What makes a healthcare marketing agency so effective compared to a regular online marketing firm?
They say you cannot really know your brand until you have a background about what makes it “tick.” Someone who handles marketing for doctors, lawyers, software providers, e-commerce businesses, real estate agents and manufacturing companies may know a little about all of them… but probably not a lot about all of them! Someone who only works with healthcare companies is likely to be more educated on the needs of a doctor or a dentist. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have real-life experience working in the industry in which you service- particularly when it comes to healthcare marketing!
Having someone with relevant experience handle your healthcare marketing solutions will provide a refreshing distinction for your practice, one that most online digital marketing services cannot provide. We do this by working closely with trusted partners and experts in web design, online marketing and social media.
Why is this? A business that focuses on digital marketing for healthcare understands the “nuts and bolts” of day-to-day operations. Since these companies are employing individuals who have worked in the medical industry prior to focusing their efforts on marketing side, they will have a leg up on other agencies that have little to zero medical experience.
What is a Healthcare Marketing Agency?
As businesses have realized the importance of an online presence, they have transitioned a large portion of their marketing dollars to the World Wide Web. After all, it’s your first impression for someone shopping for your services!
Due to the high demand of online marketing services, the market has responded with thousands of suppliers to fill the needs of these businesses. There are no shortage of options when it comes to finding a digital marketing agency. The industry has become flooded with freelancers and agencies due to the flood of information available online; just check your SPAM box for people asking to redo your website or help you with SEO services!
Each digital marketing company promises to provide a customized, sophisticated solution when targeting your potential prospects and current customers. An agency shouldn’t just promise a solution; it is crucial that they truly understand the specific marketing challenges faced by healthcare businesses.
Since medical and healthcare-related businesses are so much different than every other industry, they should provide education, detailed strategies and platforms that demonstrate their clear understanding of what is best for you and your business.
Unfortunately, many digital marketers attempt to make their formula a “once-size-fits-all” strategy for all types of industries. It is tremendously important to find this out. Regardless of whether you are looking to differentiate yourself in a competitive market or simply want someone to build your website, a non-healthcare related marketing company may not have the same depth of understanding on something healthcare related that can have a significant impact on your business (i.e., HIPAA)!
An easy way to determine if you are dealing with this type of marketing agency is to visit their website and see their brand positioning (i.e., their current and/or target customers). Are they calling on other industries?
If they do not have experience working in or with healthcare or medical offices, what is their related experience? If their clients include non-healthcare or medical-related businesses, you will likely notice similarities in the websites they have created/social media posts, etc. Since doctors require a vastly different approach from other industries, their “tried and true” methods may not translate as well and therefore you are rolling the dice with what you pay for.
A healthcare marketing agency specializes directly with the industry they know best. Instead of being a universal solution, clients receive a detailed healthcare marketing plan that is more effective. This is because their solutions are created by and for people that have worked in or with healthcare businesses in the past.
Here are 11 more reasons why you should hire a healthcare marketing agency for your practice…
1. Unique Insight to the Healthcare System
The primary advantage to hiring a healthcare marketing agency is it has actual expertise with the industry.
Every digital marketing firm will guarantee improved results. Yet the bottom line is many of them do not have a full comprehension of the industry they serve, and thus may produce marginal improvements while an agency with far more direct experience can deliver outstanding results.
It may be helpful to take a step back and analyze the core components that make up best-in-class digital marketing partner.
Most digital marketing experts came from some type of engineering or programming background. So how experience in healthcare become?
The best healthcare marketing solutions combine a high-level of understanding of the healthcare industry with the advanced knowledge and experience of digital marketing experts (i.e., SEO or digital advertising) by , along with.
Digital marketing companies with a professional understanding are able to grasp philosophies such as the use of medical space, dealing with competition among physicians, as well as the typical journey of each patient from the initial appointment to final follow-up.
Anyone that has ever worked in the healthcare industry before can testify to its unique ecosystem. A healthcare marketing agency understands the role of its client, and how it must remain compliant with insurance companies and healthcare laws (i.e., HIPAA). It also is able to manage small private practices along with large hospital systems.
Market insight is vital in executing the right plan. It helps the agency attain the correct research and knowledge of local physician competition. It also works to attain other market research that can get to the heart of advertising campaigns, budgets, online rankings, different advertising channels, as well as promo services.
Without this direct experience, it is far more challenging to build a really comprehensive, not to mention effective healthcare marketing strategy.
2. Understanding the Process of Patient Intake
It is really difficult to understand the hectic, complex world of patient intake and flow without having ever worked a day in the healthcare industry before.
Sometimes described by a healthcare marketing agency as the “patient journey”, it describes the process from intake to final appointment.
The patient journey can only get started when a practice peaks the interest of someone. Of course, the old school method of patient referrals and word-of-mouth advice is still practical in the medical industry, yet so much of its directories and marketing is progressing online.
A marketing firm that has experience in the medical field can help deal with the finer nuances of running a practice — small or large.
It begins with online listings where recent studies demonstrate the majority of new patients are browsing for a new practice. They read crucial information such as location, hours of operation, contact information, and the ever-important online reviews and ratings.
More new patients are making their decision based on what they read about your practice in a business listing, or what others have to say about it through social media. It is where an online marketer can really upgrade your performance and help bring in more patients.
The firm can vastly improve the effectiveness of appointment scheduling and cancelling, streamlining the entire experience to make it more convenient for all parties involved. Furthermore, an experienced marketer can separate between new patients and returning patients, understanding the crucial differences, as well as handling recurring patients vs. one-off visits.
However, if the agency lacks any direct experience in the healthcare industry, or does not specialize in it, you are unlikely to receive as dependable of results.
