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Healthcare Digital Marketers Must Rethink Their Reliance on Personalized Messaging

By Tim Barlow | July 28, 2021 | 1 Comment

MarketingContent Marketing and ManagementCustomer Acquisition and RetentionCustomer Understanding and Marketing Execution

According to healthcare digital marketers, one of their top objectives this year is to identify quality leads and convert those leads into ‘sales,’ i.e., refill the top of the patient funnel. In fact, the objective to “Drive increased sales among identified leads,” jumped 11 percentage points in response rate between 2020 and 2021. Following a challenging year with diminished visits, such priorities aren’t terribly surprising.

But one element of this that is concerning centers around how healthcare digital marketers intend to reach these new customers. The only objective which increased more in response between 2020 and 2021 amongst healthcare digital marketers was “Create and Deliver Personalized Experiences to Customers,” which rose 14 percentage points year over year. And two-thirds of healthcare digital marketers say they employ a one-to-one, customized approach to marketing and messaging. Not only is this significantly higher than other industries – the avg. for all industry digital marketers was ~50% for one-to-one marketing – but healthcare digital marketers have more reason than most to diversify their approach and build up their segmentation muscles.

Inherently, personalization within healthcare marketing looks different than in other industries, however these constraints only add further concern about the reliance on a more customized approach. Alongside HIPAA and the sensitive nature of medical information, recent digital evolutions such as EHRs and virtual care, have in-turn, given rise to fears over data/technological privacy amongst consumers. And this is all before anticipated changes to Google’s cookie policies go through, which will only further make microtargeting and tracking a more difficult and less reliable option. Taken together, personalization within healthcare is already at-times controversial and difficult to get right, and likely to only become more difficult going forward.

The dream of being able to precisely customize, compelling messaging to anyone and everyone may have been the holy grail for digital marketers, but the limitations and challenges, both current and forthcoming, particularly within healthcare, demand reevaluation and reprioritization. The good news is that more customized messaging isn’t always necessary and could actually be distracting marketers from focusing instead on what matters most to actually encourage visits. That’s because we know what keeps people from going to the doctor and easing these barriers offers a different kind of mandate to marketers. Gartner asked consumers who had a health-related issue or concern within the past six months but did not go in to seek treatment for that concern, why, and the results highlight three major obstacles to healthcare for consumers: affordability, trust, and access. These three themes are at the very core of why the patient journey has both lengthened and broadened, as people, in hopes of avoiding such challenges, spend more time attempting to circumvent the established system.

To successfully reach potential patients and remain competitive in an environment that will only become more challenging for customization, healthcare providers will need to develop accurate personas, segmentations and journey mapping, but can begin more broadly by highlighting efforts and tools to help alleviate issues related to affordability, trust and access.

For more, read: Digital Marketing Survey 2021: Healthcare Provider Strategic Priorities and Opportunities (subscription required)

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