The Importance of Healthcare Marketing in an Economic Downturn
These past couple of years have been the equivalent of the world’s largest roller coaster for businesses everywhere — and the healthcare industry is no exception. The pandemic put healthcare systems to the test, exhausting their resources in every way possible and driving the focus from growth to survival.
We’re often being reminded that nature doesn’t really know or care about the world’s economy. But, the societal lingering failure to recognize and accept that and adapt in a timely manner has yielded yet another “once-in-a-lifetime” economic crisis.
The need to stay afloat and find the right path to recovery during the economic downturn inspires many to cut costs and marketing expenses are often the first target. Cutting healthcare marketing spend has historically been a quick fix but recently, more providers are realizing that marketing is an essential activity. Pulling the plug on their marketing plan may end up hurting more than helping.
In the digital era, not investing in marketing is as good as giving up. During economic uncertainty, people want to stretch their dollars as far as they can go and tend to research and evaluate products or services more thoroughly before they commit. The worst crisis management strategy right now is to lay low, as that would deprive you of great exposure and visibility that yield more patients and business growth.
In fact, maximizing your healthcare marketing spend could be just the approach that will help your healthcare organization overcome the current challenges — let’s explore why.
Why Should You Invest in Healthcare Marketing Now?
Healthcare providers didn’t invest much in contemporary marketing methods before the pandemic either — partly due to relying on traditional word-of-mouth and physician recommendations, partly due to allocating resources to care improvement, and partly due to the HIPAA regulations that tend to have the scarecrow effect when it comes to healthcare marketing strategies and their performance tracking.
But technology advancements changed the way we search for care and interact with providers. Think about it: if you spend an hour googling and comparing before you choose a tea kettle, how thorough is the search for a healthcare provider? Online reviews became the new word-of-mouth, digital ads the new billboards and postcards, and the lack of a reputable online presence makes you invisible to potential patients.
Reasons to invest in healthcare marketing right now are many, but here are the three big ones that will single-handedly reassure you.
Healthcare Is an Essential Service, Not A Luxury
No matter the crisis, people are always in need of healthcare services. We may think twice before indulging in random purchases, but healthcare is a necessity, not a splurge.
The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of health, but it also put all non-essential healthcare procedures on hold. Now, as we’re navigating the post-pandemic world, people seek to make up for missed appointments and regular check-ups. And you want to make sure that they find and choose you when in need of a healthcare provider — hence, a healthcare marketing investment is in order.
Healthcare Marketing Investment Yields Long-Term Benefits
Investing in healthcare marketing pays off in the long run — a consistent approach will put you on the map. Most of your competitors may decide to halt their marketing during this period, which gives you an opportunity to take up more space and establish authority on search engines, social media, and review sites — and at a lower cost, too.
Those who decide to invest in marketing now will see a higher patient base growth and gain a significant advantage in the healthcare market due to the scarcity of marketing activities of their competition. So, which side do you want to be on?
Reflect Great Leadership in Difficult Times
Showing good leadership skills and reassuring your team is essential in an economic downturn. Being idle is not a reflection of confident leadership, nor a way to salvage your business. Show your employees that you’re doing everything you can to not only maintain but also expand your healthcare business and secure their jobs.
And how do you do that? By bringing more patients through the door. We’re all patients, we’re still spending our money, and we’ll always choose to spend it on our own health — so make sure to be visible and within reach when people need your services.
Cutting down your healthcare marketing costs will only stunt your growth and bring the future of your business into question. On the other hand, making smart investments in times of crisis is what distinguishes a good leader and secures long-term success.
How to Make Smart Healthcare Marketing Investments During An Economic Downturn?
Healthcare marketing is an investment, not a cost — and if done right, it will yield a tremendous Return On Investment (ROI). The key is to take a strategic approach, choose to invest in the most essential activities, and find the most cost-effective way to conduct them. And while this is always true, it’s even more important during a crisis when you want to make sure that not a single dollar is wasted. So let’s dive into an overview of healthcare marketing activities that are guaranteed to at least double your investment.
Fine-Tune Your Messaging Across All Channels (Omni-Channel Marketing)
Think about what the healthcare discourse should sound like in the post-pandemic environment. Consider that many people are traumatized by the pandemic and find the right words to encourage them to take care of their health without triggering their fears. Show them you’re here for them — adjust your messaging to reflect the devotion and care they will receive at your premises. Make sure to apply this across all channels you use — from social media profiles to your website and other directories you have accounts on, such as review websites — as an uneven tone might send mixed messages.
An added bonus that will show people you care for their well-being in times when the money is tight is to occasionally give a promo offer that doesn’t gravely affect your bottom line. This will additionally encourage them not to skip their regular check-ups in an effort to save money, while it will give you an opportunity to attract and retain more loyal patients and strengthen your reputation.
Don’t Neglect Your Healthcare Reputation Management
With people being more careful than ever about who to trust with their health and well-being, an impressive reputation is the most essential element of healthcare marketing. Research shows that 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate healthcare providers before making their choice, whereas 84% trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends — which should definitely inspire you to back your marketing with online reviews.
Make sure to set up Google Business Profiles for each location and provider if you haven’t already, as Google is the most popular review platform among healthcare seekers. Don’t underestimate other platforms either, such as Healthgrades, Yelp, RateMD, etc.
