10 Important Healthcare Marketing Trends in 2019

The State of Healthcare Marketing

As specialists focused in healthcare and wellness, Trajectory is committed to helping our clients navigate the future of marketing in their sectors. Doing so continues to help our client’s brands, organizations and customers grow stronger. Healthcare marketing trends in 2018 included things such as:

    • Leading with your organization’s organizing principle to energize and elevate your marketing from the inside out
    • Integrating transparency into marketing as an important ingredient to help earn consumer trust
    • Engaging with consumers and health care professionals through two-way conversation versus one-way messaging
    • Creating authoritative and a consistent stream of useful and relevant content addressing the pain points of healthcare and wellness-seeking consumers
    • Designing “branded” end-to-end customer experiences that improve customer satisfaction,  bolster business outcomes and add another dimension to distinguish your organization
    • Extending brand relationships by delivering customer value beyond the functional benefits of healthcare services and products themselves

These particular trends influenced the healthcare marketing landscape heading into 2019. We continue to see competitors being forward-thinking and using new tools and techniques to seek out a competitive edge and drive growth through creativity and innovation. With that, here are the healthcare marketing trends we see in 2019.

1. Multichannel Engagement

As healthcare consumers increasingly interact with providers through more channels, it’s incumbent on marketing teams to develop comprehensive healthcare marketing strategies to engage audiences within and across channels in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience.  Creating this foundation helps take customer engagement to the next level.

It’s important here to distinguish a multichannel experience from an omni-channel experience. The difference is the level of integration. All omni-channel experiences will use multiple channels, but not all multichannel engagements are omni-channel. An example of this would be if you have a well-designed responsive website, a social media campaign, a mobile marketing experience, etc. But if the customer lacks a seamless experience and consistent messaging across each of these channels, it’s not omni-channel. The majority of healthcare marketing programs today can probably be defined as multichannel engagements.

2. Content Marketing

Customers really don’t care that much about our organizations. But they care a lot about how you can help them move forward in their lives. Which means you need to be useful and relevant in your healthcare marketing. Or said another way, you need to be generous (and genuine). This is where content marketing fits in.

As people interested in healthcare services are active seekers of information, creating educational content that addresses their questions, pain points and is actionable is the best way for your brand to garner their attention. When distributing this content, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  • consider it through the lens of your specific target audience and how you can be as useful as possible, e.g. including links to symptoms and location information, clear CTA’s to help schedule appointments, other links to assist their customer journey
  • understand your target audience’s preferred content channels so you can choose the right distribution vehicles
  • present your content in a way that is true to your brand’s unique voice across multiple channels

3. Mobile Responsive Websites

Responsive web design has become the dominant format for websites dating back to the end of 2016. A website with responsive design automatically reformats to give the user a better experience tailored to their device — whether smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Case in point, 52 percent of web traffic today comes from your potential patients being on mobile.

Responsive web design also gives your site the benefit of being in line with Google recommendations. Google uses mobile-first indexing, based on an algorithm change from March 26, 2018. In addition to technical changes, different types of content can be created for the mobile, technologically-advanced user, e.g. real-time forecasts (pollen, allergens, air pollution by location, etc.) and interactive apps (prescription refills, referencing health records, etc.).

4. Video Marketing

Video does what text does not. Using video marketing, healthcare marketing teams can evoke emotion and connect with the needs of their audiences in a more authentic and compelling way.  Remember, like with any tactic, video is most effective when used in conjunction with a broader, multichannel marketing strategy.

Underscoring the importance of video marketing:

  • 80% of Hootsuite users prefer watching video over reading
  • According to Aberdeen Group: video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year and achieve a 54% increase in brand awareness 
  • Hubspot’s research shows that 45% of people watch an hour or more of video per day
  • Google’s research reveals that 40% of millennials trust YouTube for content; and 60% say videos they’ve watched have changed their world view.

Just some of the types of video content available to healthcare marketing teams include:

  • Vlogs (video blogs)
  • Interviews
  • Welcome videos
  • Tutorials
  • Product/Service/Provider reviews
  • Videos of presentations
  • Video testimonials
  • Recordings of live streams
  • Video ads

5. Mobile Marketing

As consumers increasingly turn to their phones for just about everything, marketers are allocating more spend towards mobile initiatives. According to a new CMO Survey from Deloitte and AgencySpotter, mobile spend is expected to grow 19.1% over the next five years.

At the end of 2016, 77 percent of American adults owned smartphones. On top of that, an increasing number of consumers are using their phones for health-related purposes—58 percent of smartphone-owning Americans are using their device to connect with medical professionals.

Given these trends, healthcare marketers are approaching their planning with a mobile-first mindset. When content is visible and easy to navigate on mobile devices, consumers are more likely to engage and convert. To optimize for mobile screens, healthcare marketers are streamlining layouts to work with small spaces, improving page speed to work around any mobile connectivity issues, optimizing for local search based on mobile location data, and designing content to fit finger-scrolling.

