I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that successful marketing in today’s healthcare environment is complex, to say the least. Healthcare decision-makers have proliferated as consumers have become more responsible for their own costs. Federal regulations and restrictions affect everything from message to delivery. And of course, competition between facilities is fierce.
In this climate, how can you differentiate your hospital’s marketing efforts and make them more effective? Here are nine ideas.
1. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
No matter which part of your marketing plan is being implemented, no matter which audience is being addressed, one foundation remains the same: Your physical, brick-and-mortar location. Similarly, all of your marketing, from the business cards to the patient handouts to the website and advertising, should have a visible commonality and consistency of message. This will help establish a powerful, differentiating brand for your facility. This brand must be consistent across all channels, whether traditional or digital.
2. Prioritize Your Web Presence
The Pew Research Center has published research stating that 72 percent of Internet users reported looking online for health information within the past year; more recently, Google has stated that 1 in 20 searches on its site are looking for health-related information. Your hospital’s site must be responsive, regularly updated with meaningful information geared toward the general public, and mobile optimized so that anyone can find what they need at any time. Maximize the number of those Internet searches that find your site through search engine optimization: include in your content the relevant terms and keywords that your prospects and patients are most likely to search for.
3. Build Your Social Community
In the above report, Pew Research referenced the “social life of health information,” which the Health Research Institute corroborated with their finding that 41 percent of consumers said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. Within the strictures applied by government regulations, use social media to tell the stories of your facility, from your patients to your caregivers. Allow the stories to open dialog and help develop your online community.
4. Monitor Your Reviews
Along with your web presence and social media communities, you must be aware of and nurture your online referral sources. A 2016 study reported that 88 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal referrals, so you need to monitor what is being posted about your facility and its physicians; online tools like Google Alerts will help. Also, claim and monitor your listings on sites like HealthGrades, and make sure the profile posted there stays up-to-date.
5. Laser-focus Your Advertising
If you’ve done your homework around your patient demographics, you know exactly what geographic areas are most meaningful to your facility’s bottom line. Focus your advertising and direct marketing dollars on those areas with geographically defined, in-app mobile ads and postcards. For example, an Every Door Direct Mail® program sends your mailing to an entire zip code or neighborhood for a fraction of the usual cost.
6. Integration = Online and Offline
Speaking of postcards and branding consistency, don’t assume the more traditional marketing channels are no longer cost-effective. The USPS reports that not only do people still enjoy getting and opening their mail, but households receive less than half the number of direct mail piece a week than they received in 2008. A thank-you or get-well greeting card after a major procedure can help develop customer loyalty. And whether you’re using follow-up postcards, patient-information rack cards, or other printed pieces, make sure your content points back to your online and social media presence.
7. You See Them, They See You
If your hospital is implementing telemedicine, now is the time to expand that information into video marketing. It’s been reported that marketers who use video grow revenue 49 percent faster than non-video users. You can also use videos to share stories and testimonials on your website and social media platforms.
8. Use Your Own Data
According to a report by Econsultancy and Ogilvy CommonHealth, only 44 percent of healthcare organizations are prepared to use their own customer resource management data in their marketing campaigns. This means they are squandering the gold standard in marketing: current, verified data that you own and control. Nothing can inform your marketing decisions like your own data. Not only can you use it to plan campaigns, but it will help you analyze the results of all your marketing efforts and refine them for future campaigns.
9. Automate What You Can
Here’s another hurdle to effective healthcare marketing: Your patients don’t need a hospital until they need it right now. Therefore, you need to keep your messages circulating out there, building awareness among your audiences until that time arrives. Automated programs, such as Xpress Connection, that deliver regular touch points with minimal hassle help hospitals stay top-of-mind and can boost referrals. Further, the Xpressdocs platform is PCI compliant and has helped healthcare organizations slash their direct marketing costs by more than 30 percent.