Near-constant change in healthcare brings challenges and opportunities. To be successful, marketing professionals must adapt and lead proactive management of change. Here are four advances happening in healthcare marketing to consider in your strategic marketing planning:

1. Personalization and Engagement

Modern marketing delivery systems are sophisticated, offering consumers access to more channels of communication than ever. Contemporary healthcare marketing methods identify user interests and deliver timely, personalized and relevant content on a one-to-one basis. It’s about delivering the right message to the right target at the right time, starting a conversation and developing a relationship.

Social media is leading the way in personal conversation, creating an open dialogue between patients and healthcare providers, and generating trust and advocacy among loyal consumers.

The emergence of CRM and marketing automation platforms are fueling ongoing interactive personal engagement after the online “handshake” has taken place. When managed well, these platforms encourage two-way communication, offer a personal brand experience and stimulate brand preference.

2. Digital Marketing

In general, the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt digital marketing strategies. Healthcare marketers need to push for more focus in this area.

According to Think with Google’s “The Digital Journey to Wellness: Hospital Selection:

  • 84% of patients use both online and offline sources for hospital research.
  • 77% of patients use search engines prior to booking an appointment.
  • 44% of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device schedule an appointment.
  • Search drives nearly 3x as many visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search visitors.
  • Patients primarily search on symptoms and condition terms prior to the moment of conversion.

For starters, your website must perform as a robust marketing platform. An Adobe Marketing Discovery survey found that 88 percent of interested consumers will follow up that interest by going to the company website and 62 percent will move on from if the website doesn’t meet their needs.

The impact of mobile devices on marketing strategy is staggering. According to an Ofcom survey, laptops and smartphones are ahead of desktop computers when it comes to internet use. Google responds to search requests using a mobile-first algorithm. Not only do you need to make your website responsive and that your content is readable on mobile devises, you must approach all campaign planning with a mentality that includes mobile access as a core element in the customer journey.

Retargeting tactics allow for the display of digital ads to individuals after they have indicated an interest in your website or content. Digital user profiles empower personalized messaging that is more effective in generating interest and response.

Programmatic digital media buying can produce greater ROI effectiveness by drawing on real-time data and messaging to reach very specifically defined on-line users. Programmatic buying will soon account for the majority of digital advertising spending.

3. Quality Content is King

The Internet is healthcare marketing’s front door. Patients are looking for information they can use in their everyday lives and share with their networks. However, with increased online competition for the attention of consumers, today’s content must be fresh, interesting, reliable and share-worthy to cut through the clutter.

Effective content sets up a call to action (CTA), such as downloading a heart health checklist or taking a quiz on proper eating habits, that creates further engagement and loyalty.

Video content continues to grow in popularity and the statistics are staggering. For example, 46 percent of users take some sort of action after viewing an ad, 88 percent of viewers share videos with others and enjoyable video ads increase purchase intent by 97 percent. Numbers like these go on and on. Contemporary healthcare marketing can share stories by way of video content, including live streaming video on websites, blogs and by way of social media platforms. The advantages include timeliness, immediacy and educational impact.

4. Consumerism

Consumers have begun to take a more active role in their healthcare experience and seek options until they are satisfied. The increased financial stake they face and the availability of online information incentivizes them to use research to guide their treatment, provider and hospital decisions. Furthermore, the informed consumer is inclined to post ratings, comments and recommendations online.

McKinsey study found that patients have the same expectations from healthcare companies as they do from non-healthcare companies. Patients expect both types of companies to:

  • Provide great customer service
  • Deliver on expectations
  • Make life easier
  • Offer great value

There are signs that indicate healthcare marketers are beginning to embrace this growing consumerism trend. Some hospitals are going as far as shaping their facilities to look more like hospitality centers.

The bottom line: There are reasons why healthcare marketing has moved slowly into the digital age, but continuing to move slowly will prove costly.

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