How to Master Healthcare Marketing in 2020 [A Complete Guide]

Jul 20, 2020

So you’ve built a health company and you think to yourself: I guess I’ve gotta figure out a way to market this thing. Right, you are, my friend.

Plenty of other health companies have already figured out that healthcare marketing is the key to success.

It’s essential if you’re a digital health startup, itching to get your revolutionary app onto as many smartphones as possible. It’s critical if you’re an independent healthcare provider with a refreshing new take on the traditional private practice experience. You want to get your health brand in front of more eyes—period.

And you’re not alone.

The stats are convincing, so obviously it’s time to go full-steam ahead with healthcare marketing, right? Here’s where things get tricky.

Because healthcare marketing is such an expansive term that encompasses so many different specialties, it can be overwhelming to try to figure it all out on your own. Luckily, you have a guide in me.

In this article, I’ll give you a tour of the rocky—yet, incredibly exciting—healthcare marketing landscape, with the goal of giving you a nudge in the right direction to actually getting started with healthcare marketing for your company.

What is healthcare marketing?

So you hopped onto Google and typed in “healthcare marketing.” You’re headed down the right track. 

But that track breaks down into countless little paths, creeks, and smaller trails, all of them with a different approach to marketing your health company. 

These smaller offshoots can be fatal to your marketing enthusiasm as you quickly realize there’s much more to consider than you thought. 

So before you get bombarded by the plentiful subcategories, let’s get a broad overview of what healthcare marketing is so that we can put its smaller components into perspective.

Healthcare marketing is how you make potential customers, clients, or patients aware of your company’s products or services. It includes ways you promote your company or practice in order to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Attract leads
  • Convert leads to customers, clients or patients
  • Retain those customers, clients, or patients

On the surface level, the application of a commercial tool like marketing to healthcare can seem a bit…wrong. But the reality is that at the beginning and the end of the day, your health practice or company is a business—one that you have to promote in order to serve the community you hope to.

When done right, healthcare marketing can help you build and foster significant relationships with your community, which is what makes healthcare marketing so indispensable for you.

So, who exactly can benefit from healthcare marketing? Absolutely any health brand can, including:

  • Hospitals and health systems
  • Health clinics
  • Wellness centers
  • Pharmacies
  • Digital health and health technology companies
  • Public health organizations
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Health entrepreneurs

What are the benefits of healthcare marketing?

Any type of marketing requires an investment, and it’s understandable that before parting with your hard-earned revenue, you want to know how you’re going to get that investment back. What outcomes, benefits, and transformations will you see in your business? 

Quite a few, we’d argue. And we think our clients would too.

Take a look at the infographics below for an overview of the benefits of healthcare marketing for health practices, hospitals, digital health, and health tech companies.

How do I create an effective healthcare marketing strategy?

Let’s be clear: the benefits of healthcare marketing don’t just manifest because you want them to.

Spending $10 to boost a mediocre Facebook post will not put your startup on the proverbial map. Sharing a third-party news story on your Twitter feed every Tuesday and Thursday will not attract new patients to your clinic.

As with anything, you need a thorough, detailed healthcare marketing strategy before jumping head first onto this moving train. That is, unless you want to invest time and money and still fall flat on your face. Ouch.

Before you can create that strategy though, you need to understand the individual components of healthcare marketing and decide which one(s) would be a best fit for your organization.

For the sake of comprehensiveness, we’ll review traditional and digital healthcare marketing options.

Traditional and print healthcare marketing

Direct mail

Direct mail makes use of good-old snail mail to promote a business throughout specific communities. Think: geotargeting pre-Internet.

Direct mail campaigns can vary in cost. A dental practice with a minimal budget can probably ship out some basic notices to the surrounding neighborhood. An elite network of dental clinics with a sizable budget could distribute high-end postcards to communities in several counties. 

News and magazine advertisements

In the digital age, print news has taken a hard hit. Nevertheless, there are still opportunities to feature your health company in hard-copy materials like newspapers and magazines. Ad space tends to be pretty pricey and since readership has declined, it may not be worth your investment.

TV and radio commercials

TV and radio ad time are notoriously expensive, but they are some of the most eye-catching (or ear-catching) marketing platforms. Large companies with hefty budgets—think health systems and pharmaceutical companies—continue to utilize commercials for marketing efforts like raising brand awareness.

In-person events and conferences

One more traditional marketing method that tends to get overlooked is the in-person encounter. Promoting your company at a booth, talk, or other in-person event, or taking the more subtle approach of focusing on relationship-building and educational content at these events, is a way to use marketing to create more solid, lasting connections.

Digital healthcare marketing

Social media marketing

Social media continues to be one of the most popular ways for brands—health brands, included—to increase engagement, foster community, and increase brand awareness. And with the advent of tools like Instagram shops, more brands are able to sell directly on social platforms. 

Here are a few examples of health brands that are utilizing social media to grow their communities and expand their reach:

Atlanta Birth Center | LOLA

healthcare marketing - atlanta birth center instagram

Email marketing

Directly corresponding with your prospects via email is of the most effective ways to convert online (if you can get them to open the emails, that is). It’s a more direct form of communication than social media and also a more intimate opportunity to build relationships.

SEO content marketing

Content marketing can come across as less “sexy” than some of the other digital marketing trends, but at StockRose, we believe content marketing is the most sensible healthcare marketing investment.

Content marketing is providing relevant and valuable information in order to attract interest and build a relationship that ultimately leads to a conversion, like a sale or a phone call.

