News | 16/09/2021

Healthcare marketing trends: what you need to know

Posted by Lisa Seymour

Here at Fox&Bear HQ we love nothing more than getting our head stuck into the latest marketing research. Thanks to the clever people over at Smart Insights we’ve had some excellent bedtime reading this week focused around pharma and healthcare marketing trends.

The full research (you can read it here if you fancy)  covers 10 areas:


  1. Omni-channel pharma and healthcare
  2. Digital transformation


  1. Content marketing
  2. Telehealth, edetailing and eprescribing


  1. Experience optimisation and conversational messaging
  2. Customer engagement platforms


  1. Wearable devices
  2. ‘On-demand’ healthcare services


  1. Consumerisation of healthcare
  2. Customer engagement and advocacy

Today, we’re going to be delving deeper into five of these areas, reviewing the research, sharing our own insight, and giving you some actionable tips to take away. You can click on the headings below to jump straight to the section that’s caught your eye.

Have you got a cuppa? Let’s begin…

Take a look at the five headings above (plan, reach, act, convert, engage) and see how these fit within the image below. We can’t take credit for this brilliant infographic but we think it’s a fantastic way to visualise how your marketing channels can fit within your patient’s journey. There’ll be more on that as you continue reading but keep this in mind as you review the latest trends.


Omni-channel marketing

 Lots of sectors including retail and entertainment have been reaping the benefits of omni-channel marketing for years now. Healthcare has been lagging behind – it’s time to get on board.

In practice, omni-channel marketing is the combination of managing customer experience and marketing communications under one strategy. It’s a tall order but when executed well it improves patient experience, increases leads and ties together unified messaging. You might be reading this asking how you can create one strategy to engage with all audiences. That’s the tricky bit. You’re not going to be able to. But don’t fret, focus on the top two or three audiences and create the omni-channel experience for them.

When looking at healthcare you need to adopt a patient-centered approach. This research looks at five areas to consider within this approach. We’ve pulled out our favourites with some actionable points that can help you create the best experience.

  1. Engaging patients

Talk to them! If anyone is going to give you honest feedback it’s your patients! Whether you want to go old-school with a survey, or bring together some focus groups, use this time to find out how these patients like to be communicated with, where they think there are gaps, how they think it could be improved and why they think it will benefit them.

  1. Budget wisely

Investing in new marketing channels to support patients is always a win! BUT, and it’s a big but, it’s hard to know what’s working and what’s not. Start small if it’s a new channel you’re working with and monitor it closely. You’ll soon build a bigger picture and you’ll be able to strategically place budget based on the return it’s giving you.

  1. Measurement

Data data, data! Our favourite thing to talk about at Fox&Bear HQ. Make sure you’ve got measurement tools set up correctly to monitor and measure your new marketing strategies. Whether you’re keen to use Google Analytics or other tools measuring what you’re doing is key to success! If you’re not sure where to start, we can help you navigate the world of Google Analytics – just get in touch!

  1. Training

Remember we’re looking at all channels. This goes beyond marketing channels! You need to speak to the teams on the ground. Offer training across all departments to ensure messaging is reflected across marketing channels and staff to patient experiences.

When it comes to channels, we know there are a whole host of them out there, and new ones arriving every day. From good old fashioned direct marketing to TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, finding the channels that work for you can be the trickiest part.

Take the time to understand what your audiences respond to, how they interact with your marketing and ensure you’ve integrated them well enough to create a consistent experience across them all. Don’t just try and use as many channels as possible, use the ones that work well together and deliver an improved patient experience.

Content marketing

 What is content marketing? Content marketing is used to attract, engage, and retain an audience by creating and sharing relevant articles, videos, podcasts, and other media. This approach establishes expertise, promotes brand awareness, and keeps you top of mind!

Let’s take a step back. Think about who you are marketing to and focus on one audience at a time. Over the last year, particularly through the pandemic there has been a shift in the information that consumers seek. Patients are seeking to make more informed decisions and are doing their own research to make informed decisions. With this in mind, take a look at the information journeys of your patients. Where does this begin? Website content? Articles in relevant literature? Social media posts? And where does it end? Recovery treatment leaflets? Follow-up communications? There are a whole host of areas in between. They all need considering.

