Healthcare Digital Marketing

The Role of Digital Marketing in Healthcare

Jim Neumann
Healthcare Industry Lead
Apr 24, 2024

Digital Marketing for Healthcare Providers: A Guide

Leading healthcare organizations have implemented a range of digital strategies to attract new patients and improve the patient experience. But many healthcare providers still lack a digital marketing plan, or the tools to execute it. As many as 54% of medical practices don’t use marketing automation software, and only 20% feel confident in digital strategies like SEO.

Today, patients are smarter and more powerful than ever thanks to technology and the internet. In order to build trust with prospective patients, healthcare practices need to embrace digital marketing strategies. In this article, we will look at the evolving role of digital marketing in healthcare, how it can help both patients and providers and how you can implement key digital marketing tactics in your practice.

Healthcare solution journey

Why is Digital Marketing Important in Healthcare?

In decades past, doctors built up their practices through referral networks and word of mouth. Today, healthcare consumers look at websites, read reviews on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, and even check out doctors’ social media posts as they consider choosing a new healthcare service provider. Without the right strategy in place, healthcare systems and doctors can end up hiding in plain sight.

Digital marketing helps healthcare organizations reach more people, which is especially important for smaller practices or groups that may not have a lot of money to spend on marketing. For example, by using targeted digital advertising, healthcare providers can identify their ideal audience and create personalized ads that increase conversion rates. 

Digital marketing is also often less expensive than traditional marketing methods. Even if you don’t have in-house expertise, it’s easy and cost-effective to partner with an expert in digital marketing for healthcare that can assist with everything from reputation management to healthcare SEO.

Even better, digital marketing lets you track and measure results more effectively than traditional marketing channels. For example, healthcare providers can use analytics tools to see how their digital marketing campaigns are performing in real-time. This empowers them to make decisions based on data and adjust digital strategies to get better results.

Types of Digital Marketing in Healthcare

Healthcare systems and providers can reach and interact with patients through numerous digital channels. Here are some of the most popular types of digital marketing used in healthcare:

Digital marketing activation and optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The phrase “doctor near me” is searched 74,000 times each month. “Primary care doctor near me” gets 40,000 searches, “cardiologist near me” gets 90,000, and “OBGYN near me” gets a whopping 200,000 searches per month. If your medical practice isn’t showing on Google in your area, you could be missing out on thousands of potential patients per year.

To improve your visibility in the search engine results pages, you can implement search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. These range from creating helpful content on important health topics to ensuring a seamless patient experience across devices, to keeping your Google Local listing up to date and accurate.

Paid Search

Paid search advertising, also called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, is another way to reach users online. Paid ads can show up on Google searches or as display ads on relevant websites and videos. While SEO is usually a long-term strategy, PPC tends to show results more quickly, and can even be programmed to optimize for the metrics you care about most, like cost of acquisition. Using paid search, healthcare organizations can easily manage their budgets and make quick adjustments to bids and copy based on performance.

The results can grow even more when a holistic approach to paid media is taken. For one of Further’s global healthcare clients, establishing Campaign Manager 360 integrations into the Google Marketing Platform Stack, and optimizing across display, video, and search ads had remarkable success. Utilizing granular tracking and attribution data, Further was able to create personalized ads across segments, leading to a 13% increase in leads and a 20% increase in conversion rate.

Social Media 

Social media marketing is now an important part of digital marketing for healthcare providers. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok let providers connect with patients on a more personal level. They can also use social media to share useful content and news with their followers.

The effectiveness of social media in healthcare marketing is reflected in user engagement with health-related topics. According to a survey by CharityRX, 20% of Americans search Tiktok for health information before talking to their doctor about a medical condition. Among Gen Z patients, social media usage is even higher, with 33% consulting TikTok before their physician.

By engaging on social media, healthcare professionals can bridge the gap with their patients. Perhaps even more importantly, healthcare systems active on social platforms can help dispel common myths and correct misinformation to help patients stay safe and healthy.


Email marketing is a great way for healthcare providers to stay in touch with patients and build relationships. Through emails, providers can let patients know about new services, practice updates, and important news. On average, healthcare marketers send at least one marketing email per week and healthcare marketing emails show a 41.2% open rate.

Email marketing strategies also let providers send different groups of patients different messages. If you operate a multidisciplinary practice, you can make sure that patients in each specialty get content personalized to their specific needs. You can also create campaigns for your HCP networks to ensure they have the latest information on your practice, and to encourage continual referrals. Email segmentation can boost campaign performance, drive a better patient experience, and increase the overall ROI of your healthcare marketing strategy.

Content Marketing in Healthcare

Content marketing involves making and sharing useful, interesting content to get people interested and involved with your brand. For healthcare providers, this could mean blog posts, videos, infographics, and more. By giving potential patients useful information and resources, healthcare organizations can become thought leaders and gain their trust.

