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10 Healthcare Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

10 Healthcare Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

Katie Sorce

doctors examining x-ray

An overview of some of next year’s top healthcare marketing trends, including some common pitfalls to evade

As marketers specializing in healthcare, we’re dedicated to identifying and anticipating trends that will affect the work we do every day. With the state of digital marketing changing so rapidly, it’s important as healthcare marketers to constantly adapt our best practices and modify strategy based on the current trends.

With 2020 approaching quickly, now is the time to reflect on marketing from the past year, analyze what’s working and move past what isn’t. Here is a list of 10 common mistakes that could be hindering your success. Avoid them, and you’ll be on your way to a better 2020.

No. 1 — Becoming Too Transactionally Focused

We live in a fast-paced world, but rushing to the urgent at the expense of the important is rarely better. Your marketing department might be focused on bringing patients through the door right now, but is it motivating them to stay beyond their immediate need?

Instead of focusing on selling one “product” or one visit at a time, marketers should instead focus on building a long-term relationship with patients that will add value—both for the company and the patient. If someone continues to have good experiences with your brand, they will keep coming back and you’ll see their value as a customer increase over time.


No. 2 — Not Prioritizing Meaningful Interactions

New Facebook algorithms are rewarding posts that earn “meaningful interactions,” otherwise known as shares, reactions (previously called “likes”) and comments. To use social media effectively, create posts that encourage engagement and conversation.

No. 3 — Ignoring Consumer Distrust

It’s not just millennials who feel alienated by the healthcare system. Difficult navigation of complex organizations, uncertainty about costs and minor obstacles to receiving care are sowing distrust of the healthcare system as a whole. Do you make it simple for patients to get the help they need?

No. 4 — Maintaining Your Digital Status Quo

How long has it been seen you’ve updated your social media strategy or Google Ads spend? Because the cost per click for paid search has continued to rise, you can expect to pay more for fewer results. Reassess your budget to get the most bang for your buck.

No. 5 — Taking Too Long to Get to the Point

In an on-demand world where more content is just a click away, marketers’ biggest challenge is keeping their ads in front of the audience. Smart healthcare marketers have learned how to win the battle for short attention spans by retooling their messages and buying media that connects at the appropriate stage of the buying decision.

No. 6 — Putting Off Alignment Issues 

Considering the frequency of mergers, acquisitions, name changes and restructuring of healthcare brands, internal alignment is more important than ever. You can’t just slap a logo on an office building and expect people to understand your brand or distinguish it from any other. What is the single brand promise that all entities within your organization can live up to?

No. 7 — Placing Brand on the Back Burner 

Healthcare executives are putting a higher value on data related to their brands and reputations, according to a recent survey of healthcare and pharma CEOs. Brand data ranked closely alongside financial performance and customer preferences as the data they value most, yet only 28% felt that they received comprehensive data on the topic.

This confirms what marketers have always known: Brand matters. The downside? Branding is also hard to gauge and measure success. Branding is not about bringing money in the door as quickly as possible, it’s about improving lifetime customer value by delivering consistently on one brand promise to build patient loyalty and advocacy.

No. 8 — Underestimating Influencers 

Reaching out to community influencers is a great way to build trust for your brand. You could also use internal influencers like charismatic doctors or nurses who enjoy being in front of a camera. They can create content that is both educational and entertaining.

No. 9 — Forgetting to Follow the Money

It’s no surprise that high-value individuals and those with top-shelf insurance coverage represent the most profitable patient population. So, when money’s no object, and those people can seek treatment anywhere they choose, what will distinguish the care centers they turn to? In most cases, it’s reputation. Does your brand have the best reputation in your area? Do you truly deliver a superior customer experience?

No. 10 — Saying You’re Close to Home

Many community hospitals and health systems like to emphasize that they’re “close to home,” leaving people to assume that means better care. But we know this isn’t always the case. Proximity is not a valid differentiator, as there is always another provider who could open a location closer to your patients.

When creating your marketing plan for 2020, keep these 10 mistakes in mind. Avoiding them could be the difference between more of the same, or the best year yet.

Katie Sorce is a marketing coordinator for Smith & Jones. She contributes to research and strategy projects, manages social media and digital marketing accounts, and assists with content creation, account management, finance and operations. Smith & Jones is the healthcare marketing agency that specializes in branding and targeted service line marketing for hospitals, health systems and other care providers. Learn more at