Healthcare MarketingYour Healthcare Target Audience: The Secret to Great Marketing Campaigns

Have you ever wondered, why some marketing campaigns drive lots of traffic but barely any paying customers while others send little traffic but most of it converts?

That’s the difference between a good and bad healthcare target audience. The quality of the audience is everything when we build high-performing marketing campaigns to drive appointment bookings.

One time I was buying ads intending to reach a target audience interested in healthcare and realized that the perhaps simplest illustration of this is the difference between the conversion rate of two keywords.

Take the keywords “headache” and “best pediatric clinic near me”, for example. The first keyword tends to perform badly in appointment booking campaigns as the intent is vague compared to the second one.

Another sign of the right audience is a higher customer lifetime value relative to the market or competitors along with more referral business because we are able to serve our existing customers better. That in turn makes them happier and naturally makes it easier for them to recommend the business to relevant friends and family.

In this article, we’ll look at where to find audiences for healthcare businesses to target and the massive benefits you can gain (or lose!) by picking the right target audience.

Where to find healthcare target audiences

Figuring out where our healthcare target audience congregates unfortunately isn’t always as simple as just looking for outlets that talk about health in general.

There are many different types of audiences depending on demographics, wallet size, and so on. In my experience, they usually won’t be the same in every country and the biggest outlets aren’t always the ones driving the best results.

3 healthcare target audience ideas

Whether we are selling medical devices, fulfilling government required medical checks for other businesses, or helping the individual consumer with a health examination, there are lots of segments to target, such as:

  • The rising middle class in a developing country
  • People on medicare in America
  • People who only pay with private insurance

We can use a patient persona to figure out which ‘building blocks’ are best to qualify our target audience, which services they need the most, and which ones we don’t offer yet but could in order to increase the lifetime value of each customer. We can also analyze where they go for relevant information and what kind of mental state they are in at each place they go, so we can figure out how to best reach them.

Examples of qualifiers or building blocks could be:

  • Psychographics instead of demographics (although demographics are important if we’d like to serve them at the clinic)
  • Chronic diseases
  • Elderly family members who need special care

In marketing, there are a few fundamentals everyone tries to make work like reaching the customer at the right time, with the right offer, and at the right price. The digital platforms we use for advertising and marketing often claim to do just that but unfortunately, it often sounds better than it really is when it comes down to the performance.

For example, Facebook offers amazing targeting configurations to reach just the right people based on user behaviors and interests. But it has a harder time accurately reaching that right person as suggested in this independent study from North Carolina University.

Where to find your target audience?

Beyond general mainstream websites and health-related sites like WebMD or Healthline, I’ve noticed the following alternatives:

  • Social media and influencers
  • Blogs
  • Q&A websites like Quora
  • Specific keywords in search engines

Many of these options aren’t that popular and require more research, which means that most other people won’t bother – leaving you with all the benefits. Since less popular audiences haven’t been promoted to as much, the conversion rate tends to be better, meaning you’ll likely get more bang for your buck.

One of the challenges when looking for consumer healthcare audiences is that we often need to reach people in a hyperlocal neighborhood since we need to be able to serve them with our local clinics or stores in order to make it worth our while.

For example, if we are looking to find influencers to work with we might look for hashtags that are related to the neighborhood near our clinics and focus on influencers within those rather than large, popular ones that reach a ton of people in areas that we can’t serve. The benefit is that influencers who don’t have that many partners are often more affordable to work with so it can be worth the experiment.

If you are looking for blogs or specific websites there are aggregators like similarweb.com that show the biggest or most popular websites by category and country, so you can get a sense of which ones to target to find your ideal customers.

Another approach to finding relevant websites is doing a simple google search using the “related:”-search operator to find similar websites to one that you like.

The psychology of picking the right target audience for healthcare businesses

The easiest way to understand if a specific healthcare target audience is ideal for your product or service is to see that it converts well.

Generally, we can often use a one percent conversion rate on digital channels as a rule of thumb for a reasonable conversion rate but a benchmark can be a distraction since it’ll hold us back in terms of becoming best in class. I know that sounds counterintuitive but allow me to explain. If we have a benchmark and we exceed it, we might just leave it and move on to other tasks even though it could be that we are onto something that performs much better than the market (which is what most of us are looking for I imagine).

If we, for example, are buying ads, we can out-pay other advertisers for the ad inventory and ultimately attract more customers.

The challenge is that in order to test the conversion rate of an audience, we need to use the same marketing material and sales funnel as we have with other audiences. If we don’t, it’ll be like comparing apples to oranges since the change in performance could be because of a change in the material rather than the audience, as a savvy healthcare marketing consultant might suggest.

On the other hand, a typical sign that the target audience might not be ideal is that it doesn’t convert well even after experimenting with many different marketing messages. In fact, running healthcare lead generation campaigns can be an effective way to get a sense of how lucrative our target audience truly is as it can help us quantify the audiences’ performance against each other.

The target audience trap

Many business owners’ favorite targeting choice is…

*Drum roll*

You guessed it: targeting everyone!

It’s hard to pick a niche segment and let go of the potential profits of a huge audience. We often hear this in talks about businesses opening up the Chinese market — it often goes something like this “there are 1 billion people over there! If we can just get 1%, we’ll be golden!”

While that is true it’s also incredibly challenging to conquer 1% of that market.

Just take a look at these brands that went into the market with a name, slogan or other marketing collateral that didn’t translate well:

(Video source link)

My guess is that we don’t like to close the door on our options and that’s why we don’t start out targeting a niche audience and grow from there.

Sometimes, the solution is to build an audience out of several niche segments that we target individually since the messaging will be stronger than a generic message to everyone. Surprisingly, that tends to require fewer resources and makes it easier to get off the ground.

In my experience, selecting the right audience is much harder than many other marketing tasks as it’s less definitive and clear that we’ve made the right choice than building a marketing campaign.

A marketing campaign can feel more like a game or an equation in the sense that there are a limited number of variables in the equation that we can play around with to get a good result, whereas with the target audience there are so many more (human) variables.

For example, in a marketing campaign we know that if we match the right audience with the right offer at the right price and at the right time, it’s a winner.

Picking the right target audience also requires us to pick the right problem to solve for that audience and figure out why solving that problem for this audience is better than solving the same problem for a different audience that might not see it as such a big deal (meaning we might be forced to charge less for our help). There’s a lot more focus on the why when picking the target audience.

For example, helping expats living abroad in developing countries with clinical services might present a target audience that is affordable to reach, that will pay extra for good English-speaking service and may have a disproportionate disposable income to spend. On the other hand, the volume of patients one can help at each location might be small.

That’s why we often see startups pivoting their customer base as the initial idea might not work out as they wanted.


  • The right target audience tends to be more powerful than any marketing material for a healthcare business
  • Avoid the trap of going after a small percentage of “everyone” as it’s nearly impossible to create an effective marketing message that fits everyone
  • When targeting our audience going beyond the standard large and generic health outlets tends to drive better performance in marketing campaigns

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Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.

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