How to Attract New Patients

Healthcare Marketing 101


The Digital Marketing Healthcare Guide

Welcome to "Healthcare Marketing 101," your go-to guide for mastering the art of healthcare marketing in today's digital age. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, this handbook will help you navigate the unique challenges and opportunities in promoting healthcare services while keeping things compliant and patient-friendly.

Marketing healthcare services isn't like selling gadgets or clothes. It's about building trust, providing valuable information, and ensuring that everything you do is in line with regulations like HIPAA. But don't worry — it's totally possible to create engaging, effective marketing campaigns without stepping out of bounds.

Patients today are more informed and proactive than ever. They're online searching for reliable providers who offer not only great care but also a seamless, transparent experience. That's where a solid digital marketing strategy comes in.

In this guide, we'll cover the essentials of healthcare marketing, including how to stay HIPAA-compliant, the latest trends, and how tools like HIPAA-compliant HubSpot can give your marketing efforts a boost. We'll also dive into practical tips for developing a strong marketing plan, leveraging social media, and tracking your success.

So, whether you're looking to revamp your current strategy or just starting to explore the world of healthcare marketing, "Healthcare Marketing 101" has got you covered. Let's get started and make your marketing efforts not only compliant but also impactful and patient-focused.

Chapter I

Digital Healthcare Marketing + HIPAA

The federal HIPAA Security Rule is designed to protect patients’ personal information, including diagnoses, treatments, medications, appointments, concerns, and more. Violating HIPAA guidelines carries a minimum fine of $50,000 and can include jail time, and sometimes restitution must be paid to the victims. 

Compliance means using patient data only in ways allowed under the guidelines. The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information, called protected health information (PHI). The rule governs storage, file and data transfers, access, and marketing use. 

It’s important to ensure your marketing is HIPAA compliant when you’re developing marketing and sales materials. Google also has restrictions on healthcare advertising, and violating their rules can mean an account suspension, among other penalties. 

Have no fear — it’s still possible to develop an impactful, engaging digital marketing strategy while meeting all applicable guidelines.

HubSpot's HIPAA-compliant features make sure all your sensitive patient data stays safe and sound. With top-notch encryption, advanced authentication, and audit logging, you can manage and store patient info securely. These tools help you stay on the right side of HIPAA regulations while still letting you take full advantage of HubSpot’s CRM functionalities to boost your marketing and sales efforts.

Chapter II

Healthcare Marketing Trends

While pharmaceutical companies have become very effective at marketing their products, healthcare providers lag way behind in marketing their services. In part, this was due to a lack of competition, but as healthcare costs have risen and payers such as Medicare and insurance companies have negotiated lower rates, there’s a real need for practices and facilities to bring in new patients

It’s time for a new game plan. While patient care is, of course, paramount, smart healthcare providers are adopting the following trends to up their marketing game:


Relevant, informative content is essential for your audience. It also gives them something for free, and if done right, they will want more. This gives you the opportunity to gather information like their name and contact information. Tracking what they are looking at on your website will let you know their needs and topics of interest, which can inform your overall marketing strategy and personalize the buyer’s journey. 


Responsive design means creating a unified system across all types of devices. Your website should be fully functional and device-independent, meaning it adapts to everything from a large desktop monitor to a tablet to a smartphone. A great mobile site is a must since 61% of web traffic is via mobile devices, and more and more purchases are made that way. Patients also want to be able to make appointments, send messages, and pay bills via mobile devices. 


Google dominates the search engine market, and it receives a billion healthcare-related search queries each and every day. This means you want to use the right keyword and phrase combinations, especially for auto-complete searches related to medical conditions. Also, be sure to set up your account on Google My Business, which gives you extra credibility in search results. It’s basically Google’s official phone book, and your business can look unprofessional or even sketchy if you’re not listed. 


To come out on top of the search results, you need to pay attention to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) everywhere, not just blogs. Competing for traffic is an integral part of your marketing strategy. If you are operating in a competitive market, such as a large urban area or a region with many other providers in your field, it will be even more important for you to use great SEO strategies.

You’ll want to:

  • Research the best keywords to use for your industry, region, and community.
  • Include an FAQ page on your website to answer visitor questions and give you many ways to use your keywords.
  • Use a variety of internal and external links. Internal links direct people to additional content that you’ve created, and external links show Google that you’re not just trying to spam people.


