June 13, 2024

Health Benefit

Healthy is Rich, Today's Best Investment

The key to connecting with healthcare consumers

6 min read

Consumers are taking ownership of their buying journeys more than ever. Nowhere is this shift more evident than in healthcare products and services. Today’s version of a house call is a self-directed web search from the kitchen table.

Consumers who need medical solutions set off on a robust fact-finding and vetting process long before they make purchasing decisions. 

At each step of this research for pharmaceuticals, health insurance and treatments, brands have an opportunity to build a relationship that will increase the likelihood of conversions. Acting as their own health advocates, consumers have important questions that impact their well-being, so it falls on brands to earn their trust by becoming the source for those answers — or someone else will.

The diagnosis is in the data

Patients tell the doctor where it hurts — consumers at home are doing the same with their online searches. In the search context, consumers are telling marketers exactly (and in some cases even more candidly) what their points are and what concerns or confuses them about your brand, product and market. 

Take the telemedicine category, for example, with over 27,000 monthly searches. Common queries include “What is telemedicine?” “How to use telemedicine?” and “How does telemedicine reduce costs?” Their specific pain points are right there in your analytics, assuming you are using the proper data. 

Non-telemedicine brands, like WebMD, AARP and Health Recovery Solutions, are beating traditional telemedicine brands in search visibility because they’re creating content that answers these questions. While it may seem there’s no chance to beat WebMD’s authority, challenger telemedicine brands are doing so in certain categories.

When telemedicine providers, or any health brand, cede search visibility to non-traditional competitors, they surrender their brand stories, letting non-providers control the narrative. This creates an intermediary between the consumer and provider brands. To fight back, these brands must become publishers themselves.

Dig deeper: Breaking through the noise: How brands can connect with today’s consumers

Implementing owned asset optimization 

Owned asset optimization (OAO) is an approach to digital marketing that has revolutionized brand strategies for healthcare organizations. It prioritizes consumer connection across all channels, enhances brand visibility and reputation and converts your audience into loyal customers.

Using behavior insights from search intent data, website behavior and social media metrics puts you in your consumers’ shoes so you can truly understand them. Once you’ve uncovered what matters to them, it’s time to put that knowledge to good use.

Here’s the best part — by leveraging owned digital assets, those you have complete creative and technical control of, you can give consumers the information they seek and also influence the content being created about your brand. This translates to closer, longer-term consumer relationships and better reputational control — critical elements for an industry dependent on patient and doctor trust.

Your website is at the forefront of your OAO strategy. With the right content strategy, corporate websites can become storehouses of answers, prompts, comparisons and explanations. Every touchpoint becomes an opportunity to help consumers sift through the complexities of healthcare and integrate your website deeply into that journey, regardless of how your audience may find it or where they may engage with it.

OAO allows marketers to get creative by arming them with data about what consumers want to solve and generating new touchpoints to offer prescriptive solutions to consumer problems. Here are some examples:

  • Design an infographic that dispels a common myth. 
  • Produce a short video explaining the difference between treatment A and treatment B.
  • Continually update your FAQs to reflect changing consumer questions.
  • Write blog posts on top health concerns, news and treatments.

Prioritizing owned assets is a marketing win-win, truly helping consumers make sense of options that affect their quality of life while allowing your brand to build a more productive relationship with them — one that will keep them returning to your site and company for answers.

Be wise when you optimize 

Unlike aspects of traditional marketing, OAO is audience-first. The key is to deliver what consumers need how and when they need it — even if they don’t realize they need it (yet). It’s about building an extensive network of helpful, navigable assets and letting your audience find them organically, across any channel they may bounce to or arrive from.

The content has to be of actual use to them as they explore healthcare options. Take a step back, look at the information through the consumer’s eyes and serve up difference-making content that’s user-friendly in both delivery and format.

By optimizing for common questions and intent, you can make your content more discoverable and useful in the consumer journey. Then, by reviewing and regularly improving the user experience, you create content that’s not only visible but truly resource-rich. The healthcare market is jargon-laden, so ensuring user comprehension contributes to lasting confidence in your brand.

Dig deeper: Breaking through the noise: How brands can connect with today’s consumers

A healthy dose of success

Here’s an example of how OAO can transform your healthcare marketing: Let’s say your consumers are searching “How much does telemedicine cost?” and “Top telemedicine companies.” 

They would likely benefit from a detailed chart comparing telemedicine and average doctor office visits, along with a suite of content that transparently shares telemedicine’s costs, benefits and process. By providing a distilled guide, you’ve simplified a challenging topic for your audience in a way that no one else in your space is likely doing effectively. Resources focused on consumer intent like these establish your brand as a reliable guide throughout the buying journey.

Most of your competitors are probably weighed down by permission and interruption marketing, which are brand-first rather than consumer-first. Instead of meeting consumers with what they need, these methods push brand-heavy sales tactics. In the trust-driven field of healthcare, these tactics are counterproductive.

OAO at work: A 380% increase in market share 

A leading telemedicine brand was able to drastically increase its market share in the mental health space six months after implementing an OAO strategy. They repositioned their role in the consumer journey by following these steps:

  • Analyzing consumer journeys: Mapping audience questions and needs to build a clearer understanding of who your consumers are and what you can do to help them
  • Creating an education hub: Building a variety of content to answer consumers’ questions, housed in a discoverable and brand-owned warehouse
  • Offering unique solutions: Use proprietary tools, data and insight to guide consumers through their problems in a way that competitors can’t
  • Optimizing: Continually reviewing and improving content and user experience across their owned assets

A strong marketing prognosis 

Executing OAO means offering content that solves your audience’s problems, even though the short-term result may not be a transaction. Its value leads to authentic consumer connections and increased conversions when the moment arrives.

For healthcare consumers, reaching a purchase decision is time-consuming, anxiety-inducing and complex. Be the brand that relieves these struggles.

Show your audience that you understand how healthcare choices impact their lives and that you’re there to see them through. It’s time to evolve your marketing and transform your brand with OAO.

Dig deeper: 5 tips for balancing ‘push’ and ‘pull’ in content marketing

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


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