In a highly competitive industry such as the healthcare sector, the acquisition of new customers plays a key role. Inbound marketing has not yet been the focus of decision-makers in this regard. But in healthcare marketing, inbound marketing is particularly suitable for generating new prospects and, ideally, converting them into customers.
(This article originally appeared in print no. 12/December 2016 of Healthcare Marketing magazine published)
Inbound marketing is a marketing field that aims to create and market relevant and consistent content to a clearly defined target audience. In contrast to classic advertising disciplines such as ads, banners or commercials, the content of inbound marketing does not focus on the positive presentation of the company and its products, but attempts to convey useful information, relevant knowledge or entertainment.
In the context of the healthcare industry, content marketing is currently still treated rather stepmotherly. Marketers who already have the topic on their agenda often see the strict regulations in the healthcare sector as too much of a challenge. Whereas in other industries, customer testimonials or case studies are often chosen as measures in inbound marketing, the strict requirements for confidentiality of patient data prohibit similar approaches in healthcare marketing.
Although inbound marketing is difficult in this regulated environment, there is also good news: Various studies show that more than 70% of all Internet users search for health information online. Healthcare is also the second most searched service online. With so many people looking for expert information and so many channels to reach them, there is definitely great potential in converting prospects to customers.
How Inbound Marketing Works
But how exactly does inbound marketing work in practice?? A hitherto anonymous prospective customer searches for a specific topic via any search engine. From all the search results, he clicks on the one that seems most attractive to him. Whether via a third platform or directly – it arrives at a landing page developed specifically for this topic. On this page, the patient will find additional content tailored to his search query and thus relevant to him.
The prospective customer has the feeling that he has found exactly the content he was looking for: The source seems trustworthy to him. To receive the regular newsletter, for example, or invitations to a webinar, or to make an appointment for a meeting, the user discloses his or her name and email address – the most valuable information for marketers. At this moment, the anonymous visitor becomes a concrete, identifiable lead.
4 tips for successful inbound marketing in the healthcare industry
What is the best approach to inbound marketing in the healthcare environment?? With these 4 tips, you will successfully implement the inbound marketing strategy in your organization:
1) The basis: An optimized website
The company's own website is the central platform for generating leads via inbound marketing. Through high-quality content, prospects always come to your own website or specially created landing pages at the end of the inbound process. So the website contains the content, which can be downloaded here by filling out a contact form. The website should be tailored to previously identified "buyer personas," i.e., the typical target customer. According to this persona, the language should also be. Terminology must be adapted.
You should definitely also have a dedicated blog on the site so that readers keep returning to your site based on up-to-date content. In addition, an own blog is positive for search engine optimization (see point 2). For example, a doctor's office could write seasonally about symptoms. Inform the patient extensively even before an appointment.
2) Make your offer visible: SEO (search engine optimization)
Search engine optimization remains one of the most important elements of a good website. You can only generate leads if you can also be found. Many websites still have some catching up to do here. On-page SEO is about the implementation of relevant keywords on the page. This applies to all texts, but also to page titles, headings or meta data, among other things. For example, if you have an ophthalmologist's practice in Aschaffenburg, you should try to position yourself for location-dependent keywords such as "ophthalmologist Aschaffenburg".
Off-page SEO on the other hand is to analyze the "authority" of the website as a whole, for example how many other pages link to one's own site. The more "backlinks" are generated, the higher the ranking in the search engine. Both concepts, on-page and off-page SEO, are part of the classic inventory of search engine optimization. However, the content characteristics and the exact implementation have changed over the last years. Modern SEO optimized for searchers. Not for the search engines. This means that the page title no longer just covers as many keywords as possible, but from the user's point of view makes sure that the title is of an optimal length or that its content is precisely matched to the page. The same goes for meta data, headlines or link structure.
3) Develop really useful content
If the content created is not precisely tailored to the target group, it will miss its mark. Content must be relevant and of high quality for inbound marketing to work successfully.
So, the key is to create content that reaches target audiences, triggers action, and is also understandable to users. Good content that adds value to the reader must meet various requirements. Content should be as "original" as possible, meaning it should be researched and written in-house. At the same time, good content should provide answers that are as practical as possible and offer the reader an approach on how he can now apply the knowledge imparted himself. In addition, the content must appear above all regularly, in order to bind the reader in the long term to the own offer.
For an easy start, focus on your blog and develop one to two deeper, high-quality pieces of content that you use to generate leads. For example, a high-quality white paper or an e-book.
4) Pro-actively market your content on multiple channels
Content creation is only half the battle. The content must also be marketed. SEO forms the basis. In addition, people are using other marketing channels such as email or social media to market themselves. Social media takes a central role in the marketing process. Posts get traction faster in the social media environment, you can build your own reach more cost effectively than on other channels. In addition, you can use social media to build real connections with your customers, for example, your patients.
Content for social media must be customized specifically for that channel. Depending on the channel, you should also sprinkle in third-party content that has added value for your own fans and followers. Otherwise, blog posts, whitepapers, infographics and others can also play out well on social media. The link would then usually lead directly to a dedicated landing page with a content offer, lead form and CTA (call-to-action). Email marketing is an often underestimated channel in content marketing. Not only can you retain existing contacts through good email marketing, you can also use email campaigns to promote your own content, turning leads into paying customers.
The healthcare industry is forced by fierce competition to retain existing customers and attract new ones with innovative solutions. Inbound marketing should become an important addition to the marketing mix in this regard. Even if the requirements of content creation lead to additional work compared to other industries due to the strict regulations, the results are still significantly more effective on balance than those achieved when using classic marketing methods.