With today's flood of information, sending out traditional promotional mailers will not yield the same results it did just a few years ago. Instead, medical clinics need to be focusing their marketing efforts on informing patients with a personalized and relevant message.
This post was originally written for and published in Population Health Magazine, Q2-2019
When I started working on my master's degree, I read the book Social Media ROI, by Olivier Blanchard, which completely changed my thoughts on the role of marketing. One quote stood out: "...the public found in the social web a means of turning the messaging off and turning instead to what mattered to them more: relationships, trust, and conversations."
With today’s flood of information, sending out the traditional marketing messages will not yield the same results it did just a few years ago. Instead, medical clinics need to focus on informing their patients with a personalized and relevant message. This specific content can easily be circulated to your patients using database marketing tactics.
What is Database Marketing
Database marketing is the process of gathering customer information, such as name, email, address, and other information. That data is then analyzed to segment your customers into groups of a similar demo- or psychographic behaviors. Finally, using that intelligence and grouping, you can create a personalized marketing message that can be dispersed through marketing channels relevant to your customers.
Why Use Database Marketing
For a medical clinic to be admissible in today’s value-based driven market, they must bring just that — value. Value-based care isn’t only calculated by the care you give, but by the value, you bring to every aspect of your business: scheduling, billing, collections, and yes, even marketing. So with database marketing, medical offices can create value by creating content that presents the right message, to the right people, at the right time.
Starting Your Database Marketing Strategy
Data Collection, Accuracy and Decay
Collecting data for your database marketing strategy is as easy as analyzing the information you have already collected and cached inside your office’s practice management system. You should already be using a PM, similar to the PCIS GOLD® PM, to gather and store your patient’s name, phone number, email, and other demographic data. Making your PM software essential tool for your new marketing strategy.
Other tools for data collection include your patients and your employees. By working with them you can easily learn the habits, behaviors, and vocabulary styles of your patients. This can help you write content using their words and allocating resources to promote the content on the correct platforms.
Database marketing comes with its own challenges. One of those challenges is data inaccuracy, which can happen when a staff member or patient accidentally inputs their data incorrectly. It is crucial to the success of your marketing strategy to double-check that the data is correct. This can be accomplished by asking patients to verify their data when appointments are made when they are checked in, or before they leave the office.
Data decay is also a threat to your strategy. Decay happens when your data becomes outdated because your patient has experienced a life-changing event such as a change of address. Performing audits of your data and updating outdated information can help reduce the amount of data decay your database experiences.
As with any business decision you make, you first need to start by outlining and documenting your goals. Are you trying to get more patients in for immunizations or new clients into your office by using patient referrals? Understanding what you are trying to achieve will make mapping your tactical plans and content creation a lot easier as you move through the creation process.
With your goals set, you will want to create all suitable buyer (patient) personas. A buyer persona is defined as a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer. These personas will help you better understand your patients’ actions and preferences, which in turn will assist you in tailoring content to fit those specific needs, behaviors, and concerns.
Message Creation and Publication
With all the information you have gathered, you can now craft the most relevant and personalized piece of content possible. Then with the best message created, you can publish it on the best platform to get the best results. This means you have now circulated the right message, to the right people, at the right time!
Database marketing doesn’t end when an email goes out or a social post is made. Review all relevant KPIs (e.g., open rates, click through rates, reach, likes, shares, or other admissible KPIs) to determine how your message was received. Doing this will help you tweak your message and improve campaign results by making your message stronger and making patient relationships last longer.
How Database Marketing Benefits Your Clinic
The benefit of database marketing comes back to the quote I read in college. Today’s consumers (your patients) are looking to have more meaningful conversations, which in turn make lasting relationships. Offering custom content to your patients shows that you know them and care about them, turning them into more loyal patients and an advocate for your medical practice.
Loyalty isn’t the only benefit of database marketing; the data intelligence you collect can benefit you in two ways. First, you can shift marketing resources to platforms or messages that have higher results. Second, you can begin to paint a picture of how and what it takes for a patient to move through your “sales funnel” and use the information to gain new patients.
Database marketing can be tough. However, by using tools you already have in place and data you have already gathered, implementation can be easy and beneficial. By implementing the strategy of database marketing, you can improve the reach of your value-based care well beyond just the patient visit. Doing so will build stronger patient relations that will benefit your clinic’s bottom line for many years.