Hospital Mobile Marketing

Hospital Marketing in 2016: Three Trends

ThinkstockPhotos-468838012

 

Want to know what trends to expect in hospital marketing in 2016? Here are three trends we’ve identified that every hospital will need to follow.

Increase Content Quality 

Content marketing continues to remain a big part of hospital marketing and will only increase in importance as we move through 2016. Last year saw an increase in the quantity of content. This year, we’ll have to see a rise in the quality of the content we produce.

It’s not enough to mass-produce content in order to fill a quota of pieces for a blog. We’ll have to spend more time on each piece of content in order to make an impression. This is actually a positive, because it means we can be really creative and spend more time developing and polishing a few pieces of content – an article for a magazine, a white paper, a video – rather than just pumping out content that is merely okay.

Focus on Simple Scheduling

People in 2016 will value convenience more than they did before. Amazon now has one-click buying that allows you to buy in a snap. Other platforms have rolled out one-click buttons to shop and buy. Hospitals can take advantage of this trend by having simple, convenient scheduling with just one click of a button.

This changes things. Formerly, a hospital’s campaign would feature landing pages that ask the consumer to learn more. But they’ve probably already learned a lot by the time they get to the landing page. When they arrive there, the instinct for instant gratification kicks in, and they’ll probably want to just go ahead and schedule an appointment.

So, we’ll have to retool our landing pages to reflect that desire. Allow your patients to sign up for an appointment right then and there, and you’ll have more success translating marketing into action.

Take Advantage of Moments

Over the past few years, consumers online have started to experience more “moments”. A moment is a short amount of time in which people turn to the Internet to find something that they need at that moment.

For example, they may want to know something about symptoms of a condition or illness. They may want to go somewhere near them, which means they’re searching for a local provider. They may want to know how to do something, like create a healthy exercise plan or cook something tasty yet healthy.

A hospital can live in these moments by creating content that takes advantage of this inspired activity. If you want to get people who want to know things, produce content that shares information about symptoms and illnesses and other health items that may be in the news. You can market the hospital and your doctors with geo-targeted campaigns that zero in on zip codes. You can create how-to videos on healthy living.

Living in these moments with your potential patients will place you closer to them in the moments that they appear online.

Even though these are the trends, the challenge for many community hospitals is to have the resources to keep up with the trends. Limited personnel and limited resources for technology will continue to hinder some from taking full advantage of these emerging trends.

For more information on hospital marketing in 2016, talk to the experts at TotalCom Marketing.

Mobile Marketing for Your Hospital

Why Mobile for Hospital Marketing?

TotalCom Mobile MarketingThere is a tendency in the healthcare field to think of online marketing as necessary for desktops – but optional for mobile devices. However, mobile marketing for your hospital is not an option. Here’s why:

Most people have a smartphone. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, almost two-thirds of American adults own a smartphone – up from 35% in 2011. And nearly 20% of American adults have limited or no broadband access at home, relying almost exclusively on their phones data plan for Internet access.

As a result of this increasing dependence on smartphones, businesses, including hospitals, have seen mobile interaction with their website surpass desktop usage. And many experts agree that mobile searches will likely surpass desktop searches in 2015. Therefore, it is essential that we don’t ignore mobile marketing in healthcare.

Below are some ways to market your hospital to the increasing number of consumers who are using mobile as an entry point to the Internet.

There’s an App for That

One way to market your hospital in the mobile arena is through apps. If an app is useful to the consumer, it can be an effective marketing tool by increasing engagement with your brand and creating opportunities for future, patient-hospital interaction.

Some hospitals have had success with apps that allow patients to check in to the emergency room before they arrive at the hospital or apps that give ER wait times. GPS-based, way-finding apps can be useful to patients and visitors especially if your facility is large or spread out.  Wellness, medicine-monitoring, cancer treatment and new mom apps are other examples that can increase engagement and create possible future patient conversion.

Digital media as well as traditional media can be used to promote your hospital app.

Responsive Design is a Must

Google rolled out a new search algorithm this year that rewards responsive sites in mobile searches. Increasing your hospital’s position in search results on mobile devices is reason enough to have a responsive web design – but this isn’t the only benefit.

