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 4 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—that comprise the patient experience, leading to returns on your marketing dollars.
Stage 1: Awareness
While this crowd is not actively looking for your services (yet), establishing even the most basic familiarity with a potential patient can provide a competitive advantage when it comes time for them to enter the healthcare consumer decision journey.
In the healthcare realm, this is the point where broad, universally appealing content can capture an audience’s attention, establishing familiarity with your brand and service lines. It might use any of a broad list of mediums, including print publications, direct mail, physician directories, digital ads, billboards, radio, television and word-of-mouth referrals from friends, colleagues, or family.
Stage 2: Active Evaluation
When someone comes to the conclusion that they may need to visit a healthcare facility, they transition from the awareness stage to active evaluation. In this stage, potential patients typically begin researching their options. Out of all consumer marketing behaviors in healthcare, this one involves meeting a potential consumer directly at their interest level during the healthcare buying process.
To reach this crowd, focus on active blogs, social media accounts, and up-to-date websites. Make sure all marketing pieces include phone numbers or links to further information or landing pages to help interested parties move on to the next stage in the process.
Stage 3: Decision-Making
People at this stage have not only researched you, but 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 get them included in email or direct mail campaigns—especially if you know what they’re interested in and need. This can allow you to send very targeted emails or direct mail pieces to encourage them to act now on a specific call to action.
Stage 4: Post-purchase
For patients who agree to subscribe, newsletters can be an excellent tool for reaching this segment. 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.
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