A well-crafted message or reachout works wonders for a healthcare brand. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Before we dabble into the world of digital healthcare marketing, let’s look at the history of healthcare advertising techniques – through the ages.

Around 200 AD, woodblock printing heralded a a new opportunity for physicians and initiated the public to the very first ‘outdoor advertising’ in terms of a name board. With the typewriter invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 and the printing presses, healthcare advertising brought in some sophistication with illustrated posters and handbills.

The introduction of automobiles in healthcare advertising became popular in the early 20th century through outdoor board ads. Later, Pittsburgh’s KDKA became first radio station in the late 1920s and with that, radio ads, jingles and RJ announcements started. Television sets then captured the attention in the 1950s, thus changing healthcare advertising forever. Prospective patients could see and hear about their problems and related solutions together for the first time.

In the mid-1990s, hospitals led the way in creating simple websites because they had the resources to invest. The goal was to let the public know about the healthcare services their doctors offered.

Over the years, websites became increasingly more complex and sophisticated, as healthcare advertising continued to evolve. Today, a private physician practice can compete with well-established hospitals. Using contact forms, updates with mobile/responsive design, clear calls to action, easy-to-find phone numbers and address are some of the basic aspects to have up on a website.

Furthermore, the website better be HIPAA-compliant ensuring that all protected health information is transport encrypted and is located on secure web servers. On a further scale, deploying organic search (SEO), paid search (SEM), landing page strategies, engaging social media, and deft reputation management can help a private practice compete and win against a considerably larger player.

Here are some numbers to convince you:

• 88 per cent of those searching for health information start with search engines;

• 48 per cent before booking, patients took over two weeks to research before booking an appointment;

• Paid search ads accounts for over 25 per cent of all e-commerce orders in cosmetic and wellness industry;

• 77 per cent of online health seekers use Google, Bing, and other search engines to look for health-related information;

• 60 per cent of social media users trust social media posts shared by health professionals and doctors;

• 83 per cent of health organizations are engaged in content marketing;

• 58 per cent of healthcare marketers use blogs in their digital marketing strategy;

• For every $1 spent on email healthcare marketing, the average return is $44.25;

• Over 70 per cent of health-related searchers click on the results listed on the first page; and

• 47 per cent of internet users search for information about doctors or other healthcare professionals.

For the future of healthcare advertising, one needs to grasp the concepts of the use of beacons, voice assistant, ad blocking, push notifications, 360-degree photos and digital video tours, marketing automation, virtual reality, live stream videos.

Healthcare companies’ global advertising expenditure was estimated at $36 billion in 2020. Digital outreach can cut that overall cost down by 50 per cent.

Digital marketing is the best way to get a solid return on your initial marketing investment. A digital strategy is typically cheaper, more effective, and more engaging than old-school hard-sell outbound methods. But you must stay consistent to see results.

You will need to allow six to 12 months of consistent, high-quality inbound marketing effort to see your traffic grow and your leads’ pipeline start to fill up. But the leads that start to flow in are already pre-qualified, engaged with your company, and connected with your brand. Can it get any better than that?