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PR research: Healthcare brands are prioritizing multichannel marketing programs to grow awareness and customer base, Matter survey finds

by | May 9, 2024 | Public Relations

New survey research from brand elevation agency Matter Communications, based on input from healthcare marketing decision-makers, offers insights into the industry’s top priorities for the remainder of the year, exploring strategic initiatives including product/service awareness, agency partnerships, and the use of AI. 

The agency’s 2024 Matter Health Marketing Outlook survey reveals that the top two priorities for healthcare marketers in 2024 are increasing awareness for their product or service (26.3 percent) and reaching a specific audience (22.4 percent).

Agency partners remain a valuable investment for marketers

When asked about their current agency relationship and budget plans, 94.4 percent of respondents said they are currently working with a PR/marketing agency, with 63.5 percent planning to either increase or maintain their current investment this year.

Most healthcare marketers (77 percent) that don’t work with an agency plan to hire one this year, stating that offering PR, integrated marketing and creative services is the most important factor for selecting an agency partner (38.5 percent). The other top factors include:

  • Industry-specific knowledge: 30.8 percent
  • Budget/cost/financial model: 15.4 percent
  • Media relationships/results: 7.7 percent
  • Big idea generation/creativity: 7.7 percent

“We’re witnessing a dramatic shift among our healthcare partners toward using a multichannel approach,” said Paul Berthiaume, senior vice president of Matter Health, in a news release. “As healthcare complexities evolve, marketing leaders are leaning on agency partners with specific industry expertise to drive strategic marketing and communications programs across diverse channels—all under one roof. The results of this survey underpin the value that an experienced agency brings to the activation of multichannel programs.”

Product/service awareness and customer targeting top healthcare communications goals

Healthcare marketers noted that their top communications goals this year are:

  • Growing product and/or service awareness: 26.3 percent
  • Targeting specific customer audiences: 22.4 percent
  • Becoming a category thought leader: 17.7 percent
  • Supporting sales: 17.2 percent
  • Building brand awareness: 16.4 percent

When asked the top area where they plan to prioritize marketing/communications budgets in 2024, respondents’ number one answer was SEO and SEM (13.4 percent), followed by:

  • Marketing operations: 10.4 percent
  • Content marketing: 9.9 percent
  • Media buying: 9.9 percent
  • Creative + design: 8.6 percent
  • Social media: 8.6 percent

Matter’s analysis: Given the complexities and nuances healthcare brands face in growing awareness with their specific audiences, marketing leaders are exploring a diverse mix of tactics to cut through the noise. Supporting program pillars of PR and corporate comms with SEO/SEM and content strategies seems to be a winning formula for many as they look to activate their messages across multiple channels to effectively drive market interest.

Nearly all healthcare marketers are using AI

The application of AI is on the rise across healthcare, and healthcare marketing is no outlier with 98.4 percent of respondents currently using AI tools to some extent:

  • 46.6 percent of respondents often use AI tools for their marketing/communications programs
  • 38.4 percent sometimes use AI tools for their marketing/communication programs
  • 13.4 percent rarely use AI tools but plan to increase their use in 2024
  • 1.3 percent never use AI tools but are planning to explore the value in 2024

For those respondents using AI tools, the marketing areas where they are seeing the greatest benefits are:

  • Content development: 28.5 percent
  • Identifying trends: 25 percent
  • Predictive analytics/customer insights: 23.3 percent
  • Programmatic advertising and media buying: 15.4 percent
  • Competitor analysis: 6.1 percent
  • Research: 1.8 percent

Matter’s analysis: PR and marketing agencies should embrace the use of AI in ways that support—not replace—the deep knowledge, experience, and always-on approach that humans offer. Marketers should not rely on AI to make decisions or take on tasks that demand a human touch, like building strong media relationships, but should consider utilizing the technology to gather critical insights, support creative and strategic problem-solving, and streamline administrative processes.

The 2024 Matter Health Marketing Outlook Survey was fielded by a third-party provider between March 3rd – 8th, 2024. The online survey research collected responses from 232 healthcare CMOs and marketing decision-makers across several sectors including health tech/health IT, medical device, payer, provider, pharma, biotech, consumer health, home care and women’s health.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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