The healthcare industry is so big it almost defies comprehension. The global health industry is forecasted to be worth over $10 trillion annually — and in the U.S. it represents around 18% of total GDP. Think about that a second: Nearly a fifth of the national GDP is represented by one industry — an industry comprised of thousands of businesses, medical practices, nonprofits, universities, and government organizations.
This makes sense, of course, as healthcare touches every single life in one way or another — sometimes in the painful and vulnerable moments. All of this means that there is likely an immense pool of potential customers for whatever you’re selling.
Even with such a diverse array of organizations, inbound marketing offers a dependable, cost-effective way to connect with customers and patients to grow your business. The key is knowing the right way to approach it.
At IMPACT, this is what we help businesses do: expand their audience, capture new leads, and grow their revenue with trust as their guiding principle. With the right inbound marketing principles and strategies, healthcare businesses can stop paying for inefficient, outdated marketing that never seems to deliver the results you’d hoped for.
Want to see how you can do inbound marketing for your healthcare-related business? Below, I’ll spell out the critical first steps your company can take to succeed with inbound marketing:
An overview of inbound marketing strategy
Getting started by answering customer questions
Real-world examples of inbound marketing done right
What your website needs to support inbound efforts
By the end, you’ll come to see that inbound offers an effective, customer-centered way to market your business and drive more revenue.
Inbound marketing for healthcare: An overview
At the most basic level, inbound marketing is really simple. It starts off with a basic premise: The internet has changed the way people buy.
Nowadays, when customers are thinking about making a purchase, they start by gathering information online. They do this with a search engine. They begin by typing in questions and looking for information.
This is where you (and inbound marketing) come in.
If you learn to do inbound properly (and follow the basics of search engine optimization), you can direct these searchers right to your company’s website.
To do this, your company must produce the content that answers these buyer questions. This could be in the form of blog articles, ebooks, FAQ pages, videos, podcasts, or more.
This content you produce will show up in search results. When a visitor clicks through, they’re brought to your site. For example, if they search “Best alternatives to braces” in Google, your article could be the one that pops up to explain what their options are, what those options will cost, and how they can determine what option would be a good fit for them.
When a company offers transparent, helpful content, these potential customers are drawn to it. After all, inbound marketing differs from traditional marketing because it avoids salesy, self-promotional content.
When site visitors find unbiased, valuable content, they begin to build a relationship with the company that published it. If they read a few articles on the same website, that healthcare company becomes a brand they recognize and trust.
Getting started with inbound marketing
To get started with inbound marketing, all you have to do is answer your buyers’ questions with written and video content.
With the right inbound strategy, healthcare businesses can drive traffic to their websites and build trust with prospects who will turn into leads and customers — without having to rely on outbound marketing.
To do so, you’ll need to develop a content strategy to guide your inbound marketing efforts.
Developing a long-term content strategy is a process of market research, keyword research, and customer insight. But you don’t need all of that to get started. You already have what you need: a clear knowledge of your healthcare company, your industry, and your customers.
To start simple, just focus your content marketing efforts on answering on the questions your customers are asking.
At IMPACT, we call this They Ask, You Answer. If your customer is asking a question, you should be willing to answer it on your website with honesty and transparency. Here’s how.
What do your customers want to know? 5 topics that drive traffic and bring in leads
So, what do your customers want to know?
When it comes to any purchase, buyers are interested in the same information. Whether they’re looking at billing software for their medical practice, equipment for their out-patient facility, or treatment for their back pain, they all want the same thing: to make sure they’re getting the right thing at the right price.
In order to feel comfortable buying something — especially if the purchase is a big one — buyers start by asking questions. In most cases, they start with a search engine.
They might start with “problem-aware” questions, not even knowing what potential solutions might be:
In order to build trust with your potential customers, you need to candidly answer their questions, even if the content can be touchy and complex.
For example, you must be willing to openly address cost on your website. You must talk about the potential drawbacks of your service or product. You need to write about your competitors.
Embracing inbound marketing and They Ask, You Answer means undergoing a mindset shift.
You must see yourselves as educators first and foremost.
You don’t need extensive research to provide the educational material your buyers want. Just start out by addressing these five topics in your website content. They’re so important, we call them The Big 5. You’ll quickly see why.
