What is Healthcare Marketing?
Healthcare marketing is a process of strategic outreach and communications designed to attract healthcare consumers, guide them through their healthcare journey, and keep them engaged with the health system.
Sophisticated healthcare marketing strategy integrates multi-channel, highly-segmented and targeted online and offline tactics to drive engagement and support the attainment of enterprise goals. Health systems measure the success of their marketing efforts through specific metrics that are aligned with key performance indicators (KPIs), and/or marketing return on investment (ROI).
Benefits of Healthcare Marketing
Healthcare Marketing Tips
The ever-evolving healthcare landscape can present unfamiliar challenges to even the most seasoned marketers. Marketing teams need to keep up with the latest industry tips and trends to ensure they’re crafting an engaging and effective strategy that maximizes their impact on the health system’s bottom line.
- Use Analytics to Secure Budget: Marketing teams often receive their budget from upper level management. Unfortunately, assigning budgets in this way typically results in over or under-spending, which can diminish the marketing team’s impact on the health system. Instead, marketers should analyze previous campaigns, determine how much budget is needed to reach key demographics, and present findings to executives for buy-in.
- Align Marketing with Organizational Objectives: Marketing needs to have a seat at the table when determining the health system’s overall business strategy. Opening up a two-way dialogue between marketing and upper-level management will enable marketers to understand that organization’s overarching goals. Then, they can use analytics to set a realistic budget to achieve these goals.
- Analyze the Competition: Competing health systems will have similar target markets and strategic priorities. Conducting a competitive analysis and gaining a better understanding of their strategy (including what worked and what didn’t) will help build a roadmap for your team’s own success.
- Evaluate the Best Channels: Marketers have a seemingly endless list of channels to advertise on, and a single marketing budget to distribute. Making the most out of countless marketing channels can be overwhelming – but with a business intelligence solution, teams can use data to discover the most influential marketing channels for different geographic areas and service lines.
- Build Your Brand: Consumers don’t buy products or services they don’t know or trust. Similarly, consumers won’t choose a hospital or care team that they’re unfamiliar with. It’s recommended that new health systems spend anywhere from 30-40% of their total marketing budget on branding initiatives to reduce the spend required to acquire and retain patients.
- Build Relationships with Personalization: Despite the personal nature of healthcare, many marketing strategies have not integrated personalization. Marketers should leverage the behavioral and demographic data contained in their electronic health records (EHRs) and their healthcare customer relationship management (HCRM) software to laser-target patients that need their services.
Common Healthcare Marketing Questions
- Why is Healthcare Marketing Important?
Healthcare is changing. Consumers are now more actively involved in their care than ever before, making key decisions along their healthcare journey that they may have formerly left to a physician. Internet research is on the rise, “Dr. Google” is gaining authority, and healthcare consumers even spend time comparing prices and testimonials prior to selecting a healthcare provider.
In addition, consumers look to non-traditional remedies before scheduling an appointment with their PCP. In fact, 63 percent of consumers received care from a non-traditional provider in 2018, such as a retail or walk-in clinic, virtual care provider, or outpatient hospital. Convenience trumps other factors, such as provider history or background, but patients still want to receive a level of personalized care that conveys trust and accountability in the health system.
Changes in consumer behavior is a key factor driving the increased importance of marketing. The effective marketing messaging must convey is no longer about offering a better quality of care: It’s about providing convenient, accessible, digitally integrated services that fit into consumers’ hectic lives. For this reason, the healthcare marketers, the experts in communication and channel strategy, hold a more critical role than previous decades.
Healthcare marketing supports this transition to consumer-driven care by educating patients, drawing them into health systems, and providing the superior customer service and engagement opportunities necessary to maintain patient loyalty.
- What Technology is Necessary for Success in Healthcare Marketing?
There are four major marketing technology platforms that healthcare organizations need in order to develop and execute impactful healthcare marketing campaigns:
Healthcare Customer Relationship Management (HCRM) Platform
An HCRM platform integrates patient data from a variety of sources to help marketers build, launch, optimize, and measure multichannel healthcare campaigns. With an HCRM, it is possible to personalize marketing outreach in ways that enrich patient engagements, improve customer service, and encourage long-term relationships. Sophisticated HCRMs also integrate with other technology platforms, including the EMR and financial systems, to support a comprehensive, data-driven outreach strategy.
Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS streamlines and classifies healthcare marketing content, as well as integrates with an HCRM to create guidelines that ensure future content aligns with brand guidelines. A CMS can also create a procedure for content repurposing and reusability to help healthcare marketers distribute content efficiently.
A marketing automation platform, such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, allows healthcare marketers to automate the distribution of content to the right patients, at exactly the right time. This software leverages HCRM data to ensure each customer journey is unique and based on real-time data and triggers. These limitless campaign triggers are stage-driven and based on an individual’s behavior or sequence of action. Marketing automation software is often used to deploy repetitive communications such as email, social media, and even paid advertising campaigns.
An Engagement Center is an optimized call center that supports highly personalized, world-class patient experiences delivered on-the-fly for inbound and outbound calls. An engagement center solution integrates HCRM data to provide representatives with a comprehensive 360° view of each caller, including records of past engagements – both over the phone and online. Armed with this information, call center representatives can have relevant and personalized conversations that solidify the patient’s relationship with the health system.
Together, these four technologies enable smarter patient acquisition and retention by nurturing patients with personalized, timely, and relevant content. This technology, coupled with a carefully enacted precision marketing strategy, increases conversions, strengthens retention rates, extends patient lifetime value, and improves year-over-year growth.
- What Is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for Healthcare Marketing Technology?
Total cost of ownership is defined as the purchase price of an asset plus the costs of operation. In other words, it is the sum of all direct and indirect costs incurred when purchasing a piece of technology. TCO is often used alongside ROI calculation when initiating a project, and considers expenses involved with implementation, upkeep, support, compliance, and etc.
When evaluating healthcare marketing technology, TCO analysis should be part of the research and vendor-partner selection process. In general, there are three key categories of cost that go into a comprehensive TCO analysis for healthcare software: Acquisition costs, operational costs, and resources (personnel) costs. To calculate total cost of ownership for healthcare marketing software, simply combine these components using the following formula:
TCO = [(OC + RC) x Y] + AC
- OC = Operational Costs (per year)
- RC = Resources Costs (per year)
- Y = Years of Ownership (estimated)
- AC = Acquisition Costs
- What Are the Challenges to Successful Healthcare Marketing?
There are three main barriers preventing healthcare marketing success: departmental silos, outdated tactics and technology, and insufficient budgets.
Departmental silos prevent healthcare marketers from delivering a consistent stream of communication to patients, which is necessary to meet the quality and cost demands of healthcare reform. To remain competitive in the years to come, healthcare marketers must evolve alongside today’s fast-paced digital world, including the use of newer digital channels.
- How Can Health Systems Improve their Healthcare Marketing Strategy?
Improving marketing efforts requires leveraging the wealth of consumer and market data available – such as consumer, household, and propensity data stored within the HCRM –crafting individualized patient messaging according to unique patient personas, executing on omnichannel precision marketing strategies, and constantly optimizing marketing performance through real-time campaign intelligence.
Today’s consumers are increasingly motivated by convenience and personalization. Marketers must be cognizant of these desires and create rich, compelling content and communications that make it easier for patients to find and receive medical care.
- Are There any HIPAA Concerns with Remarketing?
Typically, there are no HIPAA concerns with remarketing. In certain instances, however, it could be perceived as blurring the line. We recommend limiting landing page forms to require only basic contact information, such as first and last name and an email address.
As long as you’re not collecting medical or clinical information, you’re not violating PHI or HIPAA, so remarketing shouldn’t be an issue.
- Will Implementing a Marketing Automation Tool Impact the Marketing Department Structure?
Similar to adopting a healthcare CRM solution, to get the most out of the investment, healthcare marketing departments should designate at least one, dedicated employee to be responsible for implementing and operating a marketing automation tool, such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud. This should be a more technically-oriented individual who is primarily responsible for working in the solution— i.e. a power user whose title would likely be Director or Manager of Lead Generation.
As far as the rest of the marketing department, it is likely that your team structure will shift and evolve simply because marketing automation systems provide a greater degree of efficiency and allows organizations to execute smarter patient acquisition and retention programs. If, for example, there were 4-5 people within the marketing department doing a job that marketing automation software can now handle, these individuals are freed up to dedicate more time to more strategic, value-add activities, projects, and initiatives.