Unlike a majority of marketers who promote a single product, healthcare marketers don’t often have the luxury of honing in on one specific target market. Medical care is a necessity for patients young and old, male and female, short and tall. Illnesses and diseases won't discriminate, and with your digital marketing materials, you have to engage them all.
In a perfect world, all of your clients would want the same thing. Alas, a perfect world it will never be. Patients’ needs are constantly evolving, and to meet these needs, your digital marketing strategy must follow suit – it must evolve in order for your company to remain relevant to today’s audiences.
This article will take a closer look at the digital demands of patients, from Millennials to Seniors, and discuss the ways in which you can tailor your healthcare digital marketing strategy accordingly.
As the most digitally-savvy group on this list, Millennials will also be the most demanding. A January 2015 study by Harris Poll for Salesforce.com found that US 18- to 34-year-olds wanted to use various digital methods throughout the healthcare experience. The study also revealed the following:
- The internet played a role in managing doctor appointments long before stepping into the waiting room.
- More than three-quarters cited online reviews from other patients as a criterion when selecting a doctor.
- 74% looked for the opportunity to make the entire appointment process easier, valuing the ability to book and pay bills online.
Millennials also noted that they would like to use a plethora of health technologies, predominantly mobile applications, after choosing a physician.
To effectively reach and engage Millennials, your digital marketing will need to span multiple channels and devices. As a generation that prefers to follow an informational journey, Millennials demand the opportunity to do their own research, at their own pace, across a range of devices. At the end of the day, this group respects honesty and transparency. With your digital marketing efforts, lead Millennials to patient reviews and emphasize any convenient digital features your medical practice offers.
As a smaller group sandwiched between Millennials and Boomers, Gen Xers are often overlooked by healthcare marketers. However, keep in mind, this is a powerful and unique group that will only grow more important as its members age. In contract to the digitally-dependent Millennial, Gen Xers show hybrid online-offline media behaviors when evaluating health-related sources. Online, this group turns to search engines, medical information sites, rating and review sites, blogs, social media, digital video and more.
According to a February 2014 study from Catalyst Healthcare Research, Gen Xers used the internet for the following:
- To find information about medical conditions or drugs (79%)
- To find information about doctors (51%)
- To visit a website to see personal health information (30%)
Gen Xers are prolific and thorough searchers, turning to Google and other search engines for all kinds of health and medical inquiries. At least one or more of your search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns should be specifically tailored to this group. Ultimately, the key to connecting with Gen Xers is to seamlessly reach them across the media they use. Take advantage of this group’s omnichannel tendencies by ensuring that your traditional marketing drives attention to complementary digital assets.
Labeled the “Forever Young” generation, Baby Boomers are all about staying active for as long as possible. eMarketer asserts that Boomers expect healthcare that enables them to age in place and do it on their own terms. Though this generation didn’t grow up with digital channels, research from McKinsey found that older patients want digital healthcare services nearly as much as their younger counterparts.
Baby Boomers are still big fans of traditional television, but when they do venture online, you’ll need to reach them with SEM and email marketing. Search engine marketing is incredibly effective with this group. A survey from DMN3 found that Boomers took the following actions as a result of using search engines:
- Looked for more information online (82.4%)
- Visited a company website (77.5%)
- Made a purchase (65%)
Baby Boomers will require a little more handholding in the digital realm, but they’re receptive to being led. Along with search engines, Boomers engage with social media, blogs and articles, and online videos. Again, ensure that your digital marketing strategy is an omnichannel one – and though you may feel the urge to move everything to mobile (to cater to younger audiences), this generation spends more time on their personal computers. With this range of target demographics, you’ll need to refrain from putting all your digital eggs in one mobile basket.
This year, eMarketer estimates that 30.5 million US consumers ages 65 and older will use the internet. By 2019, penetration will near 71%. But how is this group using the internet? According to data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, these are the top three reasons seniors use the internet:
- To use email (95%)
- To look for medical/healthcare information (66%)
- To do product research (66%)
Utilize SEM and email marketing to lead seniors to information they’ll need to make informed decisions and to connect patients with the appropriate medical professionals or products.
Speaking of products, you’ll need to be aware that a majority of seniors do not turn to – or trust – pharmaceutical company websites. Based on January 2015 research by Makovsky Health and Kelton Research, 57% of seniors said they only trusted brand sites a little bit when searching for this info, and more than one-quarter had no faith in them.
Nearly six in 10 seniors, however, cited recommendations from doctors or other healthcare professionals as the top factor that would motivate them to visit a pharma-sponsored website when researching a disease. Word of mouth advertising remains an effective tactic amongst this generation that needs the extra push to seek out healthcare information and products online.
As you approach your healthcare digital marketing, remember that you’ll need to make the right tweaks to attract each audience. Diversify your digital strategy and remain up-to-date on the ever-changing needs of Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers and Seniors. Otherwise, you may alienate a target market and lose out on valuable engagement and potential business.