There’s a big opportunity for healthcare brands to engage with customers and prospects through digital advertising – but it hasn’t happened, yet.

When it comes to digital marketing, industries across the board have been able to take advantage of the powerful platforms and tools that have been built out in order to drive more conversions, ROI, brand awareness, and knowledge sharing.

The biggest spenders in digital, including Proctor and Gamble, Sephora, Starbucks, and other massive brands, use a myriad number of tools to keep driving new revenue and getting their ads out in front of both new and returning customers. These companies are increasing their investment in digital advertising to keep up with consumers, who are consuming more media across devices, networks, and social platforms.

As a result, the Wall Street Journal predicts that total global digital ad spend will reach $149 Billion in 2015, up 16% from 2014. Additionally, a survey of marketing executives revealed that 70% would invest even more in digital campaigns, if there were more tools available that could drive additional ROI on mobile, social media, and the web in general.

While overarching trends show significant and continued investment in digital advertising on the whole, however, digital ad spend in the healthcare industry remains low. Healthcare accounts for only 2.8% of total US digital ad spend. The industry spent around $1.8b on digital last year, lagging behind big spenders like financial services ($7.19b) and automotive ($7.3b).

But where the industry is able to take advantage of digital – particularly programmatic – measurability and transparent data and reporting makes it easy to keep track of growth and properly allocate limited budgets. “Return on investment is on the top of everybody’s agenda” said Paul Matsen, CMO of Cleveland Clinic. Indeed, where marketers have been able to successfully expand on digital, the results have been strong.

Here are our top tips for what healthcare marketers can do to grow their presence on digital:

  1. Social Marketing – Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have massive reach and highly engaged audiences. Facebook is a great way for healthcare providers to connect with consumers and share their stories. Given the incredible importance today that testimonials play in healthcare, a strong presence on Facebook is essential for today’s hospitals and clinics.
  2. Mobile Retargeting – Because consumers now spend so much time on mobile devices, a mobile retargeting strategy is essential to connect with customers. App-install ads and in-app retargeting will help to promote your company’s mobile solutions, making it easier for consumers to interact with your brand and providing easy access to book appointments or access their personal health information.
  3. Prospecting – AdRoll prospecting is our latest tool to enable marketers to fulfill their upper-funnel objectives. Advertisers who opt-in to Prospecting unlock the full potential of their first-party data. The tool enables you to target “act-a-like” users that have never visited your site before, but who behave like your customers. Prospecting for customers that act like your own is a way for you to connect with new audiences that are looking for the brands and services that you provide.

Of course, strict industry requirements can make it difficult for organizations to find the right tech partner with the right products and appropriate certifications and compliance protocols to carry out their retargeting campaigns. Healthcare providers should be mindful when considering retargeting or other programmatic campaigns:

  • You can’t target someone based on a known condition. If someone visits your homepage or a donations page, retargeting can help you remind them of their interest in your brand or campaigns. But if someone visits a particular doctor’s page or has searched for information on a specific problem, you cannot use retargeting to show them ads specifically addressing these concerns.
  • Industry regulations and ad exchange rules restrict advertising for certain content. This includes prescription medication, medical devices, and health supplements. Check out our support center for a full list.

It doesn’t matter what kind of conversion you have or need: whether it’s selling new products, attracting more visitors to your site, or driving donations. The new digital age has solutions for virtually every industry; it’s how you take advantage of what’s out there that will determine how much it can help you grow. The digital solution for the Healthcare industry is out there, but marketers are still figuring out the right mix of tools to achieve their objectives.