Google provides a great start, but luckily for healthcare providers, there are other places to tout your services while offering web surfers what they are looking for, such as Facebook. 

A great example is WebMD. Create a page there and list all of your providers. WebMD is ranked as one of the top healthcare-related websites. Use that popularity to your advantage. Your providers will be able to answer questions directly, which helps develop your “voice of authority,” increase patient confidence, and enhance your reputation. 


People love videos, and viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch a video, compared to a 10% retention rate when reading text. Make your videos engaging and informative, and include a CTA so viewers can get in touch and learn how to reach your website.

It’s also a great chance to provide people with real help—for example, guided meditations or having a physical therapist demonstrate an easy morning stretch routine. The possibilities are almost endless, and the return on investment can be substantial, especially since 92% of users who watch videos on mobile share them with others!

Chapter III

Developing a Healthcare Marketing Strategy

Unlike some other products and services, healthcare is rarely an impulse buy. This means that some marketing techniques, like sending out emails encouraging people to make an appointment, just don’t work very well. You’re missing an entire audience at the research stage for a doctor or facility for a health complaint or elective surgery. You need those appointments and new patients, which requires an effective inbound marketing campaign.


A sales funnel is designed to turn browsers into buyers. It addresses the questions of who your potential customers are, how you make them aware of your brand, how you develop trust, and what they need to book an appointment.

The sales funnel, just like a physical funnel, starts with everything, meaning every possible person who might be interested in your services. As these people move through the funnel, some are eliminated because they’ll never be interested.

The group will become smaller through every stage of the funnel, containing only those who are interested, and they will be moved down the funnel.

You’ve just identified your target audience. 

At the very bottom of the funnel are those who have moved through the entire buyer’s journey and are ready to schedule an appointment. But don’t just focus on those folks! You need to nurture people from the top to the bottom, which means refining your strategy and messaging to increase the size of your target audience, move them through the funnel, and get qualified leads you can convert into new patients. 


Even more than most industries, healthcare is about building relationships, and your digital marketing strategy should include ways to do relationship building, lead nurturing and providing the best in customer service. 

HubSpot has you covered with HIPAA compliance, which is super important for healthcare marketing. This means all patient data is handled with top-notch security, keeping personal health information safe and building trust with your audience.

For healthcare industry digital marketing, you can’t beat HubSpot. The platform is all about building relationships between the customer and provider. 


A great content marketing strategy provides important free information to your community. Use blog posts, special content offers, relevant information, and a professionally built website to establish your service providers as experts in their field.

You’ll build trust with your audience, which is the basis of any relationship, and you’ll be seen as the best place to go to get the help that they need.

With HubSpot and its all-in-one, HIPAA-compliant platform, you can find your audience and acquire new patients through its unique marketing tools. These tools help people find you through search engines rather than through paid advertisements. 

You can’t just have a haphazard content strategy. Your marketing must be intentional to work, and HubSpot gives you the secure tools you need to make your content marketing strategy effective. 


HubSpot’s customizable dashboards and reporting tools mean you can measure the ROI of your marketing efforts easily. You’ll quickly be able to track website traffic, return visitors, the characteristics of converted leads, and many other metrics that will help you adjust your strategy to get the most out of your marketing spend. 


Well-planned marketing campaign automation improves marketing processes, saves time, and lowers labor costs. HubSpot makes automation easy.

By combining all of the information in your sales funnel into an automated system, you can nurture leads and drive sales. For example, the Workflow app helps you create personalized emails with the send triggered by visitor actions or characteristics.

This means that emails will go to the right people at the right time and reach users who have visited unique pages on your site. You’ll be able to offer them the services they are looking for, targeting their specific needs. This strategy makes emails more effective by targeting their specific needs instead of sending a generic email — all the while ensuring you’re HIPAA-compliant. 

Personalization is not a nice to have anymore. It’s expected by both current and prospective patients, and HubSpot allows you to give them what they want.

Chapter IV

What Should Be In Your Healthcare Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan outlines the actions that will implement your marketing strategy. Things you should make sure are in your marketing plan include:


You must know your products and services front-to-back. It will improve your marketing greatly if you know all the ins and outs. Create a spreadsheet that aligns each product with your buyer personas (see #2). Ask yourself who uses your products and services, why they need them, and what problems are solved through your products and services. With a clear understanding of what you are offering, you’ll be able to market much more effectively. 


