Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2016

Do you know where to focus your valuable and limited time this upcoming year?

Attend this webinar to learn what digital marketing trends are making a big impact this year, so that you’ll be prepared to respond. We’ll highlight changes we’re seeing in how hospitals and health systems are positioning their organizations online. We’ll address trends in the areas of content, design and social media. And we’ll show you different ways to tell your story online.


Hello and welcome to our webinar on top digital marketing trends in 2016. I am Casey Hansen, content marketing specialist here at Geonetric, and your host for today’s webinar.

Geonetric is a marketing agency and technology partner that helps healthcare organizations generate marketing results. We offer a suite of services including website design and development, marketing campaigns, SEO, and content development.

We work with health systems, hospitals, and clinics around the country. Learn more at and be sure to visit our portfolio to see the awesome work we do with clients.

Today’s presenters are David Sturtz, Product Strategy Director, and Ben Dillon, Chief Strategy Officer. David keeps a watchful eye on industry trends, ensuring Geonetric’s products and services stay a step ahead of market needs. He holds a Master’s degree in library and information science from Drexel University and a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the University of Northern Iowa.

Ben, a sought-after speaker, writer, blogger, and current SHSMD board member, is an influential voice in healthcare marketing. He holds a Master’s degree in e-business and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. And a special nod to our awesome digital team for their contributions to today’s webinar.

Today you’re going to learn about the top digital marketing trends in 2016. You’ll hear industry changes and how hospitals and health systems are evolving the way they position their organizations online. So now, I’ll turn it over to David and Ben.

Ben Dillon: Thanks Casey. I’m very excited to talk through the things that we see coming down the pipe, 2015 I think was an exciting year. Lots of changes in healthcare, in marketing, and certainly where those two things intersect, and as we’ve been watching, I think 2016 is shaping up to be another exciting time for a lot of shifts and changes in the space as well.

We’ve picked some trends we’re going to talk through today and we put consumers in first because I think a lot of these really fall under the concept of increased consumerism, transparency within healthcare falls on our list, ubiquitous search, email automation, content marketing, and then ultimately, disruptive innovation.

So those are what we’re going to walk through today and we’ll dive in and start with consumerism. I think we’ve seen and been talking about the rise of consumerism forever, at least the 15 years that I have been deeply involved in healthcare. We’ve been talking about the consumer revolution and how consumers have more choice, and how they’re starting to exercise their choice. What we’ve really seen in the last year or so and what we really expect to continue to see, huge growth in 2016 as consumers actually choosing to make different kinds of choices than they’ve made in the past. And we see this through a variety of different channels.

Certainly as we’ve seen the growth of retail consumerism, we found that for many people, when we’re talking about certain elements of primary care and certain issues that pop up, that the relationship with an individual doctor, things like that are less important than the convenience, and in many cases, the cost of going to a different kind of option. And I think the retail doc-in-a-box style clinic option is something that has really exploded, has really become a big deal out there. And again, I think it’s coming from multiple angles. Convenience has been a huge driver for this. I think even if the costs were similar, I think we would still see this area growing pretty considerably just because of the convenience element. However, we have a diagram here from Rx EDGE that does illustrate just how big a difference it is going to a retail clinic when you have an issue that that clinic can deal with, versus showing up at the doctor in urgent care or emergency room to receive really in that case, largely the same care.

The result has been huge growth in this segment overall, and so we see now that there’s coming up on 2000 retail clinics in the US and CVS, I heard a couple of years ago, CVS is now the largest primary care provider in the United States, that almost half of those clinics are under CVS brand.

But that’s certainly not been the only shift in the way that care’s been consumed and frankly, the kinds of options that are available to consumers. So the different part of the spectrum here, concierge medicine is also being growing quite a bit. Again, when this came out originally, the early model was about a very exclusive practice, a very small number of patients, and relatively high dollar amount attached to that. So it was really something that was available only to a very small segment of the population.

What we’re seeing now is that concierge styled services are becoming available to a more middle-income part of society in this direct primary care model where doctors will come to you for frankly a lot of the things that you might otherwise go to a convenient care clinic for, instead of something where it’s a more fully-serviced kind of situation, something that we’re seeing a lot more of.

The costs are obviously much lower in the order of $100/month and they have to be, in most cases, coupled with a high deductible insurance plan. Although for many people, the difference between a traditional insurance plan and a high deductible plan may in fact be $100 or more a month, and so it may be something that people are making decisions to go with the high deductible plan and a concierge package with that, rather than going with just a more traditional healthcare plan. And again, then it becomes down much more to convenience than anything else.

