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The digital age is upon us. This fact was highlighted in the healthcare industry by the coronavirus epidemic, as many physicians started using new apps, online scheduling, and virtual appointments. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that since the start of the epidemic, telehealth use has increased by an estimated 63 times.

Marketing for healthcare is more crucial than ever. According to a 2020 Accenture survey, 64% of American patients anticipate changing healthcare providers if their current one falls short of their expectations for handling COVID-19-related problems. Virtual appointments and telemedicine are in increasing demand as part of these new expectations.

Among other things, a lot of healthcare providers are figuring out how to best advertise the availability of virtual healthcare delivery. When it comes to patient experience and convenience, a provider with a strong brand and a well-established digital presence will distinguish itself from the competition. In addition to a friendly office setting, patients want digital experiences like text confirmations and easy online scheduling.

One way to find out more about healthcare marketing and how it relates to public health concerns is to investigate related degree programs, like a Master of Health Administration program.

What is Branding in Healthcare?

The process of giving a healthcare organization, service, or product a distinctive identity is known as branding in the industry. Creating a name, logo, slogan, and overall visual identity that conveys the organization’s principles, character, and goals is part of this. Having a strong brand can help healthcare organizations stand out from the competition, gain the trust of patients, and enhance overall patient outcomes.

Branding is becoming increasingly important in healthcare for several reasons. First, the healthcare industry is becoming more competitive. Patients have more choices than ever before, and healthcare organizations are competing for their attention and loyalty. A strong brand can help healthcare organizations differentiate themselves from competitors and attract and retain patients.

Second, a strong brand can build trust with patients. In healthcare, trust is essential. Patients need to trust their healthcare providers and organizations to provide safe, high-quality care. A strong brand can communicate a sense of trustworthiness and professionalism, which can improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Finally, a strong brand can improve overall patient outcomes. When patients feel connected to a healthcare organization, they are more likely to follow treatment plans, adhere to medication regimens, and engage in healthy behaviors. A strong brand can help healthcare organizations build this connection with patients, which can lead to better health outcomes.

Types of Marketing in Healthcare

Healthcare marketing can be split into two types: traditional and digital. Traditional marketing generally refers to using older forms of media, such as print, radio, television, and billboards. Digital healthcare marketing utilizes the internet. 

Traditional forms of marketing include:

  • In-person sales
  • Direct mail
  • Print advertisements
  • Telemarketing
  • Trade shows
  • Word-of-mouth marketing
  • Television ads
  • Radio ads

Digital forms of marketing include:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Website
  • Search engine optimization
  • Search engine marketing
  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Video ads
  • Internet radio/streaming service ads 

The big advantage that digital marketing has over traditional marketing is that its effectiveness is much easier to track. For instance, if a hospital sends a postcard to potential patients in the mail, they have no way of knowing how many people saw it and how many people threw it in the trash without looking at it. Digital marketing, on the other hand, tracks key performance indicators such as clicks, views, and conversions.   

According to PatientPop, the majority of people search online when selecting a physician. With patients having seemingly endless options to choose from, standing out and having an accessible website are important for providers who want to grow. This is where healthcare marketing comes into play.

From a responsive website and consistent branding to search engine optimization, ads, and social media, healthcare marketing is an important way for practices to retain current patients and gain new ones. 

Marketing can also help keep patients up-to-date with important information. When the first round of COVID-19 vaccines became available, many hospitals and healthcare facilities used social media and email campaigns to get the word out to their patients. Additionally, many healthcare websites added new pages specifically devoted to COVID-19 news and information.

Federal health marketing laws and regulations need to be followed during this process. HIPAA, GDPR, and the CAN-SPAM Act lay out some of healthcare marketing’s do’s and don’ts:

  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act): maintains mandates on sharing information and electronic billing.
  • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union): regulates personal data processing, protecting how doctors, hospitals, and marketers use patient information.
  • CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003): regulates emails, specifically the information they can contain and patients’ ability to opt-out.

How to Create a Strong Healthcare Brand

Creating a strong healthcare brand requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Develop Consistent Branding

Creating an authentic and consistent brand is the first step in marketing efforts. A brand can be defined as an identity or the way a business is viewed by an audience, and it is used across all marketing efforts.

Most patients have a large number of healthcare options to choose from, with many looking relatively the same: white coats, smiling doctors, and shiny buildings. Building a brand can start with targeting an audience and discovering their needs. This will be part of the outward-facing brand’s foundation. It will also help make the organization appear personable.

Branding can be done outside of private practices as well. Hospital branding is important and can help gain new patients and retain old ones.

Read Also: How to Start Branding for Your Business

The brand should highlight who the business is, what makes them unique, and how they treat patients. Examples of brand identity components include staff characteristics, the office environment, and what the patient experiences. From this, the brand can be translated into slogans and brand mantras that allow for consistent messaging throughout all marketing efforts.

