Internet and mobile technologies have changed pretty much every type of social interaction, including the way people manage their health, and the ways in which they deal with their healthcare providers. It’s important not to lapse into the mindset that suggests that because healthcare is so vital to society it’s not necessary to compete. People now have an endless list of possible solutions right in the palm of their hand. That means it’s important for all health care marketers to make sure their organization has a permanent spot on that list.
Internet and mobile technologies have changed pretty much every type of social interaction, including the way people manage their health, and the ways in which they deal with their healthcare providers. It’s important not to lapse into the mindset that suggests that because healthcare is so vital to society it’s not necessary to compete. People now have an endless list of possible solutions right in the palm of their hand. That means it’s important for all health care marketers to make sure their organization has a permanent spot on that list. So, let’s take a look at a few ways healthcare organizations can turn today’s marketing trends to their advantage.
When faced with problems of any sort, most people use whatever tools they find to be the most convenient and user-friendly. That’s why, with the expansion of the internet and mobile devices, and the refinement of search engine algorithms over the past decade, 80 percent of health related inquiries begin at a search engine. It’s no exaggeration that whoever knows the SEO game holds the keys to the internet. So, not only do health care organizations need to consider the user experience of their customer base when outlining marketing plans. They also need to understand how to get their marketing content noticed, and indexed by the big search engines, especially Google, which currently claims around 60 percent of search engine market share.
Most medical professionals shudder at the thought of patients conducting self-diagnoses and then presuming to instruct medical staff on the correct course of action, or even worse, deciding that medical attention is superfluous in light of the information available online. Problems with self-diagnosis and the possibility of having customers misinterpret information might motivate administrators want to impose an outright ban on instructive, content marketing campaigns. But consider this: WebMD exists. And it’s the most frequently searched online resource for medical information, which means if you’re not already in the content marketing game, you have some catching up to do. Marketing trends are showing us that quality, educational content will continue to rise in demand. The internet is the new marketplace of ideas, and the same old free speech adage—the only remedy for bad speech is more speech—applies to web content now. The only remedy for bad content is more content.
Mobile Friendly Websites
The majority of people who search online for health care services are looking for local results, for obvious reasons. More than 70 percent of internet users polled by Pew Research admit to searching for health information of one kind or another in the past year. Combine those numbers with the fact that 91 percent of Americans have mobile devices on hand at all times, which they use to conduct 80 percent of local online searches and you can see that it amounts so a lot of local online searches for health related topics. The bottom line is that websites absolutely must be mobile-responsive to provide the best user experience. In fact, as of April 21, 2015, Google’s ranking algorithm was updated so that it actually demerits websites that are not mobile responsive.
In spite of all the heavy emphasis on internet technology in marketing, plain old word-of-mouth advertising continues to drive many referrals to health care providers. Having said that, most word-of-mouth is circulated through social media channels, so technology still factors in. That’s a good thing because there is most likely a lot of really vital information an organization would want to share publicly that simply wouldn’t fit the criteria for an effective content marketing strategy. Say for example your organization has updated its enterprise imaging system to a more user-friendly system that enables doctors and patients alike to have easier access to x-ray, and MRI records. That’s the kind of information that would be important to circulate, except it doesn’t really match what an online user would be looking for in a marketing content piece. It has nothing to do with the user’s health-related inquiry. It’s simply an administrative improvement. A reputation management campaign could easily circulate that information in a very natural way using social media and other messaging platforms.