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Adjusting Your Healthcare Practice’s Marketing Strategy in the COVID-19 Era

by | 04/08/20 | Inbound

COVID-19 has caused a rippling effect among almost every industry in some way, particularly for healthcare organizations. To best accommodate patients, your practice has probably undergone quite a few changes which should include digital marketing and communication. How will your organization pivot from its current marketing strategy to effectively reach your short term goals and audience during COVID-19?

Here are our recommendations for optimizing your healthcare organization’s marketing strategy during COVID-19.

1. Evaluate Current Marketing Campaigns

Before strategizing on how to adjust your marketing initiatives during COVID-19, it’s important to first evaluate your existing marketing campaigns. During this sensitive time, it’s vital that your messaging remains helpful and focused, rather than self-promotional. For an industry that builds itself on positive reputations, trust and credibility, the last thing your practice wants to do is turn a blind eye to the pandemic.

We recommend you review your content calendar to make sure your practice is not promoting any irrelevant or insensitive topics. This may depend on where you’re located or could change from day to day given the fluctuation in daily pandemic events.

For example, if your practice is in an area that has suspended elective surgeries, you may want to comb through content on these topics and replace them with something more relevant, or at the very least, alert website visitors to the change in processes given the current health crisis.  Or if your marketing campaigns focus on new patient acquisition, these efforts may need to be redirected given that preventative care visits may not be available at this time, with residents being asked to stay-at-home.

The Key Takeaway: Evaluate your messaging to ensure it reflects your service offerings during COVID-19.

2. Introduce TeleMedicine Services

Besides addressing the obvious safety concerns of your staff and patients, TeleMedicine appointments keep your practice active and your patients cared for during a time of restrictive office visits.  Once you decide to add TeleMedicine appointments to your service offerings, redirecting or adding messaging to promote the availability will help to meet the needs of your patients. A few ways to promote TeleMedicine services include:

  • Creating a prominent website banner or popup announcements;
  • Emailing current and prospective patients;
  • Promoting on social media; and
  • Adding information to your website’s landing pages and contact page.

The Key Takeaway: TeleMedicine appointments address the immediate health concerns of patients while keeping your practice operating in accordance with CDC recommendations. Be sure you are communicating via your website and other digital channels.

3. Website Updates

Your community is searching for comfort, expertise and accredited resources during this time and will look to you for guidance. How is your practice responding to COVID-19? As a medical practice, it’s important to release the most up-to-date, relevant resources on your website.

A few tactics for updating your healthcare organization’s website during COVID-19 include:

  • Create a Resources Page: Patients and prospective patients will appreciate having a list of local and national resources they can rely on for information. Creating or updating a Resources page on your website will help support your community and show your willingness to support them.
    Helpful Resource Page Example for Your Healthcare Practice During COVID-19

    Example of a helpful Resource Page for your Healthcare Practice during COVID-19

  • Update Office Hours: If you’re a healthcare organization that has recently adjusted your hours due to COVID-19, make sure your website and local listings reflect that. Remember to update your new office hours on all channels, including Google My Business, Yelp!, your website and any other local listings.
  • Add a Pop-Up with Practice Information: Depending on your practice’s specialty or location, you may or may not be able to see patients amid COVID-19. If so, adding a small, non-intrusive pop-up or banner to your website can effectively communicate these new practice updates.
    How to communicate with patients during COVID-19

    Example of how to communicate new practice information via a website pop-up

  • Update Landing Pages: Has COVID-19 changed any existing or prospective patient appointments at your practice? Are there any new processes or procedures your patients should know about? Make sure they are aware of these changes by updating your landing pages where relevant. 

Address potential concerns on your website in a friendly, non-alarming manner. Updating your website with the latest practice information will also lessen the load for your front desk staff, as many new and existing patients may have questions during this time. 

Key Takeaway: Let the public know about real-time updates and information regarding COVID-19 via your website.