Responsive design also gives consumers a better user experience on your website. Given a choice between two sites, consumers will defer to the site that is easier to navigate and provides the best user experience.

In addition, responsive design eliminates the need to have a separate mobile site. Instead, your one hospital website will look great on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. And that’s one site to manage, maintain, and update.

Make Important Information Easy to Find

When prospective patients are on your hospital’s website, they don’t want to have to search to find what they are looking for.

  • Put your main phone number, as well as street address, at the top of the page.
  • A hospital phone directory should be easy to locate, with phone numbers “clickable” for one-touch dialing.
  • Make links obvious with the use of buttons or underlined, different colored or bold text. 

The easier it is to access and use your website on a mobile device, the more likely that your site will be visited and used. And the more interaction, the more opportunities to convert prospects to patients.

Make Your Hospital Mobile-Friendly

Don’t wait to make your hospital’s website mobile-friendly! Mobile is more than an entry-point for consumers to access the Internet. It can be an entry-point for prospects to become patients of your hospital.

I would love to hear your successes (or even what NOT to do) with hospital mobile marketing. Call or email me.


 

ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

 

Hospital Marketing: Social Media Facts to Consider for 2014 (Part 2 of 4)

Patients use mobile to connect to hospital social media sitesSocial media has gone mobile. And smart phones are our constant companion.

As healthcare marketers experiment and learn more about social media it’s important to know the role smart phones play in a person’s social networking activities.  It’s increasingly about mobility.  Here are two facts to consider:

1. 189 million Facebook users are “mobile only”.  Many (millions) of Facebook users don’t access Facebook from their desktop or laptop but rather from their smart phones only.   And that’s a 7% increase in the past year.

So as hospital marketers increasingly include social media as an important part of their overall marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how the content displays on smart phones and smaller screens

2.  63% of smartphone owners have their phones with them all but one hour during the working day.  79% for less than 2 hours a day.  And 25% of smartphone owners ages 18-44 can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t with them. Our phones are considered such an important part of our lives; consumers are rarely without it nearby.

Smartphones have become ubiquitous. They are always a part of our lives.  Our connection to others and to the web is through our phones.  So as healthcare marketers we must make sure our content is accessible and viewable on mobile screens.  And we must consider how consumers access and use the web to make sure our online and social media strategies are appropriate for those who use their phones all day every day.

 

Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).

 

 

Healthcare Marketing: More Focus on Search, Less on Social

In the rush to do social media, healthcare marketers have neglected what may be more important – SEO.  It’s time to correct that.

180435502Writing for Search Engine Watch, Jay Taylor wrote a very interesting article about today’s emphasis on social media at the expense of search engine marketing.  It was very stimulating and thought provoking.  The article was directed to small and medium sized businesses, but it’s very appropriate for healthcare marketers.  The article is reprinted here but I’ve taken the liberty to make a few changes directing it specifically to hospital and healthcare marketing:

Social media is all the rave, and for good reason.

Fortune 500 companies are showing that social can be a very effective marketing tool, particularly when it comes to brand awareness and engagement.

But how effective is social media when it comes to customer acquisition for hospitals?

Hospitals and healthcare organizations are increasingly placing emphasis on social media marketing as a customer acquisition tool, while placing less emphasis on search marketing. Here are five reasons why this is a mistake, and why hospitals should focus on search, not social when it comes to acquiring patients.

1. Search Gets Hospitals in Front of Prospective Customers Who Aren’t Already Familiar With Their Brand

Unlike Fortune 500 companies, most hospitals don’t have the resources to invest in brand awareness campaigns that can take months or years to pay dividends. New patient acquisition is the primary objective, and search allows hospitals to get in front of prospective customers who aren’t already familiar with their brand, but are in need of their products or services.

While organic search takes time, paid search allows hospitals to get in front of prospective patients immediately with ads that are contextually relevant to their search query. So, even if the prospective customer isn’t familiar with the hospital serving the ad, that’s OK, because that hospital is advertising a solution intended to meet that prospective patient’s immediate needs.

2. Searchers are More Likely to Convert Into Customers

People use social media to, well, socialize. People use search engines when they want to find something.

