The last two years have thrown us curveball after curveball when it comes to healthcare marketing and content strategy. The marketing practices of early 2020 seem centuries away.
With that in mind, our team felt it was time for an industry gut-check to gauge healthcare marketing trends and challenges. Wondering how the survey results compare to your organization’s goals for 2022? Let’s dive into some of the key findings.
Who answered our healthcare marketing trends survey
We surveyed roughly 50 healthcare marketers at the end of 2021 to see their expectations for the year ahead.
- The respondents’ roles ranged from marketing specialists (12.8%) to writers (19.2%) to managers (19.2%). The largest group of respondents (21.3%) sat at the executive level.
- Most individuals specialized in marketing planning and strategy, web content management and content production or writing.
- Most people who answered have small marketing teams, with roughly 32% having a team of 2-5. Teams of 6-10 and teams of one each made up 21% of respondents.
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Website presence and SEO top the list of priorities
The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot about our lives and our marketing, but marketers’ investment in SEO hasn’t diminished. A study from Conductor showed that marketing teams are spending more on SEO. And that’s not surprising, given that organic search drives more than 53% of total website traffic, according to BrightEdge.
When we asked which marketing channels they’d like to grow most in 2022, our respondents fell in line with this trend. Individuals were allowed to select up to three priority channels.
- The majority (48.7%) plan to grow and improve their website presence this year.
- SEO came in a close second, with 46% saying they’d like to grow this channel in 2022.
- The same number of people (46%) also said they’d like to grow their email marketing channel this year.
Marketers are likely to outsource SEO help
Although healthcare SEO is a priority for most marketers we surveyed, they’re looking to outside help to support it. Paid search and SEO were the top channels marketers planned to hire a freelancer, contractor or vendor to manage — with 62.7% hiring someone to handle paid search and 51.4% planning to use an SEO/SEM contractor or vendor.
Resources continue to be a challenge
As we found in our 2020 marketing survey, resource gaps are a significant hurdle for healthcare marketers. It seems to be a steady theme from year to year: Marketers are challenged to do more with less. According to this year’s survey, most of our respondents said that their biggest challenges for achieving marketing goals include:
- Lack of resources and/or talent (having a team that’s too small)
- Not having the time or budget to accomplish everything they need to do
Other challenges include:
- Working and collaborating with key stakeholders and executives
- Gaining trust from leadership and executives
- Recovering budget and managing resources alongside COVID-19
Variety is the spice of life — and a marketing stack
When asked which tools they use in their marketing stack, our respondents listed more than 50 different platforms. Software types ranged from CRMs to project management tools, email marketing platforms to social media management suites.
Below is a word cloud that includes most of the tools listed in the survey. The most popular platforms include:
- Emma email
- Google Analytics
- Google Workplace tools
- Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Dynamics
- Sprout Social
Marketers’ strategy game is strong
One of the positive findings from our survey is that most respondents (65%) have a documented marketing strategy in place. And 70% of those individuals have a documented content strategy, too.
We acknowledge that this may not reflect a larger trend in the industry. As we recently talked about with Jen Jenkins, many healthcare marketers struggle with a documented content strategy. Nevertheless, we were delighted to see this response and hope it continues in the future — a documented strategy helps you stay focused on your goals, spend resources wisely and clearly measure results.
For those who said they didn’t have a documented strategy, the biggest hurdles included:
- Constant priority changes within the organization and the healthcare industry as a whole
- Lack of support from leadership
- Lack of resources (budget, time, team members/talent)
Telehealth, COVID-19 and supply chain — sound familiar?
When it comes to trends across the healthcare industry, marketers who took our survey agreed that the ramping up of telehealth and virtual care is going to be the biggest influence on their content and marketing in 2022. Although telehealth popularity has leveled off since the early 2020 spike, its use is still 38 times higher than pre-pandemic levels.
And healthcare marketers also agreed that the virus we can’t seem to get rid of will continue to play a role in their day-to-day, affecting staffing, retention and recruitment.
Other trends healthcare marketers see affecting their work in 2022 include supply chain challenges and a continued focus on wellness and population health.
When we asked our respondents to look internally at their organization’s priorities and trends, most respondents said that service line growth and retention and recruitment would likely play a role in their marketing jobs this year. Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives (DE&I) were also a common priority among marketers.
Healthcare marketing trends in 2022: SEO, resource challenges and continuing COVID
There are plenty of pessimists out there who say 2022 won’t be much different from the previous two years (some have dubbed it “2020: Season Three”). But we’re choosing to be optimistic about the year ahead.
Sure, healthcare marketing teams may face some budget or resource challenges, but maybe this is the year where we’ll learn to master more with less. Perhaps this is also the year where we finally roll out that new website, or we launch a refreshed email newsletter that surpasses all benchmarks and expectations.
Whatever your marketing goals are for 2022 — improved SEO, a new website, or a stellar service line campaign — we wish you all the success.
Partner with healthcare content experts who will help you reach your goals. You don’t have to face the challenges of 2022 alone. WriterGirl’s team can help you get any content marketing project off the ground and over the finish line. Drop us a message to learn more about how we can support your strategy.