As a result of social distancing, telemedicine and telehealth are more popular than ever. 

The telemedicine market, which was worth $45 billion in 2019, is predicted to grow 19.3% from 2020-2026, according to Global Market Insights.  

With the popularity of remote healthcare comes new challenges and opportunities. Providers can now reach patients who might be otherwise unable to make a physical trip; on the flip side, healthcare providers in other counties may have started encroaching on your service areas.

How can your healthcare organization advertise telemedicine services effectively in an increasingly competitive space?

The truth is, online advertising can be a powerful tool for solving issues in real time, and the more value you provide to patients, the better you’ll stand out from the competition. But if you use these platforms without a plan in place, your campaign will be in jeopardy. 

The best way to reach qualified potential patients is to start with an advertising strategy. 

Telemedicine Versus Telehealth

The terms telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction between the two. 

Telehealth is a broad term for using electronic technologies to facilitate clinical or non-clinical services. Telemedicine focuses specifically on clinical services, like patient reminders, virtual visits, and transmitting x-rays between providers. 

While telehealth includes clinical services, it also includes continuing education for providers, administrative meetings, and other non-clinical communications. 

While this guide focuses on telemedicine, the concepts can be applied to telehealth as well. 

Why Should Telemedicine Providers Create an Advertising Strategy?

In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services waived antiquated billing rules, and as a result, healthcare providers are able to bill many telemedicine services the same way they would bill in-person visits. 

If billing barriers aren’t a motivating reason to embrace telemedicine, telemedicine providers are uniquely positioned to improve access to healthcare for underserved populations:

  • People living in large, sparsely populated counties can finally get seen by a doctor without having to travel great distances. 
  • Patients who are less mobile can schedule a quick follow-up visit without having to coordinate transportation. 
  • Patients who are immunocompromised will no longer have to risk their lives for routine healthcare visits. 

Your digital advertising strategy is your roadmap for reaching and connecting with these patients. Depending on your goals, your strategy will lay out how to build awareness of your telemedicine services, influence consideration in choosing your organization as a provider, or persuade patients to take an intended action. 

As your marketing team develops its telemedicine advertising campaigns, your strategy will provide guidance on measuring goals, targeting your audience, and budgeting resources. 

In short, your advertising strategy will help your team launch an intentional, well-organized telemedicine campaign. Moreover, it will help your healthcare organization measure campaign performance to improve effectiveness over time. 

Step 1: Determine Your Telemedicine Campaign Goals, Objectives, and KPIs 

Before launching your telemedicine advertising campaign, you need to establish clear goals and objectives.

While your campaign objectives should be specific and measurable, your overarching goals can be general and non-tangible. 

Goals for a telemedicine advertising campaign might include:

  • To be seen as a trustworthy provider of remote healthcare services 
  • For patients who usually visit us in person to schedule a telemedicine visit
  • To expand our reach in underserved areas through telemedicine

Once you establish a broad set of campaign goals, you can refine your goals into objectives. A commonly used acronym for well-planned objectives is SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound. 

SMART objectives should be tied to specific key performance indicators (KPIs).

SMART objectives for a telemedicine campaign might include:

  • To increase the number of videoconferencing patient visits by 10% year-over-year
  • To increase the number of existing patients who schedule a healthcare visit using our remote scheduling system by 10% YoY 
  • To increase the number of remote patients living in X County by 15% YoY

Once you determine your objectives, you’ll be ready to develop an analytics plan for measuring your campaign’s success. 

Step 2: Develop a Measurement Model for your Telemedicine Ad Campaign

It’s an unfortunate fact that 31% of healthcare companies continue to rely on qualitative data to determine the short-term impact their marketing spend has on their organization.

However, for an advertising strategy to be effective, you need an analytics plan that accurately measures your KPIs quantitatively.

Your measurement model should be based on what user actions and metrics must be recorded and measured to understand the effectiveness of your advertising campaign.

For example, if your campaign goal is to be seen as a trustworthy provider of telemedicine services, you might focus on measuring public opinion.

This may require:

  • Social media monitoring (quantifying reactions via comments and “likes”)
  • Analyzing email response sentiment
  • Monitoring public and private reviews

Once you’ve outlined your analytics requirements, you can use the information to help determine which analytics tools will best measure your ad campaign’s performance.

Choosing an analytics platform

Ideally, instead of relying on a single tool as your source of truth, your organization will embrace multiple sources of data collection. 

While Google Analytics and Analytics 360 offers useful tools for clickstream data measurement, you may need additional tools to quantify specific objectives and how they contribute to your overall business performance. 

What tools might you use to analyze your telemedicine campaign? Ideas include:

  • Clickstream data (Google Analytics and Heap.io)
  • Customer experience management data (iPerceptions)
  • Experimentation and testing using tools (Google Optimize, SiteSpect, Optimizely)
  • Voice of customer insights (Quantum Metric, Crimson Hexagon, customer feedback)
  • Competitive intelligence data (Google Trends and HitWise)

Once your measurement model has been developed, you’re ready to create your patient persona. 

Step 3: Create Your Telemedicine Patient Persona

A patient persona is a working hypothesis of who your ideal patient is and how your telemedicine service supports their goals. While a persona is a fictional representation of your perfect patient, it typically includes a combination of real demographic and psychographic data, to paint a realistic view of their lives and emotional state during their health journey.

The basic components of a patient persona are:

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Sex
  4. Location
  5. Employment/Industry
  6. Motivators
  7. Goals
  8. Frustrations
  9. Key Personality Traits

With a patient persona, your marketing team can craft a telemarketing campaign that resonates with your target client, building interest in your organization, and empowering patients to take action.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to build a targeted list of potential patients who live more than 20 miles from the nearest hospital or clinic. 