While digital marketing for healthcare providers can take place across channels, content marketing plays a role in the success of your healthcare marketing strategy in all of them. For example, you might write a blog post on why patients should get an annual exam, and pair it with an infographic on the benefits of annual exams. You could send out an email reminding patients to schedule their appointment and linking to the content, and even post your thoughts in short formats on social media.

The Benefits of Digital Marketing in Healthcare

Digital marketing offers advantages to health systems and patients alike, throughout the patient journey. Here are some of the most important medical digital marketing benefits:

The healthcare customer journey

Increased Brand Awareness

Healthcare providers with a strong digital presence can raise brand awareness in a world where social media and search engines play a major role in healthcare decisions. By using digital marketing strategies, providers can reach more people and become a trusted resource for health information and services.

Increased Targeting and Tailoring 

Healthcare providers often have multiple service lines that need to attract new patients at different rates and intervals.  The ability to turn up and turn down digital marketing spend levels as needed and tailor content uniquely based on the needs of the provider makes digital marketing a valuable tool for healthcare provider networks.

Improved Patient Acquisition

Targeted ads and SEO can help healthcare providers get more patients to their practice or organization. By creating targeted ads based on consumer behaviors, healthcare industry brands can grow different areas of their business more effectively.

Improved Patient Engagement

Digital marketing lets healthcare providers connect with patients in a more personal and meaningful way. Through social media, email marketing, and other digital channels, providers quickly address patients’ questions, needs and concerns, which can help them improve their health and treatment effectiveness. 

Better Patient Education

Digital marketing lets healthcare providers give patients trustworthy resources and information. Using blog posts, videos, and infographics, HCPs can teach patients about their health and help them make smarter healthcare decisions.

The Future of Digital Marketing in Healthcare

Digital marketing will play an even bigger part in healthcare as technology evolves. Here are some trends to keep an eye on in the future of digital marketing in healthcare:

HIPAA-Compliant Healthcare Marketing Analytics

Data has long been a staple in healthcare organizations, especially in research and patient care. But now, healthcare marketers are taking advantage of advanced marketing analytics tools to keep track of and measure their digital marketing efforts in a HIPAA-compliant manner. As technology like machine learning becomes more integrated in healthcare marketing, practices will be able to move from reactive changes in strategy to proactive campaign planning and adjustment.

Healthcare Marketing Automation

Marketing automation empowers teams to automate repetitive or tedious marketing jobs. This can save healthcare providers time and money, so they can focus on other important parts of their business.

Example: Leading Children’s Hospital

Further works with a leading Children’s Hospital network providing digital media strategy and acquisition tactics across all their service lines.  Using a highly targeted, data-driven approach to target acquisition efforts for specific service lines, Further has delivered a 6:1 ROI on their media spend (based on average appointment revenue).

Personalization and AI

We’ve already covered the positive impact of personalization in digital marketing for medical practices. As artificial intelligence (AI) solutions become more advanced, healthcare organizations will be able to use AI-powered solutions to create hyper-personalized experiences across patient journeys to augment acquisition, engagement, and retention.

Some popular use cases for AI in healthcare are already emerging. For example, AI-powered scheduling tools and chatbots are making it easier for patients to get quick answers to questions about health systems and create appointments. Meanwhile, advances in predictive analytics are poised to enable more sophisticated healthcare marketing strategies targeting specific patient demographics, geographic regions, and even those with specific medical conditions.

The Role of a Healthcare Digital Marketing Consultant

Getting started with digital marketing in healthcare isn’t easy; you need to have a deep understanding of multiple platforms, tactics, and tools to get the most out of your investment. Even if you are performing email, social media, or paid media advertising already, a healthcare digital marketing consultant can provide guidance on the best strategies and tools to use based on your goals and needs. They can also help with launching and managing digital marketing campaigns, so providers can focus on their main business.

It’s Time to Embrace Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is an important way for healthcare providers to connect with and reach patients, and its impact on healthcare practices will only grow in years to come. It’s critical to make sure your organization is targeting the right channels and audiences, and leveraging the right tools to keep your competitive advantage. Plus, getting started now will help your organization keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape.

For support with your digital healthcare marketing strategy, make sure to contact Further today. We’ve been working with healthcare clients like UPMC, HCA, and University Hospitals for decades to create measurable business outcomes, and would love to help you achieve your goals.

Jim Neumann
Healthcare Industry Lead

After starting his career in IT, Jim Neumann found his passion working with clients at the intersection of marketing, data, and technology. For over 30 years, Jim has helped companies leverage data, technology, and analytics to drive marketing impact for leading healthcare brands. Jim currently leads the Healthcare Industry Vertical for Further, working with both Healthcare providers and Pharmaceutical and Biotech clients. Outside of work, Jim enjoys spending time playing golf and driving his 1966 Mustang convertible.


Read More Insights From Our Team

View All

Take your company further. Unlock the power of data-driven decisions.

Go Further Today