Amidst everything that is going on right now, it’s more important than ever that we stick together and support each other. Organisations in every sector are already affected by the uncertainty COVID-19 has brought, whilst the healthcare sector is facing unprecedented strain across all of its resources.

The team at Cobb Digital have put together some key considerations and tips to help healthcare marketing professionals or practice owners make the most of limited marketing budgets and retain online presence during challenging times.

This short guide will cover (click to jump to each section):

Key takeaways

  • Prioritise key information
  • Maintain your presence
  • Keep communicating

Paid social

Prioritise the right information

At the end of February, Facebook found that 25% of those in the UK were using Facebook to stay informed of the developing situation. In an environment so often filled with fake news, capture audiences by standing out with the real, need-to-know information and promote this in the form of FAQs and blog posts. Ensure your message and approach to responding to COVID-19 is clear.

Action: Update ad copy to include any changes to opening times or key contact information. Be honest and visible. Set realistic expectations from the outset.

Reinforce positioning

Healthcare is the one industry where prospective patients won’t want to be taking chances, so focus on pushing your products and services to reinforce quality and consider where your key USPs can come into play, when the time is right.

Capture new opportunities arising from increases in social media traffic and the growing focus on health. Now could be a time to tap into new markets.

PPC advertising

It’s worth noting that many brands will have temporarily paused their PPC campaigns due to concerns around media spend and the ever-changing landscape we’re currently in. However, if you are able to continue advertising, we’d recommend changing your focus to prioritise the key information you need prospective patients or clients to know and ensure you remain visible.

Utilise the display network

Investing in display advertising is a good method for sharing messages quickly and effectively, whilst boosting your brand awareness. Whilst things might not quite be business as usual for anyone right now, it’s important to keep the wheels turning by ensuring your brand is still visible. Plus, many more users are likely to be at home using various devices, so now is a good time for your messages to reach them.

Action: Provide clear calls to action to tell your audience what they should do next.

Optimise campaigns with ad extensions

Increase visibility with your PPC ads and make use of the free, easy to use extensions that make it simpler for your audience to get the information they need. For example, call extensions help make contact information readily available and remove the extra step of looking for details on your website, whilst location extensions can be utilised to highlight which of your practices are still open.

Thinking long-term

Whilst it might be difficult to think ahead right now, it’s important to keep long-term strategy in mind. We all need to keep going and it’s crucial to ensure longevity, so consider how you might position some of your other services that can be booked in now for the future.

Organic search

  • Is the clinic/hospital still open?
  • What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?
  • Will I still be able to see my consultant?
  • Will my surgery go ahead?
  • Can I change the date of my surgery?
  • I’m a self-pay patient, what happens to my payment plan if my surgery is affected?

Action: Consider adding a robust FAQ page that answers these questions in an informative, comprehensive and reassuring way. You can use tools such as Google Trends to look for popular terms or questions around key topics.

This could also help to reduce the number of incoming calls to ease the strain on your internal team.

Relevance is key

Add the date and time of publishing to your updates so visitors know they have the most up-to-date information. Make this key information clear and as visible as possible from every page on your site. Can you create a link within a clear, noticeable banner or call to action across the website?

Ensuring accessibility

It’s important that your updates are clear and accessible to all. Use headings to break down information in longer posts and ensure better readability and consider increasing the font size for any patients within older demographics or who may have visual impairments.

Tip: You can check that your pages are mobile friendly with this simple tool from Google.

Communicate updates

Your Google My Business listing is an important place to communicate updates to your patients as it can be the first port of call for some users searching for you.

You can update opening hours if they have changed and create posts that communicate whether your practice is ‘business as usual’ or not. As well as communicating key information, you might choose to use this space to showcase the positive things that are happening within your clinic to help reassure patients throughout times of uncertainty.

Google has recently published guidance for healthcare providers to help manage practice information and get found by new patients.

Content and social media

Whether updating key information pages on your website, adding updates to your blog or on social media, your messaging is more important than ever – as is ensuring it is consistent across all your channels.

Clear messaging with your audience in mind

As well as ensuring your updates on evolving situations are clear and frequent, review your messages to check the language is precise, cannot be interpreted mistakenly and, importantly, is appropriate for your key audiences. Maintain consistency in the way you speak to your patients; they come to you for a reason, so reinforcing that familiarity at this time is reassuring.

Keep the message simple with the “need to know” information that affects your users, and patients and double check your calls to action so you’re pointing them in the right direction for more information. For example, if phonelines aren’t the most convenient for you right now, ensure you can clearly point users to contact forms.

Create engaging or supporting content

We are entering an unusual time, where many of us will now be spending more time indoors than we have ever known. Whilst it’s likely that more people are going to be online throughout different points in the day, it’s going to be a challenge to create stimulating content in an increasingly competitive space.

Consider how you can create more visual or interactive content to engage with your audience and provide reassurance, particularly at a time where many elderly people may be isolated. Could you create simple graphics or infographics to support social posts or blogs using free tools like Canva? How about creating short videos with your team members to add a more human element to your content, or live interactions on social channels to engage directly with patients?

Email marketing

So many emails will be flooding inboxes at the moment. The first thing to consider is whether an update from your business is necessary at this time. For healthcare businesses, it’s highly likely that this will be the case and your clients will be expecting one from you.

Important operational communications

Almost every brand is emailing their approach to COVID-19 right now, so standing out is going to be key to delivering important communications. Be mindful of how many emails your audience will have received about the topic and ensure that messages are delivered in a concise, yet clear way. Your audience are seeking answers, so be proactive in supplying them – if and where you can.

Include personal messages

 To avoid message fatigue, provide a written intro from a healthcare professional within your organisation, such as the practice owner or a Medical Director. Including a personal approach helps to reinforce your connection and ensure that trust develops – or remains – between sender and receiver. It’s a great chance to offer personal opinion, story or guidance (where appropriate).

Avoid sales messages

Whilst email is a key driver for sales growth, with the types of emails we have outlined here, now is not the right time. Reinforce your key messages, ensure that the relationship is maintained and then, when the time comes, you can remind your audience of your USPs. For now, be informative, reassuring and credible, not sales-y.

In conclusion

Healthcare is facing more of a challenge than any other sector and whether you’re promoting private practice or ensuring that key public messages are shared, sensitivity is key. People will have more time to keep up to date with news than they’ve ever had before, but with it comes a battle to stand out against the white noise. There are a plethora of cost effective channels at your disposal and, with the targeted nature of digital marketing, ensuring the right message is delivered to the right person at the right time and maintaining a digital presence is a must.

We know you’re already doing your best to help, but we want you to know we’re here to help you. So, if you’re stuck for ideas, please get in touch with us @ hello@cobbdigital.com and we can schedule a Zoom call, a Whatsapp call or a Google hangout.