Mobile devices provide your hospital with a marvelous low-cost opportunity to reach your consumers as they search medical related information on the web.
It is projected that by 2013 half of all web traffic will be through a mobile device. However, I feel community healthcare marketers are still trying to determine if this medium is right for their market. New Research on growing mobile customers and inexpensive cost for a mobile campaign are making mobile marketing a must for your community hospital.
A recent Pew Research study that found that 82 percent of American adults have a cell phone, 59 percent of U.S. adults age 18 and older now access the internet wirelessly using a laptop or mobile device, and of those, 61 percent are searching for health-related information. Another study by comScore finds that one in four mobile subscribers who browse the web search for local information.
But best of all for selling the use of mobile marketing to your hospital leaders is the ability to cross-market wireless campaigns with free social media endeavors resulting in low-cost, high ROI achievements that any community hospital can utilize. Mobile marketing can significantly lower marketing costs than traditional medium.
We can now site examples of how mobile technology has improved emergency medical care, advance local health initiatives and reach multi-generational audiences. It gives them real-time, portable access to health information. Mobile technology holds great promise for your future goals of keeping people healthy, managing diseases and lowering healthcare costs.
Hospitals that are taking advantage of mobile marketing:
- The Nashville Business Journal recently reported on how hospitals in Tennessee are investing in mobile versions of their website in hopes of attracting new patients and building brand loyalty. Saint Thomas Health Services launched a mobile version of its website which allows users to easily access hospital directions, phone numbers and a health information section all from their Blackberry, iPhone or Droid.
- HCA West Florida Division hospitals are partnering with mobile healthcare platform Healthagen connecting their consumers with health information using smartphone app, iTriage.
Here are 6 steps that can be used when developing mobile outreach campaign for your community hospital:
- Step 1: Build a permission database. Communications that are respectful, engaging and, most of all, wanted by the recipient, makes them far more valuable and effective than traditional advertising.
- Step 2: Find your target audience. Being strategic about your target audience will save you money. For example, a campaign to raise ovarian cancer awareness, would not target male recipients. likewise a reproductive health initiative — would not target boomers or senior citizens.
- Step 3: Develop the campaign message. Keep your messages simple, but compelling and make sure they are relevant and timely.
- Step 4: Start a dialogue with an audience. Keep this conversation going, by collecting data, monitor responsiveness towards campaigns and build relationships with the community.
- Step 5: Choose the channels and integrate. Mobile marketing provides your subscribers with content and services that fit their lifestyle and improve their lives portably. Get out of the print rut and learn how to fully integrate marketing channels to create awareness about important health initiatives.
- Step 6: Think beyond the SMS. Think beyond the traditional “HOWRU2DAY” message. Think content downloads, surveys, health alerts such as vaccination reminders or even reminders for periodical check-ups and examinations such as mammograms — all designed to provide important information and build relationships with the community and subscriber base.
Consumers are no longer just sitting in front of their home or office computer looking up health information; internet usage is now portable.
Deliver your content more efficiently, make better use of your information on all marketing channels, reduce costs and to help consumers improve their health and their lives through a medium they understand and embrace.
Have you consider mobile marketing when you provide services for the community, communicating to physicians and marketed to current patients?
By conducting a review and evaluation of your hospital’s and competitor’s marketing materials you can improve, coordinate and deliver more cost-effective materials.
Your community hospital has a heart and soul. Shouldn’t every piece of marketing that reaches a patient’s hands convey the right message?
Your marketing team is aware of the need in consistency in all the internal and external marketing materials. Selling a review of all your hospital’s ads, brochures and websites to the leaders is difficult with today’s budgets.
Create an awareness to leaders that the steps you take to evaluate your brand will assure quality to potential and current patients. This quality is the most valuable asset you have!
Don’t be swayed from evaluating your communication materials because of the time investment or size of your hospital.
Audits can be tailored to need and can be as simple (service line audit in weeks) and complex (over a couple of months for the whole organization) as needed. You can speed up the process by gathering the marketing materials to review and clearly summarizing the hospital’s mission vision and values to your independent auditor.
