Updated from September 8, 2022
Keeping patient outreach campaigns relevant, timely, and compelling is no easy feat, but these ten strategies can help boost your hospital’s brand awareness and attract new patients.
An effective hospital marketing strategy does more than just reach patients — it starts and nurtures long-standing relationships. As patients embrace digital tools and actively search for healthcare options, hospital marketers must engage with these consumers at every touchpoint of their online journey to drive more conversions. What’s more, healthcare ad spend is expected to jump from pre-pandemic spending of $16.7 billion in 2019 to $22.7 billion this year—an increase of 36%. It’s a competitive industry, so how do you maximize your dollars to increase patient acquisition and brand awareness?
Investing in a modern, diversified, and timely healthcare marketing plan that reaches patients where they are is key to long-term success. Here are ten strategies you can add to your marketing plan to increase patient acquisition and boost brand awareness:
1. Cultivate a Strong Online Presence
Research shows 82.8% of US-based patients used search engines to find healthcare in 2022, and 7% of Google’s total search traffic is health-related. In addition, 60% of patients check to see if their clinic has a website before booking an appointment, and 71% will look elsewhere for another doctor if they don’t find enough engaging information.
Social media lets marketers play with content types, from educational videos and webinars to written posts and partnership projects. It also lets you directly communicate with prospective and current customers, making the patient experience more personal. If you haven’t already, become well-versed in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and even TikTok to establish your brand presence online.
2. Place Contextually Relevant Ads
Contextually relevant ads are 32% more effective than demographic targeting. In addition, a recent Lumen study found that contextual ads drove 3.3x more attention than other standard ad formats. But reaching a patient with your brand’s message within the right context at the right time is critical.
For instance, a potential patient might see an ad for your hospital’s outstanding Ob-Gyn department as they scroll through a cooking blog. However, they’ll likely pass by it because there’s no connection between what they’re doing online and the ad they’re seeing. Also, in this scenario, there’s no guarantee that the patient is ready to decide about their care when they see your ad.
But when you advertise alongside high-quality healthcare content and physician search pages and profiles, you tap into an audience actively searching for care and ready to convert to a health system.
3. Prioritize a Mobile-Friendly Patient Experience
Mobile-friendly interfaces have become the expectation for consumers across industries. Healthcare journeys, in particular, are now multichannel—patients are increasingly prioritizing an omnichannel experience, and more than half are seeking health information from a smartphone or tablet. But 60% of healthcare systems are having trouble keeping up with their digital transformations, which gives your brand a valuable opportunity to boost organic advertising efforts by prioritizing mobile friendliness.
By optimizing your hospital’s online presence to facilitate a seamless online patient experience, you reduce barriers to conversions. In addition, Google’s mobile-first index ranks websites with responsive mobile interfaces higher in search results.
Want to go even further with your mobile-friendly strategies? Utilize SMS messaging—66% of patients prefer receiving text message appointment reminders over other channels, so consider using text messaging services as an additional touchpoint to connect with patients.
4. Leverage Video Marketing
High-quality content is king, but immersive and interactive videos are also very effective for generating leads. A 2022 study by video agency Wyzowl revealed that videos could convince 88% of consumers to purchase a product or service, and 73% prefer watching short videos to written articles and blog posts. To diversify your hospital marketing strategy, supplement your content library with captivating video content.
Experiment with patient testimonials, physician insights, and explainer videos to establish thought leadership and give a glimpse into your health system brand and care philosophy. Patients who watched a physician’s video were 50% more likely1 to contact their practice. But be careful—videos over 60 seconds in length risk drop-offs in retention, so keep your message concise.
5. Combine Paid and Organic Advertising
Pay-per-click campaigns and Google Ads quickly and effectively place your hospital ads front and center and can bring in twice the number of visitors compared to organic methods alone. However, research shows that the average click rate for Google Ads is only 6.11%, and paid ads can get expensive very quickly, sometimes eating up 85% of a hospital’s marketing budget. On the other hand, organic advertising is more likely to attract lower funnel patients because it relies heavily on search engine optimization (SEO) and contextually-related content, meeting patients already searching for what your healthcare organization can offer. However, organic SEO strategies can take time to build momentum.
With hospital marketing, it’s best to diversify your marketing initiatives to cover all your bases. We recommend creating a sustainable marketing budget that allows you to reap the benefits of paid ads while leveraging organic search touchpoints that naturally introduce your hospital to patients in their healthcare journey simultaneously.
