Posted: September 5, 2017

“We’re at our best as an industry when we’re looking outward for our inspiration, not inward.”
Joshua Lowcock, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at UM Worldwide

I couldn’t agree more. Online behavior is ingrained in our everyday life across many industries we encounter as consumers. And this learned behavior or expectation doesn’t change when consumers interact with a healthcare website. Therefore, healthcare organizations understand consumer experience strategies from other industries — spending on user experience testing, prioritizing mobile experience, and ensuring you have a highly converting, transactional website, etc. — are all fundamental to your overall marketing success.

Looking outward to effective consumer-centric companies in other industries, we see a lot of attention placed on converting online traffic. Healthcare needs to focus more on these types of conversions. In a previous post, I discussed the importance of building more trust and driving more appointments with better provider profiles:

  • Anticipate and answer the consumer’s qualifying questions
  • Use compelling storytelling to describe every provider
  • Improve engagement with interactive media
  • Incorporate physician reviews and ratings
  • Include clear and trackable calls-to-action on every provider page

Once you’ve turned your most important web pages into conversion-rich environments, your organization is ready to engage in promotion marketing to drive qualified leads.

paid-search-for-providers

Paid search
Paid advertising is an underused tactic in certain areas of healthcare digital marketing strategy. Using paid search to promote providers is one of the most inexpensive ways to capture health consumers as they search for a provider, practice name, or specialty. Since you are paying for placement and clicks on the search results page, it is critical that provider profiles or landing pages have clear calls-to-action and trackable phone numbers and forms. You want to make sure that you're targeting the right audiences, that they're able to make an appointment, and that you’re able to track and measure every interaction.

Local search
By its very nature, a hospital is a local business. Because local search delivers more clicks and calls than other marketing channels, it tends to deliver higher quality leads, and by extension, a higher return on investment than other digital marketing channels.

Local search is a combination of many different tactics and techniques, but at the top of the list is appearing number one in the Google Local Pack. The Local Pack is a list of up to three local business results that match the searcher’s query. This pack typically appears in the search results page when Google determines the intent of the searcher is to find a local business. Searches like “hospital,” “family doctor,” and “urgent care near me” typically trigger the local pack. A local search strategy is imperative to promoting providers as current and prospective patients search by name or specialty.

On-page search engine optimization (SEO)
We know 77% of patients search on Google before making an appointment. Search is a place where consumers begin their journeys, so healthcare organizations definitely need to both focus on and be able to show up in search. Optimize provider profile content to ensure they appear in the search results when current and prospective patients are searching by provider name, conditions treated, or specialties. Use the Google SEO Starter Guide to help you understand all of the different ranking factors important in on-page content optimization.

Social promotion
There's a great opportunity in social channels to highlight the real person behind that provider façade, but it's important to be appropriate to the medium. On social media, people are looking to make personal connections, and typical advertising messaging doesn’t always work well in this context. Telling a provider’s personal story or focusing on their philosophy of care are great topics to use in social posts. For example, highlighting some healthy tips from an individual provider or giving a little background into some of her favorite activities, and then boosting that post, can get you a highly targeted market and extra visibility for a relatively small spend.

Reputation monitoring
The healthcare industry has undergone a fundamental shift from being provider-driven to patient-driven. Today, a prospective patient can make a well-informed assessment before even walking into her first appointment. Public reviews, star ratings and comments on sites like Yelp, as well as review responses from doctors and hospitals, are the most popular way for consumers to gauge the experience they will receive from a healthcare provider.

Healthcare organizations must understand consumers’ reliance on online reviews, and should be monitoring, responding to, and soliciting reviews for all of their locations and physicians.

Bottom line
Growing consumerism in the healthcare industry has made customer experience (aka patient experience) initiatives more of an imperative for the industry. The shift from being provider-driven to patient-driven is making it increasingly important for hospitals and health systems to market their most important product: physicians. And customer satisfaction and physician reputation will be a key differentiator in all of these marketing efforts.

To learn more, download our white paper, Bringing the Amazon Experience to Healthcare.