4 Healthcare Marketing Challenges That Are Holding You Back

Healthcare marketing is unique. Demand for health services is high, leaving health systems with one primary goal: getting their messages out to the right people. In other words, capturing demand.

While paid search is an optimal tool for such needs, the team structure and organizational obstacles that come along with working in the healthcare industry can complicate the already complex combination of paid search and healthcare marketing. And this is on top of changing consumer behaviors and a highly regulated marketplace.

James Jeansonne, Digital Marketing Strategy Manager at OhioHealth, covered these very issues in the Fathom, Google, and OhioHealth webinar ‘How OhioHealth Navigates Google’s Paid Search Ecosystem‘. You can find the recap of these top challenges–as well as their solutions–below.

Healthcare Marketing’s Top 4 Obstacles (and Their Tailored Solutions)

1.      Dealing with multiple stakeholders

The nature of healthcare marketing is intricate; you need lots of approvals from lots of people on pretty much everything. Whether it’s the CMO, the Head of Cardiovascular, or a paid media manager, the complexity of healthcare requires checking in with a lot of different people to ensure that the message is on point, the information is accurate, and the budget is optimized. OhioHealth, for example, works with managers overseeing areas as diverse as heart and vascular, neurosciences, and sports medicine.

Solution: Conduct training sessions and onboarding meetings

Many members of a health system have no idea how paid search works. Unfortunately, these same people are often asked to participate in elements of paid search strategy and approval. Conducting regular trainings that cover how paid search functions as well as how it affects each clinical line will keep these stakeholders invested in paid search strategy. Onboarding meetings, on the other hand, can be used to narrow down goals and audience targeting while also solidifying how, exactly, paid search can be used to hit those goals and reach those audiences.

The outcome of both of these types of meetings is aligned strategy and increased investment in paid search across various members of your health system.

2.      Determining ownership of paid search budget

The challenge of determining ownership is connected closely to the issue of multiple stakeholders. While multiple stakeholders is an area that can affect all of healthcare marketing, determining ownership is a challenge that is unique to paid search. Specifically, it involves the challenge of identifying who has ownership of paid search budgets and how to allocate budgets across differing departments and service lines.

Although this problem is simple in its premise, it can be devastating to paid search efforts if not addressed properly. Luckily, the solution is as straightforward as good communication.

Solution: Budget appropriately based on organizational goals

When determining how much paid search budget to allocate to different areas of your health system, you’ll want to look to overall organizational goals. With a holistic vision into your organization’s needs and business goals, you’ll gain the insight necessary to assign budget ownership.

3.      Getting timely approvals on many assets

While it’s necessary to involve multiple stakeholders in healthcare marketing approvals, it can create quite a few issues. Namely, muddling through a long list of approvals often leads to behind-deadline projects. Whether it’s an issue of individuals not providing feedback or, quite the opposite, the approval committee providing constant feedback, unable to settle on a final version, the round robin approvals can lead to projects being launched weeks behind deadline or, even worse, never launching at all.

When it comes to healthcare paid search, there are as many moving pieces are there are people who need to approve them, including messaging, ad copy, site links, keywords, and much, much more.

Solution: Invest in a project management tool

To manage the complexity of approvals, OhioHealth uses Basecamp. There is a huge variety of project management tools, though, such as Workforce or Smartsheet, that can be easily tailored to your organization’s needs while getting multiple parties on board and highlighting milestones. Ultimately, a project management tool will keep your healthcare paid search efforts running on time, no matter how many approvals you need to move forward.

4.      Grappling with a collaborative approach

At the risk of sounding repetitive, the collaborative approach needed in healthcare marketing makes everything more complicated. It both feeds into all of the above-listed challenges and is a challenge all its own. In healthcare paid search efforts, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen and it’s necessary that they’re on board, on message, and on deadline. Dealing properly with this collaborative approach requires full transparency across the board.

Solution: Launch quarterly reviews of results

With the goal of transparency in mind, the best method to get all necessary members on board with projects, budgets, and timelines is bringing these members in to discuss results and get input at the ground level. First, start a regular, quarterly review of paid search results with all important stakeholders. Second, use these meetings to gain feedback and suggestions into everything from processes to messages to execution.


Overcoming the confusion of healthcare marketing paid search is no easy feat. If you practice the qualities of transparency, collaboration, and tying efforts to results, though, you’ll find that getting stakeholders across your health system involved will become effortless and routine.


Want more details? Learn from experts who understand the unique challenges of running healthcare paid search campaigns by watching the webinar today.

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