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How to Research a Healthcare Buyer Persona & Journey

 healthcare buyer persona - research file

Unfocused marketing is like throwing darts while wearing a blindfold. You may hit the dartboard. You may hit the wall. You may even hit the bullseye, although that’s highly unlikely. 

But you want to hit the bullseye every time. You waste money and time on marketing efforts that don’t connect with potential buyers. Take off the blindfold so you can see your target. Inbound marketing for healthcare involves knowing who you’re marketing to so that you can confidently hit the mark. 

This begins with a developing buyer persona. 

What Is a Healthcare Buyer Persona?

A healthcare buyer persona is a semifictional representation of your ideal customer. Buyer personas keep your marketing focused and help you avoid marketing to people who are never going to buy your product. Buyer personas allow you to provide the right content to the right people at the right time.  

Developing a medical buyer persona takes time. Don’t rush the process or leave the work to wither away in a folder somewhere. The effort will pay off in time as you reach customers who are looking for answers to the very problems your company is an expert at solving.

Healthcare Buyer Persona Research in 6 Treatments 

To get a full diagnosis of your buyers’ pain points and opportunities, you’ll need to ask a lot of questions to:

  • Marketing stakeholders
  • Your sales team
  • Existing buyers

You’ll also need to research:

  • What your competition is up to
  • What’s trending on social media that is relevant to your industry
  • Which keywords potential customers are using

Ask the Marketing Stakeholders 

Who is your ideal customer? Developing the foundation of a B2B buyer persona begins with collecting relevant demographic information. This makes your marketing efforts targeted to who your customers really are. 

You’ll want to know your persona’s work details:

  • Their job role/title
  • Which industry they work in
  • How long they’ve worked in their field
  • Media and social media intake

Consider your persona’s demographics, including:

  • Age range
  • Gender (if applicable) 
  • Income
  • Location

But a buyer persona is about more than just the details you can scrape off someone’s Facebook profile. Press the company stakeholders deeper on what they know about their customers’ hopes and fears:

  • What problem/opportunity leads customers to our doorstep?
  • What misconceptions do buyers have about our product/service?
  • What hangups do they have about leaving their current vendor for us?

The more information you know, the better your healthcare inbound marketing will be. 

Ask Your Sales Team 

Your sales team is a valuable resource. After all, they deal directly with customers. They have successfully sold your product and they have lost opportunities to close the deal. 

  • What do prospects and closed customers most frequently ask your sales team? 
  • Which challenges or pain points do you hear the most?
  • What motivates customers to contact us?
  • What demographic details can you provide?
  • What objections lead customers to not purchase with us?
  • What competitors are they considering? 
  • Why do buyers consider us over competitors?
  • How do they prefer to be contacted?

Involving your sales team in creating buyer personas ensures sales will be on board with your inbound marketing process. A solid buyer persona helps your sales team to have marketing material that aligns with the customers they want. 

applying buyer personas in healthcare medical technology marketing - DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK HERE

Ask Existing Buyers 

Your B2B medical marketing has already yielded results. You have customers, and they have opinions about their experience buying from you (good and bad). These opinions are a treasure trove of information that can speak to how potential buyers approach your business. 

Set up interviews with your current customers and gather as much information as you can. Keep in mind that you’re interviewing busy people, so be respectful of their time.

There are several questions listed below. This list is a starting point for a good buyer interview: 

  • What does your company do?
  • What is your role at your company?
  • How do you learn new information for your job?
  • What are your biggest job challenges?
  • What terms would you search on Google to find us/our products/our services?
  • What information did you need to find to make a decision?
  • Which product line did you invest in?
  • What social media platforms do you use most?
  • What does success look like in your role?
  • How did you hear about our company?
  • What problem led you to seek our solution?
  • When you were researching products/services, which attribute was the highest priority?
  • Any product/service our company doesn’t offer that you wish it did?
  • Who else at your company has power over these buying decisions?
  • What trade shows do you attend?
  • Any other positive or negative feedback about your experience?

Research the Competition

Other companies are targeting your potential and current customers. They seek to solve the same pain points you seek to solve. You can learn from what they’re doing well and not so well. 

A competitor analysis helps you see how you stack up against rivals. Knowing your competition allows you to set yourself apart as you market to your buyer persona. There are several traits to consider in this analysis:

  • Who is the competition’s target audience?
  • What differentiates them from you?
  • What does their marketing strategy look like, and is it successful?
  • How much do they charge for products similar to yours?
  • How are they using their web presence (i.e. # of blog posts per month)? 
  • What features on their website are helpful?
  • What are people saying in customer reviews?
  • How do they approach social media?
  • How are they converting traffic to leads to customers?

Research Social Media

It seems like everyone is on social media in one way or another, but if you look in the right places you’ll find nuggets of gold. Customers use social media as part of their buying research -- why shouldn’t you!

Knowing how your potential customers use social media helps you to better craft a buyer persona, particularly for any organic and paid social media promotion you do.

Consider these questions when researching social media:

  • Which social media platforms do your customers use?
  • What topics are trending that relate to your industry, or your customer’s?
  • How do they interact on different platforms?
  • How are competitors using social media?
  • Are customers engaging with your posts?
  • Who are the industry influencers to be aware of?

Research Relevant Keywords

Ideally, you want your content to be on the first results page, as many people don’t go beyond the first page or two. No one sees your content on page 162, but they do see it on page 1

Keywords are the words or phrases that your customers type into a search engine to find information to solve their problems. Knowing this information is key to improving your healthcare technology marketing. Savvy healthcare marketers research which keywords customers are using to describe:

  • Problems
  • Opportunities
  • Products
  • Services
  • Vendors

Say you’re working on medical device lead generation for diabetic testing devices like a glucometer. Popular keywords include:

  • “a1c” 
  • “normal blood sugar” 
  • “blood sugar levels” 
  • “glucose levels normal” 

Using these words in relevant places on your website will help your pages rank higher in search results and increase your medical device lead generation. 

This allows you to craft your content in a way that puts it in front of the good-fit leads, at the appropriate time in their buyer’s journey.

Yes, even keyword use must be tied to the stage of your audience’s buyer journey. The buyer’s journey speaks to three stages of how a potential customer goes from ID’ing a problem/opportunity to buying your product: awareness, consideration, and decision. 

A buyer journey example of the awareness stage is someone frustrated with a faulty piece of equipment. They might search “diagnostic imaging troubleshooting.” In the consideration stage, that person may now be looking for a better option. They may search something like “pros and cons of [alternative solution here].” Finally, in the decision stage they’re ready to buy. They may go to Google and search “diagnostic imaging equipment suppliers” or “best diagnostic imaging device.” 

Using the keywords your potential buyers use will help you to get your content to the front of the search results.

It's Tough Work, But Worth It

Researching buyer personas is a lot of work. It involves research from marketing stakeholders, your sales team, existing buyers, your competition, social media, and keyword analysis. Don’t skip this process or do it half-heartedly. A solid buyer persona will effectively target your marketing efforts by providing the right content to the right people at the right time.

Remember that a buyer persona is ever-evolving. Keep it updated and relevant as your business goals change and as you better understand your customers.

Need Help Putting Together a B2B Buyer Persona?

When the research is done, you’ll need to synthesize your information to create a buyer persona. To learn more about the process, check out our free beginner’s guide to creating the ultimate buyer persona:

buyer persona guide for healthcare technology - download button