A buyer persona is a partially fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and data about your existing customers. You’ll want to include demographics, behavior patterns, as well as goals and motivations. Dive deep and include every possible detail. 

Poorly drafted personas or a lack of clear understanding can defeat your marketing efforts. Define personas carefully by not basing them on what, in your opinion, they want but rather on what the data says. 

Keep up with marketing news and trends, read industry publications, and scour the insights offered through your HubSpot dashboard. Your personas will inform all of your marketing efforts — they are your targets — and will affect your messaging, visuals, and content, as well as every touchpoint through the buying process.

It’s important to find your niche, so get really specific with your research. 


Of course, you want to be smart. Who doesn’t? In this context, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Words to live by when it comes to marketing. 

SMART means getting down to specifics. It’s not enough to state that you want to set a marketing goal of more qualified leads. A SMART goal would specify the percentage of increase expected and the timeframe. 

This system not only makes goals easier to track, but it also helps everyone in your organization better understand what you’re trying to achieve and how the goal can be made a reality. 

You’ll need to segment your goals into:

  • Business goals. These define the big picture and what marketing and sales can do to fulfill company-wide goals.
  • Marketing goals. Segment marketing goals even further into buckets with goals for inbound marketing and specific channels and formats. Maybe you need more blogs, or perhaps you should hold more webinars. What does your data say?
  • Sales goals. Equip your sales team for success by understanding their needs. Let them know what numbers they need to hit and the current length of the sales cycle, and ask them what they need to meet their goals. When you know what tools you need to give them (whether that’s sending emails or providing support materials), you should add these tactics to your marketing plan.


This is part and parcel of the steps above and requires an understanding of how your current marketing efforts mesh with the efforts of the sales team. 

Take a look at your sales process now, including buyer pain points, the best source of leads, why your customers buy, common sales objections, and an overview of the complete buying process. How can it improve?

At this point, you'll also work with sales and marketing to decide on lead identification requirements. For your practice, what is a qualified sales lead? This will put everyone on the same page and working in tandem. 


Review your current marketing approaches to figure out what you need to do going forward to reach your goals. Analyze your website, look at what competitors are doing, and research up-and-coming trends to get ahead of the curve. As you find gaps in your strategy, find areas of opportunity for improvement. 


This is the list of recommendations on how to go forward. Plan blog topics for at least one quarter and have keywords ready. Figure out things like nurture and drip campaigns. Set up social accounts if you don’t have them already. Put a foundation in place, including HubSpot.

Chapter V

Healthcare Marketing Ideas

So many channels so little time. You’re busy running your healthcare business. That’s why you should concentrate on tactics that will bring in the largest number of patients for your marketing spend.


We’ve highlighted the importance of SEO, and it’s important to use it everywhere possible to assist with medical lead generation.

  • Landing pages. About 67% of marketers are creating unique landing pages for their marketing campaigns. This is also part of targeting — everyone who visits your site won’t turn into a good lead, so optimize those landing pages by:
  • Hosting live events
  • Doing your keyword research!
  • Using lead magnets, like a free consultation or ebook health guide. People love free stuff! Just be sure that what you’re offering actually has value and is relevant for the audience. 
  • On-page SEO. Did you know that 5% of all Google queries are health-related? Get yourself seen by heightening your visibility with user-focused website design and relevant keywords, along with a site that:
  • Is highly shareable
  • Is mobile-friendly
  • Has search-optimized photos
  • Has a fast load time
  • Is optimized for bots and crawlers
  • Keep up with the latest. Use a site crawler to find errors, redirects, and any other website components that need fixing for you to get the maximum amount of ranking ability from your website.
  • Optimize your local presence


The goal of your website is, ultimately, to bring in patients. This means following best practices, including:

  • A simple and attractive design
  • Straightforward navigation — make things easy to find
  • Multiple forms of contact — this means phone, email, fax, or online forms
  • Social media links — people love reviews and love to talk about their health!
  • An FAQ page 
  • Photos, videos, graphics — but remember HIPAA laws. No photos of real patients!
  • Update your content for recent developments, better SEO, broken links, and strong meta descriptions
  • Optimize your site for speedy loading — a single-second delay on your website could cost you conversions.


You might hear the expression “content is king,” and it’s true. Blogs drive traffic; you can repurpose blog content for social media posts, help with link building, improve SEO (if you use the right keywords), and propel long-term results. 

Make sure your blog content is relevant and educational for your audience. Share your expertise!


