Digital marketing or online marking is a broad term used for all online marketing efforts. This includes all digital channels such as websites, social media, email, text or multimedia messaging, video streaming, etc.
Recently, Datareportal revealed the outcomes of a global research collaboration regarding internet usage in 2022. This report showed that internet users increased by 4% to 62.5% of the global population in just one year. Social media users increased by 10% in the last year, which means that 424 million new users came on board in 2021 alone.
Online medical consultations, or telehealth, have also seen exceptional growth, spurred by the COVID pandemic in particular. Only 11% of consumers resorted to telehealth in 2019, but by mid-2021, the number skyrocketed to 46%.
Keeping track of digital marketing trends is not only beneficial to doctors and clinics, but it is becoming essential. From medical SEO strategies, raising awareness using relevant healthcare content, and modernizing services for a secured, immersive, and convenient patient experience.
5 Reasons Why Digital Marketing Is Important for Doctors
The importance of harnessing the internet to improve marketing efforts goes beyond creating awareness. The implications of successfully utilizing a broad spectrum of online channels will lead to improvements in numerous segments within the business.
1. Build a Credible Online Reputation
Creating trust in your practice is the cornerstone of creating long-lasting relationships and patient retention. Using market intelligence to address critical emerging trends in patient behavior might attract more leads and potentially more patients, but keeping them coming back could prove more challenging.
Your practice might have a sterling reputation, and you might stand out as the top of the crop, but referrals alone, as the research mentioned in the previous section, are not enough on their own to create trust in the digital age.
We already mentioned the importance of credibility validation in the section above, and one way to do that is with testimonials. Allow and encourage your patients to leave testimonials, on your website, via social media, or wherever they see fit. It is also vital to provide feedback to each, whether negative or positive, testimonial. This strategy will create a sense of importance in existing clients and instill trust in potential clients.
2. Reduced Cost per Patient Acquisition
Healthcare providers are moving away from conventional marketing means such as television, radio, billboards, and print. Decreasing the scope of marketing efforts to focus on specific segments rather than the general population proves to be more effective.
Trial and error marketing is an expensive exercise. It is convoluted with macro variables that can influence the outcome, making it difficult to assign a proper return on investment.
Let’s consider putting up a billboard or advertising in the local newspaper. It is complicated to determine if that specific action led to an increase in patients, or maybe it was a pure coincidence as it coincided with an increase in referrals at the same time.
With digital marketing, everything can be tracked, and a proper return on investment and a more accurate cost per patient accusation can be determined. With digital marketing performance management tools, healthcare professionals are better equipped to monitor the performance of their marketing efforts and adjust them accordingly.
3. Improved Patient Care Experience
Telehealth, as explained before, has seen exponential growth, but not all practices have the resources or strategic intent to provide such a service at this point in time. But telehealth is not the only way to improve the patient care experience.
Digital marketing evolved, and the most prominent change is that it has moved from a mass-marketing approach to a more specific approach. A patient-focused approach sets the foundation for improved patient care experiences and long-lasting relationships.
It is imperative that the business shifts its focus to understanding patient needs and providing information relative to the target market. Providing information relevant to the clients regarding the latest medical discoveries, new services, or products, feedback on suggestions or complaints, and providing platforms for them to effectively voice their opinions create stickiness to the practice.
From the patient’s point of view, they are offered a better user experience. From the business side, healthcare providers can gain better insights into patient healthcare demands, which could lead to streamlining operations and cutting costs if the information is harnessed correctly.
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4. Localized Marketing
Studies revealed that the bulk of the bell curve of patients resides in a 3–10-mile radius of the practice. Localizing your marketing efforts to those in your community would be the most cost-effective solution to your practice.
Word of mouth used to drive most patients through practice doors, but the digital revolution changed that too. Research conducted by the Binary Foundation showed that 41% of patients researched doctors online after referral and, in many cases, if not satisfied, search for alternatives.
Retargeting allows you to follow users who show interest in your service and target specific advertisements on platforms such as Google and Facebook. The settings of targeted online advertisements could be adjusted to specific geographic locations, demographic profiles, etc., which is an effective way to beckon warm leads to your practice.
Another simpler way to become visible to potential patients in your community is by joining online directories such as AMA’s DoctorFinder. Patients use filters to find doctors in their vicinity and could stumble upon your practice.
5. Build Loyalty and Patient Retention with Patients
Providing exceptional service to patients remains the top priority for patient loyalty and retention. A few decades ago, practices with top-notch medical professionals that provide stellar service didn’t have to dig any deeper regarding retention strategies, but the digital age changed that too.
More consumers are flooded with more information via targeted marketing campaigns online. Combining the influx of information with their need for instant gratification causes consumers and patients to try out alternatives that they perceive could provide even better service.
One way to remain relevant and create a positive brand impression is by producing relevant content. Interesting content channeled to patients via email, blog posts, or social media is a cost-effective way to keep your practice alive.
An information dump might have the opposite effect, so be conscious of the relevancy and frequency of the information you share with your patients or potential patients.
Follow a patient-specific approach centered around a two-way communication strategy that allows patients to interact with your practice, improving their overall patient care experience. Most potential clients reside within a small radius of their preferred medical practice. Use digital marketing tactics that utilize geographic locations to target patients in your practice’s facility.
Provide relevant, exciting content in moderation through various channels to improve the visibility of your practice and improve loyalty to your brand. The REO of digital marketing efforts and client acquisition cost is easier to determine through digital marketing than through conventional marketing means such as print advertising. Build trust and credibility by providing platforms for patients to leave service testimonials.