Creating the ultimate customer experience is a goal that organizations across all types of industries are talking about. In fact according to Gartner by 2018 more than 50% of businesses will focus their efforts on customer experiences. Healthcare organizations should be at the top of the list, working to make their practices positively connect with their patients.

Healthcare marketing clearly revolves around patients’ needs and wants and as they have moved more online, so must marketing to reach and engage them effectively. And they are looking for help with everything including education, option evaluation, condition management, and so on. To serve patients better, marketers need to step-up their role and consider implementing these six strategic marketing tactics.

Re-imagined Patient Portal. Clinical leaders and physicians surveyed by the New England Journal of Medicine stated that patient portals are the least effective technology for engaging patients. Patient portals need a marketer’s touch to make them helpful to patients and let them see future appointment dates, doctor notes, test results, etc. This can make your patients’ lives easier, but also your providers’ lives as well. So can a good texting or secure email service that allows patients to ask non-emergency type questions without having to wait on hold. These types of conveniences are worth marketing about.

Geo-specific SEO. Location, location, location. Local SEO is critical to healthcare marketing in 2018. People looking for a doctor are going to search for example, “Orthopedic specialist in Orlando” or “dermatologist near me.” Marketers need to pay close attention to SEO search rankings and optimize for location-based keywords so as to pop up in that much-coveted location preview on Google.

Mobile-friendly Site. Google reports that mobile search has outpaced desktop. So practices need to provide patients with a mobile-optimized site. This requires making information easily accessible with things like a click-to-call mobile number on your pages, a Google Map widget that provides directions to your office, and easy-to-use drop downs.

Sponsored Content. According to statistics by Business Insider, sponsored content will drive 74 percent of all ad revenue by 2021. Sponsored content, which is often more educational in nature, is winning over more traditional digital ad formats, such as display ads. It is also a natural fit for healthcare professionals, who have important knowledge to share that can better the lives of others. So while in 2016 for the first time digital advertising spend overtook TV advertising spend, in 2018, sponsored content is the trend that is more arguably the most effective approach.

Video. People today don’t think twice about searching their symptoms online. This is a huge opportunity for healthcare marketers to create easily accessible content. Hello video content. Knowledgeable, certified professionals should take this occasion to develop health information in meaningful ways that doesn’t drift into complex medical jargon. Healthcare marketers need to appropriately budget and produce video that reaches people on an emotional level yet has entertainment value as well.

Wellness Initiatives. In 2018 the National Business Group on Health reported that 54 percent of large employers would offer onsite or near-site health centers. Providers have an opportunity to partner with carriers and employers to offer nutrition classes, healthy lifestyle habits, or exercise classes. Collaborating with the community will help elevate wellness efforts, while helping employers control healthcare costs.

Providing great care, means providing a great experience. For providers and practices this begins with a solid healthcare marketing plan that takes into account the way patients search for physicians, what information they want, how they want to access that information, and the extra benefits that will keep them healthy and loyal.