Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of briefly introducing a college student to the work we do here at Evolve Digital Labs. Erin Hogan, who will be starting her final year as a Marketing major at Quincy University this fall, may not have known what she was getting herself into during her two-day job shadow, but hopefully her crash course provided an understanding of SEO, PPC, and general website marketing. Here’s a breakdown of what we put her through: 1. Introduction to SEO: Our Vice President of Digital Strategy, John, walked Erin through the basics of SEO and how it fits into a marketing strategy. Emily shared our SEO Guide for Beginners, which is a resource we have on our site for educating and building trust with visitors. 2. Overview of a website audit: Kristy, our SEO Manager, took the reins to introduce Erin to the first component of a website audit: the On-site Analysis. Kai then explained the Competitive Analysis portion, and Locke concluded the audit overview with his explanation of keyword research. 3. The next day we covered the importance of content creation. Emily showed Erin how on-site content should directly coincide with keyword research, as keywords reflect the needs of searchers. Creating content that responds to those needs will transform a website into a useful resource. 4. Outreach strategy: Once a website is equipped to answer searchers’ questions, we recommend sharing the on-site content with other websites. The benefit is two-fold: First, the website with the content piece(s) receives a link and referred traffic from an authoritative domain. Second, the external website is able to share fresh content that will benefit its audience. 5. Paid Search: Finally, Erin ventured into the world of Paid Search. Laura explained how it differs from SEO and what the value PPC (pay-per-click) ads can provide. Erin had some great things to say about her short experiences as a search marketer. Here’s a summary of her job shadowing at Evolve: This summer I received an offer to be an intern for SSM’s marketing department. I thought about what a great opportunity it would be to learn more about different marketing strategies and meet people with similar business objectives. I never imagined what an 8-5 job would be like. Instead of going to bed at 2a.m. I am now tired by 10 p.m. I just think to myself…Welcome to the real world. Not only did I get to work with SSM but I also got the amazing opportunity to shadow a few marketing companies in the area. Evolve deals with search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Going into this internship, I knew very little about this type of marketing. On the first day I walked in a little nervous because I was at a new place and didn’t know anyone. By the time I got into the main room where everyone was, I no longer felt that pressure. Everyone acted as if they had already known me and welcomed me with open arms. This little gesture just shows what an amazing team Evolve has and how great they are to work with. Throughout the days I met with team members who explained exactly what their job was and answered any questions I had. It was interesting to see how much work goes into things that I click on every day without even thinking. I never realized how important search was to marketing and for companies to make money. Their job at Evolve is essential to thriving businesses. For the amount of work they do it is unbelievable how calm and laid back the work environment is! I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from such a skilled and personable team. Thanks for the great experience Evolve!
According to a Gartner study on digital marketing, many industries are increasing their marketing budgets this year. However, some industries, Healthcare included, are continuing to dump significantly higher funds into traditional marketing methods, which can’t be measured as effectively as digital efforts. In a world where consumers are increasingly transitioning their news and research mediums from television and radio to online sources, a lack of digital marketing is a gross misstep by any industry, especially healthcare.
Along with adhering to the growing trend of researching healthcare information online, the benefit of digital marketing is the ability to track potential and current patients’ behavior and conversions, illuminating which format and tone of messaging is effective. Three-quarters of U.S. citizens prefer researching topics regarding their personal health before seeking professional, in-person medical advice. In order to capture the attention of this burgeoning self-searching consumer, it is vital for pharmaceutical and healthcare providers to invest not simply in digital marketing, but also in a great digital marketing team.
Effective healthcare marketing teams will develop and implement a plan that educates and engages current or potential patients in a cost-effective, measurable way. To build a great digital marketing team for your healthcare brand, focus on developing the following characteristics:
1. Able to plan in months, not just years
A hospital’s digital marketing team needs to begin with a solid plan that addresses short and long-term goals. Because data is available to us online instantly, there is no reason to not generate monthly or quarterly plans in lieu of locked-in, stagnant annual plans. This opportunity for frequent measuring and flexibility is vital to capitalize on new opportunities and react to market performance changes. If a paid search campaign isn’t delivering leads, there is no need to wait several months to make adjustments: that’s the beauty of search. And that’s just one way healthcare brands can ensure their budgeting dollars are being spent wisely.
