Health Providers, Strategy

The Essentials Of Modern Marketing Integration

MERGE offers perspective on what healthcare organizations need - and need to overcome - in order to implement a modern integrated marketing ecosystem that is focused driving performance through a customer-centric approach

BY: Kellie Bliss | EVP Client Service, Health & Wellness Practice Leader

PUBLISHED: 9/28/2023

The concept of the integrated marketing ecosystem has gained plenty of traction in recent years. This approach transcends the traditional focus on channel strategies, instead emphasizing the delicate orchestration of data, technology, insights, and customer experience across the entire marketing landscape. For healthcare providers in particular, understanding the imperatives and barriers of this modern integrated marketing ecosystem is crucial in driving performance across the full customer journey.

At the heart of a fully integrated marketing ecosystem lies the seamless flow of data between various marketing channels, with a steadfast commitment to ensuring data privacy. This data-driven approach enables healthcare providers to deliver a unified and personalized experience to their audience. It's important to recognize that achieving this level of integration doesn't happen overnight. Instead, it typically starts with a proof of concept – a tailored project that demonstrates feasibility and, more importantly, the value (be it ROI or another business-driving efficiency) being afforded by the healthcare provider.

Designing the Right Proof Of Concept

Creating a successful proof of concept hinges on several key considerations:

1. Viability: This involves evaluating the existing connections between marketing channels and the availability of data. It's about ensuring that the necessary infrastructure is in place to support integrated marketing efforts.

2. Value/Validation: Healthcare providers must ask whether their integrated efforts result in a superior customer experience. Are they delivering something that consumers truly appreciate? This step is vital in demonstrating the tangible benefits of integration.

3. ROI: Aligning business priorities across the organization is essential. The ROI of integrated marketing efforts should be clear and consistent with the overall goals of the healthcare provider. Avoid operating within silos.

Keep in mind, however, that no two proofs of concepts are identical. They must be tailor-made, as they need to account for the specific nuances of the healthcare provider's industry, organizational structure, and challenges. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to integration!

Notable Imperatives and Barriers That Call for Proof of Concept

Barrier: Difficulty Exploiting Technology

One common challenge healthcare providers face is effectively leveraging technology. While many organizations have access to advanced marketing tools and technologies, they often struggle to maximize their utilization. Addressing this issue requires a concerted effort within your own team. Demonstrating the tangible benefits and value of technology is essential for gaining support and securing necessary budget allocation within an organization.

Imperative: Acknowledge Existing Efforts

To make integration more manageable, it's essential to start with what your organization is already doing. For instance, if your organization launches successful email campaigns, the next step might be integrating email with other adjacent channels like landing pages. From there, the combination of strong email campaigns, plus a more creatively matched landing page, can improve your click-thru rate, which is ultimately going to improve your CTA performance on the landing page. This approach ensures that the synergy between channels lifts overall performance.

Imperative: Addressing the User Experience

The user experience is paramount in the healthcare industry and the experience you provide should account for both anonymous and known audiences coming to your site. For anonymous audiences, how are you nudging them toward becoming known? For known audiences, who do you have permission to reach out to, and how are you effectively serving them? 

At the end of the day, integrated marketing efforts should focus on providing a seamless, user-centric journey. This involves understanding how customers engage with various touchpoints and optimizing those experiences. For example, if a prospective patient starts a task like scheduling a mammogram but doesn't complete it, the integrated approach should nurture them towards task completion.

Barrier: Lack Of Technology Personnel

In many cases, healthcare marketers are not equipped with the technical skills required for seamless integration. They may understand the technology conceptually but lack the expertise to implement it. It's often necessary to involve IT professionals or engineers to bridge the gap between technology and marketing.

Imperative: Defining KPIs and Measurement Plans

One imperative to overcome this barrier is to clearly define key performance indicators (KPIs) and establish a robust measurement plan. This ensures that the integrated efforts are trackable and allow for continuous optimization. Data should be analyzed holistically, breaking down silos between teams like email, web, and app, to demonstrate the impact across the entire customer journey.

Ultimately, a fully integrated marketing ecosystem for healthcare providers is about more than just channels; it's about that critical aforementioned blend of data, technology, insights, and the customer journey. Though technological challenges and the lack of tech-savvy personnel can stand in the way of success, these hurdles can be cleared with alignment and an honest evaluation of your team’s shortcomings. Relatedly, taking necessary action in addressing what your team is already doing, defining KPIs, and prioritizing the user experience can get your organization closer to bringing its modern integrated marketing ecosystem to life. 

By embracing these imperatives and breaking down barriers, healthcare providers can unlock the full potential of integrated marketing, enhancing their ability to serve and engage their patients.