Your healthcare services are your brand. Make sure both graphics and copy are consistent in all messaging on all platforms. Use action words and an authoritative voice, and pay attention to spelling and grammar. When it comes to healthcare, every detail is important, and patients want to know that it flows through to everything you do. 


Web analytics in HubSpot let you see your visitors' behavior. You can track the number of visitors to your site, how long they stay, how people find your site, and what pages they view. With this information, you can see what is working and what is not and tweak it as necessary.

You’ll be able to know where your traffic is coming from, what search terms they are using to improve your SEO, and the percentage of visitors who leave your website fast — often after viewing only a single page.


Make your blogs count. If you are a dentist, people want information on dental health, not gardening. Your blogs should be relevant to your product and service offerings and have a friendly, casual tone. Be sure to ask for feedback and integrate your blogs with social media. 

Members of your staff can even contribute and share their personal experiences, and people love to see the faces that go with the names. 


This is all about branding. How are you different? What makes you special? How are you better than the competition? 


You want to show up in the Google local results because that's where most people searching for your product or service will click when search results are displayed. You’ll need a strategic, holistic approach, with regular testing and tweaking as search algorithms change.

Additionally, Geo-targeting can be used through paid ads and organic search. This is the practice of determining the location of a visitor and delivering relevant content based on their geographic criteria like country, region, state, city, zip code, IP address, etc.


Social media is a great way to build and nurture relationships and drive traffic to your website. Post relevant content, post often, answer direct messages, and respond to comments. 

Also, share and retweet your followers’ posts and connect with other practitioners who can send business your way, among other effective practices. More later about how to use social media to your best advantage.


People are spending less and less time on the phone and more time online. Make it convenient for your patients to book appointments. Add a button in appropriate places on your website that makes it easy. 


Email newsletters, in particular, can be very effective if properly targeted. It takes some time, but it’s well worth it. Reach out about once a month with information relevant to your audience. Keep it relatively short, use a clear call to action, provide links to relevant blogs, and ask for input.


People love reading and writing reviews. Craft an email sent after a patient visit with a button to a page where they can easily write their review. Again, sign up for Google My Business, and you will want to check out Healthgrades and Vitals and develop profile pages there.

Chapter VI

Healthcare Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing, like other healthcare marketing, is heavily regulated. It isn’t enough to understand best practices for social media — it’s essential that you understand what information can and can’t be used per HIPAA guidelines.

HIPAA guidelines don’t just apply to your business's social media posts. Employees must follow the same guidelines with their posts, or, as your employer, you’ll be the one facing questions, sanctions, and fines. 

To discuss a patient experience or successful outcome, you will need to either get written permission from the patient outlining what you want to share or create a fictional persona rather than using the identity of an actual patient. 


There are a lot of social media platforms out there, so which ones do you choose? This is where using a healthcare marketing professional comes in handy. You can’t know everything about every platform.

Some questions you should ask yourself before you attempt any social media marketing are:

  • What is the age range of your target audience?
  • Do you work primarily with one gender?
  • How many people in your area use each social platform?
  • Are you prepared to create content that matches each platform’s needs — for example, short videos for TikTok, longer videos for YouTube, photo galleries for Facebook, and short posts for Twitter?

Once you figure out what platforms you want to use, you have to use engagement techniques, including quality content, to draw in your audience. You’ll want to develop a unique voice in your posts that matches your brand, provide useful information, and engage with your audience by addressing comments and answering questions. That’s how you build connections and relationships.

Chapter VII

Healthcare Content Marketing Strategies

While it's still great to give tips for protecting your skin while having fun in the sun, healthcare providers also need to address the current needs and concerns of their audience. This means staying updated on the latest trends and listening to what your patients are talking about. Your content should evolve to reflect these changes, helping to build strong relationships and earn patient trust. 

