What is healthcare qualitative marketing?

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By now, you will be familiar with the multiple ways you can use statistical data to argue a case. It’s a handy tool for marketing too and can help healthcare organisations to illustrate priorities and issues. Especially when presented well, using infographics and explainer videos for instance.

However, is that really enough to give your target audiences context, and to compel them to make positive healthcare decisions?

This is why qualitative tools for healthcare marketing are so essential. Methods to dig beneath and beyond statistics and uncover much more relevant data.

This article explores why healthcare organisations need qualitative insights to underpin marketing, and how to obtain them.

Quantitative v qualitative marketing

At its most basic, quantitative research and evaluation explores statistical data. For marketing purposes, this could include assessing your website analytics for example. So, delving into how much website traffic you get, how many users linger on each page and for how long.

One of the most essential quantitative marketing measures is your lead conversion rate. How many site visitors are responding to your primary call to action, by buying, registering, subscribing or enquiring?

You can use quantitative data to plan updates and improvements to your healthcare digital marketing. Particularly the User Experience values of your pages, which support strong lead conversion.

However, that does not tell you why users make their decisions nor does it qualify their behaviours or give you sufficient information to improve your digital or physical marketing.

That’s why you need healthcare qualitative marketing processes and schedules.

In-depth research into consumer opinions, preferences and buying behaviours is certainly not a new discipline. In its earliest form, qualitative research was probably someone on a street corner with a clipboard grabbing someone to do market research.

However, qualitative research and analysis for marketing purposes have become a far more sophisticated and insightful field in recent times. Not least due to sophisticated survey software. It has become the linchpin of massive global brands like Amazon, who base much of their corporate development and individualised marketing on qualitative methodology.

Yet, it could be safely argued that the medical and social care sectors have been slower than many to grasp the advantages of healthcare qualitative marketing.

How would healthcare qualitative marketing work?

To drill down on what influences your target audiences, and explore healthcare decision making, it requires activities that unlock the ‘voice’ of the public in a measurable way.

For example, setting up focus groups, incisive questionnaires or in-depth interviews with a cross-section of users.

Ethnographic studies – observing and interacting with your target audiences in their natural environment – can be invaluable.

Let’s use the example of a healthcare website that is failing to get the results you want despite efforts to tackle the quantitative shortfalls.

Setting up an exercise that monitors website use – from people in your target demographic – can be incredibly potent. Everything from their eye movement to their body language could be measured. Do they struggle to find an instant focal point on the page?

Also, asking for opinions and suggestions following website user tasks can be important. What do they remember from their time spent on your digital platform? Did they find what they were looking for, and what do they think would have improved their experience?

Other focuses for healthcare qualitative marketing

Using qualitative research to better inform and focus your marketing can start much earlier than website user analysis.

It can also be the best way to explore the way your target audiences interact with your product or service and to effectively measure your delivery mechanisms. Qualitative techniques can be used to drill down on their preferences, responses, and behaviours through healthcare pathways.

Of course, to shape the way modern healthcare is developed and delivered (as well as marketed) requires the use of specialist skills and software. This can help find potent answers while catering to different user goals, abilities and languages.

A continuous, strategic process

It’s important to stress that conducting an initial series of healthcare qualitative marketing exercises is not a silver bullet. The level of user understanding you gain needs to be optimised by repeatedly revisiting the same research task.

For example, timetabling patient discussion groups periodically and strategically, to measure progress against the aims of your healthcare organisation or a specific product or campaign.

Regularly revisiting outcomes of healthcare qualitative marketing tasks is particularly vital with regards to your website. Users are not a fixed factor. You need to regularly assess UX and lead conversion against well-crafted qualitative research.

Healthcare qualitative marketing all comes down being able to deliver services and products – and communicate – from a much clearer standpoint. You have vital business intelligence gained from knowing what your target audiences think and feel, and how they respond. It’s the perfect springboard for evidence-based R&D as well as digital and off-line marketing.

It can certainly provide more assured engagement; and the confidence that your target audiences genuinely understand your messages. From this comes the potential for greater take-up and adherence to healthcare protocols.

In short, Qualitive Research provides the deep data and outcomes, whereas statistical evaluation can merely skim over it..

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