Before you start marketing your telehealth services, make sure to clean your room.
I’m talking about the elephant in the room.
In this case, the elephant in the room is the patient experience or user experience (UX.) So many well-intentioned healthcare organizations try to move too fast. The result? An underdeveloped UX that doesn’t meet the patient’s needs – to connect to information and care with ease.
A great way to contextualize this idea is Yelp. Yelp has made its name as an online watchdog where people mostly go to report on bad restaurant and service experiences. And bad news travels fast.
Yelp makes it easy for users to tell each other the good, bad and ugly of every experience they encounter with a business.
What does Yelp have to do with telehealth marketing?
Think about it this way. What do you want users and patients to say about your app?
“10/10 the easiest app I’ve ever used. It was so simple to connect with my doctor and the pharmacy. My prescription will be here Wednesday, and I didn’t have to leave my bedroom or get out of my pajamas.”
Ok, that’s best-case scenario. But what if it were this:
“I wish I could give this app 0 stars. Who decided to make this nearly impossible to use? It would be easier to drive an hour in traffic to the doctor’s office than to fight with this totally worthless app.”
And users want to get your telehealth app. They really do!
So, before you launch your telemedicine app, follow the first rule of marketing: make sure that what you’re taking to market is, well…. marketable!
All that being said, driving adoption with marketing requires that you pull a few key levers – and these depend on how your patients interact with your brand or organization – not necessarily what the head of surgery thinks about the next billboard buy.
Leveraging social media and display advertising is a great way to take your word of mouth and billboard strategy off the streets and into peoples’ homes – at a fraction of the cost.
This type of campaign – to drive adoption of a mobile app – is directly driving awareness and patient buy-in.
So consider marketing video content in your social media campaigns that explains the simplicity and functionality of your app in 30 seconds or less.
A lot of the heavy lifting in driving app adoption is education. And there are a few key ways you can educate your patients and customers to drive that adoption.
Survey your patients.
Do they have the WiFi and smartphone or tablet capability needed to run the app well?
Are they interested in non-traditional access to healthcare? If you’re marketing to a senior audience vs. a Gen Z audience, you’ll need to think through how you position your message What types of services can telehealth provide that once required an in-person interaction?
To give some added context about what patients want, consider this statistic published by Medical Economics:
In a 2010 study, 79% of respondents were more likely to select a provider who allows them to conduct healthcare interactions online, on a mobile device, or at a self-service kiosk. One study found that many would even pay for such online services.
And that was nearly ten years ago. That number was pretty high in 2010. Today’s patient has even higher expectations.
Communicate using your owned media channels.
Could you message these patients and users through your communication platform or query your EHR database to match eligible patients to your app? What about automated text messages? When it comes to your website, you can add a landing page or pop-up to your website’s home page to announce the rollout. Post in your organic social media channels: educational posts, videos. Repost your content more than once.
Leverage paid media– or else.
As I mentioned earlier, you can use display and social media to take your billboard and patient-to-patient referral efforts online at a cost that can be attributed to the success of the campaign. Digital marketing is all about closing the loop between customer behavior and the efficacy of advertising. Google, Facebook – and every platform that offers advertising opportunities – are pushing companies to invest more in paid advertising.
Organic content is still critical today; however, because of the competition on paid platforms, organic has less immediate reach because of the search engines and social platforms looking to keep users on their platforms as long as possible. The first page of Google now has few organic results – there are paid ads, paid map ads and Google snippets – all before you see the first “real” result.
The hidden effect of organic content also carries a huge benefit: by investing in content creation, you have fertile source material for repurposing your blogs, white papers and case studies as content you can then amplify through paid efforts.
Paid digital advertising is still the best way to date to build awareness and drive results while also supporting the organic growth of your organization’s digital footprint.
Because of this, it’s critical to invest in paid media to make sure that your app appears at the top of any search. Why? Because if you don’t, your competitors have already won. They will be aggressive in their marketing tactics.
Companies targeting health consumers will be modeling their strategies after successful B2C campaigns from leading retail and service-oriented companies. In fact, eMarketer reports that paid social media and paid search engine marketing are holding steady as the main places companies are investing their marketing spend.
Think Offline, Too!
Just because you’re marketing a digital product doesn’t mean you can’t market “IRL.” For instance, a large health system here in Atlanta offered concert attendees early admission and special perks for downloading their app. What kind of ways could you engage your community “in real life” to bolster awareness and adoption for your telehealth offering?
So, what are you doing to make sure your organization wins with telehealth? Hopefully, it starts with a high-quality user experience!