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Rethinking Healthcare Marketing for Millennials

Rethinking Healthcare Marketing for Millennials

Katie Sorce

woman wearing purple hoodie sweatshirt

The millennial generation is America’s largest—here’s how healthcare marketers can adjust to better meet their needs

The buying behaviors and habits of millennials have influenced many industries, as companies try to tap into the group’s growing buying power. (Millennials are estimated to spend 1.4 trillion in 2020.) The healthcare industry, however, has largely ignored this demographic. But now, with the oldest millennials approaching the age of 40, healthcare marketers have a new urgency to reach them.

Millennials generally haven’t had a significant need for healthcare besides maternity needs or the occasional urgent care visit. But as they get older, they will start to need more profitable service lines such as cardiology or orthopedics.

Here are three ideas to consider when creating marketing to reach millennials.


Use Social Media to Your Full Advantage

Millennials and social media go hand in hand, as they have grown up using these sites to do everything from keep in touch with friends, read the news, search for reviews or ask for advice. However, simply being active on social is not enough to get the attention of millennials. With thousands of images, videos and messaging flying by every day, why should someone stop and pay attention to something from a healthcare brand?

In order to gain traction, both organic and paid content needs to provoke “meaningful interactions.” This primarily means getting comments and shares. Marketers should think, “If I saw this in my newsfeed, would I want to share it with my friends?” If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.

Here’s one example of a successful social video: a slightly controversial campaign by Bellevue Woman’s Center that highlighted what it means to be a woman and generated the most social engagement from any campaign in the company’s history.

Here’s an example of two physician-promotion posts on Facebook. It’s easy to see which is more visually interesting and intriguing.

Build and Maintain Trust

Many millennials have a distrust of the healthcare system because it has become so difficult to navigate, not to mention the skyrocketing costs of seeing a physician. This causes many people to put off getting care, or to self-manage their own conditions, which can lead to misdiagnoses that cause more future problems. Is your digital marketing doing anything to build trust or is it purely informational? Is there a way you can tie in trust to your brand?

Despite stereotypes of millennials going all-digital, they still want a human connection. For healthcare, this means being able to talk to a human being when they have a question or concern, or feeling like they’re truly being heard by their doctor. Do you have phone lines that are answered by real people? The ability to chat 24/7? Transparent pricing listed on your website? These are all important things that your millennial consumers will want to know about.

This primary care campaign was focused on the message: “We’ll treat you right.”

Manage Online Reviews

Because millennials rely on user reviews before making any kind of purchase decision, reviews play a very important role in bringing new patients to your organization. Positive reviews are great, but negative reviews need to be addressed as well. Every negative review should be responded to in a timely manner. The marketing and administration departments should work together to create standards on how to handle negative reviews. Even if nothing can be done to fix the situation, patients need to at least be acknowledged. Then, when a potential new patient is looking at reviews, they can see that the health system is at least reaching out to try to amend the situation.

When planing your next digital or social media campaign, don’t discount the wants and needs of millennial patients. And don’t expect the same tactics you’ve been using to suddenly gain their attention. Focus on building trust now, and they will be more likely to continue coming back.

Katie Sorce is a marketing coordinator for Smith & Jones. She contributes to research and strategy projects, manages social media and digital marketing accounts, and assists with content creation, account management, finance and operations. Smith & Jones is the healthcare marketing agency that specializes in branding and targeted service line marketing for hospitals, health systems and other care providers. Learn more at