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VIEWPOINT: Digital-marketing strategies health-care providers shouldn’t ignore

By Chris Panebianco


Chris Panebianco


In marketing, few things change as quickly as digital media. Oftentimes, trends tagged as “the next best thing” simply come and go, and they’re not around long enough to make a real impact. Other times, trends stick; they’re tested, reworked, and re-tested so that their true potential and return are reached. In my opinion, those are the “trends” you want to grab onto — the ones that have had time to get better over time and prove their staying power. 


 There are two key strategies I predict will gain more traction in 2019 — artificial intelligence and video — because they’ve had time to blossom from “the shiny new thing everyone’s doing” to “legit marketing strategy that can drive business results when applied correctly.” 


Whether you work for a health-care practice, hospital, or health-insurance company, these strategies can help you achieve any number of goals, including: attract new patients, retain existing patients, improve patient satisfaction and communication, improve staff efficiency, and drive more revenue. 


First up is AI. Tapping into artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze customer/patient behavior and patterns isn’t as creepy as it might sound. If you want to get the most helpful information into patients’ hands at the right time, then you need to better understand their needs and wants. To research that manually could take countless hours; AI technology can help streamline work to help you create strategic, impactful, purposeful marketing moves. Here are a few examples:


• Content. AI technology can map a consumer’s digital journey on your website and anticipate a next best step for them. For instance, after they read a blog post or article on your website, AI can deliver a predictive prompt such as, “If you liked this, then you might also like this …,” directing the visitor to another relevant post. 


• Chatbots. Powered by AI, a website chatbot can answer the FAQs that your receptionist often gets, thereby reducing your overhead, creating efficiencies, and improving your customer service. Imagine if you could automate 30 percent of your phone calls by answering common questions (such as: What are your hours? Where are you located? What insurance do you take? What’s your after-hours number?). When chatbots were first introduced, you had to be a tech person to understand, implement, and use them; today, the technology is plug-and-play so you can have it set up in minutes. 


• Personalization. We are all unique individuals. We each have our own preferences, habits and path to purchase; heck, we each have a name. Research shows that it pays to get personal with customers, and that’s where AI comes into play. Customers want to feel like you know and understand their needs, so use their first name in emails, create landing pages that are specifically for them, and incorporate variable content that is relevant to them and their customer journey. 


Let’s say you’re a general practitioner who sees patients between the ages of 18 and 80; that’s a wide variety of people at vastly differently life stages. You can segment your patient data and push out information that is most useful to specific groups of people. For example, if you see an uptick in arthritis cases within a certain age range, arm younger patients early with preventive information and provide patients in the target age range (older patients) with information more relative to treatment.


Second is video. Here are some stats for consideration: 


• 70 percent of consumers say that they have shared a company’s video


• 72 percent of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate


• 52 percent of consumers say that watching informational videos makes them more confident in online-purchase decisions


When creating content for your audience, don’t underestimate the power of video. Video allows people who may not have otherwise been willing or able to consume your content to do so. By default, creating video also creates audio content — listening is great alternative to reading or even watching.


You don’t need to be a videographer and you don’t need a professional camera. You do need good quality footage (lighting, no shaky camera, and decent audio) and a topic of interest to your audience. For example, if you’re a pediatrician, shoot a video about “Five Tips to Help Kids Fight the Flu” or “Three Signs Your Child Needs to See a Doctor During Flu Season.” If you work at a hospital, shoot some behind-the-scenes footage to showcase a specific hospital wing or highlight staff members. If you’re a physical therapist, then demonstrate simple stretches people can do while at work. 


Live video is trending now with businesses on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. This type of content is easy to create and implement to quickly get in front of an engaged audience. Small-business owners can host Q&As, offer a behind-the-scenes look, or office tours.


When it comes to video, easy, informative, and useful are three keys to keep in mind. When they’re produced, send them via email, share them to social media, and post them on your website. 


Both of these strategies are tried and true, and delivering results for many businesses when executed the right way. As with most marketing strategies, these two are scalable, enabling you to start as small or go as big as you want. Today’s health-care landscape is more crowded and competitive than ever — what are you doing to stand out in 2019?         


Chris Panebianco is chief marketing officer at Bankers Healthcare Group, a provider of financing to health-care providers. Contact Panebianco at