Effective Consumer Engagement Strategies for Healthcare

by | Oct 17, 2018 | Consumer Engagement

You've heard the marketing chestnut, “Meet your customers where they are”—but what exactly does that mean and how can healthcare organizations do it well?

For effective consumer engagement strategies for healthcare, the focus and format of your content must be mapped to each stage in the healthcare decision cycle. Essentially, you need to identify your patient’s healthcare journey in order to create relevant content and calls to action that help them solve problems and take the next steps.

According to Healthcare Consumerism 2018: An Update on the Journey from McKinsey, healthcare brands that engage consumers at the right time and in meaningful ways will be the winners.

To quote the report, “Health insurers and providers have multiple opportunities to engage consumers and help them manage their health, healthcare and healthcare costs … By using digital tools for just-in-time, on-demand engagement and offering meaningful incentives, insurers and providers can truly collaborate with consumers to change behaviors and improve public health.”

To ensure your brand connects with a healthcare consumer when and where they want to engage, it's important to remember that not everyone will arrive at your content at the same point or experience each stage. While some marketers focus their efforts on the final decision phase in efforts to get quick wins, the majority of your prospects are in the awareness and evaluation phases—so your content strategy should allocate content resources accordingly.

Based on our experience in partnering with hundreds of healthcare organizations, here are a few guidelines for creating effective consumer engagement strategies and engaging a healthcare consumer at each stage of the patient journey.


The beginning of a patient’s journey usually does not start with a visit to the doctor’s office. More often, it begins with a Google search or a scroll through his or her social media feed. By focusing only on the desired result of your marketing initiatives, you lose the opportunity to engage and build a relationship with these potential patients at the start.

To align content with this awareness stage, create easily digestible health information designed to educate consumers around a particular topic. This is not a hard sell. Rather, this content should aim to be helpful or interesting. It may be the answer to a Google search for “How do I get rid of spring allergies?” or an unusual fact or research update.

Remember, at this stage, your primary goal is to create a relationship and position your brand as a useful and trusted source of information. The content you produce and your call to action should reflect that.

Formats Channels Calls to Action
Short articles, infographics, lists Blog, social media, custom publication Sign up for e-newsletter, visit website to learn more, view additional content



At the evaluation stage, you can offer more specific information designed to position your organization as the provider of choice. Your goal is still to be helpful to the reader, but you can dive deeper into a topic, such as a particular condition or procedure.

By taking a more analytical approach to this content, you can better tap into the expertise of your organization and indirectly promote your services within the context of your overall content. This lightly branded content should bridge the gap between the existing trust you have fostered with your future patient as a helpful source of information and the services and expertise you offer as a healthcare organization.

Healthcare consumers in the evaluation stage have one foot in the door. You have his or her attention, so you are able to create more long-form content, such as e-books or video tutorials. Take advantage of this heightened level of engagement by offering information that is unique to your organization and/or that goes beyond what could easily be found elsewhere.

Formats Channels Calls to Action
Downloadable guides, case studies, tutorials, e-books, long-form articles, videos Email campaigns, service line campaign page, blog, video streaming services Attend a seminar, take an assessment, review related services on a website



Your future patient is ready to act. Now is the time to produce content that reflects your success in mitigating risks and helping consumers get back to healthy living. This is the moment of truth and your content should differentiate your brand by highlighting reasons the patient or caregiver should choose your healthcare organization to fulfill his or her needs. Effective consumer engagement strategies should be framed around each brand's perspective on outreach.

Keeping in mind that emotions play a significant role in purchasing decisions, balance the decision-stage messaging with statistics and stories. This can include facts about technology and outcomes with a first-person perspective from consumers who underwent successful procedures as well as your physicians who can explain complicated medical concepts in basic terms. Providing “social proof” is a great way to build trust and this can be accomplished through simple quotes or even presented as short videos.

Formats Channels Calls to Action
Patient testimonials, physician profiles, press releases Service line campaign page, blog, external media, email campaigns Schedule an appointment, contact a specific provider or department for more information


A Note about Nurturing

While nurturing early-stage leads is essential in any industry, it is especially critical in health care—where only a small percentage of your prospects are ready to make a decision. According to Hubspot, most marketers leave upwards of 90 percent of inbound leads on the table, and the percentage is likely higher in health care as decision cycles for procedures can span 6-12 months or more. Targeting a healthcare consumer at this point is critical.

Create your journey maps and the compelling content to support the journey and stay connected through additional touches that deliver relevant content. At True North Custom, we’ve seen up to 25 percent of our total campaign conversions come from the nurturing emails we’ve deployed.

Let’s Plan Your Strategy

Let our healthcare content marketing experts help you navigate these shifts. 

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