Healthcare Demand Generation Best Practices
An effective approach to patient acquisition is critical to the success of healthcare providers. But before you can start acquiring and retaining patients, it’s crucial to ensure your demand generation strategy is attracting qualified patients to your front door.
The problem is, competing in a crowded healthcare marketplace can take time and effort. This is especially true if you’re part of a physician group or specialty practice that lacks the budget of a larger healthcare organization.
Also, your patients have tons of information at their disposal. Most of them are doing their research online, comparing the services of various healthcare providers. And by the time they make that first call to book an appointment, they already have a good understanding of the services you offer.
To get to them before others do, you need to use proper strategies to create awareness about your healthcare organization and the services you offer. This is where healthcare demand generation comes in. It helps you address the swiftly changing healthcare market, meet patients where they are, and align your services to their needs.
Still, demand and interest can’t be forced. That’s why you need to choose and design healthcare demand generation best practices that help you influence and shape your patients’ perspective — ideally by making sure your message overlaps with their needs.
Healthcare Demand Generation Benefits
Demand generation is usually associated with the beginning stages of the patient journey. In reality, it should be designed as a holistic strategy that affects all touchpoints of a patient’s healthcare experience — from locating healthcare providers and scheduling appointments to paying the bill and continuing their care after treatment.
At every step of the journey, you may lose potential patients. For example, they may visit your website, and feel frustrated by how slow it is, or be suspicious of an outdated design or short and incomplete information. They may try to reach you via an outdated phone number listed on your GBP and move on to the next provider because you’re not picking up, or try to book an appointment using a form on your website, but give up because it’s too complicated. Things like these can challenge your trustworthiness and send your potential patients to your competitors. Healthcare demand generation attempts to seal these possible cracks through strategies personalized to meet patients’ unique needs. In other words, by focusing on the beginning stages of the journey when customers are looking for information, healthcare demand generation creates a solid foundation for sustainable future growth.
In addition, healthcare demand generation can help you build better relationships. Nurturing your prospective patients from the beginning stages of their journey and providing them with content that matches their needs results in patients that form a relationship with a high degree of trust. And long-lasting relationships with patients are essential for patient retention and increasing your patient lifetime value.
Healthcare Demand Generation Best Practices
While healthcare demand generation can bring different positive outcomes, targeting as many potential patients as possible with general, impersonal content in the hopes that a handful of them will respond would be wrong and drive poor results. Instead, healthcare demand generation requires thorough planning, consistent execution, ongoing optimization, and result tracking.
Here are some of the best practices for creating awareness and attracting new patients:
Build Brand Awareness
Customers spend nearly 7 hours every day engaging online, including everything from social media and email to updates, news, and shopping. That means your brand is competing with more than just other healthcare providers — you’re competing with every digital experience the patient is engaged with. Your brand needs to have a strong online presence and you have to make information easy to find to prevent your potential patients from moving on without even noticing you.
At the same time, such a landscape offers you plenty of opportunities to get your name out there and grow demand for your services. For starters, identify what you want your healthcare practice to be known for. Is it providing the most cutting-edge technology, the most-trusted doctors in a specific specialty, or an established presence within the community?
Next, list the unique identifiers of your healthcare practice. What is it that your healthcare practice does differently compared to others that gets you in the spotlight and makes people notice you? The more visible you are to patients, the more likely you are to grow demand for your services.
Create SEO-Friendly Content
During the demand generation stage of a patient’s journey, they aren’t exactly sure if they need your healthcare practice’s services. They are trying to determine their health issue and find out more information. Or they may have identified their problem, but don’t know how to solve it. That’s why they need educational and informative content:
- As a healthcare provider, you have a lot of knowledge that can benefit your patients. You can draw their attention by sharing blog posts that educate the community about a health concern while promoting your healthcare practice. For example, you can use your patients’ most common questions and concerns as a guideline for what you should be writing about. This gives you an opportunity to address the healthcare issues people truly struggle with through relatable, specific content they can’t find anywhere else. You can also share your thoughts on a specific health issue. For example, if there’s a measles outbreak at a local school, you can write about what’s causing them and how to avoid exposure. But remember who you’re writing for — make sure to get to the point and use language patients will understand.
- With the help of infographics, you can display important information in a way that is visual and easy to digest for potential patients. For example, you can create an easy-to-read informative graphic about the yearly flu season to educate and protect patients’ health. Also, remember that infographics are 3 times more likely to get shared on social media sites.
- Interactive content engages with website visitors actively. One example is an interactive white paper that asks the readers questions and gives them appropriate information based on their responses. You may also include videos, assessments, and calculators to help the readers have a more personal experience that helps them solve a health problem.
