Everywhere you turn, digital dominates. Articles across the Web proclaim its importance in marketing strategies, and now, digital marketing is unavoidable. Why? Its benefits and ease of use are too great to ignore. But let's get a little more specific. When it comes to healthcare marketing, why does digital matter?
In this article, we'll discuss three key benefits of integrating digital marketing into your promotional strategy taking into account customer demands of the healthcare sector.
Before we get started, take a look at these impressive statistics:
- 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo
- 51% of patients say they'd feel more valued as a patient when doctors use social media, blogs, and other digital engagement outlets
- 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year
- Behind using search engines and checking email, the #3 activity people do online is search for health information
Customers and potential clients demand your presence on digital channels, but what's in it for you as a healthcare marketer?
Unlike traditional marketing channels, digital marketing allows for the optimization of individual campaigns while the programs are live. Instead of sending out one message to a broadly targeted audience in say, a television, newspaper or radio ad, you can tailor your messaging according to keywords, devices, interests, locations, demographics and more. Digital programs also give advertisers the ability to adjust targeting techniques at any time. For example, a company started a marketing campaign to target woman age 30-50 for their cosmetic procedure. Shortly after the campaign launched, the company realized a better target for their procedure is males over the age of 65. Unfortunately the company has already bought TV and Radio ads on stations targeting women. Digital platforms allow companies to adjust their target criteria in real-time so that there is no wasted budget. Much like an investment portfolio, digital channels allow advertisers to "invest" budget in areas that perform and eliminate underperforming campaigns. Does radio, print or TV provide that capability? Once an ad is printed, filmed or recorded, there is no opportunity to make improvements or adjustments.
Your audience is online, and as such, you should already be engaged in digital marketing. At the very least, you should be strongly considering adopting a digital strategy. Google Think surveys found that 76% of patients were using hospital websites for research, compared to 32% using TV, 20% using magazines and 18% using newspapers.
With the ability to closely monitor digital campaigns and act on real-time metrics and feedback, medical marketers can see better returns on investment.
The mobile market is growing at an incredible rate. In fact, this year eMarketer predicts that worldwide smartphone penetration will reach two billion. Google research has already found that roughly 1/3 of patients use tablets or mobile devices on a daily basis for research and/or to book appointments.
The statistics below only go to show mobile's rising prominence in the healthcare industry:
- Of patients who found physicians and private practices on their mobile devices, 44% scheduled an appointment (Source)
- Year-over-year (2012-13) the number of consumers using mobile devices to search for healthcare services increased 22% (Source)
- 52% of smartphone users gather health-related information on their phones (Source)
You've no doubt figured out by now that mobile should be a priority when it comes to your healthcare digital marketing strategy. Luckily, most digital marketing platforms will allow you to target users by device. Just make sure that your ads and landing pages are optimized for mobile devices, or you may end up doing more harm than good.
As part of the healthcare industry, you know that in any situation, everything can change at the drop of a hat. New market research makes your campaign irrelevant? Marketing budgets get slashed? Management isn't sold on your execution strategy? This can mean big trouble if you're dealing with prepaid campaigns and/or advertising programs that can't be paused immediately.
With digital marketing campaigns, these crises are easily averted. The freedom and flexibility offered by digital advertising methods are invaluable! There's no need to pay weeks or even months in advance, and you have complete control with the ability to turn these programs on/off with the click of a button.
Healthcare digital marketing is no longer a suggestion. It's a requirement. Customer demand for digital is constantly growing and the benefits of a digital strategy far outweigh its disadvantages. At this point, it's a no brainer. Digital marketing matters, and in order for your healthcare practice to be successful, you'll need to meet patients where they are: online.