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Windows 8: A Harbinger of the Future? A Tipping Point for Mobile?

May 17th, 2013 No comments

Last month, I talked about how mobile devices and technology are overtaking the digital landscape. An earlier AP article follows this theme in discussing the disappointing launch of Windows 8. Well, disappointing to Microsoft, if to no one else.

What was supposed to be Microsoft’s answer to the burgeoning number and influence of mobile devices has turned out to be anything but that. The overhaul of Windows was intended to bring the look and feel of the software that powers many mobile devices to PCs and laptops. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t count on PC users being resistant to such a major change.

For one thing, Windows 8 is designed to work with touch-sensitive screens. But for PC users who don’t already have touch screens or who aren’t willing to spend the extra dollars to obtain it, there’s a significant learning curve involved with trying to navigate the new software with a mouse. And, for users who aren’t very familiar with the touch-screen utility of Smartphones and/or tablets – and there are still quite a few of those folks around – navigating Windows 8 can feel like trying to sew a delicate embroidery piece while wearing thick, heavily-lined mittens.

For those on the fence about moving to a tablet, Windows 8 may well push them in the direction of a mobile device instead of another PC. With the latest sales figures showing a continued decline in the number of PCs and laptops sold during the first three months of 2013 (this is the 4th consecutive quarter for declining PC sales), a poor showing by Windows 8 does not bode well for Microsoft or other hardware and software companies. Companies such as H-P, Dell, and Intel are at a crucial decision point.

In the meantime, we as marketers, need to stay on top of the state of technology. Although not quite there yet, mobile technology is headed toward a dominant market position. The questions to ponder:

  • Do we take an “all or nothing” approach with mobile and focus all of our digital efforts in that direction?
  • Do we take a Mobile First approach and use mobile design as a launching pad for other sites?
  • Should we still be mindful that not everyone is on board yet with mobile as their primary means of digital communication?

The answer for your organization likely depends on the demographics of your market area. Your Web analytics can help you make the most appropriate strategic decision for right now. But, make a habit of watching the mobile access trends to your sites, as many of our clients are already seeing nearly half of their Web volume coming from mobile devices. The tipping point is near.

How is your organization proceeding?

Categories: Analytics, Mobile, Research Tags:

And the Survey Says? See What Marketers Say About Big Data.

survey_says_blog-300x300As we’ve covered briefly in our GreyMatters e-newsletter over the last few months, the era of Big Data is upon us. Have you wondered where marketers stand on the Big Data topic? While not healthcare specific, some answers to those questions are available.

Recently, the CMO Council and SAS published results of their cross-industry survey of world-wide marketers about Big Data. The results show that over 70% of the respondents are interested in using Big Data for predictive analytics and more than half indicated a general interest in developing a more complete online customer profile and abilities to put that profile to work.

Is Big Data and obstacle or an opportunity? Not surprisingly the majority of the respondents said its both and they’re making progress toward using it effectively. Fifteen percent (15%) indicated its “full opportunity” and they’re ready, with people and technology, to use it while 5% indicated its “full obstacle” – they don’t have the people or technology to harness data for consistent and confident decision-making. Where do you stand?

The results of this study can help us think through what we, as healthcare marketers, should be planning to do with Big Data and how to harness its value.  Things like:

  • Do we have the right people?  We need a “data-guru” on our team who can not only report the statistics, but can help us think through the “what and how” questions too – what do we need / how do we harness the data / how do we use the data?
  • Do we have the right tools?  We need more than just an analytical strategist on our teams; we also need the right tools. We have Web sites, content management systems and Web analytics solutions. But do we have predictive analytics solutions? Do we have systems in which to capture customer information and from which to mine the data? Are we efficient with using all of our technologies to enable decision support?

It’s time to plan for a much more customer-centric digital business strategy that is driven by analytical insight and supported by marketing technology. Our organizations will benefit from it and our customers are ready for it.

You can learn more about the study through a recent eMarketer article or download a free executive summary of the study via the CMO Council Web site; the full study can be purchased there as well.

And while I’m thinking of it – if you’re interested in participating in healthcare-specific marketing studies, let us know. Greystone’s Research Panel may be for you – learn more about it today.

Categories: Analytics, Big Data, Research, ROI Tags:

What is a Marketer’s Role in Big Data?

big-data-growthWe all know that Big Data is a hot topic. In fact, according to Reuters, Big Data will grow by 45% annually to reach a $25b industry by 2015.  And, it’s a hot topic in healthcare too; although the  focus of many articles on the topic tend to center around the use of data to improve care or disease management, and rightly so. By using data to track underlying trends or causes, the goals are often to improve care, quality and/or reduce costs. What may be missing from the equation though are behavioral trends, and that’s where healthcare marketers data comes into play.

We may not have insights into why someone chooses to take their medicine (or not) for example, but we do have insights into behaviors that are occurring in our hospital’s digital footprint. Healthcare marketers have large amounts of data at their disposal from Web site and digital marketing analytics that can shed light on consumer behavior. If a CRM solution is in use, the amount of data available compounds.

What can marketers contribute to the use of big data to improve outcomes? First, think in terms of what is trackable; here are a few examples:

  • Newsletter subscribers – if topical and/or demographic subscription information is available that’s even better.
  • Web site conversions, with conversions being visitors who completed an online transaction and who are identifiable – requested an appointment, signed up for a class or event, refilled a prescription online, etc.
  • Web site exits – where, when, why, etc.

