Digital marketing is becoming an increasingly popular means of reaching current and potential patients. In 2018, U.S.-based health care providers spent $3 billion on digital ads, a 13% increase over the previous year, according to eMarketer. There are very good reasons for that hefty investment. According to Google data, more than 80% of health care consumers perform an online search before making an appointment. What’s more, 1 in every 20 Google searches is health related. That represents an immense potential for health care marketers to reach potential new patients.  

While there certainly is still room for traditional advertising methods such as billboards, radio, TV, and print, digital marketing presents several advantages. It allows messages to be hyper-targeted to specific demographic groups, people who live in specific areas, or even those with insurance. Digital messaging can also be changed on a dime, making it possible to quickly respond when certain health conditions, infectious diseases, or medications are in the news. Just think of all the times celebrities have announced a diagnosis – Magic Johnson with HIV, Michael J. Fox with Parkinson’s, or Selma Blair with multiple sclerosis, to name just a few. The ability to nearly instantaneously share content related to these common and confusing diseases was inconceivable just a few short years ago.   

Other components of digital include search engine marketing (SEM) and display advertising, which ensure that people searching for information on a specific health condition, procedure, or service see an ad or listing for a relevant local provider. Another successful element is direct email, which gives a health care marketer the ability to target a prepaid list of recipients with educational content, ultimately motivating them to visit the provider’s website.  

At Chartwell, we’ve worked with many health care clients to develop highly successful proactive digital marketing campaigns. For Baton Rouge Cardiology Center, we designed a digital campaign utilizing SEM, digital display advertising, social media advertising and direct email. In just a six-month period, the campaign produced more than 12,000 visits to the center’s new website (which we also designed). At least 243 appointments, 80 of which involved new patients, could be linked to the SEM campaign alone.  

For another local specialty facility, we devised a digital advertising campaign targeting an equal number of men and women between the ages of 25 and 60 in the Northern Illinois region. The campaign included SEM using relevant keywords, social media advertising through Facebook, and digital display advertising, including geofencing. In just five months, the campaign attracted 96 new patients to the practice, seven of whom required surgery and welcomed back 39 former patients, six of whom required surgery.  Discover the opportunities to better communicate to current patients and attract new ones through digital marketing this year.