4 Strategies to Make the Most of Your Healthcare Marketing Budget

marketing strategyConvenient care options – including telehealth and urgent care facilities – are more pervasive than ever, which is forcing hospitals and health systems to reexamine their own customer experiences.

It’s critical; a recent study found nearly every consumer will stop visiting a practice after a poor experience. That’s bad enough, but there is real revenue opportunity in providing excellent experiences. The same study found that patients who have the best experiences spend 140 percent more than those with a bad experience. And with a third of providers missing their revenue targets last year, it’s time to do something different.  

The reality is, to provide these types of excellent experiences, healthcare organizations need more focus on personalization and engagement throughout the care continuum – as they find, guide, and keep patients for life. All facets of the health system need to come together and support this initiative, including the marketing team.

Unfortunately, healthcare marketers are often working with limited budgets, and thus need to ensure their strategies are as impactful as possible in order to drive quantifiable results. In other words, how can healthcare marketing departments get the most bang for their buck?

When allocating marketing budget, emphasize those initiatives where you can drive excellent experiences and, therefore, ROI.   

Let’s unpack four strategies you can use to make the most out of your healthcare marketing budget:

1. Invest in Data Automation

Personalized engagement requires smart use of reliable patient data that yields the 360-degree insights needed to target the right consumers, optimize the payer mix, and create personalized patient journeys at scale. Such data includes:

  • Marketing Insights: Market demand for services, market share data, historical performance of marketing data, and market demand data
  • Patient and Consumer Analysis: Patient characteristics and consumer needs
  • Organizational Readiness: Service line capacity, physician practice capacity, operational readiness

Any data you use should be as recent, matched, cleaned, and scrubbed, as possible. A smart use of marketing budget is to invest in technology that automates patient data processes and generates actionable intelligence to focus campaign spend.

In conjunction, leveraging propensity models, which are predictive models that use statistical analyses to predict the likelihood of disease is critical to identify the best targets for marketing efforts.    

The result is that marketers can target campaigns to consumers most likely need your services, ensuring spend is not wasted on those unlikely to convert. Yes, adopting analytical automation technology is an upfront investment, but results in significant ROI down the line via boosted campaign performance.    

  

2. Utilize Digital Marketing Campaigns

Once your marketing department integrates sophisticated data processes and identifies the most likely campaign targets, utilize a multi-channel approach that includes digital marketing campaigns. Create hyper-personalized digital campaigns that reach target audiences much more inexpensively than traditional marketing tactics. For example, to reach 1,000 people, it costs on average $57, but to reach 1,000 people using social media, the cost is only $2.50.

The following campaign strategies acquire and retain patients cost-effectively:

Multi-Channel

A recent report found that 72 percent of consumers would prefer to connect with businesses across multiple channels. This trend towards multi-channel interactions benefits both customers and health systems; deploying campaigns across many digital platforms is still considerably more economical than advertising on traditional platforms like TV, billboards, and radio.

Successful multi-channel campaigns take propensity model-identified audiences and target them with personalized messaging that speaks to specific patient personas, experiences, and pain points.

The financial impact of multi-channel campaigns can be enormous after taking a multi-channel approach, a West Coast health system saw an 11 percent decrease in cost per digital lead, a 44 percent increase in call leads, and 449 percent increase in organic search click-through rate year over year. In addition, using multi-channel strategies resulted in 23 percent more procedures and 27 percent higher ROI:

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Geo-Fencing

Geo-fencing campaigns put a virtual fence around a physical location, such as a walk-in clinic or pharmacy, that allows health systems to send outreach to customers when they enter that area. This is an ideal way to send patients relevant outreach like coupons or notifications about events when they are near your hospital or specialty site.

Utilizing this digital tactic targets consumers when they are close to your facilities, making them more likely to convert. In fact, click through rates can be 5x higher in geo-fenced areas than normal prospecting ads. Therefore, geo-fencing campaigns not only prioritize marketing budget on likely consumers, but generate greater ROI than other types of campaigns.

Remarketing

Remarketing campaigns help move leads towards conversion by re-targeting customers who abandoned before conversion, like a customer who downloaded a guide, but didn’t schedule an appointment.

They also conserve budget by lowering CPA while increasing conversion rates; the CTR of retargeted ads is ten times higher than those of typical display ads. In fact, 91 percent of marketers who use retargeting find it performs the same as or better than search, email, or other display ads.

Mobile

Did you know 91 percent of adults have their mobile phone within arm’s reach at all times? As a healthcare marketer, it’s absolutely essential to include mobile into your strategy. Mobile healthcare campaigns can take many forms, such as email, SMS messages, video, social media, and apps. As with other campaigns, outreach should be targeted and personalized.

When creating mobile campaigns, keep key elements in mind like clickable CTAs, navigation that’s easily scrollable with fingers, and fluid layouts to match mobile screens of varying sizes. These features will boost ROI, maximizing spend.

3. Integrate with Your Call Center

Despite the popularization of digital interactions, the call center remains a consumer favorite; 75 percent of healthcare customers still communicate via call centers. By focusing the call center as a strategic marketing asset, health systems can provide personalized and proactive customer experiences, thereby increasing conversion rates.

When healthcare marketing departments integrate their data with call centers, they create a proactive engagement center able to engage callers through personalized conversations that reference past interactions, provide future engagement opportunities, and suggest cross or up-sell opportunities.

 

The ROI of integrating marketing data into the call center is significant; a top AMC shared they increase lead-to-patient conversion by better integrating marketing campaigns with the contact center. Now, 50 percent of call center leads convert to appointments and across the last several years have averaged $240 million in annual net patient revenue by having a more holistic, unified experience. It’s not uncommon to see a 5-6x improvement in productivity as a result of agents’ ability to handle more types of transactions in a single call, providing even more cost savings to the organization.

4. Create Patient Journey Maps

Build patient journey maps, which outline what customers experience throughout their entire experience with the health system. Journey maps illuminate discrepancies between where there should be communication touchpoints to keep patients engaged, and where there actually are touchpoints. This can identify friction points in the care continuum where organizations are routinely losing patients.

Once you know where in the journey patients drop off, it’s clear exactly when you need to provide strategic engagement opportunities to keep them retained and in-network. A marketing automation solution, such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, automates these outreach efforts; you can schedule engagement processes, such as sending pre-op resources or reminding them of recovery steps.

Taking the time and resources to map patient journeys proves incredibly valuable in the long run, since marketers know how to allocate marketing dollars in the future to improve customer retention and extend patient lifetime value.

Final Thoughts

Not only do healthcare marketers have to focus on strategies that maximize their budgets, but also communicate performance to the executive team. Focus on quantitative data; unfortunately, we see the majority of healthcare marketers focus on non-financial data when communicating with the C-suite. This is not the best way to demonstrate value.

Instead, invest in technology that creates easy-to-read dashboards and performs complex analytics that calculates financial impact. These dashboards provide the opportunity to showcase the impact of campaigns, especially as it relates to patient retention and organizational growth. This is crucial for securing budget and other resources for the marketing department in the future.

Rachel Neely

Rachel Neely

Senior Healthcare Consultant at Evariant
Rachel Neely is the Senior Healthcare Consultant at Evariant. In this role, she serves as a healthcare marketing expert, guiding clients through collaborative workshops, identifying and reconciling points of marketing/physician ROI, overseeing the usability of Evariant products and solutions to ensure they meet client-specific needs, and collaborating with Physician and Marketing Practice Leaders to build new assets and points of view. Rachel holds a BA in Communication from Purdue University with specializations in Advertising and PR.
Rachel Neely