The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Healthcare Marketing Strategy

Here’s a step-by-step process to help you build your healthcare marketing strategy. We'll walk you through how to create buyer personas, how to develop a core marketing message, and how to attract your audience to you.

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The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Healthcare Marketing Strategy

Marketing for digital health companies can be uniquely challenging. Digital health leaders are creating amazing products and technology that has the power to change the way we do healthcare. But when it comes to having an effective healthcare marketing strategy and getting their message out, things start to fall apart.

It’s not for lack of knowing their audience, because they do. Digital health companies have often spent months—years, even—immersed in who their target market is and what their challenges are so they can build tech that solves their problems. Turning that information into a marketing message that will skyrocket customer acquisition and says to prospects you know them as well as they know themselves—that is hard to do.

The problem? Too often, health tech companies fall prey to bad marketing advice, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants marketing tactics, and an overall lack of a healthcare marketing strategy. With small marketing teams, it’s hard to create enough content to funnel your customers through the buyer journey to a sales conversation. Content production takes time, energy, and the mental space to be creative.

Fortunately, attracting your target audience can be simpler than you think, and it all starts with your healthcare marketing strategy.

Where to Start When Creating Your Healthcare Marketing Strategy

Your marketing should not happen haphazardly. A blog post here, a digital ad campaign there, and an Instagram picture over there are going to do nothing to help you reach the people who really need you.

As much as you might have going on as you work to build your startup, you should take time to slow down a bit and give some attention to building your all-important healthcare marketing strategy. You will want to test it, launch it, and learn from it. We understand that you’re busy, but this process is not too hard if you have the right tools and guidelines. When you’re strategic, you can truly drive your mission beyond the constant noise that exists on the internet today.

Here’s a step-by-step process to help you build your healthcare marketing strategy. You will discover how to utilize the power of documenting your buyer persona and a few other key tactics.

Step 1: Define Your “Why”

It’s important to define for yourself, your team, and your customer why your digital health company exists. What’s the overarching mission that gets you up in the morning and keeps you going in the face of insurmountable odds? Articulating this central “why” will give purpose not only to your marketing efforts but also to your team.

For instance, at Uhuru, our “why”—the driving mission behind what everyone on our team does—is to “leave people better than we found them.” This core belief is baked into every interaction with a prospect, how our client services deliver value to our clients, and how we approach our marketing. Each company needs a comparable statement to keep all departments unified toward one goal.

Step 2: Understand Your Customer

The foundation of your marketing plan should be your customer. Do you understand how they think, what problems they need solved, and what their values are? Before you can pick marketing tactics and channels, you need to get to know the people who really need your product or service.

Who Should Have a Say in Your Buyer Personas

To create well-rounded buyer personas, you need input from more than just your marketing team. Your sales team has valuable insight from their ongoing conversations with your buyers, and your customer success team can provide input on how your product or service is solving problems for current customers right now.

Create and Validate Your Buyer Persona

To get to know your customer and have a stronger foundation for your healthcare marketing strategy, you’ll want to work through a discovery process with a variety of questions. These questions can include:

  • What is your total addressable market (TAM), and what is the market size?
  • What are your possible target market segments within the TAM? What are the unique characteristics, problems, and goals of each?
  • Is there one that makes the most sense to target first?
  • Who are the buyers and evaluators in each of those markets?
  • How does your product or service help those personas achieve their goals?
  • What is the biggest value they will see in your product or service?
  • How is their success measured?
  • What does failure look like?
  • What is the root cause of the problems they may be experiencing?
  • What external, internal, and philosophical problems does the root problem cause?
  • How do you guide them to success? How can you show empathy and authority?
  • How do you help them transform?
  • Where do they hang out on and offline?
  • What and who influences them?

Your team should answer these questions internally. However, in most cases, you can only make general assumptions about what your potential customers truly experience, so it’s important to validate your hypothesis with real customers and prospects.

Once you have answered these questions and created buyer personas (use this template to do so), it’s important to validate any assumptions with the marketplace. You can do this by having in-person conversations with customers or potential buyers, creating surveys, or gathering data through marketing and advertising campaigns.

This validation shouldn’t be a one-time exercise. Make sure to continually collect and analyze data from your marketing campaigns and the people who talk with your customers every day (your sales force and customer success team). Marketing needs to hear about the insights gleaned from those conversations to continue to hone the core marketing message.

Step 3: Set Your Marketing Goals and KPIs

Before you can plan your healthcare marketing strategy, you need to document your goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). Unfortunately, too many digital health companies look at metrics that aren’t tied to outcomes.

