Choosing a Healthcare Digital Marketing Agency

The simple truth is that not all digital marketing agencies are created equal—and that’s okay! Neither are the clients. In order to select the right digital marketing agency for your healthcare organization, you need to find the right mutual fit strategically, tactically, and culturally. Accomplishing that key goal, however, requires an understanding of many of the aspects of digital marketing, including:

  • What types of digital marketing agencies are out there
  • How they work
  • How to identify the one that is the best fit for your specific needs

In the spirit of finding the right fit between digital marketing agencies and clients, we’ve put together this guide to help you find the best agency for your organization. As a result, you’ll often be able to avoid a very common misfire that can waste time and money.

1. Why Do You Want to Hire a Healthcare Marketing Agency?

Before you start working with a healthcare marketing agency, you need to know what goals you’re trying to accomplish. It’s a simple question. In fact, it’s one that we often ask when we first start working with a client. However, in many cases, those organizations cannot clearly define their goals or what they’re looking for.

Start with a clear objective in mind. Ideally, you should have a one-word answer to that question.

  • Patients: You want to draw in more patients or provide your current patients with more information about what your practice has to offer.
  • Scale: You’re ready to start scaling your medical practice to bring in more business. You may have recently added a new doctor to the practice or opened a new location, which requires you to bring in additional patients.
  • Awareness: You want to raise awareness of your practice and what you have to offer or to raise awareness about specific attributes of your practice.
  • Experience: You want to provide a better overall experience for your patients, including a streamlined scheduling option or more information about why they should choose and trust your practice.

When you have a clear objective in mind before you connect with a healthcare marketing agency, it puts you in a better position to ask the essential questions that can help inform your search for the right agency.

2. What are Your Specific Goals? (Hint: The More Specific, the Better!)

You likely have an objective in mind. As you start your search for the best healthcare marketing agency for your needs, you may need to narrow down those big-picture objectives into clear, obtainable goals. Your goals can vary significantly based on the size of your practice, your specialization, your competitive landscape, and your local market.

As you create your goals, make sure you narrow them down as much as possible. You don’t want to start with, “We need digital marketing.” Instead, carefully consider the outcomes you actually want to see. For example:

  • Our patient volume is down X percent due to an erosion of our base of referring doctors, so we need to make that up with “self-referring” patients.
  • We’re opening a new location and require a specific number of new leads or patients in order to achieve profitability.
  • Competition is heating up in our market, and we need to overhaul our website and related patient engagement tools to upgrade our patient experience.

It could be that you have already attempted to address these goals. You may have worked with an in-house team, freelancers, or even worked with another agency, only to discover that they don’t have the capacity for success. As you consider your goals, make sure you take those previous attempts into account and drill down to how a new agency can help you more effectively achieve those goals.

  • The in-house team and/or agency didn’t have the specific technical experience or resources to effectively execute your plans and achieve your goals.
  • You did not get the results you were expecting from working with that source. (If this is the case, you may need to take a careful look at what results you were expecting and how you arrived at that thesis.)
  • You need to take what you’re currently doing to the next level.

Clearly laying out your goals and having a plan in place can help your interaction with your healthcare marketing agency go more smoothly as well as increase the odds that you will reach your overall goals.

3. Do You Really Need a Healthcare-Specific Marketing Agency?

Every industry is unique. You will find that each industry has its own data points and anticipated ROI for specific types of campaigns. Healthcare, however, takes that to a whole new level. The complexity of the industry, when combined with the uniqueness of the patient journey and the increasing expectations regarding patient engagement and experience, can completely change the way you interact with your patients. Furthermore, you must take growing compliance mandates into account—not to mention the stiff penalties for failing to adhere to those guidelines.

In our experience, hiring a “jack of all marketing trades and master of none,” particularly in a highly competitive healthcare market, is akin to “bringing a knife to a gunfight.” It leads to a much longer ramp-up time and lower ROI. In addition, you may face higher risks when it comes to ADA compliance, HIPAA compliance, and data security, which may lead to significant consequences for your business over time. Instead, you need a healthcare digital marketing agency that knows what challenges your specific industry faces and how to best meet them.

4. What Factors Do You Need to Consider When Evaluating a Digital Marketing Agency for Your Medical Practice?

There are a lot of marketing agencies out there. According to LinkedIn Navigator, there are over 300,000 marketing service providers in the US. Of those, 610 have a healthcare specialization. However, not all digital healthcare marketing agencies are created equal, and you want to make sure that you choose the right one for your needs.

