Most marketing practiced by hospitals and health systems remains mired in traditional outbound marketing methods. That is pushing low-value content out in display ads, direct mailers, radio, billboard, etc., in the hopes that someone will pay attention and act. Calls to actions are generic in nature, and there is a lemming-like an approach by all hospitals in the same market to do the same thing at the same time. Commonly referred to interruption marketing, outbound is all about sending generic messages out to the widest possible number of audiences with no customization of content or message hoping that someone will respond.
Today's hospital brand is defined by the brand promise, outcomes, price, engagement and experience. These are the difference makers between driving revenue and growth or merger/acquisition/liquidation. The healthcare consumer and patient is increasingly taking control and making choices. Is outbound marketing the best way to drive brand awareness, choice, and selection?
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing a series marketing actions designed to give healthcare consumers and patients a reason to contact you. It’s about bringing the healthcare consumer or patient to you. Inbound marketing requires meaningful content that is used to engage consumers and patients building the value and relationship. It’s a pull strategy as opposed to a push strategy that hospitals and health systems use. It’s not an either-or proposition; one needs both strategies well integrated to achieve maximum benefit.
It’s all about why someone should contact and choose you, not what you do.
Understand that inbound marketing focuses on “reason to communicate with you” and not a “do you need a doctor?” or cancer services or insert clinical, technology, or building name here for outbound marketing. That means having content that is engaging, meets a healthcare consumer or patient needs and prompts that to take action with a strong call to action.
What are the inbound channels?
The major component of inbound is SEO, blogging, social media, content marketing, and review/referral sites. One is pushing relevant messaging based on the user personas and behavior characteristics that address their “pain points” and interests so that the hospital is staying top-of-mind in their decision-making process.
You need to understand the buyer persona and their buying process.
The healthcare consumer and patient now have a buying process. And in that buying process technology is a major factor. They are searching for information on the hospital, health system or doctor, etc. With that, the case, doesn’t it make sense to be proactive and connect on a very personal level? Inbound marketing allows you to do that. And it’s not sending an email with generic information.
That also means the buyer is now different. Yes, one continues to use demographic information but pigeonholing people into these “group clarifications”, doesn’t get to the issue of their pain points and what solutions they are looking for in meeting their healthcare needs. So a persona is developed for each type of individual one is attempted to attract to the hospital.
Inbound marketing is healthcare consumer or patient-centric not hospital-centric.
If one considers the healthcare consumer or patient as the focal point of what they need, not what the hospital needs to generate revenue, then the task of marketing shifts. The Marketing department needs to understand the journey of the healthcare consumer or patient buying process. Once that is understood, then it’s about having relevant and meaningful information available at any point in the process. That means the hospital marketing process with inbound marketing is to attract, capture, nurture, convert, and expand the relationship.
Inbound marketing positively impacts fee-for-service, risk-based or value-based contracts.
Because you shift to inbound marketing, the hospital is engaging and establishing a strong relationship with the healthcare consumer or patient. In population health management, engagement and meaningful patient relationships are everything.
Inbound marketing is attributable to increased revenue, growth and ROI.
Here is what happens for the hospital in shifting some of its effort from purely outbound to a strategically integrated combination of inbound and outbound marketing. The hospital does generate revenue, market share grows, the cost of marketing decreases and marketing ROI increases.
So what one does today by shifting to inbound marketing will pay huge dividends tomorrow no matter what the payment system.
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