For healthcare professionals, education does not end with medical school; it is a permanent endeavor that accompanies them throughout the entirety of their careers. Continuing Medical Education (CME) is pivotal in the medical world’s quest for the most efficient, effective, and competent patient care. Accordingly, there are a plethora of CME activities scattered across various websites and healthcare resources–both online and in-person.
With so many options to choose from and a hectic work schedule that limits the time available for web browsing, HCPs expect quality CME content that provides flexibility in terms of virtual vs. live components as well as user-friendly organization that allows them to quickly locate activities that are relevant to their professions and specialties.
Yet with so many other CME providers bidding for their time, your company must work tirelessly to triumph over the competition. You must entice healthcare professionals into buying your services, and then you must provide an exemplary and valuable learning experience that convinces them to return for more.
Effective marketing strategies are essential when it comes to standing out in a sea of competitors. Here are several important objectives to keep in mind:
- Engage local businesses
- Acquire commercial support
- Open the door for new healthcare professionals
- Connect with previous clients
- Generate positive attention from online healthcare communities
With the correct marketing approach, your CME activities will not only attract your target audience but also amplify commercial interest in your business. To this end, there are 8 crucial marketing elements to integrate into your existing strategy.
1. Email Marketing
Maintaining a robust email marketing program is a quick and convenient way to stay in touch with your audience.
- Create an opt-in email list – You can generate a comprehensive list of HCPs who are interested in your content based on either CME sales or site membership. An email list allows you to share relevant, up-to-date news from the healthcare industry, information about your own CME activities, and any other messages that concern your company as it pertains to your audience.
- Segment your customer base – If a healthcare professional attended one of your CME events, why not provide them with relevant content in a follow-up email? “Relevant” is the key word: your customers want information that aligns with their interests and careers, and “blanket emails” sent to everyone may cause your audience to disregard future messages. Always send emails to specific groups within your customer base that relate to their professions, specialties, or CEU requirements.
As a CME provider, your clients will fall into the broad category of “healthcare professional”. However, you can optimize your marketing efforts by identifying smaller groups and sorting your customers accordingly. These “segments” can be based on any number of personal details, such as profession, specialty, age, location, and so on.
By segmenting your customer base, you can more accurately personalize your content for your audience and compose targeted campaigns for specific groups. As mentioned before, this is important for email lists, but segmentation is useful for all areas of marketing.
For example, the way you approach your older clients, who are well-established medical professionals, and your younger clients, who are fresh out of medical school, should be completely different.
“Personalization” is a way of showing your audience that you care about them and their careers on a deeper level, and this–in turn–helps you stand out as a CME provider. Treat your customers in a manner that respects them as individuals rather than numbers on a registration sheet.
This can be accomplished by tailoring your content to best meet your HCPs’ needs as you understand them. For example, you can:
- Send messages based on courses or events they took in the past or
- Populate information on your site according to each user, based on how often they log in or whether or not they are currently registered for one of your activities.
Through personalization, you improve your company’s relevance to your target audience, which will help keep them interested in your CME content and active on your website.
4. Social Engagement
Social media offers an entire world of possibilities when it comes to building relationships with both potential and current customers. To increase and maintain engagement on your accounts, it is important to post regularly within your audience’s area of interest, add relevant images or videos where appropriate, answer questions posed in your comments section, and so on. Here are some ways you can enhance your customers’ experience through social media:
- Regular Q&A sessions – There are many benefits to opening the floor for more casual interactions with interested HCPs on a platform with which they are already familiar. The primary draw is that these more personalized conversations will serve to persuade the commenter (and an untold number of potential customers who may be reading along) to consider your business for their CME needs.
- Offer online “office hours” – Designate a specific time and day where registered attendees can chat online with the instructor for their given CME course and ask questions pertaining to that course’s materials. Providing this extra service, in which your company displays a vested interest in each HCP’s education, will help you retain customers.
- Create a course-based FaceBook group – For sets of related CME courses, you may wish to create a private FaceBook group for the instructor and any interested participants. This will allow your audience an opportunity to interact with their instructor at a one-on-one level, pose questions to their fellow learners outside of class, and share additional, relevant resources to enrich the course’s official syllabus–which will improve your customers’ satisfaction.
5. Loyalty Programs
Developing a loyalty program is an easy and effective way to increase customer retention while providing interesting and exciting rewards to your existing clientele–which can also draw in new customers, too.
However, according to an article written by Khalid Saleh for Invesp, which compiled data from several fiscal studies and surveys, it costs businesses 5 times more money to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. By providing your customer base with one or more compelling reasons to return to you for their next purchase, your company will be able to maintain revenue and increase profitability simultaneously.
There are several ways to implement a customer loyalty program; the most common form is a rewards system where points earned–through purchases–can be exchanged for discounts on future purchases or even free content. You can offer points for things such as:
- Early-bird registration,
- Purchasing two or more courses at the same time,
- Referring another customer to your site, and
- Writing reviews for purchased content
Publishing blog articles on your website is a great way to showcase your eLearning industry expertise and demonstrate to prospects–whether individual or commercial–your trustworthiness as a CME provider. Your blog is a free resource for potential and existing customers that will boost engagement with your website and compel HCPs to register for your activities.
Furthermore, a blog can help you rank higher on search engine results pages. How, exactly? Google regularly crawls websites for fresh content on a relevant topic. As long as your articles are relevant, knowledgeable, and new, your target audience will see them.
Through leveraging connections to colleagues in related fields, you both stand to gain from mutual online promotions. By advocating for your partner’s new medical technology, advancement, or data, they will reap the rewards of your company’s positive reputation with its customer base. In turn, when they promote your latest offers and CME courses, you will benefit from their customers’ loyalty and trust in their reputation.
Additionally, you can request that your instructors utilize social media, newsletters, and other methods to promote their CME courses and conferences, which will net them more registrations while increasing traffic to your website.
8. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a marketing tactic that increases your website’s visibility on search engines like Google. The higher your site ranks for a valuable keyword or phrase, the more eyes you receive on your site and its content, which increases your chances of selling more tickets to your next event. To maximize visibility, you must carefully craft meta titles and meta descriptions for each webpage, with as much consideration given to the people browsing as the search engine’s algorithm.
Keep in mind that the majority of search engine users never look past the second results page, which means investment in SEO is crucial within the marketing world.
Now more than ever, Continuing Medical Education courses are in high demand. Through thoughtful and persistent application of these various marketing techniques, you can communicate with potential learners and demonstrate to them the value of your CME activities. Whether you aim to boost event attendance, expand your course offerings to a new market, or simply build loyalty among your existing customers, your company will see significant improvement in site traffic, business opportunities, and sales.