Putting Customers at the Center of your Digital Strategy

For years, we’ve been discussing how consumerism is transforming how health systems communicate and market. The impacts of consumerism are definitely changing the way our audiences react, research and engage with our organizations – but in what ways?


The one thing clear about consumerism that is digital is an inherent part of the overall experience. We are a digital world, and digital tools and tactics are ubiquitous in everyone’s lives. Digital drives people’s expectations of how they engage with us – from forcing us to react quicker and more transparently, embracing the on-demand economy and ensuring our online and offline experience are seamlessly aligned.


But healthcare marketing and communication professionals might have the wrong perspective of how to shape digital to address these new expectations.


While we struggle to stay ahead of the latest digital trends and technologies, we tend to fall into common traps in mapping out our digital tactics to support this new era of consumerism:

-       We approach digital in a very tactical way, treating new applications as separate, shiny new objects – whether that’s focusing on how to adopt the latest social platform, how to introduce AI onto your website or even using square videos on Instagram.

-       We adopt a FOMO approach to new tactics and strategies, borrowing heavily from our competitors, other industries. Whenever we go to a conference or lurk on other health systems’ social sites, we are eager to adopt their ideas and concepts. We secretly long to be as successful as them.

-       We also sometimes hold tight to the digital tactics and programs that we’ve already built and invested our resources – whether they are performing well or not. But customer’s expectations are evolving faster than we can react. And just because we built it doesn’t mean it’s the exact right solution to address our customers’ needs.

 Clearly, we want to ensure that the digital efforts we develop are reflective of our organization’s brand (via tone/voice), are aligned to our business goals (patient acquisition, branding or awareness) and are measurable and optimized. But we sometimes forget the overall “strategy” part of the equation.

 Good digital strategy does not revolve around our platforms, capabilities or creative campaigns. Our customers’ needs are a critical part of our digital efforts. In fact, you might say our customers define our digital strategy. The most important thing is to understand your customer. This is more than developing high-level personas of customer segments. You must strive to understand their preferences, propensities, wants, needs and desires.

 As Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal says: “Customers won’t care about any particular technology unless it solves a particular problem in a superior way.”

Christopher Boyer