When making healthcare decisions for themselves and loved ones, consumers are becoming more and more reliant on the Internet and their own social networks. Whether it’s patients and advocates going online to research symptoms and treatment options, or looking into the reputation and service offerings of a particular healthcare system, lead generation on the Internet has never been more important. To improve your lead generation efforts in the healthcare marketing industry, look no further.
This paper will show you:
- The fundamentals of Internet lead generation
- The importance of market research
- The search behaviors of health care consumers
- How to create high-value offers, effective calls to action, landing pages and form fills
- How to choose a marketing partner
- How to allocate a marketing budget that includes a digital spend
ONLINE LEAD GENERATION: THE MECHANICS
The fundamentals of digital lead generation (whether an email blast, display ad, Pay-Per-Click campaign, etc.):
- Landing Page
- Call to Action
- Form Fill
To better encourage the consumer to act, make high-value offers and couple them with effective calls to action. Once the consumer does act, your landing page must contain specific, relevant information and be brand consistent. On the landing page, a form fill must be present to fully capture the visitor’s information, transforming him or her into a lead.
Once you grasp the basic fundamentals, it becomes a matter of tailoring each effort to its targeted demographic inside the healthcare market.
TODAY’S HEALTHCARE CONSUMER
The patterns and behaviors of healthcare consumers vary greatly depending on several factors, including age, past experiences with the healthcare industry, general health and well-being, the general health and well-being of friends and family, their social network and socioeconomic status.
Consider the following general trends and statistics:
HEALTHCARE CONSUMERS ACTIVELY SEEK INFORMATION
- 57% of baby boomers searched for health and wellness information according to a 2010 study
- 72% of e-patients search for medical information before or after a doctor’s visit
- Prior personal experiences and the hospital’s reputation are among the top considerations among boomers, Gen X-ers and millennial healthcare consumers
EVERY CONSUMER IS IMPACTED BY THE U.S. HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
- Nearly 80% of consumers report having a primary care provider
- 75% sought medical care from a doctor in the past 12 months
CONSUMERS CRAVE ONLINE RESOURCES
- 14% reported using social media to learn about prescription medications and to discuss side effects
- 26% of consumers report being strongly interested in using a mobile (smartphone/ tablet) application to remind them to take medication
Once you know your audience, you can begin tailoring your efforts to meet their specific needs through high-value offers and optimized landing pages and form fills. Pointed market research is required, but chances are—you already possess enough information on hand to create targeted profiles of your core healthcare consumers.
CREATE HIGH-VALUE OFFERS
Organizations across the medical vertical—from hospitals to device makers and pharma—have long been moving toward increased transparency.
As healthcare marketing companies continue to become more transparent about what they offer and what it costs, consumers in turn will become better educated and more informed “shoppers.” Healthcare providers and medical companies must cater to this better-informed and educated consumer by extending them “high-value” offers.
The most valuable offers:
- E-books and guides on healthcare-specific topics
- Research & reports
- White papers
- Multimedia content (such as mobile applications, videos, interactive content)
- Blog posts
Whatever offer you decide to employ—the key is making sure it’s of high value to your particular audience. If your business operates in the senior-care industry, for example, offering a white paper on the health benefits of extreme sports will probably not resonate. However, a guide to modifying homes for the elderly would be fitting.
CALL TO ACTION
The call to action (CTA) works in conjunction with your offer. You are literally asking the visitor to do something—to call your office and schedule an appointment, to download a guide describing a particular healthcare concern, to install your mobile app, etc. The CTA must be noticeable and concisely worded.
Best practices include:
- Placing the CTA where the eye can see it quickly—typically, this means above-the-fold on your website
- Use contrast to make your CTAs stand out
- Link the CTA directly to a dedicated landing page
The call to action must be tailored around your marketing goals and objectives. A simple “Make an Appointment” can be effective when looking to generate new patients, while “Learn More [about specific disease]” may help warm potential leads looking for specific treatment options.
LANDING PAGES AND THE FORM FILL
Inbound marketing vendor HubSpot reports that companies typically see a 55% increase in leads by increasing landing pages from 10 to 15—therefore, more landing pages generally means more leads.
But what should your landing page consist of? Generally, landing pages that are effective consist of:
- A headline that corresponds to the call to action
- A brief description of the offer that emphasizes the offer’s benefits
- At least one supporting image
- A form fill to capture information
The goal of the landing page is to keep your visitor on that page to complete the action, so be sure to remove distractions such as the main navigation, outside links and unnecessary information.
A little science goes into the proper form, as well. Forms need to be tailored to your demographic. Length is key—forms that ask for too much information will cause fatigue and resistance or information that could be construed as irrelevant, personal or unnecessary will breed mistrust and leads will be lost.
Given the sensitive nature of healthcare marketing, being mindful of your demographic’s legitimate privacy concerns can improve the effectiveness of your landing pages. Include certain security badges to reduce your visitor’s anxiety about providing you with information.
