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Marketing in the New Year: Looking Ahead to 2016

December 18th, 2015 No comments

2015-2016As we glide through the final days of 2015 (we hope you are gliding rather than stumbling), it’s not too late to think about what’s on tap for 2016 as we plan for the soon-to-arrive new year.

For the past few months, many articles have been written with predictions of the hottest marketing trends for 2016. Here are a few to consider.

Search/SEO:

The number of people who use online search to find health or medical information continues to increase. And the majority of health information searches start with a search engine, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. Thus, SEO continues to be an important component of digital strategy. However, some recent changes related to search engines can impact your SEO strategy moving forward:

• Yahoo has begun to partner with both Bing and Google. This means that Yahoo searches can show Google search results – including organic listings and paid ads – which can increase your exposure in searches. It also means that Bing’s ads will appear in 51% of desktop searches delivered by Yahoo.
• With the release of Windows 10 earlier this year, Bing ads are getting a lot more exposure because Bing is the default search engine in Microsoft’s new OS. Search has been made a more integral feature in Windows 10 by having a search box appear at all times in an onscreen task bar.
• Microsoft’s new Edge browser (the replacement for IE) helps to facilitate searches by allowing the user to highlight text in the browser and right click, after which Cortana can bring up the search results in a sidebar.
• Bing Native Ads was recently launched with ads appearing across MSN.com (the default start page for Windows 10). These ads can be managed via the Bing Ads interface.
• Social media, specifically Facebook, are working on strengthening their search functions. This should lead to greater brand exposure. In addition, advanced social media searches can include functions such as making purchases and engagement about what was purchased and opinions about products and services.

Emerging Social Platforms:

• Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter, and many organizations also utilize LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube. However, a somewhat surprising player is quickly rising in the social media universe: Snapchat. In fact, social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk predicts that Snapchat will be one of the top three social media platforms for the 13-50 year old demographic in 2016. Over the past couple of years, Snapchat has become very popular with young people, in large part due to the fact that Snapchat posts disappear shortly after they are viewed. Longer posts where several individual Snaps are combined, called Snapchat Stories, disappear after 24 hours and can be viewed multiple times by followers during the 24-hour period.

As with Vine and Instagram, spontaneity is the key to using Snapchat. So Snapchat can be useful for real-time engagement over a short period, like a flash sale, a limited-time coupon or other offer, a giveaway, or even to build up anticipation for an upcoming event.
• Snapchat Ads are still in limited use, but show promise for mobile ads in particular, because the video ads take up the full screen of the mobile device, thus better capturing the user’s attention.
• Facebook has a local services listing page in development. Similar to Yelp or Angie’s List, this feature will allow Facebook users to connect with local service providers. For organizations already active on Facebook, this feature looks to provide an additional means of connecting with customers.

Virtual Reality (VR):

VR is getting a boost in 2016 with the introduction of Oculus Rift. As this device – and the others that will surely follow it – becomes ingrained into common use, its potential marketing uses will be revealed. One marketing aspect for which VR shows promise is personalization. With the ability to tell stories from a 360-degree perspective, the promise for consumers to become immersed in marketing campaigns is ripe for development.

Internet of Things (IoT):

IoT has been on the horizon for a while now, as items such as wearables and connected devices have become more common. It is predicted that wearables will achieve a 28% adoption rate in 2016. Wearables and connected devices generate data, which can be mined for detailed information about the users and lead to more personalized engagement. It’s possible that we may see the first wearable native ads in 2016. The future of the IoT is certainly promising for marketers.

