Beyond Demographics and National Profiles: Targeted Marketing in Health Care Today

May 18, 2020

// By Nikki Viner //

Nikki Viner, vice president at BuxtonTargeted marketing is a strategy intended to match the right messages with the right consumers at the right time. To do this successfully, you must first define the audience you want to reach. The health care industry has used various approaches for determining target audiences for many years, but today the options for developing those target lists are changing.

The following summarizes common approaches to defining target audiences and alternatives helping health care providers take their results to the next level.

Basic Approach: Demographics

Perhaps the most common method of defining target audiences today is basic demographic criteria. In this approach, a health care marketing team would define characteristics common across all patients they are trying to reach. For example, if you planned to market your system’s labor and delivery services, your audience would be all women ages 19-35.

Demographic data is readily available and inexpensive, making it a widely used method of defining audiences. The problem is that demographics don’t reflect the lifestyles and consumer propensities that influence a person’s likelihood to actually use the medical services in question.

Another Common Approach: National Profiles

Another common method of target audience development is nationalized service line segmentation models available through popular health care marketing vendors. These solutions allow you to identify potential patients for various service lines based on profiles developed from national propensity data. If we were to apply a national profile to our previous labor and delivery marketing example, you could market to women who have a higher likelihood of being interested in starting a family, and avoid sending messages to those who are less likely to have those interests.

This is an improvement over using demographic data alone because it takes into account consumer propensities. Because this approach is an off-the-shelf solution, it’s also quick to implement and relatively inexpensive. But like the use of demographics, this approach to audience development still lacks the customization that makes targeted marketing so powerful.


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