The Battle for Better Insights: The Game Has Changed

The healthcare industry has jumped on the insight bandwagon, but that discipline is rapidly changing as online insight tools advance. Now more than ever, healthcare marketing teams need to stay at the forefront of insights or else fail to connect in a significant way.

Reaching customers in a meaningful way at the right time requires deep insights and a thorough understanding of their behavior patterns. Simply guessing—or worse—assuming what customers want isn’t an effective tool to “crack the code” and drive behavior change. Today‘s insights are derived from the triangulation of insights from a range of high and low tech tools.

Years ago, marketers and creative departments began turning to consumers earlier in the creative process to understand what mattered to their customers, explore how they made their choices and to simply better understand their lives, marking the beginning of the customer-brand relationship. Methods like focus groups and in-depth interviews fostered an intimacy between customer and brand, and allowed for formal feedback about what mattered most to customers.

As the brand-customer relationship continued to evolve, the way marketers gathered insights also evolved. For example, marketers began to use tools like ethnography, the primary tool anthropologists use to study the lived experience of individuals and cultures, and social science research to more deeply understand the human behind their customer.

These deep insights tools were embraced by companies like Procter & Gamble, which pioneered the “consumer as boss” mentality of selling, and flipped the industry on its head. Rather than “pushing” brands and products on consumers, the consumer became part of the conversation and selling strategy, baring more effective campaigns. While these methods are standard in the consumer industry, they’re still relatively underutilized in healthcare.

And then, boom, the Internet hit. Marketers began to harness knowledge from sophisticated tools used to track and analyze search patterns and leverage social listening by scanning unfiltered insights from blogs, online forums, chat rooms and video sharing sites.

While this “new data” has contributed to radically improved media planning and targeted communication strategies, used alone, it exposes us to a significant vulnerability: Without deep human insights, we don’t know the “whys” behind people’s search patterns or the “whys” behind the stories they share online. Yet again, without this essential understanding we communicate, create content and cool digital strategies without really knowing the transformational insights that will change behavior.

So today, without the triangulation of insights—social listening, search data and the deep human insights—we risk not seeing the complete picture and missing the mark with our engagement strategies. We risk not understanding the critical question of “why”—the motivations behind the searches, questions, community forum postings and how our brands can be solutions.

  • Janet Winkler

    Janet Winkler is Group President of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. Janet leads a team of inspired professionals who are motivated to drive growth for clients. More than ever that means disrupting the conventional and providing ideas and solutions that leverage technology, insights, data & analytics, and consulting services, and do so in an integrated way.


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