As humans, we’re wired for fight or flight. That’s why it’s natural to feel an urge to withdraw when facing the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But as health care marketers, we can’t let fear override our marketing strategies.
These strategies are often developed as we hold a microscope in one hand and a telescope in the other. We weigh how a word choice or channel allocation could influence conversion rates while looking to the horizon, projecting how evolving market conditions could impact future patient volumes. The two lenses are vital to navigate the ongoing pandemic and related staff and budget reductions.
While it can be tempting in uncertain times like these to press pause as you consider the next best course of action, don’t retreat. Instead, recalibrate, using data to prioritize and maximize limited resources to reengage and rebuild demand from patients.
Focus on these five strategies to reset for growth beyond COVID.
1. Retool marketing dashboards to redefine route to ROI
Revamp dashboards and reports to look at week-to-week and month-over-month comparisons, since the 2020 market disruption makes year-over-year comparison less relevant. This shift will help gauge success of near-term tactics, and also lay the foundation for ROI measures needed to advocate for rebuilding budgets and staffing.
2. Activate analytics to drive decision-making
Determine which channels drove the most referral traffic in the last 60 days and prioritize restricted resources to build on that strength. Determine which top keywords drove search traffic to your website—and infuse those words into other content.
Review pages with the highest web traffic volume as well as those with the highest bounce rates. Ensure those pages have current, relevant content and offer clear calls-to-action to propel the path for conversion (i.e., make an appointment, attend a virtual seminar, or register for a newsletter).
3. Learn from your loyalists
Examine how your email open rates are trending over the last 60 days and your social media engagement. What can you learn about the populations who routinely engage with emails and like, share, or comment on your social media? What topics are driving strong click-thru rates from them? Use that intelligence to develop new content or promote those themes in other channels to capture new, look-like audiences and subscribers.
4. Get your words’ worth
Make your content work as hard as you do. Conduct an existing content inventory, across formats and channels, and considering recent insights and data. Use content itself as a marketing tool, creating website content, webinars, and social media messaging to encourage patients to think about health services they want to schedule as restrictions relax.
Consider where else you can merchandise your highest performing assets. Not everything has to be written from scratch. Content that already exists on trending topics could be remarketed as is or repurposed—even acknowledging the current COVID environment—for different channels with minimal effort. Upcycling existing content not only eases demands on new content creation, but also reinforces the message.
5. Remember, you’re not alone
Connect with vendors and suppliers to talk openly about what you’re seeing in your data and resource constraints on your team. Leverage their experience to learn how other clients are responding to these challenges or if they have best practices that are relevant to your organization.
Stay connected, too, with local and national industry associations, such as SHSMD, to hear how other marketing leaders are navigating in this new normal. These communities will be great resources for talent acquisition and networking once you’re ready to build back your team. (Hopefully, soon!)
By Denise Spillane, FACHE, vice president of marketing and communications