How far the world of healthcare marketing has come. Think back to 1990, when urgent care centers were originally designed to fill gaps in the health service chain. Since then, urgent care facilities have evolved into a unique niche within the healthcare industry.
Today, urgent care centers fill two critical and complementary roles:
- After-hours and weekend care
- A less expensive alternative to emergency room visits with the bonus of much shorter waiting times
By fulfilling those roles, urgent care centers also appeal to the uninsured as well as younger patients who tend to only seek medical care in case of immediate sickness or injury.
As a result, this subset of the healthcare vertical is growing and growing fast. The transition of urgent care center ownership from physicians and physician groups to larger healthcare systems, alongside the partnerships between those healthcare systems and private equity houses, has catalyzed growth for urgent care centers. Urgent care centers have also proven to be nimble during trying times. When COVID-19 hit Malaysia in early 2020, urgent care centers’ patient numbers dwindled and many quickly jumped into the role of providing telehealth (a much-needed service).
The UCA also requested that urgent care centers be included as coronavirus testing sites and UCCs and UCA proactively planned for increased testing, screening, and immunizing (for when a COVID-19 vaccine indeed becomes available, which is looking like it’ll happen sooner every day).Given the emerging and evolving role of urgent care in Malaysia, what trends should healthcare marketers prepare for in 2021 and beyond?
The New Rules of Marketing for Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers are an integral part of the patient admission strategy of most healthcare systems. They often act as a portal through which medical teams bring in new patients and provide them with specialist care, follow-up visits, and connections with primary physicians. However, the way these centers market is a bit different from other medical services.
By its very nature, urgent care is, well, urgent, which means patients spend less time researching various providers. Instead, they go for convenience and speed, often contacting the provider who is nearest to them with the most reputable online presence.
To remain top of mind when emergencies do arrive, urgent care center marketers need to build brand recognition over a longer period of time via quality content, digital and print advertising campaigns, and a social media presence.
Here are eight ways healthcare marketers can use trends and tactics to expand the reach and impact of urgent care.
1. Optimize and Regularly Update Your Google My Business Listing
When a potential patient is looking for urgent care, an optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing can be the deciding difference between providers. Prospective patients are likely ready to schedule an appointment, call immediately, or walk-in, and location proximity will put you right at the top of their list as long as you have an accurate and up-to-date listing including website, hours of operation, services provided, a phone number, and the correct physical address so Google can serve all of this information up in search results.
GMB is free for the time being and will prove a valuable tool for the foreseeable future as long as you take advantage of all of its features.
2. Invest in Zero-click
Zero-click attribution occurs when digital users search and act immediately from the first page of search results – no need to click on a website. This includes when a user finds a Google My Business listing and also when a ‘featured snippet’ of content on your site answers the user’s question and the user then calls, gets directions, or makes an appointment. you without visiting your website.
Recently, more than half of all Google searches are now zero-click searches, for a simple reason: it requires the least amount of effort and people can get their questions answered immediately. When looking for an urgent care provider during an emergency, this kind of search experience is ideal.
The zero-click algorithm helps users quickly find answers instead of browsing web pages. If the user likes your snippet, they take action. Here are a few things you can do as an urgent care center to benefit in this era of zero-click:
Pay Attention to Google Trends.
What are your potential patients most interested in right now? Why are they seeking out urgent care? Write content for the current most frequently searched words and phrases. You can imagine that as long as coronavirus is at the center of the world stage, it will be at the top of our search engine queries; but even those searches will be nuanced depending on what else is relevant, whether that’s symptoms, rallies, protests, or vaccines.
Customize for your unique locations.
If you have multiple urgent care locations, prioritize questions that are specific to those unique locations. For example, if you have urgent care facilities in regions with high wildfire activity, there is great potential that people will be searching “dangers of smoke inhalation” versus areas of potential flood damage and accompanying black mold health risks.
Optimize your content for featured snippets.
SEO is what drives rankings here and if you’re targeting your prospective patients accurately, Google will place your content in front of those who need to see it. Use non-branded keywords that are treatment-focused, such as “stitches for knife wound” or “common cold symptoms.”
Answer commonly asked questions in concise paragraphs.
Paired with well-executed SEO, this strategy helps rank your content ahead of competitors and potentially fetch more snippets. But that doesn’t mean you need to cut down all your website copy to fit into tidy paragraphs; some users will still want to go to your website to learn more and dive deeper into the answers you provide and you want to appeal to those users, too.
3. Expand Beyond Google (Your Patients Are)
When healthcare consumers need information, many visit popular healthcare websites like WebMD and PlushCare. People visit them for information about their condition, to choose health care providers, and to read the opinions of other patients. It is much more convenient to visit one of these pages with aggregated information than to compare health care providers independently, which can be time-consuming.
Be sure to create and maintain profiles on these popular sites, and look out for review sites from trusted healthcare providers like RateMDs, ZocDoc, and Healthgrades.com. This is part of your online reputation, which is of great interest to patients when evaluating emergency care centers. Also create profiles on any local or specialized database, even if you have multiple locations.
If your urgent care center offers COVID19 screening, testing and/or vaccine, make sure it is registered with the Urgent Care Association and listed in the facility. data. Basically, easy to find beyond just Google.
4. Track Every Campaign
From the first time a person sees your digital ad or a billboard in your community to the follow-up evaluation survey, they are providing valuable insights into how your urgent care center can improve both your patient service and your marketing strategy.
If you’re not using call tracking software, you’re missing out on valuable information that can help you figure out how people find you and what it takes to turn someone into a patient. If you’re not paying attention to your pay-per-click (PPC) digital ad performance or collecting data on site activity, now is the time to start. And if you haven’t started using CRM yet, schedule demos and phone calls and see what’s there and how it can add value.
