Telehealth companies are on the cutting edge of care delivery innovation — but in a complex, evolving market, they’re up against some unique challenges.
First, the good: Telehealth use skyrocketed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as healthcare organizations raced to accommodate patient needs without in-person visits. In April 2020, telehealth utilization was 78 times higher than in February 2020. By mid-2021, utilization had stabilized around 38 times pre-pandemic levels.
In response to that boom, the market has grown increasingly competitive. Investment in telehealth startups ballooned as hundreds of new entrants entered the market. In 2021, the number of global digital health startup “unicorns” — companies valued at over $1 billion each — rose 44% from 2020 to a total of 85. Meanwhile, major consumer retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, launched their own telehealth divisions.
Today there are an abundance of telehealth solutions, but the market is shifting. Data shows that telehealth use is dropping, and most patients still prefer in-person care. Provider use of telehealth has also consistently declined since April 2020 — likely, in part, because reimbursement rates for telehealth services are still well below those of in-person visits.
With telehealth supply outpacing demand, how does a telehealth company strategically plan a marketing approach to stand out from the competition and the clutter? To start with, your marketing messages need to cut through the clutter and enable your business to stand out from growing number of other products and services in the market, especially as market leaders merge and acquire additional companies — creating large, powerful sector giants.
While it’s not as simple as just nailing your messaging, it is entirely possible — as long as you have a solid telehealth marketing strategy. Here’s a look at what the most effective telehealth marketing teams do to succeed.
1. Publish High-Quality Educational Telehealth Content
To succeed, your company has to do more than just bring a great telemedicine product or service to market. You have to educate and convince healthcare decision-makers, care providers, payers, and regulators that what you offer is superior to anything else that’s available. But the key today is to establish your company as a thought leader, showing your target audience the benefits in patient outcome and access, efficiency, integration and consolidation, streamlined workflows, and other areas that have proven to be pain points (as well as big wins) for telehealth in healthcare organizations.
That’s why content marketing is key to most successful telehealth marketing initiatives. Delivering quality content to the right audiences can build trust in your product or service, engage current and potential stakeholders (especially those critical to what is usually a long decision-making process), establish your company as a thought leader, and build brand awareness around your business.
Every good healthcare content marketing effort starts with a thoughtful strategy and plan that’s unique to your business. However, some of the most successful healthcare content marketing strategies include:
Blog Posts: Regularly publishing blog posts is a proven way to build an audience, communicate key messages, build brand awareness, improve search engine rankings, and build authority for your content and top SEO keywords. Creating a linking strategy within your blog posts also further enhances your authority and keyword strategies. Overall, blog posts can provide long-term marketing benefits; some well-written blog posts continue to generate trackable revenue for years after their initial publish dates.
Whitepapers: Any telehealth purchase is a highly considered purchase. Understanding integrations, how your product might fit into a consolidation, or how easily it might fit into current workflows is critical for any healthcare organization stakeholder — but often isn’t easily described. Longer, more in-depth pieces, like whitepapers and eBooks, offer prospects both the answers they are looking for on pressing purchasing questions and establishes your company’s authority on the subject.
Put your healthtech whitepapers behind a form to help generate new leads and contacts. While that download doesn’t necessarily indicate readiness to purchase, it does usually indicate that the user is moving down your buying funnel. A well-crafted email campaign can further guide prospects along in that buyer journey.
Case studies: In the healthcare technology market, where the buying process can be long and complex, case studies are a critical tool for helping prospects envision themselves working with your product. In fact, 78% of B2B buyers report using case studies when researching purchase decisions. However, in such a competitive field, your healthcare case studies can’t look like every other piece of content that’s out there — so consider non-traditional formats, like video or interactive pages, as well as traditional written pieces.
Video: Overall, 86% of all businesses use some type of video marketing. And the complexity of telehealth products and services make it a perfect candidate for video. While it’s clear to all of us that video is key to consumer product marketing, a Forbes study reported that 76% of executives said they watch work-related videos on business-related websites at least weekly. If you want to get your message in front of today’s audience, video should be a key part of your telehealth content marketing strategy — in fact more than 80% of marketers say that video has directly helped increase sales and gives them good ROI. Fortunately, today’s platforms and technology make it easy to create a range of different video types. Whether you choose to record webinars, interviews, or testimonials, make short, graphic videos, or create videos directly on social media platforms like TikTok or Instagram, video can and should be an important part of your marketing efforts.
News updates: As your telehealth company innovates and advances, publishing periodic news updates is essential to keeping your current and existing customers, as well as other stakeholders, in the loop. Use news updates to trumpet new developments, research, product improvements, and more. While you can issue these as traditional press releases, don’t be afraid to try other formats as well, such as videos or social media posts and graphics.
