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    Healthcare Marketing in 2024: A Guide to Emerging Trends

    Posted by Olivia Campbell on Mar 29, 2024 10:42:31 AM
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    Table of Contents:

    The Rise of AI
    The Future of Online Search in Healthcare
    Navigating Ever-Evolving Social Media Trends
    The Big Changes Coming to Google Ads
    Your Prescribed 2024 Digital Marketing Strategy
    Frequently Asked Questions


    Twenty years ago, the best way for a medical practice to attract new patients was through print ads, word of mouth, and the occasional billboard. These strategies were effective then, but as technology advances and more people turn to the internet for information, every doctor has to become an expert in digital marketing for their medical practice.

    Today, marketing for healthcare has evolved into a complex and ever-changing landscape. From understanding the importance of responsive web design to effectively utilizing social media, doctors are expected to have a strong online presence in order to stay competitive in the healthcare industry. However, changes to various algorithms, platforms, policies, and consumer behavior make it challenging to keep up with the latest trends.

    Keeping up with these changes is a good practice, but proactively anticipating and preparing for future trends is essential for long-term success. By staying ahead of the curve and incorporating these trends into your digital marketing strategy, you can effectively reach and engage with potential patients while showcasing your expertise and services.

    At PracticeBeat, our experts in web design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and content marketing work together to anticipate and strategize for emerging trends in healthcare marketing. In this guide, we will explore some of the key trends expected to shape healthcare marketing in 2024 and offer insights on staying ahead of the competition.

    The Rise (& Pitfalls) Of AI

    Generative AI has become increasingly popular over the past few years, with AI-powered tools changing how digital marketers approach social media, content writing, and search engines. Though AI tools are already being utilized, we're still in the early days of this technology, and there are more than a few kinks to work out.

    Generative Search Engines

    In the past, using a search engine was a one-sided affair—you entered a query, and the search engine presented you with results. However, generative search engines are changing the field by providing more personalized and relevant search results presented as a conversation.

    These AI-powered engines use natural language processing to understand a user's intent, context, and previous searches to generate tailored results. Not only do these new search experiences have the potential to drastically change the search experience, but they will also impact how healthcare marketers strategize for SEO.

    Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, predicts that by 2028, "organic search traffic will decrease by 50% or more as consumers embrace generative AI-powered search." This forecast underscores an urgent need for healthcare practices to refine their digital marketing strategies.

    However, the efficacy of generative AI search tools is contingent upon their ability to learn from rich, insightful content. For this reason, your content should be well-written, informative, and tailored to your target audience. By producing high-quality, relevant content, you can position yourself as a trusted source for both patients and AI-powered search engines while training the AI to better understand your practice. 

    In turn, this will help your practice secure a competitive edge in a rapidly transforming digital marketplace. The future of healthcare marketing is unfolding, and it demands your immediate and thoughtful engagement.

    Microsoft Versus Google

    Google has long dominated the search engine space, but Microsoft's "New Bing" has been gaining traction for the past few years. Now dubbed Copilot, this AI tool uses OpenAI's ChatGPT and DALL.E technology to generate content and answer user questions. Copilot is available not only on web browsers but also integrated into Windows 11 and Microsoft 365.

    Meanwhile, Google has been working on its own generative search engine. Google SGE (Search Generative Experience), created in response to Microsoft's advancements with AI, is currently in public testing. Google SGE is expected to fully roll out sometime later this year, and its performance could significantly impact the healthcare marketing landscape in 2024 and beyond.

    Despite Microsoft's latest efforts, Google is still the dominant search engine with over 90% of the market share, and the New Bing is unlikely to put a dent in it. However, with two major players competing in the generative search engine space, it will be crucial for healthcare marketers to stay informed and adapt their strategies accordingly.

    How PracticeBeat is Adapting

    At PracticeBeat, we are constantly monitoring and adapting to changes in the healthcare marketing landscape, including AI advancements. We understand the capabilities, limitations, and potential pitfalls of generative AI tools, and when it comes to generative search engines, we have already begun strategizing for our clients' success.

    At the core of these strategies is changing the way we approach SEO. As these new search engines become more commonplace, traditional keyword optimization may be less effective.

    The Future Of Online Search In Healthcare

    SEO has been the cornerstone of every effective digital marketing strategy for years. A robust SEO strategy can help your medical practice appear at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), increasing visibility and attracting potential patients. However, with the rise of generative search engines and changes in how people search for information online, healthcare practices need to rethink their approach to SEO.

    Answer Engine Optimization (AEO)

    SEO has become more challenging with evolving search engine algorithms. Keyword research and optimization are still good practices, but more is needed. Instead, healthcare marketers must focus on answer engine optimization (AEO).

    With the rise of generative search engines, AEO is becoming increasingly important. Since these engines are designed to provide direct answers to user queries, having relevant and comprehensive content that directly answers common questions can significantly improve how likely your practice will appear on SERPs as the featured snippet or in the "People Also Ask" section.

