Applying the 4 Stages of Consumer Behavior to the Healthcare Market

by Trevor Willingham, Copywriter - 06/28/17

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People are bombarded with messaging and content on a daily basis. How then, do you stand out from the noise, particularly with information that your patient base might be reluctant to hear? You meet them where they are in the decision-making process and tailor the message to them.  

The average person doesn’t spend a lot of daily time considering healthcare decisions—until there’s a problem. Once a medical issue does arise, patients and their families may scramble to find locations and services to best meet their needs. It can be a complicated and overwhelming process, particularly in the midst of a medical emergency or serious diagnosis.

This can also be frustrating for healthcare marketers, as messaging may be largely ignored until a patient needs care. Lay the foundation for a marketing strategy of consistent presence in the lives of potential patients by understanding the four stages of consumer behavior—Awareness, Active Evaluation, Decision Making, and Post-Purchase—that comprise the patient experience, leading to returns on your marketing dollars. 

Stage 1: Awareness

While this crowd is not actively looking for your services (yet), establishing even the most basic familiarity with a potential patient can provide a competitive advantage when it comes time for them to make a healthcare decision.

In the healthcare realm, this is the point where broad, universally appealing content can capture an audience’s attention, establishing familiarity with your brand and service lines. It might use any of a broad list of mediums, including print publications, direct mail, physician directories, digital ads, billboards, radio, television, and word-of-mouth referrals from friends, colleagues, or family.

Stage 2: Active Evaluation

When someone comes to the conclusion that they may need to visit a healthcare facility, they transition from the awareness stage to active evaluation. In this stage, potential patients typically begin researching their options.

To reach this crowd, focus on active blogs, social media accounts, and up-to-date websites. Make sure all marketing pieces include phone numbers or links to further information or landing pages to help interested parties move on to the next stage in the process.

Stage 3: Decision-making

People at this stage have not only researched you, but have expressed interest in your services. This is a crucial turning point in the process.

The key for this segment is to get them included in email or direct mail campaigns—especially if you know what they’re interested in and need. This can allow you to send very targeted emails or direct mail pieces to encourage them to act now on a specific call to action.

Stage 4: Post-purchase

For patients who agree to subscribe, newsletters can be an excellent tool for reaching this segment. Creating custom content that focuses on the patient’s areas of interest can ensure that they keep your facility in mind, not only for themselves, but for referrals as well.

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Topics: Audience Segmentation & Targeting, Content Marketing

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