6. Thoughtfully Respond to Patient Reviews
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in patient behavior. More than half of consumers are now paying more attention to the quality of care they receive—over a third of them are reading doctor reviews more frequently, and a similar percentage are researching hospital quality more than before.
How physicians respond to the feedback they receive, both positive and negative, is equally important to prospective patients. If a doctor leaves a review unaddressed, it can signal that patient experiences aren’t being valued. Make sure your hospital takes the time to follow up on reviews by thanking patients for complimenting your services or extending empathy to those unsatisfied with your care. However, abide by HIPAA standards by keeping patient conversations vague and encouraging offline communication.
7. Promote Awards and Accolades Across All Channels
If your healthcare organization has earned special recognition for outstanding care, highlight this in your hospital marketing campaign! After all, hospital quality matters—Healthgrades found that patients treated for a life-threatening condition at a hospital recognized as one of America’s 250 Best Hospitals were 28% less likely to die than if they were treated at hospitals without this award. Patients want to know they can fully entrust their lives to your team in emergencies.
Integrate quality achievements into all marketing campaigns for visibility into your team’s care outcomes. This can include celebrating stellar staff members on social media, highlighting patient testimonials on your hospital’s website, or elevating physicians as thought leaders in their respective fields. Patients know that all hospitals can treat them, but they want to know which ones go above and beyond.
8. Personalize Outreach Through DEI Initiatives
Healthcare can be intimate, private, and personal, and patients need to feel welcomed and understood wherever they seek care.
Studies have revealed that both BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities still experience challenges in receiving healthcare. For example, a Healthgrades survey discovered that 25% of Black respondents stated that doctors hadn’t taken their pain seriously in the past, and a separate study revealed that nearly half of LGBTQ+ patients have experienced medical gaslighting in the past two years.
Show potential patients that your hospital understands the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by demonstrating how your team fosters an inclusive environment that considers social determinants of health. Start internally with diverse hiring practices, cultural competency education and training, zero-tolerance discrimination policies, and employee satisfaction surveys. Then, extend these DEI initiatives to your content marketing team with guidelines outlining conscious editorial language, culturally relevant topics, and diverse ad casting.
Remember, every touchpoint matters, and it’s more than just a matter of customer service. How a patient feels when they step through a doctor office’s front doors and walk away from their appointment can mean the difference between life-changing care and poor health outcomes that could have been more manageable with early detection.
9. Humanize Your Brand to Better Engage with Consumers
When developing a digital marketing strategy, maintaining the messaging, voice, and look of your brand at all touchpoints makes it easy for patients to understand your hospital’s core values and unique qualities. After all, studies show that consistent branding has helped two-thirds of businesses grow their revenues by at least 10%.
This uniform messaging conveys authenticity to patients and builds trust in your healthcare system and physicians. Researching information about a specific condition and finding a compassionate, qualified doctor is easier said than done. However, it can mean the difference between facing years of ongoing health struggles and relief from symptoms. Consider expanding your brand strategy to address niche topics, such as perimenopause, to humanize your brand and drive inclusivity. Opening up conversations and challenging societal norms in your marketing efforts can strengthen doctor-patient connections, leading to better health outcomes.
10. Audit Your Hospital’s Marketing Performance
The best way to keep your marketing campaigns effective is to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Real-time metrics like click-through rates, visitor demographic data, bounce rates, and content shares can offer valuable insight into who your consumers are and where and how you reach them.
In addition, seek patient feedback to help gauge your campaign’s effectiveness. Monitor your channels and keep the return on investment for your marketing plan in mind. As you analyze your campaign, you can more successfully identify where to allocate or reallocate resources based on your performance.
It’s also helpful to stay in touch with current industry trends and news by following notable health publications and conducting surveys with healthcare consumers to gain regular insight into the patient experience. If your brand needs a refresh, you’ll be able to tell immediately.
Optimize Hospital Marketing with Healthgrades Advertising Solutions
These ten healthcare marketing strategies are a great start, but partnering with Healthgrades can help turn your marketing plans into real results.
Advertising on healthgrades.com drives more qualified site visits than any other third-party site, and we can help your brand engage the largest audience of commercially insured patients searching for care online. In fact, 67% of visitors who search for a doctor on Healthgrades will make an appointment within a week. Premium placement—with prominent branding and calls to action on physician search pages and provider profiles—ensures that more consumers see your health system first. Healthgrades can also complement your SEO and SEM strategies to maximize your relevance in search results and provide qualified leads.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you optimize your hospital marketing strategy, convert high-value patients, and stay current with healthcare industry trends.