Segment or Stagnate: The Importance of Targeted Health Care Marketing

There’s a fine line between mediocre and exceptional marketing. While no magic formula exists, organizations that experience the most success all have one thing in common: a deep understanding of their audiences—plural—and how to communicate with them.

This knowledge allows marketers to create personalized experiences and tailored messaging, both of which play a key role in exceeding customer expectations: 71% of consumers expect organizations to deliver personalized communications and solutions, and 76% get frustrated when that doesn’t happen. And the impact doesn’t stop at marketing effectiveness; it can influence the bottom line, too, as organizations that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than competitors that don’t.

In health care, marketing to targeted audiences can mean persuading patients to choose a specialist at your facility instead of a provider in another community or reaching the operational decision-makers whose challenges your technology solves.

Delivering relevant, meaningful messaging requires you to assess and segment your audience into smaller subgroups and tailor your communications tactics accordingly. First, you must identify the criteria you’ll use, which can range from basic demographics—age, gender identity, geographic location, socioeconomic status—to more nuanced identifiers, such as industry, job title, organizational affiliation and other specific behaviors or communication patterns.

If this sounds daunting, it can be—but the right strategist can help. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Define a specific goal

The more targeted your goal, the more effective your communications will be. While your goal may be to acquire patients, for example, that’s not specific enough. it’s important to dig several layers deeper to access and convert the right audience. How many new patients do you need to acquire to reach your goal? Are you trying to grow a particular service line or physician practice?  Do you require physician referrals? Step one is to describe your objective in as much detail as possible and use it to inform the audiences you wish to reach and the types of messages most relevant to these groups.

Start with 1-2 key segments

If growth or brand awareness is a priority for your health care business, it can be tempting to broadcast your message to anyone and everyone. But you’re guaranteed to see better results if you stick to one or two populations in the beginning before expanding into other segments. Once you see some initial progress, you can use these early wins to build a strong business case, gain buy-in from others in your organization to justify your marketing budget and, eventually, adjust and replicate the strategy across additional audiences.

From investors and vendors to physicians and patients, a single health care organization often communicates with multiple stakeholder groups at any given time. These relationships will produce different data that organizations can then use for audience segmentation and message targeting. Analyzing information from your patient databases, email newsletter subscriptions, previous customers or past sales can be instrumental in forming your marketing messaging for new campaigns.

Another tool organizations of all stripes have at their fingertips is frontline employees. Your customer-facing team members have a wealth of information when it comes to audience-specific pain points, frequently asked questions and areas of concern. Use these sources of knowledge to your advantage when creating tailored content.

Track progress

Your audience segmentation strategy is only as good as the process you use to track its progress. As with any marketing push or communications campaign, tracking defined metrics is critical to your program’s success. Take advantage of the built-in tracking tools within your email platform, social media channels or website dashboard that allow you to analyze engagement. Use this information to further segment audiences (or to course correct if your messages aren’t reaching the right people at the right time) and to inform future outreach.

One crucial yet often overlooked component in this process is empathy. By simply putting yourself in the proverbial shoes of your patients, customers or prospective employees, you can better discern their true needs and how to meet them. Whether it’s a patient seeking information about a condition they don’t yet understand or a person struggling with a personal health problem, some members of your audience may be navigating a challenging time. An informative, empathetic and respectful message from a trusted health care provider can make all the difference on their path to reaching a solution.

If you’re ready to embark on or reassess your approach to audience segmentation, reach out to us at