4 Marketing Challenges in the Healthcare Industry and How to Solve Them

Filed in Marketing Science on October 20, 2018 by

With so many marketing options and strategies readily available to the healthcare industry today, it’s difficult to separate the tried and true from the revolutionary and effective. Still, healthcare companies continue to lag behind when it comes to spreading the message about the products and services they offer, particularly when it comes to CRM marketing.

According to the most recent State of Digital Marketing in Healthcare report, healthcare marketers are the least confident in their CRM efforts compared to other industries. And yet, consumer-focused marketing is particularly crucial in healthcare — a study by Prophet found that 81% of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experiences.

Part of the reason for marketing challenges in healthcare is the unique nature of the industry itself. Marketers must navigate industry-wide regulations and complicated health systems that are often slow to take on new ideas. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools available for dealing with the challenges the healthcare industry faces. Here are four of the most common marketing challenges in the healthcare industry and advice for working around them.

1. Personalized Messaging

Any marketer worth their salary knows that consumers appreciate a personalized approach. People want to engage with products and services that address their needs. This gets tricky in healthcare, where privacy laws pose a challenge to capturing, storing, and using patient data. It’s important to make sure you’re marketing to consumers who actually benefit from what you have to offer, but how?

The solution: Engaging, personalized marketing is possible in healthcare. As the industry shifts towards a greater focus on helping patients live healthier lives – and not just treating symptoms and illnesses when they arise – there’s an opportunity for marketers to provide more broadly applicable, lifestyle-focused advertising. Personalized communications on topics like healthier eating, preventative screenings, and chronic disease management are becoming increasingly more useful and beneficial for marketers and consumers alike.

2. Insurance-Focused Marketing Structure

You can lead a patient to a product, but you can’t ensure that their insurance will pay for it. Doctors and insurance companies have a lot of control over what sorts of healthcare services and tools patients have access to. As such, it can be a major challenge for healthcare marketers to design campaigns that appeal to both consumers and industry gatekeepers.

The solution: Build relationships with providers and payers – not just patients. Pharmaceutical companies have been doing this for years, and it’s a good strategy for others in the industry as well.

You can’t neglect the valuable and necessary relationships between your brand and the systems that connect patients with your product. Reach out, network, and spread the word about who and how your brand can lend patients additional support. Direct mail marketing may be the answer. By using innovative direct mail tools like dimensional mail and personalized gift boxes, healthcare marketers can reel in leads and establish strong connections that would otherwise be ignored, deleted, or forgotten in the digital realm.

3. Building Trust

Healthcare consumers are more savvy than ever, and it’s going to take a bit more to earn their trust. Combined with high costs, confusing policy, strict regulatory requirements, and a demand for personalized service, trust is core to healthy marketing.

The solution: Offer transparency wherever possible. In both print and digital ads, be clear about pricing, ease of access, and other important details that competitors may gloss over. Share testimonials to showcase patient satisfaction and successful relationships. Use NPS scoring to see where you stand; your customers’ expectations are high, and if they don’t trust you, an NPS survey will clue you in.

4. Making the Connection

You know the demographic you want to reach with your healthcare marketing campaigns. You may even have the relevant data needed to target them. But how do you find them? Understanding consumer behavior and predicting exactly where your audience goes to learn about brands can be a challenge in the broad audience of the healthcare space.

The solution: Here again, metrics reign supreme. The key is knowing what data is relevant and what is just a distraction. When it comes to connecting with your audience, look for data around their behavior. Are they more likely to respond to print ads or digital ads? Are they doing most of their browsing on a desktop or mobile device? Are they responsive to direct mail? What about email newsletters? Or are they more receptive to social media engagement? The more you can define where your audience is looking, the better you can make sure they find you there.

In many ways, healthcare marketing challenges are different than those in other industries – even when they seem similar. It’s a complicated space to navigate, and fraught with rules and regulations. But there is also enormous potential there if you can do it right. By identifying challenges right at the outset, you and your team will be empowered to employ more innovative – and ultimately effective – marketing strategies to succeed in spite of these challenges.


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