Applying the 4 Stages of Consumer Marketing Behaviors in Health Care

by | Jan 13, 2021 | Consumer Engagement

People are bombarded with messaging and content on a daily basis. How then, do you stand out from the noise, particularly with information that can influence the stages of consumer behavior?

The answer is meet­ing each health­care con­sumer at the four stages of the deci­sion-mak­ing process and tai­lor­ing your mar­ket­ing mes­sage to con­sumer behav­iors. The aver­age per­son doesn’t spend a lot of dai­ly time con­sid­er­ing health­care deci­sions. It isn’t until there’s a prob­lem that con­sumer behav­ior is rapid­ly affected.

Once a med­ical issue does arise, patients and their fam­i­lies may scram­ble to find loca­tions and ser­vices to best meet their needs. It can be a com­pli­cat­ed and over­whelm­ing process, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the midst of a med­ical emer­gency or seri­ous diagnosis.

This can also be frus­trat­ing for health­care mar­keters, as mes­sag­ing may be large­ly ignored until a patient needs care. Lay the foun­da­tion for a mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy of con­sis­tent pres­ence in the lives of poten­tial patients by under­stand­ing the four stages of con­sumer behav­ior—aware­ness, active eval­u­a­tion, deci­sion-mak­ing, and post-pur­chase.

These stages com­prise the typ­i­cal patient expe­ri­ence. Under­stand­ing and engag­ing con­sumers at each stage dri­ves expo­nen­tial returns on your mar­ket­ing dollars.

Stage 1: Awareness

While con­sumers at this stage are not active­ly look­ing for your ser­vices (yet), estab­lish­ing even the most basic famil­iar­i­ty with a poten­tial patient is a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage when she takes the first steps on her health­care journey.

This is the point where broad, uni­ver­sal­ly appeal­ing con­tent can cap­ture an audience’s atten­tion, estab­lish­ing famil­iar­i­ty and build­ing trust with your brand and ser­vice lines.

This top-of-the-fun­nel con­tent is best deliv­ered through a blog or con­tent hub, social media or a tar­get­ed com­mu­ni­ty pub­li­ca­tion or direct mail post­card that reach­es the widest-pos­si­ble audi­ence of poten­tial patients.

Read the case study: Methodist Health System drives exponential growth in consumer engagement.

Stage 2: Active Evaluation

When some­one deter­mines they may need to vis­it a health­care provider, they tran­si­tion from the aware­ness stage to active evaluation.

In this stage, poten­tial patients typ­i­cal­ly begin research­ing options. Out of all con­sumer mar­ket­ing behav­iors in health­care, this one involves meet­ing a poten­tial con­sumer direct­ly at their inter­est lev­el dur­ing the deci­sion cycle.

To reach this con­sumer, focus on con­tent that guides her on the path to bet­ter health. Whether on a blog post or land­ing page, make sure to include spe­cif­ic calls to action that help her move on to the appro­pri­ate next stage in the process.

Read the case study: Baptist Health converts more qualified leads into patients.

Stage 3: Decision-making

Peo­ple at this stage have not only researched you, but also have expressed inter­est in your ser­vices. This is a cru­cial turn­ing point in the process and a real test in mar­ket­ing your health­care services.

The key for this seg­ment is to meet them at the Zero Moment of Truth. Deliv­er rel­e­vant ads or search-opti­mized con­tent that offers the infor­ma­tion they need and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to connect—or at min­i­mum, enrolls them in email or direct mail nur­tur­ing cam­paigns for ongo­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion. This allows you to send per­son­al­ized con­tent that ensures your brand is top of mind when they’re ready to act.

Read the case study: American Health Imaging pivots its digital strategy to drive 2,000+ conversions during the pandemic.

Stage 4: Post-purchase

The rela­tion­ship does­n’t end with the patient encounter (live or vir­tu­al). Email can be an excel­lent tool for keep­ing this seg­ment engaged and well informed on the health­care journey.

Cre­at­ing cus­tom con­tent that focus­es on the patient’s areas of inter­est can ensure that they keep your facil­i­ty in mind, not only for them­selves, but for refer­rals as well.

Note: This post was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in June 2017. It has been updat­ed for freshness.

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