The Authoritative Guide to B2B Healthcare Marketing in 2024

Published on: | Updated on: | Caroline Lane

Selling services and software to healthcare organizations is more competitive than ever as new categories such as AI and personalized medicine emerge and innovative companies launch to meet growing demand. But with the right marketing, your business can win the lion's share of recent growth. Read our guide to learn everything you need to generate more leads and drive more revenue through digital marketing for your B2B healthcare offering.  

ProperExpression - B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency


B2B healthcare companies routinely spend several years and a lot of capital developing their product or service- with stunning results.  

However, the one thing staggeringly few of these companies succeed in doing is actually capturing the value they offer. 

The problem?  

They don't know how to communicate in a way that ignites their audience's imaginations or sets their organization apart from competitors – which is exactly what marketing is supposed to do. 

This guide helps you solve those problems and deliver B2B healthcare marketing that generates more revenue and delivers higher ROI. 

Expect to learn:

  • Why B2B healthcare purchase cycles are uniquely long and complex  
  • Which marketing strategies produce the best results for B2B healthcare companies  
  • What your business can do to gain an immediate competitive advantage over other B2B healthcare brands 

An Introduction to B2B Healthcare Marketing  

What is B2B Healthcare Marketing? 

Let's begin with a few simple definitions: 

  • B2B healthcare describes any business that sells products or services to healthcare organizations. This covers a wide range of businesses - from AI-driven tech that analyzes patient data to companies selling compliance automation software. 
  • B2B healthcare buyers are individuals within a healthcare entity tasked with researching, selecting, negotiating, and finally signing a deal with third-party vendors. Most purchases will involve a group of buyers drawn from different business areas, including physicians, financial executives, risk or cybersecurity professionals and operations leaders. 

So B2B healthcare marketing is a specialized area that focuses on planning, creating and distributing marketing materials to promote B2B healthcare organizations' products and services. This can involve a wide range of methods, from cold emails to webinar marketing – but what unites it all is an appeal to B2B healthcare buyers

How Does Healthcare Differ from Other Forms of Marketing? 

B2B marketing is defined by the specific needs and wants of the target buyer – and healthcare buyers are generally far more cautious about introducing new vendors into their organization than other industries. The average B2B healthcare buyer group is likely to feature: 

1. Risk aversion 

Put bluntly, a bad healthcare purchasing decision can compromise patient information and even patient outcomes – which creates a different level of risk from most other industries. Furthermore, healthcare is heavily regulated, from the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) - meaning new vendors must be fully compliant.   

The combination of patient safety and regulatory pressure makes healthcare buyers highly risk-averse. Just consider the prospect of introducing new tech to a healthcare org: The cost of a cybersecurity breach is more than 2x higher for healthcare entities than the average industry.  Breaches and system failures also have a huge impact on the organization's reputation and, therefore, can impact patient acquisition and retention – meaning a single poor buying decision can have disastrous consequences for an organization.  

2. Complex incentives 

While most B2B businesses are purely motivated by profit, healthcare organizations must balance business concerns with care for patients' health and safety. Worse still, many buyers will assume products that appeal to business goals are less safe – or at least not optimal for patient outcomes.  

This makes the positioning and messaging of healthcare marketing a fine art: how do you ensure buyers from every function are satisfied without alienating others? 89% of healthcare buyer groups share marketing and sales materials across a large group with varied technical knowledge and needs. In fact, close to half of all healthcare organizations include up to 20 different people in their buyer group - and your message must keep all of them happy simultaneously. 

3. Slow purchase processes 

B2B healthcare purchases tend to take longer than other industries; our experience suggests a single deal can take up to a year to go through. This is partly driven by buyer caution and a lengthier due diligence process based on greater regulatory pressure.  But there are also processes in place that prohibit fast purchases. 

Healthcare entities tend to follow strict budget cycles, typically based on a fixed fiscal year. As a result, marketers must adapt to the buyers' schedule rather than trying to accelerate or shift the goalposts to push through a purchase).  