For instance, if your marketing team is thrilled with high traffic coming to the site but isn’t tying that metric to a business objective, it’s not fully usable data. Instead, site traffic needs to be tracked to demonstrate how it turns into leads or sales. While many metrics can be valuable and help you know where your strategy needs further refinement, metrics that aren’t tied to an outcome aren’t KPIs.

To set effective goals, ask yourself and your team: What does the best-case scenario look like? What does a just-okay scenario look like? And what does the worst-case scenario look like?

From there, define the KPIs for each scenario and who is responsible for those KPIs. Each KPI should have an activity metric tied to it and an effectiveness metric. For instance, if you know that you need to generate 100 sales qualified leads (SQLs) each month (this is an activity metric) from your marketing team to be successful, you may also need to define what the average revenue needs to be per SQL (an effectiveness metric). List these all out, in writing, and share with the team so you can track your metrics, stay organized, and make sure goals are being met.

Step 4: Assess Your Current Marketing Assets, Content, and Tactics

Once you’ve defined your goals, it’s time to look at how your current marketing content and tactics are performing. Assessments are not only a way to make sure you don’t have too much repeat content; they are crucial to confirm you have a reliable and effective game plan. Having a relative map drawn out of where you want your healthcare marketing strategy to go will make you feel more confident in getting there—and make sure you arrive within the necessary timeframe.

Content Assessment

It’s imperative that you perform a content audit to see where any gaps in your content may be. You will want to be able to determine what you need based on what you already have. If a content piece is not completely lacking, you can review where it can be improved. Just because a blog you wrote covered a great topic and was both relevant and interesting five years ago does not mean it will continue to appeal to your audience in the same way today. Create a spreadsheet and color code it to denote how far along you are with improvements.

While some pieces will just need minor adjustments, don’t be afraid to drastically change your content if it’s not ranking well. Upon thorough assessment, you might even choose to add a new piece to totally replace an existing one. Search engine algorithms frequently change to adapt to people’s search habits, so you may need to update your content for a number of blogs to make sure they are properly optimized.

SEO Assessment

Search engine optimization assessments are essential to your healthcare marketing strategy. As mentioned, search engines change based on what they think people want to see, and it’s critical that you adapt as their algorithms do. Go through your older existing content and use tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to see how your articles are ranking, if they are appearing for the correct keywords, and if your existing content is truly attracting your buyers.

Get competitive. Look into what other businesses in your industry are using as keywords and how they are using them. Take advantage of a well-orchestrated organic keyword strategy—you can get ahead without spending a lot of money. When done effectively, inbound marketing can essentially help you get traffic to your website at no cost.

Keyword Research

With keyword research, you have the opportunity to greatly enhance your content’s exposure. If, through this research, you find content that isn’t performing as well as it could, don’t be discouraged.

Making adjustments to existing content can be as simple as changing headlines or as complex as a full rewrite of the existing article. Either way, this will all play a huge role in your healthcare marketing strategy, as these factors help you analyze and understand whether or not your content will be found by your prospective audience.

When you find keywords that align with your product and your personas, keep them handy in an organized sheet—along with any data you’ve pulled on them—so you can refer back when you are writing. Use the tools recommended above to evaluate keywords—look for ones that have a low difficulty rating and high monthly search numbers. And, when sprinkling your carefully selected keywords throughout a piece, be sure to avoid “keyword stuffing.” Google will see a keyword density higher than two percent as trying to cheat the system, which can result in your content ranking worse instead of better.

Finally, continue to measure and analyze along the way to see how much better your content performs with these adjustments. Do not underestimate the potential of keywords and proper optimization. If you want your site to do even better still, there is always room for improvement—simply keep checking on how these inbound marketing efforts are doing and tweak tactics as needed.

Step 5: Create Your Results-Driven Content Strategy

Your marketing strategy needs to center around a buyer-focused core marketing message that is baked into your marketing assets.

Create Your Core Marketing Message

There are three different types of core marketing messages you could create, but here, we’re going to focus on buyer-focused propositions, as they tend to wield particularly impressive outcomes.

In fact, it is reported that 74 percent of consumers get annoyed by overly generic website content, and 63 percent feel they connect far better with companies that provide personally relevant content.

So what can we learn from this? Your messaging is strongest when you tailor your message to the end user. This means, identify their triggers and address their frustrations. Make them feel special.

Be sure to let them know how the sale of your product or service will benefit them, not you. As you are trying to appeal to fellow people, you will also want to be sure to infuse the human element—target a mixture of logic and emotions. Pull on the heartstrings a little if you must. Make them truly feel a connection with what you’re trying to convey.