Fox&Bear’s top tip: Review one patient journey for one treatment. Look at all the steps in between and evaluate the information that the patient is given. Start to think about how the information can be shared, and remind yourself of what you found out from your patient feedback. Do they like bite-sized info, videos or long-form content? All this feedback should inform your decisions.

Finally, make the most of the experts you have on hand! Talk to doctors, surgeons and GPs to understand how you can help educate patients, the best way to deliver this and how you can utilise their expertise.

Experience optimisation and conversational messaging

“Alexa, where can I get a knee replacement in East Sussex?”

Whilst many aren’t on board with voice search, there’s no denying that it’s here to stay. There are a few things you can do to increase your presence in organic voice results. Firstly, make the most of Google’s keyword tools and review what people are asking for to ensure you’re listing in Google for relevant searches. Secondly, make sure you’re using words we actually use. Don’t over complicate it and make it sound natural! Finally, follow SEO best practices such as including key terms and topics in content to create useful, unique content.

We don’t like to blow our own trumpets but SEO is our bread-and-butter so if you’re unsure where to begin, you can get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

Fox&Bear’s top tip: Push ‘mobile first’ to the side and prioritise a ‘voice first’ approach.

Looking at research from 2019, one of the top use cases for voice assistants was to ask about symptoms. This is a good place to start when looking at bite-sized content you could create to support your patients. How about setting yourself a target to create three new pieces of content that answer some common questions? Remember it’ll take longer to reap the rewards of organic search content like this, but you’ll be glad you did, this time next year.

‘On-demand’ healthcare services

 Once again, healthcare is one of the last to the party when it comes to on-demand. You can click and collect bread and milk in a matter of minutes, speak to Apple advisers in seconds when your laptop breaks, and download TV and films from the click of a button.

As consumers become more savvy to this in other parts of their life, there’s a big hole when it comes to healthcare. There’s a clear opportunity to meet this demand and it doesn’t have to be impossible. The significant advantage of on demand healthcare is that alongside instant medical services, scheduling appointments and providing patients support, marketers can work alongside medical professionals to bring information and options directly to the patients’ attention.

Whilst this seems like a fantastic solution, there are significant challenges to review. Smart Insights research highlights the challenges around free movement of data, sensitive medical information and the struggles around bureaucracies.

We know we sound like a broken record at this point but re-visit patient feedback. What sort of service do they want? Would they use a doctor on-demand app? Would they appreciate a dashboard that collates all their patient history and test results to review?

Implementing big changes like this can be costly but could set you apart from your competition. Start by reviewing the different options and start small to ensure that the delivery of something like an app is well executed. Take advantage of specialist expertise to ensure that budgets are wisely spent.

Consumerisation of healthcare

We’ve touched on this earlier, but consumerisation of healthcare is the trend of people influencing and controlling their medical and wellness care. It’s not just something one healthcare provider can change but the increasing trend for digital, remote and virtual healthcare prompt the need for entirely new healthcare journeys.

In the private healthcare world, advancements in this area are going to be critical to remain ahead of competition. We love the way CBInsights demonstrates this, thinking about ‘reactive health’ and ‘proactive health’.

Reactive health:

  • Seek health services when feeling ill
  • Consumer sorts through different care options
  • Data is then captured to confirm diagnosis

Proactive health:

  • Data is captured via medical-grade wearables
  • Care option reaches out if there is an anomaly
  • Provider already has historical dataset of relevant biomarkers and genetic predispositions

As more and more people prioritise their health, post-pandemic, healthcare providers need to review their services and implement changes that can help you optimise your existing output and improve patient experience.

To conclude

Phew! We know that’s a lot of information to digest and if you’d like to do some more research, do take a look at the full report for even more examples and insight. So, let’s recap, here are our top three takeaways that you should be considering as we enter Autumn:

  1. Data is your friend! Learn how to interpret data and always make decisions based on what it’s telling you. It’s not always going to work so if something’s not performing how you think it should be move on and try something new.
  2. Listen to your patients. Find out how your patients want to receive information, the channels they engage with and how you can improve their experience.
  3. Step back and look at the bigger picture. Your patient’s journey starts right before you even meet them. How do they interact with your organisation? From marketing channels to their face-to-face experience within the hospital/practice, everyone has a part to play.

If you’re still stuck on where to begin, get in touch with us and see how we can help. We’re happy to help you break down this journey into actionable steps so you can reap the rewards in no time.