In my experience, it’s rare that someone comes up with truly impactful hospital marketing ideas during the first brainstorming session. Rather, they usually come from experimenting, failing, and tweaking like so many other things in life. It’s a shame that our industry is so conservative because it makes it challenging to create legendary growth hacks that drive hockey stick growth like the famous Airbnb and Craigslist example.
Not all hospital marketing ideas are created equal. Some take weeks to execute and do nothing for the bottom line whereas others take an hour and bring outstanding results. So how do we find the good ideas and prioritize them over the ideas that appear good but don’t have any impact?
I thought we could start out with examples of hospital marketing ideas that can lead to quick wins followed by real-world examples of marketing campaigns for inspiration and a framework for how to prioritize and decide which of the ideas to start with once you have a stack of them.
Let’s dive in.
4 hospital marketing ideas for fast growth
When we experiment with new marketing ideas for a hospital, it’s always more fun when we get those initial signs that something is working and they can be especially handy when we have to manage stakeholders that don’t understand the digital sphere well. That could be a couple of bookings right off the bat or a good chunk of leads to follow up with.
Naturally, some areas of the hospital business have more impact on the bottom line than others. Retention and cross-selling is a big one, and often bigger than the more obvious new patient acquisition. I encourage you to forecast the numbers for each idea first so you’ll get a better overview of the impact of each one on your hospital.
1. Search + retargeting on Facebook
Search ads are often the backbone of healthcare and hospital marketing, so that’s the first channel I’d consider if you aren’t already using it. The big benefits lie in that you can spend as much or little as possible since it’s a self-serve ad platform. The other advantage is that you can show up when patients search for something relevant like ‘hospital near me’.
Search channels tend to be the best place to get results quickly if you are looking to increase new patient bookings. We can target healthcare keywords that clearly show interest in booking a consultation as long as we can pay the higher cost per click because it is competitive.
I’m sharing this idea first because it’s the quickest and easiest win if you aren’t already doing it. I’m not suggesting it’s easy but it is low-hanging fruit compared to many other hospital marketing ideas.
To maximize the highly targeted traffic we are buying with search ads, we can retarget the website visitors with Facebook ads and on other platforms. One approach is to segment the campaigns up based on when the visitor last visited the website since we know that their interest will be stronger just after they looked at booking. It might for example be a high-frequency campaign for the first 3 days offering a discount and then one that backs off a bit from 3-7 days after, and then changes the topic signing up for the newsletter after that.
2. Landing page loading speed
With ads, it’s often possible to improve the performance by improving the loading speed of the landing page used in the ads (not for the entire website).
If this isn’t something you’ve looked into before, consider running a free test at tools.pingdom.com or Google page speed insights. Usually, images take up a lot of space, and resizing them with a tool like kraken.io can do wonders.
For example, DispatchHealth is running Facebook ads and sending people who click to the front page of their website.
And when we fire up the website in the tools, we’ll see that there is room for optimization, especially around the images and scripts.
Pingdom’s load speed checker:
This is from Google’s page load speed checker:
The reason I’m bringing this up is that it is quite easy to improve if you run with a popular website management system (CMS) like WordPress. We can either buy software that automates it like WP Rocket which costs like $50 a year (at the time of writing) or just optimize the images using free software as described earlier in this article since it doesn’t require anything but basic knowledge of how to add new pictures to a landing page.
3. Make your existing ads perform better with patient personas and segmentation
If you are already running ads and are looking to make them perform significantly better, map out different personas and target each one with a separate ad campaign with its own personalized messaging as described in this article about the patient journey.
4. Tap into large groups of targeted patients through partnerships
Q&A sites like Quora but with a more targeted focus on e.g. health or diseases can be a great fit for a partnership as we can tap into the hard work that the website has already done gathering the audience.
The challenge we’ll likely encounter is that many visitors still won’t be ready to book a consultation, so we might want to test both a ‘book now’ campaign and a more passive option that interests people even if they aren’t sick enough that they feel the need to see a physician right now.
It can be challenging to know which of these websites will perform well and if they even have a large visitor base within your service area. Not to mention that it can be challenging to find those websites in the first place but there’s a little trick we can use to better get an idea of whether a specific site is worth our energy.
We can buy display (not search) ads on Google and ads from Facebook’s partner network via their ad platforms by segmenting the targeting around healthcare-related topics. Not only does it help us gather a specific list of potential websites to partner with but we can also experiment with different ad campaigns to see how the website performs. If we narrow down the location for the campaigns to our service area and let it run for a week, we get a pretty good idea of whether there will be enough volume for us to pursue this if the performance is good. There’s nothing worse than building an awesome ad campaign only to realize it can’t scale because there isn’t more ad inventory to buy.
Hospital marketing ideas that became real-world campaigns
I’ve gathered real-world examples of hospital marketing campaigns for your inspiration and if you are looking for more healthcare ads examples, dive into this article. They are mostly branding oriented and if you are not at a stage where that is the biggest priority, you might be able to get ideas from Facebook’s ad library or tools like SEMrush that can show examples of ads run on Google competing brands just by entering their website.
Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital: Here kids win
Sutter Health: A Thousand Things: Elbow
Banner Health commercial “Our House”
Centura Health: Dr. John Sun
How to pick and prioritize hospital marketing ideas for maximum impact
After brainstorming ideas, we usually have too many to execute, so we need to figure out which to prioritize over others.
There are different categories of hospital marketing ideas if you are looking to grow. The obvious one is driving new patients in the door whether through ads or referrals but the one that perhaps can make the biggest impact is retention and loyalty which is often more of a product problem than a marketing challenge.
One of the bigger questions to ask yourself before executing any ideas is which one will have the most impact?
We figure that out by calculating how much it’ll grow the revenue or whichever metric is most related and relevant for each project. For example, if we chose to do ads we can use a calculator like this one to forecast the return on ad spend between different channels depending on our existing data. That will give us an idea of what kind of CAC we can expect and we can play around with the numbers to see what our desired CAC will require in terms of landing page conversion rate (CVR), clickthrough rate on the ad itself (CTR), etc.
If we use the screenshot example to understand which of the digital marketing advertising channels might be the best move forward for us, we can see that in this example search ads wins over the other channels with an estimated $8 per new patient (not included potential in-direct support labor from customer service or the creative who made the images in the ads for example).
You can use the template here and simply fill in the yellow fields with your own data (to do so, make a copy by clicking file > make a copy). Keep in mind that it isn’t a perfect calculator but will give you a reasonably good performance estimate.
There might be obvious reasons why you’d pick search ads to drive more patients compared to the other channels. We can also use the forecast to figure out if it’s even realistic to go down that path in the first place.
Here are the search ad numbers again:
We can now ask ourselves, can we really get a 5% clickthrough rate on average on our search ad? Is it realistic? The best way to tell is by looking at past data if you have any. If it’s far off and has never crossed the 1%-mark, it might be unrealistic but if it’s often at 3%, it might be possible with some creative ideas. To get a better picture, consider reaching out to experts who might know or see if you can find any detailed data on relevant blogs.
- Some healthcare marketing projects take forever to execute and see results from which can make some stakeholders impatient. We can use quick wins strategically to buy time or show initial signs of results
- It almost always makes more sense to estimate how much impact a specific project has before starting compared to jumping directly into execution
- One of the benefits of digital marketing is that everyone can see what everyone is up to and showing a competitor making a similar play to your idea can help persuade stakeholders that it might be a good idea to invest