Strategy, Health Providers

10 Compelling Characteristics of Modern Healthcare Marketing Teams

BY: Kellie Bliss | EVP Client Service, Health & Wellness Practice Leader

PUBLISHED: 3/28/2023

95% of both B2C and B2B executives say they believe their customers are changing faster than they can change their businesses. (Accenture, Life Trends 2023)

So how are you keeping up?

In our work with dozens of healthcare clients, we have a unique perspective on what’s working and what’s not. And, the one thing we know for sure, is that if you aren’t changing, you are falling behind.

More and more of our clients are collaborating with us on what needs to change and what should be prioritized to move them along the maturity curve toward a smarter, integrated, data-driven marketing ecosystem. After three years of COVID response and the current need to drive revenue and reduce cost, many marketers are ready to accelerate change.  

To that end, we’ve identified some of the most compelling ways you can activate a modern approach to marketing that will improve revenue and help reduce cost:

1. FOCUS: Better segmentation to increase relevance and impact 

While we take care of all, better segmentation of our audiences makes our work more personal, relevant, efficient and impactful. There are several ways to deliver segmentation:

Data-driven approach to decision making

Segmentation can help us better understand our existing customers and to go find more, it will help us hone the mindset targeting of our brand and our service lines and it will help us improve the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of our efforts.

Moreover, insightful and actionable segmentation enlivens a brand, provides focus on core messages, tone and targeting. If done well, it will be one of your most important catalysts to distinction and should impact service, product line and experience delivery. It will, ultimately, be a solid basis for chronic condition management with the most vulnerable populations.

2. CRUSH SILOS: “Digital” is not a sub-department of marketing anymore.

Everything is digital today - television, collateral, even print has a digital version. So save yourself and your patients, by recognizing that everyone in marketing needs to be a digital expert now and in the future. Understanding and embracing the modern marketing ecosystem of unified data, omni-channel support and a strong CRM stack, as well as integrated content and paid media is critical to future success.

Without a streamlined digital experience, the patient care journey becomes disjointed. Having a care coordinator can help, but ideally the technology and systems needed to coordinate care can ease the burden of the entire journey. 

Consumer expectation has only increased since the onset of the pandemic and will continue to rise in the coming years. The organizations who reach “the finish line” first will have a decided advantage over other health providers in a way not seen by other marketing and experiential advancements.

So, there’s no time better than the present to break down silos to create a more seamless and better integrated patient experience that drives loyalty; moreover, just over half of CEOs say that digital improvements have contributed to their overall revenue growth.

3. GO BEYOND THE FUNNEL: Time to integrate the journey with the funnel 

If you don’t know your various customer journeys or have them documented, you should. We find that comprehensive journeys are becoming cornerstones for integration - one of the toughest jobs of modern day marketers. When done well and with solid insights, these tools ensure that the patient comes first and that stakeholders are aligned to the basic assumptions of the patient experience.

Additionally, there’s an inclination to use the traditional marketing funnel in lieu of a journey. Don’t do it. They serve very different purposes and can create the wrong focus within your organization.

Our marketing strategists define it best:

4.  SURROUND SOUND PATIENTS: Bridging the Gap Between Clinical & Marketing for Chronic Conditions

With population health and value-based care, healthcare marketing needs to shift more dollars and strategies for lifestyle change initiatives, especially among the chronic condition populations. Structured lifestyle change programs have proven to have significant effects; among those with pre-diabetes, those enrolled in such a program decreased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost 60%. 

With chronic and mental health conditions accounting for 90% of annual healthcare expenditures in the US, value-based care presents a valuable opportunity to drive a renewed collaboration with high risk, chronic condition patients that includes a new operational, communications and collaboration paradigm.

5.  EMBRACE EMOTION: Build Belonging

Experts say that brands will be built by communities more and more in the future. And the benefit of communities is that they deliver on the important human need of “belonging.”  

