Managing the Gaps in Health Care Digital Marketing

Anne Moss Rogers
Marketing Health Services
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Key Takeaways
  • ​As health care marketers get busier and busier, inevitable gaps start to appear within an organization's digital marketing efforts.

  • To make sure a print campaign is successcful, markters need to anchor their offer with an easy follow-through, such as a registration button.

  • Balance your organization's news-worthy content with posts and articles that are more consumer-oriented.

​Use a streamlined digital strategy to boost your organization’s engagement efforts


With the evolution and integration of new media, maintaining message consistency across all media has become increasingly more labor intensive. Health care marketers, who are undeniably busy, are being stretched even thinner, and fatal deficiencies are beginning to appear in their digital marketing efforts. Here are the key gaps as I see them:

• Marketing sales funnel breakdown;

• Lack of digital content; 

• One-way social media street; and

• Messages that are not benefit oriented.

Targeting Your Audience

While print media, from advertisements to posters, cannot actively engage people, it can jumpstart the process and drive traffic to Web properties. And by far the biggest error I see with most print campaigns is no follow through on the website to capture visitors sent to your site from an ad. The target market answers the call to action by going to a website, only to find nothing about what was advertised.

If you want the campaign to be successful, you have to anchor your offer, request or promise with an easy way to follow through. Then, add something to the landing page in order to facilitate completion of the action, such as a registration button. 

Let’s say you are having a knee surgery seminar. One way to lead consumers from the print ad to specific Web pages would be to buy a special URL for your facility and redirect that to the specific page you want your audience to visit. To safeguard the process, you’d also want to do a blog post on your site with that URL to capture those who will simply Google the Web address in the search bar. You should go one step further and run a pay-per-click ad with that URL so it shows up when the consumer tries to find it. You want to make this hit-them-over-the-head easy. 

For the form, gather only the information you need. And make sure the button at the bottom of the form says “register for the event” or something other than “submit.” (If you are using a third-party system, you might not have a choice.) 

The key is to understand all the different behaviors the consumers can take to reach the destination. Will they fill in the address bar? Put the URL in the Google search field? 

Once you have planned the sales funnel, write it down or diagram it out, so you know it’s water-tight. Then have your webmaster implement the changes, and finally, have your staff test it.

Is the button going to the right page? Does the form work on a tablet or smartphone? Did the Google search using words or URL from the ad trigger the pay-per-click ad? 

Once you bring it all together, you can capture that traffic so people will register for the event. A follow up process to get “bums in seats” would also improve your attendance rates. By making the funnel process as smooth as possible, you get a better return on your advertising investment. 

Engagement is Key

Social media and content marketing are perhaps the biggest time wasters for marketers; most simply do not have the time or staff for a strategic engagement process. However, if you don’t take time for sharing and engagement, your messages will never get any traction or attention, and you’ll start to look selfish and self-absorbed as an organization. That’s hardly the persona you want to portray online. You also won’t know what’s being said about you, good or bad. Progressive and successful companies are monitoring social media for what’s being said and looking for opportunities. 

It’s important to have a strategy to cultivate followers and get on the radar of top influencers, which is what happens in social media. Sharing other content and showing support of worthy local causes and events are just two ways to show a health care facility’s commitment to the community and garner praise and shares. It also says “patient focused” without literally having to say so. 

What Can You Do for the Consumer?

Too many health care ads, headlines, videos and other content focus on the facility. They are not, in other words, consumer-focused messages. I know that information on some things need to be out there—your facility’s latest award, for example—but be sure they don’t constitute more than one out of every five pieces of content you have in circulation online or offline. Less is more, if you can get away with it. 

Balance your content, videos and blog posts by starting with a message that will capture consumer attention. Talk about what they care about and get your point across in a less “salesy” or self-focused fashion. 

Reaching Goals with Content Marketing

An organization with consistent messaging looks more together and up-to-date than one with no strategy. The trick is to be consistent, not exactly the same. 

You might put a poll on Facebook about a health issue but simply ask a rhetorical question on Twitter about the same subject. It’s also important to pare down the social media platforms to those that best reach your target audience. It’s better to do two to three media platforms really well instead of six haphazardly. Focus on one at a time, and get one started so you can figure out how to monitor the chatter.

The challenge is the workload. It’s common for people to start posting and engaging immediately but then slow down when things get busy. When that happens, your organization drops off the radar. 

So here’s where you make a case for hiring a content marketing manager. It’s not all about print campaigns and a website anymore. Most organizations, regardless of size, need someone in charge of managing content, starting with strategy, and they need to include a content and social media policy on how to address positive and negative social media messages. It puts someone in charge of monitoring the social signals and compiling that valuable feedback, as well as executing a strategy and providing results data to show what’s working and what isn’t. This is valuable feedback and information that can help your organization succeed in its growth. 

Consumers are holding organizations more accountable these days, and it’s imperative to learn to address these issues online in a way that meets some set of social media policy guidelines you have developed internally. With a dedicated content marketing manager, you can be assured of having and following a solid strategy for engaging potential new patients and consumers. 

Let’s face it, the new marketing is challenging—particularly for a highly regulated industry with a lot of government involvement. You can manage the gaps by tackling one aspect of your digital platform at a time while keeping your brand message top of mind, just like you do with traditional media, or you can risk letting your digital marketing efforts flatline. ​

​This article was originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Marketing Health Services.​​​​

Author Bio:

Anne Moss Rogers
Anne Moss Rogers, a former copywriter with 14 years of health care marketing experience, is cofounder and creative director of Impression Marketing. You can find Anne Moss @ImpressionM on twitter and
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