By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
More companies are making high-quality healthcare easier to access and more affordable by embracing data and technology. While healthcare has historically been among the slowest to accept new technologies, the pandemic has sped adoption.
Healthcare businesses must offer leading-edge services and build patient-centric marketing strategies to differentiate themselves from competitors, boost retention and recruitment, and build meaningful relationships.
From the moment they click on your pay-per-click (PPC) ad or website, healthcare consumers expect a personalized, relevant experience. You’re already left behind if you’re not prioritizing these experiences across every touchpoint.
What is personalized healthcare, and how can you incorporate it into your marketing strategy?
In this blog post, you’ll learn:
- What personalized healthcare (PHC) is,
- Four personalized healthcare marketing strategies,
- And seven digital marketing strategies for personalized care.
What is personalized healthcare (PHC)?
The term “personalized healthcare” traditionally means testing for disease-related biomarkers and providing targeted treatment protocols.
Today, however, its meaning has expanded to include personalized, evidence-based, and technology-enabled healthcare solutions and on-demand access to vital healthcare information for each individual. It includes early detection and accurate diagnosis, individualized care, fast and affordable access to optimal care, remote care and monitoring (e.g., telemedicine), and hyper-relevant digital content.
Personalized healthcare builds consumer confidence by anticipating an individual’s needs and highlighting the right services at the right time.
4 Personalized Healthcare Marketing Strategies
A recent study found that 83% of consumers expect a personalized shopping experience, instant access to relevant content, and flexibility about how and when to buy.
As other service industries continue prioritizing highly personalized shopping experiences, post-pandemic healthcare consumers have also come to expect more. This leaves the door open to market disruptors and savvy healthcare businesses.
Market disruptors like Amazon, Walmart, and Teladoc, are building innovative, personalized care models that challenge the status quo and aim to replace older care models.
Here are four personalized healthcare marketing strategies you can employ to stay competitive:
1. Post-Admission Engagement
Developing a robust plan for follow-up care (e.g., ensuring patients are taking their medications as prescribed, following their rehabilitation and physical therapy plan, remote monitoring their symptoms, and scheduling timely follow-up appointments) may reduce unnecessary healthcare costs and readmission experiences.
Healthcare consumers are more likely to return to a hospital or medical facility for additional care when follow-up care is absent or fails (due to a lack of access, health literacy, or other factors).
That said, meaningful patient engagement for even a single patient is very time-intensive. That’s why it’s vital to leverage technology to automate post-admission engagement with patients as much as possible.
Not only does automation help improve patient satisfaction and, in some cases, patient outcomes, but it also lifts the burden of follow-up from your staff.
Here are a few ways you can automatically build patient relationships after they leave your office:
a. Annual/upcoming appointment reminders
b. Lab result notifications
c. Preventive care reminders
d. Medication reminders
e. Holiday and birthday messages
f. Vaccine availability notifications
g. Promotional messages
h. Health surveys
2. Expand Hours of Operation and Models of Care
Today’s healthcare consumers expect frictionless, on-demand access to care, including one-on-one communication with healthcare providers.
Instead of relying on outdated models of care (e.g., in-office appointments and phone calls), consumers expect faster and more flexible care options (e.g., text messages, emails, online patient portals, live chat, and after hours and weekend care services via telemedicine, minute clinics, or urgent care centers).
If your healthcare business isn’t offering flexible alternatives to in-office visits and after-hours care alternatives, you’re probably already losing business.
3. Telehealth & Hybrid Options
As the pandemic continues to wax and wane across the globe, telehealth and hybrid care options continue to weave themselves deeper into the fabric of healthcare.
According to 2021 Zoom-Qualtrics Research, 61% of people who used virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic said they want continued access to both virtual and in-person health services in the future.
These alternative care models offer more affordable and accessible care to healthcare consumers and effectively divert patients from costlier care settings, like urgent care centers or emergency rooms.
Data shows telehealth platforms help prevent patients from unnecessary ER visits, saving providers about $1,500 per patient encounter.
4. Online Appointment Scheduling
59% of healthcare consumers are frustrated by waiting on hold and the inconvenient office hours related to scheduling appointments by phone.
Give consumers what they want and eliminate cumbersome administrative tasks for your staff.
And stop giving healthcare consumers the illusion of online appointment booking with online systems that submit requests that must be manually validated and confirmed before being scheduled.
Self-scheduling and real-time booking options are high-value healthcare tools that healthcare businesses should implement while it remains a market differentiator.
7 Digital Marketing Strategies for Personalized Care
Engaging healthcare consumers with a personalized experience across every touchpoint is crucial in the post-COVID era.
Healthcare businesses must understand and accommodate consumers’ communication preferences, personal needs, and healthcare-shopping habits. They must also adopt technologies that offer more accessible, flexible, and affordable care options to attract and retain patients.
Here are seven ways you can personalize your patients’ digital healthcare experience:
1. Market Segmentation for Advertising & PPC
Data helps healthcare businesses personalize each interaction and conversation with healthcare consumers.
Epsilon research says 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience.
Understanding your healthcare consumer’s wants, needs, and expectations helps you reach them at precisely the right time in their customer journey. Furthermore, you can engage with them more effectively when you understand their demographic, geographic location, and socioeconomic status.
