Healthcare digital marketing is vital to running a medical service. It keeps you top of mind among potential clients and two steps ahead of the competition.
However, not many healthcare providers give it enough attention. We’ve seen a number of clinics invest heavily in customer experience, only to close down because they lacked any customers to do the experience-ing.
In this article, we’ll go over healthcare digital marketing from cover to cover. We’ll dive into the factors that make it unique versus other marketing efforts, arm you with tips and strategies, and discuss how to take your marketing to the next level.
What is Healthcare Digital Marketing?
The concept of healthcare digital marketing is quite self-explanatory: it’s the process of selling medical services to a remote audience through digital channels (like social networks or Google).
On closer examination, however, you’ll find that healthcare digital marketing has deeper layers to it than meets the eye.
For one thing, your audience may be broad (like the entire population of an area) or narrow (like a handful of people who share similar interests). Depending on your marketing goals, you may find yourself speaking to a wide base of people or running precise and targeted campaigns.
Likewise, the concept of digital marketing channels is more complex than, “whatever’s on the internet.” You’ll find that each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, and that each may be suited to a specific kind of marketing materials (e.g. videos on social networks, blog articles for your website). You might also hear terms like “omni-channel marketing” or “remarketing,” which deal with the interplay among your marketing efforts on different channels.
Finally, there are a number of things that make the act of marketing a healthcare service stand out from marketing in other industries.
First, the nature of the job means that trust is an even greater factor in determining success than it normally would be. While all marketing demands that businesses establish trust, you have to overcome the sense of risk that comes with the healthcare industry. Whether you’re selling transplant surgery or vitamin infusions, you have to prove reliability.
Not only does trust help get patients in the door, but it can also make for a better patient experience overall. Starting on the right foot can prime your patients for better openness and comfort with your business, which in turn leads to better referrals—closing the loop with yet another round of improvement for your reputation and client acquisition.
Second, healthcare digital marketing demands a balance of professionalism and relatability. You have to cover your patients’ expectations of sharp and calculated expertise, as well as their need to feel like they’re being taken care of by an invested party.
Third, healthcare digital marketing usually faces stricter regulations than marketing for other services. You’ll find that Google, for instance, has a tight set of policies surrounding healthcare digital marketing on their search engine results pages (SERP). It pays to understand these policies for an easier time of marketing, and to avoid violating rules or laws.
A Framework for Healthcare Digital Marketing
As with most business activities, it helps to have a clear framework for how healthcare digital marketing should be run. Such a framework would cover your goals, strategies, tactics, and methods for tracking success.
To kick things off in visual terms, we like to rely on Hubspot’s Flywheel Model for inbound marketing. As you’ll see in the graphic below this paragraph, your potential customers go through four stages: strangers, prospects, customers, and promoters.
Image from Hubspot
Strangers are people who are completely new to your business, and who have the least knowledge about your products or services. Your job is to attract them through quality services and effective marketing efforts.
Over time, strangers may become prospects: people who are interested in your business but need a little more of a push to pay for what you’re selling. These people have to be further attracted and convinced to engage with your business through strategies like lead magnets.
Once they’re hooked and led to try your services, they become customers—but the story doesn’t end there. Any healthcare business would do well to keep their customers engaged through clever remarketing tactics (ex. email campaigns) and upselling efforts (ex. loyalty rewards and bundle packages).
Finally, if both your services and your marketing are at the top of their game, you can expect customers to turn into promoters who would happily spread the word about your business and draw in new leads.
If you release new services over time, then the promoters you’ve managed to delight may find themselves exploring them—which brings us right back to the start of the cycle.
Classifying your audience into these four categories helps add structure to your marketing strategies. You’ll want to make sure that strangers hear about your business, that prospects have compelling information, and that customers are kept in the loop so they might eventually become promoters for your business or clinic.
Likewise, the three processes of “Attract,” “Engage,” and “Delight,” are good to keep in mind as you plan out your marketing. Use them to critique your ideas, and you’ll find yourself having an easier time keeping your audience interested.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this framework is the fact that marketing is presented as a cycle. Instead of a line with a clear start and endpoint, the Flywheel Model reminds us that people may enter your marketing process at any point, and recycle (or upcycle) into greater value in the future.
3 Strategies for Healthcare Digital Marketing
1. Identify Your Patients’ Needs and Wants
Many healthcare service providers fall into the trap of thinking they know exactly what their target market wants. In many cases, the truth is that the things people want and need are far from obvious, and far from simple.
We recommend taking a step back and achieving a comprehensive mental picture of what your target market is after.
You can start from the most apparent: dental patients would want healthier teeth, patients seeking longevity treatments want to live longer, and aesthetics patients want to improve their outward appearances.
From here, it pays to dig a little deeper: what are the mechanisms that drive their apparent wants?
You may find, for instance, that it works to market your dental clinic like you would an aesthetic clinic by appealing to a need to look pleasing. After all, a great smile is often considered to be the key to overall good looks.
Likewise, it might help to market a longevity clinic by appealing to the things people would miss out on once their health begins to fail: things like evening walks on the beach, traveling the world, and outdoor sports. Why stop at selling a longer life, when you could paint a picture of how that longer life could be spent?
|Industry||Obvious Want||Underlying Want|
|Dental||Healthier teeth||Better looks|
|Longevity||Longer life||Keeping active in later years|
|Aesthetics||Better looks||Social confidence|
Finally, it helps to remind people of what they risk when they fail to look after their health. If the job of a medical practitioner is to ensure the best outcomes for their patience, then keeping the public informed of common illnesses and risks come with the territory.
