Patients are unique in almost every way. They have different healthcare needs, different communication preferences, and different levels of engagement. A question many healthcare marketers ask is how can we attract new patients and also increase engagement of existing patients? This list of 10 innovative healthcare marketing ideas for patient acquisition and retention is a great resource to get you started.
1. Email automation and push notifications
With a thoughtful email automation strategy, you can ensure patients stay engaged with their healthcare from the very first appointment. Start by creating a content calendar based on key dates, reminders, and milestones, such as annual exam reminders, announcements that flu shots are available, and seasonal wellness tips.
Setting up workflows can help your team personalize communications. You can even have push notifications sent directly to their phone, based on patient preferences, to customize the experience even more.
2. Create monthly or bi-monthly newsletters
Newsletters are a great way to introduce your practice to new patients because they can cover a lot of information in a bite-sized, “snackable” way. Think patient stories, practice updates, and wellness tips.
Newsletters can be formatted in print or email format. This makes it even more accessible for a wide audience: those who are all-in on the digital front, as well as patients who prefer paper communications. You can even leave some in the waiting room so patients can learn more about your team instead of flipping through magazines.
3. Social media
There are a variety of ways to reach patients on social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to name a few, with new channels popping up regularly. Create content that is appropriate for each channel to reach the widest patient population. Facebook or Instagram is a great way to share human interest stories or celebrations. You can even access Pinterest for health and wellness tips, exercises, and recipes. For featuring in-depth articles about new advances in healthcare, try LinkedIn or Twitter.
While social media plays an important role in patient acquisition and retention, it’s important to keep HIPAA top of mind. Before you schedule or post any content, do a quick check to ensure that you have any necessary approvals and that all protected health information is kept safe.
Due to COVID-19, many in-person events have gone digital, but they are still as popular as ever. In fact, one benefit of webinars and other virtual events is they are even more accessible to a greater audience. People can watch when they want, where they want and gain the insights and information they need.
Be sure to promote the event on your website and social channels. To encourage engagement ahead of time, ask attendees to send questions that can be answered during the event. After the event, use email workflows and analytics to follow-up with surveys and track engagement. It’s a smart way to “continue the conversation” after the event is completed.
5. Online patient reviews
Surveys show that patients frequently turn to online reviews when looking for healthcare providers. According to one survey,
- 74.6% of respondents had researched doctors, dentists, or medical care online, and
- 69.9% said a positive online reputation is very or extremely important in selecting a healthcare provider.
This is why it’s important to not only monitor online reviews, but respond to them. If you have a positive review, “like” it or send a quick note of thanks. If a review isn’t quite flattering, provide an office email and invite the reviewer to reach out directly. This way you can take positive action, while taking the conversation offline.
Search engine optimization or SEO is a way to optimize your website so it ranks higher in search engines’ organic results. How often have you entered a term into a search engine and then looked at only the first few results? SEO is a great way to help ensure your practice is highlighted and gets the attention it deserves.
To ensure your SEO is on point, include relevant keywords, metadata, and links on your site. Of course, content is king, so you’ll want to have fresh, relevant copy on your site. The biggest tip? Don’t stuff keywords in for the sake of having them. Instead, keep keywords in mind, but then write like you’re talking to your patients (because that’s exactly what you’re doing!).
Blogs are a great way to showcase many facets of your practice, from patient success stories to staff highlights to thought leadership. You may choose to introduce your team through a series of “Get to Know Our Staff” posts. Or, you may want to answer commonly asked health questions or questions specific to your healthcare practice. It’s a great way to position your team as trusted healthcare experts while also humanizing them.
Pro tip: Create a content calendar so you always have relevant information at the ready. You can even feature guest bloggers!
8. Video blogs
Similar to written blogs, video blogs or vlogs is a smart way to reach patients. While there is no one “perfect” blog length, start with bite-sized videos of five minutes or less or create a series of blogs. This is a good way to help your patients get health information while also getting a sense of who the providers are.
9. Patient testimonials
Influencer marketing is a newer form of social media marketing that involves persons with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items. In healthcare, influencer marketing must be compliant with all ad guidelines, HIPAA, and other healthcare-related guidelines.
Not quite ready for influencer marketing? Try patient testimonials instead! Patient testimonials are a way to share genuine experiences from real patients. Invite them to talk about their experience at your practice and what they thought of the services offered. They aren’t making a direct sell; they are simply sharing their feedback. And as many patients will note, it’s helpful to hear it directly from someone who has “been there.”
10. Google My Business
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. It’s a great way to help new patients find your clinic and learn key information, such as hours and availability. Google My Business can also be used as an effective SEO and lead generation tool.
Want to start a Google My Business account? Simply go to google.com/business and click “Manage now,” which will take you through the steps of creating an account. You’ll be reaching patients in no time.
Penrod’s final take
Patient acquisition and retention are equally important to healthcare marketers, but not every message or medium will reach every patient. That’s why it’s important to use a mix of innovative healthcare marketing ideas so you can have the best chance of reaching the most patients.