Healthcare IT Marketing Strategies: Finding and Targeting the Right Audience
There is no denying that marketing in healthcare is challenging. Between meeting compliance regulations and targeting the right decision-makers, it can be hard to get any product or service the exposure it deserves.
glassCanopy focuses on reaching doctors and healthcare executives, we don’t really know anything about consumer healthcare marketing. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, we recommend reading this article or checking out these people.
We focus on non-pharma marketing to doctors and healthcare executives.
Trying to market to doctors specifically?
We have an eBook for that:
Marketing to Doctors: A How-To Guide for Marketing Executives of All Levels
Healthcare IT Marketing Challenges
Healthcare has always been slow to adopt new technologies and solutions. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as people’s lives depend on the reliability and safety of these products, but it does present some additional challenges for marketers:
- People aren’t always aware that your product or solution exists: Your target audience may not know that your product category exists, so they don’t search for it. To utilize SEO, you need to find keywords and phrases that your audience is searching for and that accurately describe your solution or problems that your solution solves.
- Compliance regulations: Many regulations impact the healthcare industry and the landscape is always changing. There are specific rules that dictate the marketing of prescription drugs and different rules for medical devices, but, some things aren’t regulated at all, like marketing office supplies. You must have a clear understanding of what category your product falls under and know the local and federal laws associated with marketing that product.
- Patient Privacy: Patient privacy (HIPAA) is always a concern for your prospects and you must be careful and understand how new products comply with these laws. In some cases, fear of potential consequences if rules are not followed can cripple an organization’s healthcare IT marketing strategy – which is why you need to be ready to address their concerns.
- Getting to the right people: 35% of adults use Google to diagnose themselves. To avoid traffic that isn’t useful to your organization, alter your SEM/SEO strategy to target healthcare professionals – not patients. Even a small amount of consumer traffic will likely swamp your paid search advertising efforts with unqualified prospects that quickly drain your budget.
- Advertising costs: Marketing to healthcare professionals is expensive compared to other target audiences and industries. Although specialty journals are an obvious method to target a niche, getting ad space can be very expensive and those ads are rarely well-suited to direct response or lead generation. Organizations with small marketing budgets may struggle to pay for even minimum media buy budgets.
- It is going to take a long time: As we mentioned, healthcare is slow to adopt new anything. Much of the healthcare industry still rely on print materials, which are expensive to produce and hard to prove ROI. So, set your expectations on the length of the marketing and sales cycles accordingly.
The healthcare industry is slow to adopt new technologies and solutions, which creates additional challenges for marketers.
Healthcare IT Marketing Strategies
Even though there are some extra challenges compared to other industries, it is possible to get your product and solution noticed. You just have to use the right healthcare IT marketing strategies to target your audience.
Find Your Audience
Before you can implement a marketing strategy, you have to make sure you know who your target audience is and use what you know about them to modify your methods accordingly. In healthcare, marketing enterprises try to target doctors directly, the healthcare organizations they are a part of, or the individuals that make decisions for the organization. It is important that you think about your specific product and the decision-making process of your audience to determine where marketing efforts should be focused.
Determining your audience is the most important part of establishing your healthcare IT marketing strategy.
Marketing to Doctors
When marketing to doctors, it is important to remember that “doctors” is not a specific enough category to target. To be successful, you need to decide some specifics about your doctor audience or create multiple marketing strategies to target different audience segments. Depending on your product, you may need to factor in customizations or filters based upon:
- Practice size
- Job satisfaction
When defining your audience, “doctors” is not a specific enough category.
Marketing to Healthcare Organizations
When marketing to healthcare organizations, it is important to consider who the crucial players in the decision-making process are. If doctors work within a specific health system, it is unlikely they will have the power to implement a solution for themselves let alone one that impacts the entire organization. In this case, you want to target administrative roles, financial planning employees, and C-suite executives. You could also consider:
- Job titles of decision-making players
- Setting (university, hospital, government employees, large/medium/small practice groups)
- Independent facility/group versus part of larger healthcare rollup or Integrated Delivery Network (IDN)
- Demographics of the organization’s patients (this gives you insight into the types of solutions they may need… for instance, the percentage of patients taking advantage of Medicare versus private insurance can greatly impact the organization’s overall financial profile)
Marketing to Your Audience
Once you have determined your specific audience, you can tailor your healthcare IT marketing strategies appropriately.
