Today’s ultra-competitive healthcare market requires creative, strategic healthcare marketing tactics that get results. Is your existing marketing program doing enough to help you stand out from your competitors? Sometimes all great marketers need is a little inspiration.
Keep reading for five proven tactics you can try today to drive awareness and patient engagement, and get answers to our most frequently asked questions about patient marketing strategies.
Why do you need a strategic healthcare marketing plan?
A strategic healthcare marketing plan is the foundation of a growing healthcare business. It outlines your marketing strategy and details how to achieve your organizational goals and objectives.
Your healthcare marketing plan should be your roadmap for executing and measuring your marketing efforts over time. It covers all your essential marketing channels and includes the tactics and campaigns you’ll run to reach your business goals.
5 creative tactics to reach patients and drive engagement
A strategic healthcare marketing plan outlines your business goals and the path to achieving them. But while it’s essential to stay on that path, experienced marketers understand the value of trying new things and making tweaks to your campaigns along the way.
As you test and measure your marketing efforts, you can see what resonates with your target audience and discover new ways to achieve your goals. Here are five healthcare marketing tactics you can test in your practice.
Communicate with patients via messaging apps
While people often tune out TV and radio ads and ignore the growing number of emails in their inboxes, it’s harder to ignore direct text messages. Research by Simple Texting shows that 98% of all text messages are read, and 90% of those messages are read within three minutes.
Text messaging is a great way to ensure patients see essential information like appointment reminders and confirmations. It’s also a way to share helpful content that the recipient cares about, like vaccine availability, health clinics in their area, or discounted scans and tests.
You can also leverage popular messaging platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to communicate with patients in a way that is most convenient for them.
Just remember, people don’t want their phone blowing up with too many text messages or irrelevant information—especially if they haven’t opted in. Respect your patients’ time and be sure any communications sent via text or messaging app include targeted, relevant content only.
Do more internal marketing:
A marketing channel that healthcare providers often overlook is employee advocacy. Your employees could be your most significant source of untapped marketing potential, from healthcare administrators to physicians.
Loyal, engaged employees can be a huge asset if they’re empowered to tell their friends and family about your services. In fact, a study by Nielsen found that recommendations from friends are the most credible form of advertising.
Leverage your employees’ enthusiasm by encouraging them to spread your marketing messages and amplify the content you’re already creating. For example, you can ask employees to share a new blog you’ve just published to their social channels to increase your reach.
Make it easy by providing them with sample content they can copy and paste—this is especially helpful for busy doctors and nurses who don’t have the extra time to write their own social posts.
Engage patient communities with relevant content
People want clear, easy-to-understand information that answers their healthcare questions and helps them find solutions to their problems. Creating relevant marketing content helps your patients learn, helps you rank higher in search results, and drives more organic traffic to your website.
Here are a few ways to make content part of your strategic healthcare marketing efforts:
- Grow your social community. Use your social media channels to humanize your practice and staff and provide engaging content informing patients about important healthcare topics. Start a dialogue with your community and establish your business as a trusted authority in the healthcare space.
- Keep blog content fresh. Regularly publishing high-quality content can drive traffic to your website and nurture your audience toward conversion. Remember to promote new blogs on other channels like social media and email campaigns.
- Share patient stories. Reading or watching patient testimonials can put people at ease when they’re hesitant to see a doctor or get a medical procedure. Seeing someone like them overcome the same ailment or undergo the same procedure can give them the encouragement they need.
- Ask for online reviews. You might not think of review sites as part of your content strategy, but 71% of patients use online reviews as their first step in deciding on healthcare providers. Ask patients to review your business on Google, Yelp, and Facebook Business.
Use digital signage in your facilities
A strategic healthcare marketing plan includes online and offline tactics to meet business goals and improve the patient experience. Think about the experience a patient has inside your office or facilities today. Are you providing an environment they’ll want to return to and recommend to their friends and family?
Displaying digital signage is an effective way to share important information in hospitals and doctors’ offices and put patients at ease during their visits. According to TechCrunch, digital signage in healthcare settings can reduce perceived wait times and perceptions of pain. It can even contribute to lower levels of anxiety and stress.