3. Promotes Engagement with Patients
A reputable healthcare marketing company can step up and not only inform the prospective patient the who, what, and why of what makes your practice the best option — but also start a new discussion.
Recent studies have suggested that patients really value practices that provide direct engagement. What this means is that patients are seeking methods in which they get value of the medical treatment they are receiving outside the confines of the medical practice.
They prefer online resources where they can learn more legitimate, dependable information about a condition they may suffer from. Or helpful advice on dealing with insurance companies. There are plenty of questions to be asked in the medical field and patients really appreciate how going online has provided them a bigger platform to speak out, as well as get the answers they need.
Your digital marketing agency should be focusing on providing more direct patient engagement. If not, it is time to consider finding another company that will make it a priority.
4. Develops Resources Dedicated to Patient Referrals
Patient referrals have always been a type of golden ticket in the world of healthcare. If a private practice is able to improve its volume of patients that are referred from outside sources they are doing a very good job.
Patient referrals are extremely distinct to the healthcare industry. Yes, word-of-mouth applies to every industry in the world, but it never is more prevalent than with doctors, dentists, optometrists and other healthcare professionals.
Patients rarely question a good referral; they trust the advice given to them by other trusted medical professionals.
So, if you agree with that philosophy, then what is your practice doing to improve its volume of patient referrals?
Healthcare marketing challenges must embrace the concept that you are not only effective when you improve your outreach to prospective new patients, but to other medical professionals as well.
Building strong relationships with referring doctors is paramount for specialty practices. Thus, a healthcare marketing agency will understand the value of patient referrals, instead of just focusing on the digital promotions that online agencies without healthcare experience tend to focus upon.
5. Experience communicating with Physicians
If a citizen goes to a cop and tells them about how to improve law enforcement, they may listen but not totally buy into an outsider perspective. However, if a cop was to approach another cop about recommendations he or she would likely get taken far more seriously.
The same rule applies to healthcare. The medical field has its own language and way of doing business. Therefore it is easy to notice outsiders quickly. However, a marketer with experience in the industry already has an inside path to connecting to physicians and other practices.
It helps build confidence not only with the practice that is working with the marketing agency, but also other practices for outreach.
6. Already has Access to Critical Medical Marketing Channels
The healthcare industry features its own set of channels for not only communication, but marketing and promotion.
A functional healthcare marketing plan is typically broken into three components:
- How can it enhance the reputation of the practice?
- How can it draw in more patients?
- How can it develop more internal relationships for referrals?
Everything about the plan should encompass one of the following three objectives. However, if the agency is unaware of the channels specific to the medical industry they are already a step behind.
Not all traditional digital marketing channels are effective for the healthcare industry. It really depends on what the organization deals with in such a complex system. For example, one practice may need to really focus on HIPAA compliant review generations while another can stick to more traditional forms of promotion like social media.
7. Understanding Compliance with HIPAA and Stark
The medical industry has many different laws and compliances that define the field. The laws are very sophisticated and numerous, so not having experience with them before getting into digital marketing is definitely a flaw of standard online marketing companies.
A healthcare marketing agency has an advanced knowledge and understanding of HIPAA and Stark. Law violations are of serious consequence within the healthcare industry; you can’t afford to risk the hard-earned reputation of your medical practice on what could be reckless practices of a digital marketing agency without experience in healthcare.
Consequently, most practices prefer hiring a marketing agency that has worked in the healthcare field before in order to avoid the risk of violating any laws.
8. Improving Legitimate Reviews of Medical Practices
Online reviews about a business or organization are extremely important these days; unfortunately, it only takes a few bad apples to try and spoil your reputation.
It is difficult for even the most successful organizations in the world to maintain a flawless reputation. Some could argue it is even more difficult for medical practices because of the condition that most of its patients arrive in.
An experienced digital marketing agency that has dealt with the medical community beforehand realizes that patients may be in bad shape physically and/or mentally when they arrive. It might only take the smallest annoyance to trigger a bad review online.
It can be something that your practice has absolutely no control over. Something as simple as a patient having to pay a larger than expected co-pay could result in a bad review for the practice.
As a result, healthcare marketing challenges must stay realistic. It is not about creating a perfect reputation on the web. Rather, it is about building a trustworthy presence for prospective new patients to see. A trustworthy presence that they will likely reflect the decision they make.
9. Working within Budget Confines
It may seem like the medical industry is made of money yet anyone that has ever worked in the field before knows that is far from true! Digital marketing companies must spend the funds dedicated to them for marketing rationally.
The top healthcare marketers can work within any budget, crafting a strategy based on as little or much money you are willing to dedicate to promotion.
10. Reputation Survivalists & Redeemers
There is nothing more frustrating and misleading than a well-established medical practice that has been in operation for years, with hundreds of satisfied patients, getting off to a bad start online.
All it takes is a few bad apples (in the form of poor reviews posted for the world to view) to spoil an online business listing rating. An online marketing firm that specializes in the medical industry knows how to resurrect these reviews or gather more if you have yet to build up a strong enough reputation yet.
11. Helping Adapt to New Competition
Healthcare is a business unlike any other industry. Although new and existing competition are the same no matter which industry you look at.
The natural evolution of the market creates an ever changing landscape where practices must not only stay up-to-date with current competitors, but also adapt to new ones. The worst thing a well-established clinic can do is become complacent with its marketing; the next guy is just around the corner, if they’re not already there. After all, growth doesn’t always come from new people in town!
Despite the misconception that online marketing agencies only exist for new or struggling businesses, they are actually just as important for well-established practices. The best healthcare online marketing agencies understand this concept well
There are many benefits to hiring a digital marketing agency that deals specifically with the healthcare industry.
Whether the online marketer has had direct working experience or handled healthcare clients previously, they present a big edge compared to firms that have not dealt with it previously.