Illustration of data for different service lines that are connected to one hospital.

Knowing how you stack up against your competitors is important at the brand level. But how are you planning to beat the competition and reach your audience within individual service lines? Whether you’re promoting orthopedics, cardiovascular care or cancer treatment, understanding who your competitors are and how they’re reaching their customers can help improve your content strategy while better engaging your target audience.

Learn how conducting a healthcare competitive analysis can help you better market your priority service lines to your target audience.

What is a competitive analysis?

During a competitive analysis, you will review the content of your competitors’ sites and compare gaps and opportunities to position your own service line marketing. What topics are these competitors covering? What types of content are they using? What conditions do they cover? And what is the quality of the content?

Often, this means evaluating regional competitors and benchmark organizations, analyzing performance data (including search metrics, keywords and visitor information) and considering content best practices (accessibility, reading level, metadata and more).

A competitive analysis should activate your content gap analysis and strategy. This analysis should identify the questions your target audience is asking, recognize pain points and plan the next steps to set your content apart from your competitors. It can help marketing teams focus on low-hanging fruit in the short term while creating a longer-term plan to separate your sites from your competitors.

Orient your analysis

Before you begin your service line competitive analysis, look inward to answer key questions about where your organization stands.

1. Identify your priority service lines

You may already have a list of priority service lines from your health system’s strategic plan. These service lines may generate significant revenue or have opportunities for growth. They also might have seen strategic shifts (for better or worse), including new centers and accreditations or drops in rankings and key departures.

2. Find your direct (and indirect) competitors

It’s easy to generate a list of direct competitors for service lines. For example, when it comes to orthopedic care, patients will likely consider care from hospitals in a local area. However, don’t forget about indirect competitors. Some patients might also seek support from local physical therapy providers or trainers. Patients might also be willing to travel further for highly specialized care, such as cancer treatment, so make sure to consider competitors outside your region.

3. Hone in on your target audience

Remember: You are competing for the eyeballs of your target audience. That’s why it’s critical to understand each service line’s audience. Are they different or more specific than the rest of your audience? For example, does a particular service line’s audience skew older or more female? Does it have a higher rate of self-referrals? If possible, interview current and former patients to better understand their relationship with your service line and find out what they hope to achieve.

How to conduct a service line competitive analysis

Once you understand your own service lines, you can evaluate the competition.

Look at your competitors through your audience’s eyes – and with a marketing lens!

Review each of your competitors’ sites and record their points of differentiation. Are they trying to capitalize on expertise? Personalization? Accessibility? Accreditation? Consider why these points would be important and persuasive to your target audience.

Make sure to also look at these sites with brand and SEO best practices in mind, including:

  • Accessibility: Are there any barriers that prevent access to the site?
  • Calls to action: Is it clear what action the audience is supposed to take?
  • Navigation: Is the site organized with clear headers and a logical flow?
  • Readability: What grade level is the site written for?
  • Responsiveness: Is the site mobile-friendly?
  • Tone: How are your competitors speaking to their audience?

Learn more SEO tips to help evaluate your site.

Understand your differentiators

Once you understand your competitors’ content, poke holes in their sites. Identify ways your content can speak to your audience more clearly, highlight differentiators, and address needs and pain points. Now is also a good time to interview team members within your priority service lines to hear their perspectives about what separates them.

Communicate your differentiators

Use your content to highlight your differentiators. Does your service line offer weekend or same-day appointments? What about telehealth visits? Do you have new clinical trials available? Did your physicians train in your community? Whether you are a large academic medical system or a small community hospital, the way you deliver care looks different. Focus on those differentiators when speaking to your audience.

Looking for help communicating with your audience?

Kicking off a competitive analysis can feel overwhelming, but with a WriterGirl partnership, you’ll get a team of savvy writers 100% dedicated to healthcare. We’ll create search-optimized content that helps customers, patients and clients find your business. Drop us a line to learn more.