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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