If your hospital is considering investing in a new digital marketing strategy, here are the three areas you should be focusing on.
In today’s digital healthcare environment, your ability to attract new patients to your hospital is largely dependent on the efficacy of your online marketing efforts. In fact, a joint study conducted by Google and Compete found that when seeking out health-related information and treatment options:
- 77% of patients used online search
- 76% visited hospital websites
- 52% visited general health information sites
- 32% who found out about a facility or provider via a television ad
- 20% via a magazine
- 18% via a newspaper
But as the competition online continues to intensify, understanding which platforms are best for reaching new patients (and how to use them most effectively) is key when it comes to maximizing your ROI. Here are three areas to focus on in order to increase online referrals without breaking the bank.
Search Engine Optimization
In the age of the empowered patient, search engines have become the go-to informational resource for consumers before they book a new appointment. In fact, 77% of online health research begins with a search engine like Google or Bing. Search engine optimization (SEO) aims to boost a brand’s visibility in a search engine’s “organic” results, or those results that aren’t sponsored ads.
According to Search Engine Watch, roughly 61.5% of all clicks go to the first three links in a Google search — in other words, if you’re not doing everything you can on the SEO front to fight for those first three positions, chances are not many prospective patients are going to end up finding their way to your hospital’s site — at least not organically.
Search Engine Advertising
If you’re looking for a little more control, pay per click (PPC) advertising on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo is one of the best ways to get your medical brand in front of patients who are actively looking for treatment options — in fact, 81% of consumers conducting online health searches end up clicking on a sponsored link.
However, simply investing in PPC isn’t going to guarantee a solid ROI — that only comes with the proper approach to keyword targeting and ongoing, active campaign management. Effective keyword research is an involved and complex process; however, tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Keywordtool.io will help you identify the best possible phrases and terms for reaching your target audience.
In just a few short years, social media has established itself as a vital component of any successful digital marketing campaign — especially when it comes to healthcare. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Instagram and Snapchat have all become key drivers of online patient referrals, allowing hospitals to tap into existing patients’ personal networks in order to boost brand visibility and leverage word-of-mouth recommendations.
In fact, 42% of healthcare consumers report that they look up reviews and testimonials on social media, and a full 90% of patients ages 18 to 24 say they would trust medical information shared by others in their personal networks. Maintaining an active and engaging social presence across as many social platforms as possible will help you capitalize on this trend, rather than have it turn into a competitive disadvantage.
The point is, executing a comprehensive and impactful digital marketing strategy for your hospital is a complex and involved task. By limiting your focus to these three areas at the outset, you’ll be able to make a measureable impact in the short term without necessarily overwhelming yourself in the process.