Cash, credit, or mobile? Long before today’s mobile payment boom, consumers’ dependence on their smartphones evolved their purchasing (decision) journey. With 46% of US smartphone owners saying that their smartphone is something they can’t live without, the linear path to purchase – seeing an advertisement, considering the brand, and an in-store purchase to buy – is no longer.
Successful healthcare brands will need to use mobile for its unique opportunity to talk to their consumer in key moments of receptivity. Here are the most important considerations when anticipating a consumer’s decision journey—and opportunity areas for healthcare brands to flourish.
1. Think mobile first.
Making your website easy to use on a mobile screen is a must, but the mobile-first mentality isn’t just about having a working mobile site or app. Think about other inherently mobile features that could be helpful in consumers’ consideration phase. For instance, if they’re starting a drug regimen, adding a calendar invite or reminder function could improve compliance. Or, if they have questions, your brand could make it easier for them to text a physician.
A brand that’s doing this right: Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines’ Fly Delta app devotes a prominent section to helping people gather everything they need for the day of travel, all in one menu—from check-in to changing seats to tracking checked bags and getting information about connecting flights. The app also features a parking reminder section, where you can take a picture of where you left your car in the parking lot for a reminder.
2. Create immediate satisfaction.
Providing consumers with immediate satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with thinking mobile first. People expect answers in seconds, because their smartphones are always within reach. Think about how your brand can help them streamline daily life. There’s big opportunity here for healthcare brands, as 71% of consumers believe healthcare sites could be more useful. Make life easier with things like “on-the-go” content people can get to in one tap, such as how to use your brand, questions for pharmacists, and one-click ordering for OTC products.
A brand that’s doing this right: Domino’s Pizza
Domino’s knew that a majority of their orders were coming through digitally, so they took things a step further and enabled customers to order their favorite pizza in five seconds, just by tweeting the pizza emoji @Dominos.
3. Data driven (who, when, where) + creative messaging = relevance.
Marketers can find whom to target by collecting data of digital browsing behaviors, purchases online and in-store, and loyalty memberships. The challenge is to use data and messaging in relevant ways.
In the mobile space, brands can’t lean on one static message to do all the work, as the “where” becomes increasingly important. For instance, brands can use mobile to greet consumers when they walk in to a pharmacy with a wait time for prescription refills or recommend products relevant to what they are purchasing in-store (e.g., “Pick up our eye drops, specifically formulated for contact lens wearers!”).
Likewise, doctor office waiting rooms provide a captive audience for healthcare messaging. Brands can develop relationships with consumers by providing patient discussion guides, maps to the closest pharmacy, etc.
A brand that’s doing this right: Amazon
Amazon’s stronghold on the eCommerce marketplace can be attributed to smart uses of data. Consumers get a personalized experience at amazon.com based on past purchases and Amazon devices they own. With the rollout of Dash buttons, Amazon has also made one-click ordering easier for commodities when they are top of mind for consumers. For instance, consumers can reorder Tide while they’re standing at their washing machine with a nearly empty bottle.
4. Provide compelling content.
With more and more product decisions happening on smartphones, brands are focusing on content strategies to help cultivate the path to purchase. Offering relevant content lessens the likelihood that consumers will leave their site—for other brands or because they change their mind mid-aisle at a store. Instilling confidence in your brand at the final evaluation phase can close the sale. Consider creating a product video or a comparison chart to make the decision easier for consumers. Encourage patient testimonials or ratings and reviews where possible. On the physician side, foster a community in which doctors can ask colleagues questions about their experiences with a product to drive recommendations.
A brand that’s doing this right: Walgreens + WebMD
Walgreens partnered with WebMD to provide consumers with wellness content and coaching programs on their mobile app. They also let WebMD users refill a prescription or make a clinic appointment while they were viewing content. This partnership elevated the consumer experience of shopping at Walgreens by providing trusted health content at the point of purchase.
5. Driving loyalty through excellent service.
As comparison shopping becomes more turnkey, outstanding customer service is more essential than ever. Consumer habits have become much more trackable, thanks to smartphones. Healthcare brands should use this data to provide great service with their product—and to help drive compliance or answer questions as they come up. Make sure you’re top of mind when consumers are entering the re-evaluation/repurchase stage, and personalize your messages, content, or offers.
A brand that’s doing this right: Starbucks
Starbucks leads the loyalty space by going beyond a store-branded card and embedding its loyalty program in mobile. Customers who join My Starbucks Rewards receive personalized incentives to visit a store. Plus, they can easily access their reward status and reload their Starbucks account within the app. Soon, Starbucks will introduce a Mobile Order and Pay system, allowing avid coffee drinkers to order ahead and skip the line.
Healthcare brands can instill trust with their customers by empowering them to make informed choices about their health—particularly along their decision journey. Learning from the successes of other mobile marketers can help healthcare brands get ahead of the curve. Staying flexible and open to exploring new technologies as they emerge is the strongest strategy a marketer can have in their digital toolbox. After all, today’s mobile landscape won’t be the same as tomorrow’s.
 Pew Research Center, April 2015
 Mobile Marketer, July 2015