Too often, the complex regulatory framework of healthcare marketing leaves us behind our colleagues in the world of mainstream consumer marketing. In our ongoing series, Let’s Do It for Healthcare, we look at a mainstream marketing campaign or trend at the intersection of messaging, media, and technology, and consider its implications for healthcare.
There is a cocktail bar in midtown Manhattan that has no menu. When you sit down, a waiter will have a conversation with you about your preferences. Lighter or darker liquor? Whiskey or bourbon? Sweet or bitter? Fruit or no fruit? They’ll take your preferences back to the cocktail maestro behind the bar, who will draw on their expert knowledge of hundreds of cocktails to come up with something that fits your preferences. On any given night, most of the people in the bar are probably sipping on a different cocktail—a cocktail far more suited to their tastes than they would have found on a set menu.
The marketing of the future is going to be just as personalized—though far less rarified. Already today’s rigid, linear websites are giving way to more fluid, dynamic platforms. These new sites shift and morph as they learn about a user’s preferences and interests, offering up content, visuals, and copy that is curated for relevance to the viewer, to create a personalized experience.
Mainstream marketing is beginning to do this to great effect. Take airforce.com, the recruiting website of the United States Air Force. Although you wouldn’t know it from perusing the site, under the surface the gears and cogs are whirring to make your experience of airforce.com personal. With every action a user takes—every click, every selection, every text input—the site is learning about that user, and with each new piece of information, the site’s UX fluidly adapts, matching what it knows about the user against a database of pre-built user personas. Not only is the site able to direct the user to more relevant pages, it can serve up specific images, headlines, and body copy, making every page as relevant to the individual user as possible. Through personalization, the site aims to present candidates with realistic career options, in order to enlist the most-qualified candidates in the most suitable roles.
The possibilities for personalization in healthcare are vast, and still untapped. We could create an educational site for breast cancer patients that shifts the emotional tone of its content—images and language—depending on whether it believes the user is a patient with stage 1 disease, or a patient with stage 4 disease. Those are very different patients, in very different emotional states, with very different interests, needs, and concerns—their experiences of the site should be different too. A site like this can dynamically drive people toward a desired action, rather than offering a single user flow, increasing the likelihood of the user clicking through to a branded site, or signing up for an RM program.
As we increasingly target customers at the individual level, the messages and content we deliver to them should become more and more personalized. Personalization creates vastly more effective experiences for users, and effective experiences mean a greater likelihood of action and adoption. With personalization, the Air Force increased the conversion of airforce.com visitors to enlistment applications by 60%. Imagine what we could do with personalized marketing in our industry—after all, what is more personal than healthcare?
Our colleagues in mainstream consumer marketing are using technology to create personalized online experiences for their customers today. Let’s do it for healthcare.
If you want to talk about what a personalized website could do for your brand, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.