How to overcome the current issues impacting the healthcare industry
The B2B healthcare industry is vast with many different segments. A lot of mid-market companies are developing innovative products and services that can benefit healthcare delivery on all levels: provider, patient, payor, government, etc. The MedTech segment alone is growing and evolving rapidly–from smart billing to joint replacement devices to remote delivery of medical services.
Current issues impacting healthcare marketing
Recent events have added challenges and complexities to this already difficult market. Opportunities in the industry have resulted in a rise in healthcare tech startups that have increased competition and made it more difficult for established mid-market and enterprise businesses to grab and hold on to their market share.
Overcoming a conventional mind-set
Healthcare brands aren’t only competing–they’re also competing for mindshare. And they’re starting from a difficult position in a conventional space. Because healthcare industry leans toward a conventional mind-set, businesses that are innovating in the healthcare space struggle to help traditional decision-makers to understand the value of their products. They need help telling those stories.
Working around the online customer journey
Further complicating the healthcare marketing process is the newly online customer journey that has resulted in a smaller sales footprint. The more remote sales process makes it much more difficult to reach decision-makers.
Lori Cox, Executive Director of Client Development explains, “With fewer boots on the ground, it’s necessary to step up marketing efforts in order to bring in those leads.”
Misaligned digital efforts
Add to this list the fact that many businesses, including healthcare, were unprepared for their compulsory digital transformation during the pandemic. This scramble to digitize siloed processes agency-wide has created misaligned digital efforts that aren’t getting the expected results.
Lastly, government mandates and regulations have added a layer of complexity to healthcare marketing. Restrictions and prohibitions around patient referrals limit who healthcare organizations can partner with. Data protection (HIPPA) laws also make it a big decision for any healthcare business to select a partner that will be deeply integrated into their business systems. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that healthcare organizations provide data that demonstrates successful outcomes. And the Truth in Healthcare Marketing Act (2017) limits what marketers can say.
Key healthcare marketing strategies for 2023
An effective marketing plan is critical to get the best return on your marketing dollars. Let’s look at marketing solutions to address the above issues.
1. Target your audience with data-based marketing
Strategic, on-target marketing is based on real data and market research. To reach a conventional audience that doesn’t comprehend the value of your innovative solutions, you must first know where they spend their time, what challenges they face, and what they value. Once you understand your audience, you can shape your story to speak to their goals and needs.
2. Change conventional mind-set with targeted messaging
“Figure out what you do, what you do really well and communicate that effectively,” says Lori.
Positioning. It may seem simple, but messaging is the foundation of successful marketing efforts. Healthcare organizations (HCOs) must figure out the role they play in the market and the value they deliver. To reach conservative decision makers in this highly competitive space, you must clearly communicate how your solution improves patient outcomes, adds operational efficiencies or cost effectiveness.
Additionally, you’ll need to know how to speak to your different decision-makers: the executive director, chiefs of operations and technology and your medical officer. How you position your solution might vary depending on the individual who is influencing the decision. With the right positioning, your content will be more targeted and more focused.
Thought leadership. In the healthcare space, thought leadership must be more strategic than ever before. You can’t throw out blogs, whitepapers and LinkedIn posts and expect that to drive results. It must be much more thoughtful and more on-trend.
As a component of thought leadership, influencer marketing requires more care. There’s a limit to what influencers can say in the healthcare space. HCOs don’t want influencers sharing their competitive advantage information. So, it’s necessary for healthcare brands to find that sweet spot in their content strategy and get others to champion their point of view.
Support your messaging with data, research, internal experts, partner experts, cross-promotional sharing, external validation, in-market research. Business-minded decision-makers want to see real-world, business research that’s objective and statistically significant.
3. Grow awareness and increase leads with organic and paid marketing
To break through the competition and grab a bigger share of the healthcare market–or hold on to an existing share–organizations must increase brand awareness with organic and paid media.
Social marketing. Because the buyer journey now takes place online, brands must have a social presence (on the social networks your target prefers), even in a B2B market. Effective social marketing is a 3-step strategy that includes: posting organic content, using paid ads and engaging with your audience.
SEO. To drive more traffic to your website, a healthcare brand needs to post high-quality, informational content. Search engine optimized (SEO) content uses the keywords and phrases your target audience is searching for. This will help your website pages to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERP). In addition, driving organic traffic with properly optimized content, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ads can also place your website at the top of search results.
Paid marketing. In addition to paid social and SEM, brands gain awareness and leads through paid placements. This includes using digital advertising such as:
- Display ads
- Native ads
- Banner ads
- Email ads
4. Align your MarTech stack for the best returns
B2B organizations in the healthcare industry have a long and complex sales cycle. Combine that with a smaller sales footprint, and healthcare marketing must be right on the button to bring in a greater number of high-quality leads. For this to happen, sales and marketing must be aligned at key touchpoints along the customer journey.
When you have alignment, you can track ROAS and ROI, and streamline your marketing efforts to get the best returns. This starts by making sure your Martech stack is set up correctly.
If your digital transformation isn’t bringing in the outcomes you expected, most likely, your efforts are out of alignment.
“With the rush to go digital and update tech systems, healthcare isn’t seeing results. They need to align their MarTech stack and have a good attribution strategy to measure success, optimize and improve,” Lori explains.
5. Choose an agency partner that specializes in B2B Healthcare
Work with an established B2B agency that specializes in healthcare marketing. With over 20 years of marketing experience in the healthcare industry, Elevation can help target your unique audience with the right message, across the right channels. We can help you synchronize your sales and marketing to bring the results you expect. Contact us to learn more regarding how our healthcare marketing services can benefit your company.