At Herald Chase, we’ve worked with a number of NHS and Private Health Care providers over the past 25 years. One thing we’ve learned from our experience working within the healthcare sector is that sometimes planning and implementing a marketing strategy can be more trying than some other sectors. There are a few reasons for this but on the whole it largely centres around budgeting within the healthcare industry and what is deemed necessary or urgent expenditure.
Obviously, there are far more pressing matters for healthcare providers to consider and marketing often finds itself nestled somewhere further down the list. It is however, a necessity for all businesses regardless of the sector to market their services and increase brand awareness.
In this blog we’ll strip it right back and look at some of the ways Health Care providers can successfully communicate and engage with their patients and wider target audience.
If you thought DM was a channel targeted solely at an older recipient, you’d be way off the mark. The response rates stand up even when looking at the figures for young adults. Let’s look at some direct mail stats in more detail:
What is direct mail?
In Layman’s terms, direct mail or marketing is the process of sending informative literature or promotional information to a specific audience via post.
It’s personal, it’s cost effective and the stats prove that it works. In fact, on average a recipient keeps a Direct Mail piece for 17 days and 23% share a mailer with other members of the household. That’s key for some of the types of content Healthcare Providers will be sending, as often specific awareness campaigns for certain medical ailments or area’s to be aware of will be of great interest to wider family members.
When compared to email marketing stats (on average an email is deleted within 2 seconds), Direct Mail consistently delivers higher response rates and a better return on your marketing investment. Another key statistic to consider is that 92% of mail recipients are driven to online or digital activity, and this is important for curating the journey from offline to online and pointing your target audience to further information or reading online, or even making an appointment.
Ascertain your goals
Whether your objective is to keep patients up to date on potential health risks, surgery specific changes or changes in practice processes, it’s important to centralise your marketing themes and deliver a clear and concise message that will best resonate with your target audience.
By setting your marketing objective from the outset, your direct mail campaigns will be easier to plan and strategise, For example, if you are planning to contact your patient base informing them a change in surgery processes, you may wish to use a simple leaflet which delivers the information concisely with a clear call to action. If however you are planning an awareness campaign to a wider audience, you may be better suited to sending out a multi-page piece with plenty of info on the subject, case studies, research and stats and figures.
Who are your target audience?
As with all forms of marketing, blanket campaigns with no real thought behind who will be receiving them is a bit of a lottery. You may get some responses from the people you want to hear from, you may get some response from people you don’t want to hear from, or you may get no responses at all!
Marketing to your patient database is relatively simple, as you will already have this data to hand and can target accordingly. Targeting prospective patients however becomes a little more complex.
Some of the ways we’ve helped healthcare providers think about the kind of people they want to target are:
- Demographic – Age, gender, or occupation are all key identifiers when targeting your audience. Are there certain characteristics that a patient will have in order to be considered for a specific vaccination or treatment?
- Geography – Over 370,000 people moved home in the UK in 2017. How many of those movers were in the catchment area for your surgery or practice? A simple campaign to your local vicinity could be very successful.
- Past Behaviours – Have you scrutinised your web data to determine who have previously expressed an interest in a certain procedure or other medical services? It’s highly likely that these people would be open to receiving further information on the subject.
When outlining your target audience, it’s important to try to be as specific as possible, especially if you are purchasing some of your data. Having a streamlined profile of your target audience will minimise your wasted spend on data and mailing costs.
Design & Planning
Any successful marketing campaign starts with a good design. Try to be concise, paying close attention to only the most pertinent information for your subject matter. In today’s digital world, people’s attention span is shorter than it’s ever been. Keep this in mind when thinking about the information you want to promote and where on the DM piece you want to publish it. In essence, your Direct Mail material should do the following:
- Pose a question. Get your target audience thinking about a specific aspect of their health they should be aware of.
- Highlight an eye catching statistic or fact. Perhaps there has been a sharp increase in a certain ailment.
- Create intrigue. Have you introduced a new surgical procedure at your practice that might be of interest?
If the focus of your campaign is to raise awareness about increasing obesity and the links to diabetes for example, you could publish some facts and figures using imagery and bold colours. Always be clear on what message you want to portray, and focus on making that the most prominent take away from the mailer.
Try to stay away from being too ‘technical’ in terms of your terminology to avoid the risk of alienating your audience. Make it relatable and easy to digest, whilst always ensuring your call to action is clear. If your aim is to encourage them to book a consultation or embark on a healthier diet, don’t be afraid to tell them exactly what it is you want them to do.
Which format works best for you?
There are a number of formats that Direct Mail lends itself very well to, all of which can be successful if targeted to the right audience. Some suggestions for your direct mail formats are:
- Letters – Personalised and a good option for confidential info
- Postcards – Eye catching and brief, great for snappy campaigns
- Self-mailers – Often cost effective on postage
- Catalogues – For campaigns that require a little more info or imagery
- Dimensional mailers – These can be packaged in boxes or tubes and are great for look and feel but a more expensive option
Often the content you are sending will determine the format you use. For example, anything containing personal or sensitive information should always be sent in a sealed envelope or as a self-mailer. You could quickly lose the trust of your patient base if you are not following best practice with regards to confidential information. On the other hand, an awareness campaign lends itself well to a more image led postcard or leaflet campaign that is eye catching and impactful.
When to send
Set out a marketing schedule as far in advance as possible. Quarterly chunks is often a good way to break down the year’s marketing activity, whilst also not being too structured and allowing you to be reactive to your campaigns and their results. Throughout the year there will be certain pressure points or seasonal activities that you need to be aware of, such as the Flu season from October to February. Do you need to start promoting flu jabs in the summer to ensure the message is received well in time for the flu season’s onslaught? Perhaps you have a new hayfever jab that could potentially benefit a number of your patients, is there a peak time of year that hayfever rears its head?
Putting some thought behind the timing of your campaigns will ensure you are hitting the right people at the right time.
Most importantly, once you have done all the hard work and your campaign is complete, be sure to measure it’s success. If your objective was to increase footfall at your practice for a specific procedure or vaccination, look at the increase in the number of patients who made appointments against the number of DM campaigns you sent. You can also measure your marketing success by analysing your revenue at the end of each quarter to determine if the figures for a cosmetic procedure, for example, increased or decreased after your campaign was despatched.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog piece, if you need any further info or would like to discuss your direct mail requirements, feel free to contact us on the office number: 0118 474 888 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org