What can healthcare marketers do with this information? We can target message. The days of marketing to the masses are quickly changing; the more we can message to the individual the better the chances that person or group of like people will take action. Conversely – if we know who took action, we may be able to mine our data to determine who didn’t and why. That’s behavior analysis and may lead you to new insights on how to attract, engage and retain our target audiences. We can determine what’s working effectively, for whom, and take steps to continue improving it. Conversely – we may see what’s not working and use that information to plan changes. There’s a “ying” and a “yang” to using data and sometimes it boils down to asking the right question.

Big data is all about capturing data, hypothesizing about it and analyzing it in relation to that hypothesis. Healthcare marketers have at least three types of data at their disposal, many have at least four. They include:

  • Web site analytics
  • Social Media analytics
  • Other eMarketing analytics (i.e. – email campaigns, mobile analytics, etc.)
  • Customer relationship management data.

Each type of analytic has various solutions available to enable measurement, ranging from free to paid systems and services. Regardless of the solution used, keys to successful analytics endeavors include clean data and visualization tools.

What is clean data? Data that has incomplete or inaccurate records removed from a dataset. An example is the Web site awareness measure of site visitors. Depending upon what the organization specifically wants to measure, that statistic is often cleansed to remove visits from within the organization, to capture only unique new visitors or to capture only repeat visitors. As data analysts, we need to think in terms of clean data when conducting analysis and ensure the inputs used are appropriate measures for the question being measured (i.e., the hypothesis) and that those measures correlate to desired outcomes.

Visualization tools involve the use of charts and graphs to depict or predict trends. They are typically available within analytics systems or you can create them yourself using available desktop graphing tools (i.e., Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) Use them! Often it’s far easier to understand information and get our message across when depicted graphically as opposed to sharing tables of numbers. When using charts and graphs to relay a message or insight, pay close attention to the scale used. A relevant statistical change can get lost if the scale used is too large.

And finally, we need to consider “what if?” and “how would we …?” questions as we analyze our data. Those are the hypothesis questions that the analysis of data, big or small, helps to answer.

A Buzzword With Staying Power

October 24th, 2011 No comments

This past September marked the five year anniversary of receiving my MBA. At a recent informal get-together to celebrate the occasion, it was a pleasure renewing acquaintances with former classmates and discussing the various paths we have taken. What a wild ride it has been! Career changes, relocations, layoffs, promotions – you name it. When we graduated, the Goizueta Business School Class of 2006 could not have possibly imagined the changes our country and our economy would go through over the next five years. Our trials and tribulations would make for a fascinating documentary.

Reunions are unavoidable benchmarks of the passing of time. Many of my classmates knew my oldest daughter only as an infant who slept through the entire graduation ceremony; she is now a lively first grader who needs help with her spelling words. A friend’s rambunctious twin boys whom I had once (foolishly) volunteered to babysit are now – gulp – almost ready to drive.

Reunions are also a good time to take stock of lessons you have learned and wisdom you have acquired. For me, one of the central teachings from my MBA classes was the concept of alignment. A sales department that has incentives that are not aligned with the greater goals of the company will cause serious problems, for example. Ask a difficult business question, and I would be surprised if the concept of alignment did not fit somewhere into the answer.

In the last five years, I have seen countless examples of alignment failures and successes. In fact, “alignment” has become central to everything I do in my role helping hospitals and health systems improve their metrics programs. The concept will be at the core of what Phil Kemelor and I present at our “Web Analytics Boot Camp” prior to the 15th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference, as we discuss various strategies and case studies for optimizing healthcare organizations’ analytics strategy.

Join us for this session, and I promise you will leave with several takeaways that you will be able to implement as soon you get back to the office. Hopefully, however, you will be able to put off returning to the office for a few days, and take in some of Orlando’s attractions. If so, be on the lookout for a lively first grader who needs help with her spelling words. Did I mention that she is now tall enough to ride Space Mountain?

Are QR Codes relevant for YOUR mobile strategy?

October 5th, 2011 No comments

The conversation continues about QR codes. According to Mobio™, QR barcode scanning in North America grew 1200% in the last half of last year. Quick response codes already make sense with consumer products for purchase information, competitive pricing information, coupons or discounts, but how are they relevant for healthcare? Relevance is the key question about how QR codes can work with your healthcare marketing strategy. Are you just adding QR codes because it’s a hot ticket right now, or do you actually provide a value added to your current or prospective patients?

Does that value added apply to your target market? Does your target patient even use smart phones? Do they even know what a code-reader is, let alone have it on their phone? Your mobile communication strategies need to be relevant to your customers in order to improve the experiences of your customers.

These are important points to think through before you jump in this still emerging communication strategy. Practical application is key! QR codes could be used to direct patients to virtual tours of your facility such as maternity tours, campus maps, increase Facebook likes, increase blog subscribers, downloads free vod/pod casts on a particular service. Whatever the use, it is important to remember the relevance they bring to the organization’s strategic purpose.

Also, remember to have your QR codes link to a mobile-friendly Web site. What’s the purpose of implementing QR codes into your mobile strategy if there’s no mobile-friendly Web site for the user to connect to from their mobile-friendly device? Finally, always remember to test, test, test! You need to ensure the QR code will work on multiple wireless devices before the campaign goes live by testing multiple readers and mobile-friendly devices.

It’s a fast-paced market out there…not only staying ahead of innovation, but also integrating creative solutions into a mobile strategy that works. Make sure you’re thinking through all the points to your strategy.