Upping promotions, studying market trends, and improving customer services—these are only some of the ways you can get ahead of the competition, whichever industry you’re in.
Although these are helpful, these are not effective in and of themselves. This is mainly due to two factors—the developments in every industry and the ever-changing landscape in marketing. These changes are driven by technological advancements and trends as well as consumer behavior.
In turn, the shift in consumer behavior is seen to have been due to the change from a fee-for-service payment scheme to one that is based on client satisfaction, quality outcomes, and transparency.
The healthcare sector, for instance, has been going through massive changes in the past years. Among its recent developments include:
- The market share for US health systems for home-based care is growing
- Telehealth is seen to be the next big thing, replacing traditional healthcare systems
- Home healthcare is driven by the need to manage the costs and readmission rates of the increasing senior population
Consumer behavior has also changed from one that abides by a traditional provider-centric arrangement to a patient-centric and retail-focused system.
Thus, if you want to develop a strategy that would get you ahead of every healthcare provider in the field, you will need to address these changes thoroughly.
To help you get started, we will look back on the recent developments in the healthcare sector, specifically:
- What drives the current consumer behavior and what this means for healthcare providers
- What avenues the healthcare sector can use to reflect the current consumer behavior
- What strategies the healthcare sector can utilize to best optimize these avenues
But first, let’s discuss the unique place of the healthcare sector in the U.S.
Understanding the Healthcare Industry in the U.S.
The healthcare industry in the United States is unlike any other. First off, it has the highest spending rate in the world—15% of the country’s total GDP. And, among the 33 developed countries in the world, it’s the only one that doesn’t offer fully implemented universal healthcare. In fact, the staggering costs of health insurance and medical bills have accounted for most of the declared personal bankruptcies in the country.
These high costs and spending point to a lack of true competition among healthcare providers. For all its worth, there is a persisting belief in the value of deflecting competition that is said to improve outcomes and lower prices. This belief comes in the form of mergers and consolidations. But by taking away active competition from the center, they limit the potential of the health sectors to create value and thrive in the long run.
On the upside, this has bred a new territory to conquer and has created an informed and empowered healthcare consumer out of the traditional healthcare patient. As such, the strategies that may have worked before will be less likely to work with the current marketing setting and consumer needs.
The Importance of Competition in the Healthcare Sector
As a provider in the healthcare industry, staying ahead of your healthcare business competitors may not be your foremost concern. After all, being ahead of the competition also means taking the biggest bag. Understandably, this moneymaking aspect of running a healthcare agency, viewed at a larger picture, can be a bit uncomfortable.
However, competition within an industry is healthy and is just as necessary in healthcare as it is in all other sectors. Competition encourages the creation of quality products and services, drives efficiency, and spurs innovations. Most importantly, it causes the costs of services and products to go down, making them accessible to more people.
Thus, by working on your competitiveness, you are also working for the good of the whole industry and making the costs of healthcare more affordable to those who need them. But that’s only when you do it right.
So how do you increase your competitiveness so you can stay ahead of the competition—and do it right to boot?
The typical answer to this would be to adapt marketing strategies. While we ourselves are on board with the idea, we believe that immediately doing so would prematurely put you in an unsustainable position. In other words, yes, you will likely be ahead of your competition, but no, you will not stay ahead.
To stay ahead, we strongly advocate examining the very industry you’re in before tackling marketing strategies. Doing so will let you know of the trends, the areas you should be looking at to improve your competitiveness, and a projection of where the next five years, at least, will take you.
As such, before delving into the strategies you can take on, we’ll be first providing you with an overview of the present patient behavior.
A Briefer on the Present Patient Behavior
Most of today’s patients turn to the Internet to search for their symptoms and their possible medical conditions, as well as their available treatment options. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an estimated 80% of American patients have turned to online medical portals and sites to search for a health-related topic online. Another 38% search for hospitals while 47% of them look for doctors and healthcare providers online.
Moreover, the statistics showing how digital marketing has positively impacted the healthcare industry are promising, such that:
- 40% of people report to taking in the healthcare information they come across on social media;
- 90% of 18 to 24-year-olds view information from social media channels as trustworthy, and;
- 19% of people surveyed have healthcare-related apps on their smartphones
Moreover, patients are generally healthier today than the patients of the past. They are also less likely to rely on a healthcare organization for information. They prefer to spend a lot of time researching online. They also look for reviews, ratings, and forums on the Internet to help them compare prices and services. All these things make them more particular about the services they receive.
