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Healthcare Marketing: Features And Difficulties

  • 24 min

Medicine in the associative series is not very close to marketing, but in fact it also needs it. Private clinics, laboratories, and those involved in medical products also promote their services to increase profits. 

Let’s find out why medicine is a very difficult niche for marketing, and what are the directions, strategies, and main promotion tools.


Why does medicine need marketing?

The goals of medical marketing are no different from other niches: to attract a new audience, to work with customer loyalty (in this case, patients), to increase brand awareness and competitiveness. But there are some nuances, so let’s analyze each goal in more detail. 

Attracting a new audience. Here the most difficult thing is to launch a new name on the market. People are usually not ready to trust unfamiliar brands when it comes to medicine, and this is a big difference from FMCG. Patients are likely to be afraid to come to the doctors in an unfamiliar clinic, or start taking unknown medications. The role of marketing at this stage is to create a holistic image of the clinic or drug manufacturer: tell them about the expertise, introduce them to doctors, show them certificates, diplomas, and other evidence of professionalism. In general, in the patient’s language, explain why this place can really be trusted. 

Increase patient loyalty. In medicine, relationships with clients are almost always long-term. In the clinic, the first visit is most often an initial examination, tests, and a therapist. But the real income comes from repeated visits and treatment: procedures, operations, rehabilitation, regular monitoring and recommendations. It’s the same with medications. Trust after the first test —> course acceptance —> good sales and recommendations.

Marketing interacts with the patient at all stages, starting with the first visit, ending with feedback and reasons to return. Of course, almost everything depends on the quality of services — it must be consistently high, otherwise marketing will not save the situation in the long run. 

Working with brand awareness. Once the work is established in one branch of a clinic or laboratory, the next step is scaling. Just like for drug manufacturers — the more customers see a brand name on the shelves of pharmacies, the more they will trust the brand. Here, the meaning of marketing is close to increasing the loyalty of patients or customers — the greater the trust, the more people will talk about the clinic, advise the laboratory, or choose a familiar one among other trade names. 

Competitiveness. In medicine, both competition and the cost of services are high. It is difficult or impossible to reduce the price, arrange discounts or promotions, and even if you do this, the prices for medical services are much higher than in other everyday areas of life.

Features of marketing medical services

The first and most important feature is the psychological factor. Health is a very vulnerable topic that people are not always ready to talk about, and where emotions and comfort are extremely important. It can be scary to go to doctors by default, regardless of the trust of a particular clinic, and the task of marketing is to tell the patient why they can safely trust these doctors or drugs. To do this, you can talk about specific people and their experience, or about the rules of the clinic. In the case of drug promotion, you can talk about research, proven results, and interesting facts for customers. For example, why the multivitamin complex includes these vitamins in these dosages, and how it affects the body. 

Another feature of medical marketing is legal regulation and moderation on the Internet. Any figures must be documented, or they must be removed. For example, promises of 100% recovery cannot be proven, and such information is not allowed in advertising. If, for example, a clinic advertisement says that 1,000 people a year are treated for chronic gastritis thanks to their doctors, the figures will have to be documented. 

There are restrictions for targeted advertising — you can’t collect data about user illnesses. You can gather common interests in the topic of health, visiting clinics and laboratories, studying the composition of medicines. Or use segments from mobile operators, maps, or other providers that show which users, for example, visited private clinics over the past year. 

Contextual advertising works better: you can choose semantics based on relevant queries. Collect what names of diseases were in the search, symptoms, doctor positions, specific pills, etc.

Another pain of medical marketing is the complex chain of touches. As a rule, when a person has something sick, he immediately goes to Google it (and reads terrible predictions of the worst consequences). At this stage, organic promotion can help, since the person reads articles on the desired topic. Further, convinced that it is better to deal with medical help, the client makes an appointment. Then the path of touches can be the most ornate, for example, cancel an appointment with this doctor, but then remember about the clinic and make an appointment with another one, or immediately become a regular patient. In the case of drug promotion, the final touch is a purchase.


How to promote different areas of medicine

1. Advertising for the B2B medical segment

The B2B segment in medicine is the sale of equipment and special clothing for medical professionals. In the case of equipment, quality standards will be the most important thing to promote, but in the form of aesthetics and convenience, they are important. In our opinion, SEO promotion works best here. 

