“The use of predictive modeling, or propensity modeling, helps marketing departments better utilize their marketing dollars and help cut down on inefficient marketing spend. Evariant has incorporated this into their engagement platform, allowing their users to make smarter marketing decisions.”

Through tactics like Facebook’s “interest targeting,” you can ensure that the most accurate audience is seeing your ad. For example, if you’re running a joint replacement campaign, then look to narrow down your age range and target those interested in: hiking, tennis, skiing etc.

Geo-Fencing: This tactic allows you to target users (preferably on their phones) within as little as 5-10 mile radius from a specific latitude/longitude. This is best used when combined with traditional billboards, bus signs, and subway/train terminal ads.

Some clients try this tactic competitively. For example, imagine being in the waiting room of a hospital for an excessive amount of time, upset with your service, and an ad for the hospital nearby appears. Something as simple as this ad might make you rethink visiting your existing hospital for your next appointment.

3. More Effective Testing:

A/B testing, often called split testing, allows you to find winning language, imagery, and placement by facing off an “A” version against a “B” version.

The end goal is, of course, to take the guesswork out of website optimization and enable healthcare marketers to make data-informed decisions about the type of patient communications and messaging that will have the biggest impact on their audience.

Testing is not just about creative and messaging. You can (and should!) test other metrics as well, such as geographical locations (even down to the zip code), time of day, day of weeks.

Quick Suggestions on A/B Testing:

  • Make quick but bold changes. Items like swapping images in and out while using the same ad copy, changing button colors on landing pages, and altering only headlines in ad are a great first step when trying to adjust your creative. Anything too complex between the two tests will leave you questioning which aspect in the test really won the audience over.
  • Be Patient! Sure, data will be coming in right away but don’t be too impulsive. We usually suggest letting a test run a week or two before determining the winner. This can vary based on digital tactic (for example, in our email automation efforts we can determine a winner in 24 hours from the start of the split test.)

4. Mid-Flight Adjustments:

If you’ve properly bought into the idea of digital marketing and are putting it to practice, you can track everything from the first time a user sees your ad all the way to after the procedure when the patient is discharged. That being said, the feedback loop on “what works” is constant – and with the right media team in place, you can optimize your campaign in real-time to get the most out of your spend.

Campaign strategy is a crucial piece to any successful marketing data. Defining a target market and a strategy to reach and engage your target audience with effective content is paramount.

However, context is what is the most important. During a campaign, we often find that the perceived audience can differ from who is actually engaging. That’s normal! The only difference is that with digital marketing, you can pivot your strategy to engage the new users – with the right content, in the right context.

5. Better User Experience:

Consumers in the digital age are smart, savvy, and expect a higher quality of delivery. Whether at a desk, in the line at the bank, or in between sets on the tennis court, people research their healthcare needs. The connected world creates a greater level of accessibility and your health system has to be there when users search with content relevant to their questions.

If you’ve been following so far, you shouldn’t be put off by this ideology. With analysts focused on real-time trends, we’re always digging into what the consumer is looking for. The ability to identify a trend and act on it is important and you need the right tools to allow for quick, effective changes.

Being nimble when it comes to updating web pages, or creating pages quickly that are native to any device a user is on – namely mobile, that address these trends – is a critical pillar. Content Management Systems (CMS) allows multiple users with different permission levels to collaborate in (all or a section of) content, data or information of a website or application. This is something not enough websites practice. Their “one size fits all” approach ends up damaging their performance in the end.

When it comes to developing and executing modern digital marketing strategies, UX can often get forgotten as 96% of mobile customers experienced when they came across websites that weren’t optimized for their device. More worryingly, 79% admit to searching for another site if the one they landed on does not live up to expectations.

Creating better experiences for your users will not only help with the quality score we addressed earlier, but more importantly, result in more conversions for your health system. Visitors who are unable to answer their question when they come to your site will simply search elsewhere for the answer. Luckily, technology can make this process efficient and manageable.

6. Automation

Marketing automation is really just that – automating practices you once did manually. Marketing automation can be a massive efficiency builder for your marketing department and is ideal for repetitive tasks.

One of the most common forms of automation is in email. Think of the distribution lists you are dealing with. It’s a bit tricky to send tailored content to these select groups manually, right? Not with automation. You can create triggered, yes/no scenarios that can map out the entire patient journey to its completion (you decide the end point.)

Email automation is great for education drip campaigns. With this, you can deliver content to users in a regularly scheduled cadence to continue building engagement. Additionally, email automation allows for you to customize the patient experience as they enter in and out of care. You can design follow up emails, reach out with something they may find interesting based on their last visit, and so on. The possibilities are endless and powerful when integrated with healthcare CRM system that feeds the data in. You are able to gauge every touchpoint, from first email send to the patient visit. It all ties together.

7. Trackable, Measurable, Quantifiable (including…….ROI!!)

“Performance-based marketing is the future.”

“How many people are actually becoming patients?” “How can I tell if this campaign was worth the investment?” “What’s the most profitable digital tactic?”

These are all questions we hear during a campaign, and questions we can answer. The rise of consumerism has heightened the competition for healthcare providers. Patients have more options than ever, so if your marketing is falling flat, another system will swoop in.

You have to know what works – what TRULY works. Meaning you need to understand what content users find engaging and if they are becoming actual patients in the system. If you can’t track this, or get the answers from your agency, your decisions lack necessary historical and projected forecast insights and could hurt you in the end.

Final Thoughts

To stay competitive and appeal to changing preferences of your users, your marketing strategy needs to go digital. The market is sensitive to changes, and users will only consume content that is relevant to them and the platforms they are on. It’s why native advertising is such a hot topic .

Digital marketing provides you with the ability to view real-time statistics and make adjustments to campaigns mid-flight. The data you garner will allow you to forecast and plan better than any traditional media will allow.

Before you start you next effort, ask yourself (or vendor) if you will be able measure the revenue contribution of your media spend? What about a single campaign? Ask your vendor about these important marketing metrics. From there, you’ll be able to calculate the ROI of a tactic or campaign. If they scramble to share these figures, it’s a sign you should be taking that question to somebody else.

Debunking Digital Marketing Myths in Healthcare



Evariant provides a leading healthcare CRM solution suite designed to help health systems transform the healthcare experience for their consumers, patients, and physicians. Built on the Salesforce Platform, our solutions foster richer consumer/patient engagement and tighter physician alignment. Powered by cutting-edge data and analytics, Evariant enables health systems to effectively communicate care options that increase revenue and market share, while optimizing network utilization. Many of the top health systems have selected Evariant to thrive in today’s hyper-competitive and rapidly changing environment.