Dismiss Modal

Healthcare has become increasingly consumer-driven in recent years, and today’s patients are far more selective when choosing a health system to entrust with their care. 

According to a 2021 study by Pew Research, 77% of consumers begin healthcare research on a search engine like Google or Bing. They spend plenty of time browsing websites, reading reviews, and learning about their symptoms before scheduling an appointment. 

In light of these circumstances, healthcare marketers are tasked with creating a digital experience that rivals those of big-name retailers and other direct-to-consumer brands. A hospital website or campaign not only needs to promote awareness and drum up high-quality leads, but it also needs to get those leads in the facility door. To do so, every element of the digital experience should encourage immediate engagement: Websites must be mobile-optimized, facility phone numbers must be obvious, and landing pages must command action. 

One simple way that healthcare marketers can step up their lead-gen game is by varying the types of calls-to-action (CTAs) used on landing pages, emails, and social media ads — and making those CTAs more obvious. Most first-time site visitors aren’t ready to book an appointment when they come across your eBook or webinar. While the “Schedule an Appointment” CTA has a time and a place, there are plenty of other “softer sells” that are more effective for nurturing patients in the earlier stages of the funnel. 

Let’s review some of the most valuable — but underutilized — CTAs that healthcare marketers should test in their digital campaigns. 

The top 3 most underutilized CTAs to improve marketing ROI 

You’re probably already familiar with the most common CTAs used by healthcare marketers. “Schedule an Appointment,” as we’ve mentioned, ranks number one. While many health systems have limited themselves to this one type of “hard” CTA, forward-thinking organizations recognize the need for longer nurturing journeys. As a result, they’re increasing the variety of CTAs used on digital channels and providing a wider range of resources to cater to all stages of the consumer-patient journey. 

To help you get started, we came up with three valuable yet underutilized CTAs for healthcare marketers to consider: 

1. Take the assessment 

Assessments and surveys are excellent tools to engage consumers because they offer an immediate, personalized “reward” — information about the user’s health that precludes a diagnosis. The most common type of assessment implemented by healthcare organizations is an HRA, or Health Risk Assessment. 

HRAs are valuable when deployed at the right point along an acquisition campaign, but they tend to be lengthy and require the user to fill out a significant amount of personal and clinical data. Consumers in the early stage of the research process might be overwhelmed by the number of questions in a traditional HRA, leading to a higher abandonment rate. HRAs, therefore, are best for later stages of your nurture campaign, when you already have a “shopper” who is actively seeking care. 

That said, not all assessments have to be lengthy, clinical, and geared towards bottom-of-the-funnel traffic. In fact, shorter assessments are incredibly effective for generating awareness and engaging consumers who aren’t yet “in the market” but want to learn more about their symptoms or risk. 

These five- to seven-minute web-based surveys can be built into a main site landing page, included as part of a social media campaign, or used as a conversion tactic within an email drip campaign. Since the data collected is non-clinical and involves only self-reported symptom evaluation, there’s less concern around privacy and security — but still plenty of valuable information (including lead qualification metrics) that can be used to more precisely target audiences and increase campaign performance. 

Long story short: Assessments work, especially when short enough to keep your visitors’ attention and provide immediate results. Multiple CTAs might be used throughout the assessment pathway, beginning with something like “Find Out Your Risk for Cardiovascular Disease” to “Begin the Assessment” to “Book an Appointment” if their answers deem them a qualified candidate at the end of the assessment. A/B testing can help marketers determine the most effective CTAs for their desired results. 

2. Request a second opinion 

“Request a Second Opinion” is a powerful call-to-action because it hands the healthcare reins back over to the patient, urging him or her to seek a better outcome for a diagnosis rather than accepting it at face value. It’s bold, actionable, and puts an idea into users’ heads that they might not have considered before: 70% of Americans don’t feel the need to request a second opinion unless prompted to do so. 

When they do choose to pursue a second opinion, however, 88% receive a different or refined diagnosis from their original. Could my arthritis diagnosis be, in fact, carpal tunnel? Could I be eligible for this life-changing surgery? 

“Request a Second Opinion” not only empowers consumers who come across your website — it implies authority in the service line and subtly positions your brand ahead of your local competitors. When coupled with an informative resource or case study, this CTA has the potential to convert patients who were previously loyal to another health system over to your own or may be “splitting” their care between systems. It’s important that the resource leading to the CTA is compelling, factual, and highlights the complexity of the diagnostic process for whichever disease or condition you’re targeting. 

In terms of functionality, the “Second Opinion” CTA should direct users to a short form that asks for the basic demographic information (name, phone number, birth date, etc.) needed to schedule an appointment. It is most effective when coupled with a call center-integrated campaign, where information gathered with the form is funneled into an Engagement Center framework and prompts an outbound call to confirm the appointment request. 

With the right building blocks in place, “Request a Second Opinion” can significantly up the ROI of your digital lead-gen campaign — especially when compared to traditional, less compelling CTAs such as “Book an Appointment.” 

3. Reserve your spot 

Patient education seminars and workshops are fantastic for building trust and increasing community awareness for your hospital or health system’s services. A traditional seminar CTA might read: “Sign Up for Free” or “Register Today.” While these both get the point across, they do little to convey a sense of urgency or value. “Reserve Your Spot,” on the other hand, is an underutilized but higher-performing CTA because it implies that space is limited and, therefore, the event is valuable and sought-after. 

This CTA should be coupled with a digital booking interface so interested visitors can easily sign up without getting on the phone (however, always provide a phone number that registrants can call for more information). The “Reserve Your Spot” CTA is suitable for landing pages, email, and social media — but it should always be followed with an email nurture campaign regardless of where the lead was captured. Make sure these emails are personalized based on the information the patient has provided, and that they continue beyond the date of the event. 

To sweeten the deal, some marketers may choose to include a free resource or downloadable asset (such as an eBook) that the user can access immediately upon registration for the seminar. The CTA for this combination might read “Reserve Your Spot and Download Our eBook, Understanding Juvenile Diabetes, for Free.” This kind of educational resource not only encourages action — it increases the chances that the registrant will remain engaged and gives them a little more background information to help them prepare for the seminar. 

Final thoughts 

The most impactful CTAs for healthcare marketing all have something in common: They provide a valuable reward or result, imply a degree of urgency, and give the health system a position of authority. When building out your digital engagement strategy and lead gen campaigns, make sure to spend plenty of time refining your CTAs and creating informative, educational resources that support them. Today’s patients are busy — they won’t take the time to fill out a form or complete a survey if there isn’t an immediate and obvious reason to do so. 

Finally, make sure to use a healthy mixture of both “soft” and “hard” CTAs. The former asks visitors to perform a quicker or lower-risk action, such as taking a short symptom assessment or checking their BMI. This type of CTA is more suited to consumers in the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey, having just landed on the health system’s website for the first time. The latter, a “hard” CTA, is best for consumers who are actively seeking a provider and are already familiar with your brand; for example, “Schedule a Consultation” or “Sign Up Today.” 

By tailoring your CTAs and associated material to each stage of the pipeline, prospects are more likely to remain engaged — and your healthcare marketing campaigns will see overall improved performance and ROI.