Healthcare Business

8 Digital Marketing Mistakes Every Healthcare Business Should Avoid

As healthcare consumerism continues to rise, more and more patients expect a healthcare experience

as innovative and digitally advanced as other service sectors.

As a result, digital marketing has the power to attract patients, grow revenues, build brands, and strengthen loyalties.

So why aren’t your digital marketing programs as successful as you would hope?

The healthcare industry is highly competitive, and the internet is far too saturated for you to succeed

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without a clear digital marketing strategy.

 First, you have to make it easy for people to find you. Once they do, your messaging needs to motivate

the desired action (e.g., a phone call, form request, or a booked first appointment).

This article highlights the biggest digital mistakes healthcare organizations make.

These key learnings provide a unique opportunity to break away from the pack and win the online attention of your audience.

 If your digital strategy is sub-optimal, it’s time to convert it into a tool that effectively builds your brand, patient base, and revenue.

Table Of Content

Mistake 01 No Clear Marketing Objective

Mistake 02 Focusing on the Wrong Features

Mistake 03 Ignoring Your Website After Its Launch

Mistake 04 Believing Your Audience Will Find You on Its Own

Mistake 05Not Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Devices

Mistake 06 Handling Inquiries From Your Website Improperly

Mistake 07 Failure to Track Results

Mistake 8 Failing to Recognize Digital Marketing is a “Team Sport”

Mistake 01 No Clear Marketing Objective

Hospitals, multi-location medical practices, and other healthcare organizations understand the importance of having an online presence (e.g., a website).

Unfortunately, many fail to see its full potential, using it merely as a communication tool.

Whether you inherited a website or are trying to merge website content after a merger, rushing to the tactic (creating a website) without defining your marketing objectives first is a big mistake.

If you want your website to help you meet your business objectives, you must take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Do you want to attract more patients, promote new service lines, grow revenue, build volume for specific case types, enhance your reputation, educate patients, allow patients to schedule their appointments, facilitate patient communication, and create a communication portal for your physicians, generate donations, build your brand, or a combination of these?

Understanding what you hope to achieve with your website is the first step toward building a tool that will work for you.

For nearly all healthcare organizations, one of the most important goals is getting new visitors to make appointments or at least request information.

To encourage visitors to convert, it’s vital to differentiate your business from the competition and show them you have the skill, knowledge, and expertise they need through compelling, benefit-laden messaging that tells your unique story.

No focus = no message = no results.

Build your site (and other online properties) for a specific target audience and create content that speaks to their needs.

Take time to understand exactly WHO you’re talking to and carry that into your content, graphic design, functionality, and structure.

Mistake 02 Focusing on the Wrong Website (or Landing Page) Features

When developing a website, it’s easy to focus on what it looks like and forget what it should be doing.

It must be graphically appealing and technically correct. However, simply wrapping your portfolio of services and credentials in a beautiful design is a recipe for failure.

 It has to meet your target audience’s needs. While animations and other technologies can be alluring, they often turn out to be beautiful failures, distracting the visitor from the message.

Moreover, some technologies can seriously impair the user experience and your search engine visibility.

Instead, focus on elements that deliver results.

 Benefit-driven headlines

You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention.

Your headline must deliver. It has to make a relevant promise that draws the reader into the first paragraph of the copy (and beyond).

Emotional, compelling copy

 Once you’ve hooked your audience into your copy, give them a reason to choose your healthcare organization. Use conversational language, and active voice, and engage the reader directly using words like “you.”

Relevant, educational content

Populate your website with unique and educational content relevant to your specific audience.

Talk about specific services your organization offers. (Keep in mind that too much clinical content may overwhelm or confuse visitors.)

People are more likely to trust your brand and share your content with friends and family when you provide helpful information.

 Not only that but keeping your website up-to-date with fresh content regularly will help you outrank your competitors on Google and other search engines.

Motivating graphic content

Create a layout that considers where the eye flows naturally and ensures it leads to the most important content on the page.

According to research, most users view web pages in a “Z” pattern.

When incorporating graphics, keeping this eye path in mind is essential to ensure they add value and are not taking up valuable “real estate.”

Landing pages

 Develop custom pages as part of your search engine optimization and paid search strategies.

These pages may include content about your available products, special services, or white papers.

 Landing pages highlighting a target keyword or phrase help direct user behavior and capture searches from search engines and inbound links across the internet.

Calls to action (CTA)

Ideally, you’ll include a CTA on every page. CTAs should be available, obvious, inviting, easy, encouraging, and usually “above the fold” (on the top part of the page) so the visitor doesn’t have to scroll down to see them.

 They are an effective conversion strategy to tell your audience what you want them to do (i.e., book an appointment).


 When possible, add special offers or discounts encouraging visitors to act now rather than later.

For example, many health systems and practices promote free health screenings, assessments, or consultations to encourage more people to click on search results, paid ads, or even their homepage.

Social proof

Website pages with before and after photos, reviews, partner logos, and/or written patient testimonials are highly viewed by visitors, especially in the healthcare industry.

 Social proof is a powerful tool that can help persuade patients to call you.

