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Why Is Healthcare Marketing So Difficult?


Marketing is often a tough undertaking for companies across all industries, but the marketing challenges in the healthcare industry are like no other. Although healthcare providers know the healthcare decision journeys of most prospective patients start online, capitalising on every single digital marketing opportunity to keep up with the digital-savvy healthcare consumers is not an option.

According to marketing experts at Prevention Digital, healthcare marketing is also challenging because of its very essence — it’s directed at people whose health is affected.

With over 3billion searches made daily on Google, there’s no doubt that to succeed, healthcare companies need a robust online presence on the largest search engine globally. Google Ads are often the most effective way to achieve this online visibility and reach a wider pool of potential patients.

Yet at the same time, healthcare players such as addiction treatment providers can’t run these advertisements after Google disabled ads for addiction treatment services. As much as these restrictions are aimed at weeding out deceptive advertisements from dishonest rehab providers, Google’s decision continues to negatively impact the digital marketing efforts of legitimate treatment centres with a genuine desire to help those in need of addiction treatment.

This decision has had a tremendous impact on reputable rehab centres that relied heavily on Google Ads as their primary source of lead generation and conversions. To put it more clearly, without access to the Google Ads platform, credible treatment centres are missing out on:

  • An opportunity for their services to appear in local online searches when prospective patients are looking for treatment services near their location
  • A chance to connect with potential patients exactly when they are in dire need of the best care
  • An opportunity to gain massive traffic to their websites and landing pages
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Fortunately, trustworthy rehab providers caught up in these restrictions can focus their attention on other alternatives — such as effective Facebook Ads campaigns — to reach more people, nurture prospects up to the point where they feel ready to seek help, and strengthen brand awareness.

Strict Limitations on Marketing Messaging

Generally, healthcare providers have it rough when advertising on search engines. As a healthcare marketer, some medical terminologies and phrases must not appear on your Google Ads copy, post-click landing page, keywords, or even on your web copy.

A good example of these restricted phrases is prescription drug terms, which can only be used by specific healthcare businesses — For instance, drug manufacturers who’ve been certified by Google to use these words. Most of these drug terms are vital for medical practitioners to convey their message effectively. Therefore, the limitations significantly hurt their marketing efforts.

If Google identifies a match between the drug-related phrase on your ad copy/web copy and that on their banned list, the consequences are harsh. Your Ads can be disapproved, or your Google Ads account may be suspended, and you’ll be forced to make constant appeals to Google. Worse is, your account can be banned altogether.

To avoid these shortcomings, you must be cautious of your choice of phrases and how you put the words together in your ads. For instance, refrain from using statements that emphasise guaranteed or positive outcomes. 

Here’s a typical example of how to frame some simple restricted phrases in your messaging:

  • Avoid using “ will make.” Instead, say “can make”
  • Avoid using “Eliminates”. Instead, say “ will help reduce”
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Due to these messaging limitations, healthcare marketers are left with no choice but to settle for negative keywords on their ads, that is, keywords they don’t want to rank for. For example, a marketer can’t use high-performing addiction-related keywords such as “alcohol treatment” or “drug addiction”, and many others.

It Takes Extra Effort and Time to Connect With Potential Patients

Healthcare is, by its very nature, a sensitive service to market. Potential patients often approach healthcare decisions with dread, so how you package your brand matters.

Healthcare marketing requires providers to strike a balance between establishing authority in the healthcare space and demonstrating empathy throughout their marketing. You may know the exact demographics you want your marketing campaigns to reach. You might even have the most relevant data to target your audience accordingly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there.

As a marketer, you have to be constantly careful not to use a “sales-y” language and be wary of marketing strategies that feel too pushy when trying to win over new patients. Marketing to a vulnerable group of consumers requires you to adopt an empathetic marketing approach at all times. If not, prospects will quickly lose sight of your brand’s effective healthcare services. 

Retargeting of Healthcare Advertisements Is a Challenge

Retargeting is among the most powerful tactics digital marketers use to keep their leads engaged throughout a long sales cycle. Through this tactic, you get to reach out to past website visitors (who left your site without taking any conversion action) by placing follow-up advertisements on other websites to entice them to convert.

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Typically, businesses in other sectors can use Google ads for retargeting purposes, but not healthcare companies. Healthcare providers have a long sales cycle, which means remarketing using the Google ads platform would come in handy. Unfortunately, it’s not an option.

One of the best ways to handle this marketing challenge as a healthcare provider is to ensure that you have a high-converting landing page. By designing your landing pages for conversion, it will be easier for web users who click on your Google ads to complete the desired conversion action.

You Can Still Take the Lead in Healthcare Digital Marketing

In many ways, the marketing struggles in the healthcare sector differ from those experienced by businesses in other industries. As a healthcare provider, working within the specific boundaries to your niche is essential to avoid hefty penalties that might force you to shut down. If you follow the directions we’ve outlined for some of the significant struggles you may face while navigating the digital marketing landscape, leading a successful business will be easier.

There is a huge potential for success if you do things right — and this is possible when you partner with experts in healthcare digital marketing to help you navigate this complicated space. That way, your healthcare brand can rise above the challenges.


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