Posted: August 30, 2017

Learn How Your Brand Can Win the Moments that Matter and Attract Local Health Consumers

If you’ve kept up on what the thought leaders at Google have been cooking up over the years, you’ve probably heard about the Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT — that specific moment when you grab your laptop or mobile phone and start learning about a brand, product, or service you’re thinking about because you want it or need it. Specific to healthcare, an example of a ZMOT might be someone being denied an airline ticket because of his weight and then that person researching bariatric surgery or surgeons as a result.

For healthcare marketers, this was a fairly groundbreaking idea at the time and has continued to rapidly evolve with advances in mobile technology and customer expectations.

It turns out that the ZMOT is not really one moment, it’s a series of micro-moments that amount to the new reality of consumer behavior. We’ve seen an evolution of these moments of truth into smaller moments inside of the moments that have shifted the landscape of how we perceive brands and our decision-making processes. Micro-moments are woven into our daily routines as consumers. As a result, it is imperative for healthcare marketing executives and their teams to learn and master these consumer behaviors because they are game changers!

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Winning in these micro-moments requires new intentional strategies and investments to help healthcare brands be visible, findable, capture attention, and guide consumers to and through a conversion from prospect to patient while also delivering great experiences.

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A great example of these micro-moments might be a search that includes the term “near me”. These “near me” searches doubled in the past couple of years and they represent the largest opportunity for healthcare organizations to maximize their presence online at a relatively low cost.

When you're out and about and need to find a destination, what's the first thing you do? If you're like most people, you turn to your smartphone.

So, it's probably no surprise that 88% of all "Near Me" searches occur on mobile. Knowing that, it's doubly important for hospital marketers to understand how "Near Me" searches can benefit them, as 68% of all health-related searches, in general, begin on mobile devices. This means that for health systems hoping to attract consumers in their proximity — and especially those visiting from out of town or away from their "home" hospital — it's absolutely vital to roll out effective local marketing.

Strategies to Consider:

Ensure Your Online Directory Listings Are Up-to-Date
If you want to attract local eyeballs, the key is to land on the first page of local mobile search results. To win this key ranking, perhaps the important factor is maintaining accurate online directory listings. The listing of your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on your website (and in its metadata) are what search engines like Google use to index your site and rank it in local search. Displaying your NAP visibly and accurately on your site is crucial. As Search Engine Land notes, this is even more critical if you have multiple locations and addresses.

Of course, cleaning your NAP data shouldn't happen on your website alone. You also have to maintain accurate listings in local and healthcare directories. The same follows for social media sites, Facebook in particular. It helps to maintain a separate listing for each location in your health system, as that increases the chance that a search engine recognizes one of your facilities as being "near" the consumer. At the end of the day, the more instances where your information is displayed prominently and accurately, the better your chances of a patient choosing you over a competitor — and vice versa. Keeping up with this number of directories can get burdensome, fast, so seek help where you can to manage better.

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Optimize Your Website for Mobile, Local Customers
When planning your local marketing strategy, don't forget to tailor your content and SEO on your website for local search. As Search Engine Land notes, this includes referencing the city, if not the area within the city, where you do business in the title and meta description tags of your content (these are the titles and descriptions featured in Google search results). Be sure to include which services and service lines you specialize in, as concisely and interesting as possible, so the decision to click on your site is all the easier for the consumer.

Google rewards sites that are formatted for mobile in search rankings. Plus, local consumers will be visiting your site on mobile, so you need to optimize your website for how people actually view it. This includes building responsive capabilities into your site (so it will automatically reconfigure to fit mobile screen sizes), or else you have to create a separate mobile site all its own. A good content management system should have mobile configuration built in. To make scheduling from mobile even easier, feature a one-touch calling button. The idea is to make the journey from mobile search to scheduled appointment as seamless as possible.

Encourage Local Reviews
According to BrightLocal, 91% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 84% trust them as much as personal recommendations, which means that they're critical for fostering trust in patients — especially if a potential patient isn't familiar with the healthcare options in a local area. Given that 70% of consumers will leave online reviews if asked, you should actively encourage your patients to provide accounts of their experiences online. You get even more search engine ranking benefit by including these reviews and star ratings on your site. At a minimum, however, direct them to comment on your local Google listing, because these reviews will show up in their Maps feature. Of course, if you encounter negative reviews, be sure to address them immediately in order to remedy the experience and present yourself as a customer-focused organization.

While there are many considerations for attracting local customers, these are the absolute essentials for ensuring that "Near Me" consumers end up choosing your organization. Implement them today, and get a head start over your competitors.

Want to learn more about strategies for winning in search? Read our eBook, The Quest to be Found: How to Win Consumer Attention in “Near Me” Search Moments.