Last month, our blog featured ways to improve and enhance the digital patient experience. This month, we’re focusing on trends in marketing to prospective patients so that they desire a relationship – and an experience – with your healthcare organization.
Your Online Presence is Crucial
Research shows that 77% of people perform online research before making a healthcare appointment, so your online presence should make a great first impression. In addition, it must be mobile-friendly, as more than half of all web searches are performed on a mobile device.
Having an appealing home page and content-rich website is important, but it’s also extremely helpful to create procedure-specific landing pages (e.g., joint replacements, weight loss surgery, etc.) so patients find the resources they need quickly and easily without wading through pages of content on your site. Creating vanity URLs for such pages (such as “HospitalName/NewHip.org[DM1] ”) is an effective way to create a memorable call-to-action in your advertising as well.
It’s also important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes that the naming of these services uses common language and matches your patients’ searches.
SEO Strategies Continue to Evolve
Current and prospective patients are also looking for meaningful interactions online. Offering exceptional content demonstrates expertise and establishes your organization’s authority in healthcare matters. Providing high-quality content that is not directly related to becoming a patient with your organization, such as sharing apps for tracking one’s health or managing health records, also optimizes your organic search and improves searchers’ ability to find you.
About 93 million Americans (nearly 30% of the U.S. population) search for a healthcare-related topic online each year. But prospective patients have very little patience, and they expect to find what they are looking for with a few clicks of the mouse, just a few touches on their smartphone, or one question to their smart speaker. Ensuring they find you first is key to starting a relationship with them.
One of the key trends in SEO is location-based search, as Google’s algorithm ranks pages according to the proximity of the searcher. Ensure the accuracy of the address information on all of your owned media (websites, landing pages, and social media channels), as well as third-party sites like Healthgrades and RateMDs. As you do this, refresh the content and add a few new photos, which will show Google that it’s an active page as well.
As mentioned above, voice search (to a smart speaker) is growing rapidly. More than 43 million Americans own a smart speaker and Alpine.AI (recently acquired by Headspace) estimates that one billion voice searches are conducted per month. Voice searches (to Alexa, Siri, and others) are usually longer than those typed on devices, and often include words like “why, how, where, and when.” So, your online sites should contain content that will increase your search results (such as, “How can I find a good doctor?”).
The Importance of Video
YouTube is the second-largest search engine, processing more than 3 billion searches per month. Once a prospective patient finds you online (through Google, YouTube, or some other way), video is an important way to get prospective patients interested in your healthcare organization and more importantly, interacting with you. This is especially true for Millennials and Generation Z, as we are seeing that video is often their preferred medium for search.
One study found that 81% of people have been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video, so healthcare organizations can certainly take advantage of this trend. Video is especially relevant in the emotion-driven field of healthcare where decisions are often based on feelings and seeing the positive experiences of others. Through video, healthcare providers can share patient stories and testimonials, highlight Q&A sessions with their healthcare professionals, and give prospective patients a peek inside their facilities.
“Live Video” (e.g., “Facebook Live” and “Instagram Live”) is even better because audiences watch live feeds three times longer than recorded video. Video content can be educational, event-driven, “behind-the-scenes” information, hospital tours – you name it.
It All Comes Back to the Brand
As new marketing strategies continue to present themselves, the importance of clearly establishing your brand’s position and guarding your reputation cannot be overstated. Both satisfied and dissatisfied patients can greatly affect your brand with their online reviews. Search engines put great emphasis on user-generated content (like patient reviews), so having positive testimonials is important for the optimization of your site and your overall brand. A post-visit email campaign is a relatively low-cost way to solicit feedback via a patient satisfaction survey, which also presents the opportunity for open-ended content written by the patient.
While presenting and protecting the organization’s reputation are paramount, many healthcare executives admit they need more data about their brands. In a recent survey of healthcare and pharmaceutical CEOs, these chief executives valued information about an organization’s brand and reputation (94%) as much as they did financial forecasts and projections (94%). However, only 28% of them said they receive comprehensive data about their brand. So, an important initiative for 2020 may be gathering the necessary research regarding the organization’s brand perception among its target audiences so the brand can be enhanced moving forward.