Ask any market researcher if they have some examples of funny things people have said on surveys, and then stand back and watch what happens. I am willing to bet that you will have to stop him or her after a few minutes. Do not be surprised at any excessive exuberance, as we research geeks are generally not called upon for humorous insight and tend to cherish these rare opportunities.
Personally, I keep an Excel worksheet – which I update regularly – called Greatest Hits. One of my all time favorites came during a study I was involved with years ago for a chicken producer. The respondent, after answering a 20 question survey on the flavor, texture, and overall satisfaction with a chicken product they had sampled – a survey that mentioned the word “chicken” no fewer than fifteen times – made sure to include in their open-ended comments that “it tasted like chicken.” I’ve always wondered if they were confused about what they were eating, or simply repeating the common cliché?
Last week I added another one to my Greatest Hits list. When asked “Is there anything else you can share with us about your 2011 Web budget?” one respondent answered “Yes – give me more!”
Smart alecky responses aside, the truth is all marketers want larger budgets. And, according on the results of Greystone’s annual survey on the outlook for hospital Web budgets, many are getting them. Despite a climate where hospital marketing budgets are shrinking, Web budgets continue to rise. When given additional funds, healthcare marketers in our panel are continuing to invest in SEO, SEM, and Social Media marketing, plus this year increasing spending to intranets, mobile an mobile apps, and patient portals. Another popular item this year was tools to support shared care (i.e., EMRs, HIEs, ACOs, etc.): more than one in five respondents have increased this line item in their budgets by at least 10%.
Here are some other interesting findings:
• It’s a good year to be in healthcare marketing, as more than 40% reported an increase in wages and salaries for the Web department.
• Despite the salary increases, hiring remains tight: 30% currently have a freeze on adding any FTEs. Of those that are hiring, Content Writers and Web Developers are the most common positions of need. The demand for new Social Media Coordinators/Analysts and Programmers fell this year, perhaps because many of our participants filled open positions in these areas in 2010.
• Hospital revenues are a mixed bag, with equal numbers of participants reporting increases and decreases.
• Respondents most frequently listed their top challenge as dealing with limited resources. Other common issues include CMS implementations, patient portals, and social media integration.
Tracking ROI remains elusive for Web marketing initiatives -in fact, several respondents specifically mentioned this in their comments. The good news is that based on the budget increases shown in this study, it appears that hospital administrators are increasingly understanding the importance of the Web and receptive to new projects. This appears to be the case even in organizations with declining revenues, a strong indicator that the Web is moving from being viewed as a simple marketing tool to becoming a critical part of an organization’s operations. Managers that can make a case for a new project will likely find a more receptive audience this year, which is news that may taste even better than chicken.
As is our practice, complete survey results will be made available to all who participated. If you are a healthcare marketer would like to take part in future Greystone.Net research, please visit http://www.greystone.net/oth/Page.asp?PageID=OTH000573.