6 top 2014 healthcare marketing trends

Younger consumers and digital technology will drive six healthcare marketing trends in 2014, according to a new whitepaper released by New York-based agency Smith & Jones.

As healthcare becomes more personalized and patient-centered, the whitepaper argues, so too will marketing strategies. The younger generation drives many of these trends, such as an emphasis on: 

  • New media: Younger patients are far more receptive to online platforms for healthcare information, illustrating the need for marketing strategies that integrate offline, online and mobile messaging.

  • Brand: Younger patients prefer established healthcare brands, so marketers must emphasize brand messaging, positive patient experiences and reputation-building. Branding is also essential for individual hospitals and healthcare systems in an era of increased mergers, acquisitions and consolidation.

  • Self-directed decisions: Although older consumers remain receptive to physician marketing and referral initiatives, these strategies "promise […] diminishing returns with younger audiences who tend to make their own care decisions," according to the whitepaper.

With the increasing prevalence of digital technology in healthcare marketing, hospitals and physician practices must pay attention to these three areas: 

  • Social media outreach: Marketers must use large, more established platforms like Facebook and Twitter as well as emerging sites like Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest.

  • Search engine optimization and marketing: Search and paid search are an integral part of inbound marketing strategies, which bolstetr "web traffic and driv[e] patients to online content to satisfy their appetite for information."

  • Targeted online advertising: These ads will increase visibility and are more likely to reach younger, "connected" audiences.

"The root of these marketing trends is the rise of healthcare consumers, or e-patients," said Mark Shipley, strategy director and co-founder of Smith & Jones, in a statement. "Patients today are often referred to as healthcare consumers because they are as informed and self-directed in their care decisions as any retail shopper. To become relevant to this new breed of consumers, organizations will need to translate their brand messaging for smaller audiences at different stages of the decision process."

To learn more:
- here's the whitepaper (.pdf)
- read the statement