In the midst of the pandemic, there has been a lot of strain on the entire healthcare system, including freestanding emergency rooms and urgent care facilities. While new services (such as COVID-19 Testing) are being introduced, emergencies and other needs haven’t slowed down.
We understand that during this unprecedented, overwhelming time, marketing may be an afterthought. However, it’s still just as essential, if not more so. That’s why we’ve put together these tips to help market your freestanding ERs and urgent care facilities during and after these strange times.
1.) Identify Your Competition
When it comes to any marketing strategy, it’s important to know who or what you are up against. Are you competing with full-service hospitals, urgent care clinics or any other freestanding ER? Ask yourself these questions to better identify your competitive position and have a clear objective. Gaining market share and standing out above the rest can be achieved by highlighting your differences, clarifying your message and targeting the right audience.
2.) Establish a Social Presence
Having a social media presence is a requirement these days, especially when it comes to marketing an ER that is unaffiliated with a hospital. Potential patients need to have a positive impression of your facility before the need arises. Being present on social media will help in presenting the benefits of freestanding ERs and urgent care facilities. Speed, trustworthiness and on-site capabilities are all important benefits to highlight in your posts and social stories.
3.) Reach Your Audience While They Stream
Targeted video advertising has overtaken local broadcast television as an efficient way to reach a targeted audience. The ability to reach specific demographic audiences across very narrow, broad or mixed geography has been a game-changer for small and large brands alike. Streaming across Roku, Amazon Fire, AppleTV and other devices is no longer a niche activity. OTT and CTV is here to stay. Potential patients in every relevant demographic and socioeconomic category are using streaming devices in your market. It’s imperative that your brand reaches them on the platforms they are most comfortable with and spend the most time.
4.) Implement an Easy-to-Use Website
It is crucial to have an easy-to-use, professional website that can convert visitors into patients. Currently, an ER website should include information related to symptoms, precautions and instructions for COVID-19 and flu testing. This content can help people in your community evaluate their situation and decide whether your ER is the right option for their immediate care. Without a comprehensive website, your ER may not even be in the conversation. This basic marketing tool is vital during normal times and even more so during a health crisis.
5.) Commit to an SEO Strategy
An SEO marketing strategy is critical for a freestanding ER website. Your freestanding ER is a disruptive business. As such, you’re generally competing with more established hospitals, urgent care facilities and other healthcare providers. In most instances, community hospitals, whether for profit or not, have been in their communities for decades or more! As a newer treatment facility, you don’t naturally have the search engine juice that these more established facilities enjoy. SEO includes on-site content, off-site backlinks, PR distribution and GMB (Google My Business) optimization. It’s important that you work with a marketing firm that understands your unique value proposition, relevant keywords and target audience in order to compete effectively.
6.) Include Search Engine Marking
Search Engine Marketing (SEM), such as Google Ads, is a highly cost-effective way to drive conversions at the bottom of the funnel and should be included in any marketing strategy. With the right strategy, you could be top-of-search, meaning top-of-mind, when you are needed most. With the inclusion of COVID-related keywords, now is the perfect time to make your community aware of how you can help them.
7.) Target (And Retarget) Your Audience Wherever They Go
Digital display ads are an important part of any marketing strategy. By targeting potential patience with relevant creative advertising while they browse the internet, and social media, you can ensure that your facility is top-of-mind when the need arises. Again, these campaigns should focus on what sets you apart from your more established competitors and also reiterate that your facility can provide equally effective treatments for most injuries and emergencies.
8.) Understand Your Prospective Patient Needs and Your Goals
A successful marketing campaign can’t be reached unless there is a clear identification of the patients’ needs. Thus, an in-depth evaluation of your target audience and developing a cohesive plan that fits your goals is required to satisfy those. Why do patients select a freestanding ER as opposed to a full-service hospital? Generally, wait times and out-of-pocket costs are the deciding factors. If your facility can provide shorter wait times at the same out-of-pocket price to the consumer, that should be your primary message. Fast, excellent care at a competitive price.
9.) Build Your Brand with Digital
Over the past two decades, digital marketing has emerged as a brand builder, not just a disjointed list of tactics. Your brand needs to be perceived to be trustworthy and reliable in order to succeed. Branding demands an understanding of the importance to answer the following questions:
What is your mission?
What are the benefits and features of your services?
What do potential patients already think of your facility? Do they even know about you?
What qualities do you want them to associate with your facility?
All that being said, the team at ThriveFuel has decades of healthcare-related marketing experience. We can help you through the process of branding, marketing and growing your freestanding ER, urgent care facility or community hospital.