Cost: First on everyone’s mind, of course, is cost. Sure, it’s hard to say exactly how much something might cost — especially something with as many variables as products and services in the medical field — but customers want to have some idea. Addressing cost openly (and explaining what factors make that number go up and down) will give customers the information they're looking for.
Problems: When we make a purchase, we want to know what might go wrong. This is why we’re so drawn to 1-star reviews. Feeling informed about worst-case scenarios helps prepare us for whatever might be thrown in our way.
Reviews: Connected to problems are reviews, ranging from those that focus on individual products to reviews of entire companies. According to Inc., 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a review from someone they know.
Comparisons: Consumers want to put things side by side to know how they stack up. Providing these head-to-heads can help demonstrate your expertise and make your potential customers feel informed to make the best choice possible.
To get started with inbound marketing for your medical practice or healthcare business, cover these topics as they relate to your products or services. Such content will inform your buyers and build trust with them.
So, how do you address these topics in the healthcare field? Let’s look at some examples from across the industry so we can see these concepts in practice.
1. The first question on everyone’s mind: Cost
When making any major purchase, cost is on every buyer’s mind. Perhaps in no industry is that intensified the way it is in the healthcare field.
Suffice it to say, when it comes to any transaction within the vast field of healthcare, cost is hugely important, and buyers look to gather information about cost with Google. They know they won’t always be able to get exact numbers, but they’re looking for a ballpark.
Organizations that openly address cost will drive traffic to their sites and serve customers at the same time.
After all, if the range can go from a few hundred bucks to more than $10,000, consumers want to know what they should expect to pay — especially if they have no insurance or a high deductible insurance plan.
Here's a chart from the same article:
Imagine you are a potential patient looking for a CT scan. Haven’t you already started to trust New Choice Health because they were so open and honest about price? Aren’t you more likely to call them than one of their competitors?
Content like this is a huge traffic play and is typically hard to find. When companies commit to expanding their digital footprint with trust-building, educational content like this blog post, they connect with online users who could each become a new patient.
2. Openly addressing problems
No matter what’s being bought or sold, customers want to know what might go wrong. This helps assuage their anxiety and misgivings.
Writing blog posts about problems in the healthcare field can be particularly tricky, but it offers a chance to be candid with your audience. Previous IMPACT client Advanced Data Systems Corporation (or ADSC) is a healthcare automation company that’s been in business for more than 40 years.
They have become industry leaders in trust-building content that drives traffic to their website and qualified inbound sales opportunities.
What I love about this article is that he’s not out to dissuade your company from opening such a lab — just to inform you of common pitfalls that could make your venture too costly to be viable.
There’s no hard sell anywhere in the article. Just good, helpful information for website visitors who are seeking information.
3. Objective, candid reviews
Studies have shown that merely adding a review aggregate to a product listing will increase sales dramatically. As buyers, we want to know the experiences of those who came before us. We value the experience they can offer us.
This is particularly true in the medical field. Your target audience wants to know exactly what working with you will be like, whether they are prospective patients or customers.
As inbound marketers, reviews are particularly tricky. Buyers are skeptical of phony reviews and worry that reviews appearing on a company’s site might be cherry-picked. This is why neutral review aggregators like Google and Yelp are so valuable.
Still, honest discussion of products and services and patient testimonials can be highly beneficial to your audience — and social proof is always useful when it comes to patient acquisition.
Beyond building trust with buyers, review-based content can help weed out bad-fit prospects. If buyers can be sure that your product is the right fit for them, the sales process will be quicker and smoother.
Conversely, if they know they're bad fits, they will drop out, which saves you time and money — and future headaches. Though we often think that getting as many leads as possible is the goal, unqualified leads end up wasting time. They either don’t move forward in the sales process or they become unhappy customers.
With both narrative elements and user-generated reviews, this content leaves readers feeling more informed about their options.
4. Offering readers ‘Best of’ lists
Just as buyers are drawn to content about problems, they also want to see what their best options are. Searches for “Top restaurants near me” or “Best project management software” drive hordes of traffic to websites that offer such content.
This allows the company to talk about niche-industry details that help the audience feel informed to make a purchase decision.
5. Helping customers make meaningful comparisons
Whether buying medical software or roofing tiles, customers want to line up options to compare them. We’re naturally drawn to content that promises a head-to-head comparison. When buyers see various attributes compared for similar products, they get into the nitty-gritty of what puts one option ahead of another.
