Customer Stories: The Holy Grail of HealthIT Marketing

The following is a guest blog post by Colleen Pinto.

With the end of the year upon us, many healthIT businesses are evaluating their 2016 marketing ROI and goal setting for 2017. Tis the season for lessons learned. According to HealthcareIT News one of the biggest mistakes healthIT companies make is focusing their marketing efforts solely on their specific solution rather than their customers’ pain points. Whether a company’s tech streamlines patient check-in or helps maximize revenue cycles, the solutions themselves are sterile – simply software or equipment. Companies need to remember that on the other end of the solution there is a physician – who is having to spend hours of his day importing data into a computer; a patient – who needs a second opinion as soon as possible; or even a loved one that is impacted.

That’s why in my role as a healthIT marketer, I am constantly drawn to the powerful role that customer stories play in healthcare. By putting a face to the product, they humanize the technology and clearly demonstrate outcomes – which is critical in the era of value-based care. As you craft your 2017 marketing programs, here are the top three ways to make the most out of customer stories in healthIT.

  1. Case Studies

Case studies are probably the top piece of content healthIT companies think of completing after obtaining a customer story – and for good reason. These pieces tell stories, make brands and technology come to life, and demonstrate momentum. According to Gartner, peer reviews also continue to be one of the more significant buying influences for tech buyers. Since case studies are written from the client point of view, it is easy for prospective customers to see how a product or service can also benefit them.

For example, say a hospital is experiencing inefficient workflows because its physicians are constantly dealing with corrupt or lost CDs containing patient images. The hospital then does a search for a cloud-based imaging solution. It comes across a case study showcasing a system that has helped another hospital not only reduce CDs by 90 percent, but has also enabled physicians to receive images before a patient even arrives through the hospital doors. Chances are that one piece of content is going to have a strong influence in the hospital’s vendor selection process.

Once a case study is complete, you can then leverage the content in inbound marketing and lead generation efforts. This includes hosting the content on your website, adding it to appropriate lead nurture streams, and ensuring it’s seen by the right buyers by distributing it via LinkedIn ads. If you have the resources, consider embedding video testimonials in corresponding case studies to make them interactive.

(Have a customer that’s not referenceable? Determine if the opportunity can provide enough detail to tell a strong story, with measurable results. If so, an anonymous case study can still be of value.)

  1. Media Relations

Case studies are just the beginning when it comes to leveraging customer stories. Next, it’s time for companies to expand the customer story’s reach even further through strategic media relations initiatives.

Imagine that a healthIT company is about to make a press announcement surrounding the latest version of its product, or wants to insert itself into a healthcare conversation that is making national headlines. Simply including a customer quote in a press release or having a customer available for media interviews will greatly increase a company’s ability to garner top media coverage. (INSIDE TIP: Bring customers along to industry tradeshows as a secret sauce to garner more media briefings and interest.)

Why? Because validation is a powerful tool. While a company’s technology itself may be fascinating, Joseph Goedert, news editor of Health Data Management notes, “What reporters want is to know what the real news is and to talk with a user about their experiences–including what went well and what didn’t go so well–to inform their peers about how best to optimize the technology.”

  1. Social Media

Social media is one of the most affordable ways to reach large and/or targeted audiences. LinkedIn’s latest report indicates that at the end of 2013, there were over 4.4 million healthcare practitioners, executives, channel followers, and opinion leaders on LinkedIn. Further, in 2014, more than 75,000 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and consultants posted 152,000 tweets a day.

With decision makers and potential customers right at your fingertips, it’s crucial for marketers to continuously leverage customer stories every day via your corporate social media channels. For example, companies can utilize customer quotes, images and videos in tweets and LinkedIn posts that link back to case studies, media articles and more. As you plan your customer engagement strategy on social media, ask yourself:

  • Does my company have a public Twitter list of referenceable customers?
  • Are case studies, testimonials, etc. in a regular rotation in our social editorial calendar?
  • Are my leadership and sales teams connected via LinkedIn to all customers and prospects?
  • Does my company welcome new customers publicly on Twitter to show momentum?
  • Does my social media manager actively engage with our customers on all channels?

Ultimately, through these collaborative initiatives, healthIT organizations will be able to effortlessly increase the reach of their customer stories more than they ever thought possible.

About Colleen Pinto
Colleen Pinto is the savvy storyteller and integrated comms catalyst at AR|PR specializing in leading and servicing a growing roster of tech clients in the healthIT and mobile sectors. Follow AR|PR: @AR__PR

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