A dental clinic may find success by informing their audiences of the risks of tooth decay, a longevity clinic may play on the fear of aging, and an aesthetic clinic may pose its audience with the risk of skin diseases and similar outcomes.
On a related note, always be sure to avoid shaming people who suffer from the negative outcomes you’re presenting. Reminders of health don’t have to come at the cost of low self-esteem, and you’ll find that many of today’s digital marketing platforms regulate against things like body shaming or outrageous standards for health and beauty.
|Industry||Obvious Want||Underlying Want||Potential Risks|
|Dental||Healthier teeth||Better looks||Tooth decay, painful cavities|
|Longevity||Longer life||Keeping active in later years||Infirmity in late age, missed life experiences|
|Aesthetics||Better looks||Social confidence||Skin diseases, lowered self-confidence|
2. Be Where Your Patients Are
The secret to excellent healthcare digital marketing is presence: being where your future patients are likely to find you.
At the top of that list of places would be search engines. Recent search statistics show that 3.5 billion people perform online searches on a daily basis, and that number grows at a rate of roughly 10% every year.
It goes without saying that your business should be easy to find online and that it pays to invest in search engine optimization (SEO). We won’t go through the fine details of SEO in this article, but take this as a firm instruction to read up on it as the first order of business—it goes hand in hand with excellent website design and a smarter approach to your customers.
Naturally, we can’t dive into a digital marketing subject without mentioning social media. Healthcare digital marketing can and should take advantage of the fact that over 2.8 billion people are social media users.
Maintaining a social media presence is essential to keeping in touch with your customer base. Platforms like Facebook are equal parts bulletin board, community engagement hub, customer service line, and advertising space. Instagram, on the other hand, is great for showcasing your results—images of happy and healthy patients are a strong testament to the quality of your business.
Invest in creating useful and relevant content for your social media viewers, and create a healthy stockpile of media assets featuring your clinic, services, products, and patients (at least, whoever consents to their images being featured).
Finally, note that understanding where your customers are has a very literal dimension: when creating marketing plans and materials, cater them to your audience’s tastes and particulars. When it comes to healthcare digital marketing in Dubai, for example, it’s important to know what people in the area respond to; insider references and pain points can make your content significantly more relatable.
3. Track Your Metrics
Healthcare digital marketing is partially a numbers game: you have to keep a close eye on your efforts to determine if they’re generating returns, and if those returns take a form that works towards your end goal.
For example, you may think that promoting posts on social media to generate broad reach is automatically great for your business. While attention is good, it leads to nothing if your posts aren’t converting viewers from strangers to prospects (or from prospects to customers).
We recommend taking a data-driven approach to your marketing. Get to know the different metrics that govern your website, your social profiles, and your efforts on Google. Without a clear sense of the numbers and what they mean, you run the risk of wasting money on strategies that do little to grow your business.
The Future of Healthcare Digital Marketing
The one thing you can count on when it comes to healthcare digital marketing is that your strategies are always a few years away from becoming obsolete. There are a handful of new tools and technologies are poised to change the game.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning, for instance, are slowly taking over functions that only humans could perform—like blogging. Likewise, the frameworks marketers use to understand the playing field are ever-changing; a few years ago we would have pitched a funnel model for marketing instead of a flywheel.
To keep your business competitive in the long term, you have to stay on top of the latest trends and developments. Keep a close ear to the ground and consult with digital marketing professionals to stay in the loop for trends.
Healthcare Digital Marketing in the UAE
There are a few things you should know about healthcare digital marketing in the UAE before jumping into the scene. We’ve compiled a few pertinent tips in this final section of the article.
1. Respect public morality
The UAE has tight policies concerning morality and public decency. For instance, if you’re aiming to do healthcare digital marketing in Dubai for an aesthetics clinic, avoid presenting subjects in states of undress—you’ll have to get creative and descriptive when depicting the concept of bodily fitness.
2. Keep your information accurate
When performing healthcare digital marketing in the UAE, there’s little room for error when it comes to the information you present. Every blog article, social media post, and website claim can turn against you if you make incorrect claims, so take care.
3. Cater to Your Locale
Each emirate has features that set them apart from all the others, and working with this in mind is crucial to smarter marketing.
Since healthcare digital marketing in Dubai is a different ballgame from that in Sharjah or Abu Dhabi, it pays to find a marketing agency or partner who knows the ins and outs of the locale. Needless to say, the same rule holds wherever you may be marketing your services in the UAE.
4. Work with trusted professionals
Partnering with a trusted professional in the industry for healthcare digital marketing is a must-do for service providers looking to gain a competitive edge. While plenty of these skills can be learned, it simply takes too much time for the average clinic to manage on their own.
Trusting in a healthcare marketing agency in the UAE can go a long way towards securing more clients and growing your clinic over time. We recommend finding one that’s open to sharing their practices and strategies so that you learn alongside them.
With the right help, healthcare digital marketing can propel the average clinic from obscurity to renown. Jump-start your digital marketing and partner with seasoned experts in the field for best results.
Once you gain a clear sense of your framework, identify your top platforms, and hash out a plan for content based on your target market, the rest falls into place.