Healthcare brands represent a unique opportunity to create belonging. Often we get distracted by focusing on the “better,” when perhaps embracing more of what we have in common can create the greatest difference.

Research shows that emotional campaigns deliver a much better ROI. The heart goes on.

6. PARTNER WITH PERMISSION: Zero-Party Data Will Improve Patient Engagement  

Today, health systems have the same aspirations as companies in any industry: to engender long-term relationships with their consumers. But with increasing restrictions around privacy and the onset of third-party cookie depreciation, brands must rely on first- and zero- party data to gain valuable information about customer’s interests and intent in order to deliver more relevant and personalized user experiences.  

These ‘owned’ data assets provide the building blocks for a future-proof data strategy. Zero-Party Data (ZPD), or explicit data, is the data a customer intentionally shares with a brand including purchase intentions; email address, telephone number, preferences and newsletter subscriptions. First-party data includes user behavior across websites and apps, in terms of clicks, scrolling, purchases, downloads, chosen language, and active time spent on a page.

With both sets of data, we have a more holistic view of audience needs to design personalized, predictive, and responsive experiences. Paired with a connected, integrated tech stack we can deliver next level healthcare marketing.


7. INVEST IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: Boosted Analytics Will Create New Insights & Opportunities

With the proliferation and evolution of digital platforms, measurement insights and optimization strategies will continue to be in high demand. Understanding both individual and synergistic channel performance will be the secret to high-performance marketing. Continued ROI measurement will require more work around the value of various patient segments as well as downstream revenue associated with a given patient type.

Brand, market, and competitive intelligence will continue to be prime in monitoring market changes, equities and liability shifts as mergers and acquisitions continue to grow.

With data privacy evolving, keen insight into new platforms will be critical to staying ahead of the ever-evolving digital landscape. 

8. PROTECT TALENT: Help Improve the Physician Experience to Deliver Better Patient NPS  

We know that patient NPS is directly related to provider NPS and engagement. We expect marketing (or HR) to partner with IT to improve the experience for team members, especially physicians. 

By optimizing the healthcare system, we can lighten the administrative burden on physicians, allowing them to devote more of their time to patient care instead - their primary goal and motivation. In today’s high-stress environment, healthcare technology can increase physician satisfaction. Technologies that drive their efficiency and engagement can, in turn, drive clinical effectiveness and positive patient outcomes. 

9. OWN EMPLOYEE DELIGHT: Redefine Your Employer Value Proposition Through Brand and Operations

All healthcare organizations will need to put their best foot forward on innovation with the employer brand experience to re-engage the talent market in the passionate work of healthcare. Operational improvements that make the lives of providers and employees better and easier - meeting them where they are - will offer employees focus on delivering value to patients and organizations. The definition or redefinition of the EVP - Employer Value Proposition - is an imperative.

10. PERSIST: Leverage the Latest in Digital Marketing to Drive Talent Acquisition

More clients are leveraging the expertise of their marketing and PR teams to drive unique approaches to more engaging, targeted talent acquisition initiatives. Almost 70% of job candidates pay attention to a company’s brand and values, highlighting the importance for coordinated efforts and outreach between marketing and HR.

Source: Institute of Practitioners of Advertising, Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era



The integration of brand and demand generation efforts will drive and sustain growth more effectively than either one on their own.

Source: Institute of Practitioners of Advertising, Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era 


Indeed, healthcare marketing is changing more dramatically than ever before, but the undulating landscape shouldn't leave you feeling stuck in quicksand without the tools to stay agile and keep pace. 

By adopting a modern approach that more effectively blends relevant data-driven decision-making, greater integration between teams, and a greater willingness to invest in deeper, more genuine connections with employees, and by extension, patients, you will be better equipped to not just survive, but thrive in this wonderfully exciting era of progress and evolution!


Please join MERGE experts at our upcoming webinar, Putting the Patient at the Center: Practical Steps to Modern Healthcare Marketing. Learn more.