 Video content

 Video isn’t just popular—it’s better at getting people to act. One experiment found that adding a video to a landing page led to an 80% increase in conversions.

Why? It’s visual, fun, and easier than reading a ton of text.

Video works particularly well for patient testimonials, “meet the doctor” segments, hospital or practice overviews, introducing and promoting new service lines, and sometimes education.

It also helps with search (more on that below.)

SEO friendly

Optimize your website with keywords that drive clicks and conversions.

 An expert SEO analyst can help you identify keywords for your business and optimize your website (e.g., title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags, and content) without sacrificing the quality of your content.

Intuitive structure and navigation

Navigating your site should feel easy, natural, or intuitive.

 Clean, consistent navigation makes sites easier to use (e.g. when menus and navigation appear at the same place on each page and links are obvious).

 Don’t let your navigation be a barrier to communicating your message.

Online Appointment Scheduling

Offering patients an easy way to schedule appointments online is a tangible benefit, especially for younger generations who have come to expect instant, online access.

In a nationwide study by the Pew Research Center, 62% of respondents were interested in booking or changing medical appointments online and getting text reminders.

Mistake 03 Neglecting Your Website After Its Launch

A website is not a “set-and-forget” marketing tool. And yet we regularly see healthcare businesses invest in an online presence only to launch it and leave it virtually untouched for months or even years.

Whether due to a lack of knowledge, dedicated staff, or an insufficient budget, ignoring your website or failing to refresh your content regularly is nearly as counterproductive as not having a website.

Here are four top reasons to update your website now:

 Regular updates help win and maintain high visibility with search engines.

When people in need search for healthcare services online, you want them to find your site among the top results.

Businesses that prioritize refreshing their content get more notice from search engines.

 On average, over 80% of visitors come through keyword searches, so search engine visibility is a gateway for attracting new visitors.

You stay relevant to current and prospective patients.

 Maintaining a fresh, connected, and relevant face to your target audience is not difficult.

 Updating your website regularly with timely information lets site visitors know you are tuned in to their needs and have effective answers for them.

Conversely, static content leaves the impression that there’s nothing new or valuable for the people you want to reach and serve.

 Being quick to shift gears as needed is critical to success.

 As with any marketing tool, make changes according to how well your website is performing in the marketplace.

Measure what’s working and adjust for maximum return on investment.

It’s easy, affordable, and profitable to keep your site fresh.

Updating online content does not take a huge investment and is highly beneficial.

 Many content management platforms allow you to edit and upload content without having to go through a website designer.

And if you don’t have skilled writers on staff, you can hire an expert agency to do it for you

Dominate SERPs and capture the attention of more prospective “low-funnel” patients by combining paid search and organic SEO strategies

Mistake 04 Believing Your Audience Will Find You on Its Own

It’s a mistake to think that your audience will find you on the first page of the search results simply because you have a website.

Remember, EVERYONE wants to be on top of Google. Some healthcare websites are hard to find, even when patients search for them by name.

Businesses prioritizing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and Google Business Profile optimizations can get results quickly.

 If you’re not allocating a reasonable budget to these tactics, it’s time to reconsider.

Aside from paid tactics, the real rewards begin when your site is optimized to capture prospective “low funnel” new patients by typing in specific keywords like “children’s hospital,” “outpatient surgery,” “cancer care,” “robotic surgery,” or “cardiovascular care.”

 Improving organic SEO (search engine optimization) helps prospective patients (who aren’t familiar with your organization) find you.

Paid Search Paid search

(aka pay-per-click or PPC) involves creating targeted keyword-rich ads and paying to have them placed near the top of the search page when someone searches for specific keywords.

 Paid search offers several huge advantages

1 You can get on top of search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing) almost immediately

2 You can target specific keyword phrases that users are searching for

3 You can send traffic to the pages you want (to your oncology or cardiology page, for example, instead

of your home page) Of course, paid search means you pay every time someone clicks on your ad, whether or not they contact you.

In some areas, paid search has become so competitive it’s almost cost-prohibitive.

 Generally, you will pay $2 to $10 each time someone clicks on your ad; but for the most expensive keywords (e.g., addiction) in more competitive markets, the cost per click is $20-$90.

Therefore, if you decide to use paid search, you will be more successful if you hire an expert who understands its many nuances.

When you work with an expert, they’ll:

  •   evaluate hundreds of keywords,
  •   prioritize them by relevance,
  • select local geography,
  • choose optimal days and times to run the ads,
  • get ads written,
  • and direct them to the appropriate pages on your website.

These steps ensure your website converts clicks into inquiries.

 They’ll also track results and adjust the paid search campaign on an ongoing basis.

You can control your price per click and set daily and monthly maximums so you never go over your paid search budget.

 If you decide to invest in the paid search advertising world, be sure to set a monthly budget (often between

$1,000-$5,000 per month per location) and test for at least three to six months.

 If your efforts generate a positive return on investment (ROI), continue funding your campaigns on an ongoing basis from profits.

If not, it’s time to make substantive changes or even cancel.


