Healthcare marketing trends for 2016 are a hot topic this time of year. I’m fortunate to have a large network of healthcare marketers from whom I’m continuously learning. Many of our conversations surround what trends to watch in the upcoming year. And as consumers continue to change the way they engage with healthcare providers, here are some common themes in our conversations. It probably goes without saying, but we believe our assessments can help with all of the concepts.
Online consumer information
Consumers look for healthcare information on the internet. According to Pew Research, when asked where they last searched for health or medical information, 77 percent of online health seekers report they began by using a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Another 13 percent say they began at a site specializing in health information, like WebMD. A small percentage reported they used a general site like Wikipedia or social media to start their research.
This illustrates how important it is to incorporate a top of funnel search engine strategy. If consumers can’t find your website or it doesn’t have the information they’re seeking, they will look elsewhere.
Mobile friendly website
It’s no secret many people are doing business via their mobile devices. A recent study found that 60 percent of American adults use smartphones and tablets when searching online for information on local products and services.
Amazingly, one study found that 91 percent of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24 hours a day. Which is why you need a website with responsive design. In April 2015, Google updated an algorithm that affects a website’s ranking for non-mobile friendly websites. Consumers no longer have the patience for websites that don’t load on their mobile devices. Your website should be responsive, fast, and be easy to navigate.
Content is king
When consumers are initially searching for healthcare information, consumers aren’t interested in learning how great your organization is. They are generally looking for user-friendly educational information to help them make informed decisions.
According to Pew Research, 59 percent of U.S. adults say they looked online for health information within the past year. Recent research by Mashable, found the online resources used most to find health information are:
- 56 percent searched WebMD
- 31 percent Wikipedia
- 29 percent health magazine websites
- 17 percent Facebook
- 15 percent YouTube,
- 13 percent a blog or multiple blogs
- 12 percent patient communities,
- 6 percent Twitter
- 27 percent none of the above.
It stands to reason the demand for high-value content will continue to grow, so having blogs, videos, social media links, white papers, health assessments, and other health related content will help create a personalized experience for consumers. It will also make your organization more searchable and relevant to consumers.
Reputation is important
Word-of-mouth is still important in healthcare marketing. Informal conversations among friends and family are an important referral source. However, online reviews are also very important. According to Software Advice, significantly more patients are using online reviews with the number jumping 68 percent from 2013 to 2014. In addition, nearly half the respondents (44 percent) said they would consider going out-of-network if the reviews were better than those of in-network doctors. As a result of the internet, you no longer have full control of your brand, however, you do have control over how consumers interact with your brand and how you respond to their experiences.
Social media matters
People like social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and many others have experienced rapid growth. Social media networks are a trusted place consumers go to find advice concerning their health. One study found 41 percent of people surveyed said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
Healthcare consumers use and rely on social media to make healthcare decisions. It’s important to have a strong social media strategy to get noticed by consumers.
While there are other trends in healthcare marketing, these 5 healthcare marketing trends highlight some of the important digital marketing strategies that will help deliver a personalized message in the right channel at the right time to engage and acquire new patients.
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