Getting Started With Marketing And Communications In Health
Marketing within the health space isn’t a new concept. However, as we edge our way further into the age of digital customer engagement, traditional forms of health marketing are being replaced by more sophisticated online techniques. Only a few decades ago, health organisations largely centred their marketing efforts on submitting press releases to news media organisations, in the hopes of having stories aired in mainstream media. Now audiences can be targeted much more deliberately with relevant messages, creating mutually beneficial opportunities for both patients and organisations.
The health industry needs to do better when it comes to creating positive experiences for patients, customers and stakeholders. Effective marketing and communications, particularly via digital platforms, is a great first step towards better patient engagement, satisfaction and health.
Health marketing: the basics
As in any industry, marketing and communications in health explores what you’re saying, who you’re saying it to, and on what channels. This may include activities on your website, social media, or email marketing channels. While it may seem sufficient to perform marketing ‘ad hoc’, strategic planning and automation can enable health organisations to take control of what you’re sending and when, with more tangible outcomes.
Where do you start with marketing in a health organisation?
Engaging your audience starts by understanding your brand – your why. Doing some work on your branding will help you define what you’re doing, how you communicate, and who you’re likely to be speaking to. You also need to understand your audience – who they are, what their needs are, and what marketing channels they’re likely to interact with.
This information will translate into a marketing strategy, which identifies your key communication channels and the types of content you need to create and publish. It will also lead into the development of a content calendar, which dictates when, what and how you distribute content to your audiences.
Why health organisations need marketing and communications
There are a range of reasons that health organisations need to have good marketing communications strategies.
To create a good patient experience
Healthcare goes beyond performing consultations and writing scripts. Organisations can use marketing activities to take patient care to the next level, keeping people informed, updated and delighted at every interaction. This starts with having a well-designed website that makes it easy for users to find contact details and key information.
Digital experiences need to be optimised for mobile devices. This article on SocialMediaToday explains that 52% of smartphone users gather health information on their devices. Further to this, 44% of people who find physicians and private practices on their mobiles go on to schedule an appointment, making it essential for modern medical practices to develop mobile-friendly experiences.
Whether it’s websites, apps, social media or email marketing, you should be using the digital space to create excellent customer experiences that drive engagement and interaction.
Customers aren’t going to know what services you offer if you don’t actively promote them. Furthermore, as you add new services to your offering, you need to be able to communicate these on channels that your audiences engage with.
Many GP practices, for example, interact with patients on social media channels. This platform is ideal for promoting new or seasonal services, such as reminding patients to get a flu shot as it comes into flu season.
Businesses change and evolve, which means you’ll constantly be needing to share updates with your audience. You may change your operating hours, the addition of new products and services, or perhaps you’ll want to share news about your research and staff members. Clear and effective marketing activities allow you to communicate these updates as they happen.
Adding value through content and advice
Another key way that health organisations can utilise marketing and communications activities is by offering content and updates that offer advice. Research also shows that 51% of patients feel more valued as a patient when doctors use social media, blogs, and other digital engagement outlets.
You can use digital platforms such as blogs and social media sites to share your expert insights and advice on medical issues. Patients are highly likely to research your business before making a booking with you. Having regularly updated content demonstrates that you’re engaged and knowledgeable, and that you’re committed to giving back through free, relevant content.
An example of successful marketing
We can use an example of highly successful marketing communications from another industry to illustrate the importance of getting it right.
There’s huge competition in the gas and electricity space, but consumers are rarely delighted by the communication their utility companies have to offer.
This isn’t the case with Powershop. This company uses visually appealing marketing, with straightforward messaging geared towards today’s environmentally-conscious energy consumers. The business’ marketing reveals a focus on renewable energy, and customer control – allowing you to pay bills the way you want.
While Powershop isn’t necessarily a cheaper energy option than others, it’s encouraging many Australians to make the switch based on clearly articulated values and beautiful, attractive marketing. They also offer discounts and offers to incentivise people to ‘convert’ their friends and families to the service, actively turning customers into brand advocates. Check out the Powershop LinkedIn page and Facebook page for some fun, engaging marketing examples.
How to get started
You may already be implementing a marketing strategy, or perhaps you haven’t given your communications much thought before. Regardless, there are some things you can do straight away to boost the impact of your communications activities.
Start by conducting a marketing audit. This will look at what you currently have (assets, processes etc.) and where the gaps are. You should also put time into conducting audience research, collecting information on what your customers want, need and expect. With this information, you can work with a digital specialist to create a marketing and communications strategy. This will outline your objectives and goals, your channels and tools, your measures of success, and any timeframes or calendars you’ll work to.
Creating excellent content that connects with your audience requires expertise and a good understanding of your brand objectives. For this reason, it’s valuable to work with someone who knows how to write content aligned with your marketing goals. Consider engaging a copywriter to craft your marketing content for you. This will allow your team to focus on day to day business activities, while a professional writer creates impactful messaging for your customers.
Before the content creation stage, working with a digital specialist to audit your marketing activities and define an ideal strategy will help you create engaging marketing, to boost customer engagement and improve experiences with your brand.
Tadashi has helped many clients better understand their marketing and communications goals and strategies. Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you.