Marketing to millennials: 7 tips for plans, providers

Here are seven ways to attract more millennials to your business.

Marketing to millennials-defined as patients ages 18 to 34 years old in 2015-is no easy task for health plans and providers. But, experts say it’s a must if you want to have a strong customer base in the long term.

Here are seven ways to attract more millennials to your business.



The site must be responsive, letting users ask questions, sign up for webinars, get location maps and contact information, etc., easily and quickly.

“Often an organization's website is their front door,” says Denise Tumulty, senior director of client services at Wax Custom Communications. Creating a sleek, useable format, she says, is “a strategy we've used for providers and payers alike. If your web page looks outdated and people can't find information they're looking for in about 30 seconds, they're gone. They're on to another website.”






Heidi Grunkemeyer, an account supervisor at Swanson Russell, says the healthcare industry's focus on adding content, creating large and complex sites where it's tough to find information, is the opposite of what millennials want.

Print is “not dead,” she says, but people are reading differently. “Copy has to be shorter and infographics are popular,” she says. It's all about “mobile phones...and making websites relevant.”

Millennials are “really tuned in to videos on your website,” she adds. “They want to be able to engage, give feedback to a blog ... So [site content] has to be shorter, more relevant, and really genuine. They're quick to say, 'That's the corporation speaking to me,' and tune out.”






A generation raised watching reality television and paid celebrity endorsements is smart about knowing the difference between the authentic messaging and contrived messaging, Tumulty says. Millennials want better information from healthcare organizations.

Millennials “feel that they are healthier and more well-informed than their parents,” Tumulty says. “They're only in their 20s and 30s, so the message has to be how healthcare organizations are your partners in health and wellness.”

Grunkemeyer says millennials “are after a good value, so they're doing their research,” and the organization will attract their loyalty if it's a brand that millennials can relate to. They want “authentic, genuine [brands] ... or brands doing something to make the world a better place in some way,” she says.






Millennials are sometimes called “Generation Me,” which translates into not being afraid to do research and demand the best, Tumulty says. “They're not searching for health every day, but you have to have content there when they're searching for it ... giving options to chat or book online, or having a doctor search tool with doctors affiliated with your hospital.”

Some healthcare clients are shifting from printed newsletters to communities online so information can be posted and shared, Tumulty says. “For clients with websites not as up to date, we built mobile-friendly microsites ... because hospital sites are massive.” Some clients' sites still aren't mobile friendly, “and millennials don't use sites that aren't mobile friendly,” she says. “So we build out a microsite and put information related to the [ad] campaign.” In this way, she says, information is being provided, along with “clear and easy pathways” to get more information.






Millennials are less likely to consume content via e-mail and blogs, and more likely to use shorter applications such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, Tumulty says. Young mothers, especially, form and use social communities online.

“A lot of websites offer live chats, and millennials are more likely to use that and not pick up the phone thinking they'll be on hold 20 minutes,” she says. They also go online to sites such as ZocDoc to find doctors who accept their insurance and to book appointments.






YouTube is “a very important place to be,” says Grunkemeyer, because YouTube is among the larger online channels and millennials spend significant time watching videos. Videos might highlight innovations or the science behind healthcare. “You don't need high production value, but they want a genuine aspect ... They want the back-story,” she says.

It's also important to post videos on your website and social media sites, Grunkemeyer says, explaining online videos of patients discussing procedures or services may help with engagement. “If it is the CEO delivering the message, it's not them in their corner office. It's them on the street...or in a more authentic atmosphere.”






Millennials are very family-focused and appreciate family-friendly amenities, such as easy, quick access to doctors, understandable billing, and services that fit into their schedules, Grunkemeyer says. Complicated hospital bill paying, a consumer sore spot for decades, is something millennials “won't put up with."

Millennials like patient portals for contacting their physicians and online scheduling and appointment reminders, she adds, and they want a pleasing environment.

“We talk a lot about millennials being online, so online is their front door to you for everything,” Grunkemeyer says. “But they expect the same experience when they get to the actual facility.”