The Evolution of Rural Healthcare Marketing
By Mike Milligan, President of Legato Healthcare Marketing
Have you heard other businesses talking about how they’re using today’s latest marketing tools to build relationships with their customers – and then wondered why your rural healthcare organization isn’t doing the same?
Be honest: Have you wondered why you didn’t even know some of this was possible? Trust us – you’re not alone.
At NRHA’s Annual Conference earlier this month, my colleague Amy Yaeger and I presented “Welcome to the Revolution: Reimagining Rural Healthcare Marketing,” which focused heavily on how digital marketing tools and tactics can transform your organization’s marketing plan to meet today’s consumers on their terms – while also maximizing your return.
It's a New Day in Healthcare Marketing –
And That Goes for Consumers, Too
A new era of rural healthcare marketing is here and organizations like yours need to make use of today’s latest digital marketing tools now – or be left behind.
The evolution of digital advertising, which includes communication avenues such as streaming, PPC, SEO, email campaigns, social media, websites, blogs, patient reviews and EHR communication, allows rural healthcare systems to build connections with their current and future patients in ways that can never be available via traditional methods.
That’s right – it’s not just about the technological gizmos; today’s marketing evolution is also about relationships. Rural healthcare marketing has changed from transactional to relational.
Think of it this way: Transactional relationships are about sick care – when you don’t feel your best, you go to the doctor. While this kind of interaction serves a specific need, it’s not really a relationship; what today’s consumers are looking for is relational healthcare: They want “well” care, not sick care.
Today’s healthcare consumers want:
- Text or email reminders about screenings and appointments
- Convenient locations
- Appointments that fit their schedules
- A mobile website that’s filled with current, relevant information
And don’t forget that today’s healthcare consumers know they can choose:
- They ask questions
- They expect price information
- They shop around
- They are less committed
- They look at reviews
This new type of healthcare consumer means that your organization needs to focus on consumers’ demands and wants, and prepare for these before competitors do.
Today’s digital tools allow you to target demographics based on your consumers’ behaviors and interests in a way old-fashioned advertising never did; if you’re not using non-traditional methods to build a relationship with your patients – or potential patients – it’s basically similar to reaching for a rotary phone instead of a cell.
New Tools – and How to Use Them
Digital technology has been the catalyst to the revolution of healthcare marketing. But are you aware of these technologies? And is your organization using them effectively? Take a quick look at the list below – if what you’re seeing seems unfamiliar, let’s have a conversation!
Social Media Marketing – This phrase is thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? Think organic (i.e., free) or paid posts to your social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and website. In addition, it’s important to engage with today’s consumers via reviews about your organization; pay attention – and respond – to Google business reviews and online star ratings. Not only that – leverage those good reviews by placing them on your website!
SEO & PPC – More than alphabet soup, Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click advertising are two digital marketing tools that allow your organization to expand its online presence; if people are searching online for keywords related to your services, your website can capture them at this step. Questions about how PPC advertising works? We can help!
Email Marketing – Don’t forget that an original can be repurposed: Email isn’t just for person-to-person communication – use your email list to make your consumers aware of (and educate them about) new services.
Streaming Video & Audio – Streaming is much more effective than traditional TV and radio advertising because there is less waste since you can target users much more specifically based on age, gender, hobbies, lifestyle, etc., and reach consumers with quick video or audio messaging. Not only is it cost effective, but it’s also one of the best ways to reach out to short attention spans.
And don’t forget your EHR – Marketing through your Electronic Health Record (EHR) is one of the easiest tools because many of your patients are already using it – and it can help you collect data to calculate ROI on campaigns. Not only that, it’s a great way to communicate to your current patients about health literacy, while also keeping them coming back because of your EHR’s convenience features such as appointment scheduling and reminders, pre-registration options and personalized communication with providers. Your EHR can also be an excellent avenue to building a solid brand campaign for your organization.
Still asking what’s so special about digital marketing? Remember these key highlights about what digital marketing can do for your organization; it
- Targets your message based on factors you determine
- Makes it easy to share experiences
- Encompasses a wide variety of tools
- Grabs the user’s attention
- Provides a plethora of data
- Allows for meaningful calls to action
Where Do You Begin?
There is still a need for overall marketing planning and traditional techniques, but that’s just the start; today’s strongest marketing plans include both traditional and digital marketing: Today’s digital marketing tools create efficiencies through targeted communications that track return to allow for future data-driven decisions to generate patient volumes.
At Legato Healthcare Marketing, we advise all of our client on the Legato planning process, which includes:
- Setting priorities
- Identifying market potential
- Analyzing and targeting the market
- Recommending media
- Implementing strategies
- Tracking ROI
Interested in learning more? Take a look at a video of our recent presentation. After that, let’s talk – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me directly at 920-544-8102, ext. 101, and we can also provide you with a copy of the slides. Instead of saying, “I didn’t know we could do that!” your team will be able to say, “We’ve got this!”