If you want to dominate organic, paid, and local search results, you've got to study your business from several angles.
Building a deep understanding of your competitors' strengths and weaknesses and what makes your shared audience click improves branding, SEO, paid search, social media, and other general marketing strategies.
However, understanding which marketing tactics you and your competitors are doing well and which could use improvement is just the beginning.
A thorough competitive analysis highlights where there might be marketing gaps, allowing you to find creative or compelling ways to enhance your strategy, attract more patients, and grow your business.
If you want your healthcare business to rank high on Google or Bing, you have to analyze, compare, and contrast your marketing efforts with your competitors. The healthcare industry is highly competitive, so taking the time to understand your aspirational, direct, and secondary competitors and make informed decisions based on your findings are crucial for success.
In today’s blog post, I share:
Before we get started, here’s a quick primer on what a general competitive analysis is and why your brand positioning statement plays such an important role.
A competitive analysis is used to identify main competitors in your industry and research their marketing strategies.
It should be at the forefront of your branding and digital marketing strategy when launching a new brand, refreshing an existing one, or merging two or more brands.
However, to conduct a well-informed competitive analysis, you must first clarify your brand's position in the marketplace. Why? A research-based positioning statement communicates your brand's unique value to your customers as it relates to your main competitors.
There are four crucial parts of a brand positioning statement:
I realize many hospitals and multilocation providers may already have a well-established brand positioning statement. Still, it's essential to review and revise it regularly to ensure your brand promise and 'reason to believe' are relevant and built to satisfy the ever-changing needs of the increasingly informed healthcare consumer.
Along with the general competitive analysis, it’s important to conduct a marketing-specific competitive analysis. This is the ongoing process of evaluating competing hospitals and health systems to understand current and future market information (e.g. industry insights and performance).
It also allows businesses to visualize how their product, marketing, sales, copy, and other strategies stack up.
A healthcare industry competitive analysis for every marketing branch helps hospitals and health systems understand their competitive landscape and optimize their digital content.
A professional healthcare marketing agency can help differentiate your hospital or multilocation practice with a competitive analysis of these service lines so that you can attract more patients:
This guide includes tips on how to conduct five different types of competitor analysis:
A healthcare industry competitive analysis typically includes a thorough SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strengths) analysis that helps hospitals, multilocation healthcare providers, and other healthcare organizations identify gaps (read: opportunities) in the market.
These audits also provide a helpful perspective on how well your healthcare organization performs against its competitors.
They allow your organization to:
Every competitive analysis begins by compiling a list of aspirational, primary, and secondary, but formidable competitors. Secondary competitors include healthcare organizations that indirectly compete with yours (e.g., those outside your catchment area or those offering niche treatment modalities or services like telemedicine). Emerging healthcare entities should also be given close consideration.
Once you have a complete list, it’s time to analyze each competitor’s suite of services and understand how they market them to patients. Understanding how your patients and referring physicians view your competition shines a spotlight on whether your hospital or multilocation practice offers equivalent (or better) quality or service offerings.
A general competitive analysis for healthcare also allows your business to identify unique values your competitors don't (or can't) provide and put them front and center in your marketing strategy.
Unlike the other marketing branches I’ll talk about in this blog, branding is highly subjective. However, marketers and other creatives must be prepared to support their design decisions with relevant data and research.
A brand and creative competitive analysis help businesses improve upon (or develop) high-converting content because it draws on knowledge from the brand positioning statement and provides the justification needed to support creative decisions.
Whether you’re looking to reinvigorate your brand and creative elements or merge with other brands, there are three areas of focus when conducting a competitive analysis:
A brand audit is an important first step toward elevating your identity as it highlights where your brand and creative are currently aligned, where it’s slipped, and which elements you like or dislike. This phase also helps visualize why there might be more or less engaged in a particular channel.
A competitor audit shines a light on how key players are positioning themselves in the marketplace. It answers questions like, "Which colors and typefaces are brands using?" "Is there a common thread in their logos using symbols or other iconography?" "Is their tone formal, casual, serious, or funny?" Depending on your findings, you may want to try a different approach. This exercise aims to identify creative gaps and develop engaging ways to fill them and attract a wider audience.
A demographic audit is essential for understanding your target audience and brand personas. Are you targeting the proper age group? Are you considering local audiences? This audit ensures businesses tell the right story to the right people at every stage of the customer journey. It also helps brands identify potential messaging opportunities and content gaps.
SEO (search engine optimization) competitive analysis identifies the strengths and weaknesses of your and your competitors' websites. While SEO competitive analysis should always be part of your ongoing strategy, we typically perform this analysis during our initial SEO audit and content gap analysis for new clients.
This analysis includes identifying competitor weaknesses and taking specific actions to surpass their SEO strategies so that your website outranks theirs on the search engine results page (SERP).
An SEO competitive analysis consists of three key focus areas: keywords, backlinks, and SERP features.
Consider the gaps between your website and your competitors and determine what you need to do to outrank them. Remember, you can have direct and indirect SEO competitors: direct competitors like hospitals, health systems, or multilocation practices, or indirect competitors like local businesses that happen to rank well for your keywords.
First, identify existing keywords or phrases that are currently outranking your competitors and let them simmer as long as they continue to meet your business objectives.
Next, identify under-performing keywords or phrases (e.g., your competitors are ranking higher). Once you have a list of under-performing keywords, look at ways to improve your rankings (e.g., write additional SEO copy, compress images to improve page speed, increase keyword density, etc.).
