Why Healthcare Marketing is not ROI-friendly

Rohit Kumar Pandey
November 29, 2020

Forget ROI.

Every D2C healthcare provider is spending dollars to acquire customers, one-time customers.

Healthcare marketing and business strategies are quite sound: they prioritise reach and scale. 

However, this is also why most healthcare providers wane quickly, as reach and scale are resource-intensive and investor-dependent goals. 

Instead, what if you prioritised earning complete customer loyalty of every customer acquired? Doesn’t sound like a realistic goal? 

That’s actually how credit card providers ensure they never see a dry day, ever. And so will healthcare.

Making Healthcare Accessible to All: The #1 Obstacle 

What happens when a healthcare provider ramps up business expansion without considering customer loyalty? Focus on basic expectations are sometimes lost, driving away even the most loyal customers.

These business expansion strategies fail, as their strategy focussed only on winning more customers with new features or expanded reach; not gaining more value from each customer. 

Before you begin to re-question your approach, pause, and ask these 3 questions. 

And when you answer them, you will know how to integrate customer loyalty into your marketing strategy, emerging as a successful healthcare provider built by loyal customers.

Q1: Are customers loyal to healthcare providers?


If you get this (or something close), after dividing average patient lifetime value across the lifespan and average cost spent for patient acquisition (LTV/CAC), your customers are no longer one-time customers.

But, isn’t healthcare delivery thriving?

Global Healthcare Snapshot: Opportunities for Providers

Despite having an evergreen market demand, the lifetime value of every customer drops, when a new provider walks in. New healthcare providers and aggregators are emerging rapidly, as entry barriers are low, and the demand for local providers is rising.

Q2: How to earn customer loyalty in healthcare?

Carving out a specific USP that ensures customer loyalty is difficult, in healthcare.

Customers may choose you again because of your medical facilities, but your competition has them too.

Patients demand experienced doctors. You have them, so does your competition.

Effective customer loyalty programs ensure that customers always find value when they choose you

Here are 4 examples of successful customer loyalty strategies that highlight opportunities for D2C Healthcare providers to build a sound 360° customer loyalty strategy.

How to earn customer loyalty in healthcare?

1. Incentivise existing customers, for just having chosen you once 

Standing 23rd on the list of the most valuable brands by Interbrand, American Express is known for its premium value added services. These premium services, which range from discounts on flights to access to luxury services, make every card holder, a proud card holder. A loyal card holder, who will transact again. 

Did this oust competition? MasterCard and Visa still tail behind at the 62nd and 55th place on this list. 

Takeaway: Specific value-added memberships secure loyalty from specific customers. This could be access to emergency medical care, 24X7 drug delivery or whichever unique service that would be a delight in your customer’s daily life. 

2. Reward patients for healthy behaviour

In the year of its launch (2012), Nike’s Fuelband brought 18% of the company’s profits that financial year. 

The secret sauce was a simple product feature. Unlike its competitors, Nike’s fuelband rewards each user with Fuel points, after any fitness activity. 

Re-engagement earns loyalty, even new-found loyalty. It’s two competitors, Fitbit and Jawbone, went home that year.

And it doesn’t stop there. 5 years later, Nike’s exclusive loyalty programs, under the banner ‘Where all athletes belong’, onboarded 100 million customers, who pay about 3 times the average customer acquired.

Takeaway: These customers are your patients, and they like to be rewarded, always. What happens when you reward patients for healthy behaviour in everyday life? Effective re-engagement takes you one step closer towards ensuring that second transaction.

3. Have a universal point redemption program 

Credit card providers rule the roost at customer loyalty, because they reward customers with points for every transaction.

And credit card points outlive Nike’s Fuelband, because they are universal; they can be redeemed in multiple ways; from instant cash back and exclusive discounts to travel packages and premium flights.

Furthermore, customers stay loyal to different credit card providers because of their unique loyalty programs. When American's Express loyal customers upgrade to a Platinum card, they get 5X points whenever they book flights through their website.    

Takeaway: Healthcare providers can reward their customers with universal points, everytime they transact on digital payment platforms. You can differentiate your service by offering exclusive offers on almost any brand, global or local, if you have a strong loyalty partner.

4. Be accessible on other service platforms 

79% marketers use affiliate marketing for re-engagement. However, while Amazon Associates and Groupon success stories can woo you, affiliate marketing in healthcare is yet to be explored. 

Takeaway: Ask these 3 questions before you choose an affiliate platform for your loyalty program:

• Is this platform visited by my patients almost daily?

• Do I have products or services that may be used regularly?

• Is the affiliate platform designed for garnering impressions or leads or sales?

Answering these questions help your marketing team prioritise unit economics first, and seek out an affiliate that garners loyalty.

And like these brands, tailored 360° loyalty programs can also take healthcare’s providers closer towards achieving that healthy 3:1. 

Q3: Why haven’t other healthcare providers used loyalty programs already? 

Market research shows that healthcare providers avoid loyalty programs because they are tough to conceptualise, build and measure. 

However, providers are trying their best to earn customer loyalty with subscriptions and cash backs, even if it costs them. 

Ultimately, only a comprehensive program that combines engagement, incentivisation, accessibility and unique rewards, can maximise customer loyalty. 

Coincidentally, it is the healthcare provider who shows they care, beyond health, that emerges as the one who truly cares
So which of these 4 customer loyalty strategies is best for your healthcare brand? Ask me your questions here

Related Content