SEO vs Paid Search vs Social Media – Which is Better for Healthcare Marketing

May 23, 2017
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Digital media has transformed marketing practices in just about every industry. Healthcare marketing has surprisingly been affected by the digital marketing revolution more than most other industries.

The industry is investing in online marketing more than ever. According to an eMarketer report, healthcare professionals and the pharma industry invested $1.67 billion in online marketing in 2015.

As more healthcare organizations invest in digital marketing, they must educate themselves about their options.

Factors that Influence the Healthcare Marketing Landscape

The digital marketing profession has evolved over the years. Healthcare marketers have numerous options available to them, including paid search, SEO and social media.

In order to choose the best digital marketing strategy, it is important to understand the role these factors play. Here’s an industry SWOT Analysis of digital marketing opportunities in the healthcare profession.

Healthcare marketers must contend with privacy laws.

Healthcare marketers must comply with HIPAA regulations very carefully. They must be careful about using identifiable patient information in any of their marketing creatives. They must also be cautious about sharing patient information with marketers to improve their targeting.

High costs for exposure

The value of healthcare leads is extremely high. Unfortunately, this means that there’s tremendous competition in the digital marketing sphere for healthcare professionals. This is especially true for Adwords and Bing PPC, since those are the digital platforms most healthcare marketers use.

More nuanced targeting options

In the 1990s and early 2000’s, healthcare market is needed to take a broader approach to reach new patients. They needed to advertise in the local news sites and other broad media outlets.

Today, they can target specific demographics and patients with specific ailments.

Digital media helps healthcare professionals build trust

Marketing has traditionally been one of the least trusted professions. People knew that advertisers had a very biased agenda.

The Internet has changed the dynamic in surprising ways. Rather than focusing solely on awareness, it creates a platform for healthcare professionals to bolster their professional reputation and trust of future patients.

According to a recent study from Pricewaterhouse Cooper, social media posts from doctors are the most trusted source of healthcare information. The study found that 56% of patients trusted them. Healthcare professionals that are active on social media can you build trust, rather than just exposure.

SEO, PPC, social media – Which is best for healthcare marketing?

You have plenty of options available to you as a healthcare marketer. You can invest in a solid search engine optimization strategy and rely on long-term, residual traffic. You can also rely on paid search in Google, Bing and other search marketing platforms.

Another popular option is to rely on social media marketing.

Which option is most preferable? Unfortunately, there are so many variables that it’s difficult to claim one is better than the other. However, there are some factors that can help you decide.

I believe that social media marketing is the best option for many healthcare professionals, especially those that don’t offer urgent care support. However, search marketing is better for healthcare professionals that offer urgent care services or are in highly niche professions.

Since social media is an underutilized platform for healthcare marketing, I feel it’s important to emphasize some of the benefits. Here are some recent social media is ideal for many healthcare marketers.

Lower competition

Across all industries, CPC and CPM costs have surged for both search and social media marketing. However, there are discrepancies for many industries. In healthcare specifically, CPC costs for search marketing are incredibly expensive for three reasons:

  • The CPA value of leads is so high.
  • All marketers use the same keyword research tools and tender bid on the same terms.
  • Search marketing is the default platform for most healthcare marketers.

A study from WordStream found that the average CPC for the healthcare marketing industry is $3.17. While social media marketing is also competitive landscape, you can generally acquire paid traffic for less money.

The competition is especially low on Instagram, which is why many healthcare professionals have started to buy Instagram views.

Better for establishing trust

The study listed above shows that patients trust content from healthcare professionals over almost anything else. Since social media is an ideal platform for engaging with others, healthcare professionals can use it to establish trust with current and future patients.

Great for Connecting with Patients That Aren’t in the Buyer Mindset Yet

Healthcare is a unique service in the market. People don’t usually actively seek out healthcare services until they think they are in desperate need of them. However, many people actually need healthcare services long before an emergency strikes. For example, approximately half of all adults with diabetes aren’t aware of it.

You can’t connect with these people on search, because they aren’t aware they have a problem that needs to be addressed yet. Social media allows marketers to reach and educate patients before they know they have a problem and encourage them to see assistance.

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