A Customer for Life

Activating the healthcare consumer journey

The average consumer now owns 4 devices and consumes 60 hours of digital content per week. And for healthcare marketers spending upwards of $1.5 billion per year on advertising (Hospital and Health Networks Magazine, April 2015), not understanding what, when and where consumers are in the consumer decision journey (CDJ) means much of that budget may be going to waste.

Today’s marketing reality

Here’s what today’s healthcare marketer is facing: An explosion of messages. A transformation of channels. A disruptive fragmentation of audiences. And a consumer-driven market place where choice, access and information are a given, in real-time, 24/7.

Today’s marketers use the CDJ as a tool to address these new realities. To be nimbler, deliver more relevant messaging at precise moments and drive consistency across the journey — ultimately engendering greater loyalty and brand advocacy. It also presents important opportunities for healthcare brands:

  • Starting relationships before there’s a need.
  • Staying in the consideration set as their search goes on.
  • Branding a memorable and shareable experience.
  • Leveraging loyalty in a consumer driven world is the key to long-term success.

At each stage of the journey, different channels reach consumers, different messages engage them and different metrics measure marketing performance. Together, these insights form a solid framework that reflects your customer’s journey and show how best to reach them and provide a high-quality, consistent experience at every touchpoint.

To expand upon this, we looked at three different healthcare decision journeys and the channels (or platforms) that best match each journey. This will help demonstrate how channels vary based on the consumer and the nature of the decision — a woman choosing maternity services will have a different journey than a Parkinson’s patient’s care partner.

Expecting Mothers Expect the Best

Get on your consumer’s short list (awareness) by generating visibility via appropriately targeted TV ads, print, radio, targeted online campaigns, presence at a millennial event (millennials are more likely to digitally share their experiences) and content on pre-pregnancy health websites. When she is ready to consider her options, she will start researching and comparing your offerings to others (evaluation), so be sure to give her all the information she needs: show up in her search results (SEO, consider buying relevant search ads), create high-quality content (e.g. virtual birthing center tours) and be active on all her favorite social platforms. Next, support an exceptional birthing experience by providing information new moms are hungry for (experience), possibly through video content for in-room broadcast or Youtube, or care packages with items tailored to her interests. Finally, make it easy for her to share her experience with other new moms (advocacy) by using social media to engage her, or by “adopting” a mommy blogger to incentivize specific maternity patients to share their positive experiences with their own loyal audience.

Connecting with Ortho Patients

Be the name he thinks of when considering bone and joint issues, whether they’re his own, his friends’ or others’ (awareness). Get on his radar using TV, outdoor, radio, and targeted online advertising. For example, be at his recreational sports events — whether through sponsorship or authentic word of mouth testimonials from his friends. Next, create expert content on bone and joint health — whether on your brand’s website or a third party site. Then, when early symptoms trigger the start of his long decision process, lower the barriers for getting more information (evaluation) through search results and additional content on symptoms and new procedures. Next, leverage the extended patient care experience to deliver a branded impression of great care (experience) through collateral and online support information. And finally, give him opportunities to be proud of and share his recovery (advocacy) by capturing and sharing stories through unique written and/or video content.

Serious Health Issues Inspire Need for Trust

For those seeking care for Parkinson’s Disease, marketers need to build confidence and trust in the hospital’s overall expertise and experience with older adults (awareness). This is often through print and radio advertising, maintaining a presence at elder health events and creating content on elder health and wellness sites. When symptoms prompt questions, encourage early consultation and provide different opportunities for your consumer to become more informed about options (evaluation) via search results, in-depth program content or a symptom checker. Optimize the potential of a lifetime care relationship with your patient and his family (experience). This could be done through collateral and support materials on disease management and new advancements. Finally, encourage family members to share their experience and help others in the same situation (advocacy) by providing them with opportunities to bond with others — reunions, workshops, etc.

Healthcare marketers have traditionally concentrated on the awareness and evaluation stages of the consumer decision journey. But today, online engagement and “experience sharing” provide opportunities to connect with consumers more deeply. As healthcare marketers, we can engage, delight and inspire consumers throughout their journey, and really, their whole lives.

For more tips, tricks, or insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact us at hello@laughlin.com or 844.LC.IDEAS.