By Tanya Shepley, SVP, Healthcare NA, RAPP

When it comes to marketing, healthcare brands are battling complacency. Most embrace the insight that marketing research provides about patient journeys and the increase in patient engagement and personalized brand experiences that come from it. However, coupling journey stages with personalization’s lowest common denominators doesn’t truly speak to patients who are emotionally invested in every aspect of managing their diseases.

It is still important to understand the generalized journey that patients experience to develop relevant brand strategies, yet marketers need to dig deeper to facilitate communications that are dynamic enough to reach and engage patients on a more personal, emotional level.


What’s Missing From Brand Strategies?

In comparison with other industries, healthcare is a notoriously slow adopter; more specifically, marketing is an area healthcare overlooks as an avenue of innovation. The results of this plodding approach are superficial content strategies that track typical journey stages instead of getting full views on how everyone’s experience is different.

Healthcare marketing’s hesitance to fully embrace personalization also extends to technology, specifically being late buyers on automated systems that support multichannel experiences at scale. While the industry is largely focused on pharma’s late adoption of digital technology, the lack of infrastructure to power marketing strategies is equally alarming. It has handcuffed healthcare brands and has kept the field from meaningfully connecting with patients.

To successfully engage with patients, brand strategies must allow for adaptation beyond basic journey stages. This requires learning what content grabs patients’ attention, determining which campaign elements drove them there, then utilizing that data to define the next brand response.

For instance, Kaiser Permanente and Humana have each made great efforts to integrate patient communication ecosystems, allowing them to derive more value from customer engagement data. The initiatives has been so successful, in fact, that Kaiser Permanente and Humana were ranked first and second, respectively, by Temkin Group for best customer experience in the health plan industry.

The two providers create and deliver dynamic content based on patients’ previous content interactions on various channels. The data from these interactions affects how future content is developed and delivered, creating a holistic, 360-degree experience for patients.


Prioritizing a Personalized Brand Strategy

True personalization can be more challenging for healthcare brands than other industries, but as the above examples show, it is far from impossible. The key is to build an integrated strategy that combines journey research with patients’ personal feedback on their unique experiences to craft personalized content strategies.

A personalized brand strategy should include three essential factors:

  1. Integrated cross-channel content: Modern marketing takes many forms. Most of those variations are digital, which means engaging with patients starts with meeting them where they are. For instance, patients read, interact with, and share content on multiple social media channels. Therefore, a personalized brand strategy must deliver dynamic content that touches as many of those channels as possible.


  1. Dynamic data collection and utilization: Building multiple channels to deliver content is important, but it’s effective only when a brand offers content that is relevant to patients. A dynamic data collection and utilization system provides healthcare brands the information they need to effectively engage with patients and understand what matters most to them.


  1. Marketing automation tools: Keeping up with patient feedback on their brand experiences can be daunting without the assistance of marketing automation technology. An effective system ensures the right content is delivered to the right medium at the most appropriate time. It can also rank content on the basis of how much it engaged readers to help plan the next phase of a brand’s strategy.


Healthcare marketing’s adoption of personalized campaigns may be slow, but it’ll need to utilize dynamic content strategies fast to help its individual brands remain successful. Combine conventional patient research with further insights into patients’ emotional experiences to help drive successful strategies that take your brand to the next personalized level.



With 14 years’ experience in healthcare prior to joining RAPP as SVP, Healthcare NA, Tanya Shepley has lead multiple lines of business, including brand strategies for both direct-to-consumer and healthcare professional initiatives. Tanya has worked across a vast array of disease states with various pharmaceutical clients in both a U.S. and global capacity. Her experience includes directing integrated advertising campaigns across mass media, digital, and relationship-marketing programs. Tanya holds a master’s degree in business administration from Wayne State University.