Five Lessons Hospitals Can Learn From Loyalty Marketing

How to build loyalty and drive long-term growth

If you’re like most of us, you probably have a punch card (or five) in your wallet. Loyalty programs allow brands to build relationships and trust, encourage repeat visits and enhance customer loyalty. According to Bond Loyalty, consumers are 81 percent more likely to continue to do business with brands that offer loyalty programs.

How can hospitals use loyalty-marketing principles to connect with women? Here are five ways.

  1. Use personalization.

Hospital marketers who craft specific, audience-driven content for female patients and decision-makers are more likely to see engagement. It’s easy for most consumers to brush off a generic cardiac campaign as something that doesn’t apply to them. But a 65-year-old woman who suspects she may need a bone-density screening is much more likely to be receptive to that messaging if she’s contacted by name on the channel she favors.

  1. Leverage microtargeting.

Savvy loyalty marketers employ predictive analytics and microtargeting to capture the attention of would-be best-fit customers. Hospital marketers should consider doing the same. For example, using comorbidities to predict which linked conditions patients may experience in the future provides added value for women looking out for their own health and the health of their families.

  1. Make true connections.

Emotional connections are important to everyone when choosing brands, but especially to women, who make the majority of healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. Fostering an emotional connection means more than just branded freebies, though: Customers (and patients) want to feel like a brand cares about them — and gets them. Patagonia, for example, emphasizes to socially responsible consumers that it shares their values by supporting like-minded causes and offering fair wages.

  1. Remember your real VIPs.

Loyalty marketers know it costs more to gain a new customer than to treat an existing one well: seven times more, to be exact. With the increased transparency of the information age, women have more choices than ever, and word-of-mouth and online reviews can make or break a healthcare system’s success. Implementing a customer service-forward approach — one that keeps women apprised of important health milestones for them and their family, and utilizes user-friendly dashboards to help demystify and organize health-related information — will help ensure patients keep returning, and bringing their families with them. And consider follow-up emails, too; a simple thank-you can go a long way.

  1. Consider a hospital loyalty program.

Women are more likely than men to belong to loyalty programs, according to a report by CrowdTwist; they’re also more likely to consider themselves loyal to more brands. Hospital systems looking to innovate might explore implementing a hospital loyalty program for patients for preventive-care and wellness visits. Patients who show up on time for appointments could be rewarded with points toward rewards like branded goodies, special parking access or partnered offers like reduced-rate gym memberships.

Whether a hospital loyalty program is right for your marketing plan or not, there are lessons to be gleaned from successful loyalty marketers that will create a base of loyal consumers and drive long-term growth. Employ a customer service-forward approach and reap the benefits.

Kathy Selker
I’m Kathy Selker. My work as CEO of Northlich, a Cincinnati-based healthcare marketing agency, has taught me a great deal about how hospitals and health systems can best connect with women to make the most positive impact in their lives.
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