We’re also seeing consumers taking a greater role in making decisions about their plans and really using different kinds of tools to help them choose between different healthcare options that are available. This is an image from PWC and you see there’s been a considerable amount of growth in the number of consumers who use, or at least are willing to use, different kinds of tools to help them plan their medical expenses, choose between options, those sorts of things. Now PWC draws the conclusion that I think is the story that we’ve heard quite a lot, that this is the result of high-deductible plans, that out-of-pocket expenditures are growing, that more patients are responsible for that first dollar of care, that patients are frustrated with medical billing and payment systems and things like that, and that’s what’s really leading to this.

I look at this data in and come to a somewhat different conclusion here. I think if what we were seeing was more out-of-pocket cost driving people’s decision to be more active shoppers, that we would see those older adults adopting in much, much larger numbers because frankly, they’re the ones with much bigger expenses in general and much bigger out-of-pocket expenses in particular. So the fact that we’re still only seeing 9% adoption out of the 55+ group, but we’re seeing more than half of our 18 to 34 group tells me that maybe we’re coming to this just because we’ve gotten very used to using online tools, online reviews, things like that as part of our shopping experience.

We’ve now gotten to the point where if you go to a restaurant, if you buy a TV, if you buy a book, if you buy really anything of any size now, sometimes even things that are so small and inexpensive, it’s probably not worth your time to do the shopping between them, that we’re still going out and we’re looking at reviews and we’re looking at rating and we’re looking at some of these online tools that help us evaluate between different options, that to be fair, are very difficult to discern between in many cases until you’ve actually gotten them in hand and experimented with them.

We see that kind of behavior being adopted in large numbers by that younger audience, and now that they’ve gotten used to doing this kind of shopping and evaluation through all other parts of their life, it’s no surprise that when they go to pick a doctor, when they go to pick a hospital, when they try to do some of these other things, that they’re price shopping, that they’re quality shopping, that they’re looking at online rating and review information in order to make those decisions.

And that’s exactly what we’ve seen out there. Journal of American Medical Association published a survey in early 2014 that suggests that a large numbers of consumers are in fact using the data that’s available out there in order to guide their decisions about picking hospitals and picking providers. Of their survey population, 60% looked at ratings and of the folks who looked at ratings, 35 in fact picked a doctor based on ratings information they found and 37% avoided a doctor based on that same information. And so this is something that’s become a big part of the overall continuum here.

Likewise, we’re seeing more and more tools just available to support health consumers and this information, I think the data itself is from the National Business Group on Health. But the chart here is from my friend Jane Sarasohn-Kahn from Health Populi. She takes I think a little bit more pragmatic approach to this and says, “Hey, the people that are really pushing this through making the tools available, they frankly are putting pressure and individual health consumers are really the employers who are paying for the healthcare for many of these folks.”

And so they are now finding that by making patients…they believe that by making patients more responsible for more dollars, they can help them, encourage them to use tools to make choices. However, then you need tools in order to actually allow those consumers to make some interesting decisions. So more and more self-decisions support tools are available out there. We’re seeing more push in the price transparency. We’re seeing more employee advocacy services. We’re seeing more concierge services out there. So here we’re just seeing that more of those things are becoming available and again, I think employers are largely the ones who are pushing in that direction because they’re responsible for a large portion of the ultimate dollars on the insurance side, which leads us to transparency.

Certainly, this cultural shift and this shift of dollars is interesting. But the data is not out there, it doesn’t really help. And as we’ve talked about transparency over the long term, often times we’ve been talking about quality transparency. This is a movement that we’ve been involved in for a very long time. We are part of the first health system that decided to publish this information, Norton Healthcare, over 10 years ago. That was in March 2005. So we’ve been talking about this part of the transparency equation for a long, long time, certainly in internet terms, a long, long time. Nowadays, this is an example from Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Kansas, putting that information out there has become an important part of how we tell the story of our services, and likewise, how do we convince patients that what we’re doing is of quality, or how do we differentiate ourselves from others in the market from a quality perspective.

Now, consumers really do want to look at this information. I think we can make that easier by connecting it right into the story that we’re telling about our services in general. So here you see when they’re talking about their heart and vascular care services, they’re linking right over to the relevant quality data about those services. So as people are in an evaluation mode, we’re connecting this information into the experience, rather than forcing them to go dig for it separately in order to find that information. I think it’s very powerful when we connect those stories together.