It’s one of the best ways to:

  • Brand awareness
  • Brand loyalty
  • Relationship building
  • Thought leadership
  • Health education

And unlike email and social media marketing which only have a short lifespan, your investment in content marketing continues to reward you in search traffic and conversions for months and even years.

Here are a few health brands that do health content marketing really well:

GoodRx | LOLA | Mayo Clinic 

Multi-channel marketing

The idea of multichannel marketing is to surround your ideal customer with your brand message using a variety of channels and marketing methods. By maximizing your reach, you increase the odds of your ideal customer finding out about you and engaging with your company. This expanded reach is only beneficial if your brand message and experience is cohesive and consistent across all the individual channels. 

Paid ads

One great thing about digital marketing tactics is that many of them are free or relatively low-cost. But there’s the pay-to-play advertising route—better known as, paid ads. You can use paid ads on many different platforms to get your content moved to the front of the line, so to speak.

When it’s time to flesh out your full healthcare marketing strategy, you’ll want to consider which of these options has the most potential benefit for your company.

What Are the Most Relevant Healthcare Marketing Best Practices for 2020?

Great healthcare marketing doesn’t just happen spontaneously. There are quite a few best practices you’ll need to keep in mind and follow to some degree in order to maximize your potential for healthcare marketing success.

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll need to do in order to make your healthcare marketing efforts as fruitful as possible.

Step 1: Prepare

Mobile-friendly site – You already know you need a website, but did you know that website must be mobile-friendly? Half of website traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices, so if your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re losing potential customers and patients.

Fast site speed – In addition to having a website that’s not optimized for mobile devices, slow site speed can also be a repellent for would-be browsers.

Content management system – You’re probably familiar with WordPress, one of the most popular content management systems available. Whether you choose WordPress or another option, you’ll need a CMS to allow you to add, edit, design, etc. the content for your website.

Clear positioning and branding The goal of your marketing efforts will be to amplify a particular message to specific groups of people. That means, you’ll need to understand what your company’s important messages are and who your target audience is. Without this information, your marketing campaigns will likely miss the mark.

Step 2: Strategize

Specific business goals – Before you begin to lay out a full healthcare marketing strategy, you need to identify what your measurable business goals are. Your marketing efforts should always be directly linked to your business goals. So figure out what you want to achieve for your company during a specific time period (usually quarterly).

Remember that these goals will evolve over time; therefore, your healthcare marketing strategy will also evolve over time.

Healthcare marketing strategy & plan – Here’s where you’ll decide which formats, platforms, campaigns, etc. you’ll use to reach your business goals. If you aren’t sure which type of healthcare marketing you should start with, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing are a solid starting three. 

Metrics – Once you know what your goals are, and you have a plan of attack for reaching them, the next step is to identify which metrics you’ll track in order to measure your progress towards those goals. The types of metrics you’ll want to watch will depend on your goals and your marketing strategy.

Step 3: Create and Execute

This is the fun part where you’ll create health content that grabs your prospects’ attention and reels them in! At StockRose, this is our favorite step. 

Chances are you’ll need support with each of the best practices we’re going through, but this is the step when you’re mostly likely to need to outsource.

Step 4: Analyze

Analyze metrics – We can’t properly evaluate a campaign without tracking and analyze the metrics—the key performance indicators you established a few steps ago. Look for areas of high performance, areas where you expected to perform better than you actually did, and areas for opportunity.

Tweak the strategyIn order to optimize performance for the next round of marketing campaigns, you’ll need to tweak the strategy according to the metrics analysis you performed. 

How do I find healthcare marketing support?

Now that you know the steps involved in healthcare marketing, let’s run down your options for how to secure healthcare marketing support. When it comes down to it, you’ve got 3 options:

  1. You can DIY.
  2. You can assign healthcare marketing tasks to a staff member.
  3. You can outsource.

Options 1 and 2 require temporal investments, while option 3 requires a financial investment.

If you’re an exec within a digital health company or a health practice owner, chances are you’ve got a lot on your plate without having to add the responsibilities of marketing your organization. 

Unless you or someone on your team has legitimate digital marketing expertise and the time to commit to your marketing efforts, it makes more sense for you to hire someone to assist you with healthcare marketing.

Healthcare Marketing after COVID-19: Should You Change Your Strategy?

At StockRose, we focus on content marketing—specifically content strategy and content creation—for digital health companies and private health practices. 

Here are answers to a few common questions our clients ask when we first connect.

Why health content marketing, specifically?

As we mentioned earlier in this post, there are several types of healthcare marketing, but we’re pretty biased towards content marketing.

Why? Because it’s the foundational piece that, once you’ve got it down, feeds all of your other marketing efforts.

Think about it like this: each individual type of healthcare marketing requires content. Social media requires content. Email requires content. If you have a solid content center (e.g., a blog) on your website, you’ve got endless amounts of content to pull from and repurpose for social media, email, and any other marketing campaigns!

How does your health content marketing service work?

Oh, this is where we get to talk about our exciting Quarterly Content Subscription! This is our signature content marketing service where we develop a 90-day SEO-focused content strategy for your health company. You have the option of riding off into the sunset with this content strategy or having our team actually create the content for you.

Learn more about the Quarterly Content Subscription

Do you offer social media or email marketing support?

Great question. At StockRose, we believe in focusing on our two superpowers: 1) creating engaging, entertaining, culturally-relevant health content and 2) helping you get found in search.

Content strategy and content creation are the two ways we do this best, so at this time, we don’t offer social media or email marketing support. But we’re happy to work hand-in-hand with your social media or email teams to help facilitate a smooth transition from content strategy and creation to distribution and promotion.