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Initial Insights from Our Digital Marketing in Healthcare Survey

Healthcare Digital Marketing investments and success limitations

Part of my job as a strategist — and no doubt part of yours as well — is to maintain an awareness of how marketing is changing, how the industry is changing and how our competitive environment is changing. I call this the “market context” in which we work, and the fact that it’s ever-evolving is what makes this profession so interesting.

An understanding of the market context is also essential when deciding where — and where not to — invest our marketing dollars. These decisions are at the heart of strategy, and can result in growth for your healthcare brand (and patient census) or stagnation while your competition eats away at your market share.

And this is why I look forward to the comprehensive Digital Marketing Survey we conduct every few years. Not only does it collect strategic insights from across the healthcare marketing industry, but we invest in making sure all healthcare marketers have access to the resulting analysis.

I’d like to share a couple examples with you. If these hold when the full results are in, they will be important to you as you plan and adjust your marketing strategy going forward.

Let’s start with budget.

Your Competition Is About To Invest More In Digital Marketing

Chart with healthcare digital marketing budget expectations for next 12 months

Take a look at the graph above. In some cases, overall marketing budgets are increasing. But even when they are not, the share devoted to digital marketing is expected to rise. To be clear: a full 60% of healthcare organizations are expecting to invest more in digital marketing initiatives in the coming year. And it’s a much needed change. As consumers look to interact digitally with healthcare brands, brands are increasingly shifting some of their focus from billboards to bits.

We’re seeing some tantalizing hints that healthcare organizations will be spending some of this new budget on direct hires for their digital marketing teams. The survey suggests they are looking to buy expertise in some key areas and in new digital experiences designed to improve patient acquisition and retention. The precise details of each of these will have to wait until the survey concludes, but suffice it to say that many organizations appear to be growing their digital repertoire in ways predicted by other industries with a consumer focus.

This means that you can expect your competition to invest more in digital marketing than they have in the past, and they will be building new digital experiences to help recruit patients. The question before you is: will you be a leader or a laggard in this space?

What Limits Your Success?

Chart with agency and healthcare marketers single greatest barriers preventing success

Take a moment to review the above chart. Anything stand out?

There are a few things to note, but the thing I find staggering is this: agencies clearly think the single biggest impediment to marketing success for healthcare brands is the lack of [effective] strategy.

Meanwhile, healthcare marketers say, “No. Our strategy is fine. We just don’t have the budget we need [to execute].”

Since we know from the previous questions that healthcare marketing teams are going to be increasing budget and some specific areas in which they want to spend, it appears we may be about to see which side is right.

If it’s merely a matter of budget, we’ll see improvement concurrent with the increases in investment the survey predicts. But if it’s really a strategy problem, then healthcare brands won’t get the return on investment (ROI) bigger budgets should bring.

The survey is now closed and we’re busy analyzing data. Request early access to our 2016 Digital Marketing Trends in Healthcare eBook and get the data you need to compete.

Initial Insights from Our Digital Marketing in Healthcare Survey