When was the last time you went on Twitter to look for the nearest hamburger joint? Now, when was the last time you used Google to find a local restaurant?

The fact that searchers are actively searching for the products or services your hospital offers makes them much more likely to become a customer than someone who simply likes your Facebook page. The person who likes your Facebook page may eventually become a customer, but chances are they did not like your page because of their intent to purchase.

3. Search Allows Customers to Easily Find Your Business on the Go

Search engines make it easy to find information such as phone numbers and directions to local businesses on mobile devices. In fact, 88 percent of people who search for local information with a smartphone take action within a day, such as calling or visiting a local business, according to Google.

Additionally, 77 percent of smartphone users use their device for search. So, even if you do not target a local customer base specifically, mobile search provides an excellent opportunity to get in front of prospective customers.

4. Social Media Marketing Isn’t Easy

Some hospitals tend to gravitate to social media because they perceive it as being easy and inexpensive, while perceiving search marketing as just the opposite. However, a well-executed social media campaign is no easy task, particularly if the goal is new patient acquisition.

On the other hand, if a hospitals is using their company’s Twitter page to tweet about how good the cafeteria food was today, then yes, that is easy and inexpensive, and also ineffective.

5. Search is a Proven Customer Acquisition Tool

Whether organic search or paid search, there is little argument that search marketing is an effective customer acquisition tool, and mobile search has only enhanced its effectiveness.

Conversely, there is still much debate regarding the relationship between “likes” and purchase intent, and social media’s effectiveness in general when it comes to customer acquisition. When working with a limited marketing budget, as most hospitals do, it makes sense to utilize a proven patient acquisition method.

Conclusion

The truth is that search and social are not mutually exclusive. The lines are blurring between them.

The most effective digital marketing strategy would utilize both search and social to their maximum potential. Yet, the reality is that most hospitals don’t have the necessary resources to do both effectively. So, when the primary goal is patient acquisition, hospitals should focus on search, not social.

Pitfalls and Uses of QR Codes in Healthcare Marketing

QR codes can be useful in healthcare marketing but only if used correctly.  Effective use is dependent on understanding the context and following some basic guidelines.

QR with HQR codes are the cool thing these days in marketing.   Some have said it’s the next big thing because it brings physical interaction into the digital space.  And you have begun to see them everywhere.  Some places which are very creative and ingenious and some, which are questionable or downright stupid.

Just two years ago, only 1% of U.S. adults used QR codes.  But according to research from Forrester Research  just a year later that number grew to 5%.  Then a Temkin Group study  recently found that now 24% of adults are using them.   So use is increasing.  But just how effective are they?

Dan Wilkerson, a social media project manager at Luna Metrics (lunermetrics.com) outlined on masable.com some of the problems with QR codes for marketers.  He listed 5 problem areas.

1. Worthless Content

QR codes are easy to create, inexpensive and trackable.  They also open up a world of possibilities for consumer interaction.  However from a consumer’s point of view, scanning a code is a little cumbersome and requires time and effort.  Worse still, 90% of the time the link is to a website not optimized for mobile.  This is frustrating.

2. Consumer Awareness

Many consumers don’t know what QR codes are. An ArchRival study (archrival.com) of college students found that over 75% didn’t know how to scan a QR code.    These are statistics that are hard to believe. What looks cool for marketers may not be understood by the consumer.

3. Value as a Medium

QR codes are not considered a medium itself.  More often than not, QR codes are used simply to link to a company website.  Is it worth the effort to take your phone, unlock it, boot the app, get the code in focus and scan it, assuming you already have an app.  Is it worth the effort just to go to a brand’s website?

4. Location, Location, Location

QR codes are showing up in the most unlikely places.  Seemingly everywhere, on everything.  And many in very questionable locations with little or no thought for context.

5. Aesthetics

Too many QR codes are ugly.  And they are often confused with codes used for industrial purposes.  Many think they are tracking barcodes instead of a marketing tool.

So there are limitations to QR codes.  That’s not to say they are useless.  They can be effective for healthcare marketer f used correctly.

Here are some basic guidelines to improve effectiveness.

1. Make it worthwhile to the consumer. 

Provide information that is useful and valuable to the consumer.

