January 12, 2010

Numbers don’t lie: Why hospitals need to advertise online

Why online advertising is important for hospitals.

Why online advertising is important for hospitals.

By: Kelly Hocutt and David Michaluk

Are you still reluctant to advertise your hospital on the web? Maybe you’re bound by tradition. Or maybe you think healthcare is too private for the web — and people seek information only from people they can trust. But research by OTX and Google shows that adding search and web advertising to your marketing mix is more than just helpful — it’s essential.

That’s right. Consumers are increasingly going online for hospital information. 41% go to the Internet before seeking advice from healthcare professionals or friends and relatives. When these information-seekers get to the Internet, 76% go to hospital websites, 62% to search engines and 56% to health websites. They’re using more than one destination — which means if you’re not using search engine ads and ad networks, you’re missing a sizable audience. If they don’t see you, you don’t exist.

And they’re not just window-shopping, either. After finding information, 59% of these consumers take action. This includes 46% who look for more information, 16% who clicked on an ad, 14% who forwarded a link or video and 10% who booked an appointment. These additional actions translate into greater awareness of your organization, good feelings, referrals and appointments. Do these goals sound familiar?

Just as important: Recall is higher for online search than for any other medium. Yep, more bang for your buck. 43% remember online ads while only 32% recall TV ads, 28% informational brochures, 18% newspaper ads and 18% billboard ads. Isn’t your aim in advertising to get your audience to remember you? You’re spending a lot of money advertising, so get more value for your money and welcome online advertising into your marketing mix. Plus, when people recall an online ad, 43% look online for more information, 38% ask a medical professional about a hospital, and 38% ask a friend or family member about a hospital.

So, should your hospital advertise online? The numbers say it all.

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