Compile Your Existing Marketing Materials
- Hospital Logo and Service Line Logos
- Social Media Sites
- Data Sheets
- Trade Show Materials
- Internal and External Signage
- Online and Print Newsletters
After your pile of materials is laid out you may be shocked to see the inconsistencies in your hospital materials. These inconsistent marketing materials give the impression of an unstable hospital, one that’s in flux. The unfortunate result is patients get nervous, your market position is compromised, and mind share is at risk.
Review Your Messaging
Analyzing these communication pieces helps you sell to leadership that your hospital messaging could align better with their strategic priorities and core values. Now you will have the ammunition to sell improving the communication overall.
I always recommend a visual communications audit for all hospitals at the beginning of a hospital/agency relationship and every few years to make sure you don’t drift from your identity. Looking with a fresh and unbiased perspective, across all marketing materials, can unlock the communication roadblocks keeping your community from understanding the value that your hospital brings to its members, patients, families, providers and partners.
Some of the questions that I would ask are:
- Are you adhering to the graphic standards of your hospital brand. (images, logos, font, colors etc.)
- Is there consistency in messaging? Does it follow your brand promise?
- Are your hospital strategies focused and on-target?
- Do all the pieces look like they’re from the same hospital?
- Is your website up-to-date and maintained?
- Have your marketing messages adapted to the current market?
- Does your brand identity reflect the personality of your hospital?
- How do your communications compare with your competition?
For your hospital it is key to communicate either clinical care (product) or providing care (service). Once your audit is complete you will better understand how to deliver a unified voice to educate new patients about new machines, treatments and your unique patient care experience giving your hospital the competitive edge.
Benefits of Your Communication Audit
- Savings: Audits normally uncover items no longer effective
- Impact: Points out areas where small changes produce big results
- Planning: Becoming aware is the first step in deciding where to go in the future
Don’t wait on leadership changes or your leaders to notice the inconsistency in your marketing materials. Audits can be as simple or as extensive as your budget and needs dictate. The results will protect the visual consistency resulting in gained market share and profits.
Additional Communication Audit Resources
Video sharing platform YouTube, has become one of the web’s most popular search engines for healthcare, and community hospital marketers should definitely take notice.
Community hospital marketing is entering a new era and the game is about to greatly change. The web has given patients the ability to shop for healthcare solutions, compare quality and be better informed. With 32 percent of YouTube viewers watching health videos, YouTube should dominate your social media plan.
Kevin Silverman, healthcare specialist and vice president of digital strategy for Ogilvy, noted some of the current trends in video watching:
- Of YouTube’s 180 million viewers, 32 percent watch health videos – more than food or even celebrity videos
- Of those viewers, 79 percent of health consumers have watched videos about their specific health condition
- 93 percent take action after viewing health information
- 69 percent conduct further online research as a result of the video they watched
- 60 percent interact with their doctor
Kevin had an opportunity to meet with the healthcare team at YouTube and learn more about what these trends mean for healthcare:
- YouTube, and online video sources provide an avenue to reach patients with condition specific information, which could include treatment options, and drive them to speak with their healthcare provider.
- Opportunities exist on YouTube to provide patients with branded messages in advance of the patient-doctor conversation.
- Providers and pharmaceutical companies have another opportunity to reach consumers who are actively interested in receiving information on their conditions and actively searching for information.
Particularly for community hospitals, I would add these to Kevin’s list:
- Tour of facilities
- Introductions of physicians and staff
- Patient stories
- Surgeries and other procedures which help to educate patients
Check out the examples below to see how other hospitals are using YouTube to reach their patients:
What does this all mean for community hospitals?
“It means YouTube, and online video sources provide an avenue to reach patients with condition specific information, which could include treatment options, and drive them to speak with their healthcare provider,” said Silverman. “And, opportunities exist on YouTube to provide patients with branded messages in advance of the patient-doctor conversation.”
YouTube is an exciting and becoming an essential tool for marketing community hospitals.
Read Kevin’s entire article: “Looking to reach consumers in the healthcare space? Consider tuning into YouTube”