Adjusting to a New Normal: Marketing Your Health Organizations Post COVID-19

April 23, 2020 Tracy McCarty

In reaction to the coronavirus crisis, you’ve put up a COVID-19 info banner or link to an information page, turned off your paid search and pulled back or turned-off display ads. An asynchronous chatbot is in place to help redirect inquiries away from the call center, and Telemedicine is available. Social media is creating a strong response for masks and other PPE support, and you are sharing patient and staff hero stories. Your Intranet has a new message board area, and daily executive updates are scheduled in email. Phew! You managed to make crisis-born adjustments.

Now, your focused campaign engagement and paid search have decreased, SEO has lost traction, organic search is down and click-throughs to the COVID information are dominating engagement. Telemedicine usage is growing faster than you projected. Mobile website usage has increased, but bounce rates are high, especially if you aren’t mobile-friendly. Your analytics team may be having a hard time connecting the data dots among the new platforms put in place to handle the crisis – insights are hard to find. Ninety-eight percent of your website is the same as it was before: Find a Doc, Schedule an Appointment, Find a Location. But few are visiting those pages and it wouldn’t even matter if they did because business isn’t running as usual. Search within your site has increased, but time on page is down as consumers look for answers to how “business as usual” is being handled.

As organizations begin to gain momentum again, they’re having to adjust to a new normal. Are you ready? Traditional annual campaigns will now have a different tone. There is and always will be heightened attention to germ-avoidance and personal proximity. Consumers wonder – are hospitals, even a safe place to go back to?

With all this change, your website, marketing messaging and outreach cannot just return to business-as-usual, because it isn’t. It’s time to take an audit of your digital assets. What do they say? How do they look? Are you able to assimilate engagement data? It would be smart to combine this with a target audience audit. Has brand confidence changed? How do they prefer to engage now that they have more digital tools at their disposal? What messaging do they want to hear and when?

Through this auditing process, you’re likely to find that many preferences and behaviors have shifted, and you have some work to do to close the gap between where you currently are and where your audiences are headed. Don’t be overwhelmed by this. You don’t have to commit to updating everything all at once. Prioritize efforts that are truly going to make an impact, and build a roadmap to tackle these updates in “sprints.” This allows you to introduce a constant stream of incremental improvements to your marketing communications, your digital experience and, ultimately, the patient experience. It also makes it much easier to pause, evaluate and refocus as necessary.

The future may be uncertain, but one thing’s for sure – to thrive moving forward you need to be agile and empathetic. Organizations that position themselves to pivot on short notice and flex to meet patients and consumers where they’re at will be the ones that keep them coming back.

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Tracy McCarty Director, Digital Solutions, Health

At the time of publishing, Tracy was Director, Digital Solutions, Health at One North. 

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