From Personas to People: Data Gets Personal

by Thomas Crocker, Copywriter - 08/07/17


In our recent webinar, True North experts discussed how personas can help you better understand the patients and prospects you’re trying to reach—but if you don’t take the time to get to know them on a deeper, individualized level, your message could fall flat.

Recent seismic shifts in healthcare—the rise of consumer self-pay, the proliferation of non-traditional retail providers, and the wave of hospital and health system reorganization and consolidation, among others—have made some of the old standbys of healthcare marketing obsolete. Personas, however, aren’t dinosaurs—yet. Creating fictional representations of, say, the ideal orthopedic or cardiac patient still has value.

“Personas are a great way to better understand patients and prospects and make sure your messaging aligns with everything you know about them, from lifestyle habits to demographic information,” says True North Custom Chief Marketing Officer Jason Skinner. “There’s nothing wrong with personas, but marketers can get closer to customers and understand what motivates their decisions and where they are in the decision-making cycle.”

Today’s marketers have an opportunity to move beyond personas and achieve a type of (nearly) one-to-one communication their predecessors could only dream of, thanks to a greater capacity to mine data for insight.

More Information = More Individualization

Until recently, data-driven content development in healthcare had no choice but to draw on the same information that the business world used, such as age, gender, income, marital status, and presence of children.

Demographic, behavioral, and financial information is valuable if you’re trying to figure out where to send an IKEA catalogue, but it doesn’t take into account that while two neighbors may be interested in a modern kitchen, they have different needs when it comes to healthcare. The best content requires understanding the individual.

To achieve that understanding, marketers can turn to more sophisticated, nuanced data, such as social media habits, education level, language(s) spoken in the home, and hobbies, all of which can be used to communicate with individuals on a more granular level. Your organization’s goal, for example, may be to enroll likely orthopedic candidates in a seminar or screening. Using data-driven audience segmentation, you can adjust how you communicate with active people compared with those who have lost their on-the-go lifestyle and want to get it back. You can use different, highly targeted language and imagery in the print or digital space to communicate with both groups with the same goal in mind.

Seek and Deploy

Audience identification and segmentation aren’t the only tricks up data’s sleeve. Just as data can help you zoom in, they can also help you zoom out.

The ability to get granular is critical when it’s time to find specific audiences, but strategically, there’s also value in seeing entire populations so you can better understand the conditions they’re at risk for or already have but haven’t seen a physician about.

Knowing, for example, who in your market has sought treatment for back pain at, say, a retail clinic, opens up new doors for outreach. You can move beyond identifying the individuals you want to find to crafting ways to reach those you didn’t know were out there.

That’s what it means to not just use data, but to let them guide you to the right consumer.

View the webinar for more insights into how data can help your organization.


View Webinar

Topics: Audience Segmentation & Targeting

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