As healthcare marketers, we are well versed in how to focus on specific customers for the best results. If you ask your fellow marketers to describe the audience for a recent marketing campaign, you’ll hear a wealth of information about gender, age and lifestyle. If they are Influence Health CRM clients, you may even hear about targeting strategies for identifying consumers by payer type, propensity for future illnesses and past medical experiences.

People often view targeting as an essential step in the planning process, but targeting should continue well beyond the point when key customers are identified, following them through the continuum of care and into wellness strategies.

There are many stages to the healthcare journey, so to make your marketing message most impactful – and improve ROI – you need to closely consider your customer’s stage in the decision cycle. Healthcare consumers typically flow through the following path:

Symptom > Diagnosis > Procedure

As an example, someone with sore knees needs very different marketing than someone who is actively seeking knee replacement options. Someone who was just diagnosed with diabetes is also in a very different place than someone considering an insulin pump. Within this journey are events such as seminar attendance, physician selection and appointment and procedure scheduling, all which can happen at different stages in the process. And of course, customers can be at different stages for different health issues.

Understanding where people are in the decision cycle should impact the following decisions in a targeting strategy:

  • The marketing channels you use
  • The marketing message you disperse
  • The keywords you target for search engine marketing (SEM)
  • The online healthcare content you create
  • The calls-to-action you share

The market is saturated with competing messages, but by clearly understanding your customer’s stage in the healthcare decision cycle can help you cut through the clutter, assist your community’s healthcare consumers and drive ROI for your organization.