Finally, analyze search queries that already drive traffic to your website. You might be surprised to find valuable keywords you hadn’t considered before. It’s vital to stay on top of emerging keywords that neither you nor your competitor has targeted. To help you do this more efficiently, I recommend using tools like Google Search Console, SEMRush, Raven Tools, Ahrefs, Moz, or My Site Auditor.
You need several backlinks pointing to your site from high-quality sources (i.e., respected websites in related or similar markets) and strong keyword targeting to effectively outrank your competitors.
Backlinks from authority websites not only elevate your page rank, but they’re difficult to compete with. A focused backlink strategy requires a proactive, ongoing approach, but it will increase your rankings and drive more traffic to your website.
Here are three ways to acquire high-quality backlinks:
A paid search competitive analysis identifies key competitors and their strategies, allowing you to make informed decisions about your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, rank higher on the SERP, identify new revenue opportunities, and gain increased market share.
Google recommends analyzing paid search ads once 30 to 60 days of data has accumulated. This data helps businesses better understand user trends, keyword quality, optimal bidding amounts, and campaign structure within their PPC campaigns.
PPC competitive analysis focuses on three areas:
More likely than not, your competitors are bidding on the same (or very similar) keywords. In highly competitive markets, like healthcare, your main competitors may even bid on your brand name.
People are searching for new words and phrases every day, so it's important to keep track of these trends to attract new audiences. Imagine claiming the top search position for a relevant keyword that's not even on your competitor's radar. For these reasons and more, it's crucial to identify top-performing keywords, under-performing keywords, and missed opportunities.
SpyFu and other competitor keyword research tools allow businesses to go behind the curtain on competitor paid search campaigns. While these tools aren't foolproof, they provide a breakdown of the best-performing and competitor keywords and their search volume. Hospitals and health systems can create a list of keywords to pursue and know which ones to avoid. Conducting this analysis also helps highlight relevant keywords your competitors aren't targeting.
SpyFu also shows competitor ad copy examples, allowing you to see what vocabulary they're using and create more compelling ad copy that makes your paid search ads stand out.
Analyzing whether competitor ads focus on features or outcomes enables you to differentiate your product or service. For example, if your competitors emphasize location and convenience, you might consider focusing on experience and patient outcomes. A thorough paid search competitive analysis ensures your messaging is unique, effective, and noteworthy.
Valuable and differentiated offers attract more clicks, which leads to increased revenue and market share. Are you and your competitors offering the same promotion (e.g., free health screenings or consultations)? Note where the offer appears in the ad and give your offer a different placement. For example, if your competitor always promotes free health screenings at the beginning of their headline, put yours somewhere else to differentiate yourself and stand out.
A paid search competitive analysis also provides estimated monthly spending/budgets, giving you valuable insight into how aggressively your competitors are leveraging the paid search marketplace. This knowledge is critical when it comes to developing a competitive monthly budget.
With all that said, sometimes, the most straightforward approach returns the most impactful results. Conducting live searches on Google and analyzing how often and where their competitors appear helps businesses analyze the level of opportunity, determine how to differentiate their products and services, and dominate paid search results.
Competitive insights for paid social media is essential for learning where your audience is and what resonates with them. A social media competitive analysis informs hospitals and multilocation providers on how key competitors engage with their audience. We typically conduct a social media competitive analysis before launching a new campaign or optimizing an existing one.
Social media is constantly changing, but one thing remains constant: it allows businesses to connect with and engage potential customers where they are: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, and more. Hospitals and health systems can engage their audience and grow their brand with a solid social media strategy.
Today, your key competitors are likely engaging with your target audience, so it's imperative to align your social media strategy with theirs. But it shouldn't end there. To make an impact, you need to understand what they're doing, what they're not doing, where they're doing it, and how to improve.
A social media marketing competitive analysis has three key focus areas:
There is a range of social media channels to choose from, however, it’s important to understand where you and your competitors are most active—and which channels drive the most engagement. Many healthcare organizations find their audiences favor Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you notice a competitor lacks a robust Twitter presence, consider amplifying value-based messaging on this channel to attract a fresh audience.
Are your competitors running paid ads on their social media channels? If so, it's essential to understand the types of ads they're running, the tone of their copy, the offers they're using, and the CTAs (calls to action) they're using. This will help identify whether their objective is to increase brand awareness, lead generation, conversions, etc. Knowing these objectives and seeing their paid ads offers valuable insights into your paid social strategy.
The Facebook Ads Library is a fast and efficient way to gather this knowledge, allowing healthcare organizations to pivot their strategy to attract a large, look-alike audience. This library gives you access to:
Many healthcare organizations leverage paid content to effectively and quickly grow their audience. However, it's imperative to continue building a solid foundation of organic content to support them. Non-paid content allows you to flex your creative muscle and engage your audience in more unique ways. The primary goal of organic content is to provide your audience with the value they aren't getting from your competitors.
Take time to build a deep understanding of aspirational, direct, and secondary competitors. This knowledge will help you make better, more informed decisions and ultimately improve your SERP rank, attract a larger, more engaged audience, and grow your business.
As a closing note, a healthcare industry competitive analysis for any marketing branch will undoubtedly change over time. It's imperative to conduct these analyses regularly to remain competitive and dominate in organic, paid, and local search result rankings.
Marketing a healthcare organization can be challenging - even painful if you don't approach it with the right knowledge, tools, and guidance. By reading about mistakes and lessons others have learned the hard way, you can boost your marketing effectiveness and take a shortcut to success. Discover how to avoid these "Seven Deadly Sins". Plus, join over 30,000 of your fellow healthcare providers with a free subscription to our Insight Newsletter.