Posted: May 18, 2017

Horizontal martech (marketing technology) products, of which there are nearly 4,000, usually come in the form of catch-all platforms, designed to meet the B2C digital marketing requirements of a variety of companies and industries — with an emphasis on collecting consumer-centric data across channel and using that data to personalize offers and messaging in real-time. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, when it comes to healthcare marketing, these platforms fail to address the nuances and rules that make our jobs infinitely more challenging than any other industry. If we’re being completely honest with each other for a minute (and we can, since we’re all friends here):

  1. Your organization is breaking new ground when it comes to delivering an exceptional, multi-channel consumer experience. Even if horizontal martech vendors provided all the data and technology you needed, they can’t help you think through the use cases and implement the user experiences that will make you super successful.
  2. You’re not being asked to sell life jackets or oars to an audience segment that bought a kayak last week; and a BOGO campaign on joint replacement is highly unlikely to generate the type of positive response your surgeons are expecting. Your targeting requirements and campaign offers are much different than retail or hospitality.
  3. Your bariatric customers aren’t going to drop a surgical procedure into an online shopping cart and pay for it with a credit card; a lot of your transactions end in a phone call and the “sale” can come 3, 6, 9, or even 12 months down the road, making online vs. offline and downstream ROI measurement infinitely more difficult.
  4. Hospital websites are used less and less for information gathering and have become highly transactional in nature. It’s unlikely a horizontal solution offers an advanced provider directory, secure appointment request application, events management system, or clinical trials module that will meet the expectations of your site visitors.
  5. You're trying to communicate about serious, intimate health conditions and/or risks, but personalization requires insights into personal data and preferences. So when it comes to PHI, you need to tread carefully and comply with much more complex regulations.

Horizontal martech solutions work in other industries because they use data that isn't considered sensitive or regulated by HIPAA, and their ability to predict what someone will buy next is much easier based on recent purchases. They also offer a lot of real-time promotions meant to drive instant demand for tangible, consumable products that are purchased directly by consumers during a site visit. In healthcare, these are precisely the reason why these solutions won't work without significant customization and intensive effort.

Healthcare marketing platforms, however, have been designed with features and capabilities that directly address the highly regulated and specific complexities we must tackle, such as:

• Clinical and consumer demographic and psychographic data integration that feeds into powerful predictive models for advanced condition and service-line based targeting to improve campaign response
• Sophisticated suppression logic to control consumer exposure to sensitive messages – for example, you wouldn't want to send a breast cancer screening mailer to someone who has previously had a double mastectomy or a diabetic foot care message to a double amputee
• PHI-compliant forms and secure databases to avoid unauthorized release or hacking
• The ability to control access to PHI to appropriate users across the enterprise so system users not authorized to view PHI can't see it, such as call centers, marketers, or certain facilities
• Personalization and sensitivity rules for Facebook Ad imagery and copy, ensuring compliance with the social media platform’s marketing partnership requirements
• Integration with third-party credentialing systems for integration of provider data to display in the provider directory and on provider bio pages
• Healthcare-specific applications and modules like Find a Doc, clinical trials, classes & events, appointment requests, provider ratings, and more
• The ability to calculate ROI for offline procedures — and the ability to track a consumer from responder to lead, from lead to qualified lead, from qualified lead to scheduled appointment, from appointment to procedure, and from procedure to insurance payment, figuring in contribution margin if required by your CFO
• The ability to track the spend and efficacy of traditional channels like print, radio, and billboards so you can demonstrate their effectiveness and optimize your spend by channel for all channels

Simply put, healthcare marketing needs a nuanced platform that handles complex, secure data form a vendor partner that can augment the technology with a hands-on approach that, by design, broad market solutions are unable to provide.

Looking for more tips and insight on healthcare-specific marketing tactics? Download our Healthcare Digital Marketing Toolkit.