Now, consumers do indicate that they want to factor quality into their decisions. The challenge is that very often the information we’re giving them doesn’t translate well for consumers. It’s difficult for them to understand. It’s difficult for them to figure out how a small change in hospital enquired infection rates really impacts them and their experience. And often times the things that we’re putting out there, mean time to fibro analysis, things like that are just so obscure that it’s really difficult for them to understand how that’s going to impact their experience or the quality of care that they receive.

So we do see a lot of the stuff in many cases getting rolled up to a higher level and presented in that way. Actually, not long after we got into the quality movement, in about 2007, I was invited to write an editorial around some of the issues that have been done that looked at this question, said that even the people who were looking at quality data were in fact mostly making decisions around patient experience data, and just because it’s something they can understand more, it translates well for most consumers.

And to be fair, I think most consumers look at quality as something of an assumption. They assume that their doctor is competent, that they will receive the appropriate care at the hospital when they go to the hospital, things of that nature. What they see and the difference is that they see are often experiential differences rather than the clinical quality differences that we use in many other parts of healthcare.

And so that’s the shift that we’ve seen here more recently, is a big push to put more of this experiential data online. And so here’s an example. Wheaton Franciscan has recently launched this, really following on the work that primarily University of Utah has done over the last couple of years, putting experiential data around individual physicians out there in the marketplace. So you see in the bottom left corner, underneath Dr. Berry’s image there, you have a patient rating. In this case he has 4.8 out of 5 stars. They’ve got patient comments and things like that. Here are some comments, and all of the comments, good, bad, and otherwise, with a couple of exceptions, profanity, PHI, things like that, all of those comments are put out there and you really need to put all that information out there in order for all of this data to be credible.

Now in this case, they’re using their CG-CAHPS data. We’re seeing organizations use slightly different data sets around some of the stuff but having a nice, consistent way to do this, something with large sample numbers, and something where you can get a really representative picture of the experience that patients are going to have with this doctor, very, very important throughout this entire process.

That same JMS study that we looked at a little bit earlier also indicated that of the people who have provided this information online, the people look at it, only a very small portion ever go out and actually post these reviews. So we tend to have a very small sample size for that. And when they post reviews themselves to the web in general, only half of those tend to be positive reviews. They tend to skew much more negative than when we get a good, statistically accurate sampling like we do with something like a CG-CAHPS survey.

And so we see things like this all the time. This is Bruce Berry on the Wheaton Franciscan website, we see that he has 4.8 out of 5 doctor or 5 star doctor, and we look at his record and something like Healthgrades, one of the bigger consumer rating sites where people have to opt to go there and rate their doctor. It’s not something there being systematically pulled about, he is only 3.3 on that. So it skews very much more negative than the actual experience that people have with this doctor.

Again, the JMS study we talked about, only 5% of the people who actually look at ratings ever give ratings or reviews and actually the question’s asked, “Have you or a family member ever given a rating review for a doctor?” And that’s only 5% of that very small factor, as you might expect, only 54% are positive, 19% are negative. So this is a much more negative picture than what we see when we’re doing a CG-CAHPS or Press Ganey satisfaction surveys or any of those sorts of systematic quality kind of work that we want to do within the hospital where it seems to me that most hospitals we work with are looking for 85 or 90-95% satisfaction rate. The numbers that we actually see on the web are very distortive of what’s actually happening there.

The last component to transparency and really the one where I think there’s been the least movement at this point and something where we are starting to see some really interesting things happen out there, is around cost and pricing transparency. At this point, a lot of that work has happened outside of health systems, just like the experiential stuff, we saw Yelp and Healthgrades and things like that, and now we’re seeing health systems start to own the presentation of that information. We’re seeing the same thing here.

So this is Clear Health Costs. This is a site that lets people share some of the experiences they’ve had, the pricing information for different things that they’ve had out there. They do it in a limited number of metro areas right now and I think what they’re finding is people don’t always like to share that kind of information. I think it’s difficult to get people to submit that and unfortunately, the healthcare system in general is complicated, medical bills are maybe the most complicated, most difficult to understand piece of that. So I think they don’t have as much data as you would like to see but it is a post out there for a number of major metropolitan areas that is starting to get some attraction.

