The healthcare market is healthy – in the UK alone the over the counter (OTC) medicine market is worth over £2.3 billion. Engaging with healthcare consumers digitally can be rewarding but several factors have to be considered.
The digital era has seen a shift in many different ways and one of these is that the individual now has more control. In healthcare this is particularly the case as digital allows more choice.
Healthcare consumers can choose how they access information, how they engage with it and ultimately how they can purchase healthcare products and services. Alongside this, is that modern life comes with an expectation of everything being available 24/7. If other aspects work around the clock why can’t healthcare?
Digital may not be for all healthcare consumers. For a younger generation, where digital runs continually in the background and forms a part of everyday life, it is an obvious choice. Some, however, will always prefer a traditional approach with a more personal contact.
With advances in services like Telehealthcare where assistance is provided remotely using ICT from a physician to a patient, it is possible to cater for both preferences. Pushdoctor offers online GP appointments and is an example of a healthcare provider which combines the traditional personal need with technology.
Healthcare consumers are a valuable asset but how can you communicate and engage with them digitally, particularly where there is already a wealth of information at their fingertips?
Healthcare consumers want to feel like they are involved in making the decisions that effect their lives. They want to feel informed about the different choices available so that they can decide which treatments, products, health care plans or services they purchase. Providing information frequently and clearly across all channels and platforms will allow your customers to engage with you as an expert and improve your credibility. This, in turn, will make them more likely to come to you when they are ready to purchase.
It is imperative that you understand your audience and how they behave. How do they consume information? What type of information and content do they respond to? A great starting place is to look at what you do now that your audience reacts to, comments on or shares. Analyse the platforms and digital contact that you currently have with consumers and monitor what does and doesn’t work for you.
The information that you gather may show that you need to be flexible to respond to what your customer needs, particularly in healthcare. Weightwatchers, for example, offer their customers a number of different ways to access their services with online, a traditional meeting approach or a combination of both available.
Similar to other industry sectors, if you engage in the correct way, healthcare consumers can be extremely loyal. Relationships can be built online which help develop loyalty and will result in customers coming to you and returning to you. Offering support through timely information, other services like regular question and answer sessions or regular blogs on subjects which are of particular interest to your audience will all help to not only build your credibility but also to encourage your customers to keep coming back to you. Social media can be particularly effective at building relationships.
Bupa Healthcare are a great example of a company who use Facebook to effectively communicate with their audience in a range of different ways to not just promote their services but also to educate and provide information on a range of health and health related issues.
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