Your next step may be to build a telemedicine page that introduces patients to the idea of remote treatment solutions and encourages them to sign up for an information packet.

Based on your learnings from the patient persona you’ve created, your message to Patient Pat might focus on the idea of convenience, accessibility, and independence.

However, this touch point is just one part of Patient Pat’s overall medical journey. How do you continue to nurture them once they receive the information they requested?   

To create an effective advertising strategy, you need to understand the full journey of your patient.

Step 4: Map Out the Telemedicine Patient’s Journey

Patient goals evolve over time, depending on where they are in their healthcare journey. 

Map out the thoughts, emotions, and actions that your patients may go through on the way to seeking services at your healthcare organization, including the touch points where you can reach them via advertising, and the properties you’ll want to draw them to.

Here’s an example of what the patient journey might look like and how you might connect with the patient at each stage of their journey:

Phase 1: Early Education & Awareness

  • Researching specific symptoms or conditions
  • Looking for others who share their condition or experiences
  • Early research into medical options

Key Touch Points: Search ads (display, video, and text-based), social ads

Properties: Informational landing page, newsletter about specific condition

Phase 2: Medical Diagnosis & Confirmation

  • Searching for a medical professional nearby who can help
  • Consultation with medical professional
  • Confirmation and/or second opinion
  • Specialist referral
  • Formal testing, if applicable
  • Early research into potential treatment options

Key Touch Points: Search ads (display, video, and text-based), social ads

Properties: Landing page about provider specialties with online scheduling CTA, telemedicine services page 

Phase 3: Seeking Treatment

  • Formal research into available treatments and nearby healthcare providers
  • Plan for long-term treatment

Key Touch Points: Search ads (display, video, and text-based), social ads

Properties: Telemedicine appointment scheduling page, reminder newsletters for those who haven’t made an appointment yet 

Phase 4: Living With Condition

  • Doctor appointments
  • Support from community
  • Ongoing education

Key Touch Points: Social ads, display ads

Properties: Follow-up appointment reminders, emails about managing health

As you map out the patient journey, create objectives for what you want to accomplish at each stage and touch point. Consider the content and tactics you’ll need to successfully engage with your audience at each of these phases, within the context of achieving your telemedicine goals. 

Follow this same process for all possible audiences. The patient journey map will help guide and streamline your campaign build phase by assigning intention to the content you create. 

Once you map out your patient persona’s health journey, you’ll be able to determine where they are online and where you should advertise. 

Step 5: Choose Advertising Platforms that Align with your Telemedicine Patient’s Journey

Identify which search platforms and social networks your telemedicine persona would use. Why does your demographic gravitate towards these platforms, and how might your healthcare ads complement your patient’s experience online and/or offline?

Consider your patient persona’s demographics, psychographics and the potential pros and cons of advertising on each platform.

Keep in mind that each platform has its own media formats, the content for which you’ll need to develop or outsource. The visually rich platform Instagram requires photos, graphics, and/or short video clips. Google text ads, on the other hand, require no visuals. Instead, you’ll need a content creator to develop compelling headlines and descriptions that align with the landing page experience. 

Alternatively, you may wish to consider offline advertising options if your demographic is unlikely to peruse social media. Some patients may not be computer-savvy and so you’ll need to reach them where they’re at and provide them with the tools needed to navigate web conferencing. 

Once you’ve decided which platforms to advertise on, and the type of content you’ll need, you are ready to estimate your telemedicine campaign budget. 

Step 6: Determine Your Telemedicine Campaign Budget

Your telemedicine campaign’s budget will largely depend on the goals of your campaign (awareness, consideration, decision), the platforms you’re advertising on, and your potential audience reach.

You can determine an estimated advertising budget for your healthcare organization by making sure your budget is similar to averages reported by CMOs.

Most organizations allocate approximately 10.5% of company revenues to marketing, according to a Gartner CMO Survey for 2019-2020. The breakdown is as follows: 

  • Paid media comprises 26% of marketing expenses
  • Marketing technology accounts for another 26% of the budget
  • A quarter of the budget goes towards marketing employees
  • The remaining 22% of the marketing budget goes toward agencies

What does your marketing budget look like in practice?

Simply put, if your healthcare organization’s revenues are $200 million, your marketing budget would be $21 million:

  • $5.25 million would go toward paid advertising
  • $5.25 million would go toward marketing technology
  • $5 million would go toward marketing employees
  • $4.62 million would go toward agency work

Once you have a budget laid out, you’re ready to set your project timeline. 

Step 7: Set a Timeline for your Campaign

Setting a timeline for your telemedicine campaign gives your team and any outside agencies a baseline from which to scope the project. 

At a minimum, your timeline should take into consideration:

  1. Research and planning
  2. Account creation
  3. Analytics implementation
  4. Creative development
  5. Legal review
  6. Quality assurance
  7. Performance assessments
  8. Campaign reporting and analysis

Your timeline can be created with a Gantt chart in Excel or using a tool like SmartSheets. Or, you can start out with a rough timeline as part of a project brief to scope out the project in its early stages. 


A comprehensive, data-driven digital advertising strategy empowers your team to effectively plan, launch, and measure your next telemedicine ad campaign. 

The strategy document you create is designed to align with your healthcare organization’s broader marketing strategy and business objectives. With all goals in alignment, your organization can understand how your telemedicine campaign fits into the bigger picture and contributes to future growth.