And we’re seeing other experiments out there as well. This one is called Guru. This is specifically in the Minneapolis market. They have data because they are part of the healthcare cost institutes. They already have a research arm that’s gathered a lot of this information and presents it. They are doing some interesting things because they’re bundling some things together. So instead of saying an individual physical therapy visit is so many dollars, they’re saying well when you have back pain, the total package of physical therapy that people tend to go through costs about this. And so they’re trying to make it more relevant to individual consumers by bundling up the random assortment of expenditure codes that actually go into a bill.

And then we are seeing some different play starting to happen out there. So I’ve seen one for laser eye surgery what was name-your-own-price kind of thing. This is Healthcare Blue Book which I think is trying to use the carbine kind of analogy where it’s you against them and don’t have her overpay for that again, kind of thing. So we’re seeing more and more third parties trying to stake their claim to this information. We’re seeing insurance companies as well trying to provide tools along this line. What we haven’t seen a lot of but a little bit is individual health systems providing this data. I think guys in Jersey got a lot of media around this.

In this case, this is Billings Clinic, a client of ours that’s out in Billings, Montana, and they have I think a really nice price estimator, where again, they’re trying to not just post the charges and things of that nature that are easy to get to but frankly not very meaningful for the typical consumer, they are really trying to translate into what consumers care about, which is “what is my out-of-pocket for this thing going to be?” So they walk you through some steps and they don’t have complete coverage of everything that might happen but they’ve got a pretty good assortment of the most common things that people are going to be looking for, and price shopping, and you answer some questions, including some things about your insurance because those are important as you try to translate to what is your out-of-pocket likely to look like, things like your deductible, your co-payment, your co-insurance, out-of-pocket maximums, things like that. And they put together this is the total charge and this is an estimate of what you’re going to owe for that, and I think they do it in a very nice way. Again, they’re doing that ultimate translation that is most important, which is not what is someone going to pay but what am I going to have to write a check for, or what am I going to be responsible for personally?

Ultimately, when we look at this transparency thing, we have the classic three-legged stool. In this case, our three legs are price, experience, and quality. And so the direction we’re seeing now that more and more data is out there is how is that data going to be used. I think first and foremost, the example that we showed where we’re connecting quality data right into the story that’s being told about services, I think that’s the direction we’re going to move, where I think all of these different pieces are going to be presented in a way where you can see them together and see them in context of making a decision about this particular care offering or this particular option as a place to receive care, this particular doctor for instance, and being able to balance out, “Okay, I might pay a little bit more but the quality and the experience maybe make that worthwhile.” Some of those kinds of things.

I also see price transparency being an area where we’re really just starting to push that snowball downhill, and as we start to get more price transparency out there, we’re going to see the overall way that we use that really change. Right now, if you can answer the price question, I think it puts you way ahead. So few organizations can answer the question without a phone call. Many organizations have a difficult time answering that question even if you call and give folks a couple of days to try and assemble the information. If you can give a reasonable estimate of prices today, I think that puts you ahead. It’s a competitive differentiator on its own. I think over the next couple of years though when that information becomes much more available and the ability to price shop is going to be more real, it’s going to be less important that you can just provide that, then we’re going to have to start looking at pricing services strategically and competitively, trying to figure out how to use unutilized times of day or other things and provide maybe some price options that make some of those things more interesting. It’s going to become a very different game once we get to that point. But at this point, just the ability to get the number out there to people, I think gives you a huge competitive advantage in the marketplace.

David Sturtz: Great. So consumerism and transparency are a couple of big trends out there in the healthcare industry. What I want to do in the next three trends that we’re looking at is really take those and kind of combine them with some of the digital marketing technology and some of the trends we’re seeing in the marketing space, and talk a little bit more tactically about where the river meets the road and how we’re reacting to things as they happen over the next year.

The first of these is really looking at search. We’re always talking about search, but we’re going to be talking about a little bit differently in the coming year, and really the shift that’s happening here is that search is now everywhere. You’re seeing it down into the OS level, on the devices that we’re using day-in and day-out. So whether it’s Windows or Android or even that Amazon Echo device, free standing device that does voice search, you’re seeing search happen in a number of new ways. So it’s really important to think down into all of these different experiences and how all of the pieces are going to tie together as people are looking for information about your organization.

With this shift, you’re going to hear more and more that SEO is really no longer just about pay/track. We’ve been saying this for a while, that there’s a lot going into SEO, but I think 2016 is going to be the year that you’re really going to hear a lot more about actually making the information findable, regardless of what that technology is that somebody is looking forward on.

