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The Inbound Approach to Healthcare Marketing (And Why You Need to Use It Now)

healthcare marketing and inbound

Posted in Inbound Marketing, and Inbound Methodology. 7 min read

It's no secret that marketing is constantly evolving, and inbound marketing is leading the change in the customer-centric digital age.

The inbound approach has been proven to work in so many industries. HubSpot's State of Inbound 2018 report found that 75% of global organizations primarily conduct inbound marketing, and 75% of organizations using inbound marketing say their strategy is effective. 

To put it simply, inbound marketing works in all industries. And when it comes to the healthcare world, it can be especially beneficial, even though healthcare marketing professionals experience a slew of unique challenges.

The Challenges of Healthcare Marketing

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Healthcare is so vast and unique because it consists of a lot of different moving parts. Some healthcare companies target consumers, some sell to other businesses, and some even sell to both.

There are many reasons healthcare is such a tough industry for marketers. 

First of all, there is a lot of old school thinking at the top level. Many companies are stuck because leadership is preventing marketers from being innovative. They want the same old approach despite the fact that buyers are more informed and empowered than ever before.

Another huge challenge is the vast amount of specializations within healthcare. There are so many separate entities in the space of healthcare. For example, there are primary care facilities, hospitals, specialists, urgent care, pharmacies, and much more. 

Organizations often specialize in many areas, so it’s hard to hone messaging and stand out. When it comes to messaging, companies are limited to what they can say. There are plenty of regulations that influence how healthcare marketers can position their brand.

Plus, as with every industry, it's hard for healthcare marketers to see exactly how their efforts are performing. When you can't attribute results, it's hard to adjust your strategies to double down on what's working and to focus on where you can make improvements.

Fortunately, there is some evolution in healthcare marketing. Nearly 70% of healthcare marketing executives say they’re already using content marketing. 

Content marketing is just one piece of the inbound marketing pie. And if it's not being done correctly and not operating within a fully inbound approach, it won't yield enough results.

The Inbound Philosophy in Healthcare

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The inherent nature of the inbound methodology – being helpful, human, and holistic – aligns perfectly with the nature of healthcare. No matter your audience, whether you’re patient facing or selling to businesses, being human, helpful, and holistic in your marketing is vital.

As consumer and patient behaviors have changed, inbound has become a necessity.

Research found that the way patients and consumers find healthcare solutions is moving more and more toward the digital landscape:

  • 73% of consumers use search engines to research treatment.
  • 83% of patients visit a hospital website before booking an appointment.
  • 41% of consumers say content found on social media will likely impact their choice of hospital or treatment center.
  • 43% of visits to hospital websites begin at a search engine.

As you can see, inbound marketing elements like search engine optimization (SEO), website design, and social media marketing are essential in the overall user experience.

Thanks to the inbound methodology, you can address the most pressing challenges within healthcare marketing.

The State of Inbound Today for Healthcare Marketing

As mentioned above, there are many challenges you face in healthcare marketing. Learn how inbound can be adopted and used to address these obstacles:

1. Getting Buy-In From Senior Leadership.

Your C-suite will likely need some convincing before they approve your budget for inbound marketing. While they may be stubborn to this change, there's one thing they can't deny – the cold hard facts. 

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Outbound is long dead, and inbound is the new way to achieve real results. 

HubSpot's 2018 State of Inbound report found that just 18% of marketers say outbound practices provide the highest quality leads for sales, compared to 60% who say inbound provide the best leads for sales.

What's more, 53% of marketers say inbound marketing delivers higher ROI, compared to just 13% who said that outbound marketing gives higher ROI.

Additionally, their 2016 State of Inbound report found that 33% of inbound marketers and 16% of outbound marketers rank outbound marketing practices, such as paid advertising, as the top waste of time and resources. 

When you highlight these facts to senior leadership, make sure you also come to the table with a written strategy for your future inbound marketing campaigns. This way, they can see exactly how you want to change your entire marketing approach. 

2. Honing in on Messaging and Specialities.

This is especially hard if your company has multiple revenue streams and your marketing and sales teams aren't clear on priorities. 

Fortunately, content marketing, which plays a major part of the inbound marketing approach, helps you narrow down your focus and find what specialities you want to focus on for your target audience.

No matter how you determine your messaging, you want to focus on being helpful at the start. Inbound marketing thrives when you build trust with your audience from the get go. 

And the best way you can earn trust is by delivering helpful, relevant content to your audience consistently. Content marketers see this impact every day. In fact, 96% of the most successful content marketers say their audience views their organization as a credible and trusted resource.

Remember, your role as a marketer in healthcare is to educate first. That's the inbound way. And it's likely what most of your competition is already doing, so the best time to start educating your audience is right now. 

3. Connecting With Relevant Audiences.

Simply put, people love content. Research has proven the impact content can have on potential customers:

  • 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content.
  • 70% feel closer to a company as a result of content marketing.
  • 60% enjoy reading relevant content from brands.

As you can see, not only do people enjoy learning from brands, but they also experience positive feelings associated with those companies teaching them.

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The best way to connect with the right people at the right time is to adopt the inbound marketing philosophy and to start conducting research and building buyer personas

The more you and your marketing team learn about who your company wants to attract and what those audiences' pain points are, the better off your team is at creating and conducting robust inbound marketing campaigns. 

4. Reducing Marketing Cost and Driving Tangible Business Results.

Marketing is always going to come with a substantial cost. After all, building an internal marketing team usually calls for at least a few new hires who specialize in important skill sets, like copywriting, design, and strategy. 

But your team needs direction, and compared to traditional marketing tactics, inbound marketing will cost your team far less in the long run. 

Content marketing costs a staggering 62% less than traditional marketing, and it generates about three times as many leads. And as you know, leads are what fuel your sales growth. 

Inbound Success Stories in Healthcare

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The facts show the undeniable success of inbound in healthcare marketing, but there are also plenty of real life examples of big marketing wins from healthcare companies. For example, HubSpot shares several success stories from the healthcare industry.

Here are a couple of snapshots of the results some organizations have seen:

Earning More Qualified Leads.

An organization specializing in tissue procurement for pharmaceutical research needed to attract qualified prospects. They moved to HubSpot and used hyper targeted inbound marketing campaigns specific to diseases.

This way, researchers who focused primarily on certain diseases can find the exact content they needed in no time. Ultimately, this was a big win, and their website generated a lot more relevant traffic. 

Other big results include the following:

  • 250% month-over-month increase in lead growth
  • 35.6X ROI within six months
  • MQLs increase from 10% to 80% month over month

Attracting Diverse Audiences.

A company specializing in cryotherapy for both consumers and business owners needed a full suite of tools to allow them to conduct integrated inbound marketing campaigns to appeal to every segment of their diverse customer base.

Within HubSpot, this company followed the basics of the inbound methodology: They created personas within the marketing platform.

Then, with personas in mind, they created content, like equipment information for business owners and articles highlighting benefits of cryotherapy for consumers. This content was used in line with landing pages, smart CTAs, and smart forms to create leads and build profiles for each prospect.

They also used workflows to automate their lead nurturing efforts. With all of these HubSpot features working together, this organization delivered a truly unique, awesome experience for their audience. 

The results were amazing:

  • 146% increase in revenue
  • 128% increase in leads
  • 44% increase in website traffic

Other healthcare companies using HubSpot saw equally impressive results, including big boosts in organic traffic, traffic from social media, landing page conversions, and new customer.

Healthcare marketing doesn't have to be a hassle. With the right tools, mindset, and resources at the ready, you can turn your marketing efforts into a lead generating machine. 

And it all starts with inbound. 

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