Marketing Firm South

Healthcare Marketing: Biggest Challenge Keeping the Pace

The changing and fracturing of the media landscape is the biggest challenge and the greatest opportunity for marketers.

In a poll of marketers, 41% named the growth of marketing channels and devices as their biggest challenge.  Other challenges that top the list are customer collaboration and influence, financial constraints and ROI accountability.  These were findings of IBM in a survey of marketing professionals, The State of Marketing 2012.

The continued fracturing of the media landscape makes it increasingly difficult to reach consumers in large numbers.  Integration of marketing and information technology are now required over a multitude of channels.

The same report indicated that marketers are turning their attention to mobile.  Mobile is viewed as the next big opportunity as a larger share of the population own and is dependent on mobile phone devices.

Traditional media is not dead.  But marketing effectiveness in the future will include the integration of campaigns over across numerous channels  – especially mobile and social.

Healthcare marketers that I know share the same challenges and concerns indicated in the survey.  It is more difficult to reach a mass audience. And to truly have effective reach in the future there will have to be integration over both traditional and non-traditional mediums.  Social media will have to be included and mobile websites, applications, email and messaging will increasing become important.

There will continue to be great challenges for healthcare marketers.  But also great opportunities.

Healthcare Marketing: Yesterday’s SEO Strategies No Longer Effective

Google’s algorithm changes place more emphasis on social engagement rather than technology and tricks.

For years, healthcare marketers have tried to understand the basics of Google’s search engines and their algorithms.  How does it work?  How can we optimize search results for our brand?  How can we get higher organic placement than our competitors?  A lot of work and effort has gone into this endeavor.  Many marketers have paid specialists large sums of money to try to manipulate the system in favor of their brand.

But recent Google updates, code-named Panda and Penguin, have placed the emphasis squarely on quality content, originality and overall user experience.    Veronica Fielding, CEO of Digital Brand Expressions, writing for Fast Company outlined some of the changes and stated “the updates contained very clear messages for marketers: stop focusing on technology and tricks and start focusing on people.  If your website appeals to people, it will appeal to Google’s algorithms too.”

As Fielding points out, the search engines place value in other things in addition to the website.  There is now an emphasis on what’s happening in social media channels.  There is an increased importance on social conversations.  And social activity influences how the brand is viewed and how their website should rank.

Brands can no longer depend on optimizing their website to catch Google’s attention.  Now a brand must be having conversations, going where people are and engaging them.  This is what the Google search engines like.

As healthcare marketers we have been lead into the social media arena so we can have meaningful conversations and build relationships.  As if that reason alone is not enough incentive, now such activity also affects how we are found and ranked by search engines.  That means there are several new strategies for improving our organic search ranking.  And they involve social media.  Now there are even more reasons to utilize social media in our marketing efforts.

1.    Facebook

Rather than just having a Facebook page, for search results it’s important to engage consumers.  Information on our Facebook page should be relevant and interesting.  There should be dynamite conversations between your brand and consumers.  This requires quality content.

2.    Twitter

Tweet about topics of interest.  Not just trying to push our hospital or health organization but providing useful and helpful information.  The kind that will be re-tweeted.

3.    YouTube

Upload shareable videos onto your YouTube site.  Again, videos that are useful.  Vides that will be watched and shared.  Note also that Google owns YouTube.  Enough said.

4.    LinkedIn

A brand profile with recommendations and referrals is a strong component of brand optimization on the web.  Company pages are now public and feature status updates.

5.    Other social media options.

Other popular social media options are helpful too.  Pinterest, Google+ and other sites will contribute to brand optimization.

“All this social media activity works to create engagement around the brand by what has always mattered to search engines most: people,” added Fielding.

So when we ask how we can improve search results for our brand, with the changes by Google, we must provide quality content, but in a way and in venues that will lead to relevant conversations and consumer engagement.

Healthcare Marketing: Key Influencers are Physicians

Guest Blog Post By Ian Orekondy, Director of Digital Media – UBM Medica

Patients Value Healthcare Professionals for Health Information More Than Any Other Source

After hospitals across the country ramped up their marketing efforts and increased their advertising targeted to patients, research shows that patients continue to cite their physicians as the most valued influence on their healthcare decisions.

So many forward-thinking hospitals are increasingly focusing on cultivating stronger relationships with physicians in their market areas in order to:

  • Ensure awareness of key hospital services
  • Grow referrals
  • Support physicians
  • Improve care and quality outcomes.

More Than Physician Relations

Some hospitals are hiring physician liaisons to meet with certain physicians, but many hospitals are going further and partnering with trusted medical journals and online publications to strengthen hospital-physician relationships.  They do this by delivering valuable content to physicians to help them manage and grow their medical practice. Additionally, as shown in several recent hospital marketing surveys, many hospital marketers are increasing their focus on digital marketing, and are now figuring out how to scale their physician-targeted digital marketing programs.

