Blog Insight

3 Prescriptions for Better Healthcare Marketing

In healthcare, you get the best outcomes when you target the right treatment to the right person at the right time.

In today’s digital world, this targeting process begins well before the patient walks in the door. Healthcare consumers are empowered to demand more information and are increasingly taking healthcare decisions into their own hands. Their patient journey begins with self-guided research, usually online, and their first exposure to your practice is your marketing.

That’s why it’s critical to gain a clear understanding of what drives decision-making for healthcare consumers and to tailor your marketing accordingly. In this article, we’ll discuss ways for your practice to reach the audiences that would benefit most from the services you offer.

These methods include:

  • Hyperlocal personas and targeting
  • Google Trends analysis
  • Predictive analytics

Hyperlocal Personas and Targeting

A patient persona is a fictional representation of a segment of prospective patients. Personas give a “face” to target audiences by illustrating their needs, motivations, and pain points. Powered by quantitative and qualitative data, personas are an essential point of reference designed to keep the patient at the center of marketing planning. In short, patient personas help your marketing be as patient centered as your healthcare practice.

The three advantages of using patient personas are:

  • Understanding what motivates healthcare decisions
  • Developing more compelling messaging frameworks
  • Driving better media buying decisions

When crafting personas, it’s best to create different ones for the various communities your practice serves. These should be specific to the county, zip code, and/or neighborhood level because health needs can vary drastically from community to community, even within the same city. It’s common knowledge in policy circles today that “zip code is a better predictor of health than genetic code.”(1)

Personas, in combination with your internal data (e.g., your content management system [CMS]) and third-party data (e.g., epidemiological studies), will allow you to create a hyperlocal targeting strategy to reach the specific communities most in need of your services in a way that will resonate with them.

Google Trends Analysis

According to Pew Research, 72 percent of internet users say that they searched for health information online in the past year.(2) These searches contain valuable information for healthcare marketers, especially when combined with Google Trends analysis.

In fact, Google has developed a particularly useful tool called Searching for Health, which determines correlations between people’s Google searches and the actual incidence of disease.(3) The tool tracks searches for common health issues in the United States, from cancer to diabetes, and compares them with epidemiological data for those same health conditions to understand how search data reflects actual life for millions of Americans.

According to the data, there’s a high correlation between searches and the location of occurrences of health conditions like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and depression.(3) If your practice serves patients with these conditions, you can leverage Google Trends data using tools like Searching for Health to determine where to target your marketing.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics is the use of data, statistical algorithms, and machine learning techniques to anticipate future outcomes based on historical data. Predictive analytics can improve healthcare marketing outcomes by helping marketers personalize their marketing efforts in the following ways:

1. Focus on the right patient at the right time. As healthcare consumers do online research, they leave behind a trail of clues. Predictive marketing analytics can help you follow these clues and identify the most engaged patients who are ready to make a healthcare decision.

2. Understand healthcare consumers’ behaviors and preferences. Similarly, data about past, present, and future patients combined with predictive analytics can help you to craft more personalized marketing messages. Of course, take care that you’re HIPAA compliant as you leverage personal information.

3. Refine marketing spend. Finally, use data on healthcare consumers’ habits combined with predictive analytics to forecast anything from seasonal spikes in interest to preferred modes of communication. This will allow you to make smarter decisions about when, where, and how to spend your marketing budget, decreasing patient acquisition costs.

In short, healthcare marketing powered by data and predictive analytics can be used to help healthcare marketers improve patient engagement and acquisition through more effective, personalized messaging. According to a McKinsey study, “Personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by 5 to 15 percent, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 to 30 percent.”(4)


As the healthcare industry continues to migrate from a volume-based model to a value-based model and becomes increasingly patient centric, so too must healthcare marketers become more value based and patient centric. By continually refining your understanding of the communities your practice aims to serve and leveraging data and predictive analytics, you can personalize and target your marketing in a way that yields real results.

Want to know more about how to get the right message to the right people at the right time? The Garrigan Lyman Group has you covered—just reach out.


1. Amy Roeder, “Zip Code Better Predictor of Health Than Genetic Code,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health website, August 4, 2014,

2. Susannah Fox and Maeve Duggan, “Health Online 2013,” Pew Research Center Report, January 15, 2013,

3. “Google Develops New Health Tool to Better Understand Disease Trends,” Sputnik International website, April 10, 2017,

4. Brian Gregg, Hussein Kalaoui, Joel Maynes, and Gustavo Schuler, “Marketing’s Holy Grail: Digital Personalization at Scale,” McKinsey & Company website, November 2016,