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Six B2B Healthcare Marketing Trends to Consider in your Annual Marketing Plan

This post was originally published in 2023

Healthcare marketers are being asked to create greater impact with fewer resources, thus increasing the pressure to spend only on the most effective tactics.  Use this blog post as a guide for your team to explore innovative ways to grow sustainably in the year ahead. In this post, we share six B2B marketing trends that move the needle in powerful ways for our partners. You will also learn how to turn these trends into specific tactics for your organization’s growth.

Before diving into trends and tactics, your leadership team needs to refresh strategy and reorient around key priorities.

Without a keen sense of direction and purpose, your marketing plan will fall prey to disorganization and lack of focus. Revisit your strategy to ensure your goals and objectives are aligned with the company’s mission, vision, values, value, differentiators, growth plan, and target audience. For additional support setting and updating your strategy, read 5 Steps to Plan your Annual Marketing Strategy.

Now that you are on solid strategic ground, let’s explore the B2B marketing trends you need to know:

Trend 1: Purpose-driven brand messaging

Companies are made up of real human beings with passions and values—and prospects are increasingly interested in the people behind the product or service. Your audience wants to know more than just what you offer; they want to see who you are and what you care about. Organizations find success in sharing what they stand for and the difference they are working to make in areas including social responsibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion, governance, and environmental justice.

Tactic: In healthcare, purpose-driven brand messaging should center on key industry discussions. Consider topics like:

  • Securing patient privacy

  • Enhancing accessibility of care in rural areas

  • Prioritizing provider wellness (e.g., reducing burnout/depression)

  • Improving clinician education to transform care for patients of all genders, races, ethnicities, and communities

  • Exploring opportunities in digital and remote health tools and programs

  • Supporting fair, empowering ownership structures

Trend 2: Data-driven strategy to span the customer journey

As technology use and data access are more present in marketing, successful companies develop more personalized messages through more relevant mediums. B2B Marketing leaders are also addressing each stage in the customer journey—from reputation building and demand creation to sale conversion and post-sale engagement—by leveraging insights from data.

Tactic: Take a holistic look at your marketing channels and content (do not think specific campaigns, think about your whole content arsenal and customer journey) and leverage data from your CRM and other third-party tools to gain a better understanding of customer behavior and develop targeted outreach plans. What content performed best this year? Which topics are most interesting to a new prospect? Which topics help close the deal? Data can help you design a content plan that addresses each stage of your buyer’s journey.

Trend 3: User-focused content > SEO content

Google recently deployed its “helpful content update,” which encourages businesses to focus on creating people-first content instead of SEO-centric content. While the idea of people-first content creation is not new, it’s importance has skyrocketed since this most recent Google update (released August 2022). Many marketers have fallen into the trap of selecting topics based solely on observed SEO trends rather than prioritizing consumer needs and satisfaction.

Tactic: Before you write content, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful?

  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge?

  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they have learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?

  • Are you adding value to the reader that they would not gain somewhere else?

If you answered yes, you are on the right path. If you answered no, start shifting your strategy and approach to produce more people-first content.

Next, review your old content. Sites with considerable amounts of unhelpful content are less likely to perform well in Google Search. Revise or remove any content that is not user focused or up to date.

Finally, create a content plan for 2023 that features topics at the crossroads of your business goals and your target market’s big questions and needs.

Trend 4: Content continues to reign and evolve

Blogs continue to be a strong content investment for B2B. They are valuable for organic search and can be doubly useful when repurposed as engaging and informative content on social media, in email marketing and newsletters, and as sales follow-up tools. Innovative marketers are increasingly activating new ways to engage with and satisfy their audience beyond the initial blog post.

Tactic: Switch up your content format and delivery! Here are a few strong options:

Repurpose long-form content: Extract key parts of your existing resources to create shorter pieces for lead magnets or punchy social media posts.

Consider a podcast: Many B2B brands and organizations are investing in podcast production to build brand credibility and authority, generate demand, reach consumers in new ways, and engage existing customers. If you can combine a unique, authentic voice with stimulating, relevant topics, podcasting can be an excellent channel to try!

Tell relatable stories: Case studies are a fantastic way to tell your audience an emotionally engaging story of client success, bolstered by clear data to demonstrate the impact.

Invest in original research: A terrific way to set your content apart is to consider what data and insights are uniquely available to your company. Take time to gather, reflect on, and utilize informative content that will set your organization apart and build brand trust.

Integrate video strategically: Only make videos with a clear purpose and specific focus. Know how you are going to use your video before you create it. As an example, video can be a strategic, straightforward way to provide answers to complex FAQs.

Influencer marketing: Influencers are not just for the B2C world. Consider what influential brands and well-known individuals in your industry could represent exciting opportunities for collaboration.

Trend 5: Leverage ad targeting on Google, LinkedIn

As third-party cookies are going out of style due to privacy concerns, smart marketers are trying out alternative ways to develop and deliver highly personalized ads to target consumers without relying on user behavior tracking. For B2B, Google and LinkedIn are the best destinations for advertising, as Google holds 83% of the search engine market share and LinkedIn is the #1 rated platform for B2B lead generation. To optimize effectiveness on each platform, marketers need to understand the respective tools available and implement proven best practices.

Tactic: For Google ads, use the following tips to get the most bang for your buck:

  • Build campaigns that clearly support your established marketing objectives

  • Customize your ads and landing pages to attract and engage your target audience

  • Use content targeting (keyword, placement, or topic) or audience targeting (demographic, remarketing, etc.) to increase relevance and reach of your ads

  • Set realistic goals and closely track conversions to measure value added accurately

  • Monitor and allocate budget based on campaign performance

  • Take advantage of testing tools to optimize the highest performing assets

  • Use frequency capping (when applicable) to prevent overexposure to ads

When deploying sponsored content on LinkedIn, consider these recommendations:

  • Include 4-5 ads in each campaign to improve reach to your target audience

  • Watch length and size. Keep copy short—headlines under 150 characters and descriptive copy under 70—but consider making your visuals larger (could result in 38% higher click-through rate)

  • Diversify your content set to include timely industry news analyses, rich media elements that play in the LinkedIn feed, and human interest stories

  • Use the Audience Expansion and Audience Network tools to discover and reach your prospects more effectively (within and beyond LinkedIn)

  • Run tests to test audience targeting criteria and adjust strategy accordingly

  • Install the LinkedIn Insight Tag on your company website to track conversion and demographics more comprehensively

Trend 6: In-person events making a comeback

Though virtual engagement remains critical, tradeshows and conferences are making a comeback—and a well-formed marketing plan will include strong options for both remote and in-person connections.

Tactic: If attending an in-person event is logistically and financially possible, take advantage of the opportunity to get invaluable face time with your current and potential leads. Try to get a speaking spot at industry events. Take the time to create a top-notch booth and relevant sales collateral. Incentivize booth visits with a giveaway or other promotion. Ensure prospects know where to find you with a geo-targeted advertising campaign. Get more tips from our conference planning playbook.

Conclusion

Preparing marketing plans and budgets for the new year is always an intensive task—particularly given the marked unpredictability of the healthcare industry and landscape. Start with strategy, consider trends, and deploy the tactics that work best for your organization. If you are looking for a little extra help, our team at Slabtown would love to support your planning and execution processes.

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