By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
If you think 2012 was fiercely competitive year, savvy healthcare marketing plans might want a new Kevlar wrapper. But they definitely will need to be more aggressive about Internet marketing in 2013.
Healthcare delivery is reinventing itself, the consumer/patient new empowerment, competition has shifted dramatically, and “patient experience” is the watchword. I could go on, but suffice to say that virtually all advertisers want to realize a better Return-on-Investment (ROI).
I’m talking about hard-dollar returns on marketing and advertising. And the need is across the board. Physicians, hospitals, medical systems, dentists, and providers in every discipline cannot afford to be satisfied with mere promises of Internet “exposures,” “awareness,” “likes” or “brand value.” And to achieve your goals, your marketing plan will require a new mix that puts greater emphasis on Internet advertising. Here’s why.
The digital age has elevated Internet advertising to a position that is second only to broadcast TV in expenditures. It’s a solid trend for most businesses, and healthcare advertisers are beginning to follow suit. A primary consideration is that the Internet—including broadband and Smartphones—is mainstream in society. What’s more, the majority of prospective patients search online for healthcare information that guides their medical decision process.
Internet Marketing’s Many Forms…
As the Internet has grown—and continues to expand—the broad heading has long passed the stage where “having a website” is sufficient to reach the online audience. The term includes a range of subsets and multiple options to consider such as:
- Online Advertising: includes Pay-Per-Click (PPC), display advertising, remarketing and others;
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): is designed to capture a prominent page listing;
- Social Media: in various forms and formats such as Facebook and Twitter;
- Contextual Advertising and Geotargeting: targeting specific demographics or territories;
- Mobile Marketing: reaching users of phones and tablets with ads or messages; and
- Online Videos: which reach people via YouTube and a number of other means.
The various digital forms of Internet Marketing also provide the advertiser with a number of significant and unique advantages that other advertising methods can’t match, including:
- It’s highly trackable…often in precision and near-real-time detail;
- It’s targetable…by specific types of cases, geographic zones and demographic characteristics;
- It’s changeable…creative changes are easier and faster than television;
- It’s appropriate…for all demographic slices, especially younger and middle-age segments;
- And, it’s profitable…when done right, the ROI can out-distance other line items on your healthcare marketing plan.
The number of moving parts and the complexity in our brief description can be daunting for some providers. (It’s tempting to think how much easier it would be to simply run an ad.) But sitting on the sidelines has a zero ROI. The wiser course is to bring experienced talent to your side of the table. A do-it-yourself approach is not a sound option.
Consider, for example, that some sectors are over crowded. In dentistry, Pay-Per-Click advertising is virtually overloaded with competitors. As a result, costs have skyrocketed and profitable opportunity has sunk for that profession in many markets. Done the wrong way, nobody wins.
Done properly, however, the bewildering forest of Internet marketing can be successfully and profitably navigated. We can help with this if you like, but in any event, our solid advice is to evaluate where you are now and determine where you need to be. You will likely find the need to change your marketing mix and be more aggressive about Internet marketing…beginning now.