Staying on top of patients’ minds and making an impact depends on one primary factor – healthcare marketing. Here are some of the most promising healthcare marketing trends that will be prominent in the time to come.
What is healthcare marketing?
Healthcare marketing is a set of online and offline marketing tactics in the healthcare industry aimed finding, retaining and engaging patients. It combines a range of channels to form a seamless experience for patients, physicians, KOLs and all stakeholders in the health care process. Healthcare marketing aims to inform, educate and spread awareness, all while making healthcare professionals’ jobs easier and improving patient outcomes.
Here are some of the most practical healthcare marketing trends that are going to go big in the years to come and what you can do to jump on board on time. Many of these tactics are already used in industries (un)related to pharma and can easily be adapted to the complex healthcare marketing landscape with some adaptations.
Healthcare content is going to scale up
In the past decade, there was one marketing trend that took the entire digital world, and it’s content. Everyone knew that there was value in having a content-rich website for a great patient experience, but only when the notion of SEO and traffic came up, healthcare providers realized just how big of an opportunity they have in front of them.
Bear in mind that not every type of content is going to perform the same. It seems as though patients are overloaded with text and they’re expecting healthcare providers to step up and give them the content they enjoy on other media.
Specifically, video is going to make an impact, since it’s predicted that 80% of traffic online will come from video as a healthcare digital marketing method. According to data, one third of all patients will watch a video online before making an appointment with their physician, which makes videos prime real estate for healthcare marketing.
It seems as though patients no longer settle for a text description of their disease. For example, someone searching for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is more likely to watch a video than read the text about the same topic, which is a cue for healthcare digital marketing.
However, just writing content is simply not enough any more for the healthcare industry. As PMLive has pointed out, many pharma companies go wrong with their healthcare marketing by focusing too much on creation and let the content simply sit. As any generalist marketer will tell you, that’s 20% of the story, while the remaining 80% is promotion.
This means that before creating a piece of content, you should think about the target audience (patients, physicians, KOLs), the message you want to convey as well as the channels of distribution. If you are targeting HCPs, you should promote through emails as it’s their primary communication method for healthcare digital marketing, while patients will prefer company websites and social media engagement, for example.
SEO is as strong as ever
If you’re new to healthcare marketing, especially in its digital form, you probably heard a little bit about SEO. Search engine optimization is the process of adapting your content so that it ranks better in search engines such as Google. But what does that have to do with healthcare marketing and the healthcare industry?
While it can be extremely difficult for a healthcare provider to rank for a term such as diabetes mellitus and show up as the first result on Google, there are some other easier wins. With such a broad range of topics, there’s always something new to create – after all, every 20th Google search in the world is related to health. Moreover, 80% of internet users go online to search for health-related terms.
When thinking about SEO, you have to keep in mind the patients’ search intent for healthcare digital marketing. At the first step of the way, they’ll look for a diagnosis and for example, search for asthma symptoms. Once this step is done, they’re bound to look for a solution and search for a term such as pulmonologist in Berlin.
These local searches are the key to attracting more patients. As they’re looking for an immediate solution to their problem, patients will turn to the first pages in search engine results to consult and book an appointment in different health systems. This is low-hanging fruit and an excellent tactic to get in front of large patient audiences with little effort.
Healthcare marketing companies looking to help you with SEO will tell you that the basis of every SEO healthcare marketing strategy is starting with keywords. However, it’s not as easy as it looks. For example, you can target a keyword such as “dermatitis” and optimize your pharma company website around this keyword and its variations. Great work so far.
There’s only one problem – hundreds and thousands of other healthcare industry websites are targeting that keyword as well. This means that you’ll have to compete with pharma company (and more general) websites which have been working on SEO for years. It’s not impossible but it’s difficult and requires months of SEO work before results kick in.
Instead, the top healthcare marketing tip for SEO is to target long tail keywords, such as “dermatitis treatments for women”, for example. These may not have such high impact (not as many people searching for them), but they have a much lower threshold and competition. In the long run, for pharma companies it can be more beneficial to focus on multiple long-tail keywords instead of putting effort on one which drives traffic to the company website – and great healthcare marketing companies can give you proper advice on which health systems to focus.
