A successful digital marketing strategy is all about balance. Today’s healthcare consumers live online, on multiple channels, and you need to shine in each one to capture their attention and gain their loyalty. Each realm of digital media – earned, paid, and owned – is interdependent on the others, and your medical practice needs to solicit, dominate, and provide the right content in each of those spaces, with an integrated approach, to boost volume and satisfy consumers.
But how does that really work?
Think about it this way: For your owned media – or your practice website, your social media pages, location information, etc. – you can create as much as you want and update the content as often as you want, but those assets are only one part of a balanced digital ecosystem. Because of the way Google and other third-party sites rank websites based on reviews, your earned media – or your online reputation from reviews, star ratings, and more – is a great way to drive traffic to your owned media and promote engagement and positive sentiment around your brand. And finally, paid media – any paid digital ads in search, social, and beyond, plus retargeting, etc. – can help you both generate more earned media and drive traffic to your owned properties.
As you understand how interconnected your paid, earned, and owned digital media strategies should be, you can see that content is your most valuable marketing asset. Your owned media assets are the ultimate destination point for consumers, because that’s where you can capture emails, phone numbers, and more through web forms or drive traffic through phone calls, while your paid and earned media help make consumers aware of your brand and drive them to engage with you online. You can repackage that owned media content, webpage content, blog posts, provider profiles, and more in different ways for the other channels.
For example: Say you’ve hired a new cardiologist and want to drive business to help her grow her practice. Start with your owned media channels and publish things like press releases, bios, and introductory posts, being sure to optimize any new content for local search with applicable maps, directions, keywords, etc. Then, purchase social media ads and keyword-focused search ads to increase the community’s awareness of your new hire. Throw in a few print ads in local publications. Plus, you’ll want to make sure you’re asking for and sharing great reviews for your new physician and her services (which will also help with local search). Each of these tactics needs to work with the others, with consistent messaging, in order to make the biggest impact across multiple channels. You need these strategies to be working together, with similar messaging, to create the biggest impact. Balancing your digital marketing strategy in this way has been suggested to be the only way to accurately predict and measure your return on investment and justify your marketing budget.
What if you’re trying to carry out these same goals for multiple physicians in your practice, across different specialties, or even across multiple offices? You’re going to need some help. If you have inconsistent messaging, incorrect phone numbers and addresses, or poorly organized websites, because it’s all too much to manage, consumers will be turned off by your brand and choose different providers. They have sophisticated expectations for digital interactions that have been set by their lives outside of healthcare, so it’s time to take a larger view of your digital marketing landscape. CMO.com agrees: “Marketers need to be more holistic in order to harness PEO [paid/earned/owned] for the greater good.”
Even something as simple as a Facebook ad needs each part of your digital marketing strategy to work together to maximize impact. A Facebook ad may be technically just paid media, but because it comes from your practice’s verified (owned) Facebook page, it’s also part of your owned media. When you factor in that Facebook’s algorithms that help you reach your ideal audience insure only those consumers who like/comment/share related content see your ad, and your paid content is suddenly validated, or earned, by their interests. A Google search ad works the same way. The top of the search results page shows paid ads, then earned links (based on star ratings and localized content like maps), followed by organic results from the most optimized owned pages. Every piece of the puzzle has to excel on its own so the completed picture can better engage your audience.
To drive more volume and meet consumer expectations, you need to embrace technology solutions and services that can help you reach your goals. You’ll need applications, technology, and vendors that:
1) Help you manage your content and data with simple templates, reports, and applications
2) Make finding and correcting broken links and old addresses simple
3) Provide services to help you plan and execute your paid media multi-channel campaigns
4) Provide in-depth reporting to help you measure campaign successes in real-time
5) Provide expertise that allows you to locate and engage your ideal new patients
6) Automates alerts for when a negative physician review pops up on a third-party site so you can respond appropriately
7) Engages those currently under your care to improve their experiences and share their satisfaction
With so much competition in healthcare today, and the challenges of changing payer mix and technology evolution, crafting a balanced digital media strategy for your medical practice will help you grow patient volume, create better and more engaging experiences online, and build more loyal relationships.
Want to learn more healthcare marketing tactics and tips? Download our Healthcare Digital Marketing Toolkit.