Let's face it: today’s hospital marketers have their work cut out for them. Between increased competition, discerning consumers, and always-evolving technology, there are plenty of ways to get off track and into trouble. This is why it’s particularly important to adopt strategies aimed at overcoming these obstacles and reaching your goals. Let’s look at five of the top trends employed by today’s most successful hospital marketers as you start planning for 2016 initiatives.
1. Make It Mobile
According to the latest research from the Pew Internet Project, more than half of all smartphone owners have used their devices to look up health or medical information, while just under 20 percent have downloaded apps to track or manage their health. With this number anticipated to rise and, despite compliance-related challenges, hospital strategies must integrate mobile in order to keep ahead of the curve.
Of course, going mobile is only part of the equation. You must also deliver responsive design, patient-first page layout and content hierarchy, and a streamlined system for producing valuable content -- including everything from blog articles to podcasts -- which educates consumers while building brand awareness.
2. The Power of Peer-to-Peer
Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report reveals that a whopping 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70 percent trust consumer opinions posted online. Compared to just 47 percent who trust brand sponsorships and advertisements, these statistics highlight the value of word-of-mouth. In other words, while showcasing your expertise through content adds to your visibility, nothing is more meaningful than peer-to-peer connections. From support groups on Facebook to private forums on your website, offering both public and private community building opportunities builds both loyalty and reach.
3. Staff Matters
Most hospital marketing efforts are keenly focused on reaching external audiences. Unfortunately, this yields limited results if you fail to instill the same sense of brand promise internally. Everyone within your organization -- from physicians and nurses to administration and staff -- must not only understand your brand promise and how it differs from the rest, but also their role in delivering on it. They must also be held accountable when it comes to how they do or don’t meet these expectations.
4. A Patient-First Perspective
While content marketing may now be the status quo, effective content marketing remains elusive for many hospitals. Why? Because their strategies are missing a fundamental reality: that hospital marketing is not just about creating customers, but also about transforming them into advocates.
This means that every single interaction must be aimed at creating a customer experience. Research from Pew indicates that more than a quarter of internet users who have sought health information online have hit a paywall; of these, 83 percent moved on to find the information elsewhere.
The takeaway? Don’t make it hard for your consumers. Instead, give them what they want: ease of access, transparency, consistency, and a feeling of cohesion.
5. Stay on Track
Understanding what works and what doesn’t is critical to improving your ROI. Unfortunately, hospitals can be anything but early adopters when it comes to the latest tracking methods. This constitutes a major missed opportunity not only to know where your leads are originating, but also to understand your conversions in an actionable way. Without the right metrics, the glut of available data can turn into white noise. Each new service line campaign should have built-in trackability -- from vanity URLs to tracking phone numbers -- which can help you make sense of your efforts.
Today's hospital marketers are increasingly on the hook for ROI. These five strategies can help you not only achieve results, but also convey them to key decision-makers in a clear and compelling way.