3 Reasons To Include Digital in all #Healthcare Marketing

Feb 15, 2015Marketing Strategy


If you were to meet me in person, in my professional life, I think you’d find that I’m an observer. I believe in listening before speaking. I’ve seen a bit of what I’d call an alignment shift within my current organization. This shift may not be unique or new to other industries, but it’s both to many that know healthcare marketing. Once upon a time, marketing in healthcare was neatly aligned (aka siloed) into three areas:

  • brand marketing
  • event marketing
  • facility marketing

The entire healthcare industry was mostly aligned around these three tiers and the industry has slowly realized (see page 6 especially) that this alignment was not in focus with the expectations of the public. Many organizations began to re-align their efforts away from siloed & facility-based marketing, with (of course) a few exceptions. Healthcare marketing had to make the shift toward the services offered in a facility-agnostic manner.

Traditional healthcare marketing isn’t scalable.

The healthcare marketing re-alignment caused a number of dilemmas – not the least of which was scalability. Suddenly, in the minds of healthcare marketers, mass-media brand marketing and event-based marketing became less relevant as primary channels. Many organizations went from focusing on one or two facilities to marketing dozens of services (or even hundreds of procedures or sub-specialties). Digital quickly became the only way to scale these new marketing efforts. An organization that was once launching a half dozen campaigns per year was now being asked to launch dozens (or even more) more targeted campaigns per year. That’s a huge shift! Can you imagine running mass-media campaigns for every procedure, specialty or service offered by even just your cardiovascular service line?

It just wasn’t scalable to market healthcare services “the old way”. It was inevitable that healthcare marketing went digital.

Traditional healthcare marketing isn’t as accountable.

For the most part, traditional marketing channels like television, radio & event marketing aren’t as accountable as digital marketing. Yes, there are ways to make mass media somewhat accountable – for example, unique phone numbers as calls to action on billboards can help. But traditional channels will never provide as much accountability data as digital.

How can you use digital marketing to extract more accountability from traditional marketing channels? Let’s take a real-life experience of mine as an example in event marketing. On the surface, event marketing involves marketing (or other) team members attending an event and interacting with patients, physicians or other members of the community to “raise awareness of the brand”.

So, what if event marketing could be more than just standing up a booth at a community event and handing out swag? It can, with technology. Technology provides the unique ability to include a digital engagement element that can extract even more value out of the event, for both the attendee and for the marketing team. A great example of a digital marketing tool used to convert event attendees and provide digital engagement is Movebooth. Their concept is simple, really. Setup a digital “photo booth” where the user signs up using either their email address or social media account. The visitor gets to have fun, engaging with the brand and creating a digital memory in the photo booth while the marketing team is rewarded with customer engagement and with opted-in leads that they can nuture with future marketing initatives.

Introducing a digital component to traditional channels can provide a win-win to customers and marketers alike!

Digital marketing is “brand awareness” marketing, too.

“Brand awareness” campaigns are no longer just billboards, radio and mass media but in many cases involve a strong digital component as well. Even if you’re marketing in an “offline” medium, customers will still look you up. At least I do.

Case in point, I was listening to the radio recently and heard a spot for a local catering company (it could be any industry) whose only call to action was to give them a call. Instead of calling, I decided to bookmark their website (as many would do today) and check them out online. Their website was horr-i-ble! The worst! I mean, it used flash, had no mobile version and was very thin on photos (I want to SEE your food if you’re a catering company).

News flash: brand awareness happens online, too. If you’re spending thousands of dollars on radio, tv or billboards but your digital presence is lacking, you’re just wasting your money. Even if you don’t ask people to look you up online in your campaigns, the majority of customers will anyway.

What do you think?

What reasons or experiences do you have to include digital in your marketing efforts? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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