Start fresh and dream big: these are the medical marketing strategies you need to know in the new year.
The end of the year is a perfect time to take stock of your marketing practices. You can note your big successes — and any missteps — for 2018, and make a plan for how you’ll reach your marketing goals in 2019. The new year is full of limitless potential, but we’ve narrowed it down to these top five “resolutions” for your medical marketing team to follow.
Start the year off with a thorough audit of all your existing marketing channels. It’s time to assess what’s working and what isn’t, so that you know where to invest your time, energy, and marketing funds in 2019.
If you don’t already know your numbers, now is the time to see whether your 2018 efforts have grown engagement and shown a return on investment. How many people are engaging on your social media channels? Are click-throughs increasing patient calls or purchases? If the numbers aren’t what you hoped, it may be time to take stock of your SEO strategies.
Blogs can be a major part of your self-branding, and a powerful owned channel. Did keeping a blog work for you in 2018? Are you seeing increased organic traffic, engagement, and conversions? If the results aren’t what you hoped for, it may be time to optimize the content, design, and accessibility.
This is also a good time to glance behind the curtain and make sure your IT team’s strategy and security are working to protect your patients. If it’s relevant to your business, make sure you’re ADA compliant and have considered the EU’s data protection measure, GDPR.
Optimize Your Channels
All your channels represent your brand, but each should do it in its own way. It’s time to make sure that you’re taking advantage of each platform’s specific purpose and features.
Let’s start with your website. Your homepage should be an expression of your brand, with a clear message and strong, appealing imagery. Make sure you’re getting your money’s worth with PPC ads that send patients to an easily digestible landing page. Consider user experience — it might be time to rework site hierarchy if it could be confusing visitors, and make sure you fix any broken links.
Next, make sure your blog will continue to work for you in 2019, if it isn’t already. Include a call to action (CTA) with the majority of your blog posts to give your readers somewhere to go. This doesn’t mean you have to ask for the same action every time, however — consider if you want your readers to check out other articles, sign up for a newsletter, or make an appointment.
In addition, while an obviously keyword-stuffed blog will turn away prospects, ignoring SEO best practices means even your most thoughtful, researched posts won’t find readers. Make sure you’re striking a balance between driving traffic to your site and encouraging real interest and engagement in readers.
Don’t neglect any peripheral efforts — all owned content should be an expression of your brand. Instagram can be a compelling tool for sharing patient stories and promoting events, and is a great platform for outside-the-box creativity. Make sure your content is visually interesting or appealing, and don’t neglect hashtags in the captions.
Practice Data-Driven Marketing
If you didn’t track KPIs this past year, it’s time for a fresh start in 2019. Marketing without data is a shot in the dark — you’re missing out on important information that can help you decide what strategies are working and where to invest your marketing dollars.
Take the time to set up a strategy for managing analytics on all your marketing channels. Google Analytics is a straightforward way to figure out the story behind your numbers, and track not just bare stats but the quality of visits.
Consider setting aspirational (and realistic) goals for the coming year’s numbers — what would success look like for your business? Schedule out biweekly or monthly reports, depending on the size of your organization. That way, as the year goes on, you’ll be able to identify the channels that work for you, and direct your time and energy accordingly.
If you had a successful year — or even if you didn’t — you might be tempted to stick with the marketing strategies familiar to your organization. But a strong year actually means you’re well-positioned to make forays into new channels without neglecting your current efforts.
Customers increasingly demand online accessibility, and healthcare providers should be prepared for an increased focus on patient-centric services in 2019. There are an increasing number of instant and secure messaging platforms for patients to be able to talk to doctors or engage with an AI bot. These can be a great way to increase customer access and loyalty, while streamlining operations.
If you haven’t already made the leap, Instagram is a well-respected and creative way to grow your brand; over a third of U.S. adults have joined the platform. The story format is extremely popular and offers an organic way to engage that doesn’t feel as stilted as some other digital marketing methods. Similarly, some organizations — especially those with a strong visual component or a younger demographic — might be interested in trying Snapchat.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re well overdue for an update. The majority of smartphone users — 80% worldwide — are eager to engage with health care providers using their phones. One study showed that about 58% of U.S. mobile phone users had downloaded a health app. If you aren’t engaging on mobile platforms, you’re missing out on possible patients across all demographics, but especially young patients.
As you overhaul your capabilities, don’t neglect mobile ads, as features like geotargeting make smartphones a powerful tool for bringing relevant content to patients. Lastly, ensure that your contact information, hours, and service offerings are updated across the databases that feed into mobile map searches, like Apple Maps and Google My Business.
The beginning of the year is the perfect time to evaluate what about your marketing strategy is working and what could be better. By following these five simple resolutions, medical marketers will already be several steps ahead of their competition — and several steps closer to reaching new patients.