Diagnosing The Marketing Challenges Of ‘Aesthetic Healthcare’

Many spas and salons are making some big mistakes when it comes to social media, search, and email marketing, says eRelevance CMO Adam Weinroth.

It looks as though the spa industry could use some extra self-care when it comes to being discovered by and engaging with its customers.

That’s the diagnosis of SMB marketing platform eRelevance. The company’s The State of Aesthetic Healthcare Marketing 2017 report outlines some of the problems facing the industry, which includes spas and wellness programs.

Even as Google has begun to offer help to make booking an appointment with a treatment center literally as easy as finding one in Google Maps, businesses are plagued by several issues, says eRelevance CMO Adam Weinroth:

  • Practices are far from satisfied with marketing results: Nearly 60 percent of respondents cited lack of results (30 percent) and lack of measurement (28 percent) as the chief reasons for dissatisfaction with their marketing efforts.
  • No practice surveyed focuses exclusively on repeat business from its patients but practices recognize its value: None of the practices surveyed focuses its marketing exclusively on generating repeat business from existing patients despite clear benefits and cost efficiencies. According to respondents, this is due to limited time and expertise.
  • Practices see benefit to outsourcing patient marketing to an expert: While 92 percent of respondents said they are executing patient marketing internally, 60 percent said they would consider outsourcing to a proven expert.

“Aesthetic healthcare practices that want to thrive in today’s competitive environment must find a way to reach the most qualified consumers, with the most relevant messages, in the most cost-effective way,” said Weinroth. Most practices, through the survey, acknowledge the best way to do that is by generating more repeat business from their existing patients. We found that while most of the practices surveyed are aware of the unmatched benefits of effectively marketing to their existing patients, they simply don’t have the resources or expertise to execute the kind of sophisticated marketing campaigns necessary to effectively reach their patients to business growth.”

GeoMarketing: How do we define “aesthetic healthcare?” 

Adam Weinroth: U.S.-based medical spas and elective healthcare practices offering non-invasive cosmetic procedures.

How does the marketing of this category differ from the general healthcare marketplace?

The procedures offered by aesthetic healthcare practices are elective and payed out-of-pocket.  Consumers are making purchasing decisions not based on medical need or insurer requirements, but on drivers such as loyalty, brand awareness and value.

Social media and email are the top methods for driving awareness and discovery. How well are professionals in this space using those channels?

Generally, they are using untargeted, unpaid social posts, which are largely ineffective due to limited reach and lack of segmentation and relevancy. Regarding email, the vast majority are simply email blasting. This is problematic for two reasons: First, they’re essentially spamming their patients, which drives them away, making them ripe for competitors to move in. Second, industry statistics show that marketing emails only get opened 20 percent of the time.  So, best case, professionals in the space are missing out on engaging more than three quarters of their patients—an enormous, missed opportunity.

Are professionals under-investing in other channels?

The internal staffs at most aesthetic healthcare practices simply don’t have the time nor expertise to achieve sophisticated patient marketing across channels. The result is a staggeringly underwhelming level of repeat business from existing patients. And that then leads them to over invest in chasing new business through traditional advertising, which, on average, costs about $1,000 per new aesthetic patient.

What accounts for the high rates of “dissatisfaction” with their marketing services? 

The dissatisfaction comes from a lack of results, the inability to measure results and the overall struggle of trying to execute effective patient marketing with nowhere near the time, technology or expertise necessary to do it well.

How has the use of search evolved in terms of getting their locations discovered? 

Search is no longer just about pages of blue links. Consumers aren’t just using mobile devices, they are driving true mobility between many screens and apps. That means practices should be thinking about search via Google, yes, but also Yelp, maps, Facebook, Siri and more.

Could search and the use of location targeting/analysis generate more repeat customer business (alluding to the data point that few practices tend to focus marketing dollars on repeat business)? 

It may, but those kinds of techniques miss out on the power of effective customer marketing: Knowing exactly who your customers are and how and where to reach them. What we’ve found to be most effective is digitally surrounding customers across channels with personally relevant information.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.