More importantly, comparisons allow buyers to find the best option for them. After all, each customer is different. We don’t want to make the decision for them. We just want to present the information so they can make the best decision themselves.
First, there is a clear explanation of each, then a thorough comparison that uses empirical data to describe common pain-points.
Thinking beyond The Big 5
The Big 5 is a great place to start, but there are other strategic directions you might want to explore as well:
‘What is…?’ And ‘How to…?’ type content
Very early on in the buyer’s journey, customers might start with a “How do I…” or “What is…” type search. Although these types of prospects are far away from becoming customers, you should still be answering their questions. The healthcare field is full of people asking general interest questions.
Considering some of the businesses above, questions like these could introduce their brand to a larger audience:
What is dental practice management software?
How do I bill Medicare more efficiently?
How do I service more patients?
What is project management for healthcare providers?
How do I set up my medical website?
What is _______ ? (insert specific procedure here)
Once you’ve built up a library of valuable content, you can focus on creating high-value content that can help with lead generation. Perhaps it’s a guidebook to everything you need to know about HIPAA or a checklist for improving patient data management.
Site visitors could give you their contact information to download this kind of free ebook. This way, you grow your audience and get more leads for your mailing list.
Any great content strategy must also include video
Today, an inbound marketing strategy is not complete without video. In fact, site visitors increasingly expect to see video on your site.
We recommend using video to address the same topics listed above. After all, when it comes to building trust, video is a game changer. When we see and hear a person speak, we start to feel like we know them. In turn, we begin to forge a connection through the screen.
Imagine a 90-second interview with a doctor about why she loves her specialized field. This could be a great introduction between a care provider and her ideal audience.
Savvy content marketers can use this to their advantage, employing both written and video content to connect with as many potential customers as possible.
Inbound marketing strategy: Email marketing
As you build your database, engage with your audience through email marketing. But when you do so, focus on being helpful, not salesy. Remember to think like a customer. What kind of emails do you want in your inbox?
If your emails offer helpful, educational content, you will continue to build trust and establish relationships with your audience.
Don’t succumb to fear-based content. People are already wary enough of healthcare options. So, instead of “5 reasons that mole may be cancerous!” offer a checklist or a guidebook to help people know when they need to seek expert advice.
Any email campaigns you initiate should invite your customers into a conversation by providing relevant content. Help them feel well-informed and that they’re being treated fairly.
You can use marketing automation software to send the right emails to the right prospects at the right time.
The perfect website for inbound marketing
Often, businesses hoping to get started with inbound marketing are wary that they’ll need a new website. In almost all cases, this is not true. You do not need a new website to get started with inbound marketing — you don’t even need a great website.
Even if your current website is a bit outdated, it probably has all of the necessary functionality for inbound success:
Can you publish a blog?
Can you interlink between blog articles or use a tag system to organize content?
Can you use CTAs and a landing page to capture leads?
If your website can do these three things, you’re probably good to get started.
Just remember, your website is for your customers, not for you. Focus on their problems and challenges. Speak their language.
Visitors will consider your site to be a better website than your competition’s if you have the helpful content they need.
At the same time, you want to convey professionalism and expertise on your site, so an updated website might be a good investment — it’s just not a prerequisite for getting started with inbound marketing.
Putting your inbound marketing strategy into operation
Whether you’re seeking new patients or new customers, inbound marketing is a great way to grow your web presence with helpful, user-centered content that helps your visitors become leads and customers.
Right now, your potential customers are out there typing questions into search engines. If you can provide the answer to their question, you can begin to form a relationship with them.
To do so, you need to devote the necessary time and resources to create the right content.
Embracing inbound marketing means shifting many aspects of your marketing strategy, including budget and personnel.
To do so effectively, plan on hiring a content manager who can orchestrate the entire operation — from writing content to planning content strategy, interviewing subject matter experts, building email marketing campaigns, and more.
We’ve worked with businesses in the medical field that have seen great success with inbound marketing. Any industry so dependent on trust is perfect for our They Ask, You Answer methodology.
Whatever corner of the industry you occupy, whoever you sell your products or services to, remember the central principle: Trust is the currency of all business.
If you can create content that answers customer questions, that allays their fears, that softens their concerns, you can build trust, drive traffic, and become the trusted resource in your space.
If you need help achieving your marketing goals, talk to the experts at IMPACT. We can teach you inbound marketing strategies that will fast-track your digital marketing and boost your online presence.
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