May 26, 2022

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About B2B Healthcare Marketing

By: Sarah Lofgren

Marketing Healthcare

Healthcare marketing comes with its own set of challenges that make connecting with prospects, communicating value, and differentiating your organization uniquely difficult. If you want your marketing to be a catalyst for growth, it requires the ability to navigate complex  elements, including:

  • Highly educated audiences
  • Complicated concepts, products, and services that can be challenging to explain in simple terms
  • An industry with many different players (including providers, payers, administrators, and health systems)

Here at ABN, there’s nothing we enjoy so much as a challenge, and we’ve partnered with our B2B healthcare clients to effectively build their brands and establish their leadership in the marketplace. 

Want to do the same? Here’s how to position your B2B healthcare organization for success and establish your position as a leader in conversations about driving growth.

Returning to the Essentials of Marketing

Algorithms shift, terms change, software presents new possibilities, and potential strategies are unearthed, promising to more effectively connect you with leads. Like healthcare, marketing is a quickly evolving field. However, even as new trends materialize, the basics remain the same. Focusing on these basics (and really knocking them out of the park) lays the groundwork necessary for you to utilize emerging technology and better adapt to changing trends.

Honor your specific audience

You know that your marketing efforts should meet your audience where they are, acknowledging their pain points, answering their questions, and sparking their curiosity. Marketers working within the healthcare industry have an added challenge because they’re typically communicating with a sophisticated and highly educated audience. This means balancing two, seemingly opposed objectives:

  • Speaking to prospects at their level and honoring the experience they bring with them
  • Not allowing your content to become too complex or unwieldy

There’s a lot of noise online, and a high percentage of readers won’t engage deeply with your marketing efforts. In the 2nd edition of the Nielsen Norman Group’s user experience report, eyetracking equipment was used to determine how readers interact with online content. They found that most people don’t sit and read every word of an article. Instead, they scan and jump around, searching for specific information to address their interests or needs. 

This can be a tricky reality for all organizations to account for, but it’s especially challenging in the healthcare industry for those that need to express complex ideas and concepts to their highly educated audiences. But it isn’t impossible. Lean on proven marketing practices, such as utilizing clear CTAs, writing well-organized, easily digestible and scannable copy, and (this is important) really honing in on your unique value proposition (UVP).

A UVP is a necessity

As we wrote in this post on integrated branding, your UVP defines the unique value that you provide to your customers.

How do you simplify your message without dumbing it down and insulting the intelligence of your audience? Drill down into your UVP. It will give you a backbone for all the content you create, allowing you to express complex ideas in a straightforward manner. 

As your marketing efforts grow and evolve to include new strategies, return to your UVP again and again. Is your message aligned? Is it clear and grounded? Does it require tweaks and/or restructuring? Start with the UVP and allow that focus and messaging to radiate outward.

Make a plan for inbound and outbound

People can argue inbound vs. outbound until the cows come home, but it won’t change the fact that most healthcare organizations have unique and specific needs that can’t be met by a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Perhaps you’ve found tremendous success with your outbound marketing campaigns. Perhaps inbound is the approach that allows you to best connect with your prospects. It shouldn’t be about declaring a victor in the inbound vs. outbound debate but, rather, it’s about finding what’s most effective and making what you have work for you. 

- The inbound sphere

We’re HubSpot enthusiasts who are deeply invested in the world of inbound marketing. We love putting inbound principles into action for our healthcare clients. This blog post offers a helpful look at the ways we create successful inbound content that communicates complex healthcare topics. The steps include:

  • Starting with intent: Do the research to understand what exactly your potential customers are looking for when they search online
  • Discovering what your prospects care about: Move beyond assumptions and discover what your prospects actually care about
  • Making your editorial planning user-centric: Select topics for content clusters based on what you’ve learned about your prospects’ intent, then map out how you will lead them through their journeys
  • Meeting both your prospects & SMEs where they’re at: Find a balance between the deep level of knowledge provided by your SMEs and the information you know your prospects are looking for

- Outbound insights 

At ABN, we bring an inbound mindset to outbound campaigns when we work with our healthcare clients. 

