Relying on geography, fate, referrals and word of mouth won’t keep the hospital from closing. But one way to improve across the board is to invest in a great patient experience and, as a side note to that, leverage marketing in an efficient, intelligent way that supports your patients and prospective patients.
As the world reels in the wake of COVID-19, the industry of medical advertising has seen a massive surge.
In fact, the growth of healthcare and pharma ad spend is second only to consumer electronics and computing in 2020.
Systematize & Automate Patient Reviews
Referrals are great, but alone, they can prove to be an unreliable source for growing your patient base. It depends on too many factors you cannot control. But to mature this line of thinking, let’s flip the referral concept on its head.
You can just as easily use your patient base to generate referrals for you. Here’s how.
Create an automated system to reach out and collect patient feedback. Make it simple and user friendly. Once you set up the automation, the heavy lifting is basically over and done.
From here, you can regularly review and manage your reviews and repurpose them for marketing content and to curate your image across the web. This is a way to take the marketing dollars you invested to get new patients and make that investment work harder on your behalf to get you more new patients.
Use Social Media The Right Way to Market Your Hospital
There are a lot of noisy voices out there preaching about what you need to post, how many times per day you should post, how to get the right lighting for your videos and a litany of other low-value conversations happening at the center of “how to do social media right.”
But when I look at social media (and I hope you’ll come to see it this way as well) is that it’s a microcosm of the wider web when it comes to marketing.
Under the umbrella of social media, you can wage a lot of marketing tactics—direct outreach, video ads, image and text ads, interactive content, organic content and even things like challenges and contests that are usually reserved for in-person events.
At the heart of “doing social media the right way” is a thoughtful strategy.
It’s not the spaghetti test method. Don’t just throw any random idea at the wall and see what sticks. It takes a scientific mindset dedicated to the hypothesis, testing, measurement, and iteration. It’s truly the only way to learn and improve things.
So before you start Googling “best social media strategies for hospitals,” take a moment. Exhale and ask yourself these two simple questions:
“What is my goal for social media marketing? And how will I know when something is successful?
This might sound a tad bit infantilizing, but don’t take this the wrong way.
Having amazing content, served up to the right people at the right times that leverage every little “hack” or trick you can think of? This is all fine.
But those types of considerations should always be secondary to a higher goal.
Rethink Display Media & SEM for Hospital Marketing
In the same eMarketer report I mentioned earlier, they noted that display is the fastest growing medium for healthcare marketing in 2020. But don’t discount search engine marketing. Paid search still accounts for over half of digital ad budgets on average:
“55.6% of digital spending will go toward search, compared with 42.4% going toward the display.”
Banner Ads are Just Digital Billboards for Hospital Marketing
Let me be frank. A lot of hospitals are still living in the past.
The assumption that eyeballs equal conversions just isn’t that simple. That’s why traditional OOH ads like broadcast radio, TV and billboards are notoriously difficult when it comes to calculating important metrics like cost-per-acquisition and overall return on investment (ROI).
If you’re stuck in this old paradigm, let me give you a piece of advice. The same stuff you’re spending huge amounts on to place on billboards, you can do at a much more cost-effective rate through digital display. What’s more? You can actually get reliable data on the performance of your display ads.
Through analytics, it’s really simple to get data like the number of impressions, the click-through rate and your overall cost per conversion.
Try calculating those metrics on billboards and you’ll be left doing lots of “fuzzy math.”
Streaming Audio & TV Ads are Highly Measurable for Hospital Marketing
If your hospital chooses to leverage video or audio ads, digital placements trump traditional placements across the board.
With streaming radio ads, you can bridge the gap between audio and visual and create an integrated, clickable ad that users can interact with if they’re on a screen.
And when it comes to video ads, streaming platforms like YouTube are much more response-friendly than their passive broadcast TV counterparts. Even with passive TV served on platforms like HULU offer much more precise targeting capabilities than do standard broadcast media buys.
Google Search Is Basically the Yellow Pages of Healthcare Marketing
Search is still at the top of the list in terms of marketing spend, and for good reason. You can bid on your prospective patients’ clicks through offering solutions to the queries they search. Search offers unparalleled access to matching user intent with your media. So much like the Yellow Pages of yesteryear, you’re then able to meet people where they are, in a state of need and in actively searching for a solution.
How to Use Marketing to Nurture Patient Relationships
If you’re not nurturing your current patient base, you’re leaving money on the table. It really is that simple. Through your owned and earned channels, you basically get free access to a pool of prospects who could benefit even more from your services—if you’d only inform them of what’s available.
Using Email, SMS & Content for Hospital Marketing
It’s a human trait to want to feel taken care of, and as a hospital, it’s your job to make sure that people are getting a great patient experience. And this means following up after a hospital visit or an outpatient procedure. Even a transactional relationship can be nurtured and deepened. So leveraging email marketing, SMS and content are three more ways that you can communicate with your current and prospective patients to sow the seeds of empathy, add more value and educate them on all the services you have to offer. Again, if you’ve already earned the right to communicate, why not keep them in your messaging cycle?
How to Become a Hospital Marketing Thought Leader
To piggyback on this idea of nurturing and communicating, you can’t become a thought leader without creating content. That doesn’t mean you need to create 10,000 SEO pages on your website. But it does mean that you create meaningful content that articulates your unique position. And it means ensuring that you market that content in such a way that it grows your influence and reach. Simple, but not always easy. But even a small rural hospital can create simple video content and social media posts aimed at helping people and increasing your reach. It just requires consistency and a commitment to showing up.
At Response Mine Health, I do a lot more than run a hospital marketing company. When it comes down to it, our team is like a marketing think tank. We take a skeptical, scientific approach to everything we do. We don’t adhere to myths or dogma when it comes to marketing. We read the data, we measure the impact and then we allow ourselves to form a belief. Based on the numbers.