The digital age has been both a blessing and a curse for marketers, particularly those in healthcare marketing. With the average American adult now spending more than 11 hours per day, looking at a screen – whether it is handheld, on a monitor or television – marketers have an enormous potential audience. But here’s the rub: the human attention span has shortened to a mere 8 seconds. This challenge is further amplified in healthcare, where consumers are either specifically trying to avoid a healthcare service (i.e. trying to stay healthy and not get sick) or lack the health literacy to know that remaining healthy requires proactive efforts to improve one’s overall health and wellbeing.
Here are 3 trends for how healthcare marketers can capture fleeting attention spans (spoiler: it should not be all digital) and common mistakes for each of these trends.
Use a multi-channel communication approach for more effective and measurable outcomes. In the past, healthcare marketers relied heavily on more traditional forms such as print, direct mail, television advertising, etc. that were hard to measure. And while these are still important assets for any marketer’s toolkit, they must recognize that different people want to consume information in many different and new ways. Understand what your population or target group’s communication preferences are, by either asking directly (ex. a survey) or by using consumer data and advanced analytics to predict what their communication preferences are and then, confirm those preferences with your consumers.
Adopting a multi-channel communication is great, but NEVER ask for communication preferences and then not respect them. This is, in fact, worse than not asking at all. For example, how frustrating is it when you receive snail mail communications when you have signed up for e-statements? And remember, people’s preferences may change over time so continue to confirm preferences with your consumers.
It’s all about videos – short videos to be exact. Thanks to the age of digital and always-on news, our collective attention spans are far shorter than even just a few years ago. With so many things competing for attention, healthcare organizations are just one of a hundred other entities vying for a consumers’ attention. However, healthcare is unique in that it’s typically something that people don’t want to think about unless it’s a positive moment (ex. having a baby). People don’t want to be sick or think about being sick – and thus they are not necessarily seeking your service. Until they need it, of course. Healthcare marketers must thus fight harder to grab a consumer’s attention. Videos can offer a quick and easy way to communicate with your audience and get them to want to learn more.
While the video is a top trend, the biggest mistake we see in healthcare marketing is videos that are far too long. Healthcare is complex and it is hard to synthesize. But a video should be no longer than 2 minutes and ideally shorter. As a marketer, you must deliver your message succinctly and really get to the point. Grab your audience’s attention off the bat. Marketers also need to generate a call to action in these videos. Remember, the goal is not to tell your audience everything but to invite them to ask for more.
Whether it’s a video or other content, all messages must be personalized and served up with the right content and in the right way. This is especially important for healthcare marketers. It is particularly important to not fall into a trap of creating personalized messages solely on what has occurred in the past – such as using retrospective clinical and claims data. You need to use non-healthcare data and predictive analytics and figure out what’s going to happen in the future given that 70% of what drives people’s health status is what is beyond the four walls of the doctor’s office.
This is particularly important for healthcare: personalization is not segmentation. Healthcare is personal. In some instances, such as the clinical guidelines for ensuring women over the age of 40 obtain mammograms, segmentation makes sense. But if you have 2 women working at the same company in their 40s, they could easily be coming from very different situations. One may have diabetes and is taking care of her elderly parents at home and is super stressed. The other may have 2 young children and is trying to lose weight. What these two women want and need from a health and wellbeing perspective are likely vastly different – yet they are both women in their 40s living and working in the same area.
As professionals in a rapidly evolving space, marketers – particularly those in healthcare– know that they can’t do it alone. Work with partners who can apply all of the above and help your programs generate the results you want and value your patients deserve.