3 Steps for building a more effective patient marketing strategy

Perhaps more than any other industry, healthcare is very personal. For doctors, nurses, and other care providers, getting up close and personal with patients is part of the job.


It’s necessary for them to understand each patient’s medical background, current health, anticipate future needs, and reflect on this in-depth knowledge of the patient – as an individual – in the care they deliver.

However, many aspects of the patient experience in today’s healthcare environment – outside of clinical interactions – are not incorporating a deeper understanding of the customer in their interactions. Changing that could be the key to smarter patient acquisition and retention, developing long-term patient relationships, and optimizing growth for your organization.

Today’s healthcare landscape is making this shift more important ever – the field is competitive and consumers are not hesitating to switch providers. Consider this: 43 percent of Millennials, the largest group of consumers, are more likely to switch practices in the next few years. More than half (54 percent) have made a switch in the past 2-3 years. 

How can healthcare marketing get more personal with consumers in ways that ultimately drive patient acquisition and retention?

The key is to develop smarter systems that offer greater visibility into target audiences and leverage those insights to more effectively engage with customers beyond the clinical environment.

Let’s look at some essential steps to start building a more personal – and impactful – patient marketing strategy.

  1. Develop a Centralized Hub for Customer Data

With a healthcare CRM as a foundation, healthcare organizations can begin to make sense of disparate data sets. This analytics platform brings together patient demographics, clinical, financial, website, call center, and third-party data sources to give greater visibility into existing patients and potential customers, as individuals and segmented audiences.

With a centralized source for customer data, healthcare CRM technology can be used to segment patient information (demographic, psychographic, social, behavioral, etc.) to better inform messaging efforts across channels. This allows healthcare organizations to develop more specific and effective marketing campaigns that reach the right people at the right time.

These days, healthcare consumers have many touchpoints in which to engage with providers, such as websites, call centers, and social media, and it’s vital for marketers to use these initial interactions to obtain information about these potential customers. Through basic landing page forms or asking a few questions on an initial phone call, healthcare organizations capture critical data within their HCRM that signals the beginning of relationship.

As the patient journey unfolds, the continued development of robust customer profiles, in conjunction with HCRM analytics capabilities, enables patient marketing tactics and engagement efforts to be more informed, targeted, and effective.

  1. Use Data to Target the Right Customers

Employing propensity modeling and analytics to identify the best prospects for targeted marketing efforts has a two-fold effect on patient marketing efforts. First, it allows marketers to leverage data to develop more appropriate and effective engagement strategies with prospects and customers and second, it helps guide marketing investments and improve ROI.

For example, sending a direct mailer to all households within a specific geographical area will likely result in a low ROI. However, if marketing teams narrow this list by multiple variables, including geography, demographics, socio-economic and other relevant data sets, based on a specific conversion goal, they’re going to spend less money and see an improvement in campaign performance.

This statistical approach considers many variables at the same time, deriving insights from patterns and relationships in the data and using that information to inform optimized and strategic marketing campaigns.

  1. Leverage Marketing Automation

With an HCRM, customer data, and analytics, marketing teams can create and execute targeted campaigns that align with customer’s interests and needs. How? With marketing automation.

It may seem counterintuitive to use an automated technology to engage with customers on a more personal level, but it takes a repetitive process out of the hands of humans. Plus, informed by customer data housed in an HCRM, marketing teams are able to personalize engagements (i.e. put the person’s name in the email, send them content relevant to their interests) and design patient journeys that resonate with an individual or target audience.

Marketing automation helps to engage both patients and prospects – inactive consumers need to be nurtured until conversion and existing patients require continued engagement and nurturing.

For example, there are high-value service lines where clinical conversions have a lead attribution period of 1-2 years from first engagement to first appointment. Implementing an email marketing campaign with relevant content during that time keeps prospects engaged with the health system until conversion.

For existing patients, automation is a tool for retention marketing; encourage engagement through appointment reminders, notification of overdue routine examinations or tests (i.e. annual physical, flu shot, or mammogram), and emails about relevant events or new offerings.

With this technology, marketing departments are more proactive, consistent, and timely in their communication. This goes a long way in positioning the organization as a partner in the patient’s lifecycle.

Final Thoughts

Patient care is a journey; with customers in the driver’s seat, it’s more important than ever for health organizations to prioritize patient experience and be smarter about patient acquisition and retention efforts.

HCRM, marketing automation, and propensity modeling are three building blocks to more effective multi-channel patient marketing strategies. With actionable intelligence, marketing teams can provide targeted engagements and personalized interactions that customers have come to expect from their healthcare providers.

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