Connecting with buyers in the healthcare sector has become a delicate balance between traditional and cutting-edge methods. Innovative and high-impact marketing is necessary to activate both consumer and professional audiences in the digital ecosystem. No one strategy is sufficient. Laser-focused search engine marketing and optimization across social media and professional specialty channels are key in building an effective, results-driven campaign.
With the evolving healthcare economy and cyber marketplace in mind, let’s look at the 7 key elements of a healthcare digital marketing plan that will resonate with your audience.
Element #1: An Exceptional Website
The cornerstone of any healthcare digital marketing plan is a great - not just good, but great - website. There is no inbound digital strategy without an effective website.
Fully 75% of potential customers say they judge a company’s credibility based solely on its main web page, typically the very first thing they encounter about the business. As with most things, first impressions play a huge role in marketing effectively, and they’re made, on average, in less than 0.2 seconds. That’s 0.2 seconds to establish credibility with three out of four customers who admit they judge a business’ solidness based upon its website design. When the site is confusing, frustrating, or slow to load, 79% of them move on to another site within seconds.
Obviously, credibility is huge for the healthcare industry. While it might not seem fair to judge a company solely based upon its web design, people do - and bad sites erode trust. Consumers conclude, if a company hasn’t bothered to invest in a top-notch website, its product can’t be that good either, and may even be faulty or dangerous.
Element #2: An Engaging Social Media Presence
Healthcare has been curiously slow to embrace social media for professional purposes. Some experts attribute this to the industry’s heavy regulation and strict policies regarding patient rights like HIPAA. Additionally, healthcare’s emphasis on privacy and confidentiality is counterintuitive to the nature of social media, which offers users the ability to share openly.
Still, healthcare companies shouldn’t assume social media is too risky to tackle. Social media campaigns help people view businesses as more human, friendly, and worthy of long-term loyalty.
Social media marketing guru Chris Brogan conducted an experiment in which he evaluated four different groups affiliated with health and wellness to see how they interacted with their Twitter followers. These groups were the media, celebrities. businesses, and the public at large.
Overall, the public at large did the best job of sharing in a way that seemed authentic and human. Healthcare discussions were two-way experiences, with lively questions and comments.
Which group did the worst? Unfortunately, it was the healthcare companies. Brogan described them as acting cold and distant, using social media solely for one-way communication “like a bullhorn, whether or not anyone was paying attention.”
If social media isn’t your forte, recruit the help of a digital marketing company that specializes in social media marketing for healthcare organizations.
Element #3: Effective Buyer Personas
Healthcare marketers sometimes stay too focused on mass appeal, missing out on niche audiences. If your target audience is still defined as “healthcare and device-related buyers,” that’s way too broad - and it means you’re not seizing the power of buyer personas.
Persona development is a crucial part of digital marketing. Using research, anecdotal stories, and purchaser feedback, healthcare companies can develop personas that embody segments of their customer base.
You might have a persona called Bob Buyer, a logistics and purchasing specialist for A1 Surgical Center, Inc., a company with multi-specialty surgery centers, whose medical device reprocessing operations are disorganized and expensive. If your current campaign isn’t specifically targeted to find, engage and activate this persona, you’ve got a big problem.
The best way to solve that problem is to launch a digital marketing campaign that clearly identifies, and offers to resolve, a challenge or need particular to that audience. If you don’t know who your audience is - specifically - you can’t effectively market to them. A good digital marketing company will help you develop a highly impactful and compelling persona.
Personas like these can help you hone your marketing messages for specific audiences. They also help with improving the customer journey, setting the stage for more individualized, personalized customer service..
We’ll cover elements 4-7 in our next installment— be on the lookout for part two!