    Zero-Click Searches

    Another significant change in online search is the rise of zero-click searches. Zero-click searches occur when a user's query is satisfied on the SERP itself without them having to click through to a website. This can happen through featured snippets, knowledge panels, and "People Also Ask" answers.

    According to a study by Semrush, 57% of mobile searches and around a quarter of desktop searches leave the SERP without clicking on an organic or paid result. In other words, a significant number of search engine users are finding the information they need without ever visiting a website. This trend is only expected to increase as generative search engines become more widespread.

    Social Media as Search

    In addition to the changes happening in traditional search engines, social media platforms are also becoming more powerful search tools among younger people. 29% of millennials and Generation Z prefer to search for information on social media platforms instead of traditional search engines. Across all generations, this number drops to 15%, which is still a significant number of patients that practices could be missing out on if they're not active on social media.

    How PracticeBeat is Adapting

    Expert SEO strategies have always been a key part of PracticeBeat's services, and with these changes in online search, we are evolving our approach to ensure our clients' success. We've expanded our approach to content marketing to include AEO strategies in an effort to appear more prominently on SERPs and reach potential patients, even in zero-click searches.

    Additionally, we actively utilize social media platforms to expand our client's online presence and attract younger generations of patients. These posts are optimized to appear when searching for healthcare information on social media, increasing visibility and potential patient engagement.

    Not only do we understand these new strategies, but we understand their shortcomings, as well. AEO does have its challenges, after all—Google's algorithm adapts to each user, so there's no guaranteed way to appear as the featured snippet or in an answer box for everyone. Rather than replacing SEO, our PracticeBeat team understands that AEO should be seen as a complementary strategy.

    We also know that, for all of the ways that Google's algorithm has shifted over the years, its foundation remains fundamental. The user experience is still the primary concern for search engines, and that's why we always prioritize creating high-quality, relevant content for our clients.

    Navigating Ever-Evolving Social Media Trends

    With billions of users worldwide using social media, these platforms present an unparalleled opportunity to engage with current and potential patients. An active presence on social media allows healthcare providers to share their expertise, build trust, and establish a robust online community that translates into real-world patient loyalty and advocacy.

    Unfortunately, social media is notorious for its ever-changing algorithms and trending topics, making it challenging to maintain a consistent strategic presence and reach the right audience. Despite these challenges, there still are several changes we can anticipate.

    The Need for Authenticity

    Though generative AI tools have made it possible to quickly create content and engage with followers, social media users are increasingly seeking genuine connections. Nearly half of consumers report that neither Photoshop nor generative AI should be used in social media advertising, even as 73% of marketers use generative AI.

    This gap suggests a significant opportunity for healthcare practices to stand out by creating authentic, personalized content. By showcasing your practice's unique qualities and values, you can build trust and establish real connections with potential patients.

    Entertainment as Marketing

    Though many businesses use their social media presence solely to promote their services and products, users don't come to these platforms to be advertised to; they come to be entertained. If you personally use social media, think about the accounts you follow and engage with. Chances are, these accounts provide some form of entertainment or other value outside of just advertising.

    Ignoring this and getting too promotional or deeply educational on social media can lead to decreased engagement and even cause followers to unfollow. Instead, it's important to find creative ways to showcase your expertise while also providing entertainment or valuable insights.

    Instead, we recommend utilizing your social media presence to create engaging and entertaining content that highlights your practice's personality. By showcasing your fun and relatable side, you can attract followers who may not have discovered or considered your practice otherwise.

    LinkedIn's Growing Popularity

    While platforms like Instagram and TikTok are continually on the rise, LinkedIn is becoming increasingly popular for healthcare professionals. In fact, nearly 8 million healthcare professionals are on LinkedIn in the United States alone, with that number expected to continue growing.

    According to Hootsuite's Social Trends 2024 report, 70% of brands reported that they felt confident LinkedIn provided a positive return on investment for their organization, the top rating among all social media platforms. This makes LinkedIn a crucial platform for healthcare providers to establish their professional presence and connect with other industry professionals.

    How PracticeBeat is Adapting

    Social media trends are constantly evolving, but our team at PracticeBeat always stays current. In addition to creating authentic and engaging content for our clients' social media accounts, we also analyze data to track trends and make informed decisions on which platforms and strategies will be most effective for each unique practice.

    By constantly adapting and utilizing our expertise in social media marketing, we ensure that our clients are reaching the right audience and making a lasting impact on their online presence.

    Overall, we understand that social media should be used to connect with patients and build trust rather than just a platform for advertising. By staying ahead of trends and utilizing creative approaches, we help our medical practices establish a strong social media presence that translates into real-world patient loyalty and advocacy.

    The Big Changes Coming To Google Ads

    With Google Ads, healthcare practices have the power to position themselves at the forefront of patient searches, ensuring their services are visible at the precise moment a potential patient is in need. But with privacy becoming increasingly important to online users and regulatory bodies, Google has announced major changes to its ad-tracking policies.