2. Include instructions with a recommended app spelling out how to use the code.

3. Make sure using the code doesn’t take more than 6-10 seconds.  Otherwise you will lose the consumer.

4. Walk through your QR code implementation in a real-world scenario to make sure it’s actually useable.

5. Make the code as attractive as possible and distinguish it from packaging barcodes. 

You can use Photoshop to round off the corners and sometimes remove portions of the code for better aesthetics.

QR codes are not just marketing gimmicks.  If they are used that way, they will not be effective.  But they can be very useful if they are the results of a defined marketing strategy and provide value to the consumer.

Healthcare Marketing: More Screens More Engagement

TV Viewers Are More Engaged When Watching Multiple Screens

There has been much concern about how effective television is with those who are watching TV while also engaged with other screens.  So many viewers now sit in front of their television with a laptop, tablet smart phone or a combination in front of them. The logic would seem to be that such multi-tasking would distract the viewer from their television viewing.

But research indicates that’s not true.  In fact television engagement actually goes up when viewers are watching multiple screens.  A study by Time Warner Research Council, using biometric monitoring and eye tracking, discovered that television engagement when watching with a friend over social media was 1.3 times greater than watching without social media.

“When they find something engaging on the TV, they pay attention’” stated Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting, a Times Warner unit who collaborated with the research council.  “When their interest wanes, in the absence of a second screen they could change the channel, get up, read a magazine, etc.  With a second screen that allows live social engagement, they have more reason to stay on-channel with their friend.”

And just as important to marketers is that the researchers found the increased engagement when involved in social media while watching television was true for commercials as well as programming.

So the consternation among healthcare marketers over the multi-tasking by television viewers can cease.  Social TV proves to be an asset instead a liability.

Healthcare Marketing: Mobile Prime Time Same as TV Prime Time

Mobile usage peaks at 7 PM daily and continues strong through the evening.

As mobile marketing becomes more feasible and the opportunities for local mobile marketing beginning to accumulate, it’s important for healthcare marketers to analyze consumer usage just like other mediums.   A study by MediaMind  and reported in Advertising Age examined when consumers use their mobile devices to search the web and access mobile apps.  And the results are the same as it is for TV.  The study showed that users surf the web and use mobile apps most during the evening hours, between 7pm and 9pm.

Examining billions of mobile ad impressions across various devices, carriers and operating systems, mobile click-thru rates are also highest between 7pm and midnight, with click-throughs reaching a peak at 8pm.  Other studies from Jumptap and Google confirm the findings.

And it makes sense considering that consumers go home and park themselves in front of the television with their mobile device in their hand or close by.  A whopping 86% of U.S. mobile internet users watch TV with their mobile devices according to a Nielsen and Yahoo study.

This is very useful information for healthcare marketers.  As we begin to examine opportunities for mobile marketing, we should use the available data to maximize its effectiveness.   Which means evenings is the time to maximize exposure on mobile sites

Healthcare Marketing: QR Codes Effective for Hospitals?

QR codes can be effective for healthcare marketing, but they have limitations.

They’re everywhere these days.  You see them often.  In magazines, newspaper ads, retail stores, on product packaging and in many unexpected places.  Quick Response Codes, better known as QR Codes, with the black and white patterned squares that can be scanned by a Smartphone to link to a web page, registration form, contact info, etc.  QR codes link print and the web and allows tracking of its use.  And they are becoming more and more prevalent.  Their use increased 1600% last year.

QR codes can be very effective, disseminating useful information to the consumer.  The code can provide additional information, show a video, provide a place to respond, offer surveys and many other creative uses.  QR codes have many positive attributes for healthcare marketers but also some limitations.  A listing of both are offered here:

Positive attributes

1.    Easy to create
2.    Basically free
3.    Can be printed on almost anything
4.    Can disseminate a large amount of information
5.    Provide information in a private setting

Limitations

1.    Not everyone has Smartphone…only 35% of population
2.    The linked website must be compatible with mobile platform
3.    Smartphone must be close to the QR code
4.    Phone must have the appropriate app to read the code

QR codes can be very successful for healthcare marketers.  But their use should be strategic.  It should fulfill a consumer need.  And it should be easy to use

Hospital Marketing: Making the Case for Mobile

The facts are overwhelming when considering whether your hospital should go mobile.  The small screen is the place to be.