Also, when writing content, make sure to establish best practices to follow in this process. For example:
- Focus on the service lines you provide – don’t write about a measles outbreak if you don’t have a pediatric department. Instead, write within the service lines your healthcare organization offers and strategically prioritize those for which you need to acquire the most patients,
- Consider content length: don’t write 200-word posts that only offer general information you can find on hundreds of other sites — write a 1000-word piece instead and provide unique insights of value for your audience;
- Put quality over quantity: it’s better to publish two detailed and valuable blog posts than five short, non-insightful ones. This is dually important — both your audience and search engines will appreciate this approach;
- Don’t play on fear. It’s important to instill a feeling of safety in your readers while also stressing how important it is not to neglect their symptoms. You might fall prey to the “if they’re scared for their health, they’ll act” tactic, but if they associate you with fear they might not feel safe and comfortable in having you as their provider.
- Finally, don’t neglect the technical SEO aspects: optimization is one of the key factors of ranking high on search engines — and the higher you rank, the more people will find you..
Optimize Your Website
You want to keep the visitors on your website long enough to convince them you’re the right choice for them and, hopefully, convert them into patients. Through user-friendly web design, you can quickly give them the information they’re likely looking for, such as service descriptions, pricing, staff overview, location and contact information, and an appointment booking form.
Focus on creating a website that loads fast, looks professional, and provides visitors with a positive experience. Your website’s landing page often creates the first impression visitors have of your healthcare organization. If it’s eye-catching and interesting with strong headlines and concise writing, it can encourage visitors to access other parts of your site and book an appointment. Also, the right combination of visual elements paired with written content can tell a more comprehensive, personalized story and make a memorable impression. Images visually decrease the heaviness of the text, keeping users more engaged.
Improve Your Local Search Results
To get more patients, you must ensure they can find you online, see which services you offer and understand how you can help them. When we search for, let’s say, “knee specialist near me”, Google features the most relevant local practices’ profiles, including contact information, reviews, and directions. Optimizing for local search is your golden opportunity to show up for these types of searches and attract new patients.
For Google to place you high in search results, you must be both in the searchers’ location radius and have a well-optimized Google Business Profile (GBP), a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. To attract new patients, your profile should be updated and accurate, so make sure to add complete data, verify your business locations, check if your working hours and contact information are correct, and upload photos so they can get a feel of your premises and easily recognize the location.
Make sure to optimize your website’s content for the locations where you offer your services. To show up in local search results, you have to include custom, local content that’s both attractive and relevant to your audience and optimized for search engines’ crawlers. Also, to get the most from local searches, it’s necessary to optimize your pages and articles with the right local keywords for your business.
Last but not least, what people say about you online strongly impacts how potential patients interact with your healthcare organization. Just as they help create a trustworthy image for your audience, reviews are an important factor for Google to determine who to show in local search results. Therefore, you have to actively manage your online reputation and communicate with your patients in a HIPAA-compliant way, leaving no review unattended — be it positive or negative.
Stay Active on Social Media
An active social media presence is a great way to reach people who aren’t actively searching for care at the moment. Everyday healthcare advice and reminders can help you attract a wider audience, build brand awareness and gain trust — so they’ll already have you in mind when they do need care.
Social media campaigns help you educate prospective patients on common issues that they may not even be aware of. Instead of waiting for them to search, you can highlight medical issues they’ve yet to articulate on the channels they spend the most time on. Becoming a trusted source of information on social media channels will make it easier to expose your brand to more people who may not be aware of your services.
You can also engage and educate potential patients on your healthcare practice’s services with social media videos. For example, an ophthalmologist can make a video of what a patient should expect during cataract surgery and help ease their anxiety. However, it’s important to focus on a single topic in these videos and make them short. No one wants to watch a 10-minute video online while searching for a healthcare provider.
Remember to Measure Your Results
A healthcare demand generation strategy can increase your bottom line by laying the foundation for improved patient satisfaction and higher retention. As healthcare becomes more consumer-driven and patients are more willing to shop around for the best healthcare experience, your success depends on meeting your patients at the beginning of their journey and capturing their attention. A carefully designed healthcare demand generation strategy can help you do just this, but it’s equally important to track your results and allocate resources accordingly.
To measure healthcare demand generation, it’s necessary to track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to the number of generated customers, the cost of converting them to patients, how long it takes those patients to move along the patient journey, and how much they spend.
Healthcare demand generation is a powerful approach to generating awareness and building trust in your healthcare organization. However, designing a healthcare demand generation strategy, choosing best practices, and measuring results on top of that is no easy feat. At SocialClimb, we understand how challenging this can be and provide you with an all-in-one software package that gives you the power to attract the patients you want with little effort on your part. With the help of our platform, you can employ a proven strategy that measures outcomes, disrupt the patient journey so you are seen and chosen by the right patients, and ensure the steady growth of your healthcare organization.