Some people call SEO “pray for clicks” because while search engines don’t charge you, there is no guarantee that the best practices will get your website onto the first few pages of results.

Search engines like Google and Yahoo! continuously update their algorithms, making it difficult for many businesses to rank over time.

This makes keeping up with the newest SEO strategies a time-consuming and labor-intensive exercise.

Additionally, you will compete with millions of websites across the internet that may be using similar keywords to compete for the same front-page position.

 The advantage of using SEO is that your position is earned and therefore has more credibility.

Consequently, we always recommend combining SEO with PPC for maximum results.

When evaluating your website for SEO, make sure it’s strong in the following five areas:

Keywords are still vital

 Keywords are the significant words or phrases noticed and indexed by search engines.

 Include keywords that patients search for in headlines, meta description, header tags, body copy, and navigation.

But don’t overuse them.

Keyword-laden copy still needs to motivate – and to do that – it must be well written.

Spiders notice change

Search engines are constantly searching, but they don’t waste time looking at what they’ve already seen (and indexed). Updating your website regularly has value for visitors and search

Text with images Spiders are blind to images, artwork, and videos. So it’s important to use keyword-rich “alt text” and captions to reveal visual content to spiders.

 Videos on your site

Videos appeal to your website visitors and help boost page rank. Like other content, videos must be original and relevant to your specific audience.

 By the way, websites should be made “search engine friendly” while being created.

 Unfortunately, most designers know nothing about SEO, so someone else has to retrofit it later—at considerable expense.

At our seminars, we use the analogy, “That’s like buying a car, then paying someone to cut the roof off. It’s is better and cheaper to buy a convertible in the first place.”

Offsite SEO

When your content is linked to other websites or social media comments, your website becomes more discoverable.

But be careful to nurture legitimate, relevant backlinks.

Good sources for backlinks include patients, local businesses and community sites, press releases, published articles, social media comments, physician review sites, blogs, and directories.

Mistake 05 Not Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Devices

More than 90% of people worldwide use a mobile device to go online.

Any future changes you make to your website should include user-responsive improvements that function well on smartphones or tablets.

Having a mobile-first strategy puts you ahead of the curve.

Currently, 37% of those with smartphones say they use them as their primary source for online

access (58% of those 18-29), which is expected to rise.

Mobile use for healthcare services exploded during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 It included innovative changes, such as disseminating routine and crisis public relations announcements, providing location-based information, posting ER wait times, texting appointment reminders, and sending updates from the OR to waiting families and friends.

Mistake 06 Mishandling Inquiries From Your Website

While this is not a reflection of your online presence, poorly handled inquiries that come from your website have a significant impact on the success of your online marketing campaign.

Our research shows more than 60% of callers from the internet are lost at the front desk.

Losing just a few callers per location per day can easily result in millions of dollars of opportunity cost for a multi-location healthcare provider.

Set your front desk or call center up to win.

Nothing is more important than an inquiry.

Assign your best people to do the job of responding to phone and online inquiries, and provide them with scripts and training to do it well.

Mistake 07 Failure to Use Social Media Properly

There are several ways you can participate in social media

Social media has become an integral communication tool for virtually every healthcare organization.

It builds connections and communities with your most important audiences.

Both paid and organic social media must be integrated into your larger, overall marketing plan.

 Consider in advance how much time you can dedicate to your social networks to engage in them consistently and establish clear rules that govern your interactions.

There are several ways you can participate in social media, some more time-consuming than others:

 As a listener

Social media can be used to learn what your audience wants to know, helping you improve and update the content on your website.

As an expert

Within your organization, you may have surgeons, nurses, physical therapists, social workers, or other staff members with excellent patient care stories to tell.

You can also provide health and wellness experts from your physician roster to answer questions on many health issues.

As a news source

Feed your followers interesting articles, blog posts, and news across multiple social media platforms.

As a community

Facebook and Instagram usually provide you with the broadest audiences, but remember to match your content to local or national audiences, as appropriate.

Mistake 8 Failing to Recognize Digital Marketing is a “Team Sport”

We find that healthcare executive leadership often underestimates the diverse set of talents required to compete in today’s marketplace.

Typical roles include strategy, writing, design, programming, project management, SEO, paid social, organic social, paid search, programmatic, traditional media buyer/planner, publicist, videographer, and more.

 Given all these hard-to-find and expensive people, a healthcare marketing agency with a track record often makes the most sense.

That way, you can get all the needed expertise in one coordinated team.

Call Onlinko Digital Marketing Agency if you need help turning your digital marketing program around.

If you need help, we’re happy to critique your current marketing programs.

 Onlinko Digital Marketing Agency can guide your digital marketing as we have done for countless other health organizations around the nation, providing ethical, creative, and best practices marketing strategies.

 At Onlinko Digital Marketing Agency, we understand what works and what doesn’t in healthcare marketing.

We know how to effectively communicate your value to your various audiences in ways that help them appreciate and utilize all that you have to offer.

 Our goal is to help you make your online efforts both reputation-enhancing and profitable. Call us to find out more at 07088866333.

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