October 18, 2018

Digital Marketing: So Many Lessons Learned

While many healthcare providers have been late adopters of digital marketing (as compared to other industries), it is fair to say that, as of 2018 it is now a cornerstone of most healthcare marketing programs. And that prominence comes from success and lessons learned—some good, some not so good—about both general and digital marketing.

Just as the 24-hour news cycle changed how news is reported, and catapulted on line reporting, healthcare consumers have a multitude of information channels to access when making healthcare decisions. Gone are the days of going where “my doctor tells me to go.” Now, online reviews carry the same—if not more—importance when selecting services and providers.

So, here are a few major lessons on digital marketing:

  1. Understand the patient/customer (P/C) pathway to a purchasing decision. Many marketers do not appreciate the P/C pathway prior to engagement. While it is important to design a great website for them to use, also consider how you will get it in front of them. Understand the P/C journey.
  2. Content is vital to digital marketing. Sites that are aesthetically attractive but superficial don’t last over time. Your content must be timely and informative, and direct readers to a CALL TO ACTION.
  3. Search Engine Optimizationis still critical to getting in front of patients/customers. In the early stages of “patient due diligence,” a lot of online research occurs. Being highly ranked in search engines does get you in front of P/Cs. Make sure you content is rich enough for them to choose you.
  4. Repurpose content. There are not enough writers in the world to create all the content that digital marketing can consume. So, repurpose your content on a wide variety of channels. The need for content is great, but so is the opportunity to quickly disseminate your message across multiple channels.
  5. Maximize social media outlets for ROI. It is difficult to attribute ROI to social media, so reference it as a support tactic to your other digital marketing efforts. Social media is a massive opinion leader, so ensure that your reputation is stellar, and that you are commenting on topics that burnish— not diminish— your brand.
  6. Learn from prior efforts. The great dynamic of digital marketing is that you can learn from the market and quickly make changes to your messages, quickly. You are able to course-correct in a fraction of the time and expense of traditional advertising.
  7. Build communities for your patients/customers. Sites like PatientsLikeMe® helped launch the idea of building virtual communities with and for patients. Today, academic medical centers are connecting patients with rare diseases to one other via virtual support groups. Find ways to create communities for your patients.
  8. System or integrative thinking is key. Today’s marketer has to be a system thinker who can integrate data to create marketing strategies that work. There can be no silo thinking in this digital age.
  9. Be a life-long learner. The Skimm launched in 2012 and is a model about plain speaking and strong communication. Its contributors write in a manner that is both informative and engaging. However, if you only read The Washington Post or The Wall Street Journal, you will never know about The Skimm. It is important that digital marketers remain current through lifelong learning and exploration.

At AB&C, we know these digital lessons because we have lived through the development stages of digital marketing with and for our clients. We remain current on tactics, channels and community strategies. If you want to jumpstart your digital marketing efforts, we are your partner. The potential for your success is surpassed only by our enthusiasm for the opportunity.