In this edition of Marketers’ Pain Points, we tackle the ever-evolving challenge of data discipline and campaign strategy for health marketers.

Q: As a health marketer, I’m trying to get a handle on my organization’s privacy-compliant, first-party data in order to create more meaningful marketing messages for our patients and prospects. We need to understand what they value most in the services we provide, so we can deliver messages that truly resonate. While our organization has a good start with customer-provided data and good rigor around privacy controls, how can I ensure I’m accessing the right data, sticking to the rules and creating purposeful strategies to meet our marketing goals?

The upheaval of data strategies, thanks largely to Google’s third-party cookie deprecation process that began in January along with Apple’s Advanced Data Protection a year earlier, has marketers abuzz lately. However, you and your peers in the provider, payor, pharma and medical equipment spaces already have increased sensitivity, due to HIPAA privacy requirements that took hold in 1996.  

Still, the data breaches and questionable collection of consumer data that spurred Google’s action, as well as state and federal privacy-protection legislation, is enough to make omnichannel health marketers take pause. 

Quad Insights report:
Tapping the power of consumer attitudes

“Health marketers have to access data from multiple sources and must understand which data they can use,” says Todd McNab, VP of Client Strategy at Quad. “And they need to be sensitive to the fact that consumers have a choice and will exercise that choice, so delivering customer experience and targeted marketing that’s meaningful to them is critical. When it comes to executing campaigns, these struggles are real.”

Wherever you are in the development of your data-fueled marketing strategies, these three steps can help identify and optimize the right data to achieve and exceed your marketing campaign goals.

1. Build a data-fueled marketing campaign strategy

Put data at the beginning of the campaign-development process. Set objectives that align data use to outcomes, such as increasing the number of providers writing scrips for the new drug by year-end or improving the market share of targeted procedures that use your medical device. Now, data’s role becomes clear.

For instance, how can you segment and target provider specialties for either of these goals? Is your existing data complete, or do you need a trusted partner to provide additional first- or second-party data?

If your goal is to increase patient or member counts, you will likely need a second- or third-party data partner as well to augment existing contact information with additional data, such as age, location and gender. These data-sharing partners should provide transparent processes that comply with privacy regulations while providing optimal data designed specifically to target your marketing goals.

“Ask potential data partners: How often is their data refreshed? Where is it sourced from? Is it compiled data or individual responses? And what processes are in place to ensure compliance?” McNab says.

Conducting primary research to gain additional insights into your prospects’ interests and motivators is another option for adding layers of sophistication, knowledge and deeper segmentation of your audience.

2. Instill more discipline around your data inventory and accuracy

Understand the current data available to you, sources you’re using and types of data at your disposal. While health organizations may gather extensive amounts of zero- and first-party data, it’s not always easily accessible nor actionable for marketers. In addition, what trusted sources supply your second- and third-party data that help you target prospects? Map it out for a clear and complete picture that you can take action on.

“Take stock of the data you have access to today — what is the data layout, the data dictionary and where is it coming from?” McNab says. “What other information can be sourced from the consumer database? Things like historical contact information, requested services in the past and other engagement data that may not be readily available in every database. You need to make sure all the pipes are plugged in right.”

Ensure customer data is accurate and up-to-date so that your personalized, targeted outreach delivers the best customer experience. Once you’ve invested in getting existing data free of inconsistencies and errors, develop rigor around data input and management processes for future data collection and use.

While health customers offer an abundance of zero-party data over time, investigate varied strategies to fully optimize actionable first-party data collection for prospective patients or members. This could include site and app engagements, email interactions, on-site surveys, newsletter sign-ups, social media and educational content campaigns.

3. Super-charge your segmentation with attitudinal insights

When second- or third-party data sources cannot help refine the data to include customers who are most likely to be interested in your product or service’s strengths, consider layering attitudinal information on to your data with an algorithmic-based predictive model.

“Building a predictive model based on an attitudinal segmentation starts with primary research among your targeted customers. From that research, data scientists learn whether customers fall into attitudinal segments,” says Ellen Cox, Director of Health Vertical Marketing Strategy at Quad. “If so, they can take the analysis one step further to determine if they can build an algorithmic model that can predict customer attitudes based on readily available data, rather than survey questions. You can then predict what customer attitudes will be.”

Learn more about an algorithmic-based predictive model for health marketers here.

The segmentation on which the predictive model was built can also be used by your creative team to develop the most effective marketing messages to inspire prospects to engage. For example, if the creative team knows the list is segmented by people who value access to virtual office visits versus others who most value using an app, they can use messaging and imagery that speak to those preferences.

“Consumers are more than just their age or income,” McNab says. “This type of attitudinal segmentation provides insights that allow you to build marketing messaging that speaks meaningfully to those customers without relying on PHI [protected health information]. The beautiful thing is you can test various marketing tactics based on motivations and attitudes. This can help remove some of the paralysis in using data in a space like health, which is so regulated around PHI.”

A strong data partner can help you determine which data matters to your work, assess which data is available and what else you need — and, most critically, show you how to put that data into action. That end-to-end process should include determining data needed, filling in the data gaps, creating marketing messages and materials, executing digital campaigns, printing and mailing direct mail pieces and analyzing and adjusting campaign performance.

To discover how health marketers can put regulatory-compliant data into real-world action, read Quad Insights’ report, “Tapping the power of consumer attitudes.”