The landscape of the healthcare industry has evolved. From the way healthcare companies go to market to the shifting needs of businesses and consumers—the healthcare industry as we used to know it has changed.
Healthcare marketers specifically, are struggling with a lack of visibility into their customer base. Marketers are responsible for educating their audiences about their options, but positioning oneself as a thought leader in a rapidly changing and regulated industry isn’t easy.
Furthermore, the healthcare industry isn’t just one industry; there are various segments (i.e., hospitals, labs, manufacturers), and to reach the right audience, you must understand their intricacies. According to Mike Morgan, CEO of Updox, a web-based communications platform for independent physician practices, knowing the segment you’re targeting is critical to being able to prove to them you know their “space” well enough to market to it.
Though vast, these challenges provide healthcare marketers an opportunity to adapt. To stay ahead of the curve, they must focus on what matters—the value delivered to customers. A customer-centric approach builds trust and helps retain loyal advocates. And one of the most effective ways to do this is to pull your customers in with valuable content rather than pushing messages on them—a core concept of inbound marketing.
Enter lead nurturing. With a nurturing strategy fueled by trust-building content, marketers can deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. From awareness to conversion, each stage of the buying process represents a different set of opportunities to help. Lead nurturing, when done well, can empower healthcare marketers to capture the right prospects, help build trustworthy relationships and enable sales to close deals.
Before you build a strategy, you need to understand the industry, the major players and audiences. It’s also critical to position yourself as a thought leader in the industry by staying informed on news and trends.
Once you’ve gained an understanding of the industry, you need to understand your buyers. As a healthcare marketer you might be targeting physicians, individual consumers or clinical research committees; either way, you need to identify their responsibilities and challenges. Once you’ve identified their pain points, develop buyer personas to address their challenges. Need some help with personas? Check out this guide.
Once you’ve identified your personas, it’s time to map your content according to your personas and their positions in the sales cycle. To do so, categorize existing content and assign each asset to the appropriate stage of the buying process. This enables you to address specific pain points and identify where content might be missing.
When content gaps are identified, the development process begins. To understand the type of content you need, think of what your audience needs. If you’re targeting those searching for an assisted living home for a loved one, consider a case study about how your organization helps families with similar needs.
If you’re new to the market or you’ve added a new buyer persona to an existing go-to-market strategy, you need to generate awareness. Begin by implementing landing pages that include simple forms to capture lead information on your website and track the contacts in a centralized marketing database. Point to those landing pages via social media and other means of distribution.
If you’ve marketed to the healthcare industry before, you likely have an existing database. If so, consider an email campaign to deliver your content. Deploy messages that drive leads to landing pages for webinars, trade shows and case studies. And don’t forget to schedule them in such a way you’re not drowning your prospects’ inboxes every few days.
Whether you have several lead nurturing campaigns going on or just one, it’s critical you deliver valuable content throughout each buying stage. This is where marketing automation comes into play. It might sound complicated, but once you develop personas and create and promote your content, a marketing automation platform (MAP) will finish a lot of the work for you (i.e., deploy the messages to your database/contacts).
Additionally, a MAP will keep track of metrics like active leads, unique clicks and conversion rates. This will inform you of the messages that are working and/or when to deploy the next touch.
All of this might seem like a lot of work—and don’t let me fool you, it is, but healthcare marketers are here to help. So take advantage of the opportunity in a growing industry and provide your audiences with rich content that’s guaranteed to help them no matter where they are in the buying process.
Are you a healthcare marketer looking to increase or optimize your go-to-market strategy? Share your questions and concerns with us in the comment section below.
Photo Credit: © 2014 Find a Healthcare Plan