Differentiate your brand so they know how it will help them better than any other business’s solution can. If available, feel free to throw in some “proof” by way of testimonials from people with similar problems that are doing better now because they tried what you’re offering.

At this point, you’ve gathered a lot of insight from prospective customers. You already understand their problem and how you can guide them through it. Now, it’s just a matter of crafting a message that focuses on customer needs while also communicating the value you offer.

Unfortunately, many health tech companies believe they have unique messaging when they really don’t. That’s why, at this stage, you need to analyze your competitors’ messaging with the goal of learning from their strengths and weaknesses. Here are the types of questions you and your marketing team should be asking while evaluating your competitors’ marketing strategies:

  • Which competitors do our buyers associate us with?
  • Where does our company overlap with our competitors?
  • Where are the gaps between our competitors and us?
  • Is there potential to differentiate our core marketing messaging so we stand apart?

Now you can start drafting your core marketing message, which will drive all content creation moving forward.

Developing a Content Production Schedule

You will greatly benefit from creating a clean, standardized document where you and your team can check back to make sure you aren’t repeating content or straying from your timeline. With a content production schedule, you will know exactly what comes next. Break out Excel, Google Sheets, or your preferred processor and create columns detailing the month, type of content piece (blogs or content offer), chosen keyword, working title, length (word count), buyer persona, buyer’s journey stage, and any other necessary notes.

Map Your Content Into the Buyer Journey

Once you’ve created your core marketing message and content production schedule, the next step in a rejuvenated healthcare marketing strategy is to make sure you have content for each stage of the buyer journey.

Awareness Phase

The buyer may not know they have a problem—or, if they do, they don’t know there’s a solution.

Content that fits this phase:

  • Educational content that helps customers solve a problem
  • Topics that answer “why”— such as “Why Does Your Medical Practice Need to Implement Telehealth?”
  • Topics that answer “what”— such as “What Telehealth Services Do Mental Health Providers Need?”

Formats that fit this phase:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Earned media and bylined articles
  • Short explainer videos

Interest Phase

The buyer knows there are a problem and a solution but doesn’t know which solution is right for them.

Content that fits this phase:

  • How-to posts
  • Comparison posts
  • In-depth guides

Formats that fit this phase:

Blog posts
Ebooks, checklists, and cheat sheets
Video or webinar training series
Industry reports

Decision Phase

The buyer knows there’s a problem and has two to three solutions narrowed down. They are trying to make a decision on which solution is a perfect fit.

Content that fits this phase:

  • Case studies/customer stories
  • Use cases
  • Demos
  • Testimonials and reviews

Formats that fit this phase:

Downloadable case studies
Sales pages
Sales demos

How to Use Your Content to Fill Your Funnel

At this point, you’re ready to start implementing all of the research you’ve done for your healthcare marketing strategy into useful, educational content. Depending on the buyer personas you’re focusing on, you can use several different formats to make your content available. For instance, if your goal is to start educating your audience, you may want to focus on factual blog material or short videos that explain the problem and solution. You can also turn this content into an ebook format that can be used as a lead magnet.

When creating these articles, videos, infographics, and other content pieces, it’s important that you focus on your target audience. Your content will have a better ROI when it’s pointed at a particular persona and market segment. This means you will need to build funnels for different personas, market verticals, and/or solution types. You can reuse content in the different funnels, but each funnel should clearly communicate the persona’s problem and the solution they need, then provide them with a tailored experience that helps prepare them to make a purchasing decision.

Step 6: Attract Your Buyers

Once you’ve created your content plan, you need to determine how you are going to use that content to attract your buyers. You have a few primary owned channels to leverage. While there are other channels you can incorporate into your marketing—like PR and conferences—we are going to look at digital channels only today.

Organic Website Traffic

Using search engines to drive organic, unpaid traffic to your website is an imperative. While search engine algorithms are constantly evolving, the key principle remains the same: search engines will favor websites that put out fresh content that’s reputable, authoritative, and offers a seamless user experience.

Organic Social Media

Social media platforms are the best place to create a community among your fans and followers—and, ultimately, lead them to your onsite funnels. Create engaging content that delights, educates, or helps them. Don’t be afraid to use new platforms if your audience is there, but also don’t be afraid to say no to platforms that aren’t effective for your business.

Email Nurture Content

The really great news about creating an effective healthcare marketing strategy is that you are going to start to generate a list of email addresses. This list is one of your most valuable assets, and you should treat the people who give you their email address like royalty. Don’t spam them with content; instead, create thoughtful nurture series that provide information and content that gently nudges them through the buyer’s journey.

