Updated: December 13, 2018

You’re likely ready to outline your 2019 healthcare marketing strategy and hope to find the right balance between traditional and digital marketing. It seems the last couple of years our clients have been trying to maximize their budgets to the fullest extent and realize their return on investment. To us, the answer is simple: Invest in digital marketing because it gives you the opportunity to better track return! Here are several guidelines to help craft a winning digital marketing plan!

Your answers to the following questions will help guide you:

  1. How much do you understand your target audience, their decision journey and touchpoints with your brand?
  2. Are you making full use of your paid media?
  3. How are you monitoring and managing earned media?
  4. Is your owned media performing to its full potential?

When optimizing a comprehensive marketing plan for your hospital or health system, there are several aspects to consider. The RACE (Reach, Act, Convert, Engage) framework helps healthcare marketers plan and manage their digital marketing activities in a structured way.

REACH: Building awareness of your brand or being present, visible and available when your target customer has a moment of need for your services.

ACT: Encouraging engagement from your consumers on your website or in social media to generate interest. It's about keeping their attention long enough to compel them to take the next action on their journey.

CONVERT: Compelling your audience to take that vital next step which pushes them closer to becoming a patient (e.g., schedule an appointment online).

ENGAGE: Developing a long-term relationship with your patients to build retention and brand loyalty as retained patients boost customer lifetime value for healthcare organization.

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In the following paragraphs you’ll find a checklist that will help you maximize the RACE framework and keep track of the main elements you’ll need to integrate into your strategy.

  • Target Market: The keystone of any effective marketing strategy. Marketing your healthcare organization (providers, locations, services, etc.) effectively will require you to identify your “best” client or customer. No one can afford to target everyone, so focusing your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you, is an affordable, efficient and effective strategy.
  • Gap and Historical Analysis: Conducting a gap and historical analysis can help improve your business efficiency, your product and your profitability. Once complete, you will be able to better focus your resources and energy on those identified areas in order to improve them.
  • Competition: To win in the market, your team will need access to timely, relevant information about competitors and changing market conditions. Identify your competitors, gather information, analyze the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, talk to them directly and identify your competitive advantage.
  • “Buying Cycle”: As you coordinate your marketing strategy, ensure you take into consideration the various steps in the health consumer’s selection process, the patient journey, and how you hope to push leads and prospective patients further through the funnel.
  • Goals and Objectives: Having clear digital marketing objectives, aligned with your hospital’s goals, will help you spend money wisely and grow your market share.
  • Put your digital marketing plan into action! Communicate with your team often and build excitement.
  • Measure: Create a scorecard that will help you track and measure metrics for all of your marketing activity. Your promotional efforts can and should be measured using a variety of metrics that are specific to the channel or tactic. Metrics empower you to adjust your tactics and maximize results.

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  • Conversion Rate and Landing Page Optimization: Higher conversion rates means more qualified leads, and more qualified leads means more profit potential. While it is important to continue innovating and improving the elements of your landing pages, too many changes can overwhelm your visitors. Be consistent, make incremental changes and narrow your focus to improve the experience for prospective patients.
  • Performance across Devices: It’s crucial to know historical performance across multiple devices. Have paid ads performed better on mobile? If so, what mobile devices should you focus on? Once your yearly objectives have been established, you can begin to manage specific tactics at the device level. This will enable you to intentionally develop techniques that cater to the devices your most important audience is using.
  • Tactics and Channels: Use a combination of tactics and channels to make it easy for the right health consumers to find you! What new tools should you integrate into your marketing strategy? Are you ready for Voice Search or other innovative channels to help health consumers access your healthcare organization? Assessing your performance and doing a competitive analysis are fun phases in your digital marketing planning but nailing down tactics and channels is the most vital aspect of the plan.
  • Promotions: We typically don’t talk about “promotions” in healthcare marketing but think of these as opportunities to engage your audience with targeted, relevant and personalized content. When promotions are planned and prepared in advance, you will have a better chance of success. Planning minimizes the overwhelming last minute rush to get landing pages and creative approved.
  • Timeline: To execute your plan, it is important to have a timeline in mind. While the timeline will likely need to be flexible, having a schedule lets you visualize the tactical execution and make sure you are on par with projected results. Create a marketing schedule that includes launch and optimization of all campaigns and all other marketing activity.
  • Resources: Determine which resources will be required to get the plan started. Establishing who is responsible for what will create accountability across teams, which is needed for a successful implementation of the plan and measurement of results.
  • Revisit, Adjust, Adapt: Although you have taken every step to carefully construct a plan based on a set of insightful assumptions and analysis, you still can’t predict how health consumers and prospective patients will behave. It is essential to continuously measure and monitor the performance of your digital marketing strategy and to change elements where needed.

Keep it simple, use research and make it easy for people to act. Develop your marketing strategy with the right expectations. Start with a prioritized plan and focus on consistency and continual improvement.

Still struggling to optimize your plan for digital marketing dominance in 2019? Download our Digital Marketing Toolkit for more tips, templates, and tools to improve your efforts.