Throughout the last two years, pandemic restrictions across the US and Canada interrupted the way we approach healthcare in various ways. Elective surgeries were put on pause, and many people looked for new ways to connect with their healthcare providers, like through telehealth.
In a discussion for the How Agencies Thrive podcast, Alexander Romero-Wilson from Eko explained how the pandemic has driven innovation in healthcare marketing, from unique strategies to healthcare compliance.
Read on to learn some of Alex’s insights into how healthcare marketing has evolved since the start of the pandemic, and tips for healthcare marketers moving forward. Or, listen to their discussion, here.
How the Pandemic Impacted Healthcare Marketing
At the start of the pandemic, Alex says that Eko immediately recognized that they needed to find a way to be a partner to frontline healthcare workers. They knew that through their technology, they could have a positive impact. Already in the early weeks of the pandemic, Eko noticed a high volume of new customers located in pandemic hotspots, who were purchasing their devices.
Alex explains that to have a positive impact, they needed to understand exactly what their customers needed. He says that they went all in as a company, putting 100% of their marketing resources toward addressing the pain points of the pandemic that care providers were facing, from infection control to telehealth. Eko created educational materials like guides, videos, and other content to support healthcare workers. They ensured the content would best speak to and reach their audience by addressing topical issues.
During the initial months of the pandemic, Alex says that no one in the healthcare industry knew what to expect. As a result, the only way to know how to support their customers, and healthcare workers in general, was to carefully listen to what workers in healthcare had to say. Aside from the usual paid marketing channels, Eko relied on organic channels like emails, newsletters, blogs, and social media to open up communication.
The Pandemic-Driven Rise of Telemedicine
In the last two years, concerns about spreading the COVID-19 virus through in-person interactions led many people to opt for an alternative route to accessing healthcare. As a result, throughout the pandemic there was massive acceleration of the adoption of telehealth. Even with offices and clinics reopening for in-person visits, many people have indicated they will continue to use telehealth because of the convenience factor.
Alex says that with individuals now spending more time at home, and accessing healthcare services from home, advertisers must reach their audiences at home. And, he expects more innovations in telehealth to emerge. A virtual healthcare appointment is convenient, but doesn’t quite compare to an in-person experience. Therefore, Alex expects that the telehealth industry will continue innovating ways to make the virtual experience better.
Healthcare Marketers are Embracing Digital
The healthcare industry has experienced a big uptick in digital ad spend compared to previous years. According to Alex, this is in part because of how advanced programmatic technology is. Platforms now have sophisticated features that support everything from campaign planning to tracking attribution.
Alex says that with healthcare marketers embracing digital, they are always evaluating their media mix. He explains that the goal is always to strike a balance between cost effectiveness and maximizing performance. With demand for digital channels increasing, there is more competition. But fortunately, new channels that are emerging, like programmatic audio and connected TV, are offering new opportunities.
At Eko, they’ve focused a lot of their efforts on programmatic audio. Alex says that it used to be an expensive channel—you had to be a big brand with a lot of money to buy placements. But now with programmatic, audio advertising has become more accessible. According to Alex, sound is everything. Eko uses audio to create engaging listening experiences which show the benefits of using their stethoscope technology. With the StackAdapt platform, they have been able to attribute success, and beyond that direct sales line, their organic search traffic has gone up as a result of programmatic audio too.
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Even with some regions of the world returning to some normalcy, consumer tendencies have been forever changed. Alex emphasizes that covid will likely continue to change the way we approach healthcare, just as it’s changed consumer behaviours. People will continue to spend more time online as it becomes an increasingly integral part of life.
Moving forward, Alex says that it’s important to:
- Continue to listen. Actively listen to your customers so you can understand how to pivot your marketing according to your customers’ evolving behaviour.
- Be a partner. Provide ongoing support to your customers. A customer-centric marketing approach means prioritizing their needs and interests.
- Diversify your media mix. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different channels. Doing so will help you find your audience where they are, and optimize for the best results.
To hear more of what Alex had to say about healthcare marketing, tune into the latest episode of How Agencies Thrive!