It has been said numerous times over the last year, but we truly are in unprecedented times. Much of 2020 has been focused on survival, especially for many healthcare organizations, and serves as a testament to human nature’s impulse to continue to overcome obstacles, learn and grow. As we move out from underneath the COVID-19 shadow and into 2021, we should seek to learn from the impacts of the pandemic to help protect our businesses and marketing operations. However, this also presents an opportunity for healthcare marketers to identify the advances and technological innovations that grew from the necessity of remote and digital transactions, and to continue to build on the foundation 2020 helped create. In this article, we address four marketing technology (MarTech) opportunities that healthcare marketers cannot afford to ignore in 2021.
Opportunity #1: Data as a collaboration tool
Understanding the return on investment (ROI) for marketing dollars has become increasingly important in light of the pandemic's economic toll. ROI should be measured in the attribution value of each interaction within the marketing funnel to total the lifetime revenue generated.
As marketing’s role continues to grow within healthcare organizations, data is the tool marketers need to break down internal silos and drive collaborative interdepartmental efforts that allow for attribution tracking. To promote collaboration, marketers need to provide stakeholders across the organization with a refined and accurate understanding of the effectiveness of spend, combined with the analysis of optimizations within the consumer’s journey. This positions marketing to not only provide insights, but to also drive forward the organization’s mission.
Opportunity #2: Automation to optimize customer experience
For many healthcare organizations, increased emphasis on automation began as a way to improve usage of personnel and marketing dollars. However, looking beyond its internal value, organizations can gain a new perspective and identify better ways to engage customers.
To put an effective automation strategy in place, healthcare organizations should focus on two core tenets:
- Optimization – Leveraging the collective power of our marketing technology allows us to provide a seamless and satisfying experience across the complexity of our healthcare ecosystem through the connection between platforms and information that can often be lost in translation between systems with human error.
- Personalization – Based on a combination of behaviors evaluated through manual tactics and emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning, marketers now have the power to create a unique consumer experience that ultimately supports loyalty and retention strategies.
Opportunity #3: Marketing-driven technology consolidation
While the idea of value from consolidation may be top of mind for cost containment, it is critical to start with an end goal of marketing needs, not solely financial needs. The biggest challenge in MarTech consolidation is the tendency to view specific services and capabilities as “redundant,” even though key features from similar platforms may create a distinct advantage.
For example, the inherent customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities of a variety of platform types can provide ways to track user behavior and communicate from various sources related to their unique use case, including:
- Traditional CRM software (Salesforce, HubSpot, etc.)
- A health system’s EHR (Epic, Cerner, etc.)
- Marketing Automation Platforms (Marketo, SFMC, etc.)
- Modern DXP (Sitecore, AEM, etc.)
Performing a technical analysis that includes the business priorities each solution provides alongside insights around usage from internal staff and vendor support is key to ensuring consolidation “progress” doesn’t lead to unforeseen gaps and limitations.
Opportunity #4: Meeting patients as consumers through personalization
As healthcare marketers, we often make the mistake of talking about healthcare’s lag in consumerization through a retrospective lens. However, comparing our current state to those of other industries in years past can lead to a sense of complacency and can continue to hinder healthcare’s ability to move forward.
Creating personalization in healthcare in a HIPAA-compliant manner is attainable, but often dismissed as impossible or a consideration years in the future. To truly become disrupters and drive the industry to catch up, healthcare organizations must properly assess business needs and marketing objectives from a forward-thinking perspective.
Leveraging a MarTech maturity timeline that provides a roadmap and milestones to achieve organizational transformation is critical to sustainable and secure growth. To drive uniquely personal experiences for patients as consumers, healthcare marketers need to start with the consumer focus in mind and outline bite-sized steps, including technology needs and incremental goals that move the needle to meet organizational long-term goals.
While it could be said of many times in human history, the world will never be the same after the events of 2020. Yet, human nature is driven by a desire to improve and evolve. As healthcare marketers, we must embrace the accelerated disruption this year brought, take advantage of the opportunities its digital transformation created, and continue to invest in 2021 and beyond.