maximizing digital marketing spend as a healthcare company

This article originally appeared on Forbes

By: Jill Collins, CEO

Healthcare companies often have unique stakeholders they wish to reach, whether general or specialized clinicians or specific patients with certain conditions. Digital marketing offers multiple opportunities to target these potential customers while also providing the opportunity to track results and measure ROI. Here are four steps to achieve optimal results from your digital spending to assure that it is yielding maximum results for your healthcare company:

Target and Reach Your Ideal Healthcare Audiences

It is important to understand where healthcare professionals and relevant patients spend their time online. Knowing which channels they’re on and how they engage with each platform can help you obtain maximum results with minimum spend.

The National Provider Identifier (NPI) is a major tool that can hone in on specific clinician categories. Layering the NPI with other institutional parameters enables you to hyper-target select physicians and practices allowing penetration into priority accounts. Professional societies and organizations are an additional way to reach these audiences. Leveraging website banners, events, publications, webinars and email blasts within these trusted communities are all ideal for targeting healthcare professionals.

Google Display and other programmatic platforms also allow you to layer demographic, geographic, psychographic and other data to optimize performance for your campaigns. Contextual targeting based on healthcare-related content the user is seeking can also be beneficial. Lastly, if a specific hospital system or metro area is the intended audience, geo-targeting can help you reach that audience. For example, if recruiting and enrolling candidates for a clinical trial and want to recruit patients near your designated trial sites, you can focus on individuals within a geographical radius.

Navigating the grey area between healthcare targeting and privacy is challenging. As digital technologies evolve, so do the regulations for using personal health data in marketing campaigns. With HIPAA and other privacy laws, healthcare organizations must adjust their approach and messaging for targeted advertising and stay current with changes to ensure compliance. Even when targeting options are available, they can quickly be removed by Google and other platforms to maintain privacy standards.

Tailor content to the provider-patient journey

Compelling content is essential to foster engagement and conversion online. Understanding the journey of both the patient and healthcare provider is key to developing messaging and creative assets that resonates and nurtures them through your marketing funnel.

While you may reach patients with a very different targeting strategy than healthcare professionals, it’s important to tailor your campaign respectively. For example, directing patients to an easy-to-understand video explaining a specific disease or technology helps them understand how it works and whether they should ask their physicians about this option. Physicians may seek out a technical paper with clinical trial data and other technical performance data to evaluate whether this is something they want to adopt. A thorough understanding of the needs and values of each stakeholder at each stage of the process allows you to customize ad messaging and assets that successfully fulfills those needs and increases conversion.

Testing messaging and content options within your campaign can always optimize performance. Rapidly expanding new technology offers additional opportunities for ad messaging. For example, Chat GPT is a great option that helps advance the creative process when developing new ad copy and exploring new angles.

Effective channel selection

Although it is tempting to spread your budget across multiple channels, this limits the reach and effectiveness of each one. Assess the target audience size and potential on various platforms prior to allocating the budget. There will always be a balance between the number of channels in a media plan and the audience saturation on those platforms. Factors such as base thresholds and cost-per-click are important to consider. For example, Doximity base threshold may be costly, but investing in that platform offers access to their expansive professional network with unprecedented reach for your campaigns.

While physicians may be actively engaged on medical networking sites catered to them, like Doximity or SERMO, other health executives may be better represented on professional networking sites like LinkedIn. The preferred engagement platform for each audience must be taken into account when determining the collective mix of channels you choose. It’s also possible you can achieve your campaign objectives with fewer general core digital channels, such as SEM and programatic. Cost efficiency and expected reach for each channel should inform the final channel strategy. More channels do not always lead to more results. For example, Janssen had great success engaging and educating the nursing community by simply fostering conversations on Facebook Live.

Use analytics to assess and optimize performance

Analytical tracking is essential for understanding user behavior and making sure marketing efforts are as impactful as possible. Campaigns become smarter over time with intel captured from the behavior of target stakeholders. This enables you to build look-a-like audiences that model similar behavior online. With proper analytics setup — tagging ads to different call-to-action (CTA) parameters — you can measure ad effectiveness to determine how to pivot your campaign strategy and where to reallocate funds to maximize ROI.

By continually analyzing a campaign’s performance from initial click through to ongoing engagement and conversion, you can adjust accordingly to ensure that your customers have a satisfying experience with every interaction. With the correct targeted approach, customized content and channel selection, healthcare companies can create effective digital campaigns that will help them reach their desired audiences and deliver tangible results.

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