Up until some time ago, having a mobile version of your website was great for healthcare marketing, but not a necessity. However, as of late, mobile has actually surpassed desktops and all other devices. This means that patients are primarily using their phones to look up health information, and your website needs to be set up for optimal browsing experience and a new healthcare marketing strategy needs to be put in place.
Besides patients, healthcare industry professionals also need to worry about Google and other search engines. Having a mobile optimized site used to be a benefit for ranking well in search results.
Nowadays, Google actually penalizes websites which are not optimized for mobile. That means that having a website that looks great and functions well on mobile is a primary concern for healthcare marketing, and will continue to be a major factor in the years to come. As physicians are on the move, they’re constantly on their phones. If your company website doesn’t load properly, it’s missing images or takes 20 seconds just to show the home page – they’re most likely going to leave the website immediately and find the information they were looking for somewhere else.
Keeping your pharma website up to date
As many healthcare marketing experts will tell you, it’s absolutely crucial for your pharma company websites to stay updated at all times. This could mean new information about a product, new brochures, information for patients, physicians or KOLs, new research regarding a disease or anything else that comes to mind.
However, practice has shown that this is far from possible. Content on websites rarely gets updated because it has to go through various regulatory cycles before it gets approved, and healthcare marketing companies can help.
For healthcare marketing to go fully digital, this practice needs to be abandoned. The reasons are multiple. First off, fresh content will keep patients, physicians and KOLs coming back to pharma company websites, resulting in more visits and more requests for product information.
The second reason is even more important for healthcare digital marketing. Google often “visits” all websites in a practice that is known as crawling. Once a website is crawled, all the content is sent to search engine results, making it easier to be found for certain keywords.
Here’s the important part – the more frequently your website is updated, the more frequently it will get crawled. This means that if you post frequently, your chances for getting in top of search results for specific pharma keywords is higher.
Video healthcare marketing strategy
A solution that ties together content, SEO and mobile – video marketing has it all. Here’s how video can help your healthcare marketing efforts significantly on all front.
First – having video on your healthcare website is an excellent signal to Google. Pages with video rank higher and perform better in search engine results. As patients spend more times on them (viewing video vs. reading text), this is a sign of great content that users love.
Second – video as a content type for healthcare digital marketing is engaging, interactive and much more memorable than plain text. There are various studies that show how patients remember significantly more data from video than a regular page with just text.
Third, video is the perfect content for mobile as it can be easily optimized and viewed across a range of screen sizes. Whether it’s a phone or a tablet, video looks equally stunning across devices. It’s particularly useful for physicians who want to show videos to patients and explain their disease, diagnosis and treatment. Research has shown that physicians have a tendency of showing content from their tablets and phones
Finally and most importantly, videos are compelling and there’s very few other healthcare marketing formats that get patients to take action like videos do. There is a significant body of research showing that videos influence physicians’ prescription behavior
According to research, 90% of physicians use digital formats to engage their patients. With video, they can show a patient’s diagnosis, disease and course of treatment.
As a result, they can improve their health literacy and over the long run, improve adherence.
As a healthcare marketing medium, video is particularly interesting because it allows for true multichannel use. It can be shared in offices, waiting rooms, on tablets and even sent to patients on phones and through email for the ultimate healthcare marketing strategy.
Healthcare marketing trends are not too different from digital marketing trends across industries. The key for healthcare professionals to advance their marketing efforts is to keep up with current healthcare marketing trends and apply the best practices.
Seeing how pharma has a reputation of being slow, it’s imperative to stay in the loop, since patients will expect modern marketing efforts from healthcare providers in the years to come, and healthcare digital marketing strategies will need significant improvement.
If you’re looking for a reliable healthcare marketing partner that can work with you and help attract, engage and educate patients, we’re here to help out. At BlueNovius, we have almost a decade of experience working with all pharma stakeholders across different digital channels and we have the experience and knowledge to improve healthcare marketing campaigns for maximum results.