November 2, 2016
Consumers expect a lot more from you than they used to. What do they want, and how can you affordably meet their needs?
Marketer Priorities vs. Consumer Expectations
A new Smart Insights survey identified marketing priorities across all industries. They have one thing in common—digital. The top four priorities are:
- Content marketing: 22%
- Big data: 17% (including data-based insights and predictive analytics)
- Marketing automation: 13% (including CRM and behavior-based email marketing)
- Mobile marketing: 12% (including apps, and mobile advertising and site development)
For healthcare specifically, these priorities represent significant progress, as healthcare has traditionally considered itself exempt from the consumer expectations facing other industries. According to a recent McKinsey & Company Consumer Insights survey, it is also necessary evolution. When McKinsey asked consumers what qualities they value most in companies, their top four priorities were nearly identically aligned among non-healthcare and healthcare companies:
- Providing excellent customer service: 53% / 53% (non-healthcare/healthcare)
- Delivering on consumer expectations: 42% / 43%
- Making consumers’ lives easier: 37% / 37%
- Offering great consumer value: 39% / 36%
Translated, that means (1) consumers want easily accessible and convenient healthcare that provides a great patient experience, and (2) healthcare must deliver on patient-prioritized quality outcomes at a reasonable cost.
Building the Amazon of Healthcare
Not surprisingly, surveyed consumers identified Apple and Amazon as the companies with the strongest consumer focus. That’s because those companies' marketing priorities match consumer expectations. They are leaders in knowing what consumers want or need, often before consumers themselves do.
Amazon, for example, is a master of contextual content marketing. It uses big data to generate insights on consumer behavior that drive personalized product suggestions. Then it automates marketing pathways specific to identified consumer decision paths. Finally, it makes its products easy to research, buy, track, review, return, and re-purchase via a mobile app. Amazon’s digital marketing priorities are designed to deliver on consumer expectations.
How to Meet Consumer Needs on a Budget
Of course, your organization does not have Amazon’s marketing budget. At a time when many healthcare organizations are cutting costs, marketing resources may be scarce. How do you build your brand and generate patient volume economically? Try strategically aligned digital marketing.
Like most strategic plans, a digital marketing strategy involves multiple steps:
- Assess current state: Inventory and assess your marketing and communications vehicles. These include website(s), call center, scheduling, new movers programs, and any apps. What ROI do they achieve? How do they align with your organization’s current strategic direction?
- Develop marketing vision: Where do you want to go? How will you get there? The future vision must be based on organizational and service line needs. It should include a breakdown of financial, technical, and human resource requirements.
- Get leadership buy-in: Presenting a multi-year marketing plan that supports your organization’s strategic vision and direction—while generating measurable ROI—is a great way to create C-suite support. Keep it realistic and agile, and plan to learn quickly from your mistakes. Make course corrections as needed. A series of small initiatives is easier for leadership to buy into than a large, expensive, multi-year campaign.
- Partner with industry experts: It is rarely cost-effective to hire all necessary skill sets in-house. Instead, find partners with the depth and breadth of resources, experience, and vision you need. Ideally, these partners will also connect you with colleagues across the country to accelerate results through knowledge sharing.
Healthgrades client Providence St. Joseph Medical Center used these steps to launch an innovative learning campaign in oncology services. By using a strategy of Pilot->Learn->Adapt->Succeed->Scale, St. Joseph generated $1.8 million in oncology screening revenue, $1.2 million in oncology treatment revenue, and a 6:1 ROI over a two-year period.