What does this mean?

It means you still need to invest in understanding your prospects’ problems and intentions. When you reach out to them, don’t just toot your own horn. Instead, make them the star of your communications, acknowledging their pain points and providing them with helpful resources (perhaps even the ones you created in your inbound campaign) to make their lives easier.

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Is Your Brand Compelling?

Branding is about standing out, being memorable, and quickly communicating your values. But, if that’s the case, then why do so many healthcare brands seem so similar? In the interest of appearing trustworthy and knowledgeable, too often they miss that sticky quality that allows them to distinguish themselves in the minds of prospects.

When writing about how to humanize a healthcare brand, ABN’s Art Director, Phil Padilla, shared the following thoughts, “Remember to infuse personality and emotion into your brand messaging. It encompasses everything you stand for, from the words and language, to the personality and image your marketing assets aim to invoke. Personality carries a lot of weight today. Brands must remain human to the core, have a sense of humor, and be relatable at a micro level.”

For a deeper investigation on how to truly differentiate a healthcare brand, I recommend our look at 3 Stories From The Frontlines Of Healthcare Branding Projects, where we cover the best way to lean into your unique story.

Get the Right Message to the Right Person

The healthcare industry is populated with many different players, including payers, providers, patients, health systems, vendors, brokers, and the government. Understanding how each impacts and interacts with your product or service is key. While it typically takes far more time and effort than marketing professionals in other industries need to invest, making a specific plan for how best to serve the needs of each player and/or speak to their concerns means your marketing plans are significantly more likely to have an impact.

However, while you’re focusing on all of these different players, don’t forget that an organization’s own employees are often its greatest advocates.

“I would say start at home first…if one can market, if one can speak to your internal audience, then speaking externally becomes much more natural. Because then, your employees, which are your stakeholders, will carry that flag forward.” — Hannah Thomas, Founder/Principal at New Canvas Advising (from an interview on Navigating Post Pandemic Challenges In Healthcare with A Brave New Co-Founder, Polly Yakovich)

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Incorporating Account-Based Marketing

More and more, account-based marketing (ABM) is becoming a major topic of conversation in B2B circles, making it an especially important consideration for healthcare marketers. As we wrote in this recent post, “Loosely, ABM is a philosophy of focusing on the most promising accounts, rather than spreading your efforts across a wide background of potential leads. And ABM is the future of B2B marketing, because this pivot efficiently produces the best results.”

Effective ABM requires that you lean into your earned knowledge of the specific players in your industry and take it even further, embracing personalization. It also means collaborating with your sales team to achieve better results. 

What kinds of results? Consider:

  • Closing 10% of leads, rather than 1%
  • Upgrading your existing clients into an additional 2-3 products or services each
  • Improving your client retention rate by 20-30%

To learn more about getting started and what’s involved, I recommend you check out our podcast episode on ABM.

Let Data Drive Your Decisions

People in the healthcare industry understand better than anyone else the role data plays in creating personalized, targeted experiences that have a real impact on outcomes. 

You’re likely aware that you need access to reporting and actionable insights on how your campaigns perform, what works, and what doesn’t. As we wrote in our post on healthcare marketing trends, healthcare marketing teams absolutely need a plan on how they plan to parse and use all the data they have access to.

At ABN, we’re firm advocates of performing analytics reviews and usability testing. There’s no better way to gain perspective on problem areas and identify which changes can make the biggest difference. As I wrote in the post, “It’s entirely natural for opportunities for improvement to materialize when your site collides with the real work (and real people).”

Also, don’t overlook the power of adaptive testing, such as that available on HubSpot, to ensure your marketing efforts reach their full potential. We were recently able to help one of our healthcare clients achieve a 238% increase in conversion rate for one of their landing pages through the use of adaptive testing. 

Finding the Right Partner

Healthcare organizations frequently struggle to find marketing agencies that are able to understand the complexities of their industry and communicate impactfully to their audience. If you’d like to learn more about our experience in this area, consider reaching out today.


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