Run a hashtag campaign
Meaningful healthcare conversations happen online every day. At the start of 2020, Twitter conversations about health and wellness increased by 54%. Want to get in on the social buzz? Try a hashtag campaign.
A hashtag campaign is a social media marketing campaign surrounding a specific hashtag that a business creates and promotes. It’s a great way to spread awareness around a particular health condition or message.
For example, the American Heart Association ran a hashtag campaign to encourage busy moms to prioritize their heart health. They encouraged people to share stories of their hero moms across social media tagged with #MyHeroMyMom.
On platforms like Twitter and Instagram, hashtags are searchable, so creating one allows both you and your audience to see all related posts in one place. You can also repurpose and reshare that great user-generated content in a blog post roundup to keep the conversation going.
Strategic healthcare marketing FAQs
Over the years, we’ve worked with clients across the healthcare industry and have heard many questions about strategic healthcare marketing best practices and tactics. Read on for a few of those frequently asked questions.
What are the advantages of having a strategic healthcare marketing plan?
A strategic healthcare marketing plan can help you bring in new patients or clients, retain the clients you have, improve patient journeys, and increase your return on investment (ROI). It also helps you promote brand visibility and create a competitive advantage in your market.
How do you establish your target customers?
Understanding your target audience is essential in healthcare marketing. It allows you to speak the same language as your patients and promote content that helps them solve problems and learn about the topics they care about.
Your target audience should be made up of the types of patients you typically serve or want to reach. You can have multiple target audiences if you have different departments or services that cater to different personas.
Base your patient personas on characteristics including:
- Demographics (age, gender, location, etc.)
- Healthcare habits
- Medical needs
You can use surveys, market research, or patient analytics tools to find relevant information about patients in your community. Establishing your target audience ensures you’re reaching the right people with the right content and messaging that matters most to them.
How do you create long-term and short-term healthcare marketing goals?
As you lay out your strategic plan for healthcare marketing, you must decide what goals you hope to achieve. Then, as your marketing team executes, everyone knows the objectives and is on the same page about getting there.
The “SMART” system is an excellent formula for setting healthcare marketing goals. SMART stands for:
What are the ethical issues in strategic healthcare marketing?
There are many ethical issues to consider when marketing products or services in the healthcare industry. Patient safety and privacy must always be the top priority.
Ethical healthcare marketing consists of honest and proven messaging. You should always follow advertising guidelines mandated by your local medical board and comply with HIPAA regulations.
What are the HIPAA concerns in healthcare marketing?
Any information sent via interactive communication tools can contain protected health information (PHI). If your site includes any of these patient tools, you need a HIPAA-compliant website that meets all standards.
Examples of forms that collect sensitive patient information include:
- Medical records request
- Online bill payments
- Prescription refill requests
Consult your legal advisor with any questions about HIPAA compliance. You can also learn more at HHS.gov.
What is the total cost of ownership (TCO) for healthcare marketing technology?
The total cost of ownership (TCO) is the purchase price of an asset plus the cost of operation. TCO is important to consider when purchasing healthcare marketing technology.
Remember that marketing software typically comes with subscription and service fees, and you need people on your staff to be trained on that platform, which can also come at a cost. Select the best tools to help you execute your strategic healthcare marketing campaigns and provide a healthy return on investment.
Let’s plan your healthcare marketing strategy
Strategic healthcare marketing can help you reach more potential patients and grow your business. While your team may be experts in the medical field and know how to provide excellent patient care, results-driven marketing takes an entirely different set of skills.
Partnering with an experienced healthcare marketing consulting agency is a wise investment with significant potential returns. You can get help from a team experienced in building and executing proven medical marketing tactics and campaigns to reach patients and drive engagement.
Trust the strategic healthcare marketers at TBH Creative
TBH Creative specializes in helping clients build and execute effective healthcare marketing plans that convert. In 2021, we were awarded six Aster Awards—five gold and one silver—for our excellence in healthcare web design and healthcare marketing.