Mobile:

Mobile technology has become a core component of digital marketing. But advances continue. In 2016, you’ll need to consider:

• Google’s “mobilegeddon.” Back in April, Google updated its search algorithm to promote mobile, responsive-friendly Websites. If your organization’s site(s) is not optimized for mobile, Google will penalize your site in search results. In addition, people don’t want to use a site that’s not easily viewed or used on their mobile devices. With 80% of local searches performed on a mobile device and 91% of Americans keeping their mobile devices within reach 24/7, your organization must consider mobile as the center of its marketing strategy.
• Will Facebook become completely mobile in 2016? In the 3rd quarter of 2015, the equivalent of 47% of Facebook monthly active users were mobile-only users, an increase from 34% during the same period in 2014.
• Mobile wallets will be a standard feature on new Smartphones and more retailers will accept payments from proximity payment platforms such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and others. Mobile wallets provide an opportunity to connect with customers with coupons, rewards/loyalty programs and other options as they pay with their phones.

2016 promises to be an exciting year for marketers. We look forward to the opportunities and challenges, and we’re sure you do as well.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a Happy New Year to all!

CMO + CIO = CDO? (Part 1 of a 3 Part Series)

August 12th, 2014 1 comment

CDO imageOver the past couple of years, there’s been a lot of attention paid to the emergence of a new position in the C-suite:  the Chief Digital Officer (CDO). As digital technology continues to advance and become ingrained in marketing strategy, the roles and responsibilities of marketing and tech are rapidly converging.

Executive search firm Heidrich and Struggles reports that their clients:

  • who are seeking to fill CIO/CTO positions want candidates who possess strong marketing, sales and customer service skills
  • with open CMO positions want candidates who can work with their tech colleagues to fully leverage the potential of digital technology, mobile platforms and social media.

Marketing has traditionally been considered part art – branding, advertising and image building – combined with part science – market testing and segmentation combined with a range of quantitative disciplines and analytics. But the Internet changed everything, especially by bringing the voice of the customer directly into the mix. Once that happened, the CMO was tasked with:

  • finding a way to engage customers among the myriad media choices available to them
  • using market and customer insights to focus on a target audience
  • providing targeted, customized and differentiated experiences for customers based on their input.

When “Big Data” is factored into the mix, the need for a mix of highly-skilled marketing and tech management becomes even more crucial. The convergence of marketing and tech has created new expectations and new opportunities. CMOs and CIOs/CTOs are seemingly on the fast track to fusion of these roles. The future belongs to those who seize their new hybrid roles.

 

Watch for Part 2 in this series:  Factors Influencing Emergence of the CDO Role 

 

 

Categories: Big Data, Marketing 2.0, Web governance Tags:

New Findings on Patient Portals

September 28th, 2011 No comments

Several times a year, Greystone.Net conducts its own primary research on a hot industry topic. Recently our study on the use of patient portals concluded, with more than 40 organizations participating. The results reveal a number of useful findings for both healthcare marketers and vendors:

1) Based on a high response rate and a large number of verbatim comments, it is clear that patient portals are an extremely hot topic in our industry. Only 3 in 10 respondents actually have a patient portal in place, however, although 2 in 10 are in the process of building one.
2) There are many drivers of patient portal adoption, but none bigger than healthcare reform, which was cited by two out of three respondents as being the most important factor. Other big motivators are “competitive pressure” and “marketing/promotion”. What is noteworthy are the items that were not major motivators: “patient requests” and “physician satisfaction”, among others.
2) Those who have a patient portal are finding it useful for increasing loyalty and streamlining communications, but not lowering costs.
3) Epic was the most popular “vendor of choice” among both those who have built a patient portal and those who have not.
4) There appears to some confusion among those without a patient portal, as several said they would consider using vendors who do not currently have a patient portal offering.
5) Those without a Patient Portal need to overcome significant barriers in terms of finances, resources, and administrative buy-in in order to build one.

Greystone.Net’s research panel is not reflective of all hospitals/health systems, and members tend to be larger and more Internet savvy than the general population.

Our next special survey will cover the topic of Web Governance, Organization Structure, and Staffing. Greystone promise to share all results with participants and to keep any data confidential. If you or someone in your organization would like to participate in future research, please visit http://www.greystone.net/oth/Page.asp?PageID=OTH000573.

