Hospital Mobile Marketing

The Challenge of Being Transparent in Hospital Marketing

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Hospital marketing professionals have a range of inordinate challenges before them when it comes to promoting a facility or system in an effective way.

These challenges stem from a variety of causes: healthcare, in today’s world, has become increasingly political and polarizing; consumers largely view healthcare as a commodity and facilities as interchangeable; consumers feel detached from the healthcare process beyond self-diagnosis and choosing a doctor; the labyrinth that is medical billing overwhelms, confuses, and discourages patients.

Transparent communication in hospital marketing can alleviate many of these problems, but that poses a challenge in and of itself. How can hospital marketing pros be more transparent in their communications to earn the trust of their target audience and communicate differentiating quality?

The Obstacles to Transparency

Being transparent and clear about a hospital’s benefits and offerings can be difficult for facilities for a few reasons:

  • Many hospitals don’t want to “pull back the curtain,” so to speak, on medical billings, including cost of services
  • Healthcare in general has become politicized
  • Hospitals offer a wide range of services to a wide range of people
  • Consumers aren’t always willing to talk about their health
  • Costs become difficult to comprehend, especially when insurance companies are in the discussion
  • All services and physicians are not created equal

 

There are also many different stakeholders in the process. It’s not just the patient; it’s the patient’s family, insurance company, physicians and employers. These agents can interfere with clear, open communication.

Creating Transparent Communication

The most effective hospital marketing strategies overcome transparency issues and offer differentiation when it comes to their competition – even if they operate as a de facto monopoly in a given area.

One suggestion for perhaps being more transparent is being open with statistics and conveying them in a direct, easy-to-understand manner. For example, be honest about infection rates, medication error rates, and any other statistic about healthcare that your target audience would be interested in. Do so in a clear way without using jargon. Saying, “A typical post-surgery infection rate is one in 1,000” is acceptable, but it’s not quite as good as saying, “One out of every 1,000 patients who undergo surgery will get an infection.”

One might think that being forward with such knowledge could be negative, but the opposite may be  true; it is a positive way to establish trust and differentiate a facility from the rest.

Another suggestion for transparency is to be clear and open about what the hospital truly excels at – the hospital’s competitive advantage. This is not to imply that a hospital is “bad” at other areas, per se, but it does state, clearly, that consumers have one main choice when it comes to quality care in this particular area. By focusing on strengths, a hospital can begin to set itself apart in a meaningful way.

Additionally, a hospital can be open about the process it uses to bill and charge patients for their services. Many hospitals are loath to reveal specific costs and pricing information, which is understandable. Even if that’s the case, though, finding a compromise or middle-of-the-road path can reap benefits. Consumers are far more likely to choose a hospital that at least makes an attempt at clarifying the billing process and revealing the nature of costs and prices for services.

Having that particular conversation is, in a word, frightening for many in the healthcare profession, but it needn’t be. Transparency ultimately wins the hearts and minds of a consumer, and the more transparent hospital marketing professionals are, the better their results will be.

Consult with a hospital marketing agency like TotalCom to learn more about how you can expand transparency and deliver more effective messages.

 

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.

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Healthcare Marketing: Boomers Spending Big on Technology

Baby Boomers are into technology, spending more money on technology than any other age group.

Technology and social media are ways to reach the younger generations.  Right?  Not so fast. Baby boomers might be the real target.  The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that baby boomers have fully embraced technology.  They are the biggest spenders on technology according to Forrester Research’s annual benchmark tech study.

Think about the boomers you know.  The typical boomer has a desktop computer at work, a laptop at home, are on facebook, have a smartphone, have multiple accounts on the internet, DVRs their favorite television shows and is wishing for an iPad. If they don’t already have one.

“It’s actually a myth that baby boomers aren’t into technology.  They represent 24% of the population, but they consume 40% (in total dollars spent) of it”, stated Patricia McDonough, senior VP-analysis at Nielsen and reported by Beth Snyder Bulik in Ad Age.

Baby boomers are not early adapters but they certainly pile on.   Ten years ago only 25% of boomers went online daily.  Today 70% go surfing everyday.   And examine these stats about baby boomers:

  • 47% use social media
  • One in five use social media every day
  • A full 66% use their cell phone for texting
  • 91% use email
  • 88% use search engines
  • 78% use the internet to research health information
  • 74% get news from the internet

Baby boomers are aging and have become huge users of health services and that will grow tremendously as they age. To healthcare marketers they are a huge and critical target audience and if we think they can only be reached by traditional media we are making a critical mistake. Technology and social media have been embraced by boomers and have become a very common and pervasive part of their lives.  Technology, new media and social networking are effective ways to reach, communicate and even build relationships with those 45-64 ears old.