An astonishing fact: there are 48 million people in the world who have mobile phones but do not have electricity in their homes.  That shows the impact of mobile on our lives.  It’s estimated that the off-grid, on-net population will reach 138 million by 2015.

Ann Tracy Mueller posted on healthcarecommunications.com statistics showing the use of mobile is growing exponentially. Citing Kevin Roberts from a Cisco report in his Blogging Innovation site, the case is made for the impact of mobile and the need for healthcare marketers to be mobile-savvy and mobile-ready.

  • Global mobile traffic nearly tripled for the third year in a row in 2010.
  • Mobile video traffic will exceed 50 percent of all mobile data traffic for the first time in 2011.
  • In early 2010, iPhone use was at least four times higher than that of any other smart phone platform. By the end of 2010, iPhone use was only 1.75 times higher than that of number two, Android.
  • There will be 788 million mobile-only Internet users by 2015, up 56-fold from 14 million at the end of 2010.
  • There will be more than 7.1 billion mobile-connected devices in 2015, roughly equivalent to the world’s population by then (7.2 billion).

The numbers are staggering.  But they are understandable.  Think how much you use your mobile device.  How much you see the people around you using there’s.  How many people do you know who don’t have a mobile phone?  Probably not many.  The numbers are clear.  The stats are obvious.

As healthcare marketers, in the very least, we need to make sure our internet presence is mobile-friendly.  And we should be exploring ways to create and use mobile apps to market our hospital.  Information is being accessed from mobile devices, including information about one’s health.  We must make sure our health information and information about our organization and services are easily mobile-accessible.

Not convinced yet?  Here’s one more bit of information from Roberts that should remove any doubt about the need for our hospital to be mobile-friendly:

“The average smartphone will generate 1.3 gigabytes of traffic per month in 2015, 16 times more than the 2010 average of 79 megabytes per month.  Growth in the next five years will see global mobile traffic reach 6.3 exabytes per month by 2015. How big is that? It’s been suggested that every word ever spoken by human beings would equate to five exabytes. So six every month is a lot of chatter!”

 

Healthcare Marketing: To Reach Moms We Have to Get Smart…Phones That Is

Becoming a mom triggers more dependence on smart phones. 

 A young woman has a baby.  And gets a smartphone.   That desk computer or laptop is pretty hard to manage with a baby on your hip.  And especially if you have two or three children.  But staying connected and having access is even more important.  Sharing those pictures and daily baby updates with family and friends is certainly essential.  So what do you do?  You get an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or other smartphone…  Or maybe an iPad.

A recent study by Babycenter cited research that states over half of new moms purchase a smartphone as a direct result of becoming a mom. The camera is a necessity as well as apps for getting things done and staying organized, social sites to stay connected to friends and family, and games to keep the kids entertained.   In fact, a study by Morgan Stanley estimates that in 2011 there will be more smartphones and tablets shipped than notebooks and desktops.

So for healthcare marketers, reaching moms should include a mobile strategy.    “If you are not reaching them through their mobile device, you have less and less chance to reach them at all,” according to Matt Carmichael in a recent article in Advertising Age.  And the study by BabyCenter also indicated there was a sizeable correlation between having a smartphone and moving toward a more digital mix of media consumption.  Forty-six percent of moms with smartphones have taken some form of action after seeing an ad on their mobile device.  And as reported in the Ad Age article, on average, moms with smartphones spend over 6 hours a day with mobile media, which includes email, mobile, web, apps, SMS and voice messaging.

Few hospitals have a well-defined mobile strategy or have even experimented with mobile marketing.  But in the future, it may become necessary for reaching moms. Moms are a key target for hospitals. They are the gatekeeper for their family’s healthcare and control an enormous amount of healthcare dollars.  Mobile is where they are.  It is the communication device they depend on.  It goes with them, stays with them, is the most convenient and fits into their hurried lifestyle. To build a brand and a relationship with them will mean having a mobile strategy. To reach them, we have to get smart too.

Share