With urgent care centers popping up all over and clinics tucked in the back of pharmacies, patients now have more choices than ever when it comes to their healthcare providers. The same goes with hospitals. These days, many patients are becoming more involved in choosing a hospital for their procedures, relying less on a simple reference from their doctor. Hospital marketing strategies have had to change with the times, too. This form of modern healthcare marketing acknowledges that patients have a choice and helps them understand why they should choose your hospital group for their care. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Why is hospital marketing so important?
It used to be that family and friends were the most reliable and trusted source of doctor and hospital recommendations, but now 89% of patients trust Google to answer their questions and recommend healthcare providers.
And then there is this: in 2017, the U.S. had 5,564 hospitals. In 2019, that number has risen to 6,210. That rise may not seem like much, spread as it is over two years and the entire country, but remember the ubiquity of urgent care centers and pharmacy clinics. Urgent care centers and clinics see millions more patients every year than emergency rooms do, and that gap is increasing every year. Simply put, there’s more competition out there.
You know your hospital offers high-quality care by your compassionate and experienced doctors and nurses. It’s time to use hospital marketing strategies that let everyone else know, too.
9 digital hospital marketing strategies to use
Here are nine digital marketing strategies to help you connect with your local patients.
1. Set clear goals
What are you trying to achieve with your healthcare marketing? Deciding on some goals before you begin is crucial.
You need to figure who your audience is and what they want and need as a part of this crucial first step. If your facility focuses on cutting-edge, world-class cancer treatment services, for example, your hospital marketing strategies might not include targeted ads for new mothers. Keep the message consistent and directed to those you want to reach.
And remember that patients are not the only ones watching. Physicians and other organizations (e.g. universities) are keeping an eye on your digital marketing efforts. If you are actively recruiting both patients and new team members, this is important to consider.
2. Focus your healthcare marketing on quality of care
Because Medicare now may reimburse on the basis of patient satisfaction, some hospitals are rolling out the red carpet and offering amenities that rival the swankiest day spa.
While this might be on-brand for your hospital, it’s not absolutely necessary in terms of how many patients choose you. More polling indicates that although a plush robe is nice, what patients really want is expert doctors and low rates of surgical error or complications.
3. Stay HIPAA compliant
No matter what hospital marketing strategies you use, make sure that your digital marketing efforts are HIPAA compliant.
This means protecting sensitive patient information and getting the proper releases whenever you use images or patient data (among other things!).
4. Be social
With millennials on the horizon about to overtake the Baby Boomers as the biggest generation in the U.S., the best marketing strategy for hospitals might just be to swipe right on social media. Millennials have $1.3 dollars in buying power annually, and they are beginning to enter hospitals as new parents. And because 85% of millennials have a smartphone, this is the most digitally connected generation ever.
Meet them where these patients are with the perfect social media campaign.
What’s considered perfect will depend on your goals, your audience, and what you want to achieve. Are you trying to be more connected to current patients? Are you looking to develop more partnerships with your community leaders? Make sure your social media campaign is authentic and focused on those efforts and patients.
Once you know what you want, consider moving beyond simple organic social media to localized social media ads or other tools for engagement.
5. Develop great content
Many hospital marketing strategies begin and end with a website that’s more than a few years out of date. Don’t make the mistake of treating your website as a digital version of the yellow pages. Create great content to engage patients and their families.
This could include:
- Information on your services
- Videos of patient testimonials
- Videos of procedures
- Blog posts on issues in your hospital or healthcare
- Links to relevant articles and research
- FAQ pages that might include actual patient questions and your team’s answers
Great content keeps patients on your site and engaged for longer (and “dwell time” increases your Google search rankings).
6. Don’t forget the facts
Make sure patients can find your facility with your thoughtful, well-designed, easy to navigate website that has complete contact information and easy-to-use directions. Claim your Google business page and use Google My Business for classes, events, or to introduce new staff. Prominently add information you know new patients will want, like accepted insurances.
Make sure all information is up-to-date, and place contact information on every page. If your hospital has multiple locations, use best practices for local SEO to differentiate one location from the other.
7. Get mobile, and get fast
Mobile devices account for 64% of all daily Google searches. Optimizing for mobile isn’t optional anymore. A page’s mobile responsiveness has a direct impact on their Google ranking.
Regardless of where the searches happen – on the go or at the desk – site speeds matter. You have about three seconds for your hospital’s page to load before prospective patients click away. Test your site’s speed and adjust if you need to.
8. Don’t neglect SEO
As with all digital marketing, hospital marketing strategies must include SEO.
SEO (search engine optimization) makes your website easy for search engines to read and, thus, easy for patients to find.
9. Get out into the community
Sometimes the digital tools just won’t cut it, and you need to go analog. Focus some of your marketing time, attention, and dollars on community health initiatives that address concerns in your hospital’s region.
This combines digital tools (asking for suggestions for health-related classes on social media) with IRL actions to strengthen your hospital’s relationship with your community.
In the end, all good hospital marketing strategies come back to the relationship you are building with your patients. At Boost, that connection is the cornerstone of our work. Get in touch today to see how we can help.