The Ultimate Guide to AI for Healthcare Marketers + Do’s and Don’ts Cheatsheet What You Need to Know
The Ultimate Guide to AI for Healthcare Marketers + Do’s and Don’ts Cheatsheet What You Need to Know

January 2023

Be honest. When’s the last time you opened that file labeled “Customer Personas?” Months ago? Years ago?

If your attitude toward customer personas is similar to how Taylor Swift feels about her exes (aka, “I Forgot That You Existed”), let’s get to work.

Read on to demystify healthcare customer personas: what they are, why they’re important and how to update them. And use this template to get started on your persona updates.

What are healthcare customer personas?

A healthcare customer persona is a detailed profile of your organization’s ideal customer based on customer data. It’s a fictional representation of a real person you’re marketing toward — the kind of person your services are best suited for.

But don’t let the word “fictional” fool you. You may give your persona a fake name and even a stock photo, but that’s all you’ll need to fabricate. You’ll create the rest of your healthcare persona based on two things:

  • Customer research
  • A deep understanding of your target audience

You may need to create more than one customer persona for your organization. Your healthcare system may serve different types of patients — and your patients may not always be their own decision-makers. (For example, parents make the decisions for their child’s care. If you serve children, you also need to understand parents.)

Here’s what to include in your persona:

What’s included in a healthcare customer persona?

Your customer persona(s) should include:

  • Name: Give your persona a fictional first and last name or an alliterative name to help your team remember it, like “Busy Mom Betty.”
  • Demographic details: Include information about age, sex, income and education level.
  • Attitudes and behavioral traits: Consider how your ideal customer presents. What are they like? What are their attitudes toward healthcare?
  • Interests: Humanize your persona. What do they like to do when they aren’t receiving care?
  • Goals: Dig deeper than “to receive quality care.” What’s driving them to seek care? Do they want to spend more time with their grandchildren? To live more comfortably?
  • Pain points and challenges: Don’t confuse “pain points” with “symptoms.” What’s getting in the way of this person receiving care? Insurance issues? Long wait times? Taking off work?
  • Habits: Note how this person makes care decisions. Do they look up online reviews, “shop around” or simply choose the location closest to their home or with the most convenient hours?
  • Questions they ask: At Aha Media Group, we pay attention to the questions a persona asks at every stage of the awareness journey. A persona who is “problem aware” (knows what problem they have) has different needs than one who has already reached the “product aware” (knows your product exists) stage. Mapping the customer journey lets us identify the questions they are asking and create content to answer them specifically.Want to try it yourself? Here’s the template we use for creating personas (page 1) and the customer journey map (page 2).

Why are customer personas in healthcare important?

OK, so now you have a stock photo of Busy Mom Betty and everything you could know about her before you officially pass the creepy threshold. What do you do with that information?

You take that deep understanding of your healthcare customers and use it to improve your marketing processes. Patient personas help you:

  • Target your ideal customers with content made FOR them
  • Keep your messaging consistent by speaking to specific readers
  • Create campaigns rooted in your audience’s pain points and goals
  • Humanize your healthcare content

When your marketing content serves your audience — rather than you — it connects with them and converts them into customers. But to connect and convert, your personas need to be current.

Why should you update your patient personas?

Your healthcare customer personas are most effective when they’re relevant to your current customers. In other words, digging up personas from 5 years ago isn’t enough. You have to update them.

Why? Because your customers’ needs, pain points and buying habits change over time — especially since 2020. Customer expectations have shifted dramatically since the pandemic. Today’s patients are often seeking:

  • Virtual appointments instead of in-person visits
  • Digital tools such as patient portals
  • Online booking

When you create content based on old personas, you’re speaking to your past customers. Updated healthcare marketing personas help you resonate with your audience today.

How to update your customer personas

Creating or updating personas takes time to do it right. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Gather data

Before you update your healthcare personas, gather data on the people you serve. Use these resources to research your current customers and audience:

  • Google Analytics
  • Your customer database
  • Your sales department
  • Your customer service department
  • Provider interviews
  • Customer interviews

Healthcare customer personas include a variety of data.

Start with these 6 traits:

  1. Demographic Info
  2. Attitudes & Behaviors
  3. Interests
  4. Goals
  5. Pain Points & Challenges
  6. Buying Habits

Step 2: Analyze data for commonalities

Once you have a sizable data set on your current customers and audience members, analyze your data for commonalities.

  • What characteristics, goals and needs do they share?
  • What are their preferences for care?
  • What does their healthcare journey look like?
  • What distinct patient subgroups stand out to you?

Step 3: Create personas

Armed with this information, create personas for each patient subgroup. Include the characteristics above. But most importantly, humanize your persona:

  • Give the persona a name and photo.
  • Give them a voice, using quotes from real customers.
  • List the questions they ask and where they look for answers. (Psst. This is a great time to create an editorial calendar to answer those questions.)

Remember, your patient personas are more than data sets. Think of them as real people seeking care. This will help you create content for real readers — and better connect with the people you serve.

Use this template to get started on your persona updates.

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