4 Challenges for Healthcare Marketers 

1. Making Technical Information Palatable 

Effective B2B healthcare marketing requires detailed knowledge of both the product itself and the complex operational procedures within which it fits. This itself presents a formidable challenge; McKinsey notes that one leading B2B healthcare company has even begun hiring former healthcare professionals to lead their sales and marketing teams.  

A typical group will feature a wide variety of technical knowledge, and jargon-heavy marketing tends to alienate those with less specialized training. 80% of B2B healthcare decision-makers say they prefer content written in plain language - and are more than 3x more likely to click a CTA that uses clear, simple words. 

The challenge therefore is twofold: First, how do you convey complex information in a straightforward mannerAnd secondhow do you establish authority without resorting to complex industry jargon? 

2. Navigating Regulation 

Healthcare is a highly regulated industry, and this means healthcare marketing is also heavily scrutinized.  A simple example: Google Ads has introduced robust measures to fact-check copy to ensure misinformation around health and healthcare are not allowed on the platform. This indirectly impacts B2B healthcare marketers, who are, therefore, under greater pressure to ensure every piece of content passes an intensive due diligence process. 

What does that mean in practice? The language must be clear and avoid misleading claims about the effects of a product or service on patient outcomes; statistics and research much be clearly linked and thorough to withstand scrutiny from technical experts; and ads must fit within each platform's guidelines for medical information. 

This further emphasizes the importance of having content writers and internal subject matter experts (SMEs) that can provide a level of rigor most B2B marketing simply don't require. Regulation becomes a core part of any decent B2B healthcare marketing strategy – and in-depth knowledge of that regulation becomes a distinct competitive advantage. 

3. Maintaining Buyer Engagement Over Long Purchase Cycles 

As discussed above, healthcare purchase cycles are longer than most – and that means marketers face a far longer nurture period than they may be used to. A typical healthcare marketing engagement could be several times longer than its equivalent in other industries, which presents a few challenges. 

The first is simply having enough content to avoid repetition or disengagementRegular content is a foundational element of B2B lead nurture programs, but generating relevant content for a 6-month cycle is a big lift for most organizations – which is why so many rely on healthcare marketing agencies to support their content generation. 

The second is converting that engagement at the right moment. Handing over a lead to sales needs to be a seamless process, and many B2B marketers may jump the gun when dealing with healthcare buyers – ultimately leading them to lose interest or develop a negative opinion of your organization.  

4. Growing Competition 

B2B healthcare is a fast-growing industry, with the SaaS segment alone valued at $28.66 billion in 2022. This results in extremely high competition for a relatively small number of potential contracts – which is reflected in some rather alarming statistics. 

Around 75% of healthcare buyers say they consider between 2-5 vendors when researching a new product or service, while a further 20% consider 6 or more. Yet 55% of healthcare executives receive 11 or more calls and emails every week from vendors. That means likely tens of companies are vying for buyers' attention – and just a handful will even be considered! 

ProperExpression - B2B Healthcare Marketing Agency

How to Build an Effective Healthcare Marketing Strategy 

3 Things Every Piece of Content Should Generate 

1. Authority 

Roughly a third of B2B healthcare buyers will consider a new product to ensure they have the best supplier. But to convince them yours fits the bill, your marketing must show that your business is an authority in its chosen niche.  

There are three important ways to do this: 

  1. Use peer-reviewed research to validate your claims, support your arguments, and demonstrate a strong knowledge of the specific technical subject. 
  2. Provide concrete details about how your product works to avoid any skepticism and demonstrate your willingness to be transparent. 
  3. Offer free demos and walkthroughs (if possible) to give buyers a direct experience of the product or service before they commit too much time to engage with you. 

2. Trust

A recent Forrester report reveals that trust is the most important factor in B2B deals. However, given the level of risk and regulation healthcare buyers face, this is an even greater concern for them – and your marketing must earn their trust. 

