Each year, HealthLink Dimensions produces a detailed survey of healthcare providers, which gives us the opportunity to track the evolution of our industry, guided by direct feedback. Each year’s results confirm some of our hunches heading into the survey—and challenge us, too, as the industry grows in fascinating and sometimes unexpected ways.
Our 2019 survey reveals that we are entering one of those transitions. While email remains the preferred means for healthcare providers to receive information, how and where they read those emails is changing. In related news, this year’s survey also demonstrates a growing willingness to accept targeted, data-driven communications through means beyond email.
What the Numbers Say
Before you delete your email marketing tools in favor of something else, you should know that the 2019 survey results confirm that email remains king for communications. Healthcare professionals overwhelmingly continue to favor it over other means of outreach. However, now those emails are read on smartphones rather than desktops, laptops, or tablets.
If this shift toward a preference for mobile communications is surprising, consider this: Increasingly, healthcare professionals are members of generations that grew up on mobile technology and always-available internet. They want answers at the touch of a finger, cleanly formatted, comfortably readable on screens of any size.
More importantly, healthcare professionals want to retain control over how and when marketers attempt to contact them. This need stems from expectations of respect, combined with an ever-increasing workload in which downtime is a highly valued commodity.
What it Means
In the non-medical world, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and ESPN are benchmarks for online usability. As digital transformations continue, healthcare marketers who aim for those standards, presenting high-caliber, easy-to-find, easy-to-consume content, will achieve an advantage over the rest of the industry.
Email presents significant limitations, especially on mobile devices: Short length, minimal formatting, no rich media. Those restrictions open the door to broader digital marketing efforts. For instance, integrated, programmatic targeting campaigns link quick, informative advertising messages to richer, deeper levels of information. Savvy marketers who employ such an integrated approach are in a position to create top of mind awareness while also piquing a willingness to click and learn. In other words, they will enable the delivery of information that their audience will welcome.
Broader digital marketing acceptance also generates openings for pass-along information, such as patient education and similar materials that patients expect their providers to share. By making the transfer of content seamless and transparent, marketing professionals gain the trust of multiple audiences and cement future growth opportunities.
Be Prepared for What’s Next
While medical marketing remains conservative compared to consumer marketing, this gap will continue to close as younger generations move into higher levels of the industry. Organizations who develop high-quality data, sophisticated digital targeting and tracking, and an integrated approach to digital marketing will have a decided advantage over their competition.
The augmentation of email with programmatic outreach and integrated digital healthcare marketing is underway. The keys to increasing engagement, both now and in the future, will be quality of information, as well as and proper context and framing for marketing outreach. Whether you manage your marketing in-house, outsource, or maintain a blend, now is the time to build the infrastructure that will capitalize on healthcare professionals’ growing acceptance of digital marketing.
The HealthLink Dimensions’ 2019 HCP Communication report offers a deeper dive into this trend, as well as other critical insights for healthcare marketers. Download your copy of the full report here.