In the internet age, a hospital’s reputation is only as strong as its digital presence. Here are seven simple ways to strengthen your hospital’s online brand.
These days, patients are choosing one hospital over another almost exclusively based upon their research online. This means that feats once accomplished in-person — such as demonstrating quality of care, expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, etc. — must now be projected via digital channels well in advance of an actual visit.
For many, this can be a tall order — one that demands equal parts marketing savvy and technological proficiency. But armed with a few helpful tips and tricks, cultivating a solid digital presence for your hospital can actually be easier than you think. Here are seven simple ways to strengthen your hospital’s online brand.
1. Build Target Patient Personas
If you hope to cultivate trust among your target audience, you first need a clear picture of who that audience actually is. Generate lists of specific target personas — e.g. women over 30 with joint pain, children with immune deficiencies (their parents would be the targets, here) — to inform the the bulk of your marketing efforts. This will enable you to build a magnetic brand identity that’s closely aligned with the interests and concerns of your patients.
2. Cultivate a One-on-One Mentality
Whether you’re generating content for your website’s homepage, social media channels, informational medical guides, or your hospital’s blog, your branded messaging should evoke the personalized bedside manner for which you’d (presumably) like to be known. Even when addressing thousands of existing and prospective patients, make sure you always make them feel like you’re speaking directly to them and addressing their individual needs. Avoid the impersonal third-person voice, instead opting to speak to patients directly with second-person pronounces like “you.”
Further humanize your brand by highlighting the stories and successes of actual patients at your hospital. If you want prospects to really connect with your brand, make sure you feature content that resonates with them on a personal level.
3. Optimize Your Website
From a patient perspective, a complicated, frustrating, or poorly functioning hospital site will always be a direct reflection of its services and capabilities. Your website must be intuitive and easy to navigate, with a variety of highly visible and accessible ways to contact staff schedule an appointment. Importantly, this means that it must be optimized for mobile devices — the addition of click-to-call buttons is a huge convenience.
To take this idea of website optimization one step further, many hospitals are creating localized microsites for each individual specialty and/or service lines. For one major U.S. hospital, this approach, when combined with a paid search campaign, lead tracking, and a customer relationship management platform (CRM), generated 57 referrals and 30 new patient referrals in the first month.
5. Reach Your Targets Using Metrics
In order to connect with your brand, patients must be able to find it first. Hospitals should use lead and referral tracking systems to determine which of their marketing efforts are making the biggest impact, and with which groups. As you roll out different campaign messaging across varying channels — mobile search or social media, for instance — you’ll want to be able to correlate your content with conversions.
At the same time, targeted media, such as paid Facebook ads, enable you to get your messaging directly in front of your ideal audience segments, right at the moment they enter the transactional phase of the patient journey.
6. Establish a Social Media Presence and Publish Consistently
Hospitals perform innumerable medical and social functions, and as such, your social media content should cover everything from A-Z: medical tips, health guides, recovery tips, patient success stories, local goings-on, the list goes on.
It often helps to address common patient questions or concerns, as others are likely looking for the, too. Not only can this help boost your organic search ranking on Google (especially when posts are linked to on-site content), but it positions your brand as a trusted and sought after publisher of helpful health-related information. As always, keep a sharp eye on compliance, and respond to users expediently — 75% of patients expect an answer to their queries over social media within 24 hours, according to PwC.
7. Project a Unified Brand Message
For hospitals, fragmentation can be both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand, having various service lines and specialties can be an asset, but if your organization becomes too segmented, it can actually end up hurting you in the end. In order to present a strong and unified brand message, you should engage with key stakeholders and leadership across each and every department on a regular basis to ensure that everyone’s on board. In the same vein, create comprehensive brand guidelines, easily accessible to any marketer or content creator, hospital-wide.
Perhaps most importantly, always be as honest and accurate with your information as possible. More than anything, patients are looking for a brand they can trust — in some cases, with their lives — and if you can win their loyalty and respect, chances are you also just won a new customer for life.
(Main image credit: Pexels)