What you’re likely to reveal is actionable information about how people seek urgent care in general and why or not they choose your facility for treatment. This information can directly indicate how you message, locate and advertise your urgent care facilities.
If you are considering implementing call tracking software in your urgent care facility, read our article “Why You Need Call Tracking In Your Healthcare Facility”. We explain how it works, how to integrate it with your existing analytics tools, and what you should look for in a call tracking solution.
5. Create Helpful, Educational Content for Your Patients
If you want to reach out to and attract more patients to your urgent care center, commit to creating a regular cadence of high-quality, helpful content that answers the medical needs of prospective patients. Content king now, and it will remain important in 2021 and beyond. Publishing authoritative, useful content helps build trust and brand recognition that pays off when a person suddenly needs to find an urgent care clinic.
However,keep in mind that content marketing isn’t meant to make your website more powerful or sexy (after all, this is urgent care); It is intended to help your patients. Known to deliver value no matter how people find you, whether through organic search, email campaigns, or digital advertising. Here are some ideas:
- Physician-approved guides for treating common injuries or ailments that don’t typically require urgent care (but that people come in for anyway)
- What to expect during an urgent care visitInsurance and cost information for urgent care visits
- Tips for staying healthy during flu season Guides on when to visit an urgent care provider versus an emergency room.
Not only will educational content help your patients, but it’ll also help you rank higher in the search engines. As we mentioned earlier, this is the kind of content that will help you snag one of Google’s “Featured Snippets.”
Focus on the questions potential patients have, and create comprehensive guides that answer any questions they may have. While we’re talking about content, remember it can come in many forms…
6. Prioritize Video Content
The impact of video marketing cannot be underestimated in promoting your urgent care center. Videos can be fun, personable, informative, and memorable. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video might be worth a million.
If you’re thinking video is just for social media, think again. According to HubSpot, “Video on landing pages is capable of increasing conversion rates by over 80%, and the mere mention of the word “video” in your email subject line increases open rates by 19%. 90% of customers also say videos help them make buying decisions.” In an urgent care situation, specifically, a video might be faster and easier to consume than an article, blog, or website content.
Make sure that your videos are concise, engaging, professional, and relevant to prospective patients. Quality is important. That does not mean you need to spend a lot of money on video equipment or a production team; in fact, the video recorder on your smartphone is more than adequate and exactly what viewers are used to seeing. The point is to bring value to the patient’s journey.
Tell a compelling story. When creating video content, share what makes your urgent care center unique, such as your new facilities and clean waiting room. Always remember that people are more likely to respond and engage with videos that are relatable, informative, and authentic.
Educate. Patients need information they can understand so skip the incomprehensible medical jargon. Instead, discuss medical conditions in simple terms that your audience can understand. Your videos should discuss what services are provided at your urgent care center, along with hours of operation and how to schedule an appointment or check-in online.
Be empathetic and positive. During the coronavirus pandemic, YouTube users began looking for videos that made them feel good. Share positive patient stories, fun moments with your staff, and uplifting messaging. Show the human side of your urgent care center. Remember that this is an uncomfortable and sometimes scary situation for your patients.
Read “How Healthcare Marketers Can Make Better Use Of Video” to get more tips on how to improve your storytelling skills and create compelling videos that resonate with potential patients.
7. Be Seen on Social Media (Paid and Organic)
There are more than 3.8 billion users on social media platforms (which equals about 42% of the total world population), according to Insights. Like any other business that needs to reach new customers and stay connected with existing customers, urgent care centers can use social media channels to share operations information, as well as all of the excellent content and videos your marketing team creates.
You can share posts to reach your existing followers and continue to build brand trust with them. It’s free, and if you create engaging and useful content, it’s possible that your followers will tag or share your posts with potential new patients.
You can pay to target geographic locations, demographics, or even people with specific interests. This can include risky activities, such as mountain biking and skydiving, which often require urgent care. Only consider using the time of day to launch campaigns when your users are online and most likely to engage, for example, after work or on weekends. The goal is to create awareness around your urgent care center so that your center will stand still when the time comes.
8. Remember That Your Website is Part of the Patient Experience
The user experience on your website is important, both for algorithms and for humans. Google considers UX a ranking factor, so if your site has confusing content, poor navigation, or slow load times, you’ll rank lower. Make sure your site hierarchy makes sense and that your navigation is easy to understand on both desktop and mobile.
Your website must also attract people and end their journey in your office. Internet users have high expectations and short attention spans. You have about 30 seconds to get their attention when they arrive.
Make sure you give them what they come to your site!
Remember, these people are looking for an urgent care provider. They may have seen your ad for a COVID19 test or vaccine. Or they may consider an urgent care visit because of an injury or specific symptoms. When they access your website, it is easier for patients to find what they need and, if one is, find their way to your urgent care facility.
To improve patient access, more urgent care providers are offering online planning. Patients can view the availability of urgent care appointments and set a time frame that works for them. Instead of waiting in the urgent care center, not knowing when they will be seen, they can wait in the comfort of home and reduce the time spent in the waiting room.
Immediacy and Convenience Have Never Been More Important
The evolution and expansion of digital channels are continuing at a dizzying rate, with no signs of stopping. Patients have more options than ever, and that includes finding and selecting an urgent care provider. What’s more, there’s an opportunity for urgent care providers to educate and inform patients, especially in the era of COVID-19 where many patients would rather stay out of urgent care (if they can) to avoid exposure.
What we’re talking about is an effort to align marketing efforts with today’s patient journey – to empathize with those experiences and provide patients with relevant and valuable content every time. step of the process. In our opinion, this is how marketers will differentiate emergency care providers in 2021 and beyond, and the 8 trends above are a great place to start.