Wait, Are Physicians Really Online? Absolutely:

  • 81% of physicians now own a smartphone (mostly the iPhone) (Manhattan Research)
  • 62% of physicians own a tablet (mostly the iPad) (Manhattan Research)

They are using these devices throughout the day:

  • 78% of surveyed physicians access health-websites via mobile devices
  • And physician-targeted mobile apps help with diagnosis at the point of care.
  • Some hospital marketers are still surprised to learn physicians are now opening their emails more than ever, exchanging emails with patients, and perhaps most importantly for hospitals, they are opening emails from sources they trust to deliver them valuable clinical and practice management content.  Physician-targeted email open rates are now routinely in line with consumer/patient-targeted email campaigns.

So how can your hospital engage physicians online?

Valuable Content + Precise Targeting = Engaged Physicians

Focus on providing value:

  • Tools: Diagnostic or prediction tools can provide significant value for physicians. For example, Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York hosts “Prediction Tools” on the healthcare professional section of their website.  Oncologists and other physicians anywhere can use these tools to predict cancer outcomes or assess risk based on specific characteristics of a patient and of his or her disease.
  • Content:  Help them save time and money.  Physicians are struggling with the business side of medicine, so providing content that helps them manage their practice is a great way to build a stronger relationship with physicians.
  • Resources: Many hospitals provide physician directories, directions to give to patients, and CME opportunities – all online.

Demonstrate that you value physicians’ input:

  • Creating an online poll and distributing it online to all physicians in your market area is an easy way to engage physicians with your hospital, and gather valuable feedback at the same time.  Ask them about a potential policy change, what changes they’d like to see, or simply ask about their overall satisfaction with the referral process.  Doing this on a regular basis can pay large dividends.

Ensure that your physician-focused content gains the right physician audience.

  • Relying on search engines, YouTube and Facebook works very well when targeting patients, but these tactics lose their effectiveness when it comes to targeting physicians.
  • Find a partner (usually a company that already has built trusted relationships with physicians) that can reach and deploy your content to physicians in your market area.  Often, even if your hospital has its own physician email list, a good partner can de-duplicate your physician emails from their own list of engaged physicians, and deploy your content only to the physicians you don’t already reach.
  • These partners can syndicate your physician-focused videos, PDFs, polls and other resources, and they can often supplement your content or even help you with production.

To recap, physicians are still the most influential sources of information for patients, and they are now fully engaged online.  There are now many ways for hospitals to strengthen their relationships with physicians in ways that reflect their needs, save them time and money, and ultimately wins your hospital more business and improves outcomes for your patient population.

Is your hospital already focused on marketing to physicians? Or is your competitor?

Ian Orekondy is Director of Digital Media at UBM Medica, building custom marketing programs for hospitals and pharmaceutical brands. He also blogs at http://searchandsocialmedia.com, and you can connect with him on Twitter @iano1000. Use hashtag #hospitalmarketing.

Healthcare Marketing: 7 Social Media Time Wasters

We sometimes spend a lot of time on things that aren’t productive.  Eliminating those things will help us optimize our time and efforts. 

As healthcare marketers there’s never enough time to get everything accomplished and our to do lists seem to grow longer and longer as demands in our time increase.  And now enter social media and the pressure for our hospital or healthcare organization to have presence and be active on social networking sites.  Pamela Vaughn posted “7 Social Media Time-Sucks to Eliminate Today” on blog.hugspot.com.  If we heed her advice it will eliminate some time that is commonly wasted doing social media marketing.

In inbound marketing, we talk a lot about optimization — optimizing your content for search engines, optimizing your website for lead generation, optimizing your social media presence. But another very important thing inbound marketers must optimize is time. Yes, compared to outbound marketing, inbound marketing saves money and is much more effective. But you also need to put the time in.

However, marketers often spend too much time on strategies and tactics that don’t make any real impact, particularly in social media. Don’t waste your precious marketing time on things that aren’t worth your time. Avoid the following 7 social media time-sucks at all costs.

7 Social Media Time-Sucks to Avoid

1. Stop feeding the trolls. On the internet, trolls are people who make it their mission to disrupt online discussions (whether it’s on a forum, in a blog post’s comments section, in a social network, etc.) with the goal of provoking an emotional response. Often, their comments are off-topic, inflammatory, and disruptive to the conversation. In general, don’t waste your time on them; it’s often better to ignore their remarks than try to reason with them. Do your best to recognize trolls, take a deep breath, and move on. If you perceive someone as a troll, chances are your other readers will, too, so don’t worry about trolls negatively impacting your brand if you ignore them.