Once you’ve set them up, encourage your patients to leave a review after an appointment — you can automate this process to save your time and increase the number of reviews you get — and then manage those reviews and engage with your patients online. Reply to a negative review in a reassuring manner, thank those who left a positive review, and show potential patients that you care about their experience.
Reputation management is not expensive — it’s an organic marketing strategy that requires a bit of time and effort — but not managing it properly or at all might cost you everything.
Optimize for Local Search
When people seek care, it’s important that they find you — and Google is where they overwhelmingly search for practitioners in their area. To make sure you’re listed at the top of these search results:
- Optimize your Google Business Profile — Google features three GBP results for every local search, and users trust the three-pack more than paid ads or even organic results. Check if all information on your GBP is correct and available and make sure to update it regularly. Manage your Google reviews and maintain regular activity to remain relevant.
- Don’t forget the maps — Feature your exact location on Google Maps, Apple Maps, and other commonly used navigation software to make sure patients can easily find you there and get the correct instructions to your premises.
- Optimize your website — This is a somewhat more challenging task than the previous ones, but optimizing your website for high-traffic search queries will further strengthen your ranking efforts and help you achieve authority and increase visibility. It’s worth looking into and exploring how you can improve your website’s SEO — even small adjustments can yield significant results.
- Maintain an active set of local search ads — Since ads show up above the three-pack and the organic results, investing in an ad set is crucial. Target search queries such as “physician/specialist/hospital near me” and place the ad in your location radius. Include a brand name ad as well.
These four steps will help you achieve dominance in local search — you’ll be featured in the paid ads section, in the three-pack section, in organic results, and on all the navigation apps people use.
Use Predictive Targeting in Advertising
Predictive targeting helps you reach and acquire high-value patients. It uses extensive data sets collected with the user’s consent to help you identify the people who are most likely to be in need of the healthcare services you offer and segments them by geo-location, age, gender, and other demographic categories.
These data sets enable you to place ads in front of those patients who are most likely to convert — both online and offline. Targeted ads yield a much higher ROI as they don’t leave you wandering in the dark, wasting your advertising budget on random audience guesses.
Many healthcare organizations avoid predictive analytics and anything that has to do with data usage because they’re scared of violating HIPAA regulations, but it’s absolutely possible to take advantage of these groundbreaking technologies while remaining HIPAA compliant. Navigating HIPAA regulations is a lot easier if you rely on solutions tailored to healthcare marketing management needs.
Track Your Healthcare Marketing Efforts
Tracking the performance of your marketing campaigns helps you determine their ROI and provides meaningful insights for adjusting your activities to optimize your healthcare marketing spend.
Many healthcare providers haven’t found a reliable way to track their marketing performance yet — and the lack of palpable results inspires them to cut marketing costs during the downturn. However, tracking capabilities exist — and they’re easily accessible, user-friendly, and yield detailed information — so lack of tracking can no longer be an excuse to pull your marketing spend.
Here are some of the most prominent ways you can track your healthcare marketing success:
- Use social media analytics to review your content performance — these tools are free, easy to use and provide you with detailed insights. You can see how many people see your posts, how and at what level they interact with you, what they click on, and what they share. This can guide you to focus on the highest-performing activities.
- Google allows you to track everything you do — your website performance, Google Business Profile, as well as paid advertising. Knowing patient acquisition costs in Google Ads lets you determine your ROI immediately, whereas the performance data helps you optimize your strategy to further lower your price per lead — therefore increasing your ROI.
- Implement call tracking — this is a simple strategy you can apply to all platforms where you place your phone number. It allows you to see which placement yields the most phone call appointments. This tracking technique is at its most useful for offline campaigns, such as postcards and billboards, but it can also tell you whether your website, your GBP, an ad or a third-party directory inspired potential patients to make an appointment with you.
In addition to these tracking methods, contemporary healthcare marketing technology allows you to easily track each marketing activity you decide to conduct. And with the right tools, you can monitor and analyze your healthcare marketing campaigns without the fear of violating HIPAA.
Make Most of Your Healthcare Marketing Investment During An Economic Downturn
We’ve (hopefully) convinced you that investing in healthcare marketing is indispensable even in an economic crisis — but it may still seem a daunting and time-consuming process. Yes, healthcare marketing takes time and resources, but when done properly it gives more than it takes.
Often, healthcare providers do marketing partially and remain frustrated with the lack of results. But you don’t have to go all big on marketing — what’s important is that you approach your chosen activities strategically and see them through. And sometimes that’s easier said than done, with all other aspects of managing a healthcare organization requiring your attention.
Healthcare marketing automation can help you keep your marketing activities going and allow you to get more patients while investing less time (and money!) in them. SocialClimb offers you an all-encompassing healthcare marketing platform that allows you to manage your reputation, your online presence, and targeted advertising efforts — all in one place.
We enable you to get the most out of your budget and rapidly increase your marketing ROI by providing you with intuitive, easy-to-use tools that don’t require you to be a marketing expert to achieve tremendous results. With the right approach and the right tools, maximizing your marketing spend during an economic downturn will secure your place in the healthcare industry for years to come.