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How Psychographic Segmentation Can Help You Acquire New Patients


Have you noticed the latest Snickers advertising campaign? The brand is introducing new flavors aligned with personality traits. Indecisive? Choose Snickers Salty & Sweet. Irritable? Try Snickers Espresso for a quick boost. Wimpy? Spice up your attitude with a Snickers Fiery.

The campaign just started in June, so its effectiveness remains to be seen, but the behavioral science behind the marketing is sound. And for hospitals, specialist clinics, medical practices, and other healthcare-related organizations, the use of psychographic segmentation—classifying consumers based on how they think, feel, and act—can help strengthen patient loyalty in healthcare.


When it comes to acquiring—and keeping—customers, what companies instantly spring to mind? If you think Netflix or Apple, you’re not wrong. Netflix added 8.3 million new streaming customers in the fourth quarter of 2017, an 18 percent increase over the same quarter in 2016. And the lines outside stores when Apple launches a new product are notoriously long.

What’s the secret? Former Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs once said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves.” Netflix subscribes to the same concept, using masses of user data to personalize the user experience and inspire new programming.

When it comes to patient acquisition, healthcare providers need to think like these consumer favorites—and psychographic segmentation can provide the insights needed to better understand prospective patients.


How to Use Psychographic Segmentation to Improve Patient Acquisition

As we mentioned in our previous post, one-size-fits-all marketing falls short with today’s healthcare consumers. Having become accustomed to the individualized experiences they enjoy with organizations in other industries, healthcare consumers expect healthcare providers to deliver the same.

What they don’t want is to be marketed to based solely on demographics or diagnosis. With psychographic segmentation, however, healthcare providers can deliver targeted marketing to attract prospective patients based on their inherent beliefs about health and wellness. This is because psychographics pertain to people’s attitudes, values, lifestyles and personalities and are the core to health motivations and communication preferences.  

As Dan Clarin, SVP at Kaufman Hall & Associates noted in an H&HN article on consumer segmentation:  “Layering information about attitudes and motivations and fears on top of that clinical information to understand what is the best way to communicate with and engage with different types of patients is definitely an opportunity to improve their care.”

Here are some additional ways that you can apply psychographic segmentation within your marketing to boost patient acquisition.


Optimize web content to appeal to each psychographic segment

Even if you’re doing well on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you can use long-tail keywords related to each psychographic segment’s unique motivations and attitudes to help prospective patients find you based on how they might start a search for a healthcare provider.

We know, for example, that Direction Takers recognize doctors as the expert, so identify long-tail keywords that relate to expert advice and best practices to attract these individuals. Balance Seekers, on the other hand, appreciate choice, so using long-tail keywords that emphasize options can be useful.

For Priority Jugglers, long-tail keywords incorporating language related to responsibilities or family health can help them find you. And for Self-Achievers and Willful Endurers, you can choose keywords that support their opposing approaches to healthcare—proactive or reactive—by using long-tail keywords that speak to long-term, goal-driven health plan or a first step toward better health.


Develop more focused, effective PPC campaigns

We already know that a majority of healthcare consumers turn to the web when it comes to identifying and choosing medical care. Make your PPC (Pay Per Click) and retargeting campaigns work harder by using psychographic insights to develop relevant messages.

How? Imagine a display ad including site links aligned to Self-Achievers, Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers and Willful Endurers segments—which account for 87 percent of the patient population. One site link could offer a goal-driven piece of content behind a short form to attract Self-Achievers, such as a checklist for achieving health goals, with additional messaging on how your practice supports proactive planning. Another site link could offer a white paper on treatment alternatives for a common health complaint, to satisfy the Balance Seeker’s need to explore all options.  

With each click and response, you gain insight into what type of messaging will engage an individual for subsequent outreach. And those who click but don’t engage or don’t click at all can be retargeted with ads aligned to the Direction Taker segment or with more specific messaging based on the segment related to the original click.


Use a health diagnosis combined with psychographic segmentation to target prospective patients

Specialty practices want to target prospective patients that need or want their services most. A hospital might want to attract patients in need of knee surgery or an endocrinology practice might want to attract patients diagnosed with diabetes.

But as we noted above, straightforward messaging on a health condition alone doesn’t always hit home. By developing messaging directed at specific segments, you can increase the likelihood of connecting.

For example, appeal to Priority Jugglers sense of duty by highlighting how better diabetes management makes it possible for them to “be there” for family or work or tout convenience, such as multiple location or extended hours on certain days, in view of this segment’s busy lifestyle.

What about Willful Endurers, a segment that is likely to ignore treatment unless absolutely necessary? This segment doesn’t want to change their live-in-the-moment attitude, but if you can develop messaging that shows how your practice helps patients live better with diabetes through small, achievable changes rather than a total lifestyle reboot, you’re more likely to attract and engage this segment that represents 27 percent of the population.  

Most importantly, once you acquire a new patient, using psychographic segmentation can help you reduce patient churn and build a long-term relationship by ensuring you continue to communicate with relevant messages in the future.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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