Healthcare Marketing Strategies for Traffic: 4 Actionable Steps
I’ve curated the absolute best digital healthcare marketing strategies so that you can implement them immediately in 2019.
Would you agree with me when I say: “Technology is rapidly disrupting how patients interact with their healthcare providers and how providers do healthcare marketing.”
How well have you and your team been able to keep pace with the evolution of healthcare marketing?
Have you been able sufficiently to engage your target audience and meet their accelerating needs and expectations?
More specifically, do you want more leads and a higher patient count?
If you answered “yes” then consider the following: 93 million Americans have searched for a health-related topic online.
These strategies below are hyper-relevant ways you can make sure that your healthcare marketing captures qualified leads and converts those into new patients—this year.
What I’m going to teach you below, you won’t hear anywhere else…
Most healthcare marketing strategies give you a high-level overview of “what” you should be doing. Continue below to learn “how” to achieve massive success and avoid the biggest pitfalls that trap so many others.
Strategy #1: Design an Impeccable Mobile-First Website that Caters to the Needs of the Patient
The foundation of quality, lead-driven digital marketing strategy begins with a superb website. And since most patients are visual, it’s especially important for healthcare marketing.
Imagine for a moment walking into a service provider’s office or place of business, and it’s a mess. It’s dingy, the walls are stained yellow, and the lounge hasn’t been cleaned since the 80s. You look to your left, and Ronald Reagan’s picture is still on the wall.
You decide to stand rather than sit in a dirty chair. Maybe you even leave and take your business elsewhere. I’ve lost count of how many healthcare provider’s websites are no different from my “lounge” metaphor.
What you need to know is that it’s an absolute data-driven fact that ugly, out of date websites give your prospects a bad first impression. In fact, 75% of consumers admit they will judge your business’ credibility based on your website.
Mobile-first is a design strategy for websites that accounts for the increasing trend of users who use mobile devices to access the internet. In contrast, responsively designed websites are more of a technical approach to create websites that adapt to changes in screen size and orientation.
The easiest way to understand this complex concept is that most modern websites are responsive. However, their design is focused on a desktop user experience when your users are increasingly using portable devices to interact with your online presence.
Here’s what you’re going to need to do:
- Measure your traffic. What percentage is coming from mobile?
- If your web-traffic is over 40% from mobile devices (it probably is) you need to design to these customers.
- Your desktop website must also be excellent, but the priority is mobile-first design.
- Begin researching an agency to help you build your new website.
- The agency you select should talk about mobile-first design coherently and be able to provide examples of past work for other healthcare organizations.
- Ask the agency what types of people will be on the web design team. I used the word “impeccable,” and I meant it…A modern web design agency should have the following people on a design project.
- User Experience Designer (UX)
- User Interface Designer (UI)
- Graphic Designer who specializes in website design
- Website Designer who understands and can articulate mobile-first design
What do all these people actually do?
Well, that is a separate article, but in a nutshell:
- UX Designers research whom we are designing for and how best to meet their needs.
- UI Designers determine how your patients will interact with the new website.
- Graphic designers help you visually communicate your brand, and they make things “pretty,” and “pretty” equals increased engagement.
- Website designers put all the pieces together and account for the need to efficiently add content and update the site after the initial launch.
The critical takeaway is this:
Whatever web design agency you interview, should be using the vernacular I’ve just outlined for you; If they’re not, keep looking.
Now before you run out and buy a new website, you need to first consider both a content marketing strategy and the necessity of Live Chat.
I’ll cover both of these topics below.
Strategy #2: Create Enormous Value by Providing Online Live Chat & Appointment Scheduling
While your new mobile-first website is the foundation of your practice, the online services you offer are the mission-critical infrastructure modern patients demand. In healthcare marketing, this is crucial.
I’m going to provide you with the essential integrations that will delight prospective patients and measurably increase your lead generation efforts.
First, let’s look at what used to work:
A thoughtfully designed website used to be a key differentiator when many businesses had no website or online presence at all. Times have changed.
Generation X, Millennials, and certainly, Gen Z are demanding complete convenience. This means:
- Live ChatOnline Appointment Scheduling
- Text Updates & Appointment Reminders
- Online Access to Health Records
- Easy Access to a Doctor via Text Messaging or Chat Clients
This is a lot to digest, I know.
The fantastic news is that if you at least offer Live Chat and Online Appointment Scheduling, you’ll set yourself apart from a sea of competing healthcare brands. Providing these services also increases your organic search traffic resulting in better positioning in the search engine’s results pages (also called SERPs).
