“Healthcare on the Internet”—that phrase alone was laughable just 10 years ago. But now, healthcare providers are recognizing that if virtual medicine will become the norm in the next 10 years, then having an active online presence is no longer an optional bullet point in a yearly marketing strategy.
I’ve watched both sides of this rocky relationship: healthcare practices searching for an effective online marketing solution and struggling old-hat marketers trying to piece together internet “strategies.” At the Medical Group Management Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas last year, there were less than five booths that offered holistic healthcare marketing solutions for healthcare practices. And the few that were present had piecemeal strategies that fell short of the inbound marketing standard.
If you’re at the start of evaluating marketing options for your healthcare practice, this blog likely isn’t for you. I’d recommend clicking here. If your healthcare practice is online and you’ve been tasked with “really being online” in 2015, read more about what I think will help healthcare distinguish itself in the coming months.
One of the benefits of inbound marketing is its unwavering commitment to developing personas. The purpose of a persona is to keep your marketing efforts focused on that ideal client—the person who you want to engage through meaningful content on your website who then eventually becomes a long-standing patient. The challenge here is that often times the person researching a healthcare service isn’t the person directly receiving care. And this means your online marketing strategy absolutely must be modified to reflect that you know who you’re trying to influence: the decision maker.
Consider pediatrics: it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that an infant isn’t researching available pediatricians online. But often—far too often—the ethos of a website is designed around cartoon characters or a bright color palette that’s more akin to nursing scrubs than a professional, reliable healthcare destination. By all means, incorporate fun and interesting elements in the physical environment for children when they’re in the clinic, but tastefully brand yourself so their adult parents don’t jump off your website because their eyes can’t focus or absorb information.
As the millennial generation begins having children, where is the first place they go? The Internet. This is not news. What many healthcare practices underestimate is how thoroughly they’re researching. They’re not conducting simple queries such as “pediatrician” and attaching their zip code. They’re investigating. They are looking at where a provider went to undergrad, graduate school, medical school, residencies—they’re also likely independently confirming the provider in question actually attended those schools. That’s just the starting place. Then they evaluate the website’s biography—is it personable? Does the provider have a LinkedIn profile? Any inconsistencies in online information will throw up a red flag, and most millennials will call that inconsistency a deal breaker and move on to another provider.
In 2015, take a close look at the information you share about your providers on your website and other external websites (such as LinkedIn) and make sure it is streamlined. By streamlined I mean all the information is consistent across all providers. I also recommend that if you’re the marketing manager or practice administrator, Google Alerts should be set up for all of your providers. This will help you proactively manage any places their achievements receive accolades—and it will also help you manage any negative feedback that might appear in a lesser-known medical review website.
A successful website is never a mask—it is only ever a reflection. A reflection of the warm welcome from the check-in desk, the ease with which a new patient assimilates, not to mention the thoroughness of the care patients receive day in and day out. If your practice is struggling with plummeting patient satisfaction scores, then expanding your website strategy is not where marketing dollars need to be invested (right now). At the end of the day, it is the whole patient experience that grows your practice—not merely a well designed website. Simply put, your marketing strategy is only as good as the care your entire team provides, so make sure your patient experience is in a state where you’d gladly have it reflecting on every page of your website.
Want to learn how we helped one healthcare company become distinguishable online? Check out our case study here.