What Being Ahead of Your Healthcare Business Competitors Means
There are obvious reasons as to why being ahead of the competition is advantageous to your business. First, you’re running a business so being ahead translates to having high sales. And two, this means that the strategies you’ve employed are working well.
This isn’t everything, however; by striving to stay ahead of the competition in the healthcare industry, you are not only helping your healthcare business thrive and increase in value, but you are also helping the healthcare sector to thrive as well.
This is true competition—the one that fosters growth and innovations and regulates the costs for services and products so they’re affordable.
What You Can Do to Stay Ahead of the Competition
So, how exactly do you drive your healthcare business to be competitive and stay ahead of your competitors?
It starts by looking at things from a different perspective than the one you had before. Specifically, you have to remember that:
- Risks have to be made for any prospective gain
- Proactive strategies have to be continually developed to foster growth
- Understanding how change and technological advances are at the heart of marketing
- Departing from the traditional methods and pursuing out-of-the-box thinking
In this section, we will be providing you with some of the key points, presented through questions, to help you establish a robust marketing strategy that will work for your healthcare business.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of my business? How about my competitors?
It’s a strategy that’s as old as time. By knowing your competitors, you will have an idea of who you are in the game. Start by carrying out a thorough analysis. You have to know their products, services, marketing campaigns, and their overall approach.
For instance, what is their target market? How do they position their marketing such that it reflects their target demography? Do they create their social media campaigns to match the audience on specific platforms?
The point is to find out their USP or Unique Selling Point. However, you must be careful not to get into the rabbit hole of delving deep into their marketing approach as you may subconsciously incorporate these in a way that risks plagiarism.
In fact, you must find what sets you apart from the competition and be better than them. If you find that the needs of your consumers match with the rest of those of your competitors, offer a unique way of addressing their needs, even when utilizing the same service.
What do my target consumers need and how do I target these needs?
With a framework of your competitors’ strategy in mind, it’s time to focus your attention on your consumers. Even with the latest technology and marketing trends, meeting consumers’ needs is still your best bet in staying ahead of the competition.
To understand what your consumers need, you must look out for trends, know what drives the demand behind certain services and products, and understand the consumer behavior this causes and vice versa. This entails analyzing consumer and industry data and market trends and aligning your marketing strategy to them.
Doing so will allow you to develop a strategy that is able to predict what follows a certain consumer behavior, such as shopping for products related to ostomy. This will also help you stay ahead of consumer trends. Like you, consumers like it when you can provide them with the items and services they’re looking for and then suggest more and better equivalents. This will form their perception of your brand and their expectations.
How do I get new consumers?
Having a dedicated consumer base is well and good. But you must also strive to attract more so you can grow your business. Consumers, especially online consumers, are always on the lookout for the next shiny thing. The loyal consumer base you’re built can be pretty much non-existent tomorrow. In any case, having a steady flow of consumers is always healthy for your business.
Thus, you must ensure ways to get them to come to you and try out your products and services. Fortunately, consumer behavior online is pretty much easy to predict if you’ve done your research well.
In fact, we encourage you to find your would-be patient online as the Internet is the main channel that today’s patients get their medical information first.
The trick is to make sure your brand is reaching them properly. Offering cash backs, discounts, vouchers, and other perks is also a good strategy to attract new consumers.
If you’ve tried this and it didn’t give you the results you needed, you may also try working with businesses that can lead potential consumers to you. Just make sure that their work doesn’t overlap with your niche.
What is responsive customer support and how do I build it?
Responsive customer support or simply customer responsiveness is the amount of time it takes your team to answer your customers’ queries. It helps develop new products and modify the current ones, according to the changing needs of your consumers.
This works by soothing and untangling issues and retaining present customers by building loyalty. However, more than providing friendly advice, what customers need is a quick response and value for their time regardless of the portal of communication used.
But, much like how we would want to be assisted in real life, your customers would also want to be provided with in-depth answers and feel that their concerns are valid and important. To do so, you must utilize your resources well.
This approach helps you avoid getting overwhelmed by customer traffic. As such, choose at least two communication channels to connect with your consumer base and focus only on them.
How do I improve my marketing strategy?
