Millennials are the largest, most diverse, most educated U.S. generation ever. Moreover, they also pack the most purchasing power, surpassing even the vaunted post-WWII Baby Boomers.
Sarbjit Nahal, Head of Thematic Investing at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told CNBC:
"It's (all about) the incredible spending millennials have, if you look at the U.S. they are the most important group in terms of the workforce and by 2018 they're going to overtake the boomers and by 2025 we're looking at over $8 trillion worth of annual net income."
That's a lot of power from a generation that values smartphone transactions (63 percent make purchases this way) and seamless convenience.
So the question then becomes how to adjust your marketing strategy to acquire more millennial patients? Here are some highly recommended ways to tap into the millennial mindset:
Customize Your Patient Engagement
Millennials are accustomed to engaging with their favorite brands with everything integrated from quizzes to apps to games to texts and online reviews. A restaurant is no longer just about the food; it’s about the experience. Healthcare, in their minds, is no different. It’s no longer just the destination, it’s the journey.
Patient engagement platforms are essential to creating these experiences of engagement. PatientBond, for instance, parses patients into specific categories using psychographic segmentation. Using this information, PatientBond integrates a healthcare provider into patients' lives in their preferred communication method, whether it be email, SMS/text messages, Interactive Voice Response, in-app and portal messaging and even print with appointment reminders, wellness tips, and follow-up care. A customized approach to engagement will ramp up patient acquisition among millennials fast.
Watch Your Reviews
Millennials are extremely invested in what others have to say about a service or practice, with Adweek saying that 93% of millennials say they rely on blogs and user/consumer reviews before making a purchase. And 77% trust the reviews they read on brand websites.
It’s also no surprise then that in a 2018 PatientBond market research study, at least a third of millennials look at social media ratings and consumer reviews when choosing a primary care physician, hospital, urgent care clinic or insurance company.
However, online reviews can be a minefield to navigate, and with a proliferation of review sites from Google and Yelp to more obscure or niche platforms, reputation management becomes an issue.
Keep in mind that millennials are savvy, and credibility and authenticity are very important to them. They expect and know there will be bad reviews and will be rightfully suspicious of a place that has 46 5-star reviews and nothing negative. It’s best to live with the occasional negative review and let the review process be organic and natural. Still, if your hospital, practice or clinic has one bad episode that you feel is not reflective of your institution's history and values, there are reputation management agencies that can help "manage" online reviews.
Market What Matters
Millennials care a lot less about your clinic's new fish tank in the waiting room and a lot more about how convenient you are to fit into their lifestyles. If you offer online check-in, estimated wait times, appointment booking online, walk-in availability and/or free wifi in the waiting room, highlight that in your marketing campaigns. Millennials do care about your cardiac care unit, but if two hospitals in the same city have pretty similar services, what will tip the balance will be amenities like those listed above.
For millennials looking for healthcare options, content is king. Millennials rely on WebMD, the Mayo Clinic online, and even just a Google search to learn more about their health. You need to have SEO-rich content that showcases not only the information searchers are looking for, but also use that information to nudge them toward your services locally. It can't be so overt of a pitch that the content loses credibility. Let strong, SEO-rich content speak for itself.
If you don't have the budget for a full-time content staffer, there are agencies that can write the content for you. But when it comes to marketing to millennials, online content should be as much a part of your marketing budget as newspaper ads used to be.
Go Beyond Your Facebook Page
When it comes to marketing healthcare to millennials, the days of just having a Facebook page are long gone. Millennials are looking to socially engaged peers to help them make health decisions. This means creating a hyperlocal, aggressive social media campaign in conjunction with one of these influencers on social media platforms like Tumblr, Instagram, Periscope, Yelp, Snapchat, YouTube or Pinterest. Finding and collaborating influencers who will do disclosed paid posts for you on their popular profiles, blogs or channels is a great way to reach local people.
What’s a great way to do this? Say your hospital is in Erie, Pennsylvania. Do some online searches for a popular Instagram profile that has the potential for some crossover with your industry and reach out to them about doing some paid posts. Then, build your own social presence: Follow a surgeon in your hospital on Periscope or create some educational, engaging videos and post them to YouTube.
But when it comes to all of this, don’t forget to follow FDA and FTC regulations on healthcare advertising. It tends to be much trickier to navigate than most industries, especially when social media influencers are involved. And abiding by HIPAA guidelines is a must.
Millennials are health-conscious and engaged, and they want to interact with your brand. For healthcare marketers, we can’t stress enough the importance of metaphorically tearing down the walls of your hospital or clinic. Examine studies that outline favorite activities of millennials. We know millennials are much more inclined to exercise than other generations, so sponsor a 5K or an outing to a rock climbing wall or a kayak trip. You’ll have to experiment with what resonates with your local audience.
Back in the day, you could just write a check for an ad in the Yellow Pages and an ad in the newspaper, and along with good word-of-mouth, your marketing was done. However, that is not the world we live in anymore. Those that don’t walk where millennials walk and talk how millennials talk risk lagging behind.
For more ways to stay on top of your patient acquisition game, download PatientBond’s case study.