Still not convinced? Kayoko found that:
“Consumers are more likely to remain loyal, engage in positive word of mouth, and spend up to $500 extra per month with businesses that provide effortless live chat experiences.”
So the real question is not “can I afford live chat,” but can you afford not to have it?
Here are some of the best solutions for Live Chat and Online Appointment Scheduling that you can effortlessly integrate today:
www.intercom.com is becoming ubiquitous with their chat client, which is now embedded in many popular websites. Integration is widely supported by most popular website platforms, including WordPress, Squarespace, and Webflow. In addition to Live Chat you also get:
- Chatbots with Instant Answering 24/7
- Customer Segmentation
- Targeted Messages
- Integrated Knowledge Base
www.timekit.com is a departure from most off-the-shelf scheduling solutions used by healthcare organizations. Your practice is probably different with its own set of bespoke benefits. With TimeKit you’re able to craft a customized scheduling solution that may increase patient engagement and healthcare brand loyalty. Stand-out features include:
- Full Customization
- Most customization doesn’t require a developer
- Configure rules to match your practice
- Prioritize how your team is booked
- Control every step of the scheduling workflow end-to-end
Does this sound complicated or just too expensive?
Ten years ago, it probably would be (too expensive) except for larger practices. Thankfully Silicon Valley and the SaaS (Software as a Service) companies have made solutions like Intercom and TimeKit attainable for even a one-doctor practice.
If you’re still debating whether to implement these solutions, I’ll leave you with a few final pieces of advice:
- They pay for themselves many times over.
- You’re going reduce the workload for your reception and management team.
- These types of software increase the convenience for your patients.
The result is more regular appointments, better loyalty, and less customer turnover.
Strategy #3: Get Ahead in Healthcare Marketing with Voice Search, Featured Snippets, and “People Also Ask”
Would you like to take advantage of the most uncomplicated search engine optimization (SEO) hack that hardly anyone is using?
I absolutely meant it when I said you’d be able to implement these strategies in 2019 and start generating new business immediately.
Put lightly: voice search is a quiet revolution most businesses are still ignoring.
Here’s the thing:
50% of all searches will be voice search by 2020. By 2022 55% of all U.S. households are expected to own a smart speaker. These statistics present an enormous opportunity for those healthcare providers who optimize content to solve these searches. More importantly, voice search offers a vastly improved customer service experience for patients researching healthcare providers or health-related solutions and answers.
In the world of voice search, the most prominent players are Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Bixby (by Samsung), Amazon Echo (Alexa), and Google Home.
What’s both surprising and rather wonderful is how simple it is to begin optimizing your website and digital presence for voice search.
Complete the following steps to jump ahead of your competition and add some icing to the cake that is your marketing campaign:
- Begin writing down the questions your patients commonly ask, exactly as they ask them. Here are some examples:
- “Do I have pneumonia?”
- “What does a heart attack feel like?”
- “When should my baby get their first vaccine?”
- Have your web designer or SEO use structured data for your most critical content. Structured data, also known as Schema Markup, is data about the information on your site. Schema Markup helps search engines like Google better understand your content.
- Correctly structured data can appear right at the very top of Google’s search pages in what are called “Featured Snippets” or “Rich Snippets.
- ”Rich and Featured Snippets will drive tons of traffic to your site and improve the patient experience, which is why this strategy is so powerful.
- Claim your “Google My Business” (GMB) listing and fill it out with as much detail as possible. A Google My Business listing is completely free and takes about an hour to set up correctly. Google uses these listings in local voice-search, and it amounts to free advertising for your practice, so it’s an easy win.
- Create a series of short “FAQ-style” blog posts around the inquiries your customers have asked.
- The title of the blog post should be the question exactly how your patient phrased it, for example, “Which moles are cancerous?”
- The body of the FAQ-style blog post should concisely and clearly answer the question in the post’s title.
- Each FAQ-style blog post should only answer one question.
Once you have successfully created a website with structured data and short, relevant blog posts, you’ll begin to watch your search engine rankings improve.
In the past, you might make it to Google’s front page as one of the blue links. Now, there are a variety of areas that Google makes use of your content.
- Featured Snippets which provide users with concise, direct answers to their questions.
- Rich Snippets or “Rich Results” are typical Google search results with additional data displayed like images, videos, or recent news stories.
- “People Also Ask” is a Google search engine feature that provides answers to related questions via a dropdown box near the top of a Google search engine results page.
