The Buyer’s Journey Part 2: Interaction

by Tim Hanners - 10/23/15

Now that we’ve discussed engaging your audience with compelling content, the next step is to facilitate sustained and meaningful interactions in a high emotion/risk decision cycle.

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The “retailization” of health care is a trending topic, but how can retail tactics apply to the complex healthcare purchasing cycle?

How Customers Convert

There are three stages to the consumer decision cycle: engagement, interaction, and conversion.

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In a retail environment, the perfect buyer’s journey could looks something like this from the customer’s perspective:

  1. I have a problem.
  2. I go online to research solutions.
  3. I identify retailers that provide solutions to my problem.
  4. When I visit the retailer, I am easily able to decide on the product/service that will solve my problem.
  5. I purchase the product/service.
  6. I am delighted by how the product or service solves my problem.
  7. I subscribe to receive relevant updates and information from my trusted retailer to solve future problems—and likely share those updates with others who might have a similar problem.

The conversion results in an ongoing relationship where the retailer has established their brand as a trusted resource for the customer.

How Does This Apply to Health Care?

The process for healthcare consumers takes more time. Unless dealing with an emergency situation, patients don’t typically “buy now” with a swipe of their credit card because elective or less urgent procedures require extensive consultation and research.

Nurturing your target audience, which occurs during all three phases of the buyer’s journey, means providing helpful and relevant content that solves your customer’s problems. This helps ensure you stay top-of-mind during the decision cycle and are the best choice when they are ready to convert.

Because health care is never “one size fits all,” the path to conversion looks a bit different.

Healthcare Conversion Paths

There are two types of conversion paths for healthcare consumers: the active conversion path and the passive conversion path.

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An example of the active conversion path could be patients with an acute condition requiring an immediate solution. These patients need to know if you can help them and who to call to make an appointment. The primary focus of the active conversion path is to quickly convert leads (customers with a problem they need to solve quickly) into delighted patients.

An example of the passive conversion path could be a patient who has dealt with knee pain for years and is unsure if surgery is the right solution. There is a clear problem, but there are multiple solutions and the patient does not need to make a decision immediately. The primary focus of the passive conversion path is generating demand. 

Generating Demand for Your Hospital’s Services

First, you must build awareness of your brand, then provide helpful interactions to establish trust, and then, finally, make conversion easy and frictionless when patients are ready to take action.

In order to nurture healthcare consumers along the demand generation path, hospital marketers need to provide content that meets their target consumers where they are in the buyer’s journey, where they want to consume that content. Ask yourself: “Will this content be useful and interesting to readers?” If the answer is anything but “yes,” don’t create it.

Some examples of digital marketing that nurtures consumers at all stages of the buyer's journey are Texas Health Resource’s Are You a Well Being? and Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials

You can read more about Cleveland Clinic’s strategy in the fall issue of Insight Magazine.

Ready to meet your patients and prospects where they are in the buyer's journey—and generate more demand for your hospital’s service lines?

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