Boomers are the greatest spending generation.  And they spend their money and their time on technology.  It would be a huge disconnect for healthcare marketers to assume otherwise.

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Healthcare Marketing: When Creating Mobile Marketing Strategy, It’s Important to Consider the Heavy Users

African-Americans, Hispanics, women, southerners and teens talk and text on their cellphones more than others.

African-Americans average 1300 minutes per month on their cell phones, the most of any demographic.  Hispanics are second averaging 826 minutes per month.  This is compared to Caucasians who average only 647 minutes per month.

Nielsen conducted a yearlong study to determine who used their mobile phones the most.  In their report, Mobile Usage Data, they determined that African- Americans and Hispanics also text the most.  African-Americans average 780 messages a month with Hispanics averaging 767 per month.  Caucasians average 566 texts per month.

The survey analyzed the cellphone bills of 60,000 mobile subscribers each month in the United States.  The analysis indicated women talk more than men with 856 minutes per month and 666 for men. They also text more than men averaging 661 text messages per month compared to 447 for men.

To no one’s surprise, teen’s text the most, averaging 2,779 texts per month.  The average each month for age 18-24 decreases to 1299 texts per month and 25-34 decreases even  more to an average of 592 messages.  Voice usage is more uniform with 18-24 year-olds using 981 minutes per month while 25-34 age group averages 952 minutes per month.

Additionally, southerners use more mobile minutes than those of other regions, averaging over 800 minutes per month.

As mobile marketing becomes more viable and more adopted by marketers, it’s important to identify the heavy users of their mobile devices.  The use by calls or texts varies significantly among different demographics.  Practically everyone is relying on their mobile phones to communicate and the numbers continue to increase. Mobile marketing has indeed become a mass medium. And as health care marketers discover and implement mobile marketing tactics we can know whom we are most likely to effectively reach.

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Healthcare Marketing: Consumers Can’t Get Enough Media

Americans are watching more, surfing more, texting more and consuming media more!

Americans continue to consume more and more media. And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.   Due to a slow economy, ubiquitous broadband, widespread Wi-Fi access, increased multi-tasking and the proliferation of new devices and technology, consumers are living a lifestyle of almost continuous media consumption. In the past 18 months we watched two more hours of television per week, sent and received half a trillion more text messages and spent 1.3 more hours on the internet.  “We’re finding a way to do more of it, watch more of it and take more of it with us”, stated Patricia McDonough, VP-analysis, Nielsen Company.

Beth Snyder Bulik reported in Ad Age some  of the latest figures for U.S media consumption.

Television

  • 116 million Americans have at least one television
  • 55% of households have at least 3 televisions
  • There are more televisions than people in the US
  • Americans spend an average of 35 hours and 34 minutes per week watching traditional TV
  • Another two hours is spent each week watching time-shifted TV, such as DVR
  • We spend an average of 20 minutes per week watching videos on the internet
  • TV watching is shared with social networking  (21%), playing video games (16%), purchasing products online (15%), participating by phone or internet with what’s happening on TV (7%) and tweeting (4%).

Internet

  • On an average day, 78% of Americans with internet access go online
  • 62% send /receive email
  • 49% use a search engine to find information
  • 43% get news
  • 38% go online for fun
  • 38% use social media
  • 34% check the weather
  • 26% do banking
  • 23% watch video

Newspapers

  • Only 31% of those surveyed read a newspaper on a given day
  • 65 and older – 62%
  • 50-64 – 44%
  • 40-49 – 39%
  • 18-24 – 20%

E-Readers and iPads

  • 3.7 million e-readers sold last year
  • 10.3 million predicted to be sold this year
  • 15.5 million predicted sold next year
  • 30 million predicted sold by 2015
  • 10 million American’s either already own an iPad  (2.5 million) or intend to buy one (7.4 million)

Mobile Phones

  • In 2009 there were 286 million wireless subscribers
  • 72% of consumers now text
  • There are 153 billion texts sent each month
  • Teens send and receive an average of 50 texts per day – adults an average of 10
  • 42% use their cell phones to access the internet
  • 30% do mobile search
  • 27% download apps
  • 26% use it for buying products
  • 15% use their cell phone to purchase products

Social Media

  • Linkedin has 75 million members
  • Twitter has 100 million members
  • Facebook has 500 million members
  • 40% of Americans maintain a social-networking profile
  • 86% of adults 18-24 use social media
  • 47% of boomers use social media
  • 26% of adults over 65 use social media

It is clear that Americans consume an enormous amount of media.  And it continues to increase.  These figures vividly show the power and influence of the media.  They are tools, when used wisely, that can deliver our messages to consumers.


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