The age of the passive patient is gone — as such, medical marketers must ensure their messaging isn’t just advertorial, but also informative and relevant. Today, patients are more “active” than ever before — while the knowledge-gathering stage in the traditional path to treatment was limited to consultation with friends and family, patients are now taking an increasingly active role in educating themselves and making their own decisions about their treatment options. The internet has played a major role in this shift, giving patients access to limitless educational resources that once were accessible only by direct consultation with a medical expert. As the internet continues to empower consumers to take more control over their health, marketers must recognize this shift and adjust their approaches accordingly — leveraging patient education and engagement as a key component to any comprehensive strategy.
For Optimal Patient Engagement, Go Digital
Medical marketers have traditionally relied on T.V. and print advertising to reach the greatest number of potential patients, and have been slower than their peers in other industries to adopt digital marketing strategies. However, according to Modern Marketing, Chris Bevolo, a vice president at healthcare marketing firm ReviveHealth, argues that traditional big-budget billboard and television campaigns are not the most efficient methods of outreach: “’It’s awfully expensive to blanket a community with those kinds of messages when very few people are in a position to benefit [because they aren’t currently in the market for care]. With social media and digital marketing, you no longer have to rely on those blunt instruments.” This more personalized approach hinges upon a more nuanced understanding of the patient and his or her decision-making journey, according to Michael Brzozowski, EVP and Managing Director of Patient Engagement for McCann Health North America; “Only when we understand the emotions behind a patient’s decision-making can engaging and effective communications be developed.” This kind of targeting has been proven effective: recent research suggests that 75% of consumers want highly personalized ad experiences, and this approach typically generates 10x as many clicks as more general campaigns. Digital strategies allow for a greater degree of personalization than traditional mediums, ensuring that your marketing dollars achieve the greatest possible impact. However, Bevolo emphasizes that education should be marketers’ first priority: “Critics say that healthcare providers are giving consumers fuzzy, feel-good messaging that targets their hearts more than their heads, when what the public increasingly needs is reliable cost and quality information.”
Develop a Comprehensive Strategy
With patients increasingly taking to the internet to research their healthcare options, your marketing efforts should focus on providing the information they seek in the most engaging and accessible way possible — rather than bombarding them with a branded message unrelated to their specific needs. “A critical factor to successful patient engagement is the ability to develop patient education materials that are not only understandable, but are also appealing, relevant, and easy to act on,” according to Brzozowski. Your marketing campaign should target patients the moment they begin actively searching for treatment options, driving them towards informative, relevant content by utilizing a variety of innovative digital methods. This includes crafting well-designed ads and informative landing pages to boost your Google Quality Score; targeted pay-per-click (PPC) and click-to-call (CTC) ad campaigns across all major search engines and social media sites; website optimization for increased clarity and navigability; and producing original video content that establishes your medical practice as an accessible and authoritative source for trusted healthcare information and treatment. Not only do these methods take a personalized approach to patient engagement and education and help build trust in your brand — they also increase your click-throughs and conversions while lowering costs, ensuring that your marketing budget always goes the extra mile.