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How Healthcare Marketers Can Shake Up Their Digital Status Quo

Katie Sorce

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Important stats and strategies to brainstorm how to make the most of your digital ad spend

“In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to reinvent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it. Because nothing else is sustainable, everything else you create, somebody else will replicate.” — Jeff Bezos

Digital is just as imperfect as every other advertising media, but there is no denying its importance in reaching vital audiences. Google has become the opinion leader for people seeking health advice, and the trusted friend they turn to often. When asked, “Which doctor should I go to?” Google answers with star ratings and reviews.

It’s estimated that:

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  • 1 in 20 Google searches are related to healthcare
  • 43% of these searches end up at a hospital website
  • Most patients (83%) prefer to visit a hospital website before they visit in real life
  • 61% will visit at least two websites

But you need to make sure people end up at your website in the first place. With these statistics fluctuating every day, if you merely maintain your digital status quo, your more progressive competitors will leave you in the dust. Let’s explore a few ways that healthcare companies can run at the front of the pack.

1. Paid Google Strategy

As organic traffic gets harder to earn, paid search, display and social media ads become more vital. Click-through rates are up, but unfortunately so are costs per click. Display advertising, a holdover from pre-internet days, performs the least well, yet the argument can still be made for its usefulness as a brand awareness tool. Given that paid media costs continue to rise, how do you stay competitive and get the most bang for your buck?

  • Go all in: Spend more to own the greatest share of voice in your market. Make sure when someone Googles a service, you come up first every time.
  • Maximize paid search formats: Use your Google ads to their full advantage by testing out different formats, including:
    • Expanded text ads: Allows you to convey more information.
    • Click to call: Are people searching for your phone number? Make it easy for them to find it.
    • Call-out extensions: To highlight sub-services or important pages on your website.
  • Try new technologies: As voice assistants grow in popularity, now is the time to start shifting search content strategies to reflect a more conversational tone. Start doing some research into what your patients are searching via speech and adapt your content to answer those questions. 

2. Pair Paid Media with Custom Content

How do you not only attract the interest of prospective patients and customers, but engage and convert them, too? After all, a Google ad can only get you so far. This is where your content marketing strategy should kick in. Start building relationships by providing helpful, quality content. Think about what topics are important: What issues are timely? How can you tap into what people are already searching for, and be ready with smart, informative content?

Here are some industry-leading examples:

  • The Well by Northwell: This content hub is designed to educate and inform audiences while also building loyalty. There are helpful resources at the bottom of each informational post, but it doesn’t feel like the goal is to get you to book an appointment.
  • Our Circle of Moms by Lowell General Hospital/Floating Hospital for Children: This community was formed specifically for moms, featuring blog posts and forums where mothers can share advice with each other. They also included verticals for services and specialists so women can easily request appointments without having to go back to the main site.
  • Health Essentials by Cleveland Clinic: With a clean interface and comprehensive library of resources, this site allows users to easily find information on any number of health-related topics.

What’s Next?

How will you shake up your digital status quo in 2020? We recommend using your data, such as knowledge of search terms, to fuel your creativity. Creating content that fits around search or social media recommendations shouldn’t stifle creativity, but spark it. How can you use all your knowledge to be relevant and helpful to your consumers? From there, take those ideas and transform them into great stories that entertain and inspire while building your brand message.

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 where health care brands come to get better. They help clients create meaningful and desirable health care brands, align their internal teams, engage new and existing patients and drive downstream revenue.