By Garry Hamilton, Group Chief Growth Officer, Equator
Competition in healthcare grows daily, with the digital marketplace more congested than ever before. Delivering cut-through in this space requires a strong brand, a robust marketing strategy and a class-leading customer experience.
Critical oversights, however, are being made across the sector. At Equator, we undertook qualitative and quantitative research to examine opportunities for healthcare businesses.
We did this through a combination of commercial and bespoke tools that analysed each business’s technologies, capabilities and connectivity. We interrogated pages and code to gain insights into which systems are in use, covering everything from content management and CRM to conversation rate optimisation tools. We additionally reviewed businesses’ desktop and mobile sites, looking at architecture, content, functionality and tools, product and service offering as well as page structure.
Our findings were not exactly stellar. More than 50% of traditional healthcare providers have yet to reap digital transformation rewards. But from a PE perspective, this presents an exciting chance for accelerated value creation, as new backers can pick up where existing owners have left off. This is particularly relevant in healthcare, where 80% of portfolio businesses could benefit from digitisation. In other words, with some attention, these oversights can quickly turn from a threat to an opportunity.
Below, we outline some of our recommendations for businesses in this space.
Investing in digital technologies
The choice of the content management system (CMS) for any business is a critical decision affected by cost, speed, scalability, security and flexibility. Despite there being over 100 CMS to choose from, our research found one dominant player: WordPress. 85% of the websites surveyed are running the free Linux-based CMS. With 33% of all sites online using WordPress, the over-indexation in Healthcare is noteworthy.
There is no denying that WordPress is suitable for start-ups. It is free, development costs are cheap, and a site can be live in weeks. However, it is not the choice of serious business, especially those with ambitious growth trajectories or those potentially collecting sensitive data.
And consider this: Only 10% of sites perform well on mobile or load quickly.
Addressing the various issues that impact page speed could mean looking to a more scalable, enterprise-level content management system like Umbraco or EpiServer. Not doing so holds back marketing performance and profitability.
CRM and personalisation features should be essential elements for all digital strategies. Businesses need to move fast toward personalisation models that tailor on-site experiences and customer communications.
Personalised services also do the heavy lifting for customers, removing their need to explore static site architectures, meaning drastically reduced journey lengths and increased repeat-order effectiveness.
Improving sales-funnel activity with more effective digital marketing
In most growth plans, SEO strategy will feature as a crucial lever in customer acquisition. Get it right, and you have a platform for growth. Get it wrong, and it can be a genuine threat. The Google algorithm can penalise a site or drop it from listings altogether if the inbound links are poorly managed.
Our research revealed that only 35% of businesses have low-risk link profiles. The rest are at medium or high risk and, therefore, in need of attention. The issue has become especially significant for a few of the businesses surveyed, who are sitting on tens of thousands of links – a potential time bomb if and when Google picks up on it.
Search engine visibility and link quality need to be taken seriously.
Demonstrating ROI with tracking and analytics
One critical area that several healthcare businesses seem to be overlooking is the appropriate use of tracking and analytics for their marketing and new business activities. But in fact, untracked call and email leakage weaken healthcare businesses’ ability to attribute sales value to a website strategy.
Effective and well-configured activity, call and site tracking can make all sales and marketing activities accountable. Without proper tracking, it’s tough to connect sales to investment and demonstrate return from any specific activity. Almost all the businesses we analysed in our research showed little or no consideration for effective activity tracking.
Beyond a typical Google Analytics setup, only a small handful was employing CRM toolsets or call-tracking plugins or making any effort to address leakage points or track visitors beyond their sites. That lack of tracking means many of the businesses we analysed cannot objectively report on new business or marketing activities.
Minimising the use of on-site email addresses and phone numbers is critical for these businesses. Where these are considered necessary, click tracking in Google Analytics will give some channel accountability. Dynamic phone number tools such as Infinity enable businesses to assign specific phone numbers to channels or activities.
Contact tracking provides far greater accountability in a company that relies on closing a sale or taking an order over the phone. Smart forms and chatbots can better triage a user, help create useful content, reduce business impact, and give 100% tracking visibility.
Winning with content
As with every sector under the sun, content is king in healthcare. But while 90% of businesses appeared to have a content strategy, nearly all suffered from low engagement. Much of the content failed to generate sufficient engagement. 63% of all businesses surveyed lack a thorough content marketing strategy.
However, this is changing, with 72% of marketers seeing content marketing and increased engagement as a key strategic focus. In the modern world, content is crucial, as marketing and communication ecosystems are increasingly complex and integrated.
An integrated content marketing strategy is about creating content that delivers a consistent and engaging experience at each stage in the journey and is essential to developing long-term relationships. For the strategy to succeed, it must connect the dots across all owned, paid and earned media platforms, delivering fresh content that people engage with and, crucially, want to share.
With an aging population, pandemic-weary societies, exponential growth in health and wellbeing spend, and an explosion of health data, it’s little wonder that healthcare is a key trend in private equity deal origination. In fact, firms invested over £140 billion across 1,227 healthcare deals in 2019, and the sector now accounts for 14% of deal value. With this in mind, healthcare businesses need to modernise and create value through digitisation, adoption of tech and engaging content.