“Read the biggest Healthcare Marketing report ever created and discover how to market your healthcare business effectively to achieve your business goals.”

About The Author

Kevin Gallagher is an experienced inbound marketing consultant and is the founder of Stargazer Digital. Kevin has over 10 years experience in Healthcare Marketing and is a regular blogger on the Stargazer blog.

@kevinjgallagher

Who is this guide for?

This guide is for any healthcare professional or any one working in marketing for a healthcare business. It is for the Director and CEO, Sales Teams and Customer Service representatives, it is for Nurses, Consultants and Secretary’s and even the often over looked but vitally important Janitors.

It’s for all of you, everyone who works in the Healthcare sector because the more people in your business that understand the behaviour of the people you are trying to reach out to and help, the better.

You need to bcome better teacher’s not better sales people, you need to educate and help the people who are looking to you to solve their problems.

Introduction

It is no secret that many businesses in the healthcare sector are lagging way behind when it comes to marketing themselves in the digital age.

This applies to private hospitals, Pharma, dentists, plastic surgeons, chiropractors, medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers - the list is endless.

Many healthcare companies are actually good at marketing themselves but in my opinion many are still using out of date methods that simply do not work anymore.

I thought the time was right to produce a guide that talks about the challenges the healthcare sector faces in acquiring new patients, selling equipment and so on. Many struggle to even just grow awareness of their business.

This guide has taken many months to compile and is the result of many hours of research. The purpose of this is to offer a comprehensive guide on how to market your healthcare business effectively to achieve your business goals.

The information contained in this guide is a combination of my 10 years experience in Marketing and working with Healthcare Businesses. It includes research that we just can’t ignore which supports the things I’m going to advise you to do.

All the advice is based on one thing and which is that your patients and customers behaviour has changed and how you must now change with them.

So if you are sitting comfortably then I will begin.

Who is this guide for?

This guide is for any healthcare professional or any one working in Marketing for a healthcare business. It is for the Director and CEO, Sales Teams and Customer Service representatives, it is for Nurses, Consultants and Secretary’s and even the often over looked but vitally important Janitors.

It’s for all of you, everyone who works in the Healthcare Sector because the more people in your business that understand the behaviour of the people you are trying to reach out to and help, the better.

You need to become better teacher’s not better sales people, you need to educate and help the people who are looking to you to solve their problems.

Introduction

It is no secret that many businesses in the healthcare sector are lagging way behind when it comes to marketing themselves in the digital age.

This applies to private hospitals, Pharma, dentists, plastic surgeons, chiropractors, medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers - the list is endless.

Many healthcare companies are actually good at marketing themselves but in my opinion many are still using out of date methods that simply do not work anymore.

I thought the time was right to produce a guide that talks about the challenges the healthcare sector faces in acquiring new patients, selling equipment and so on. Many struggle to even just grow awareness of their business.

This guide has taken many months to compile and is the result of many hours of research. The purpose of this is to offer a comprehensive guide on how to market your healthcare business effectively to achieve your business goals.

The information contained in this guide is a combination of my 10 years experience in Marketing and working with Healthcare Businesses. It includes research that we just can’t ignore which supports the things I’m going to advise you to do.

All the advice is based on one thing and which is that your patients and customers behaviour has changed and how you must now change with them.

So if you are sitting comfortably then I will begin.

The change in patient and consumer behaviour

Patients and consumers are influencing healthcare more now than ever before and their behaviour is shaping how you market to them. With the rise of private healthcare in the UK over the years we have seen more patients making their own decisions on where to obtain their healthcare and more healthcare professionals are deciding where and what equipment and drugs to use.

They are no longer wanting to be marketed too therefore traditional marketing is not working well anymore. Patients want to make up their own minds as to which hospital, dentist or chiropractor to use.

They turn to Google and social media for answers, they visit Google and type in questions related to the services you offer in search for answers. However for the most part they are faced with websites that just talk about their product and services. This is great for people who are ready to buy but what about the 95% of people who visit that aren’t.

If you are not creating content that answers your patients and customers questions then they will leave in search of websites that do. Sales talk does not build trust to your brand, helpful impartial advice does.

There is a time and place to sell but you also need to provide content that helps and educates.

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77%

of patients used search prior to booking an appointment

 

52%

of patients use health information sites for research

 

51%

say they feel more valued as a patient via digital health communications

Sources: Fathom Delivers

How do consumers learn about
healthcare providers?

Geile/Leon a American marketing communications firm set out to find out how consumers learn about healthcare. We can use this data to match what marketing healthcare companies are carrying out and how that fits in with consumer behaviour.

Did you know that the healthcare industry spends more on advertising than any other industry?

1.Healthcare
2.Cosmetics & Toletries
3.Automotive
4.Media & Publishing
5.Food
6. Entertainment
7.Drink
8.Distribution Channels
9.Finacial
10.Telecome
11.Institutions
12.Industry,Agriculture,& Property
13.Clothing & Accessories
14.Leisure Products
 
15.Furnishings & Decorations
16.Transport & Decoration
17.Housekeeping Products
18. Business Service
19.Information Technology
20.Domestic Appliances
21.Power & Water
21.Tobacco
22. Other
 

Are you reaching your patients and consumers in the right places? Take a look below to see how consumers learn about healthcare providers

patients-how-they-find-healthcare

You need to increase your brand touch points. Trying to appeal to the masses just doesn’t work anymore besides being far too expensive. You need to create inbound marketing that is personalised to your buyer personas.

The kind of activity potential patients and consumers are carrying out online are:

  • Looking to set up appointments
  • Acting on referrals
  • Fill in a prescription
  • Understanding treatment options
  • Familiarising themselves with physicians
  • And many many more

By taking a look at the inbound marketing methodology we can see how inbound marketing reacts to today’s consumer behaviour. Instead of pushing your message out to people and interrupting them you need to create content that attracts your patients and consumers to you.

Instead of advertising to the masses you need to attract your buyer personas to you. You will build trust while being helpful and avoid sales talk. You need to  talk their language by avoiding medical speak that they don’t understand.

The Inbound Marketing methodology

To get a better understanding of how all this works we need to look at the patient and consumers buyers’ journey. Below you will see how people move from awareness to consideration and finally to making a decision.

You can see examples of content you need to create to attract them and what goes through your patients and consumers’ minds at every step.

Buyers stagesAwarenessConsiderationDecision
User Behaviour Have realized and expressed symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity Have clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity Have defined their solution strategy, method, or approach
Research & Info
needs
Research focused on vendor neutral 3rd party information around identifying problems or symptoms Commited to researching and understanding all of the available apporaches/methods to solving their defined problems Researching supporting documentation, data, benchmarks or endorsements to make or recommend a final decision
Content Types
  • Analyst reports
  • Research reports
  • eGuides & Books
  • Editorial content
  • Expert content
  • White papers
  • Educational content
  • Comparison white papers
  • Expert Guides
  • Live interactions
  • Webcase/podcast/video
  • Vendor comparisons
  • Product comparisons
  • Case studies
  • Trial download
  • Product Literature
  • LiveDemo
Key Terms
  • Troubleshoot
  • Upgrade
  • Issue
  • Improve
  • Resovle
  • Optimize
  • Risks
  • Prevents
  • Solution
  • Tool
  • Provider
  • Device
  • Service
  • Software
  • Supplier
  • Appliance
  • Compare
  • Pros and cons
  • Vs.
  • Benchmaks
  • Versus
  • Review
  • Comparison
  • Test
Examples
I have sore throat fever, and i am achy all over. What;s wrong with me?
Aha! have strep throat , what are my options for relieving or curing my symptoms?
I can see a primary care physician,ER, nurse or clinic The ER costs £££, but are the fastest & I have insurance

The marketing challenges healthcare
professional face today

There are many challenges that healthcare professionals face today when it comes to their marketing. The problem I see with the healthcare companies I work with is a lot of them are either doing nothing to market themselves or are doing things that just don’t work anymore.

Mostly because what they are doing is not reaching their audience and creating awareness for their business. Take a look at some recent research below as this really helps explain why healthcare marketing has not been working.


1. Social media
2. SEO marketing
3. Advocacy relations
4. Public relations
5. Websites
6. Digital Ads
7. Content developement
8. Print/TV/Radio Ads
9. Direct marketing
10. Meetings/Conferences

We can start to see the problem as most of the % of budget has been spent on conferences, direct mail and print and TV. The three main areas that have seen a drastic drop in ROI over the years due the change in consumer behaviour.

You can also see that the smallest slice of the marketing pie is going to SEO, Social media and website.  Remember how 77% of patients use a search engine and 52% visit healthcare websites. Healthcare has been spending the smallest part of their budgets on the places where consumers are today.

44% of direct mail is never opened and 86% of people skip television ads so it’s little wonder that these strategies are not getting results. Looking at the above data it is not all bad news though, we can see that everyone surveyed indicated that social media, websites and digital ads were areas where they plan to increase their budget.

Also a large amount of them plan to decrease their spend on TV and print.

The biggest surprise for me is conferences, it seem that businesses are split whether this is still effective. Read my view on the true cost of conferences and tradeshows.

So what about healthcare challenges?

We can also look at another study carried out by MM&M to see where healthcare professionals are finding their biggest challenges and areas of opportunity and see how that plays into modern consumer behaviour.

1.Agency consolidation
2.The sunshine act
3.MLR/Internet approval
4.Procurement
5.Pharma media coverge
6. Patent expiration
7.Big Data
8.Mergers & acquisitions
9.The Economy
10.Payer pressure
11.Social media
12. Customer behavioural change
13.Mobile/Tablet
14.Time to market
15.Emerging market
16.Pipelines

If we focus on the marketing challenges we can see that the change in consumer behaviour is seen as one of the biggest opportunities. This means many healthcare businesses realise that there is an opportunity for growth by adapting to consumer behaviour but it also indicates one of the biggest challenges.

This tells us that healthcare has yet to work out how to take advantage of the change in consumer behaviour and market to consumers effectively.

They also see mobile and social media as big challenges they need to overcome.

Healthcare and content marketing

Content marketing is all about being helpful and informative to your consumers by understanding their needs and pain points, create content that answers their questions and address those pain points.

Many healthcare websites I see focus too much on themselves and only talk about the products and services they offer.

Do you think this builds trust with patients and consumers?

When people are carrying out their research they do not want to be sold to, they are looking for help, so help them and avoid the sales talk.

There is a time and place for you to introduce your unique positioning but when people are in research or awareness mode they will respond better to content that helps answer their questions.

If you are seen to be doing this then this will build trust with the consumer.

According to The Content Marketing Institute research has found that the healthcare industry lags two years behind when it comes to content marketing.

When it comes to more traditional outbound marketing techniques it seems the healthcare industry are still holding onto print more than all other industries even though newspaper and magazine ads are the least likely way consumers find them these days.

Is healthcare still holding onto print?

Content marketing is a fantastic way to attract the right kind of people to your healthcare website. By understanding what it is they are searching for when they visit a search engine you can create content to pull them into your website.
Create a learning centre that consists of video and blog articles that educate your consumers and patients.

One kind of content that Healthcare seem to be doing better than everyone else is video.

Again according to a study performed by The Content Marketing Institute the healthcare industry use YouTube slightly more than other marketers. Once your patients and consumers are actually on your website you need to get them to identify themselves by offering them premium content in exchange for some basic information. You can then start to nurture them from someone who is just researching into a patient or customer.

Who do you think you’re talking too?

Before you go off and start creating all this great content there is one thing you need to understand before you do, and that is your buyer persona.

What is a buyer persona?

Buyer personas are examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo.” - Adele Revella

As described by Adele Revella the founder of the Buyer Persona Institute.

Create a buyer persona that tells the person you are talking to what their pain points are and the questions they ask. Many marketers overlook this very important detail, make sure you don’t.

Stay top of mind with email marketing

Email has been around for what seems like forever and is a fantastic way for you to nurture your patients and consumers and stay top of mind. People check their emails many more times a day than they visit websites.

As you have now attracted the right people to your website, those who are most likely to buy, you have to now nurture them until they are ready to become a patient or customer.

Email helps you develop patient relationships with information that is helpful to them not only to buy but for their ongoing health.

93%

of adults would rather go to a doctor that offers e-mail communication

By building up an email database you are creating a great marketing assist. This database belongs to you, you do not have to pay again to market to these people.

