Marketing to hospitals and other health organizations takes a very particular set of skills. No matter how long you’ve been in the game, the challenges are the same. You have to:
- Make sure every letter of your content follows strict HIPAA guidelines.
- Communicate the value of a high-ticket offer to organizations that may be low on government funding.
- Nurture leads through a year-long sales cycle because life-or-death decisions require heavy deliberation.
The buyer journey in B2B healthcare can be a long road. But it doesn’t have to be a bumpy one. When you know your buyers and how to serve them best — no matter where they are in their journey — everyone has a smoother ride.
Let’s unpack that journey to find out what our customers really need from us.
Related: Looking for support with B2B healthcare content marketing? Our team of experienced healthcare writers can help.
B2B Healthcare Customer Journey Stages
The 4 stages of the buyer journey:
Each stage has a distinct goal the buyer is looking to achieve. Knowing those stages helps us serve readers the types of content that help them achieve their goal and move forward.
Break down each stage with us, including:
- The customer’s goal at each stage
- Types of content that help them move forward
- Healthcare B2B marketing examples
1. Awareness Stage
At the beginning of the customer journey, your audience knows they have a need or a problem. They’re looking for possible solutions, which is how they discover your company.
What prospects want most in the Awareness Stage is information. They’re searching for educational content about your brand and different types of solutions to pressing problems.
Most buyers at this stage aren’t ready to be flooded with details about your brand or product. They’re at the beginning of their journey. And while some may be physicians, they don’t always want to read heavy research in their spare time.
Help them dip their toe in the water with TOFU (top of the funnel) content:
- Your website
- Blog posts
- Press releases
See how Intuitive Surgical educates their audience with a press release.
2. Interest Stage
At this stage of the buyer journey, your audience knows their options. Now they’re creating a shortlist of potential companies and solutions. They’re considering their options but aren’t ready to decide quite yet.
In this stage, focus on establishing authority and building trust. You started laying the groundwork with educational content. Now, build on it with credibility boosters and nurturing content.
Move them forward in the B2B healthcare customer journey with:
- White papers
- Case studies
Walgreens Healthcare Solutions nurtures their physician audience with newsletters.
3. Action Stage
Your buyers in the Action Stage are aware of your company, nurtured and beginning to trust your brand. They tested the water and “shopped around.” Now, they need details to make an informed decision.
Your customers have an especially challenging decision to make. They aren’t shopping for themselves — they’re looking out for the best interests of their patients and their organization. They need to know your solution is safe, compliant with regulations and cost-effective.
Beyond that, your buyers in this stage need all decision-makers to sign off so they can move forward. Make their job easier by giving them specific information about your offer so their entire team feels confident in the decision.
In the Action Stage, provide buyers with:
- Spec sheets
- Pricing information
An example of B2B marketing at this stage is Stryker’s TruRize spec sheet.
4. Care Stage
The customer decision journey in B2B doesn’t end after the purchase. In B2B healthcare marketing, retention is just as important (if not more) than acquisition.
It’s easier and more cost-effective to retain customers than to convert new ones. The average retention rate for B2B businesses is between 76% and 81%. On top of that, loyal customers are valuable brand advocates. They are the best way to increase your chances of getting referrals.
So what does it take to retain 8 out of 10 customers? Consistently strong customer service and content that ensures their success with your solution:
- Help articles
- Training videos
Different types of content serve our buyers best at different stages in their journey. But all of your content works best when you follow 3 universal rules — no matter the stage:
- Know your buyers
- Build trust
- Respect your readers’ time
1. Know your buyers
Know your buyers’ problems and the solution they’re searching for. Your content is most effective when you understand and envision your audience as people.
Keep your customer personas updated as your company grows and changes. If you haven’t created customer personas yet, now is the time!
Get to know your customers on a deeper level:
- What’s their role or professional title?
- What goals are they trying to achieve while searching for a solution?
- What frustrations are they experiencing during the buying process?
- What questions do they want your content or sales team to answer?
The buyer journey stages may differ slightly for each persona. Map your personas out to study their individual journeys.
2. Create content that builds trust
Fostering trust goes beyond creating educational content and building your authority. As you create and update your content, be transparent about things like:
- Success rates
- Delivery timeline
- Sales process
And ease your buyers’ concerns about their decision. Again, their purchase impacts patients and could even carry the weight of life or death.
Your content should reassure customers about the safety of your product or service. Show the research behind your solution and make it clear that it complies with regulatory requirements. Knowing your B2B healthcare buyers helps you understand and respond to their concerns.
3. Respect your readers’ time
B2B healthcare decision-makers are healthcare providers and high-level executives. It’s no secret that they’re busy.
They probably like to spend free time with their family or doing something for themselves. We know your B2B content is high-quality stuff … but if you’re asking them to read an email or blog about your solution, make it worth their time. (And don’t require so much of it.)
How to respect your healthcare B2B buyer’s time:
- Keep your content concise and direct, without fluff. The inverted pyramid framework is your friend.
- Push beyond surface-level content. Offer a new angle or insightful data to support your solution.
- Show that you understand their terminology, but use plain language as a general rule. Don’t serve them jargon salad.
Nail Your B2B Healthcare Marketing at Every Stage of the Funnel
Need a roadmap for your healthcare marketing strategy? Grab the graphic we use to create content for each stage of the B2B healthcare customer journey. It includes:
- The buyer journey stages
- Your reader’s goal at each stage
- The best content formats for each stage