Should Providers Maintain Medical Digital Marketing During COVID-19?
Posted on Apr 15, 2020 by Sheryl Cragun
Like all businesses right now, medical practices wonder where to cut back during COVID-19’s restrictions. A recent article in Search Engine Land evaluates digital marketing spending for businesses in general, looking at why businesses might want to continue, reduce, or expand online marketing during the epidemic. By their analysis, the answer for most medical providers is Yes: maintain digital marketing now to sustain practice health long-term.
Here at SocialClimb, we have seen our medical practice clients work through these questions daily. We have some insights based on their experiences during the pandemic, connected with our observations of the medical market over time. Here’s how we see the article’s advice apply to medical practices.
Evaluate the cost/benefit of online medical marketing during COVID-19
The bottom line is to maintain business health by comparing digital marketing expenses to income, then either cutting back or continuing the digital marketing expense to keep a business going.
Although this decision-making process may be simple for a T-shirt seller online, it is more complicated for many businesses, and especially for medical practices with their unique and varied streams of revenue. Medical practices are making some tough calls to stay in business during COVID-19. For both small and large practices, some cut-backs may even extend to furloughing employees.
However, overall business health can remain the top priority for medical practices, because providers can anticipate patient demand will increase soon. To make good decisions about digital marketing and all spending during COVID-19, medical providers should evaluate two scales:
- Short-term to long-term income and growth.
- How essential are their services over time? Are they essential now, or essential but just delayed?
Balance the short-term and long-term view for your medical practice
Medical practices are used to a long cycle between providing services and getting paid. This long view will help practices overall as they consider where to cut back during COVID-19.
For many businesses, it might actually be short-sighted to cut back on marketing expenditures right now. This is especially so for businesses like medical practices where demand for services is still there, but is just delayed by social distancing measures.
What will happen when the COVID-19 restrictions lift? Will potential patients come to your practice or not? Medical marketing is intended to draw patients in both now and in the future. Keeping up some marketing expenses now is an important way to stay in public view, and to recover after things start to return to normal.
Are your services essential right now?
When evaluating your digital marketing efforts during COVID-19, think about how essential your practice’s services are to clients. Are they essential right now? People may delay some medical care during the downturn, but they will still seek care for acute issues. For example, broken bones, wounds, exercise injuries, chronic health issues–these and other services still require speedy medical attention.
If your services fall into the “essential now” category, it’s important to keep up your digital marketing efforts, especially because some healthcare providers have limitations. You can let patients know you are providing care but following CDC guidelines for clinics to protect against infection, or using telecare options.
Are your services essential but just delayed?
Even elective healthcare services are essential soon. For example, a person who needs a knee replacement is still going to need that knee replacement. If your medical practice provides essential services that are just delayed during COVID-19, you can assume you will have a large number of potential clients seeking care once restrictions are lifted. In fact, these clients may be using the downtime to evaluate potential surgeons and providers, and to schedule appointments.
One of our clients has even found that their scheduling lines are busier than usual, as people are scheduling now for future months. Seeing this happen has made this client keep up their digital marketing fully. It might even make sense to increase digital marketing right now as a way of ensuring a full schedule to help things return to normal.
Prioritize communication to maintain trust and loyalty
One of the most important forms of digital marketing right now is to increase personal outreach by communicating as much as possible. Simple and inexpensive, sending an email or text message to clients will go a long way to increase trust and loyalty among patients.
The Search Engine Land article emphasizes how important it is for businesses to reassure people their needs are important and that you will take care of them. Business efforts “that show value and instill trust . . . will pay dividends when times are more certain.” Medical practices especially have a unique opportunity to help people feel at ease during this time of stress.
Our SocialClimb customer success team has been helping our clients during COVID-19 to adapt and use our system to send out regular, reassuring email and text messages.
Be sensitive about the real strain of COVID-19
Right now it’s especially important to keep marketing focused on people’s real needs. At a time of such genuine stress for most people, it’s important that any and all marketing efforts be especially tactful. If medical practices focus their marketing on meeting clients’ real needs, then patients will recognize that. It will build trust and loyalty that will come back to the medical practice as things return to normal.
Medical practices will recover after COVID-19 by maintaining digital marketing
Because medical services are almost always essential now or in the near future, practices can assume that demand for their services will return. This long view means it’s important for medical practices to keep up their online presence now, to maintain prominence in future search results.
Companies that continue to execute on their planned digital marketing campaigns . . . will be poised for faster (and more effective) recovery when we come out the other side.
Nick Eubanks, CEO of From the Future
In evaluating their digital marketing expenses during COVID-19, medical practices will do best as they balance short and long term views, consider how essential their services are, and keep patient care and communication as a top priority.
Posted in Automated Practice Marketing