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Why Healthcare Marketers Should Embrace Inbound Marketing

By August 30, 2016June 17th, 2018Healthcare, Inbound Marketing

Healthcare consumers are taking control of their destiny and seeking healthcare services from less traditional services, now more than ever. Brand is still important, but increasingly less so. According to Google, “Intent beats identity. Immediacy trumps loyalty.”  This means today’s healthcare organizations trying to reach, engage and drive new patient volume and appointments need a digital marketing methodology that is proven and effective. One that can meet the needs of both the fee-for-service and fee-for-value models healthcare organizations are juggling. That methodology is Inbound Marketing.

The State of Digital Marketing in Healthcare

According to a recent study released by Greystone, The State of Digital Marketing in Healthcare 2015, “The healthcare industry is far behind other industries in the use of digital marketing efforts.” In our experience, this is certainly true. “Google Adwords and boosting Facebook posts are the most used online advertising techniques in healthcare,” according to the report.  The graphic below lists the other popular digital channels:


These techniques in-and-of themselves are not altogether bad choices; however, they’re all paid media that tend to deliver lower click-throughs and conversions, cost more and do little to help engage patients post discharge. According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2015, “Both inbound and outbound marketers rank paid advertising as the #1 most overrated marketing tactic.”  And while we do sometimes recommend paid media at Kieffer Consulting, we do so as part of a larger strategy.

Combine this statement with the following from the Greystone report, and you’ll discover the state of healthcare marketing can be greatly improved:

  • Healthcare organizations are using a relatively limited number of social media channels with no real plans to expand to others.
  • Fifty percent (50%) of these senior marketers report using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, with only a little over 25% saying their CRM is integrated with their Website and 11% saying their CRM and Websites are integrated well.
  • Less than a quarter of survey respondents report using a marketing automation tool, which is significantly behind other industries.
  • Healthcare organizations are not truly prepared for mobile, and only 33 consider a Mobile First strategy to be “essential.”

There is a better way: Inbound Marketing.

What’s Inbound Marketing for Healthcare?

Hubspot describes inbound marketing like this, “The best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business.” For healthcare marketers, inbound marketing is the best way to turn strangers into patients and advocates of your healthcare organization.  It begins with creating content specifically designed to appeal to prospective patients at the very moment and place they’re looking for information. More importantly, inbound marketing leverages a holistic methodology, beginning with attracting strangers and ending with delighted patient advocates.


Unlike the use of individual outbound marketing tactics, like buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on achieving goals and a return on investment (ROI) over a long-term period.  To learn more about the inbound methodology, click here:

Inbound Marketing Works

At Kieffer Consulting, I’ve worked with many of the leading healthcare systems in the United States as well as smaller and larger medical practices. The one consistent theme I’ve seen for all digital marketing campaigns is, when done right, inbound marketing is the most effective, long-term strategy for increasing patient volume, engagement and ROl.

Here are a few more insights that support the validity of inbound marketing:

  • 54% more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing. (Source: Hubspot)
  • 80% of people ignore Google-sponsored ads. (Source: Search Engine Land)
  • Inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound leads. (Source: Search Engine Journal)
  •  Inbound campaigns achieve higher ROI than outbound. This holds true across different company sizes and budgets. (Source: Hubspot)
  • The cost of 3 out of 4 Inbound Marketing channels is less than the cost of any outbound marketing channel. (Mashable)
  • The average cost per lead drops 80% after 5 months of consistent Inbound Marketing. (Eloqua)
  • Companies that automate their lead nurturing cycle see a 10+% increase in revenue within 6 to 9 months. (Gartner)
  • 78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing. (Demand Metric)
  • Adopting an inbound strategy doubles average website conversion rates, from 6% to 12%. (Hubspot)

Inbound Marketing Requires the Right Platform

Effective inbound marketing requires the right marketing platform (or marketing automation platform). There are literally hundreds on the market to choose from, from low-cost providers to enterprise systems. Finding the right platform depends on a multitude of factors and requirements.  Here are 2 ways to help you get started in selecting the right marketing platform.

  • Do your research. Read up and study what the experts and users have to say. Check out G2 Crowd’s Best Marketing Automation Software.
  • Talk to as many people as possible, both experts and users, to get a sense of their experience. Reading reviews are great, but talking to the people who have actually experienced the software is invaluable. If possible, find marketers who have run inbound marketing campaigns for healthcare.

Here’s our two cents, for what it’s worth. We like Hubspot and SharpSpring. You can’t go wrong with either one.  HubSpot is easier and more friendly to learn, but doesn’t provide as many customizations as Marketo. But, Hubspot is less expensive and provides an “all-in-one” platform where virtually everything you need is under one dashboard, including a free CRM license.  For more information, read this: Hubspot vs. Marketo: A Side-by-Side Comparison.

Inbound Marketing Fits Healthcare’s Fee-For-Value Model

For healthcare providers, the move to value-based reimbursement is turning the traditional model of healthcare reimbursement on its head, causing providers to change the way they bill for care. In place of providers being paid by the number of visits and tests they order (fee-for-service), they are now paid based on the value-of-care delivered (value-based care).  This means the future will bring less widespread (non-target) branded, emotional advertising, like the ones we consistently see on billboards and TV. And more targeted, educational content that seeks to help patients make more informed decisions and choices.

To be a successful marketer in the dawn of the fee-for-value model requires marketers to fully understand their patients and educate them with relevant content across a multitude of devices, both pre-and-post discharge. Inbound marketing, along with the right data, CRM and marketing platform, positions itself as an extension of the fee-for-value model. How? By giving providers a methodology to not only attract the right patients, but engage and educate them with the right content post discharge in order to help reduce readmissions.

Is Inbound Marketing Right for Your Healthcare Organization?

“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing.” – Guy Kawasaki

The benefits of inbound marketing for healthcare organizations are numerous. Inbound takes time, but is worth the hard work and wait.  Here are few good articles to get you started:

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