2. Medical services

We are talking about the entire treatment cycle, and SEO-promotion, PPC, SERM, Paid Societies, PR are suitable here.It will be useful to install counters on the site, set up final and intermediate goals, and end-to-end analytics (call tracking + CRM). It is important to separate online and offline conversions: if a person signed up but didn’t show up, the final goal was not completed. 

3. Pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies

This industry is closest to e-commerce. The task of marketing here is to explain to customers what symptoms and how drugs help, and, of course, to be placed on the maximum number of sites. 

4. Personal brand

A brand can be either the name of a clinic or network, or the last name of a particular specialist. In the case of clinics, it is important to talk about the equipment and competence of specialists; in the case of a doctor’s personal brand, it is important to show expertise, tell about the author’s treatment methods, and introduce the reader to the specialist.


What marketing strategies are suitable for promoting medical services

We will list the main marketing strategies that are suitable for promoting medical services, and with a short list we will reveal what the main process consists of in each case. 

Main focus on customer service

  • Good UX design: clear navigation on the site or in the app, a convenient shopping system if we are talking about a pharmacy, or a convenient calendar for making appointments with doctors at the clinic.
  • The desire to really help the patient, and not just increase the receipt;
  • Working with reviews.

Main focus on expertise

  • Promotion of expert content: articles, webinars, lectures.
  • Actively maintain social networks to communicate with your audience, know what topics are relevant to cover, and increase brand confidence.

Main focus on your personal brand

  • Personal blogs of specialists, or notes and articles in the form of a blog on a corporate website.

Main focus on lead generation

  • Generate requests using contextual advertising, SEO, targeting, and other tools. It is only suitable for a short transaction cycle, when the final conversion is a one-time purchase.

You don’t have to choose one promotion strategy. You can combine several strategies based on your business’s capabilities and resources.

Tools for promoting medical services


1. Contextual advertising

Usually, people don’t immediately call the clinic, but first Google the symptoms, read articles, and take a closer look at the clinics. The task of marketing is to catch a customer at one of the stages, for example, to show an ad at the moment when they are reading about their symptoms on the forum. Both clinics and pharmacies need a mark on the map: this way, users who live nearby will be able to find out about the location. 

2. SEO optimization

Working with SEO helps to raise the site in the search results for important queries at different stages before applying to the clinic (when symptoms have just appeared or when the patient already chooses a clinic). SEO of medical sites has many nuances due to search engine algorithms – it is important to meet the requirements of expertise and trust for users and search engines.

3. SMM

The presence of a clinic or other medical institution in social networks is an additional factor of user trust. For example, the user visited the site and studied the services, but then it is important for them to learn more details about the clinic, collect information and reviews. Social networks allow you to show your good side, confirm the expertise and bring the client to the conversion, remove fears and objections.

4. Cards

When a person chooses a doctor or clinic, proximity to home can play a crucial role, if, for example, you just need to take tests and show the results to a specialist. If the task is more complex, and, for example, you need to treat a chronic disease, most likely they will search for a specialist, and choose according to a variety of factors. In any case, the mark on the maps is important so that those who live nearby will know about you. 

5. Content marketing

Working with content in medicine is a long-term job. You can cover important issues in your blog, describe which doctors patients usually go to with such symptoms, talk about treatment strategies, and introduce them to the clinic’s doctors. Or, in the case of pharmacies, talk about medications. Gradually, patients will develop confidence in the brand’s expertise, and the likelihood of applying to this clinic or buying medicines through this pharmacy will increase. However, it is important to evaluate whether there is a resource for creating content: in order to maintain relevance and write useful materials for readers, you will most likely need a full-time or outsourced editorial office. 

6. Aggregators

Some users do not search for specialists or clinics in search engines, but go directly to aggregators. There you can find the result more precisely for your request, and specialists are more trustworthy, since their documents have been checked. It is important to work with reviews and keep your cards up-to-date on aggregators: this is the first thing that catches the user’s eye. 

Thank you for reading this article, and if you still have any questions, or you want to entrust the promotion of medical services to us-write to us, and we will definitely help 😎

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