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Thank You to the Attendees at Greystone’s OpenSpace in Denver

Two days just wasn’t enough time to cover the number of compelling and thought provoking topics the OpenSpace group brought to the table. One big take away for me was recognizing the pace at which our industry is maturing. Whether you support a stand-alone hospital, health system or academic medical center, there is no shortage of Web initiatives.

Sure, we had the standard topics we all can’t live without:  CMS, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Search. Those always make for great conversation and there is always room to learn, but this year’s group was also committed to a level of conversation beyond the day-to-day Web stuff.

This year the focus of conversation and commitment to topics such as, Organizational Development, Mentoring, Professional Education and Web Maturity Models, were on the top of nearly everyone’s list. Questions such as, “how do we integrate our teams throughout the organization,” “where do we find and how do we keep the best talent,” “how can we build true ROI models to secure future budgets and deliver positive impact for our organizations,” were common themes throughout. To see the participants intrigue and hear this dialogue made for a great couple days for me and I hope all the others too!

The industry is growing up in front of us and the work you do is being recognized every day. All of you who are playing such key roles in this industry’s maturity and who have worked so hard, should be very proud. The group suggested that we keep the OpenSpace conversations rolling online, so we can build collaborative answers to so many important questions. Therefore, much more to come from OpenSpace. Keep up the great work and thank you!

The Outlook for Hospital Web Budgets (aka, “the Chicken Tastes like Chicken”)

April 4th, 2011 No comments

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.

Are You Watching Your Keywords?

June 8th, 2010 No comments

“I don’t really pay attention to our top search terms,” says one of my customers, a marketing analyst at a prestigious academic medical center. “They are mostly just a variation of our hospital’s name.” For a lot of analysts at hospitals and health systems, especially those cursed with having an easily misspelled name, I can understand why they feel this way. Top keywords are frequently filled with various versions (both correct and misspelled)  of the organization’s names and hometowns. Our research shows that across all hospitals, the average is about one in four visitors who arrive at a hospital or health system’s Web site from a search engine use some version of the organization’s name as a keyword.

 I truly feel sorry for any organization that has an apostrophe in its name, or is located in a town that is hard to spell. Your top 10 non-paid keywords probably look something like this:

1. St. Luke’s hospital
2. St. Lukes hospital
3. St. Luke’s hospital chattanooga
4. St. Luke’s 
5. St. Lukes
6. St. Luke’s hospital jobs
7. www.stlukestn.com
8. St. Luke’s hospital tn
9. St. Luke’s hospital chatanooga
10. St. Lukes hospital  tn

Lists like the one above can be extremely frustrating, to say the least. Chances are that overworked Web analysts feel that they have far more productive things to do with their time than mining this data for useful nuggets. (Side note:  please don’t get me started on the people who type the URL in as a search term instead of putting it in the address line. I’ll save my ranting about these folks for a future blog post) 

However, organizations that fail to leverage their top organic keywords could be missing out on opportunities to make their Web site better. Several top hospital/health system Web sites – particularly those with licensed health content – consistently have clinical terms or interactive tools at the top of their keywords. Clinical terms are major sources of traffic for these organizations, and serve as an entryway to licensed health content and beyond. The most successful marketers create layers of useful content and links around these keywords, ultimately attempting to shepherd these new visitors towards value-added actions such as making an appointment with one of their physicians. Another bonus: those who arrive this way tend to be net new visitors to the site.

“We noticed that people were searching for information about a specific condition that we specialize in treating, and we built an entire flow on our Web site around this,“ says one marketing director whose top search term is in fact a clinical condition. “Online search (with this keyword) has become one of our best pipelines for new customers in a key service line.” Obviously, many visitors are not local and conversion rates can be low. But without savvy marketers leveraging keywords, most of this traffic would have gone somewhere else.

If you have licensed health content on your Web site and are not paying attention to your top keywords, you may want to reconsider. There can be rewards if you are patient enough to cut through the noise.

Categories: Analytics, gMetrics, Search Engines Tags:

Results of recent study on Web budgets

May 3rd, 2010 No comments

Greystone is pleased to announce the results of our recent survey on hospital/ health system Web budgets. We sent the survey invitation to more than 100 healthcare marketers, and received responses from 65. (please note:  Greystone’s research panel is made up of hospitals or health care systems with at least one FTE dedicated to the Web, and members tend to be more “Web 2.0 savvy” than other hospitals and health systems)

Here are some of the major findings:

1)  From a revenue perspective, some hospitals/health systems report an increase over the previous year, while a nearly equal number report a decrease. (To be exact, 25% reported increasing revenues, 36% reported declining revenues, and 25% are holding steady – the rest are either “Don’t Know” or “Other”)  Academic Medical Centers appear to be weathering the storm better than other types of organizations, with nearly half reporting increased revenue in 2010.
2) Regardless of declining hospital revenues and cuts to marketing budgets, hospitals/health systems continue to increase their spending on the Web. Interestingly, we found that more hospitals with declining revenues are increasing spending on the Web compared to those with increasing revenues. We believe this is a strong testament to the organizational acceptance of the Web as a cornerstone for marketing and operations.
3) Eighty percent of the participants in our study are increasing spending on Social Media in 2010. SEO and SEM are also popular areas where our respondents are increasing spending.
4) Hiring is a mixed bag, with approximately one in three looking to hire and one in three currently in a hiring freeze. The good news for healthcare marketers: very few of our respondents (3%) expect to lay off people in Web departments this year.

Many thanks to our panel respondents — those of you who participated will soon receive a complete copy of the results.  If you would like to be part of future studies like this one, click here to join the Greystone.Net research panel.  In return for your participation, we promise to share the results, and to contact you no more than once per quarter. Our next study will focus on trends in hospital/health system intranets.

The Opportunity and Challenge of Local Search

Convincing a client to pursue local search is a no-brainer. Just show them one sample that lists their competitors at the top of the page with a nice map, and they are sold. Getting it done is another matter entirely.

Local search represents a real conundrum. There’s an easy online tool that walks you through getting listed on the major local search players.  That’s the easy part.

But some of them, including the big dog in the park, Google, require some form of confirmation. And that makes all the sense in the world. They want to be sure you are who you say you are, and not the competition commandeering your address and phone number.

So, if you haven’t tried already, you know the drill about the phone call to the number listed or the post card or letter to the address of the business. For individual clinics or small hospitals, that’s not a big deal. But if you’ve got multiple sites, large hospitals, etc., it can be a real challenge.

Anybody cracked that code yet?

Categories: Search Engines Tags: