Digital Marketing

Hospital Marketing: Our Prescription For Going Digital First

Crafting a hospital marketing plan can be quite challenging given that the “customer” and the “purchase” are unlike any other retail transaction. Traditional hospital marketing plans generally involve newsletters, flyers, and newspaper ads which fall under one-way communication marketing but digital marketing has opened up new vistas by introducing two-way communication marketing. Although India’s internet penetration rate is rather low at just over 20%, given the size of our population, the actual number of connections is rather large as it crosses 350 million internet connections. Furthermore, surveys show that the net penetration in urban areas is much higher and currently stands at over 60%. This underscores the importance of robust and cohesive hospital marketing strategies so that they can educate and engage potential patients and turn visitors into leads.

Why Hospitals Need Digital Marketing

In order for you, as a hospital executive, to understand the importance of  digital marketing for hospitals, we would first need to acknowledge that offline marketing has significant disadvantages – it has limited reach and an inability to hone in on a target audience, it is impossible to accurately quantify and qualify the success of a traditional marketing campaign, and it does not help to foster and maintain relationships with patients and potential consumers. According to a recent Think with Google study, 84% of all patients researched hospitals using both online and offline sources but 44% of patients who research hospitals using their mobile device went on to schedule an appointment.  Taking into account this change in hospital marketing trends, digital marketing can be used to acquire new leads and social media marketing can then step in to ensure that these leads are retained.  Healthcare digital marketing allows hospitals to target specific patient sets, nurture relationships with existing patients, and continuously improve marketing campaigns by measuring and analyzing a variety of metrics.

Digital Marketing Strategy For A Hospital

Studies show that social media marketing for hospitals has at least twice as much potential for growth as compared to traditional forms of marketing which is why it is important to devise an effective strategy that optimizes reach. While every digital marketing strategy for a hospital would be unique, there are certain key elements that are common to all.

Search Engine Optimization and Marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing is probably the best way to get the attention of potential patients. This is because most people start their selection process through an online search which then leads them to the hospital’s website. According to an in-depth research report from Google on hospital content marketing and the methods people use to research hospitals, 77% of all patients use a search engine while 76% visit an organization’s website – this is the most engagement as compared to any other marketing channels. An SEO campaign for a hospital would specifically target potential patients in order to ensure that you appear higher on the search results pages for specific health-related keywords.

Relevant Digital Content About Health Conditions

Most organizations have to put in a considerable effort towards creating content ideas and concepts that will resonate with their target audience. However, hospitals do not face this problem as studies show that 37% of people who search for health-related information are looking for information on conditions, especially the symptoms of those conditions. This means that hospitals are perfectly poised to engage potential patients simply by providing this sort of content. Furthermore, hospitals are perceived as authoritative sources of health as they have in-house experts who can provide this subject matter.  The format of this content can be in the form of a blog post, an infographic, or a video depending on user behavior.

Social Media Marketing For Hospitals

A study of over 800 hospitals showed that the best way to connect with patients through social media is to be selective about what is shared across all social platforms. Hospitals that focussed on providing useful health information to prospective patients, as well as consumers in general, fared better than those who clogged their feeds with news regarding internal matters of the hospital such as new hires and facility improvements and other self-promotional initiatives.  The content shared on social media sites can be in the form of broad advice or it can be highly specific, depending on what is required. Social media platforms can also gain traction by participating in social health trends – this is one of the simplest yet most effective hospitals marketing tactics to generate awareness about specific health concerns as well as improve your brand reputation.

Making the transition from traditional marketing practices to digital marketing can be fraught with problems and risks which is why it is important to seek expert guidance. A recent study showed that 41% of surveyed respondents said that social media would affect their choice of hospital or medical facility which shows that social media can be a vehicle to attract and retain patients. As more an more consumers turn to social media to discuss their health concerns, it’s time to realize the benefits of tuning in to healthcare social media marketing.

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