    The End of Third-Party Cookies

    During the second half of 2024, Google will finish rolling out Tracking Protection on Google Chrome. This new feature will phase out third-party cookies, which are used to track a user's internet activity and target them with personalized ads. This move, part of their Privacy Sandbox initiative, is in response to growing concerns over online privacy and data collection. 

    Improved First-Party Data Management

    An equally significant development is the introduction of the Google Ads Data Manager. This tool will allow advertisers to securely manage their first-party data, such as customer information and website activity. This is important because first-party data will become even more valuable for targeting ads once third-party cookies are no longer used.

    By utilizing this new tool, healthcare practices can ensure they reach the right audience with their ads while protecting user privacy.

    HIPAA Compliance & Google Analytics

    In December 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a bulletin that discussed the intricacies of tracking technologies, how they gather and analyze information about users' interactions with websites and mobile apps, and why it is necessary to comply with HIPAA Rules when such technologies are used to collect or disclose protected health information (PHI).

    As a result, "HIPAA-compliance consultants" are starting to emerge, offering services to help healthcare providers ensure that their use of Google Analytics is HIPAA-compliant.

    Google Analytics is an essential tool for healthcare marketing, providing invaluable insights by tracking user behavior like visitor demographics, session durations, page views, and more. However, in light of these new regulations, healthcare practices must ensure that their use of Google Analytics is HIPAA-compliant to avoid potential penalties and fines.

    How PracticeBeat is Adapting

    Our team has long understood the importance of HIPAA compliance, and we have been proactive in ensuring that our clients' websites, including their use of Google Analytics, are fully compliant. We also know how the upcoming changes to Google's cookie policies and Ads will impact healthcare advertising strategies, and we are prepared to adapt accordingly.

    Our professional team will stay informed of new developments and regulations, ensuring that our clients' digital marketing efforts are effective and compliant. We take the burden of staying up-to-date with these changes off our clients' shoulders, allowing them to focus on providing exceptional care to their patients.

    Your Prescribed 2024 Digital Marketing Strategy

    The best way to stay ahead as policies, technologies, and trends continue to shift is by developing a strategic, cohesive, and cross-functional digital marketing strategy. By combining social media, Google Ads, email marketing, website optimization, and other digital strategies, medical practices can effectively navigate the ever-changing digital landscape and reach their target audience.

    At PracticeBeat, we tailor our strategies to each client's unique needs and goals. We understand that no two medical practices are alike, which is why we take a personalized approach to digital marketing. Our team of experts works closely with clients to understand their practice, target audience, and specific objectives before developing a comprehensive strategy that combines various tactics for maximum impact.

    Our platform offers an advanced suite of features designed to tackle the modern challenges of healthcare marketing. From HIPAA-compliant analytics to sophisticated patient targeting via Google Ads and through tailored social media strategies, PracticeBeat equips practitioners with the tools necessary to create a formidable online presence. We embrace the dynamic nature of digital marketing, ensuring that our clients are always at the forefront of innovation and compliance.

    With continuous regulatory changes and platform updates, let us manage the complexity and ensure your marketing efforts are not only effective but fully compliant. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your practice thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

    Don't let the competition leave you behind. Let PracticeBeat begin by preparing a detailed assessment of the top performers in your market and specialty. We will show how you perform, share insights into your performance, and tell you how to outperform your competitors. Sign up for a free assessment and demo today, or visit our website to learn more.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why is it essential to have a comprehensive digital marketing strategy?

    A comprehensive digital marketing strategy allows practices to effectively reach their target audience, gain valuable insights into their performance, and adapt to changes in the digital landscape. It also ensures that all aspects of digital marketing, such as social media, Google Ads, and website optimization, are working together cohesively towards achieving the practice's goals. This approach maximizes the impact of digital marketing efforts and helps practices stay ahead in an ever-changing market.

    How can PracticeBeat help with HIPAA compliance?

    In addition to providing HIPAA-compliant analytics, our PracticeBeat platform meets and exceeds HIPAA standards, ensuring that your practice remains compliant and your patients' information stays secure.

    • HIPAA-Compliant Forms: These forms are designed to collect patient information securely, shielding the provider and the patient from potential data breaches and penalties for non-compliance.
    • HIPAA Compliance Workflow Automation: This system streamlines the process of securing patient data by automating the steps required for compliance. It's like having a dedicated compliance officer working 24/7 to ensure every piece of data is handled according to HIPAA regulations.
    • Seamless EHR Integration: By integrating with your existing Electronic Health Records (EHR) system, PracticeBeat ensures that all patient data collected through its platform is stored and managed in a HIPAA-compliant manner.

    How does PracticeBeat stay up-to-date with changes in digital marketing best practices and platforms?

    Our team stays informed through ongoing education, research, and contact with industry experts. We also continuously monitor changes and updates from major digital platforms to ensure our strategies remain effective and compliant. Additionally, we regularly review our platform services to ensure that they continue to meet the highest standards of compliance and effectiveness.


    Topics: Practice Growth, Expert Insights, Best Practices