Social Media: A Plan is not a Strategy

May 31st, 2011 No comments

One of my favorite board games is Stratego. For those not familiar, this is a game that is similar to chess, except in Stratego you don’t know the identity of your opponent’s pieces. The goal in Stratego is to capture your opponent’s flag, and victory requires (according to Wikipedia) “collecting information, planning, and strategic thinking.”

My little brother was never able to beat me in Stratego, with the exception of a few parent-mandated gimmes. Our games usually ended with the board and game pieces thrown across the room. Why was he never able to beat me?*

Because he had a plan, but I had a strategy.

It is important to understand the distinction between these two words. According to dictionary.com, strategy is the “utilization of all available forces, through large-scale, long-range planning and development, to ensure security or victory.” Planning, on the other hand, is “a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc.” In Stratego, having a strategy meant that I aligned my pieces with several intermediate goals in mind, the accomplishment of which would lead to ultimate victory. Someone who approached the game armed only with a short-term plan, i.e. thinking only in terms of turn-to-turn movements, would not stand a chance.

At Greystone, we frequently come across hospitals and health systems that claim to have a social media strategy, when in effect what they really have is merely a plan. How can you tell the difference? Here are some good questions to ask, as discussed in our recent OpenSpace conference:

1) Does your approach to social media incorporate tactics for all employees, not just those in your department?
2) Are you able to describe how you will use existing and emerging tools to accomplish the key goals you have set?
3) Are the goals and benchmarks you have set in line with key objectives of your organization?
4) Is your outlook for social media long-term in nature, ideally covering a period of at least one year?
5) Does your plan include a process to identify gaps between your organization’s needs and current capabilities, and how you will develop tools and resources to cover them?

When it comes to social media, planning is crucial, but it is not sufficient. To create a successful strategy, you must take things a step further. Start by setting measurable goals that align with corporate objectives. Then create a series of tactical plans for all your tools and resources that will help you accomplish these goals, and finish by establishing processes and procedures to identify new or missed opportunities. By following these steps, you are setting yourself up for success and creating a comprehensive social media strategy. Unless, of course, someone comes along and throws the board across the room.

*There are now several Stratego or Stratego-inspired apps available on iTunes, so an online rematch may be in order!

Born in 1992

October 11th, 2010 No comments

This Fall, the entering college class will graduate in 2014 (those born primarily in 1992) and I worry we won’t be ready for them as healthcare marketers and Web strategists unless we start right now. Is your organization ready? Does your organization have a strategy to get ready?

Most of these new college students are part of the post-email generation – those who grew up in a digital world and who think technology is just too slow. According to the Beloit College Mindset List, the class of 2014:

• has never seen John McEnroe play professional tennis
• has never known a time when Korean cars weren’t on American roads
• know Fergie as a pop singer, not a princess
• has only heard Nirvana on the “oldies” radio stations
• has never known the Supreme Court without Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Their reality and their experience base are so different than ours. As we develop increasingly more sophisticated Web sites, should we really be concentrating on mobile strategies and apps? Five years ago, YouTube had just launched, yet today, Americans watch 31b videos on YouTube each month. What is the next YouTube and how do we prepare for it? Many of our organizations still block employees’ use of social media Web sites. How will we communicate with the latest generations if we don’t even let our employees access the very tools that the new generations rely upon every day? That policy is wildly dangerous from a long-term perspective. And for those health systems putting-off the development of patient portals that encourage patients to conduct business with them electronically, time is running out. Soon your organizations will be effectively obsolete to many in the coming generations. They won’t have time for hospitals and health systems who can’t  leverage today’s standard tools.

Fall is a great time for reflection. So this Fall, each of us should look at our broader Web strategy – not just our Web sites – and pledge to get ready for generations of future patients, physicians, volunteers, employees and donors — those who most likely won’t be routinely visiting our Web sites or reading emails from us, but will still want to communicate in new and undefined ways. There is a great future out there for our taking. Kind of makes you wish you were born in 1992.