Marketing Automation is Not New…Unless You’re in Hospital Marketing

MAImageAt a recent healthcare event, my colleague stood up in front of the audience and proclaimed “Marketing Automation is not new!” The crowd was made up of lovely folks who, but for a handful of them, have no real hands-on experience in digital marketing, be it web building, social media management, online advertising, content marketing and certainly not Marketing Automation. So they may or may not have understood what he meant. I stood in front of some of this same audience and used his quote to begin my own presentation.

In fact, Marketing Automation is not new. In 2003, I was hired on a contract basis by a company that sold health supplements via an online only storefront. One of the first tasks I tackled was finding a better solution for the owner’s “sales infrastructure.” He wanted to connect his website to his inventory to his financials and to keep a good record of the customers who ordered from him….essentially an ERP. A solution was found and successfully implemented.

This tool was not a “Marketing Automation Tool” but it did have a built-in CRM, built-in email functionality as well as a way to create rules of communication based on triggers. Here’s one example of how I used it:

If a customer ordered a product with a quantity that would last 30 days, an email was sent out 24 days after the purchase date reminding the customer that his/her product was going to run out soon and encouraging him/her to reorder or sign up for our subscription plan. If there was still no order after 6 more days, the customer received another email that said “Oops, did you forget to order…” And finally, the last email in this sequence went out 6 days later with a coupon of some sort encouraging placing an order. If ultimately there was no response, this customer got thrown into another sequence that followed up in 30 days with a “we miss you” message and a few more messages with coupons and offers of combo products that work well together.

That folks, is Marketing Automation. It’s been around for years. You see it every day if you use the internet…and who doesn’t? Have you received an email that asked you if you had any problems with your online order when you got distracted and forgot to complete your purchase? Have you received emails from your favorite retailer telling you that those shoes you were just admiring a few days ago are now on sale? Have you downloaded that cool booklet that is a beginner’s lesson in knitting followed up a few days later with an offer of some fun knitting patterns to buy? Rest assured, a single human could never manage all those emails.

Marketing Automation for hospital marketing works exactly the same way. Using technology, pre-written, automated emails are sent over timed intervals in a series, triggered by a certain customer behavior. What you get is a the ability to efficiently communicate to the masses, yet in a very personalized way. By continuously interacting via a touchpoint, the customer will warm towards the end goal. That goal could be an actual physician appointment, a sign-up for a newsletter or even simply keeping the patient on a healthy track so they get better and stay better. Once you have created these campaigns, they basically run themselves freeing you up to deal with the CEO who still wants you to put up a billboard! 🙂

I’d love to hear your ideas for how you’ll use Marketing Automation at your hospital. Email me at  or comment below.

Categories: General, Marketing Automation


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