The healthcare industry of today is not the same as it was a decade ago. With the arrival of corporate hospitals and privatized medical services, along with an increasingly ‘search-oriented’ population that relies on the internet for most of its medical information, the industry has to change the way it does its marketing. Internet-savvy patients and consumers are influencing the healthcare industry more than ever before; clearly, the industry’s marketing tactics also should transform to cater to their demands.
Already, many organizations – pharmaceuticals, hospitals, etc. – have adapted to the challenges of the digital age by incorporating digital marketing strategies. However, there are many obstacles that still hinder digital marketers from unleashing their full potential when it comes to healthcare companies.
- Insufficient Funding:
Even though healthcare companies are getting bigger and bolder, surprisingly not much of the spending is budgeted for marketing. This underinvestment is one of the biggest roadblocks to the industry’s goal of increased brand awareness and customer engagement, consequently leading to low returns on marketing investments. For example, in the US alone, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies together spent only about $1.4bn on online ads; this is way lower than that for other industries.
Solution: Untapped markets such as local searches should be utilized to increase web presence and visibility to prospective customers. Investment in this area will reap rich rewards.
- Ignoring Measurement & metrics:
For any marketing company, raw data – metrics and measured KPIs – are what act as beacons for future campaigns. However, healthcare companies have traditionally ignored marketing metrics because marketing was not seen as an integral part of profit-making strategy. Without solid data, it is difficult to visualize customer requirements and create stakeholder-oriented campaigns that satisfy those needs.
Solution: While in some parts of the world, healthcare organizations have started waking up to the benefits of having metrics and numbers at their fingertips, there are still many more that are yet to take advantage of up-to-date metrics related to their brand and industry. They need to realize the value of metrics such as patient satisfaction, effect of paid media, and so on in marketing communications.
- The Insurance Conundrum:
Unlike a typical business where the customer directly buys from the vendor, healthcare often involves third parties such as insurance companies. As a result, even if the customer is aware of a medical service provider, and knows that it can provide the best care she can get, she may not be able to access it if her insurance does not permit her benefits there.
Solution: It is important for marketers of healthcare providers to include vital third parties, wherever applicable, in their campaign as their target audience. This will improve their reach and enable customers to make full use of their services.
- Ignoring Big Data
These days, while many healthcare organizations have become adept at dealing with issues related to data security, a majority of them are unprepared to deal with emerging data sources or to collect high volumes of data at speed. As a fallout of this, they are unable to use the immense amount of available customer data for marketing purposes. This is unfortunate.
Solution: In order to target increasingly well-informed consumers, healthcare marketers need to learn to use big data to their advantage by collecting and using it effectively to present themselves as credible service providers and earn their trust. Patient information can be used to create personalized campaigns tailored to address patients’ specific health concerns. This will raise the healthcare provider’s brand visibility and engagement with the general public, ultimately contributing to a higher ROI.
Point to note: Healthcare is an industry with strict standards of compliance and regulation which keep changing frequently. Hence, it is critical for healthcare marketers to keep themselves updated with the latest regulations as they create and develop their marketing campaigns.
Various industries have made the leap from traditional marketing methods to online marketing successfully. Healthcare organizations too can successfully create an impressive brand image, engage existing customers as well as attract potential ones by making the most of the latest tools and developments in digital marketing.
These are some of the challenges that we, as a growth partner of healthcare companies, have realized and helped them overcome. Contact us today if you would like to find effective solutions to your online marketing challenges.