Both customers and employees go through a journey before they contact a home care or home health organization. Like a good story, the customer journey in home care marketing begins with a challenge or a need that has to be overcome. The presence of that need is what sets the journey in motion.
The customer journey can vary person to person.
If you think for a moment about the length of time between a first inquiry and decision - the customer journey to a purchase - the fact that a process is underway can be easily observed. For different people and their own needs, the length of that journey varies. More severe needs result in faster decisions, and shorter lengths of time spent searching and deciding. For problems that are just beginning to develop, based upon the personality of the individual or family, their journey to a decision could be a year or longer.
How does the story of search direct the customer journey?
For agencies that want to recruit better employees and more “great-fit” clients, understanding how and when to engage with the customer journey is critical to successful marketing. Here’s why - unlike the story in a great movie, in our networked world, the employee or customer does not set out on a long physical journey, they begin by searching online.
This is not conjecture, it is based upon documented research. Google, with access to many billions of data points, has tracked this activity with healthcare related customers.
The story has predictable phases:
Exploration - the customer has a problem and they are searching to find possible solutions and resources. This is “unbranded search,” informational articles, educational video, and social network inquires. If there are specific symptoms or disease elements then people will often search those first.
Don’t forget employee exploration. This is when employees become aware of your organization and are evaluating your culture, values, and reputation. If you offer professional needs or resources they may find these online and become aware that your organization cares about its employees. They will look for all available service providers in their area and visit them on the web and social. First impressions are occurring during this period, as employees consider the pain vs. gain of making an employer shift, and they get an impression of you from all of your digital elements. Every job listing, Facebook advertisement, or web announcement is telling them a story. Consistent and effective employer branding is crucial in all of these online placements.
Consideration - The customer has narrowed down their options and is now comparing services. This search is going to involve website visits, social network inquiries, and specific comparisons of reviews and services offered. Detailed information pages about benefits, culture, and elements that can be downloaded allow them to access this information online (which is the preference). Employees who are included in marketing stories can be very important.
Include employee consideration. Employees are going to review websites, social postings, and reviews in detail and visit sites like Glassdoor to see how you are ranked. They will inquire in their social networks to see who may know something about you. Anything that appears in a Google search with your organization's name is likely to be reviewed (try this!). Professional resources that are provided can add to a sense that you nurture and support employees.
Decision - How much of the decision is already made before a prospective employee or patient makes direct contact by phone or inquiry form? The answer may be as much as 80%. The more informed a prospect is about you when they call, the greater the opportunity to close. Uneducated prospects are less qualified.
Where are you meeting customers in their journey in your home care marketing?
If customers are going along a journey before they make a decision, it makes sense that you would meet them as early in the process as possible. If you wait until the end of their decision process to make a connection - their decision will already be made.
As much as 80% of the customer decision process is already complete when they make direct contact with you by phone or online form.
What this means for the marketing plan is simple - you have to offer value each step of the way.
- At the beginning, when customers are exploring needs and possible solutions - you need to offer information that helps them in their educational process. It’s during this phase that they come to know about your organization and your personality as an agency.
- In the middle of their process - during consideration - make it easy for them to understand how you are different and how you compare specifically with the alternatives.
- During the final phase, reinforce your differentiators and continue to provide value that helps them during a challenging life season.
The best marketing approaches include value for the customer in all three phases, and continue even after the purchase.
How will you deliver this information?
Be easy to find online, and proactively send information out by subscription sign up. People who are searching are more qualified than those you find with ads - because they are already looking. Those who sign up for information are also highly qualified and deserve strong follow up.
The information should be delivered in the communication channel that the customer prefers. You’ll know this because of your persona work, but you need to have a system in place that can deliver the information effectively.
Marketing System Checklist - Make sure your system can easily provide the following:
- Delivers information that is searchable
- Sends out nurturing emails and social posts
- Is personalized to the individual’s name and needs
- Is centered around your website to increase conversions
- Consistently presents your brand and brand personality
- The quality of the communications doesn’t vary - they make you look good
- Integrates with a CRM