Let’s face it: healthcare marketers tend to be a bit more creative than most salespeople. Marketing best practices are always evolving, and although the healthcare industry has been traditionally slow to adopt new technology, healthcare companies are steadily exploring digitalization in its many forms to bring novel treatments to patients, innovate diagnostic methods and tools, and simplify the way care is delivered and managed. Working as a marketer in the healthcare space requires a certain level of flexibility and ingenuity. Think about all the times you’ve tweaked the copy of a design, navigating advertising policies and HIPAA regulations to ensure approval and get your message across to audiences.
It’s essential that you keep up with B2B healthcare marketing trends and stay open to experimenting, so you know exactly how to position your products and services as the needs of customers and end users change. With 2022 quickly approaching, now’s the time to take stock of your current efforts and consider what your competitors are doing to stay afloat.
Why Is Healthcare Marketing Important?
It’s not enough to have a groundbreaking medical product, a team of award-winning doctors, or a next-level SaaS platform. Without healthcare marketing, your offering may fail to reach and capture the interest of decision-makers at any stage of the buyer’s journey, whether patients, sponsors, researchers, or executives. The COVID-19 pandemic has also reduced or effectively eliminated traditional avenues to healthcare marketing success. Industry trade shows and conferences have been canceled or moved online, and in-person meetings have been relegated to rare, special occurrences. Sales professionals have been forced to learn the way of virtual selling, and marketers are being asked to pull in more qualified leads to help power pipelines. An exceptional online experience and a strategic marketing plan are vital tools that can help healthcare organizations in any market remain competitive.
So what marketing tactics and strategies are trending now among your competitors?
Putting Patients & End Users First
The consumerization of healthcare means that people expect the same immediacy and efficiency in their healthcare experiences as they do in their retail experiences. The industry is focused on offering patient-centric, value-based care now that the buying power is in the hands of consumers who want to make more informed decisions about the increasingly expensive services they must purchase to manage their health. They’re looking for transparent, socially conscious brands that are easily discoverable online and equipped with convenient, digital-first solutions to streamline the customer experience.
But this isn’t much different than the expectations of patients participating in clinical trials, researchers purchasing lab equipment from suppliers, practices investing in new EHR providers, or sponsors searching for remote data collection software. This trend applies to healthcare providers marketing to patients and businesses marketing to healthcare professionals. A customer-centric buyer’s journey is an effective buyer’s journey, regardless of the audience it targets. Healthcare organizations of all types can follow this trend by maintaining a responsive, mobile-friendly website with a great user experience. But there are other tactics you can prioritize to put prospects and clients at the center of your marketing plan.
If You’re Marketing to Patients…
- Implement HIPAA-compliant live chat to answer new patients’ questions
- Support patient self-education with informative resources and webpages
- Digitize intake with online forms to replace most, if not all, paper forms
- Establish personalized patient portals for easy access to health records
- Offer digital appointment reminders and physician messaging options
- Provide telehealth services and other alternatives to in-office care
- Develop a patient referral program and patient retention campaign
- Respond to online patient reviews to manage your reputation
If You’re Marketing to Professionals…
- Experiment with a data-driven, account-based marketing approach
- Find ways to personalize emails, content assets, and other touchpoints
- Incorporate social media advertising through platforms like LinkedIn
- Share thought leadership through blogs, eBooks, and news updates
- Participate in your healthcare community with events and partnerships
- Consider how your offering facilitates remote patient experiences
- Emphasize your offering’s ability to increase patient engagement
- Position your brand as a digital-first, technology-focused partner
Prioritizing Search Engine Optimization
The pandemic has limited the frequency of in-person touchpoints taking place throughout the marketing and sales processes, which has made life difficult for healthcare organizations that rely heavily on referrals and word of mouth. The shift to synchronous and asynchronous digital selling means the year ahead will see increased competition online as brands launch updated websites and attempt to maintain an active presence on the internet any way they can. B2B healthcare businesses will be fighting for the attention of audiences by producing keyword-optimized content that will help them rank high in the search engines for desirable keywords.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important healthcare digital marketing tactics to take advantage of as the SERPs become even more crowded in 2022. You don’t want to fall behind, lost in Google’s pages, and miss out on connecting with qualified leads. To start an SEO strategy off right, an in-house marketing team or healthcare marketing agency should conduct an in-depth digital audit and then perform keyword research and a comprehensive competitor analysis. These initial steps can facilitate other digital tactics like search engine marketing (SEM), setting the foundation for boosted website rankings and increased organic traffic.
With keywords in hand, you can utilize semantic and conversational search best practices to extend the reach and value of messaging featured on your website’s core pages and in blog posts, news articles, and resources. You may also want to reconsider your website’s navigation structure and page layouts to build a straightforward path to purchase so leads can easily access information on your brand and offerings via any device. By prioritizing SEO, you’re well on your way to creating a frictionless user experience for prospects early in the sales funnel, whether they’re looking for a local healthcare practitioner or a trusted technology provider.
Investing in Strong Social Media
Authenticity and transparency are valuable traits to embody in any industry, but they map very closely to the demands of both patients and professionals in healthcare today. Many organizations recognize this and have begun to put more effort into how they show up on social media. Because social media profiles are updated more frequently than blogs and other pages across company websites, a carefully curated social feed can speak volumes about a brand for curious leads.
A social media profile that hasn’t seen a new post or follower in years can make a brand look outdated and untrustworthy. But a brand that stays busy on social—posting helpful content, showcasing testimonials, referencing industry articles, sharing new research, announcing webinars, saying hello at events, celebrating community achievements—appears knowledgeable, credible, and experienced. Social proof may even take the place of word-of-mouth recommendations, as patients scan social media for positive and negative reviews and professionals judge a potential partner’s expertise through their activity.
If you’re already developing blogs and content marketing assets such as case studies, eBooks, or tip sheets, keeping up with a social media plan can be as simple as distributing these creations and sharing your company’s take on relevant industry happenings. Video marketing took off in 2021 and continues to be a versatile, engaging tool many B2B businesses use to educate audiences on their services or give prospects a closer look at team members. Social media is the perfect place to try out video storytelling, live streaming, surveys, polls, and Q&A sessions. It may take a little while to create a cadence for posting your preferred form of content, but social media is well worth your time in 2022.
Getting Help from the Experts
Keeping up with healthcare marketing trends can be challenging, but in-house marketers tend to find more success when they’re supported by a marketing agency. Agencies have the capacity and expertise to help healthcare organizations strategize, plan, execute, and oversee all marketing efforts to achieve long-term results and ROI. And working with an agency that specializes in the healthcare industry will give you access to years of knowledge accumulated from helping businesses grow in a range of healthcare sectors.
Interested in supporting the marketing department at your healthcare organization? Sagefrog would love to help. Let’s talk!