When it comes to healthcare, not all marketing media is created equal. Read on to learn how marketing needs differ between high-research and low-research healthcare services.
What’s the Difference Between Low-Research & High-Research Healthcare?
The way we try to find healthcare has changed over the past decade: now, we turn to the internet to find health services. In fact, Kyruus found that 91% of patients conduct research online even after they’ve already received a referral for a medical provider. More often than not, we’re doing that research on our mobile phones. And, depending on what kind of healthcare we need, our search behavior varies.
The more time-sensitive the issue, the less time we spend researching. (Would you skim through hospital reviews if a family member was having a heart attack?) When something urgently needs attention—so much so that spending time researching could actually be dangerous—it’s considered low-research healthcare. Services in this category can range from emergency rooms to urgent care to after-hours clinics that offer walk-in appointments.
On the other end of the spectrum, we all experience health issues that don’t pop up in an instant. Specialty care—such as elective surgery, chronic pain management, or oncology—takes much longer to research because we want to be sure we’re getting the best care possible from a facility we trust. Services like these are considered high-research healthcare, and they include specific treatments for more obscure, less-immediate health concerns.
Below, we’ll outline the best marketing areas to focus on for each type of healthcare.
Low-Research Healthcare Marketing Tips
Marketing for low-research healthcare services—such as emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and after-hours clinics—is best served by focusing on Google My Business and pay-per-click ads.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a facet of local search engine optimization. Your healthcare facility’s GMB page is almost always where patients end up when they’re searching for low-research healthcare services, so you need to make sure everything there—e.g., your location, hours, and contact info—is accurate. Filling out the Questions & Answers section with common questions people have about your facility can help with search, too, and pictures of your building can help people find you. (Pictures of your interior are nice, but they’re not as important for low-research healthcare.)
One GMB rule low-research healthcare facilities need to follow is not padding your categories with every single service you provide. Instead, focus on the few that form the main core of your business. There are other ways (such as content marketing, which we’ll get into below) to let people know that you provide those services—but on Google, keeping it simple is a must.
In short, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising makes your name pop up above organic (unpaid) results when someone runs a search. It’s a good complement to your Google My Business page because it can help ensure that more searchers see you toward the top of the page—and the more often people see your name, the more likely they are to remember and trust you when they need care.
“PPC can offer many benefits for medical marketers—it helps increase brand recognition and boost web traffic, and its fast results allow for quick analytics and time-sensitive campaigns,” says Jonathan Catley of MD Connect.
Don’t forget to research relevant long-tail keywords. These keywords are more specific—think “after-hours allergy test near me” rather than “allergy testing”—and therefore more valuable to rank for: you’re capturing searchers when they have a much stronger intent to find someone soon.
High-Research Healthcare Marketing Tips
The more specialized the care, the more research tends to be done by prospective patients—but first, they have to know what it is they need. High-research healthcare marketing depends on content marketing, retargeting, and television ads to motivate demand for lesser-known services.
Content marketing is all about informing your audience and establishing authority. It can include things like blogging, videos, and infographics. Social media is a great tool for content marketing: when your content performs well on social, it signals to search engines that your content is worth showing to people who are searching for your services.
In a similar vein, when it comes to high-research healthcare, the more information you provide on your website, the better. Physicians and other caregivers should have biography pages that tell patients a little about their backgrounds. Someone with a broken leg probably isn’t going to care much about where the person helping them finished up their residency. Someone looking for a solution to their chronic nerve pain, however, wants to be sure they’re making the right decision about their health. Increase these prospective patients’ confidence by providing plenty of information to help reassure them.
Also known as remarketing, retargeting is a digital advertising strategy that helps your medical website remain top-of-mind with consumers who are conducting research. For example, someone trying to decide where to go for a complex knee surgery will probably visit multiple websites of orthopedic surgeons in their area. Retargeting allows your facility’s ads to “follow” them throughout their search after they’ve visited your site, making you more memorable to them and encouraging them to return.