Your marketing strategy is perhaps the only thing that will remain flexible in your business. And with the advancements in technology, it will only remain so for a long time. Thus, regardless of the marketing strategy you employ, you must make sure that you are updating it to adapt to the changes in the industry.
As such, digital marketing satisfies the flexibility required of a marketing strategy.
The Role of Digital Marketing in Healthcare
Digital marketing is the most logical solution to both the healthcare sector’s and the consumers’ needs. The current setting points to how digital channels are preferred from traditional avenues. It’s no wonder why digital marketing is being incorporated as the preferred digital marketing strategy in the marketing campaigns by every business to reach their target market—from the food sector to the IT industry to virtually every industry in the world.
In general, the benefits of digital marketing include:
- Creating targeted outreach with multi-media content
- Engaging patients on social media
- Improving patient engagement and loyalty
Key Trends in the Healthcare Industry
Certain trends have helped establish the need for digital marketing. These include:
- The consumers being well-informed and being ‘active researchers’ which paved the way for a collaborative relationship between the consumer/patient and the doctor
- Having a different target audience for a product and/or service which calls for a more personalized marketing strategy
- The preference for digital channels over traditional marketing channels
- The definitive role of search engines
- The tremendous growth of the healthcare sector
Understanding these trends is necessary to help you develop the best possible digital marketing strategy for your business or redefine the current strategy you’re using.
Digital Marketing Strategies You Can Use to Get Ahead of the Competition
There are various strategies you can employ to engage potential customers, drive growth in your healthcare business, and, ultimately, get you ahead of your healthcare business competitors.
In general, however, a robust digital marketing plan includes:
- Conversion-Focused Website
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Online (PPC) Advertising
- Reputation Management
- Social Media Marketing
Strategy-wise, you must ensure to cover the following:
Optimizing search engines
Consumers use search engines extensively to gather information about their health—looking up symptoms and possible treatment options, finding healthcare facilities and doctors, reading reviews, ordering medical equipment, etc.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help plot this behavior and the corresponding market trends. In a lot of ways, it can be the most important factor to consider as it presents a streamlined and accurate understanding of consumer behavior.
Producing engaging video content
Videos are ideal mediums for providing information. They are especially helpful for taking complex health issues into a simple and easily digestible content. They are also useful in recycling old content as a well-produced video is likely to drive more traffic than a blog post.
Having an extensive social media engagement
Social media engagement is crucial for healthy patient engagement. It also supports physicians, improves population health outcomes, and advances the healthcare agenda through community discussions. In addition, healthcare providers who have a higher social media engagement or strong social media connections are more trusted by patients. Greater trust means a higher chance for your services to be availed.
Making highly personalized campaigns
Health is a highly personal matter so it would only make sense to build a highly personalized campaign, too. Such campaigns would resonate with your consumers and would drive potential ones to your services. Just make sure to practice sensitivity and market your message in a way that only reaches your target audience.
Placing a priority over analytics
Marketing analytics works by tracking your business’ performance, giving you real-time updates so you can make the necessary adjustments. As such, this should guide your whole campaign, from the planning to the actual implementation.
Make sure, however, that the practices you employ, such as digital tracking and data collection, follow the standards and data privacy regulations in the industry.
Updating your email marketing strategy
Email marketing is a relatively low-cost but effective way to drive growth to your healthcare business. However, it can be ineffective if not done carefully. You must make sure to prioritize mobile delivery or the way that it is opened by consumers. According to a report by IBM Watson, compared to the 25.9% of people opening healthcare industry emails at desktop computers, a staggering 47.6% of people read them through mobile devices.
In addition, opt for educational content with a strong call to action (CTA) for your emails as this is the preferred among the healthcare community.
Partner with Proweaver to Stay Ahead of Your Healthcare Business Competitors
Ready to start refining your marketing strategies? Or would you like to try a new one? Let us at Proweaver help you! You can count on our digital marketing services to get you ahead of your healthcare business competitors.
We’ll help you build the custom website you need for your business and design it according to your vision, create the high-quality content you need to up your social media game, and even handle your SEO processes to help your business rank higher and lead you to better visits.
Just like you, we believe in working together to realize our goals. So, it’s our pleasure to help you achieve yours. Our developers, designers, and content writers will work with you to realize your vision. On top of the expert assistance and excellent results we have come to be associated with, we also offer our services at a reasonable price.
We can talk for hours about what we can do for you, but we don’t want to spoil the experience. Enlist our help today and see for yourself!