The COVID pandemic was (and continues to be) a huge speed bump for the healthcare industry, especially marketing teams. The three-year event changed historical datasets, marketing strategies, audience and patient messaging, as well as staffing and retention challenges.
Two Primary Healthcare Marketing Themes Emerged
Two primary themes or shifts in marketing strategy are emerging as drivers of larger marketing projects in the healthcare industry:
- A shift to a patient-first focus. From adjusting KPIs to refreshing and repositioning content, a huge shift in focus is happening in healthcare marketing away from the organization to the patient and their needs and desired outcomes.
- Increasing organizational trust. From colorful brand refreshes, personalized patient-first content updates, and even website redesigns with an emphasis on end-user accessibility and usability, healthcare organizations are looking for ways to increase trust with their patients, patient caretakers, and the community at large.
Here are the tactical ways those two objectives are being enacted in healthcare organizations:
Integrating AI Tools into Healthcare Marketing
One of the biggest upcoming trends in healthcare marketing is the use of AI. From adding significant levels of personalization to websites and intake processes to predicting patient outcomes to identifying and communicating disease patterns, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way care is delivered to patients and information is delivered to caretakers.
However, the need to protect patient privacy is a huge concern, as well as understanding how the AI models are built and the data used to inform its results and recommendations.
Overall, the benefits of AI are exciting and too great to ignore, but healthcare marketers are proceeding with caution, balancing the benefits with the overriding need to protect patient privacy.
The Need for More, Better Data
Healthcare marketing data collection during the 2020-2023 COVID period isn’t necessarily unreliable but possibly skewed. This period also challenged the way that marketers look at the data they were collecting and how to use the data to inform decision-making.
Healthcare marketers want more and better data, including big data (quantitative) and thick data (qualitative). While one type of data isn’t better than the other, qualitative data adds context to the quantitative data.
Big or quantitative data includes big data sets that require computer intervention to manage and process data. They include data sources like programmatic, media, algorithms, chatbots, and other user data and can provide opportunities to deepen customer insights, fine-tune personalization, optimize programs, and source predictive analytics.
Thick or qualitative data is rich information that helps illustrate the “why.” It requires humans to parse and analyze, which is more time-consuming but can provide unique insights that qualitative data overlooks. Capture methods include open-question surveys, interviews, and transcript/call mining. The opportunities of capturing and including qualitative data include amplifying the power of your quantitative data with additional context, highlighting emotions, and injecting realism into marketing deliverables. Qualitative data helps build the stories that connect with audiences.
Patient-Focused Content Strategy Refreshes & Website Redesigns
In an effort to center the patient at the core of the online experience, several healthcare organizations are digging into website redesigns and content refreshes.
Of primary concern is addressing and correcting micro-moments of distrust and turning them not only into trust but delight. This is especially true with content strategy refreshes and increasing accessibility and usability of website designs.
Content strategies are shifting and focusing on the needs of the patients, caretakers, and supporting the community at large. Instead of focusing on the expertise of healthcare organizations, there is a strategic positioning shift moving specifically and purposefully towards the care, support, and outcomes patients should expect from healthcare organizations.
Instead of repurposing generic third-party content with a clinical tone and voice, content execution is shifting towards creating meaningful content resources that speak directly to the patient and tie in organizational expertise, giving patients and caretakers information they can process and use.
The experience of patients is the driving force of healthcare website redesigns. Using surveys, stakeholder interviews, discovery workshops, competitive assessments, and pulling usability best practices from outside the healthcare industry redesigns tapped into data-informed decision-making instead of historical healthcare industry best practices.
Building Trust Through Brand Updates
As a way to generate awareness and start the process of establishing trust, several healthcare organizations are undergoing to process to update their brand
There’s an increased emphasis on humanizing the brand and connecting with audiences on their level but recognizing that the path to trust-building needed to start internally with a campaign among employees, reinforcing values and reasons to believe before moving to physical and visual brand implementation, before moving to a consumer-facing campaign.
Building trust is an earned goal, not a brand strategy. Trust-building brand updates included everything from colors, logos, geographically-identifiable iconography, the elimination of stock photography in favor of photos of staff, and even success-measuring KPIs. Shifting KPIs from an organization and industry focus to the patient and community was key to ensuring that branding projects were successful and trust was measurably increasing among patients and the community.
Stay Ahead of Emerging Healthcare Marketing Trends
Healthcare marketing is an ever-evolving landscape, and it’s important to stay up to date with the latest trends. From AI to data to content strategy refreshes, there are a lot of exciting opportunities to explore. By keeping the end in mind, focusing on user empathy, and using data to inform decisions, you can stay ahead of the curve and deliver exceptional results for your audience.