Giving people the chance to subscribe to your blog content means they will receive in their inbox your content every time it is published. This will bring people back to your website and help you become an authority.

One other important aspect of having not only a blog but a database to market to is that you will also be building a community for your brand. A community of people who want to read and hear what you have to say.

This will give you the edge over your competitors because people use healthcare from companies that they like and trust.

Many healthcare businesses can seem a little hesitant to use social media as they believe it would mean people are more vocal and visible with their complaints. I believe people who complain can be your best customers as these people are telling you how you need to improve your business.

60% of doctors say social media improves care. Source

Do you not think that it would be worse if they just never told you and just never came back?

It is how you handle complaints that are important not just the complaint itself.

“Hospitals should be listening to what patients say on Twitter. It provides a new route for the NHS to understand what patients experience in hospital, and for hospitals to improve the care they provide.” – Dr Felix Greaves from Imperial College London’s School of Public health.


51% of people say social media would affect their choice of healthcare provider. Research conducted by Dr Felix looked at over 200,000 tweets sent to NHS hospitals in a year. The study found that 11% of these tweets talked about patients experiences. This could help hospitals understand more about how their services are being received by the public. 70% of these tweets were positive and each NHS hospital received around 2,600 in the year.

People want to know they are being listened to and if you ignore them this will just upset them. Use social media channels to build relationships and help answer questions people may have. This will help build your brand and generate more business for you in the long run.

Mobile friendly Healthcare

Did you know that according to a Google survey 61% of people will leave a website if it is not mobile friendly?

This study also showed that when 62% of 700 doctors were asked they said they would leave a website if it wasn’t mobile friendly.

You can read my article Why Mobile is no Longer a 'Nice to have' in Healthcare Marketing which goes into more detail about how you can take advantage of the mobile revolution.

You need to make sure your healthcare website works on all devices and by creating a responsive design that ensures your patients and consumers experience is the same across all mobile and desktop devices.

The use of mobile has increased dramatically over the last few years.

How to create an effective healthcare
marketing strategy

We have talked a lot about different things, what’s working and what’s not. We have looked at patient and consumer behaviour and how they buy.

But how do you put all this together into an effective marketing strategy?

I thought the best way to do this would be with an infographic that explains the buyer’s journey and how you can be helpful and delight your buyer personas.

healthcare-marketing-strategy

I asked Michael Krivicha healthcare marketing thought leader what challenges healthcare face in marketing and how to overcome them? And I think he puts it pretty damn well.

I have to admit, this is a pet peeve of mine, disingenuous hospital advertising. In a day and age where healthcare is evolving to a consumer centric, semi-retail model, some hospital marketers and C-suite leadership continue to treat the healthcare consumer like they are incapable of making informed choices.

With the healthcare consumer having a higher cost stake in the process with larger deductibles and co-pays, your price, and outcomes data readily available, it would seem that the time for change has come.

Remember, when you are marketing to inarticleiduals, they don't become a patient until they receive a service from you. So in one-third of the time in their interactions with you, the healthcare consumer is only a "patient" during diagnosis and treatment. Two-thirds of the time they are not patients, and most likely are arguing with your billing department about the charges.

Arguments aside, what should hospitals be advertising to create an unassailable market position, a strong brand, as well as an enlightened and informed consumer?

The time has come healthcare providers to provide meaningful information in the marketplace that will allow the healthcare consumer to become informed, educated and participatory in the care decision-making process.

You should be transparent and talking about your outcomes and prices. The healthcare consumer is hungry for information and searching the internet as well as other sources about you and how you perform. They are paying more of the cost. Demanding more say in what goes on. And don't like being treated like they are some small child who can't make a decision.

Key takeaways

When we look at the evidence we can see that one of the biggest challenges is the ability for healthcare businesses to change from more traditional methods of marketing, to more of an inbound approach.

The behaviour of patients and consumers has changed and more and more people perform research themselves with 70% already deciding to use your business before they even contact you.

So how do you help them to make the decision to use your business?

Help them to make their buying decision at every stage of their sales journey. Create content that answers their most asked questions and educate them.

Become great teachers and create marketing people love.

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