Discussions about marketing and attracting new patients often focus on promotional tactics like advertising, digital engagement, and social media. While these can all be important tools in the marketing toolbox, they aren’t the most important elements of marketing success.
To drive sustainable growth, healthcare leaders need to better understand the consumers and patients they currently serve, and leverage analytics and insights to build a truly data-driven marketing organization.
Healthcare organizations must become more consumer-centric to thrive in the rapidly changing marketplace, and marketing analytics holds the key to unlocking that potential. The good news is that there is more market data, more consumer data, more patient data, and more real-time marketing data on which to generate strategic and actionable insights than ever before.
Here are four essential data-centric marketing questions every healthcare leader should be asking:
- Who are our most important customers?
Few organizations are successful trying to be all things to all people. Even those that serve very diverse audiences or broad geographies, understand that their underlying success is tied to attracting and keeping certain customers. These may be the ones who value your services the most, or derive the most benefit, or remain the most loyal. Or they may be the ones who generate the most revenue or are the most profitable and that profitability may be essential to fulfilling a broader mission – as is often the case with non-profit organizations. They may also be the ones who refer the most patients to you and having better visibility into referral patterns may provide key insights for growth. Understanding who your most valuable customers are is essential to financial success and differentiating your brand in the market.
- What do we know about our current customers?
Knowing something about your patients (beyond just what they came in for) is the second most important insight you can develop. How did they research their condition and care options? Which factors were important to them in choosing a provider? What process did they go through to select you over your competition? Are they more proactive with their healthcare or do they need more support and encouragement? What communications channels do they prefer to use? Are they generally healthy or likely to have ongoing healthcare needs? Tis data is easy to compile on patients today. And knowing your patients more intimately allows you to customize the services you provide and personalize your communications with them.
- How do we ensure our current customers continue to choose us?
Knowing your patients at a deeper level ultimately enables you to deliver a better overall experience. At the same time, clinical and financial analytics can help improve outcomes and care coordination. This can all lead to higher satisfaction, greater loyalty and greater retention rates. Recently, healthcare research firm Professional Research Consultants found that patients who rated a provider “excellent” were up to four times more loyal than those who rated them “very good.” And they have shown a similar lift in “likelihood to recommend” – one of the strongest indicators of loyalty. The data and deep insights, combined with powerful tools like a customer data platform (CDP) and digitally-driven patient engagement strategies, can help facilitate stronger connections and lead to better overall patient retention.
- How do we attract more of the right customers?
The final element of building a data-driven marketing organization is the focus on acquiring new customers with the goal of achieving maximum growth through the most cost-efficient means possible. That means being highly targeted and more measurable. Augmenting your data with things like predictive analytics around the healthcare needs of consumers in your market. Building personas and target customer profiles of who the more persuadable or “likely to switch” consumers are in your market allows you to craft mire personalized messages. And finally, distributing them in highly precise media channels and optimizing the campaigns in those channels frequently provides better engagement and conversion rates. Deploying precision marketing in this way makes marketing more effective, and ultimately more cost efficient.
To thrive in an increasingly consumer-centric marketplace, healthcare organizations need to act more like consumer-driven brands. That means focusing from the inside out to better understand your current customers and patients. And building stronger and longer-lasting personal relationships that ensure your best customers remain loyal, refer friends and colleagues, and continue to choose your brand. Finally, it means leveraging better data and insights to drive more cost efficient and effective marketing programs that guarantee more measurable and consistent growth of new customers.
The Value of Keeping the Right Customers, Harvard Business Review, October 2014, https://hbr.org/2014/10/the-value-of-keeping-the-right-customers
Measuring Patient Loyalty and Exploring Patient Loyalty, PRC, 2008, https://prccustomresearch.com/solutions/excellence-loyalty/
PRC National Healthcare Consumer Study, September 2019, https://prccustomresearch.com/2019-prc-national-healthcare-consumer-study/
Where Healthcare Marketers Should Focus in 2021, Strategic Health Care Marketing, March 2021, https://strategichcmarketing.com/where-health-care-marketers-should-focus-in-2021/?access_code=793625
Strategies from Top Marketers to Preserve and Grow Marketing Budgets and Recapture Customers in 2021, eHealthcare Strategy and Trends, November 2020, https://ehealthcarestrategy.com/strategies-from-top-marketers-to-preserve-and-grow-marketing-budgets-and-recapture-customers-in-2021/
Daniel Fell is a marketing strategist in Optum’s provider analytics group with over 30 years of healthcare strategy, marketing, and advertising experience and the author of A Marketer’s Guide to Market Research and numerous articles on healthcare marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.