You’re a savvy marketer—savvy enough that you probably turn off your brain whenever you hear the word “engagement.” After all, what is engagement other than another painful buzzword?
But here’s where things get tricky—“engagement” isn’t necessarily meaningless, but it also isn’t a cure-all panacea for your marketing woes. It does not have intrinsic value. It is not a metric, nor is it an easy way to build loyalty. It is not an end in and of itself, but it IS a valuable means to an end—and it is especially valuable if your end-goal is to raise awareness for very specific healthcare services. Because while your consumer might not need your brand-spanking new IMRT technology today, they might need it a few months or even years from now—and you definitely want to be top-of-mind when that need arises.
An engaged audience is a profitable audience.
Think about needs that are large investments, like automobiles. While you might not need a car in the near future, automotive brands are constantly fighting to make sure that you think of their respective companies when you do need a vehicle. In particular, they want to keep you in the family; if you drive a Ford now, they want to make sure you continue to drive a Ford in the future. They go to vast lengths in this struggle for mindshare, encouraging the consumer to participate with their brand as much and as often as possible. Healthcare marketing is no different.
In healthcare, having a relevant brand means engaging consumers today for solutions they may need tomorrow.
Keeping your audience interested is one of the bigger challenges in healthcare marketing, because no one wants to really talk about the subject. Who actually likes to think about possibly catastrophic events like heart attacks, strokes and cancer? On the other hand, some of the most successful websites cater to our inner-hypochondriacs; for example, Web MD has built a mini-empire around allowing users to at least feel as if they are taking an active role in their own health diagnosis and care. This is key.
Let’s think about one of the bigger health systems, like Mayo. Part of their success stems from their constant efforts to engage, educate and empower the audience. From various live events to their immensely informative website, they’ve gone out of their way to ensure that their brand pops to mind for the most intractable medical conditions. It is no small coincidence that the Mayo site ranks among the top Google search listings when potential users search for specific conditions, like “skin cancer.”
To ensure the long-term success of your service lines, you have to take the lead and actively promote them now through audience engagement. Keep your brand relevant in the minds of your consumers for their future healthcare needs. While some amount of effort is required, and the results are not immediate, the returns can be long lasting and immensely rewarding. By simply using calls-to-action whenever possible in your campaigns and websites, you can help keep various service lines on top.
Here is a list—by no means comprehensive—of calls-to-action that work when marketing healthcare:
- Downloadable questions to ask your physician about a specific condition
- Microsites for more in-depth interaction among consumers and your services
- Email campaign with links to wellness information, classes and events
- Ask the Expert monthly web chat led by physicians
- Interactive kiosks in hospital lobbies and common waiting areas
- Men’s health promotional events at local hardware stores
- “Afternoon Tea” women’s events
- Heart healthy shopping menus at local grocery stores and restaurants
- Sign ups for Facebook “fan” exclusive promotions
- Twitter/tweet announcements from live events
- Sign ups to hospital Twitter accounts get entry into raffles
- New resident gifts for completing surveys or calling to get a new physician
- Find a new physician promotions with a call center or website payoff
- Use Flickr and other photo sharing sites for cutest baby contests
- Baby fairs and other community events
- Meet the physicians night at housing community clubhouses
- Clinics for sports medicine promotions (proper stretching, nutrition and rest)
Engagement is not a solution, but it is a very useful tool. Make sure you use it properly.
What calls-to-action do you use for your healthcare brand? Which has been most impactful? We’d love to hear from you.