This is generally a matter of emotion – something most B2B marketing overlooks. However, the goal is not to tell personal stories about patients; this is a tactic B2C healthcare marketing makes exhaustive use of. Instead, the best way to build trust is by showing a deep knowledge of your buyer's challenges, needs and daily activities.  

That means using the language they would use, addressing pain points in as much detail as possible, reassuring them your product or service is fully compliant with regulations, and connecting your product to their professional aspirations and long-term success. 

3. Urgency 

The combination of long purchase cycles and risk aversion means most B2B healthcare buyers lack urgency. As the research into their motivations showsthere is a wide range of factors that influence their decision to make a purchase – and very few of those drivers are shared by even 40% of buyers.  

Yes, they would like to access the best vendors and improve efficiency – but there is no rush to act nowThis sense of inertia is a constant challenge of marketers, and the only way to truly overcome it? To deliver the right message at the right moment on the right platform.... 

What Marketing Strategies Produce the Best Results for B2B Healthcare? 

Given the size and complexity of B2B healthcare buyer groups, marketers will rightly assume they should cover as many channels as possible. However, there are a few key strategies we have found particularly effective for appealing to healthcare buyers: 

1. Account-Based Marketing 

A shocking 92% of B2B healthcare marketers have an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy in place – which speaks to the importance of messaging tailored to individual buyers. The more granular information about personal aspirations and concerns you can include in your buyer personas – and the more precise your targeting – the more impactful your marketing will be.  

Note: The goal of account-based marketing is to make the buyer feel you understand their problem. Rather than worrying about including information about the audience's personal interests, focus on developing a truly granular view of their daily activities and the issues they face. 

2. Thought Leadership Content 

B2B healthcare buyers are deeply concerned with the quality of care they offer  – and thought leadership is the perfect way to build your reputation as a superior option. In fact, 70% of executives said thought leadership content had made them reconsider their existing vendor relationships.  

Thought leadership is all about shaping the conversation in your industry niche. Rather than reinforcing assumptions or repeating talking points, thought leaders offer novel information with authority – building a reputation as an innovator in the space. We have found that thought leadership is particularly important for B2B healthcare technology companies, especially as they face an extra hurdle due to fears around compliance and interoperability. 

Note: This is not necessarily distinct from personalization. In fact, if you can generate thought leadership content that is targeted toward specific personas, it is more likely to resonate and have the intended impact. 

3. Inbound Marketing 

While outbound marketing methods can produce results, B2B healthcare buyers are far more likely to reach out than respond to a cold sales pitch. This is likely due to their fixed purchase cycles and the increased skepticism many express towards marketing. But regardless of the reason, our experience has shown that inbound is a vastly more impactful approach. 

From research-driven whitepapers to authoritative blogs, inbound content not only generates a high volume of leads – it generally results in higher quality leads. They are already interested in your business, which ultimately means they are more likely to convert into customers – and our recent case study demonstrates that fact. 



How Much Should You Budget for Marketing? 

Deloitte's recent CMO survey found that B2B marketing currently takes 12.3% of the total company budget, with over half of that spend being allocated to digital. Equally important, LinkedIn reported that 67% of B2B healthcare marketers say their budget is focused on generating new business

However, the size and focus of your budget should be guided by: 

  • Your current level of marketing maturity: Are you already well established, or do you need to invest in solidifying your messaging around key personas, map that messaging onto your website and digital content, and create brand awareness?  
  • Your current marketing goals: What do you need to achieve strategically over the next 12 months, and how quickly do you expect to generate results? 
  • Your resources: How much marketing can be done internally, and how much external support will you need from a B2B healthcare marketing agency?  

How to Track and Optimize Your Marketing Campaigns 

Once you have a solid strategy in place, it's time to determine how you will monitor performance and ensure success. 

Which Marketing KPIs Should Healthcare Execs Use? 