2. Build a Responsive Website

After identifying and creating a brand, it is time to implement it. This can start with revamping the website — a very important step in healthcare marketing.

As previously mentioned, the majority of patients find their healthcare provider online. This makes having a responsive, accessible website all the more important. Having a responsive website means that it has been optimized for mobile users, changing the page’s size and layout to best fit a smartphone. This impacts the user experience.

The user experience encompasses both how someone interacts with a website and how that website responds. It includes such things as loading speed, the tone of the writing and design, functionality, and the user’s ability to accomplish their goal (like booking an appointment). Having a well-functioning website will help retain the user, or potential patient in this case, and give the healthcare organization a better chance of gaining them as a patient.

3. Use Paid Search Ads

Most consumers are using search engines like Google to find healthcare information. Promoting an organization through paid search ads will reach a large audience of potential patients. Pay-per-click ads can be targeted to a specific audience. For example, ads can be filtered by location and keywords. This means only local users will be targeted, which helps move the organization to the top of the search.

4. Ask for Reviews

Part of building a brand — and an important marketing strategy — is seeking out reviews. When patients seek out healthcare providers, they check ratings and read reviews written by past patients to get a sense of the provider’s quality. The better the reviews, the more likely a healthcare provider will be able to gain new patients based on their reputation.  

Asking patients to leave a review will build the organization’s credibility. These reviews should be easily found on a website and should also be monitored. If someone leaves a bad review, best practice suggests responding early, being sympathetic, and encouraging the patient to contact the practice directly to take the conversation offline. This shows the outside audience that the organization cares about its patients’ experiences and will continually work to make them better. Known as healthcare reputation management, this helps maintain a positive online brand perception.

5. Use Search Engine Optimization

Every hospital hopes to appear as the top result when a patient in their area searches online for a hospital. However, this is no easy feat. For a website to rank high with Google, for example, the website must be fully optimized, post unique content on a regular basis, and strategically use keywords and phrases that are relevant to patient searches. 

For instance, “COVID vaccination near me” is a highly competitive search term. The hospitals and healthcare facilities that put in the work to optimize their websites as much as possible reap the benefit of appearing high in the search rankings organically, meaning they do not have to pay for the top spot.  

How do You Use Branding in Marketing?

A brand’s position and favorable perception in the market are intended to be enhanced through a long-term plan known as a brand marketing strategy. To accomplish these aims, the plan may make use of many media platforms, different kinds of campaigns, and a range of techniques. These could include, among other things, search engine optimization, sponsored advertisements, native ads, social media marketing, and video marketing. Over time, a strong brand marketing plan will gain traction by expanding on previous successes to strengthen its position and impact among the target markets.

Here is a basic breakdown of the steps you should follow to build out your brand marketing strategy.

  1. First, craft your brand. Before diving into brand marketing campaigns, it is essential to define and craft your brand down to the finest detail. This means deciding on your mission, values, brand character, tone of voice, and look and feel. This is the time to develop a brand book if you are planning to have one, which serves as a guide to all the design and creative elements of your branding activities.
  2. Identify your audiences. A brand can mean different things to different audience segments. For example, a baby equipment brand is perceived differently by new parents than by new grandparents. A brand marketing strategy should consider all the various audience segments, and what the brand messaging should look like for each, all while staying aligned with the brand’s overall vision and values.
  3. Create marketing messages and assets. Once your brand and audiences are defined, it’s time to develop assets for your brand marketing campaigns. It is always a good idea to diversify your marketing channels. Don’t just run social media ads. Mix it up with other channels, such as native ads, YouTube marketing, or local advertising channels, if you are a local-based business. Start with 2 or 3 campaigns on different channels, and build up from there. Once you’ve decided what campaigns to run with, you can craft the messages, images, and copy as required and according to the specifications of various advertising and social platforms. 
  4. Run, test and analyze campaigns. Now it’s time to launch the campaigns. Digital campaigns can and should be closely monitored, and their performance analyzed in comparison to the targets you set and industry benchmarks. It’s also a great idea to test campaigns so you can know what is working and what is not.
  5. Optimize your successes and build on them. When you have a clear picture of your campaign performance, you can decide what to pursue to advance your brand marketing even further. For example, if you get good traction on a brand video, then you know the message is working. Then you can create a follow-up video in the same tone. Always check in to make sure you are sticking to your brand identity. It’s the only way to support a solid brand marketing strategy that will have a strong impact in the long term.

Bottom line

Establishing your company’s image in the eyes of your customers is done through branding. By addressing the requirements and opinions of the patient, branding contributes to higher service quality. These days, marketing is becoming essential. Hospital branding is an assurance to patients about what to expect from the hospital and how it will meet their needs. Branding has a significant impact.

Hospital branding is a novel idea. The hospital didn’t really need to market itself in the past because there wasn’t the same level of competition as there is now. Hospitals today have several chances and obstacles to successfully and efficiently market themselves.

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