Case for Digital Marketing in Healthcare

Digital Marketing Defined

Digital Marketing is defined as promoting of brands or products and services using multiple forms of digital advertising, like a brand’s website, email, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, mobile devices, blogs, games, apps and other lead generation tools.

In order for any organization to create an effective digital brand presence using these devices, the first step is to create a digital strategy.

A digital strategy answers the fundamental questions of who an organization will engage andhow. Implementing a digital strategy puts a public face on an organization, thereby increasing outreach capabilities and raising an organization’s public profile.

The Business Case for Digital

As statistics reveal, performing well in digital is critical to healthcare organizations:

  • 72% of people use the Internet to find health information and services. (Pew, 2012)
  • Half of online health information research is on behalf of someone else. (Pew, 2012)
  • One in five internet users have consulted online reviews and rankings of health care service providers and treatments. (Pew, 2012)
  • Caregivers are more likely than other internet users to take part in a wide range of health-related activities online. (Pew, 2012)
  • 42% of people living with a disability have looked online for health information. (Pew, 2012)

Digital is not a short-term trend. It is the way the world is moving because no other medium compares in its ability to reach and engage such a wide variety of audiences.

Overall, digital budgets continue to trend upwards. According to David Moth of Econsultancy, 71% will increase their digital marketing budgets this year (2013). Robust growth in digital spending will continue into the future, with spending topping out at CA$4.51 billion ($4.55 billion) in 2016 (eMarketer, 2012).

Despite the continued growth, today many organizations still have not caught up to this reality, and therefore are misallocating their marketing dollars.

Organizations that properly allocate their marketing dollars and implement coherent digital strategies early will enjoy greater long term benefits. It is important to start as early as possible. As more and more organizations join the digital sphere, the space can become crowded, thus requiring a greater investment of time and resources to have the same impact. In addition, investing in digital early provides the time necessary to build institutional knowledge and develop habits that are consistent with industry best practice.

Increasing consumer reliance on the Internet for information means that health care organizations can greatly increase their revenue and brand by engaging audiences online. Whether a client is looking for directions, helpful hints or researching services, an organization may establish itself as an early leader.

Joining the digital revolution is a process that takes time, dedication and most importantly, a thoughtful and well-executed plan. While the importance of a solid digital plan is well known, it is not a race. It is never too late for an organization to realize the benefits of early implementation.

The Benefits of Embracing Digital

The benefits of embracing digital are clear-especially for healthcare organizations:

Increased sales: As consumers increasingly turn to digital channels to seek out information regarding important decisions, smart marketers are converting that interest into handraisers and sales. Well-managed digital marketing methods have a better probability of turning a casual browser into a client.

Stronger community relationships: Digital provides an efficient means to reach out to and cultivate an audience of residents, staff, patients and their families, leading to a greater sense of community.

Quantifiability: Unlike traditional advertising vehicles, marketing your organization can track, optimize, and improve every interaction through digital. This approach results in the best possible customer interactions and higher conversion rates.

Improved brand perception: When asked, 94% of prospective patients said reputation of facility is important in hospital selection (Google, 2013). Brands can pay attention to what people are saying about their organization online. While it is impossible to completely stop negative comments, organizations can respond appropriately and mitigate their effects with positive content. By engaging they make it personal and have the opportunity to improve brand perception.