With the help of a robust customer relationship management (CRM) tool, like Salesforce Hubspot, Health Cloud, ZenDesk for Healthcare, or Onpipeline Healthcare CRM, you can segment healthcare consumers and engage them with hyper-relevant pay-per-click (PPC) ads. These ads can link to supporting content (e.g., blog posts, landing pages, treatment guides, healthcare surveys, eBooks, case studies, and more) that matters to them.
Experiences that strengthen the emotional connection to a brand create long-term, loyal consumers.
2. Develop Stronger Customer Personas
Healthcare buyer personas are crucial for helping businesses and brands identify their consumer’s wants and needs based on demographics, health status, emotional attitudes, values, and personalities of individuals within a market segment.
This data helps marketing teams build thoughtful campaigns that create an emotional response to healthcare experiences and products.
Buyer personas humanize the healthcare experience because they look, feel, and act like your consumers, allowing healthcare marketers to build creative campaigns that resonate with them.
Robust and accurate buyer personas can help healthcare businesses achieve:
- Higher engagement rates
- Lower marketing costs
- More effective marketing campaigns
- More informed keyword research
- Higher organic website traffic
- Lower bounce rates
3. Personalized Outreach & Targeted Email Campaigns
When you’ve identified your target audience, segmented effectively, and created buyer personas to understand what motivates conversion, you can create hyper-personalized outreach campaigns that attract today’s healthcare consumers and drive engagement. What’s more, you can automate it.
When combined with proper segmentation and content targeting strategies, marketing automation and email personalization generate an ROI of as high as 400%.
According to recent data from NotifyVisitors, more than 90% of U.S. consumers respond positively to personalization techniques. They also affirm
- personal birthday email messages generate more than 400% of revenue as compared to promotional emails,
- personalized email marketing messages generate an ROI of +150%,
- and personalized email subject lines generate more than 50% higher open rates than non-personalized subject lines.
4. Create Website Content for Your Target Audience
Sharing helpful and relevant content with your audience helps instill trust and build lasting relationships.
Like Amazon, eBay, and Netflix, you can customize your user experience and make content recommendations based on various user criteria.
This is particularly true for healthcare businesses that offer secure online patient portals. For example, you can promote relevant blogs or web pages based on recent search terms they’ve used, their medical histories, current medical conditions, or user preferences.
Understanding who your target audience is and what motivates them can help you determine things like:
- Reading level
The average American is considered to have a readability level equivalent to a 7th/8th grader.
- Writing style
For most consumer audiences, your writing style should be conversational and educational.
- Relevant topics
Your topics should cover global, national, statewide, and local health updates and health topics most relevant to your target audience.
- Content types
Determining which content types garner the highest conversion rates may take time. Try promoting personalized content via blogs, eBooks, case studies, emails, custom landing pages, and social media to see which resonates the most with your audience.
- Reading level
5. Develop a User-Friendly Website
Don’t get stuck in the conversion doldrums with a hum-drum website that’s difficult to navigate.
As consumer demand continues to grow for healthcare organizations to have a stronger digital presence, intuitive web design can differentiate your business—especially if you have an optimized mobile experience.
According to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center, 62% of Americans looked for health information on mobile devices. Today, that figure is likely much higher.
Desktop usability is also essential, particularly for older users. Today, Gen Xers (ages 42-57) are the leading provider for their aging parents and Gen Y or Z children, making many financially responsible for up to three generations.
Here are a few ways organizations can provide a better patient experience on their website:
- Use quizlets to interact with your consumers in an educational yet informal way.
- Include statistics (and links to the sources) to build trust with your consumers and satisfy Google’s algorithm.
- Offer a flexible, accessible, affordable telemedicine option to support more patients daily.
- Offer online appointment scheduling to make it easier for consumers to meet with their physician.
- Include an easy-to-find resources center with FAQs, new patient documents, accepted health plans, billing information, and contact information.
- Conduct a core web vitals report to identify and correct poor user experiences on your website.
6. Develop an Omnichannel Experience
Healthcare consumers expect a seamless experience across all channels, so healthcare marketers need to adopt an omnichannel strategy that encompasses all online and offline touchpoints.
Giving healthcare consumers access to hyper-relevant content when and where they want it is critical to creating a personalized healthcare experience.
Whether reading a treatment guide, scanning social media, or taking a survey on your website, patients want to feel personally connected to the content and services presented.
Here are a few effective strategies for implementing an omnichannel strategy in your organization:
- Send personalized appointment reminders
- Limit mass communications
- Offer online appointment scheduling capabilities
- Enable self-serve information via patient portals (e.g., lab results, the status of an insurance claim, etc.)
- Send personalized messages based on patient needs and preferences
- Maintain consistent messaging across all channels, so patients instantly recognize your brand
- Enable patient feedback to help you reach your goals and improve the patient experience
7. Get Social
Whether you’re answering common questions or interacting with current or future patients one-on-one, social media platforms are a great way to personalize the user experience and increase consumer engagement.
Retargeting ad campaigns can also allow healthcare businesses to promote relevant content to their audience based on their previous online activity.
Nurturing long-term relationships with healthcare consumers begins with adopting a patient-first approach to healthcare marketing—and today that means embracing new technologies and business models.
Personalization is a crucial part of this process, and when it’s done well, your business will retain patient volume and increase revenue.