Selling software — especially software in the healthcare industry — can be tricky. It takes a combination of deep industry knowledge and expertise, as well as the ability to speak with stakeholders at different levels of an organization, from clinic executives or managers to individual practice owners.
The selling cycle looks different too. Whether you’re selling traditional software solutions or software-as-a-service (SaaS), you’re typically going to spend months building a relationship with prospects and leads, learning how your software fits their needs and integrates with other healthcare products they already have.
Because of the uniqueness of the healthcare software industry, many people wonder how, if at all, digital marketing can help them.
In this post, we will cover:
- What is digital marketing
- Why digital marketing is important in healthcare software
- Top strategies for driving software sales with digital marketing
What is Digital Marketing?
HubSpot, a leader in marketing and sales automation software, gives a simple definition of digital marketing:
Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers.
This means digital marketing includes marketing activities like:
- search engine optimization (SEO)
- content marketing
- social media marketing
- pay per click (PPC)
- marketing automation
- email marketing
- online PR
- inbound marketing
- sponsored content
You may already be familiar with several of these, especially the more popular channels like SEO, social media, and email marketing. But all digital marketing channels are most effective for healthcare software companies when they work in sync together, as part of a larger marketing strategy that directly supports your sales.
For a full breakdown of each channel and the role it plays in digital marketing, check out this comprehensive article from Hubspot.
Why is Digital Marketing Important in Healthcare Software?
Sorting through these digital marketing strategies can be overwhelming for anyone who is not already familiar with the details. Some even question whether any of this works for healthcare software solutions and how relevant it is in the healthcare industry as a whole.
We get it. Frankly, without an expert to work alongside you as a guide, it’s difficult to navigate what strategies apply to your business, where your digital marketing efforts should focus, and how to make sure it’s aligned with driving more sales and delivering the best ROI possible.
But even though the HealthTech and healthcare software industries have their own unique challenges when it comes to marketing (HIPAA compliance, anyone?), we believe there are three primary reasons digital marketing is important.
1. Digital marketing increases brand awareness
With an increasing number of small- and medium-scale hospitals across the U.S., the practice management systems market was valued at $6.1 billion in 2019 in the United States alone, according to Grand View Research, and it’s only expected to keep growing. Other healthcare software markets will also experience more growth, including EHR and EMR solutions and healthcare IT.
However, the healthcare software market isn’t just growing — it’s fragmented. Lots of players are in the game. And with the growing need for integrated software solutions that can handle HIPAA regulations, security concerns, and positive employee and patient experiences, more competitors are going to continue popping up.
So what does that mean for your company?
You will have plenty of opportunity to continue growing in the future, but increasing your brand awareness and standing out from your competitors will be key to making sure you don’t get left behind in the market.
2. Digital marketing helps qualify and nurture leads
Let’s face it — selling software solutions, especially in the healthcare industry, can be a lengthy process. Executives and managers working in large healthcare systems may need months of time (and meetings) before being able to sign a multi-year contract with a software solution provider or other HealthTech company. Even individual practices looking for EMR, EHR, or other practice management solutions have complex needs that you need to discuss and understand before they invest.
This is why effective digital marketing strategies support your sales team in two tangible ways: qualifying and nurturing leads.
While you can automate several manual sales activities through platforms like Salesforce and HubSpot, digital marketing can (and should) help qualify leads up front. This means your sales team will get warmer leads who are a better fit. This saves time and energy for your sales team, which is also money saved for your business.
Digital marketing also helps nurture those leads once they’re in the sales pipeline. People don’t want to receive general marketing emails if they’re actively working with your sales team. An effective digital marketing strategy means you can automatically segment those leads out of your overall marketing efforts — making a better experience for everyone in the long run.
Using effective digital marketing, your sales team will also have visible access to all of a lead’s previous activity and engagement with your company. This enables salespeople to personalize their interactions with each lead as they build a positive relationship and close the sale.
3. Digital marketing is the most effective way to educate prospects
Educational content is a popular and effective marketing strategy for software companies because SaaS and traditional software typically require more product education than simple consumer products. Too often, the job of educating prospects falls almost entirely on the salesperson — leading to lengthier meetings, extended product demos, lists of questions and objections, and sometimes wasted time and effort.