2. Stop maintaining multiple accounts on one social network. You have one Twitter account for customer service, another for marketing, and yet another for Sales. Your Facebook presence is also spread out across multiple Pages. There are some cases when more than one account makes sense, but be reasonable. Consolidating your presence into one account will save you the time of maintaining multiple accounts, help you attract more followers, and centralize your web presence. You can always have multiple contributors/administrators for one account if you want representatives from multiple departments to be involved.

3. Stop spending time on social networks your target customers don’t populate. It’s an unnecessary time-suck to maintain a presence on every single social network that crops up. Before you sign up for a social media account, conduct research to determine if your target customers even congregate there. Furthermore, adjust the amount of time you spend on each social network accordingly. It doesn’t matter if Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most popular social networks overall. If your target audience spends more time on a niche social media platform specific to your industry than they do on a ‘popular’ one like Facebook, spend more of your time there, too.

4. Stop tracking useless metrics. At the end of the day, it’s all about sales. While there are definitely metrics that can be good indicators of revenue and sales, there are some that just generally don’t matter. In social media, these metrics include your number of fans and followers. Rather than obsessing over these useless metrics, measure social media traffic, leads, and customers instead.

5. Stop talking about your product. Don’t waste your time talking about yourself and your products or services, because, well, no one really wants to hear it. What your fans and followers do want to hear, on the other hand, is your thought leadership. Rather than spending time talking about yourself, spend time creating and sharing educational, remarkable content that people will care about and want to spread to their networks. This will extend your reach and actually generate results.

6. Stop strategizing, and start doing. Too many businesses waste time preparing over-the-top, extensive social media strategy documents. They spend time creating them, and then they spend even more time waiting for their approval. By the time they actually start executing, they could’ve already been generating results. Sure, it’s important to have a clear vision for your social media strategy, but getting things done and being agile enough to adapt to new trends and developments is more important than having a definitive strategy document.

7. Stop responding to EVERYTHING. As your business and social media presence grow (and, isn’t that the goal?), you’ll undoubtedly start generating more fans, followers, and as a result, more discussion around your brand. If you kill yourself over trying to respond to every single comment or @reply, you’ll never get anything meaningful done. While it’s absolutely critical to be an active member of your community and engage with your prospects and customers, always prioritize and spend your time responding to the conversations that are truly worthwhile.

Start eliminating these social media time-sucks and focusing on tactics that really matter. You’ll love how much looser your schedule becomes.

 

 

 

Healthcare Marketing: Around the Internet in 60 Seconds

It’s mindboggling what happens each minute on the internet.  Like 695,000 Facebook updates, 168 million emails sent, 694,000 search queries and 13,000 iPhone apps downloaded.

Business Insider  revealed two infographics that indicate just some of the things that happen on the internet – every 60 seconds.  Perhaps nothing is as invasive in our lives as the internet.  It’s truly amazing!

Healthcare Marketing: Decisions without Considering Consumer Costly

Recent snafus prove that we should think from the consumer’s perspective.  And not about what’s best for our organization’s operations.

Recently Facebook made changes to its social network’s interface.  This was closely on the heels of earlier changes that Facebook users weren’t even used to yet.  And users were not happy.  Then Netflix customers who were already unhappy with a price increase were then angered more when the company announced it was separating its streaming video offering from its video rental business to create a new company.

Two very successful corporations who had great loyalty and good will but unilaterally made decisions, which were good operationally without considering the impact on consumers.  It’s a mistake many companies make.  Although not as widely discussed and criticized as these two.   Both of these companies thought they could do anything they wanted and consumers would accept it.  They never even considered what the consumer would think.  It was good operationally for each of them and that was the basis of their decision.

So a management decision that made complete sense internally backfired because no one bothered to consider or ask what their customers thought. And now they’re paying a large cost in public perception, consumer loyalty and sales.  Their brand has been tarnished.

Healthcare organizations sometimes make the same mistake.  In an effort to cut costs, improve efficiency and increase productivity, hospitals and healthcare organizations make decisions that make sense internally but may not be received well by patients.

It proves that we need to listen to the consumer and evaluate every decision from the customer’s perspective.  In a very competitive marketplace with pressures on the bottom-line organizations can ill afford to alienate customers.  Decisions made without considering the consumer may save money but it could cost far more in business, consumer locality and brand perception.

Of course we know this.  But sometimes we forget.  We look at decisions from every angle except from the viewpoint of the consumer.  Sometimes it takes highly publicized snafus like Facebook and Netflix to remind us that what our customers think is of extreme importance.  May we not get so removed from our customers that we repeat the mistake.