By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
A large part of how we plan our marketing strategies involves taking into account predicted trends for the upcoming year.
Looking back at my predictions for 2020, I’m intrigued by the speed at which some of these projections materialized.
As we look forward to a new year in marketing, I know the competition will be fierce and that only those health and wellness brands with solid marketing strategies will survive, let alone thrive in 2022.
So what does the new year bring for healthcare organizations?
I believe there are five significant healthcare marketing trends to know in 2022.
Whether you are looking for ways to refresh your existing strategy or on the hunt for entirely new ways to reach your audience, my 2022 trends are strategic areas to explore as you seek to boost your marketing returns in the year ahead.
But before we dive into the trends, it’s essential to understand why marketers consider trends in the first place.
While they come and go, trends play a vital role in marketing.
Here are three key reasons it’s imperative to keep on top of these projections:
Three Reasons Healthcare Marketing Trends Matter for Your Bottom Line
- You’re not in the driver’s seat. Patients and caregivers are. Expectations for personalized and convenient products and services are at an all-time high. With information at their fingertips, patients are now 100 percent involved in their healthcare choices.
- Innovation wins. By starting with the product, savvy marketing organizations will disrupt the status quo to build a solution that meets today’s new reality. By considering the customer’s experience with the brand, they go beyond lip service by taking patient feedback seriously and caring about issues deeply. They are also keeping a pulse on future trends by watching the younger generation’s online behavior.
- Healthcare continues to consolidate and run as a business. With private equity leading the race, the significant consolidation and innovation continue to grow faster, with barely any signs of slowing down from the pandemic. Doctor-led groups are also rising to compete. As these multilocation entities start to scale, they begin to bring on executive leadership to help differentiate themselves from alternative healthcare providers. As a priority for the organization, marketing presents numerous opportunities to grow the business by creating value and revenue generation.
For all these reasons, healthcare organizations have the opportunity to level up their marketing strategy.
5 Most Important Healthcare Marketing Trends for 2022
#1: Multigenerational and multicultural marketing will become more sophisticated
If you haven’t already, it’s time to embrace multigenerational and multicultural marketing. Both appeal to a patient population’s tastes, attitudes, and buying behaviors.
Here are considerations for approaching multigenerational and multicultural marketing with a more authentic message:
- Who is/are your targeted audience(s)? Are you casting a wide net across seven generations or spearfishing for a specific demographic?
- What do they want from their provider or health organization? Do they want a healthcare service that is accessible 24/7 or a provider who knows them by name?
- Where do you communicate with them? Through billboards and TV or social media and OTT/streaming services?
- Why should they choose you? Once you know who you want to target, what sets you apart from alternative providers?
- How do you communicate with them? Do they still live in an analog world, a digital one, or a little of both?
#2: Healthcare consumers will turn to integrated healthcare systems
Why do today’s healthcare consumers seek out integrated systems? In a word, convenience. They want access to the services they want, when and where they need them. As consumers look more to integrated healthcare systems — where they have access to retail, urgent care, primary care, and hospitals — traditional hospital systems and large group practices will feel this pressure to expand their services.
#3: Telehealth will be a service, not a temporary solution
A viable alternative and the only care option during the height of the pandemic, telehealth has naturally cooled off a bit. Still, it will remain an excellent option for behavioral health and specialty care. According to McKinsey, telehealth is used 38 times more than pre-pandemic days. This new model will be a norm for the future customer experience as it offers convenience, access, privacy, and efficiency.
#4: Marketers will increasingly embrace integrated marketing campaigns instead of digital-only efforts
A couple of decades ago, traditional advertising ruled the marketing world. Back then, there simply were no viable media options besides television, radio, print (e.g., newspapers and magazines), outdoor and yellow pages.
Of course, consumer behavior has changed wildly since then. Today’s time-stressed, internet-savvy consumers now have unlimited options to consume content and shop for goods online. Not surprisingly, the marketing pendulum has swung so hard toward digital that many marketers have essentially forgotten traditional advertising altogether.
Who can blame them? After all, audiences are incredibly fragmented, and it can be tough to cost-effectively reach prospective customers in our modern world.
Take me, for example. This past weekend I watched my alma mater play their season finale on the second window on my computer screen while I was working. Later, I time-shifted the second half by recording it via my streaming service (Hulu) to watch the rest of the game on my TV that evening without distractions.
So, suppose you are trying to reach educated, tech-savvy consumers like me. In that case, you should probably start with a combination of digital strategies such as paid social, paid search, SEO, and programmatic advertising, including connected TV (CTV) and geofencing.
Still, that doesn’t mean traditional advertising is dead. That same day I saw billboards and listened to the radio while driving. I also flipped through one of my wife’s magazines and received a direct mail promotion.
More importantly, while I am a “sample size of one,” I am not alone. Virtually every time our agency places multiple layers of traditional and digital media for our client’s marketing campaigns, our tracking shows better overall results.
For example, while direct attribution isn’t always easy, we often see significant increases in search activity and direct website traffic immediately after running broadcast ads. We see similar effects digitally – when we run paid social, retargeting, and programmatic campaigns, inquiries from search and direct traffic correspondingly go up.
What’s more, we often seek to build brands profitably through integrated campaigns. For example, we might target a 5:1 ROI goal for digital strategies but establish a 2:1 ROI goal for our broadcast TV campaign. Why? Because the right creative can often generate leads and build the brand “for free” simultaneously.
#5: The social media advertising landscape will continue to evolve
While the dominant player for years, Facebook has received a lot of black eyes lately. Last year, the #StopHateforProfit campaign sparked an advertiser boycott of Facebook due to the “repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms.” More recently, whistleblower Frances Haugen unveiled some of Facebook’s (and sister company) Instagram’s unethical business practices.
Large retail brands and other organizations, including a few of our healthcare clients, have decided to pull their Facebook/Instagram ads as a result. Meanwhile, according to Ad Age, other “Facebook Advertisers See No Choice But to Stick With the Platform.”
In any event, marketers are increasingly open to other social media platforms as they flourish and evolve. Now with over 130 million active users in the US, Tik Tok continues to enjoy spectacular growth. In fact, it now boasts more weekly users among Gen Z Youth (currently aged 12-17) than Instagram.
Meanwhile, with over 126 million unique monthly viewers, YouTube is by far the most popular online video property in the United States. What’s more, unlike some other platforms, YouTube appeals to users of all ages.
Of course, other platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest all enjoy millions of users as well.
The healthcare industry—including pharmaceutical and device manufacturers, health systems, hospitals, and doctors—will continue to carefully navigate ways to use social media for the benefit of patients, the general public, and professional colleagues.
Navigating Healthcare Marketing in 2022 and Beyond
When the world shut down in 2020, healthcare organizations quickly pivoted with innovative ways to address their patients’ needs and concerns. Despite these turbulent times, consumers and patients have not only adapted but are driving many of these initiatives.
In 2022, marketers who adapt to new opportunities that serve the healthcare consumer will retain patient loyalty and engagement for their healthcare brand. As the year draws to an end, consider what initiatives you can do to provide the experience busy patients deserve in the age of consumerism.