2. Cognizent of multiple marketing channels
A sufficient digital team features members who have experience marketing through multiple channels, such as email marketing, paid advertising, mobile apps, and local search. Often this means using a CRM (customer relationship management) tool. In healthcare, a CRM tool allows hospitals to comply with critical healthcare reform demands, such as sending appointment follow-ups and delivering literature for procedure preparation or recovery.
3. Proficient in social media
Healthcare marketing teams need to have a thorough understanding of how to use social media for the overall brand development. Along with allowing brands to reach new patients, social channels provide a way to signal to Google that a brand is relevant and committed to its audience. We especially want to emphasize the importance of using Google+ as a hub for sharing news, engaging in conversation, and encouraging online reviews.
4. Willing to rely on analytical thinking
From email marketing to website behavior, every aspect of an online business can be tracked. Team members who understand the digital trends and can draw insights from analytics will be able to communicate what impacts sales and why a web page sees an increase (or lack thereof) in traffic. Effective digital healthcare marketers will then be able to incorporate the data into creating even more successful marketing strategies, starting with sharing digital wins across all service lines. This application takes practice, and in many instances, training from outside resources, but the investment will change the way your organization measures success.
5. Eager to invest in content creation
Digital marketing hinges on website content, but this doesn’t just refer to an influx of words on new pages. Rather, this strategy refers to the creation of engaging, educational content that transforms the visitor into a patient and inspires him or her to share content across social networks, further expanding the potential audience. By referring to keyword research as an indication of what questions your organization can answer for patients, as well as what topics have significant search volume and opportunity for patient acquisition, a content strategy will enhance the quality of your hospital’s website while simultaneously catering to potential patients.
Times have changed for the healthcare industry. Now it is the patient who is in charge. This awareness should fuel all marketing efforts, especially inbound. It is critical to realize that a website without sufficient content will struggle to retain, much less convert, traffic coming in from paid ads, organic search rankings, or social media avenues. A digital marketing team must not only understand the evolving online marketplace, but also be able to educate, engage, and empower the audience with quality content and task-oriented websites.
People not only follow healthcare organizations’ social media profiles,they trust them. Although it was hardly available even ten years ago, social networking has grown to be a major marketing platform for cultivating relationships. Every day, millions of consumers attend trusted networks to collaborate and share experiences; healthcare brands are capitalizing on the opportunity to communicate with this audience.
From social media profiles to review websites, new digital channels give full power to word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, a poll by QuantiaMD reveals 65% of physicians have switched from traditional advertising to using social media marketing to connect and engage with potential patients. Perhaps itas because 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 14% trust advertisements.
Hospitals on Google+?
The reality is patients are more frequently referring to online reviews when researching potential physicians. In fact, a 2012 study by the PEW Research Center reports that one in five Internet users consults online reviews of doctors or healthcare facilities. Popular websites for physician reviews include vitals.com and healthgrades.com, while healthcare facilities are typically reviewed on Google+ Local. Unfortunately, as revealed in the same report, only 3-4 percent of Internet users are posting the reviews, and in many cases, it is the unsatisfied patient that decides to share his or her poor experience.
Three Reasons to Seek Online Reviews
1. Dilute negative feedback: The most compelling reason to seek reviews is to effectively control your reputation, especially if your brand is currently suffering from a sea of negative reviews. Patients are taking the time to look up online physician and healthcare facility reviews; asking for your current patients to provide their own feedback gives you the opportunity to take a proactive stance and influence customers and control your online material. 2. Promote practice: A highly-rated Google+ profile will surface more easily in search results, which is why it’s important to build out a page and encourage reviews from patients. In addition to relying on patients to supply feedback, it’s also important for the brand to actively share healthcare news, whether branded or not. A booming profile: including photos, links, and videos, helps build a presence in online communities and solidifies relationships with current patients and encouraging referrals.
3. Improve relationships with current patients: Asking for a review from a patient following an appointment, whether it was for a checkup or a surgery, is a fantastic way to show your concern for the quality of healthcare you are providing. That will keep you accountable with every patient, and while it may seem risky to direct patients to share their stories on such a public platform, most people who are satisfied with their experiences will be more than happy to do it.
Adapting to Awareness
Healthcare marketing was once about interrupting people to broadcast messages. Today, it includes sharing on social media channels to communicate your commitment to patientsa well being. Success in healthcare depends on a brand’s ability to deliver value and build trust. By reaching patients off-site through search engines and social media, healthcare brands can convey a sense of commitment to patients, in addition to earning a more expansive presence online.
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