Health-Tech @SXSW: A Purpose-Built Health Communications Strategy Starts with Mobile Personas

For SXSW Interactive 2016, I set my sights on a mobile-health-only education track. I did this for two reasons. First, to better understand the latest in what mobile development and wearables companies are doing to connect technology with customers’ health information. And second, to better understand what genuinely connected fitness and wellness can do for consumers.

One point that resonated loud and clear is that almost nothing in today’s world comes between consumers and their mobile phones. And that’s wildly evident at SXSW Interactive 2016, with every passer-by gazing head down into his or her device. Smart devices have become one of the most influential relationship marketing tools we’ve seen in the digital age. Recognizing this powerful, always-on relationship requires brands, especially those the healthcare space, to think like direct marketers. That means being one-to-one specialists who understand their mobile audiences—what they want, what they eat, where they live, and even when they go to the gym or for a walk around the block.

Brands should think of it like this: You are injecting yourself into an existing relationship. Becoming a third wheel, if you will. So it would be wise for brands to at least enter into this relationship by asking for permission first! Millennials and Gen Z’ers are happy to give brands permission to know more about them, as long as the experience is highly relevant, personalized and localized. “Value delivered equals permission to know more,” said panelist Dustin Freckleton, Co-founder and President of BSXathletics.

Success for brands in this fitness and wellness space means drawing a thread through all parts of the mobile users connected health journey (click to tweet). “We are focused on moving from information to inspiration. We want to serve our customers at all levels—those who want to feel better, look better and perform better.” said Abhi Bhatt, Director of Product, Developer Platform and Wearables at UnderArmor.

Mobile health developers are striving to recognize users’ existing lifestyles in order to fit in more naturally. They are focused on answering questions on what all this health data means. It’s predicted that bio signals will increasingly become the new metrics for getting a true 360-degree view of each consumer’s health profile—removing unknowns in current models to connect technology with health tech information. For instance, what does it mean to walk 10,000 steps? And what exactly is the long-range purpose of wearable technologies for better health? “Answering these questions requires laser focus on use cases for each and every type of individual mobile health technology purchaser,” said panelist Josh Gunkel, Senior Developer Program Manager at Garmin.

For healthcare communicators, this is a golden opportunity to engage with research teams and agency partners to clearly segment and profile mobile health communications personas. Now is the time to challenge your marketing, corporate communications and PR teams on their target audience’s knowledge of mobile use to manage health and fitness (e.g., apps, trackers, social networks), opinions toward the use of tech to manage health and fitness (e.g., comfort level, privacy concerns, value), levels of engagement with tech and mobile across other areas of their lives and overall commitment to health management and related behaviors.

Healthcare organizations and health-tech marketers who create, embrace and apply these mobile customer personas throughout their marketing efforts will be better prepared to strategize for mobile health communications investment and product offer development; connect with mobile health target audiences (B2B, consumer, patients, caregivers, etc.); craft mobile-optimized messaging and engagement strategies; minimize wasted time when determining which health tools and devices audiences trust and turn to most; understand not only how to evolve the types of messages by platforms, but understand their mobile health customer’s receptivity when considering new innovations.

Purpose-built mobile communications planning starts with mobile customer personas. For brands to succeed in mobile health communications engagement, everything must work together in the user’s ecosystem—including each brand’s promise to the mobile user. What is your business doing to build that mobile customer relationship?