Email is one of the most effective telehealth content marketing strategies available. According to some research, email generates $42 for every $1 spent — which comes out to a 4,200% ROI.
Of course, sending an email doesn’t necessarily mean someone will open it, much less engage with it. But there are proven tactics you can use in healthcare content writing to improve your odds of success. With personalization, for example, you can send messages that appeal to each individual prospect — without actually drafting separate emails for each contact. The customizations can be simple, like writing personalized subject lines or including the prospect’s first name, or complex, like including dynamic content based on the recipient’s interests. According to HubSpot, segmented email campaigns can lead to as much as a 760% increase in revenue.
It’s also important to remember that emails shouldn’t just be pure sales pitches for your product. To keep your audience engaged (and your emails out of spam folders), your email campaigns should educate and provide relevant, helpful content that addresses prospects’ pain points. Use your emails to generate connections and point your audience to helpful content, like blog posts and whitepapers. When your emails provide value, recipients will be much more likely to open them and refrain from hitting the unsubscribe button.
How do you know if your emails are actually effective? Test, test, test. Compare two different subject lines, calls to action, images, layouts, greetings, or even time of day when the email is sent. As you learn what performs best, you can adjust your emails to be as appealing and effective as possible.
3. Organic Social Media
With more than 4 billion people using social media worldwide, a robust organic social media strategy is a must. Social media allows your company to interact with current and potential customers and provides another platform to communicate your brand voice and personality.
Define your target audience (age, gender, location, occupation, etc.) and then research which social platforms your audience is using and focus your efforts there. It’s important to evaluate your goals and determine where you will reach your target audience. Keep your brand consistent across platforms, but know that the same content formats and post types will not resonate with audiences on all social platforms. For example, companies that want to educate or to establish themselves with thought leadership content can do well on LinkedIn, but that same company might also thrive on TikTok (but with different content formats).
More industry-specific platforms such as Doximity, Sermo, and MomMD can also be great picks. Ultimately, it comes down to researching what platforms your audience is engaging with, and producing content that they will find interesting, valuable, and worth sharing. That will undoubtedly vary for each company, but some content ideas include:
- Links to your company’s blog posts
- Industry news
- Videos showcasing your product
- Tips and advice for using your product or service
- Links to relevant podcast episodes
- Curated content from trusted sources
Remember, social media is about engaging with your audience, so make sure you have a strategy in place to listen and respond. Social listening, monitoring, and optimization tools can help build and grow your social media audiences. Tools such as Hubspot, SproutSocial, and Hootsuite can help you understand how your audiences interact with your content, so you can identify what they find the most interesting and shareable — and post more of that content.
4. Paid Media
You can build on the power, reach, and targeting capabilities of social media by leveraging paid media. Once you understand who your target audience is, the social media platforms they frequent, and the kind of content they engage with, you can use paid media to expand your reach and retarget people who’ve visited your site.
Paid media has become infinitely more complex in the past several years, which can be daunting but also hugely advantageous. You’re now able to target a specific audience with your message or content with more specificity and success than ever before.
Like any other type of content, paid ads require well-planned, well-written content to cut through the clutter, deliver your message, and ultimately, drive a desired action through PPC. To see an ROI on paid media, you need the patience, resources, and budget to create compelling, eye-catching campaigns. But it’s often worth it; paid media is an incredibly effective way to boost your reach, generate leads, and drive real results
5. Account-Based Marketing
While some of the strategies mentioned above can help generate a high number of leads, the truth is they won’t all become customers. Account-based marketing (ABM) can help you weed out some of your less valuable prospects and focus on high-value accounts that will be the best fit for your company and product.
Generally, ABM requires sales and marketing to work closely together to create an ideal customer profile that includes information such as business objectives, company size, current stage of business maturity, revenue model, and current tools and technology. Once you know who you’re targeting, you can craft highly personalized messages and content designed to engage those specific accounts. Keep in mind that ABM isn’t only limited to outbound marketing efforts like emails or direct mail. It can also include inbound marketing tactics, like blog posts, newsletters, ads to attract contacts associated with target accounts. And the content shouldn’t stop once a prospect moves through the buying process; aim to provide relevant messaging all the way down the funnel.
Get help with your telehealth marketing plan
OK, so now you’re familiar with some of the most successful strategies to use in telehealth content marketing — but you’re still not quite ready to jump in and get started. First, you need to bring these tactics together in a documented healthcare content marketing plan. Need help getting your plan down on paper?
In our eBook, Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A HealthTech Marketer’s Guide, we break down the content planning process into 10 straightforward steps.