A/B TESTING: A NOTE
Lead generation is not an exact science. The offer, the call to action, the design of the landing page, the length of the form fill—each nuanced individual element of your lead generation campaign will factor into your campaign’s overall ability to win you new customers.
To improve efficiency, “A/B test” your campaign. This is done by running the same offer on two differing templates for a limited amount of time. Measure your results and make improvements. Choose to use the most effective landing page design and copy or create new elements based on what worked in the tests—just remember to keep testing the market, with an eye for any area of improvement.
CHOOSING A MARKETING PARTNER
An agency’s culture, talent base and its vertical experience are all critical components to developing a meaningful partnership. Agencies with proven records of success in the healthcare industry are in an excellent position to help healthcare businesses because they’ve been there before—they know what works and what doesn’t.
But it’s not always easy to find the right fit. So, below is a best practice guideline for finding the right agency. It was put together by a team composed of experts from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4As):
- Identify a long list of agencies (five to seven candidates)
- Send the agencies requests for information
- Develop a short list of your top three candidates and send the shortlist agencies a request for proposal
- Develop and review the finalists
- Select an agency
The ideal timeframe for an agency search takes approximately 3 months. It’s a significant undertaking, but it’s also a strategic investment—a bad choice may, at best, waste marketing dollars and time, or could, at worst, undermine the business itself.
When conducting an agency search, spend time internally to develop the selection team. Set the proper expectations early and spend at least a week taking a hard look at the initial long list.
At the forefront of any decision, ask yourself: Will the agency and my healthcare business “mesh”? Does the agency share similar values and missions as my organization? Does the agency appreciate the sensitive nature of medical decision-making and the importance consumers place on healthcare privacy?
Successful partnerships take commitment, trust and communication—if an agency under consideration falters with any of those three key elements, walk away.
ALLOCATING HEALTHCARE MARKETING DOLLARS
Just as important as finding the right marketing partner is determining how to allocate your marketing dollars. This is sometimes trickier than it sounds— especially with the ever-increasing importance of digital marketing. That’s because several misconceptions hamper the planning a marketing budget.
One myth about digital advertising is that it’s cheaper than traditional media. Individual units of digital media may be cheaper than traditional media—video production for a digital property, for example, is much cheaper than the same would be for a television commercial (which would require production costs in addition to costs associated with a particular time slot and length)—but digital advertising, in general, requires more time and effort, as well as maintenance, specialized knowledge and expertise.
According to the 4As, digital marketing requires “significantly more human capital… to service the proliferation of digital channels…relative to the dollars of media spending associated with the output.” Despite the greater cost, digital marketing promises much greater returns than traditional advertising. “The promise of digital is that the additional cost of targeted marketing efforts can deliver greater value and more meaningful engagement with consumers.” It’s important for marketers to set aside enough budget to capitalize on the digital opportunities.
Technology research company Gartner, Inc. estimates that the average business spent 12% of company revenue on marketing activities last year.8 On average, almost a quarter of that marketing budget was allocated to digital marketing services.8 Recent research from eMarketer forecasts the U.S. healthcare and pharmaceutical industry will spend approximately $1.47B in paid digital media in 2017.
This estimate from Gartner provides a skeleton for allocating marketing dollars and determining a marketing budget using the following formula:
Company Revenue (Gross Profit) x 12% = Marketing Budget
Keep in mind that 12% is an average budget and is used here simply as a benchmark. Once the overall marketing budget is set, the business can allocate the marketing dollars for certain expenditures. It’s a good practice to allocate dollars between traditional marketing efforts and digital efforts within the overall marketing budget, staying abreast of industry trends. Marketers spent 9% of their budget on websites, which was the top category of spending of the 14 spend categories surveyed by AdAge. Digital E-Commerce came in second with 8% of marketing budgets being spent here, and digital advertising came in as the third highest spend category for businesses. Digital marketing is expected to continue to grow in budget percentages as 65% of marketers surveyed said they had plans of increasing their spend in this category. Ad Age predicts that by 2019 digital advertising will represent 36% of all ad spending. The following formulas can be used to determine your marketing budget’s base for traditional services vs. digital services:
Marketing Budget x 36% = Digital Marketing Spend
Marketing Budget x 64% = Traditional Media Spend
Note that in an increasingly integrated marketing field, some marketing dollars earmarked for traditional advertising may overlap with the digital spend. This is especially true in the healthcare industry, where—for instance—78% of baby boomers report searching digitally for information after having seen something on television, according to a recent report from Google/Nielson.
Marketing is increasingly crossing lines between traditional and digital efforts, so it’s important to be fluid and flexible.
As more healthcare consumers continue to turn to the Internet for information, healthcare companies remain poised to capitalize on their market with effective lead generation campaigns. Using high-value offers and enticing calls to action that take consumers to dedicated landing pages is only half the battle, however—business should also consider partnering with an agency with proven success in the healthcare industry and allocating the right amount of budget to ensure their marketing efforts are as effective as they can be.