- Voice Search: You cannot underestimate the power of being an early-adopter in the world of voice search. Your FAQ-style blog posts provide the questions and answers that are the core source of information driving voice search. Data shows this search category is expected to grow exponentially, and you want to start creating voice search content now.
I’ve saved the most crucial piece of this puzzle for very last.
Strategy #4: Drive Your Digital Marketing & Social Media Initiatives with a Carefully Considered SEO Content Marketing Plan
No doubt, the biggest mistake most healthcare providers make is spending lavishly on a new website without a content marketing plan in place.
I discussed building your website first because it’s easier to conceptualize marketing by starting there. Ideally, you want to determine what content you want to create first—and only then begin building a mobile-first website.
Think about this:
Do you want to create a high-traffic blog or use video content to generate leads? Depending on your choice, the design of your website would most likely change, wouldn’t it?
Video content is a fantastic way to reach massive audiences. However, in this strategy, I’m going to teach you how to wield the written word to generate more leads than you can handle.
This is what you’ll do:
- Create patient personas around your ideal audience.
- Brainstorm an extensive list of possible content and various subjects that might make for educational and entertaining blog articles. Use your staff, friends, family, and peers to help generate ideas.
- Identify and hire a qualified SEO Content Marketing Specialist to help you perform SEO keyword analysis. You’ll want to identify keywords and keyword phrases that are getting a reasonable amount of monthly traffic and that are low competition.
- Match those high-traffic, low-competition keywords and keyword phrases with the blog topics from your brainstorming list.
- Hire capable SEO Copywriters that understand the healthcare industry and have them write content specific to those keywords and the matching topics.
- In some cases, extremely qualified SEO Copywriters can do the necessary keyword research and complete the writing too—but individuals with both skillsets are somewhat rare.
- Make sure your SEO Copywriter includes relevant and engaging visual media within the blog articles like pictures, illustrations, and infographics.
- Publish your newly created content to your website and company blog.
- Create short, derivative content pieces related to each blog article and publish those to social media. Make sure that there is a link back to the original blog post.
What I love most about this part of the strategy is that it’s win-win.
You’re creating content that your patients and readers will enjoy, get value from, and that will drive traffic to your website resulting in more leads. Furthermore, Google places a high value on quality content and rewards exceptional content creators accordingly.
Whatever you do, don’t get clever and try and outsmart Google…
You might be thinking that you’ll farm out your copywriting to a content mill overseas for $00.01 or $00.02 per word and cram each piece with tons of keywords.
Here’s the thing: this would work if it was 2009 and not 2019. Google has terms for this type of low-quality content like “Keyword Stuffing” for example, but I don’t want to get way off-topic…In essence, if you try and “beat” Google, they can severely penalize your website for it, which can cause a drop in organic traffic as high as 90%.
What you need to know is this:
Google will reward you handsomely if you do three simple things:
- Give your prospects and patients and exceptional user experience.
- Do your best to answer search engine queries as accurately as possible.
- Create amazing content.
If you follow those last three points to the letter, you cannot lose. I promise.
That being said, I’ve saved the most critical strategies for last.
Conclusion: The Devil is in the Details
Don’t do Waterfall.
Wait…”What is Waterfall?” you’re asking.
Waterfall is the old way of developing software and sophisticated information technology projects. It means to create a vast series of documents and requirements and complete an initiative as one giant project. There are tons of problems with doing things this way.
The biggest issue with Waterfall is that you often won’t get what you were hoping to, and you’ll have spent lots of money.
Instead, break up your healthcare marketing projects into a series of tiny pieces that can be completed in a week or less. At each step, make sure you’re on track to effectively implement your marketing plan. If you get off track, adjust, and correct course.
As a bonus to this strategy, I’d like to recommend the book: Agile Project Management with Kanban by Eric Brechner.
You don’t have to be a professional project manager to appreciate this book. It’s a short read and easy to understand. Most of all, it will help you increase efficiency, create value, and eliminate headaches when you market your healthcare practice.
Whatever you decide to do, remember one final thing:
Quality and execution matters.
Don’t treat these strategies like a checklist that needs to be completed as quickly or cheaply as possible.
Always ask yourself: “Am I creating value for my patients?”
If you answered “yes,” then you are on the right track to more leads, better loyalty, and a higher return on investment for your marketing dollars.
About the Author:
Hi, I’m Ryan! I love tech, sake, and sports cars—and I enjoy writing about all of them.
I’m the owner of digital marketing agency Torque.
Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn if you enjoyed this article, or if you hated everything about it and want to hurt my feelings.
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