Your marketing KPIs and metrics should also always be tethered to a specific goal. Here are three areas we recommend B2B healthcare marketers focus on: 

1. What generates new leads? 

Lead generation can be measured broadly in two ways: 

  1. Through the overall volume of leads generated 
  2. Through the performance of individual channels 

While your main metric will likely be 'Net New Leads' or 'Number of MQLs', it's important to assess the individual channels leads are coming from. This will help you gain a more granular view of your lead generation efforts, and enabling you to reallocate budget to channels that perform best.  

Pro Tip: Don 't just break down your metrics by source - also track them in context of the full lifecycle of a lead. This ensures you are assessing not just what generates leads, but the quality of those leads. For examplePaid ads might produce far higher conversions than your organic contentbut actually result in a large volume of disqualified or recycled leads. 

2. What creates marketing qualified leads (MQLs)? 

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) should be defined as meeting one of the following criteria: 

  • The lead reaches 100+ lead-scoring points 
  • The lead requested a demo/meeting 

Track MQLs by channel to understand what is influencing buyers to take the next step in their journey – and help ensure more leads move through the funnel.  

Pro Tip: Track whether your 'Demo Requests' turn into 'Sales Qualified Leads'. If they aren't, it's likely sales isn't following up with them; if they are being Disqualified, it means you need to figure out how to generate higher quality demo requests.  

3. How does marketing drive revenue? 

Marketing should always keep one eye on the bottom of the funnel. Metrics such as 'Net New Pipeline' and 'Won Revenue and Deals Directly Influenced by Marketing' are all important to gain visibility of the overall impact marketing has on deals. 

Note: We also recommend every company keeps an eye on the overall ROI of their marketing. While individual metrics are useful to gain clarity on what is working and guide strategic decisions, the ultimate question is "What is my marketing's overall ROI?".  

Of course, this needs to be measured over a reasonable period; you cannot expect huge ROI after just a few weeks of marketing. However, within 3-6 months, it is fair to expect a positive, measurable ROI from your marketing.  

3 Proven Tips to Deliver Exceptional ROI in B2B Healthcare   

1. Invest in research early on 

Many B2B marketers are impatient to produce results immediately – and, therefore, underinvest in the initial research phase. This is a serious mistake: every cent you spend on marketing without a clear understanding of your audience and competitors will be worth half as much.  

Instead, take at least 30 days to conduct thorough industry research, interview multiple SMEs to gain a deep knowledge of your audience, undertake in-depth competitor research to understand your market, and locate important gaps in other businesses' marketing. This will give you a huge advantage in terms of both the impact of your marketing on buyers and the efficiency with which you are able to generate content and launch campaigns.  

2. Build content around personas 

Content is the lifeblood of B2B healthcare marketing, but the industry has often lagged other industries in their adoption of content marketing. Today, many brands still worry that content is expensive to produce and try to compensate by forcing sales pitches into their articles – which instantly turns off most buyers. 

A better approach is to build everything around your buyer personaswhat information will they find useful? How you can help them do their job better and research vendors with greater ease? This may feel like it slows the sales process down, but B2B healthcare moves slowly anyway! You are far better off nurture genuine trust and building real authority than pressuring buyers out of the gate. 

3. Put tracking in place ahead of time 

Regardless of your marketing budget, data and analytics will help you create a greater impact with the same spend. However, you can only do this if the data you have is reliable and complete – otherwise, it can actively mislead you and get in the way of your marketing.  

Put tracking and analytics in place ahead of time and ensure your CRM is fully optimized to increase the quality and value of your data. Then, once you have generated enough data you can begin using it to optimize marketing and ultimately improve ROI.  

Communicate the True Value of your Brand with a Healthcare Marketing Agency 

ProperExpression has over 30 years of combined experience helping countless B2B healthcare companies generate, nurture and convert leads into recurring revenue. After increasing inbound revenue by 466% and producing similar results for other healthcare brands, we have a track record of driving measurable ROI.  

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