“We Are Ramping Up Our Digital Efforts”


Mohan Menon, GM & Head – Marketing, Max Healthcare, speaks exclusively to Thinking Aloud, and gives a sense on how the leading healthcare provider is leveraging digital to reach out to customers, and also Max Healthcare’s plans going forward.

TA: How are you ensuring that you have an integrated marketing effort?
MM: People consume healthcare through various mediums, while they are seeking information, trying to make a choice or closing on a provider. It is important that we are present at these points with the right content and capabilities – be it giving information about disease symptoms and treatment modalities or enabling booking appointments with specialists.
While we still do few campaigns which use only certain local traditional media, our effort is that most of what we do should be integrated across. It might not be important that it be talking the same thing but the essence and the language should remain the same across – our hospitals, traditional media, online assets, social media or the mobile app.

TA. How are you leveraging the digital medium to acquire customers or create an amazing customer experiences?
MM: Customers are already online in their interaction with healthcare. The question really is are we? Right from searching for the symptoms they have, to looking for the right treatment provider and then reconfirming the treatment course – all of it is done online. We look at each of the touchpoints that patients and their caregivers today go through, digitally.

We’ve worked on bettering the customer appointment booking scenario – both, through online and our mobile app and that accounts for 15 percent of all appointments that we get today. We use search optimization extensively – there is nothing that compares to the credibility of organic search results when it comes to healthcare. Our social efforts are focused on driving traffic to the website, where we provide meaningful content to our consumers. On most others, we are really beginning the journey to see how we can better patient experiences using digital.

TA. Social Media Marketing and ROI are often discussed and dissected. What are your views on Social Media marketing and how do you gauge the ROI?
MM: One needs to be very clear on what they are expecting from Social Media. The marketing objective should be clear and Social media should be a driver to achieve that larger objective. Just driving certain matrices on social media – like number of fans, become meaningless if they are not really translating into achieving the marketing goals.

For us, while we closely monitor engagement on social and the traffic that it generates on our website, it is a huge platform to listen to customers. Patients/caregivers first go to social media platforms and talk about their concerns even before they have reached out via the traditional customer service avenues – making ORM really important. We also listen to these social conversations closely to analyze patterns and see if there are larger problems that our consumers are facing and which are recurrent, that we need to solve for.

TA. As a marketer, what according to you are the key challenges for any CMO, especially for digital marketing?
MM: The onus on a Marketing Head in any organization is to be wearing the customer’s hat and thinking from their perspective. And this does not change even for digital. The biggest task is to bring customer insights and knowledge to measure everything that happens in the digital journey. The question to answer really is what are we solving for the customer using our digital efforts? And this could be a stated or a derived need.
The Marketing Head has to be the one driving behavioral change in the organization to move energies and resources to digital. The last challenge really is to be abreast of all the shifts in trends, newer things constantly happening in this medium, and to be able to adapt to these changes.

TA. What can be done to address the challenges?
MM: Digital at Max Healthcare is strongly viewed as a revenue generating channel – query management, closures, and appointments, all converting to actual walk-in. And it is very important that all digital activities are closely monitored against the objectives set for the channel – engagement, traffic to website, time spent or actual transactions. As much as having a good digital partner and the quality of the teams becomes important, making the choice of what can be worked by internal capabilities and what needs external specialists is as imperative.

TA. Most marketers believe that harnessing data analytics is one of the most important challenges they face. Are you also one of them and if yes, how are you dealing with the problem? Do you have in-house skills to harness data?
MM: We are a data rich industry. Our data analytics is not only used in marketing efforts but also a lot of clinical decisions. That said, using this data for marketing becomes slightly different. The decision maker whom the marketing activities target is at most times not really the consumer of the services – the patient being the ‘consumer’ and the attendant being the ‘decision-maker’.

Our data analytics helps us in refining our marketing approach and the effectiveness of the marketing campaigns that we do. Be it our offline contact programmes or online campaigns, efforts are to really find insights from how people are interacting with healthcare. For example, our data analytics helped us create a product specific to senior citizens and choose value benefits according to what they were looking for or using in the hospitals. We’ve also developed marketing campaigns based on newer patient trends that are seen in the hospitals. All of this data is analysed internally – the challenge is in ensuring that we are able to glean relevant insights from the multiple informational systems with different types of data.

TA. Has big data completely altered the landscape for marketers?
MM: The change has come in the form of being able to make more informed marketing decisions. Being able to segment and address consumers based on their transactions, behavior and preferences. Based on previous transactions, we are able to provide relevant content – be it on the website or through email marketing. But there is a lot to do – I believe we’ve just only begun to scratch the surface of what can really be done here.

TA. Is it true that the emergence of the digital medium has put enormous pressure on CMOs to realign their strategy? How critical it is to be on the same page with your CEO and CTO?
MM: Since our consumers are already on digital – searching, selecting, transacting and commenting, there isn’t a way that we cannot be. The choice is only on how we can address most of these avenues. Having everybody aligned is fairly important because with digital, the lines are fairly blurring between the traditional Marketing and IT teams. They need to be constantly working together and moving in the same direction.

TA. What are your marketing plans going forward?
MM: We are actively looking at digital and there is a huge focus on this channel. Content Marketing is a big focus area for us across the digital spread. The contribution from digital is only set to increase this year with concerted efforts in this direction. Mobile marketing is also something we are actively working on, as part of our strategy for the year. The healthcare industry in India is really still quite nascent on utilizing the potential of digital. So it is definitely about trying and testing things that haven’t been done before in the category.

TA. What is your digital advertising spends? Can you give a number to it? Has it risen over the past year and if so, by how much?
MM: We are ramping up our digital efforts. So the spends are definitely much higher than what they were last year or before. We are planning at almost doubling spends. But the focus is very high on effectiveness. We are looking at campaigns more holistically and evaluating certain campaigns to go only digital, which till before may have used the traditional media.


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