Overcoming the dearth of data in healthcare.

We all know that data drives great marketing. But in the healthcare industry, that data can be hard to come by. So how can you still create impactful campaigns? A little bit of instinct and a lot of experience. Here is how to get the most out of your healthcare marketing, even when you’re flying blind.

Doctor with clipboard

Why no info?

Healthcare is a sensitive industry. Customers don’t want their medical history to be accessible to anyone. And federal protections make sure that’s the case. HIPAA, a law standardizing the disclosure of health information, makes sure that your protected health information isn’t being misused.

But what’s really interesting, is that even in the information age where data is gold, healthcare systems are actually going above and beyond HIPAA regulations to make sure patient data remains safe. Is visiting a healthcare system website healthcare data? Is that ethical to track? Healthcare systems are erring on the side of caution, rightfully so, and clamping down on tracking.

According to MKR Director, Marketing Analytics & Operations Michael Krieger, “There is widespread reticence to track advertising and website activity in the same manner as other industries.” And that combination of federal regulation and moral stance means that, in healthcare, there’s less data for marketers to utilize compared to other less-private industries.

No data? No problem.

The bottom line is that efficient healthcare marketing can be more challenging because of a lack of data. So what do you do? “You get back to the basics,” says Media Supervisor Jason Brewer. “When you don’t have the algorithmic bells and whistles to do your targeting for you, you have to trust your expertise and your experience.”

As always, know your audience. It’s something every marketer should have tattooed on the back of their eyelids. Just because there’s less data, doesn’t mean there’s nothing at all. You can look to third-party resources to gather insights and create personas. You can look at demographic breakdowns of different channels to further segment your efforts.

Michael explains, “Maybe you learn someone who practices yoga is more likely to schedule an annual exam. Or that the demographic that might need a certain procedure over-indexes on a specific social media platform. Suddenly you have the beginning of a targeted audience.”

And without the data-driven insights of other industries, you can’t retarget an audience, meaning your awareness messaging is much more important. “Since you can’t retarget people, you have to keep your patient pool full with awareness messaging,” Jason states. “It has to be higher funnel. People need to know about the crazy new robot surgeon or the world-class doctor or the brand new treatment.”

Doctor reviewing chart with patient

How do you know if you’re right?

While you might not have exact numbers to prove it, there are a few key ways to know if what you’re doing is working. First, listen to what the audience is saying. Audiences might not always tell you if you’re succeeding, but they often tell you when you’re not. “We see comments all the time that say, Why am I getting this ad?” Michael shares. “And that’s an important tool. That’s when you go back and see where you can evolve, where you can fine tune.”

And most importantly, a strong relationship between a healthcare client and their marketing agency is the best way to know if it’s working. They know the needs of the system better than anyone, and having open communication before and after a campaign is how a marketer can know that they’ve hit it out of the park.

If you’re interested in an experienced marketing partner who knows the ins and outs of your industry and can turn any amount of data into measurable success, we’re always here to talk.