We keep using euphemistic adjectives like “uncertain” and “worrisome” times to describe our currently reality. Let’s be real. In the words of The Fresh Prince, our lives have been collectively “flipped, turned upside down.”
COVID-19 has changed everything about the way we operate, including how we seek, receive, and value medical care and health information.
As of April 2, 2020, more than 60% of American workers reported working from home. And over half of them hope to continue doing so for as long as possible after restrictions are lifted.
In early July 2020, the CDC reported that in 11 states, over 70% of ICU beds were filled with COVID patients. And in 24 more states, 60-69% of ICU beds were filled with COVID patients.
Given these facts, how should you tailor your healthcare marketing efforts to align with our current reality? And what will be the state of healthcare marketing post-COVID-19?
How COVID-19 Has Shifted Consumers’ Perspectives on Health
Due to the pandemic, innovative health solutions have become more essential than ever. But in order to deliver them effectively, it helps to understand how the pandemic has changed the American public’s perspectives on health.
Here’s an example.
Results from an NRC study published at the end of March showed that:
- 67% of people did not know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19
- 50% thought of going to the doctor as more risky during the pandemic
- 71% preferred a separate waiting room for sick patients
Most notably, nearly half of respondents reported looking to local hospitals and health systems for information on COVID-19. This puts healthcare providers in a prime position to use their authority and expertise to expand public knowledge.
Digital health companies are also poised to thrive. The use of digital health tools, including telemedicine and digital health tracking, has increased by an average of 17.6% in the past 5 years alone.
The pandemic has only accelerated the rush for digital health solutions, which is clear based on the record-shattering $5.4 billion invested into digital health in the first half of 2020.
On a holistic level, consumers’ appetite for accurate health information and accessible health tools has elevated considerably. And so has the market’s.
Trends in Healthcare Marketing During the Pandemic
Presently, we’re still wading through this pandemic. Cases are actually increasing across much of the country.
So let’s take a look at healthcare marketing trends mid-pandemic.
Binary Fountain conducted a recent survey of 304 healthcare marketers, examining some of the changes that have occurred from the beginning of the pandemic through April 18th, 2020.
Pre-COVID, content marketing and email marketing were priority initiatives for 46% and 40% of respondents, respectively. Since the pandemic, however, those priorities have shifted to crisis communications and updating online directories, with content marketing and email marketing close behind.
The same study had some other useful gems worth mentioning:
- Budget cuts: Media spending and paid advertising were the top two items being cut.
- Communication methods: Email marketing and phone calls were ranked as the top two communication methods, with social tools such as Instagram and Twitter almost reaching 20%.
Telehealth initiatives and physician directories/online appointments composed 50% and 43% of post-COVID projects, while resuming paid media and ads only amounted to 36%.
These changes make sense, given the current needs of the population. Here are a few ways you can take this opportunity to position your health brand as a trustworthy authority during the pandemic.
Be a Reliable Source of Facts
Positioning your brand as a fighter against misinformation would be a healthy start. As conspiracy theories run rampant, you could use your authority as a legitimate health brand with scientific expertise to help guide those who may otherwise be deceived or misinformed.
Given the unpredictability of the next few months, your business model probably needs to be pretty darn agile in order to survive. Your marketing efforts should be too. Keep your content and campaigns fresh with the latest, more accurate information.
Be Clear About Changes in Available Services
Speaking of changes to your business model, you want to be upfront about those changes. If you are offering new products or fewer services, make sure your target customers know.
How to Master Healthcare Marketing in 2020: A Complete Guide
Trends in Healthcare Marketing Post-COVID-19
While it’s incredibly easy to get tunnel-vision on COVID-related issues, it’s critical to think about the post-pandemic future—including your plans for healthcare marketing post-COVID.
Content marketing is a prime example of this. As we discussed above, content marketing has seen a decrease in priority compared to other health initiatives. But the truth is, if you can harness the true essence of content marketing now and post-COVID 19, your prospective customers and patients will thank you for it.
Here are a few ways you can use health content marketing to help your community after the pandemic.
- Express empathy. Humanize your brand by sharing personal stories and building trust amongst your community.
- Share resources. Create community-centered content and connect people with local events, services, and other resources that could benefit them.
- Get targeted feedback on your brand’s products and services. Solicit feedback from your community about how your products and services can better meet their needs in a post-COVID world.
In short, your marketing strategy must be focused on both short- and long-term gains. Clear and consistent communications now will not only get people to trust you during this pandemic, but also increase your reach once it has passed.
By adapting your marketing strategy to your community’s needs, you’ll position your health brand for success post-‘Rona.
- Marketing during COVID-19, from Harvard Business School
- Responses to Different COVID Healthcare Scenarios, from Geonetric
- Healthcare Marketing Adjustments in Response to COVID, from Healthcare Success