To separate the wheat from the chaff, consider these critical elements.

Specific Healthcare Experience

As a medical practice, you really should focus on selecting an agency that specifically specializes in healthcare. Why not save the time, money, and hassle of hiring a healthcare marketing firm that’s “learning on the job.” Even better, if you can find an agency that specializes or has a proven track record in your particular field. The higher the degree of specialization the agency has, the better the agency can tailor your marketing programs to your specific market needs.

Relevant Case Studies

Take a look at what case studies your agency may be able to provide. Ideally, you want to look at recent case studies that show a track record of delivering a solid ROI in your particular healthcare vertical. An agency that does not have those case studies may not have the experience you really need.

Credibility and Trustworthiness

Does the agency you’re considering have clients’ reviews on Google or customer testimonials? Patients expect physicians to have a solid number and quality of reviews. Why not expect the same of your digital marketing agency?

Agency Staffing and Structure

Thanks to the internet, marketing has changed beyond recognition over the last 20 years. Digital ads now account for more than half the total ad spend across industries, including in healthcare specifically. Unfortunately, many agencies missed or misread the memo and are still hiring like it’s 1999 by bringing on marketing generalists when they really need teams of technical and other specialists to keep up with the exponential innovation in digital technology.

Pay attention to the agency’s staffing model. A tell-tale sign that an agency is behind the ball is if the proposed account person responsible for managing the relationship with customers is also one of the people actually responsible for doing the work of writing, designing, or managing digital campaigns rather than being your main point of contact with a team of specialists behind them.

Proven Results

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to the finalists, ask point-blank about specific ROI on past healthcare campaigns. Even more importantly, ask about the campaigns that didn’t perform well. No one bats 1000 every time. Also, ask about the campaigns that took longer than anticipated to achieve the desired outcome. What was the specialty? The market? Any factors that may have created the challenge? How did the company eventually overcome them? Every digital marketing agency will face challenges at some point. It’s how they address them that shows their caliber.

ROI Reporting and Analytics

The purpose of digital campaign reporting is to provide the client with the information they need to both make informed program decisions as well as provide accurate information to “report up,” whether it be to the C-suite and/or board.  Unfortunately, a lot of digital marketing agencies may talk a good game, but oftentimes the actual deliverable falls short of expectations, with an emphasis on vanity metrics that don’t provide true insight or value.

Take a careful look at what metrics the company actually focuses on in order to get a better feel of what matters to the agency and how it may impact your campaign. Also, take a look at what results the company is actually delivering, and make sure those results fall in line with the quality analytics you expect to see. As a medical practice, you shouldn’t care how many people viewed your videos but rather how many people called or filled out a form for an appointment.

5. What are the Key Details Regarding Agency Pricing?

Focus on value, not on the price. Good marketing should get results that pay for themselves and then some. For example, our patient acquisition pilot programs, on average, generate a 7-10x ROI within the first 90 days.

Unfortunately, all too often, medical practices will focus on finding the cheapest agency or on “beating them down on price.” Doing so creates one of two scenarios. First, if you’re dealing with a top-tier agency—a healthcare specialist with a proven track record—they may walk away. Well-established specialists are already busy and look for long-term client relationships based on mutual respect. Second, you end up with the low-cost alternative agency, which typically sets you up for a world of frustration and poor performance.

When it comes to medical marketing, as with so many other services, you will often get what you pay for. Cut-rate agencies are often poorly run, staffed with inexperienced generalists, and just taking your money to survive for a little longer. While a top-tier healthcare marketing agency may cost more, it likely also offers a better look at the tools and solutions you really need in order to expand your marketing efforts and see real results.

Are You Ready to Choose a Healthcare Digital Marketing Agency?

What is most critical as you select a healthcare digital marketing agency is that you find an agency that is a good fit for your specific needs. There are a lot of digital marketing providers to choose from. You want to find one that specializes in marketing for medical practices and can deliver the results you need.  During the selection process, make sure you have clearly laid out your goals and objectives. Then, examine key details about the agency you’re considering, from their past campaigns and satisfied customers to the metrics they focus on, to determine whether they fit your needs.

Are you ready to get started? At Evolve Healthcare Marketing, we specialize in medical practice marketing that can help take your practice to the next level. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you market and grow your brand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.