4. Email Communication

We are living in unprecedented times where COVID-19 related news and updates are occurring rapidly; new updates can be occurring by the day or even by the hour. One of the best ways to stay connected to your patients is through email, as your patient lists can be segmented and targeted so you’re reaching the right audience with the right message.

Aside from practice updates, you can also share helpful information from reputable sources on how to stay safe during COVID-19. Note, that sharing general practice information is a best practice, but be sure to be mindful of sharing any personal health information so you are not breaking any HIPAA laws. You can share original content or trustworthy curated content. This will show your patients that you’re here for them while keeping your practice top of mind.

The Key Takeaway: Keep your communication lines open and engage your audience via email with important practice and COVID-19 updates.

5. Social Media

What value can you bring to your audience during the COVID-19 era? Robert Cardarelli, SVP at IPSOS Marketing Management Analytics, urges businesses to take advantage of shifts in media engagement and viewership as consumers are at home.

Cardarelli states, “During challenging and disruptive periods, we’ve seen significant shifts in viewership across programming and devices. In today’s environment, we are already seeing significant shifts from mobile viewership to TV and Desktop as consumers are staying and working at home.”

People are searching for information that is relevant to them during COVID-19. Here is an example of a social post that performed especially well for a healthcare provider, receiving 229 visits to the website and counting. During this timeframe, social visits to their website increased 294% month over month.

Healthcare marketing during COVID-19

Social media post during COVID-19 from an OBGYN

To effectively reach your audience, it’s crucial to be agile and adjust your messaging where needed. With social media becoming the front lines for information regarding COVID-19, sharing updates through your social channels is critical. Be sure you are only linking to the most credible and up to date sources like the CDC.

The Key Takeaway: More people are using social media to receive COVID-19 updates. Catch your audience on the channels they utilize the most.

6. Organic Search

It’s critical to remain agile when it comes to your inbound marketing strategy. During COVID-19, it may be appropriate to spend less of your budget on traditional marketing and more of your budget on optimizing and generating website content that is helpful to your visitors.  You will be rewarded by both visitors and search engine bots. Improving your website content is a long-term investment and can benefit your practice for months to come.

In healthcare, there is an abundance of content to cover on COVID-19. For example, if you’re an OB-GYN, you can generate content that is specific to women, including how COVID-19 can affect their pregnancy, newborn baby and family. In addition, with more people under a stay-at-home order, internet usage in the U.S. has steadily increased between 10-20% since early February. This may be the right time to get in front of your audience’s eyes and address any healthcare-related topics they have.

Key Takeaway: If your marketing budget has shifted, consider investing in organic search in the form of relevant content creation, as it will pay off in the short and long-run.

7. Video Marketing 

While some of your typical marketing plans have taken a backseat, there might be other new tactics that you can employ during this time, including video marketing. Communicating through video keeps you connected to your patients on a more personal level and is becoming increasingly more popular. In fact, HubSpot states that video is the number one form of media used in content marketing strategies, overtaking blogs and infographics.

There are many ways your healthcare organization can use video marketing to engage and inform patients. For example, if you have a message for your audience, you can create a short video and embed it in an email, website page or on social media. As the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving, this tactic can help you quickly publish content versus creating website content or email copy. Nuvance Health in Connecticut has done an excellent job of keeping patients informed and has included a new resources page on their website complete with video updates from an Infectious Disease Expert at the hospital. This enables patients to be constantly updated as new information is released.

The Key Takeaway: Video marketing can be used across many channels and is an effective communication tool, especially as updates are evolving quickly.

8. Lead with Empathy

As always, the overarching theme of all of your marketing efforts should communicate with care and empathy. It’s safe to say that this is a sensitive time for all of us. As a healthcare organization, you can put other’s minds at ease by delivering relevant, helpful information. With all your content generation and messaging, ensure your tone is delicate and empathetic.   

The Key Takeaway: As a healthcare organization, it’s always important to lead with empathy, especially under the current circumstances.

It’s important to continue your marketing efforts. Now more than ever, your patients are looking to you for guidance and knowledge. Make these adjustments to your healthcare organization’s marketing strategy to best support your patients and practice.

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