First, establishing credibility and earning buyer trust is key. If you can’t back up your product or solution claims with real data, potential buyers won’t even look at your solution. Establish credibility by highlighting references, case studies, and success stories. Especially with C-suite executives, you need to show real-life metrics to convince them to implement an organization-wide solution.
With lives at stake, you must be able to back up your solution with real data, case studies, and success stories.
Customer testimonials within the content and included on landing pages can provide credibility for your solution. The healthcare industry has become more and more dehumanized so bringing your users into your proof-of-concept is a great way to establish that human connection. (Bonus points if you can utilize technology to personalize landing pages based on location, specialty, or other factors).
Don’t Waste Their Time
Second, you need to make looking into your solution worth their valuable time. Hospital administrators and doctors don’t have time to look into new solutions on top of their already jam-packed schedules. You need to be straightforward in explaining how your solution addresses a problem they have. In some cases, you may need to appeal to a lower-level employee to get your marketing materials into the right hands. It can be helpful to create content that targets employees at various levels of authority to get your solution up the chain.
Doctors and healthcare administrators don’t have time to look into new solutions that don’t address their needs.
Utilize Creative Content
Third, you need to create content that addresses your audience and the problems they are facing. As we said before, healthcare employees don’t have the time to talk on the phone or send back and forth emails about a solution. If you curate content that addresses buyer concerns and questions, they can simply come to you directly when they are ready to purchase.
Emails, eBooks, and blogs are a great place to start your content creation. You can get creative with delivery methods, visuals, personalization, and more to help your product stand out.
For solutions based on new technologies, you need to have materials that explain:
- What customers can gain from this solution category in general
- Who your solution is best suited for (which is more credible than generic “we’re the best for everybody” claims)
- How others have benefited from your solution
- The nitty-gritty details of your solution’s feature/benefits
Content helps establish credibility and drive organic search traffic.
Fourth, you need a strong SEO content strategy to generate organic traffic and leads. Keep in mind, as we motioned, many people utilize search engines to diagnose themselves. This means you need to target and write content that your target audience might search for, rather than patients they treat. Of course, curating content is the perfect place to begin establishing your credibility. You can write about industry-relevant news, interview current customers for success stories, or summarize your case studies.
Remember, your target audience may not even know your solution or product category exists – so they aren’t searching for it. To use SEO to your benefit, you need to address articulations of the problem your audience is facing and other solution categories that do exist (especially ones that may be indirectly competitive). Owning the #1 spot on Google for a new product category that no prospects are looking for won’t be beneficial to your marketing efforts.
Use the Right Tools
Lastly, with a target audience established and regular content generation you need to know how to reach your audience and get them to read your content! This is where things can get a little complicated. Much of healthcare IT marketing is years behind other types of marketing, so you might not be able to utilize the same techniques as other industries. For example, healthcare organizations still use print marketing materials, like magazines, newsletters, and annual reports, while almost all other industries have migrated to exclusively digital media.
Of course, the right tools depend on your unique organization and product. There is no one right answer or perfect combination of tools for everyone.
One of our favorite platforms is LinkedIn InMail. It allows us to target specific job titles within specific industries or organizations with high accuracy. For example, it can be used to target certain doctor specialties, such as anesthesiology or pediatrics, or administrative roles, like the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) or Chief Clinical Officer. Plus, since InMail must come from a real person within your organization, which further helps humanize your product rather than blatant advertisements.
LinkedIn InMail is a great method for reaching your target audience.
This isn’t to say that this is the only method you should be using; we have just had a lot of success with it. Ideally, you should be using a combination of traditional methods. There is no one right answer on how to market in healthcare. The best thing you can do is be open to new ideas and test new strategies until you find one that works for you.
Now go get those leads!
Whether you use paid mediums or create content for organic search, you can improve lead generation for your product. By selecting a specific target audience, understanding how to reach decision-making individuals, and modifying your marketing strategy accordingly you can start bringing in leads for your sales team. And remember, the decision-making process and purchasing processes in healthcare take time so as long as you’re patient you will reap the benefits.
Utilizing strong healthcare IT marketing strategies will help you bring in leads, it just may take some time.
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