6. Social Media Marketing

Enough about you. Let’s focus on me. This is the mindset of consumers who use social media to manage their lives in today’s digital and mobile age. Which means doing social media right requires understanding how consumers make decisions and helping them manage their lives more effectively and efficiently.

Posting to social channels on a regular basis can help healthcare organizations climb the ranks in SEO, and this is an important component of marketing success. But the ones who will stand out in 2019 are those who implement social media campaigns that really drive engagement. Which means being useful and relevant in ways that demonstrate an understanding of the target audience and that stand apart from typical healthcare providers and their messages.

Here are some tips for creating effective social media content:

  • Tap into cultural and industry-specific trends
  • Be genuine to your brand and organizational voice
  • Lead with a customer-first mindset — to influence your channels and type of content
  • Make the most of social video to build engagement and action
  • Integrate relevant and trustworthy influencers/micro-influencers
  • Determine your strategy to measure social media ROI

7. Responding To Consumer Interest in Wellness

As a healthcare marketing executive, you’re already being tasked with thinking outside the traditional healthcare industry frame given the changing competitive and consumer dynamics in the market. But beyond “healthcare consumerism”, there’s another major trend that marketers need to respond to.

The massive growth of the wellness industry has made it important for health system and hospital marketing teams to integrate wellness marketing strategies into their playbook. What used to be a grassroots movement in the field of medicine has morphed into a wellness economy that is strong and growing.

Consumers are spending to the tune of $200 billion plus on diet programs, healthy foods, gyms, yoga, wearables, vitamins and supplements, digital streaming services like Peloton, self-care apps, etc.  This doesn’t even take into account the $22 billion we’re spending for CBD-based products. Then there’s plastic surgery. It’s no longer just about physical beauty, as the industry’s focus has shifted to be centered on celebrating the beauty within. RealSelf, a leading and trusted resource for anyone considering any elective cosmetic treatment, captured how everything we know about plastic surgery is changing.

8. Local SEO

Local SEO is critical if you want your business to stay relevant. According to Hubspot, four out of five consumers use search to find local information. Which means if your business isn’t optimized for local search, you could be missing out on 80% of your potential customers.

Local SEO strategies represent a great advantage for healthcare locations with a physical footprint.  Three things are important to your local search success.

  • First, claim and optimize your Google My Business account, as this is Google’s tool to help your business meet the search engine’s needs. This also potentially rewards your business with the opportunity to rank on the local pack (the section of Google’s search results that shows the local business related to a location-based query).
  • Second, make all the website updates necessary to help improve your local SEO, e.g. improving internal linking structure, optimizing content for search engines by using and correctly placing high-volume keywords to get found in SERP’s, adding location pages, creating local content, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Third, use NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency, directories, and inbound links to help your business climb to the top on local search.

9. Advanced Analytics and Artificial Intelligence

marketing analytics chart

Despite the increased focus on analytics, only 36% of marketers (according to The CMO Survey from Deloitte/AgencySpotter) report they have quantitative tools for demonstrating the impact of marketing spend on company performance. This is a somewhat surprising statistic given the requests by C-suite for marketing leaders to demonstrate the impact of their marketing efforts on financial outcomes.

Further, using analytics and AI can provide insights for effective healthcare marketing strategies by providing real-time user data. It’s important for marketers to understand the benefits and limitations of each. Analytics is about making assumptions and testing based on past data to predict future scenarios; and AI machine learning analyzes data, makes assumptions, learns and predicts at a level of detail impossible for individual human analysts.

10. Voice Search SEO

This technology focuses on speech recognition instead of text typing to allow people to conduct search engine queries and other searches. Google has already indicated that voice search is the fastest growing form of search. In 2018, 58% of consumers used voice search to find local businesses. And according to e-consultancy.com, by 2020, 30% of all website sessions will be conducted without a screen. Mary Meeker, who included it on a timeline of voice search in her Internet Trends 2016 Report (see the chart above), went so far as to predict that in “2020”, at least 50% of all searches are going to be either through images or speech.

How can you make sure your pages are optimized for voice? Consider your keywords, as people do voice searches in more complete sentences. Write in a conversational manner, as the questions posed to voice search tools are more conversational in nature. Explore the Google App, as there are tools you can use to create “actions” that will make it easier for Alexa and the Google Assistant to communicate with your own business app or website. Update your website from a technical standpoint, to make sure the speed of your pages are moving as quickly as possible.

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As specialists in healthcare + wellness, Trajectory can help you maximize your healthcare marketing strategy to drive better growth. Reach out for a conversation.

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Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, launched in 1999, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment to move customers, brands and businesses upward. Prior to Trajectory, Eric served as EVP and Management Board member at Interbrand (the world’s most influential brand consultancy). Before Interbrand, he held senior marketing positions at Beiersdorf Inc. and L’Oreal and advertising account management positions at Marschalk and Benton & Bowles.He has also taught as an adjunct professor at Seton Hall’s Graduate School of Communications and has lectured at Wharton Business School and Emory Goizueta School of Business.