2020 healthcare marketing trends survey word cloudA new year is here. Actually, a new decade is here. Woah.

Thinking about the last year (or the last 10 years) in healthcare marketing, it feels like we’re on a new planet. New technologies, social media channels and search algorithms have completely changed the content marketing landscape, and they will undoubtedly influence some of the biggest 2020 healthcare marketing trends.

As we look ahead, we wanted to dig deeper into what our clients and colleagues are predicting for the next year in healthcare content and marketing. We sent out a survey late last year asking for precisely that information. Now, we’re here to break down the results and share the biggest hurdles and trends these industry experts are preparing to tackle in 2020.

About the survey respondents

First, here’s a bit about our survey respondents:

  • We had a little over 100 people complete the survey
  • Most respondents work in content production and writing (72%), web content management (61%) and marketing planning or strategy (57%).
  • While the majority of those surveyed work on small teams (one to 10 people), roughly a third said they work with a group of more than 10.

Takeaways and predictions from the 2020 healthcare marketing trends survey

The results of our survey confirmed some of our own predictions but also revealed a few surprises. We’ve rounded up some of the main themes below.

Social media and websites remain top priorities

We weren’t too shocked to see that more than half of the respondents (55%) said that their website is one of the top two most important digital marketing channels. The same percentage also listed social media as a top marketing channel — surpassing blogs, email and video.

Survey response graph for top digital marketing channels

Healthcare marketers who responded to our survey report that social media and websites contribute the most towards achieving their marketing goals.

More than 15% of respondents also said they’re hoping to focus on improving social media efforts in 2020.

Admittedly, we found these results a little surprising. While we understand the power and popularity of social media, research has shown that usage is slowing or dropping off — especially among the millennial audience.

Despite that data, healthcare marketers don’t seem to be slowing on their social media usage. But our tactics will need to change, and we’ll want to think carefully about content as the audiences for these channels shift. For example, Facebook is now primarily used by people age 55 and older, and more than 68% of baby boomers are on the platform.

As social media becomes more competitive for marketers, we will also have to think about setting aside more dollars for promoted posts and ads.

Watch out for email marketing

Email marketing ranked as the third most critical channel for our survey respondents. Email also came in third as the channel marketers want to improve most this year.

Survey response graph for top marketing channels to improve

Website, social media and email marketing are the top channels our survey respondents want to improve in 2020.

Most of our survey respondents (78%) also said they use email newsletters to stay on top of the latest content marketing trends.

Survey responses for how to stay on top of industry trends

Industry emails and email newsletters are the most-used resources for staying on top of content marketing trends.

Email is a powerful content marketing channel for both B2B an B2C industries. One survey showed that the average return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is 38:1. Active email accounts were also expected to reach 5.6 billion in 2019.

With the social media landscape changing and becoming more expensive for marketers, email marketing may have a stronger foothold in our healthcare marketing moving forward. The millennial audience, in particular, seems to gravitate toward this channel.

Being short-staffed remains a struggle in healthcare marketing

While it’s likely not a surprise to many of our readers, too few staff members is the biggest challenge our survey respondents face day-to-day. In other words, healthcare marketers would like to do more but their team is often stretched too thin.

Survey responses for top challenges healthcare marketers face

Staffing issues are the top challenges for our survey respondents, followed by internal communication problems.

Survey respondents say content marketing is the main 2020 investment priority for our respondents (40%), but expanding staff was a close second (38%). These results are consistent with feedback we hear anecdotally from colleagues in the healthcare industry.

Survey responses showing marketing budget priorities

How our survey respondents would spend additional budget dollars in 2020.

SEO efforts have ramped up, but the strategy will shift

Although more than 36% of our respondents said that they redesigned their website less than a year ago, that channel remains marketers’ top priority for 2020. Of all the digital marketing channels they use, 32% of our survey respondents said that their websites will be the biggest focus this year.

With that in mind, SEO will continue to play a crucial role in healthcare marketing. In fact, most respondents said they either have a dedicated digital marketer in-house who manages SEO strategy (34%) or they hire a dedicated contractor to manage SEO (25%).

Survey responses for how marketers tackle SEO

Most survey respondents have a dedicated SEO expert in-house or hire an SEO firm.

Looking ahead, healthcare marketers will need to not only think about the right SEO keywords, but also the quality of their content. As the BERT update showed us, Google continues to adjust its algorithm to use more natural language processing to find the most relevant content for users.

Using structured data on websites will also be necessary as more organizations are optimizing their blogs and websites to cater to Google’s rich and featured snippets.

There’s work to be done in voice search

When asked about the one area they see dominating 2020 healthcare marketing trends, voice and voice search were the top responses in our survey.

But there’s work to be done — most of our respondents (79%) said they haven’t executed any initiatives around voice search yet. Those who have started a voice strategy are working on schema markup and structured data to optimize their content for voice search results. In some cases, a few respondents have worked on developing an Alexa skill.

Aside from the technical side of voice search optimization, healthcare marketers will need to think more about conversational content in 2020. With more voice searches and Google’s recent algorithm update, marketers will likely find success with content and keywords that are conversational. Use patient-friendly words and not just medical terms (“stomach” instead of “gastric”) and don’t be afraid to use long-tail keywords.

Consumerism — more than just a buzzword?

Voice search may be a priority for healthcare marketers in 2020, but consumerism also seems to be top-of-mind for many of our survey respondents.

2020 healthcare marketing trends survey word cloud

It can be easy to brush consumerism off as a buzzword, but it was a big focus for healthcare in 2019 and we predict it will continue to make headlines in 2020 and beyond. Patients are looking for more from healthcare systems — more convenience, more value and more choices.

From a content standpoint, healthcare marketers and writers need to think about whether their websites, blog posts, podcasts and videos are making healthcare easier to access and understand. Whether your priority is consumerism or SEO, using patient-friendly language will be more critical than ever.

Healthcare in 2020: Social, SEO, voice search and consumerism

Looking at the results from our 2020 healthcare marketing trends survey, we’re excited to see what the next year has in store for healthcare content. Social media is surely here to stay but we see web content and email marketing playing a bigger role than ever. And voice search, while in its early stages, will absolutely be a part of the healthcare marketing landscape.

In the end, it all translates to better experiences and more quality information for patients.

Need help getting strategy off the ground in 2020? WriterGirl is ready to help you achieve content success in the new year. Whether it’s website content, blog writing, social media posts or email campaigns, reach out anytime to learn how we can support your healthcare marketing strategy.