Giving prospects several opportunities to learn about your software can help alleviate objections and skepticism that usually comes up later in the sales process.
Now that we’ve established why digital marketing is important in healthcare software, let’s cover top strategies for driving software sales with digital marketing.
Top Strategies for Driving Software Sales with Digital Marketing
There are several digital marketing strategies you could use to grow your software business. But just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should. Your product or service, as well as the specific needs of your target market, will affect which digital marketing strategy works best.
Here are our top four digital marketing strategies we recommend as the most effective for healthcare software companies wanting to drive sales.
Build an inbound marketing strategy
Inbound marketing is the most effective way to approach marketing in 2020. It’s a method for attracting, engaging, and delighting your clients — leading to more growth, less headaches for sales, and happier customer experiences.
Because so much of successful healthcare software sales depend on relationships and long term partnerships, the focus inbound marketing places on the client is critical.
This doesn’t mean sales teams are no longer needed. In fact, the opposite is true. A truly effective inbound marketing strategy will consistently build your authority and credibility, increase your brand awareness, nurture leads throughout the entire process, and tie seamlessly into your sales and customer service efforts.
Even for companies who primarily rely on an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, we believe the principles of inbound marketing still apply. The key is understand those principles and focus your strategy on the tactics and execution that will get you the best ROI,
Create valuable content to establish authority
Sales has changed dramatically in the last decade, due in large part to the explosion of digital media channels that now connect the world’s consumers to information. In a fragmented healthcare software market, building credibility is more important than ever.
Whether your software business is one of the original players in the game, or you’re new to the field and want to disrupt legacy software solutions, you must establish your authority. Creating valuable content is one of the best and most popular ways to accomplish this.
Popular forms of valuable content include:
- Blog posts
- Videos and webinars
- Email newsletters
- Offers and downloads (e.g. ebooks, guides, reports)
Valuable content offers can confirm a client’s confidence in your brand at every stage of their buying journey, and they are simple to repurpose and share.
Use marketing automation to nurture leads
Marketing automation is one of the best digital marketing tools for software companies, especially if you don’t have a dedicated marketing department. Leveraging automation can save the company tons of time, money, and energy and keep your leads happy and engaged. This results in a better experience for both your sales team and your customers, which is key to building long term relationships and partnerships for healthcare software clients.
Partner with external marketing team to get results
Lastly, we recommend partnering with an external marketing team to get results. The sheer number of different marketing strategies can be overwhelming, and using them well often leads to a great amount of stress and frustration on your internal employees. While it’s not impossible to accomplish everything on your own, here are three reasons we think outsourcing may be the best choice:
1. To get the real results (and sales!) you want, you need more than one in-house marketing person.
The truth is a solid, comprehensive digital marketing strategy is a lot for one person to handle. There are many moving pieces and different skill sets required to be successful in each channel. In our experience, we’ve found that a team of people working together gets the best results for healthcare software companies.
2. You can leverage your strengths with laser focus.
Without the distractions of daily marketing activities, you and your team can focus on doing what they do best — selling and servicing your software solution to healthcare providers.
3. It’s more cost effective.
Many people experience “sticker shock” when they first see a proposal for a long term contract from a marketing agency. However, it’s important to put things into perspective. Consider:
- How many full-time employees you would need to pay to get the same amount and quality of work—and what that actually costs you.
- The results you want marketing to achieve in terms of sales and revenue and what investment will reasonably get you there.
- The time, money, and energy you will save by not trying to do it all yourself.
The mental and emotional relief you will feel by working with a trusted long-term partner can be invaluable. With that said, sometimes businesses do reach a point where they need to start creating an internal marketing department to get their growth to the next level. Regardless of whether you choose to take your marketing in-house or work with an agency, you want to make sure your strategic marketing plan answers these six questions.
Digital marketing for healthcare software companies can be interesting to navigate, but the return on your investment is high. Several strategies work extremely well for boosting your software sales, even in the complex healthcare industry. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. A digital marketing agency that specializes in healthcare may be the perfect solution for driving your healthcare software sales.
Need help with your digital marketing strategy?
At Baker Labs, we proudly serve medical-focused businesses around the globe through a hybrid, inbound marketing approach towards growing practices, clinics, and healthcare businesses.