The fact that technology has changed the healthcare industry is undeniable, but that's not confined to the major improvements in research, procedures, and other treatments. Believe it or not, digital marketing in the healthcare industry has also led to major changes in how practices and specialists can reach out to potential patients. In today's post, we'll be discussing why digital promotions work for the healthcare industry.
Digital Increases Reach
In 2015, one in every 20 searches done through Google were healthcare related, representing searches done by some 72% of internet users, yet the healthcare and pharma industries together are forecasted to represent a mere 2.8% of total digital ad spend through 2016. That puts the industry as a whole two years behind most other industries. We don't mean to suggest that you should stop all traditional advertising methods, obviously, but these statistics highlight the importance of how, or rather where your practice ought to be attempting to reach potential patients. To put it simply, you'll reach a larger amount of people when you add digital into marketing and promotional mix.
One thing you need to consider as you integrate digital, is how well you understand your patients as a customer. This may seem callous — you probably started your practice or choose a specialization because you wanted to help people, after all — but your practice is a business. The better you understand your patients as consumers, the better you'll be able to reach out to them. The most basic aspect for this is search engine marketing, i.e., competing for rankings in search engine results. To best position yourself and rank better than the hospitals and health institutions in your area, you need to understand the keywords your patients are using to search for information.
Another thing you need to learn to take advantage of is social media and social review platforms. This can be difficult to navigate for healthcare professionals, especially in light of federal regulations, confidentiality, and privacy and cybersecurity concerns. However, it's important to understand that it is possible to utilize certain kinds of patient information in the context of promotions, and these areas are unavoidable — they are the new word of mouth, and they are an important part of establishing your practice as a dependable resource for patient needs and questions. About 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, but it's a mistake to believe that this only applies to retail. Consider this reputation management success story: a practice was able to take a one star review and turn it into a four star review because they were committed to social listening. What could have prevented patients from seeking out those doctors was turned into an opportunity to convince new patients to join them.
Digital Embraces Personalized Messaging
When you understand how to properly (and legally) utilize the data about your patients, you also open up a key avenue, i.e., personalization. It's important to understand that, even in retail, people are willing to share limited amounts of personal information when they know they're going to receive a tangible, personalized benefit in return. They put much more faith in their doctors, so a well crafted campaign that offers a meaningful promotion will give your practice the information it needs to better serve your patients as customers as well as those in need of healthcare. By utilizing their confirmed communication preferences with other targeting techniques in combination with that information, your practice can effectively reach patients in a qualified way that both engages them and produces results.
Healthcare Has Also Gone Mobile
It can be easy to misunderstand the relationship between mobile and digital, especially in the healthcare industry. They both are and are not the same thing, and where they diverge, you need to find a way to integrate and synchronize the customer experience. For instance, as we mentioned above, 72% of internet users are using the internet, in general, to look up health information. Yet, 62% of smartphone owners have used their device to discover information about a health condition, and a further 66% of Americans want to use a mobile app to manage their health. Consider the fact that a similar percentage of health systems will be offering digital self-scheduling before 2020. Furthermore, nearly 80% of Americans are willing to use wearable devices which connect to mobile apps to track and manage their health habits.
What does this have to do with digital marketing in the healthcare industry? Quite simply, this is a glimpse at the ways in which the average American is utilizing digital in general and mobile very specifically to be hands on with their health choices in the moment. The concept of micro-moments may seem extremely retail-oriented, but it is actually indicative of a change in social interaction between individuals and all businesses as a whole, including healthcare. Leveraging digital promotions will help ensure that your practice is going to be there in the moment that your patients turn to their smartphone with a question or medical need.
For an excellent healthcare example, look to OSCAR, a health insurance brand. Its site is clean, to the point, and mobile optimized, and it offers an app to patients, which they can use as a digital insurance card, as a direct connection to OSCAR both by phone (during business hours) or through a messaging system, or as a way to reach out to a "doctor on call," which they can conference with directly through the app itself. It also partnered with Misfit and Amazon to provide an amazing promotion: they provide a free step tracker, and every time they meet OSCAR's minimum step count, they earn money toward an Amazon gift card. The brand has successfully incentivized one of the basic ways of improving health (walking) and given its customers a tangible, meaningful reason to value the company beyond simply having affordable insurance.
Now that you have a clearer picture about why digital promotions work for the healthcare industry, you can start to review your practice's current marketing strategy. Remember, on the surface digital marketing in the healthcare industry may seem like it can only be effectively accomplished by larger institutions such as hospitals and insurance firms, but that's simply not true. Zimmer Radio & Marketing Group has the tools you need to make your marketing and promotional strategies as effective as possible. Contact us today and find out how you can take advantage of our digital promotion offerings, which combine incentives with data collection to help you generate and nurture leads. The shift toward digital isn't going to slow down any time soon, so you need to take advantage of digital marketing to best serve your patients.