Whether you’re a primary care physician, specialty practice, or other healthcare provider, finding and converting prospective patients (leads) into current patients is challenging. Healthcare consumers are encouraged (and often required) to shop around and even in saturated physician markets competition can be strong.

As with any other product or service marketing effort, a one-shot email blast to a list of prospects who have not been pre-qualified is not likely to produce ideal results. And a one-size fits all approach to web site content and social media wastes time, money and resources. That’s where marketing automation plays a huge role.

Hubspot defines marketing automation as software that helps ‘mechanize’ repetitive tasks such as emails, social media and other web site actions. In simple terms, these software tools enable you to send potential patients personalized communications and provide customized web and social media content that is targeted to their specific needs.

How does marketing automation work?

Good marketing automation takes into account the evolving needs of your leads, and the behaviors and interactions they have with you across all of your marketing channels, according to Hubspot. Using information from multiple channels such as social clicks, viewing a web page or downloading a specific piece of content, you can gain the context needed to fully understand prospective patients’ challenges and how to guide them to a buying decision.

Marketing automation software typically automates four basic tasks:

  1. Segmenting your leads – grouping your contacts by similar characteristics, and then building a strategy for each group.
  2. Targeting email content – defining the topics and tone of the emails you send.
  3. Targeting website content – reinforcing your message on every page of your website, instead of showing leads generic content or a call-to-action to take a step they’re already taken.
  4. Monitoring social & website actions – notifies you when a prospective (or existing) patient mentions your practice on social media sites, visits your Services pages or returns to your web site after a period of absence. With this knowledge, you can follow-up with the prospect quickly with targeted messaging.

Marketing automation also gives you the power to look beyond trends. You can access stored data centered on your prospects’ behavior (views, registrations, downloads etc.), giving you real-time analysis of the each marketing campaign’s effectiveness.

Traditional vs. inbound marketing automation

Traditional marketing automation usually involves little more than triggering emails at certain times or as a result of email opens and email clicks.  But this approach fails to give you any context about prospects, including their interests and where they are in the decision process, or ‘sales funnel.’ Inbound marketing automation, by contrast, uses all the information you know about the prospects to understand their wants and needs. This kind of marketing intelligence enables you to deliver them the information they need to make a decision, exactly when they need that information, in the place they’re looking for it.

The bottom line

Good marketing automation considers your prospects’ evolving needs, behaviors, and interactions they have with your practice, across email, your web site and social media. While marketing automation does not do the actual marketing and lead generation for you, it can help you create and deliver relevant, targeted content that addresses prospective patients’ needs and challenges. And differentiate you from your competitors. You’ll need both components to build your practice.

Sources:

https://www.marketo.com/marketing-automation/

http://www.associationadviser.com/index.php/marketing-automation-platform/

Hubspot: “Getting Started with Marketing Automation”

http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-automation-information

Topics: Healthcare, Healthcare Marketing