If you don’t know what Buzzfeed is, or how the media giant’s focus on super compelling, clickable headlines and data-driven content can apply to your practice, keep reading. We’ll explain why the Buzzfeed-ification of healthcare content should find your way into next year’s practice marketing plan, as well as share five more predictions about the direction of practice marketing in 2017.
1. Digital Will Trounce Traditional
It’s likely of no surprise to you that digital marketing is overtaking traditional means of reaching your prospects of patients; however its still bears mentioning to cement the rationale for many of the strategies outlined in this article.
According to Google’s The Digital Journey to Wellness, 77% of patients used a search engine before booking appointments, and 44% of prospects that researched hospitals on a mobile device made a subsequent appointment. Put simply, you must have a deliberate and dedicated digital strategy to compete with your peers in the industry. You can check out our primers on getting a successful digital presence here and here.
2. Content Will Be King
But not just any content: Niche blog content allows you reach specific, smaller audiences who have drilled down their research to the point where they know exactly what they want, and they’re just looking for the right place to make an appointment.
So for example, if you post even a few articles on your website about one of your specialties (e.g. Invisalign), Google will see you at the forefront of expertise on this procedure, shooting you to the top of the search results for that enquiry. Because the competition for searches on that niche is relatively low, your chances of reaching the top of the front page are much higher.
What’s more, if you engage this audience in your content (e.g. ask them questions, let them provide feedback), you’ll find they are a much more passionate bunch, meaning you’ll be able to engage them before their competition and keep your foothold at the top.
The second tactic goes back to our Buzzfeed.com-like title. Now, of course, you look after a reputable healthcare practice, so you don’t need to go the extremes of sensationalism you’ve no doubt seen across the internet of late. The main takeaway from this style of content is that it’s relatively light, short in length and piques the curiosity of the time-poor internet goer. A good example would be www.everydayhealth.com. This site covers almost every healthcare niche possible, but its success lies in the articles. They will often be in a list format with a corresponding title, e.g. 10 Superfoods for Heart Health. The title itself tells the reader it won’t take long to read, and they’re still likely to learn something. They are great for posting on your social media page to drive traffic to your website, which will, in turn, drive your Google rank up.
3. Mobile Will Be Even More Critical
We mentioned earlier that 44% of people who researched hospitals on a mobile device then went on to make a subsequent appointment. Mobile phone/device searches are so critical that Google punishes the search rankings of sites that don’t have mobile-optimized formats. You don’t have to start from scratch to make it happen; most content management systems can easily make your website mobile friendly.
4. Patients Will Be Empowered
Consumers continue to take advantage of unprecedented access to information about their health. And we’re not just talking about hypochondriacs googling non-specific symptoms. According to the Pew Research Center, 46% of people who googled their symptoms led them to seek a healthcare professional.
Beyond self-research, the empowered patient has garnered enough knowledge to expect transparency, flexibility and technology in their healthcare. This means keeping up to date in the way you deal with your patients, both in and out of your practice. They will expect nothing less than a seamless healthcare journey.
5. Patients Will Expect a Seamless Journey
A good way to figure out how to cater for the empowered patient is to document each step of the patient’s journey within your practice to see how you can make improvements to meet their expectations. Focus on their journey one service line at a time from first contact, their awareness of their options, influences (internal and external), follow up care, and any other touchpoint in between. This can be a lengthy process, but it will define your business model and ultimately your reputation as a leading healthcare provider in your community.
6. You’ll Have to Measure, Modify and Repeat
While not strictly a marketing trend for 2017, it’s something we should end this article with as it applies to all of your healthcare marketing efforts. There is no point in pouring such considerable effort into the aforementioned tactics if they don’t work for your practice. So while there is no magic formula, you can find the blueprint that works for you by constantly measuring what works and what doesn’t.
When you execute a tactic or campaign, check things like your email list growth, conversions, online appointments etc. Try different days and times for posting content, and try different titles and writing styles for your articles. See what works and doesn’t work for you, and you will evolve your brand and online presence to be well ahead of the pack.