PPC Plan

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is also extremely valuable. The internet is so saturated—not only with your direct competitors but with other content producers that are also vying for your audience’s attention. It’s difficult—if not near impossible—for your buyers to find you unless you leverage a cohesive PPC and organic marketing strategy.

PPC allows you to retarget people who visited your site in the past to continue to nurture them through your inbound funnel. When you leverage the Facebook pixel or LinkedIn Insight Tag correctly, you can make sure that your potential buyers are getting the right content at the right time so you can inform their buying decision.

Step 7: Leverage Your Content to Learn About Your Customers

Developing a core marketing message and healthcare marketing strategy is the starting point for further marketing opportunities. Over time, your strategy and content may begin to evolve into something different. That doesn’t mean that your initial strategy was a failure; it just means that you’re continuing to grow and morph right alongside your target audience.

That’s why, while designing your brand new healthcare marketing strategy, it’s important to keep an open mind, experiment with new ideas, and evaluate them accordingly. Here are some ways you can continue to evaluate and evolve with your market and keep your content relevant.

Learn From Your Content

Once you’ve released content, it may seem like your job is done with that particular material, but that’s just not the case. Published content gives you a new opportunity to learn from your target audience’s response.

Does It Resonate?

For starters, is it resonating with your audience? Are you getting more engagement and feedback? If not, there are several things you can do to evaluate and optimize your content that won’t require starting from scratch. Start by checking your headlines. You can do this by using CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. The better your headlines, the more likely your content will come up in customer searches. Check out your keywords, too. Maybe you’re not making the best possible choices and it’s diminishing your SEO.

Beyond that, you may need to look at your topics. It’s possible that the topics you’re focusing on aren’t really covering the pain points of potential buyers. You should evaluate your content’s value at this point, too. Are you actually giving your audience something that matters to them? Or has your content turned into a spiel about your company’s abilities?

Does It Inspire Action?

Enabling buyers to take action and improve their current difficulties is one of the best ways to build trust and establish relationships. If your healthcare marketing strategy isn’t inspiring a response from your target audience, it could show up in several different ways. There are a few telltale signs that your audience isn’t taking action.

For one, they may not respond or interact with social media posts. Or worse, your inbound marketing funnel isn’t generating leads as fast as you need it to.

If these things are true of your marketing experience, it’s time to reassess the value you’re offering. Does your audience really see worth in the content you’re providing? Are you giving them something they need?

Perhaps it’s even simpler than that, though—is your content actually calling them to action? Or are you simply giving them information without asking them to respond?

If this is the case, you need to improve your calls to action. That being said, your CTAs don’t always need to encourage audience members to purchase your product or service. They can be as simple as offering your audience a free checklist or guide that helps them implement the ideas you just presented.

Learn From Your Data

Use data and analytics tools like Google Analytics, your CRM’s reporting feature, or your e-commerce platform to gather key metrics for each stage of the buying journey.

At the top of the funnel, you’re going to want insight into website traffic, new visitors, and the channels your visitors come from.

In the middle of the funnel, collect data around people who have raised their hands and taken action on a call to action—such as downloading a content offer or taking a quiz.

At the bottom of the funnel, you want to look at sales metrics like average order value and time to sale.

By collecting data for each stage of the funnel, you’ll be able to see which parts are effective and which need further improvement.

Listen to Your Sales Department

As you continue to evolve with your market, one of your best assets is your sales department. They’re on the ground each day talking with the exact people you’re trying to reach. If anyone can give you the pulse of your target audience, it’s them. So, ask them what they hear from prospects.

In addition, customer success teams can give you insight into customers’ use of your product. They can provide you with stories of success as well as ways your marketing could better serve buyers.

Listen to the Industry

Listening internally plays a major role in marketing progress, but so does listening externally. Outside resources can help you continue to meet the needs of your market. For instance, the leaders in your particular industry have a good feel of customers’ pulse. If you listen to their insights, you’ll know if your content is actually meeting the current needs of your audience.

All this to say, your healthcare marketing strategy isn’t static; it should be a dynamic approach that helps you connect with your audience and stay relevant within your market. This means that once you develop your strategy, the goal should be to keep the conversation going with internal departments and external sources like customers and industry leaders.

By continuing to talk and learn, your healthcare marketing strategy will stay fresh, and your marketing team will only get sharper and sharper in your field.

Are You Ready to Create Content That Gets Results?

With this knowledge, you have what it takes to stand out above the rest and be seen. Your customers want to find you; they just need a little help getting to your site.

Create your results-driven healthcare marketing strategy today with guidance from the tips in this article and personalized advice from Uhuru’s healthcare marketing experts.

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