  • Answer your audience’s questions clearly by creating a Q&A section on your website about relevant issues, responding to questions on social media, and even holding Q&A webinars on specific topics you specialize in.
  • Promote positive news, including recognizing team and community members for their hard work. This increases connectedness as your audience can express their gratitude and put a face to a name they’ve likely heard in your office.
  • Earn trust through transparency by addressing common issues that might affect your practice, such as flu season or common colds. Provide readers with both the precautions they should take and what your office is doing to help.
  • Reflect your brand in every blog, news release, and social media post. Develop a consistent brand voice and use it everywhere. Highlight what makes you unique and talk up the special things you can offer your audience.
  • Provide some smiles. If it’s appropriate to use a light tone in a post or blog, do it. This is where success stories come in handy. Share them while observing HIPAA regulations, of course.
  • Be mindful of your tone and imagery. While not every image on your website needs to be scrutinized, make sure those on high-traffic pages, your homepage, and those accompanying blogs and social media posts match the current health landscape and your audience’s expectations.
Chapter VIII

Healthcare Marketing and HubSpot

HubSpot, now HIPAA-compliant, revolutionizes healthcare marketing by ensuring the secure storage and management of sensitive patient data. With advanced encryption, authentication, and audit logging, HubSpot helps protect patient information and comply with data privacy regulations, building trust and security in all marketing and sales efforts.

Content Marketing Strategy

A strong content strategy using HubSpot saves on acquisition costs and aids patient retention. HubSpot’s tools help you create and distribute valuable content that engages and educates your audience.

Automated Marketing

HubSpot’s marketing automation manages the distribution of your content and messages throughout the sales funnel. The Workflows tool helps you build personalized and automated emails triggered by specific visitor actions. This ensures relevant content reaches patients at the right time, moving them through the funnel to conversion. HubSpot also helps nurture leads and maintain relationships with current patients, keeping your practice top of mind.

New sensitive data management tools include field-level permissions and partitioning, ensuring that only authorized users access sensitive information. These features help healthcare organizations manage patient data responsibly while enhancing their marketing and sales operations.

Measurement and Tracking

Without proper stats and analysis, you’re essentially marketing in the dark. HubSpot allows you to track ROI down to individual pieces of content, so you know what converts and what doesn’t. This can be overwhelming, but a healthcare marketing professional can help suss out the most important results.

HubSpot lets you track:

  • Acquisition costs per patient
  • Patient retention
  • Inquiry response time
  • Lead scoring and engagement
  • Content effectiveness
  • Search engine rankings
  • Campaign evaluation

HubSpot handles all of this, so you’ll know what’s working, what’s not, and how to optimize your marketing spend effectively.

Chapter IX

What to Look for in a Healthcare Marketing Agency

Healthcare marketing has some obvious pitfalls because it’s quite complex. This means you want a healthcare marketing agency that can be your business partner, working with you on both strategy and tactics, as well as one that is large enough to handle your business but agile and flexible enough to pivot on a dime as things change. You also need an agency that can work hand-in-hand with your current marketing department or act as your marketing department if you don’t have one. 

This is called personalized service, and it’s what ThinkFuel specializes in. We treat your company like the unique organization it is and focus on helping you grow your business through online marketing, sales automation, and medical lead generation. 

  1. You also need a healthcare marketing agency that can help build a global marketing strategy, one that integrates all of your marketing activities into one effective, cohesive plan.
  2. In an era when 90% of customers not only want but expect a cohesive brand experience in every channel, it’s imperative that your healthcare marketing agency can implement across multiple channels, handling everything from SEO and keyword research to web design to advertising, social media, UX, video marketing, and inbound content strategy.
  3. Developing a brand that stands out is not enough, so your healthcare marketing agency should help you build brand awareness and customer trust by offering a positive, high-quality experience across all channels. Trust is vital in healthcare, as it keeps patients engaged and will help attract new patients. Your agency will also help you develop a great reputation using content, case studies, and patient testimonials.
  4. Your healthcare marketing agency must also keep up with trends. You want to set them, not fall behind. This includes technological and marketing trends, including automation, that will continue to deliver exceptional results. 
  5. Return on your investment is key. While marketing results are rarely immediate, you have to have confidence that your financial investment is worth it. Within a few months, you should see measurable results when it comes to website visits, qualified leads, sales calls, and lead conversion rates.
Chapter X

The Next Step is the Most Important

Stop spinning your healthcare marketing wheels and get back to doing what you do best. With professional healthcare marketing, you can get ahead of your competitors. 

The next step is to grow your business with ThinkFuel. We have experience and an extensive record of success with healthcare organizations and medical practices of all kinds. Our services include:

  • Inbound marketing
  • Marketing hub services
  • HubSpot CMS services
  • Sales Hub services
  • Customer service hub solutions
  • HubSpot support services

It’s time to take that first step. Contact us today!



Kevin D'Arcy


Devin Tempo Wright


Brandon Cuthbertson

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