The Rise of Digital Spending in Healthcare Marketing

Oct 30, 2019 | Hospital Solutions

Digital spend in hospital marketing is on the rise. But why is it on the rise? And what are the pros and cons of digital vs. traditional marketing?

Traditional advertising can be splashy. Items such as billboards and direct mailers are easily seen by executives or board members. They’re tangible. And for non-marketing leadership, they’re what one thinks of when it comes to advertising. There are pros and cons to this type of marketing.


  • Traditional advertising has the ability to hit a large target audience. Depending on the tactic, demographics range widely in gender, socio-economics, and age. Whereas digital marketing skews towards a younger audience, traditional marketing ensures you’re not missing less tech-savvy targets.
  • When trying to hit a local market, you don’t want to overlook traditional marketing. Consumers in smaller markets continue to find high value in feeling like their hospital is a force in their local community.


  • Traditional marketing is expensive (it can cost $2,000 - $160,000 for a print ad run) and the ROI is difficult to calculate. It’s innately harder to track a consumer’s journey and more difficult to get them to follow through with your CTA.
  • There is little interaction with your targets. When broadcasting your message to a wide audience, it’s a one-way street. 
  • Targeting opportunities are limited and customizing the message for specific consumers is difficult.

80% of patient encounters start with a mobile search. On top of that, 44% of those searches end up in a booked appointment. This makes it vital to be present digitally and give patients access to direct appointment booking capabilities (for instance, Patient Connect is a great way to make it easy for patients to get access). Connecting digitally also has its pros and cons.


  • Targeting is a fundamental piece of marketing. Digital allows for more precision than traditional. It gives you the ability to hit the mark with tailored creative running at the same time, ultimately allowing hospitals to hit a large audience in a more meaningful way.
  • Digital advertising allows for greater interaction with consumers. It provides the opportunity to track what a consumer is doing and retarget them with information that is more likely to be meaningful to them.
  • When it comes to cost, digital can vary but is ultimately cheaper in the long run. Cost-per-click campaigns allow you to pay only when a consumer gets involved.
  • ROI is much simpler to track on a digital platform. With the right measures in place, you can follow a customer’s journey from how they reached your site to where they went after reaching your landing page.


  • The upfront work for a digital campaign can be intricate. Often it involves several versions of an ad, robust content development, or tracking put in place. The work can be easily streamlined, however, by repurposing content and using existing platforms to track the customer journey.

With 5% of all Google searches being health-related (that makes 280 million searches each day) it’s more important than ever to evaluate where you’re spending your marketing dollars. No matter what type of campaign fits best with your hospital, in order to raise brand awareness and ultimately, increase patient acquisition, it’s clear that digital is the space to do it.