3 Things Every Healthcare Marketing Budget Should Include for 2016

3 Things Every Healthcare Marketing Budget Should Include for 2016

By Carrie DagenhardSep 28 /2015

Healthcare_Marketing_BudgetFor some of us, the beginning of fall signifies cooler weather, football and pumpkin-spiced everything. For key decision makers in the healthcare world, it means diving headfirst into plans for next year’s budget.

Over the last few years, the healthcare industry has undergone several definitive changes. From regulatory and compliance crackdowns to healthcare reform and the adoption of the Affordable Care Act — all while the rest of the world became more engrossed in the digital landscape — this culmination of trends has created what Medical Marketing & Media coined “The Big Shift.”

In a sense, everything has changed. But many institutions have been slow to catch on to these changes — specifically when it comes to inbound marketing. This means you have yet another opportunity to become an industry leader and outshine your competition.

To help you make next year your most successful to date, we’ve put together a list of three things every healthcare company should include in its 2016 marketing budget.


Content Marketing

The healthcare industry has long been celebrated for its commitment to leading-edge innovation. Building robots that perform surgeries, discovering methods of growing stem cells into new organs and developing early detection of life-threatening diseases are just a few of the landmark advancements from the past couple of decades.

But, for an industry light years ahead in other areas, healthcare is slightly behind in terms of content marketing. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, healthcare organizations lag about two years behind other industries in successful content marketing practices.

So, how can healthcare organizations catch up? To create the sort of highly engaging content your personas desire, you have to take a look at the types of content people are actively seeking.

A 2011 study by Pew Research found that 80 percent of Internet users, or 59 percent of all adults, have used the Internet to locate information on specific diseases and treatments. The demand is ripe for the taking, but to grab your piece of the healthcare content pie, you need a well-designed content strategy and the right professionals to carry it out.

If you can’t afford an in-house content marketing team to handle strategy and development, consider outsourcing to an agency with healthcare expertise.

Demand Generation

If growth is on your priority list for 2016, you will need to consider adding demand generation into your budget.

What is demand generation? Let’s look at an example.

Imagine you work for a medical device manufacturer that has created a groundbreaking new wearable device for patients with seizures. The device not only predicts when a seizure will happen, but notifies a list of emergency contacts and the patient’s healthcare provider.

To help market your new product, you’ve dedicated a great deal of time and budget to developing several blog posts, long-form content and videos directed to your three primary personas: neurologists, people living with frequent seizures, and loved ones or caregivers of people with seizures.

While the leads you obtain are highly qualified, you’re not seeing a lot of traffic. To help build awareness in your product, you should turn to demand generation. Here are a few ways you can spend your demand generation budget well:

  • Send out a co-branded email through a publication for neurologists or seizure patients

  • Create ads targeting neurologists on LinkedIn

  • Create ads targeting people who are members of seizure awareness and support groups on Facebook

  • Build PPC campaigns through Google AdWords targeted to your personas

Demand generation will help you drive traffic to your content, build awareness for your new device and allow you to target your personas exclusively.

Social Media

Many healthcare organizations have been dragging their feet to join the social media world. While some may have dipped a toe into a channel or two, few have fully embraced a full plunge. Many organizations still shy away from putting too much effort into social because:

  • They’re afraid of opening the door to public complaints and criticism

  • They’re not sure what content to publish

  • They don’t have anyone to manage their accounts

I’ll address the first concern with a hard truth: People are likely already publicly complaining about and criticizing your organization, they’re just doing so on places you may not be able to access because you’re not a part of the conversation. While no business wants to deal with negativity from patients and customers, responding to concerns and resolving issues publicly can lend credibility and trust for your brand. This is especially critical in the healthcare industry where reputation is everything.

As far as sharing healthcare content and managing accounts, social media is a time-consuming task. Taking the time to monitor each account, respond to questions and concerns and publish relevant content at a high frequency is a full-time job — not something to casually add to someone's to-do list.

If you want social media to be a successful endeavor, you must create a strategy that ties back to your overall inbound marketing objectives. This includes a carefully devised calendar, targeted campaigns and goals measured with pre-determined KPIs. Additionally, all of this must be completed by a professional who understands HIPAA policy and FDA guidelines.

Whew — that sounds like a lot. The good news is, if done correctly, social media will drive traffic to your website, inspire interest in your content and help create recognition in your brand.

How Much Should You Spend?

Now that you understand what to include in your budget, the next question is “How much should I be allocating toward marketing?” To answer this question, Scott C. Margenau, CEO of ImageWorks Creative, gives the following breakdown for marketing budgets compared to revenue:

  • If your revenue is less than $5 million, your marketing budget should be 7-8 percent

  • If your revenue is $5-10 million, your marketing budget should be 6-7 percent

  • If your revenue is $10-$100 million, your marketing budget should be 5-6 percent 

  • If your revenue is $100-$300 million, your marketing budget should be 3-5 percent 

  • If your revenue is $300 million or more, your marketing budget should be 3-4 percent

For example, if your total company revenue is $10 million, your total marketing budget would be 6 percent, or $600,000.

Your digital marketing should compose 2.5 percent, or $250,000, of this 6 percent, while all other marketing expenses should make up 3.5 percent, or $350,000.

But, how much do you need to spend on each type of digital marketing specifically?

According to McKinsey & Company, businesses are spending about 30 percent of their marketing budgets on paid media and 50 percent on content. For example, if your marketing budget totals $600,000, you would allocate $300,000 a year to content. This budget will include the cost of content development, either through freelancers, in-house writers and designers or an agency.


As you begin to hash out the details of your 2016 healthcare marketing budget, remember to keep the latest trends top of mind. Like many other aspects of the healthcare industry, how your organization interacts with customers and patients is evolving. By investing in content marketing, demand generation and social media, you can stay ahead of your competitors and become a shining example of modern marketing success.

The Author

Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie is a seasoned content strategist who worked as a department editor and music journalist before making her foray into inbound marketing as a content analyst. Carrie works hard at crafting the perfect content strategy for clients and using her hard-hitting journalism skills to tell your brand’s unique story.