“Remarketing is one of the best lead-generating tactics out there because it engages people who already know who you are,” explains Blue Corona. “Customers who see retargeted ads are 70 percent more likely to convert on your website.”
Television & Video
Television commercials are a great way to get your healthcare facility’s name out there. After all, it’s difficult for patients to know that you can help them if they don’t know your services exist! It’s even more difficult for high-research healthcare services that provide complex, obscure solutions that patients have never heard of.
Like content marketing, television can serve to inform potential patients about services they may not have known they needed. Television ads for high-research healthcare services can also let people in your community know when you’ve launched a new service or opened a new location.
If you don’t have the budget for television, online video is a cost-effective alternative that can work hand-in-hand with your facility’s social media and digital advertising campaigns—plus, it’s a lot easier to measure and refine. Pre-roll ads on YouTube, for example, give viewers a taste of what you have to offer, while longer videos published on social media can be boosted to reach more than just your current followers.
Healthcare Marketing Essentials for Everyone
Regardless of whether you’re high-research or low-research, every healthcare service needs a great website, a strong social media presence, and quality SEO.
While your Google My Business page may be one of the first things a potential patient sees, your website is where they’ll end up when they’re really considering you.
Your healthcare facility’s website must be clean, professional, and user-friendly. It must perform well or patients will leave and find someone else to take care of them. That means loading speed, navigation, and convenience for patients: online bill pay, scheduling, prescription management, etc. And don’t forget to make it mobile-friendly—more and more people are searching for healthcare on their phones.
Have clear calls to action to let patients know that they can act—schedule an appointment, learn more, about a procedure, sign up for an e-newsletter, etc.—whenever they’re ready. “Accessible CTAs allow patients to follow through on next steps as soon as they’ve made their decision,” Catley says. “Easily navigable landing pages and microsites not only keep patients happy, but they also lead to increased conversions. When patients can find resources quickly, they are less likely to become frustrated or distracted and exit the page for a competitor’s site.”
Blogs, infographics, and videos can educate patients and help them trust that you know what you’re talking about. Like we mentioned above, content like this is great for high-research healthcare—and it doesn’t hurt for low-research healthcare, either.
Social media serves as a way to build online communities. This helps build trust with your existing patients, which goes on to help convince new patients that you’re worth contacting. An active social media presence is an absolute must-have for both high-research and low-research healthcare services.
Take Facebook, for example: when a fan of your page likes an infographic you posted, that person’s friends and family may also see it in their timeline. (And if it’s REALLY helpful, they may even share it themselves!)
What’s more, social media helps with recruitment by showcasing your facility’s culture. You already think your place is the best, so show it off!
Search Engine Optimization
Optimizing your healthcare facility’s website for search engine success is a long process, but it’s worth it in the long run. One of the best ways for healthcare practices to implement good search engine optimization (SEO) into their websites is through content marketing like blogging. Good SEO practices work in tandem with the rest of the must-haves for medical facilities. When you write quality, informative content that’s designed to help visitors, Google and other search engines pick up on that.
Reviews help, too: they’re great, cost-effective (read: FREE) ways to boost your facility’s performance on search engine results pages. To put it simply, search engines value what reviews have to say because consumers value what reviewers have to say. We trust online reviews almost as much as we trust a friend, so it’s vital to have plenty of good reviews that mention specifics about your facility and what it offers.
While you can’t control the content of your reviews, it doesn’t hurt to gently remind past patients to leave you one on Facebook. Sometimes, even just letting them know you’re on social media after their appointment can motivate them to write a recommendation.
Marketing for High-Research & Low-Research Healthcare
At Kirkpatrick Creative, we persistently measure the success of everything we do. We want to know what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve for each and every client we serve. It’s what we like to call advertising engineered to work: strategies that adapt to your business and its developments—never the other way around.
Whether you’re in a low-research or high-research medical service area, contact Kirkpatrick Creative today for your healthcare marketing needs.