Navigating Digital Marketing for Health Care Organizations

Published: February 8, 2017  by 

Blue stethoscope laying on medical records

You don’t call a lawyer when you need advice about a chronic cough. You wouldn’t go to the hairdresser to help you alter a new dress. No one expects health care providers to understand digital marketing.

Enter: BigWing.

Digital marketing is our specialty, and we’ve worked with all sorts of health care providers over the years to establish a proven track record of growth for these types of clients. From eye doctors and women’s health providers to pain management clinics and complete hospital systems, experts from each of BigWing’s service lines work together to create campaigns that respect the unique needs and regulations of the health care industry.

Marketing in the medical field is a different ball game. It requires navigating highly sensitive topics and carries extra liabilities, and the best way to do it right is to learn the dos and don’ts of health care marketing. Here’s a sampling of the tips we’ve learned and put into practice with our own health care clients.

General dos and don’ts of health care marketing

  • Don’t overlook HIPAA regulations. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s standards for what you can talk about and what you can’t when it comes to patients.
  • Do understand your goals for digital marketing. Are you looking for additional patients or are you wanting to build your reputation as an expert? Health care providers may have varying goals in mind and you may need to adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Don’t forget to use the correct tone and voice. Do you sound like a teacher or like someone’s grandmother? If you are trying to explain a complicated medical procedure, yet you sound like a drill sergeant, you may have the wrong idea.
  • Do pay attention to details and use reputable sources for data such as .gov sites to verify information.

Social media tips for health care organizations

  • Do share information about community efforts.
  • Do post videos. People want to see how the procedures and equipment work — this helps them feel more comfortable making an appointment.
  • Do post on trending topics. Use a unique angle to share a different viewpoint or confirm the health care provider’s stance on the subject.
  • 54% of Health care organizations have specific social media guidelines in writing [graphic]
    Information from
    Do focus on how your client’s work is positive and proactive, not on a “solution to a problem.”
  • Do research what characteristics your target audience shares beyond their diagnoses and use that knowledge as you create ads.
  • Do remember to engage in monthly themes like Breast Cancer Awareness month or Heart Health Month.
  • Don’t post information targeting people who suffer from any specific disease. Facebook will frown upon such targeting.
  • Don’t use photos depicting unrealistic expectations of body types.
  • Don’t ignore trends in your client’s niche industry.
  • Don’t just post promotions. People are interested in other people, especially those who work in the health care offices they visit.

Health care advice from the SEO and web developer pros

  • Do have beautiful, professional images taken of your locations, inside and out. People want to see where they’ll be receiving their care. This helps with local SEO, too.
  • Don’t let your site grow to so many pages and paths that no one can find what they need. A clean design is crucial in healthcare marketing because it translates into calmness and trust, and that element of trust is so much more important when people are dealing with their health.
  • That being said, don’t worry so much about having a pretty website that you neglect making it crawlable by search robots.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of testimonials. Not only do they help establish credibility; they can be helpful for organic search power, too.

Content marketing advice for health care providers

  • Do learn your patients’ pain points. Knowing the pain points of the reader will help you to be compassionate and considerate about their daily struggles while providing positive solutions.
  • Do know how to respond to stressful situations with readers before they happen so you can handle them appropriately. Health conditions, medications, and insurance issues are sensitive topics.
  • Do create patient guides to help people navigate their recovery. Include details on issues to watch out for, follow-up appointments, and what to expect during the healing process.
  • Do be transparent and accessible as a health care expert. The more potential clients feel like they can get to know a health care provider before they set foot into the office, the better.

    Black computer keys lit with blue underlights- 72% of web users looked online for health info.
    Information from
  • Don’t be afraid to set the record straight. If there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding a topic, don’t be hesitant to dispel myths – just be able to back up your info with verified stats.
  • Don’t forget about the humans behind the health care. People seeking health care are often seeking empathy, as well. They want their fears, concerns, and hardships to be validated.

Avoiding paid search malpractice

  • Do make sure you’re knowledgeable of Google’s health care advertising policies. Google restricts promotion of certain content, services, and products, so it’s important to understand what you can and cannot advertise. Policy violation will end in an account suspension.
  • Do remember when sending traffic to a landing page that contains testimonials, make sure you include a disclaimer. Each testimonial needs an asterisk* by it, with a corresponding asterisk at the bottom of each page with a disclaimer that states, “Results may vary.”
  • Do realize that bidding on and using pharmaceutical terms in paid search ads is strictly prohibited, with the exception of Google-certified pharma manufacturers.
  • Don’t forget to expand your negative keyword list to include the names of pharmaceutical products and procedures that are irrelevant to the intent of your campaign.
  • Don’t include medical claims in your ads unless they are verifiable and well documented on your landing page. Never make medical promises; Google values transparency and will disapprove ads that it deems misleading to the user.

BigWing knows navigating the world of digital marketing can be overwhelming. With the added concerns and constraints of the health care industry, it’s imperative to work with an agency you can trust.

Learn more about how BigWing does health care marketing