Keeping up with digital marketing in the healthcare industry is not an easy task. Regulation, compliance and legal processes can slow down marketers’ agendas, and it’s increasingly difficult to reach and engage potential and current customers through digital channels in real-time.

With a rising amount of Americans now looking for healthcare information independently and taking their healthcare coverage into their own hands, brands must better embrace digital marketing programs to remain relevant and competitive.

And in case that’s not enough to convince you, the following statistics should.

The PhRMA’s Second Annual National Health Survey reports that 78% of Americans report they seek sources outside of their doctor’s office for health information, and 58% use medical or health related websites.

Pew Research Center found that 79% of Americans without health insurance are internet users.

If you’re struggling to get your healthcare company to incorporate digital programs, below are five areas that you should focus on.

1. Content Marketing

As content marketing budgets continue to rise, there’s still a slower adoption rate among the healthcare industry. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs conducted research that concluded that healthcare content marketing lags two years behind. This is a big opportunity lost for these companies, especially due to the vast amount of Americans who look to digital sources for healthcare information.

Content marketing is here to stay. Why? Because of the positive results it produces that marketers can no longer ignore. Below are just a few examples:

  • 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content. (Demand Metric)
  • 90% of consumers find custom content useful. (Demand Metric

2. Social Media

We all know that social media plays a key role in any digital marketing strategy, but did you know that, according to Pew Research, 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites?

And the social media world is talking about healthcare. In a previous infographic, we discussed the social media buzz surrounding the ACA and Medicare. In short- there is not a lack of conversation surrounding these topics.

Social media not only lets people lead and join the conversation, but also allows companies to establish relationships with new and potential customers, demonstrate expertise, increase awareness, acquire customers and stay on top of product conversation in real-time.

3. Mobile

Consumers expect companies to create digital experiences that flow effortlessly across all mobile devices. If you’re not doing this, you’re behind.

There’s been a lot of talk about mobile lately, and for good reason. Consider the following:

  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners (Pew)
  • In Q1 2015, mobile accounted for almost 30% of retail eCommerce (Criteo)
  • 71% of millennials would be interested in a doctor giving them a mobile app to actively manage their well-being for preventative care, review health records, schedule appointments (Salesforce)

Considering the numbers, healthcare companies need to ensure that all of their websites are responsive and optimized for mobile. If not, they will be ignoring a major percentage of consumers who use mobile devices to conduct research and even transact sales.

4. Email

Email continues to be an incredibly effective tool for marketers. It’s a great way to stay top-of-mind by providing your audience value through content they’re looking for. And the results are undeniable.

  • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people who do not receive email offers (Convince and Convert)
  • In 2014, email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States (Hubspot)

Keep in mind, this is another great way to connect with your customers through mobile with 80.8% of users reporting that they read email on a mobile device.

5. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) 

93% of online experiences begin with search (Search Engine Journal).

And if you’re not showing up in those results, you’re missing out.

Understanding where consumers are looking for information is a critical part of developing your overall marketing strategy. And because we know that many Americans look to the Internet for information regarding healthcare, marketers need to make sure that their content is seen.

If you want to rank first in search results, search engine marketing remains one of the most cost effective, pay-for-performance media channels in the marketer’s toolbox. And due to the success that many see with SEM, many marketers are making sure they set aside budget to stay top-of-mind in the market.

Each day presents healthcare companies with the opportunity to better engage their target audience through digital channels. The good news is that technology continues to advance so marketers can better track the ROI of digital marketing programs to prove its value. And with an increased level of American consumers now researching and purchasing their own healthcare coverage, marketers are tasked with making sure their company is top-of-mind and engaged through all phases of the buyer’s journey.