And you’re going to hear people talking about something called entities. At a high level, this just means actual people, places, things, and this is the way that search engines are starting to think through and analyze the data that they’re finding out as they’re crawling the websites and gathering different data sources, really thinking about the real world aspects of the information that’s been gathered. As we shift out into the healthcare space, this looks a lot like provider’s location service lines tend to be typical examples of some of the entities that we’re wanting to tell the search engines about and that we want to connect all of our content into these key entities.

There’s a number of ways to do that. I have some different strategies for thinking about that and the one that I wanted to dig into today is You’ve probably been hearing about this for several years, may not totally grasp what it is and so I wanted to walk through just a little bit of an example here and describe why you’re going to be hearing about this a lot.

So is really a way, agreed upon format for describing actual information about real world things. It’s a nested sort of language, so it builds on itself. It starts over on the left, very basic level, you can describe a thing, just any kind of thing, and that has properties like the name of that thing, maybe an image, a picture of what that thing looks like.

As you go deeper and deeper, you can get closer and closer to what a particular object is, such as in this case, a physician. What Schema means by physician is really a physician’s office, a professional organization associated with an individual physician.

As you go along that chain, getting more and more specific about what you’re talking about, you start to pick up additional properties. So moving from thing into an organization, has an address, has a rating, as you saw from Ben’s slides, something that we’re really taking advantage of now in SEO, is getting those ratings out there. Going deeper into a local business that has opening hours and things like that that we can place on to that level, and getting all the way into physician, an individual physician has medical specialties. All of that gets wrapped up in some really geeky looking code there at the bottom, one example of how this all comes together in a way to communicate to the search engines. And then the results of that you can go out there and test, and I would definitely recommend you make friends with Google Search Console, big webmaster tools, and digging into checking around for this stuff. But it basically goes through and tests out and you can see what information the search engine is able to pick up off the page.

So because we provided this very structured data, the search engines know that not only is this URL related to particular physician but they know a lot more about that physician. So they know the actual name, the actual specialty, and that rating information. That starts to get used in different ways, whether that’s in our traditional Google search interface or whether that’s in something like a voice search through Siri.

Another way to attack this problem is through some tools that Google has built in called the structure data highlighter. So if you don’t have access to the source code of your site, if you want to move more quickly and get some things out there, if you’re working with things like articles, local business which can include your physicians and locations, and you want to mark up a bunch of the information that’s already out there on your site, this is a great tool to go explore. You can do a lot of the same things by keying Google into the structure of your site and the way that things are marked up in order to help it understand which part of this is the name, which part of this is the rating, things like that, as you’re digging through the site. So a little tip out there for a tool to get you started.

The second piece of being more competitive in search, whether it’s across these devices or just thinking about the consumerism side of things, is thinking about local search. As you’re competing with CVS and other kind of mini-clinic, walk-in clinic sorts of things, you’re out there in that consumer space and needing to adopt some of the same tactics that these organizations with hundreds or thousands of locations are using, to make sure that basic information, the name, the address, phone number for that location is up to date and accurate. We know a lot of organizations are struggling with that out there right now when you’ve got hundreds or thousands of physicians, you’ve got dozens of locations out there, lots and lots of information.

So to help understand what’s going on with a local search, I pulled in this slide from our friends over at Moz, where I think they really clearly describe this situation with local search. Here they’ve got their own product up here in upper left Moz Local. There’s any number of local search products out there that are engaging with this ecosystem. But basically the important information here is, it really starts from some high-level data aggregators. You see Acxiom here, Infogroup kind of highlighted, as some of the first arrows are headed there, to those sources, they’ve kind of trickled down to everything else. So as you’re tackling this problem, the place to start is really up at the top and making sure that those data aggregators that kind of like the credit reporting agencies of the local search world, make sure that they have the right information about you. That’s going to trickle down in any number of directions. If you’re just trying to push information out to Google through your web pages, you’re going to be kind of swimming upstream as you’re doing this. So it’s good to attack it from both directions.

You can see they’ve got a really Google-centric view of this. So at the end of the day, everything filters into Google Local but we’re seeing things like Yelp, things like lot of the social search engines, obviously Apple and MapKit and Siri having a lot to do with how things are showing up within mobile devices and within your actual operating system. So this is a great thing to think about in the coming year, is how you’re going to tackle getting the right information out there onto these devices, into these different places, and really making sure that you’ve got a strategy for pushing that information out, monitoring and tracking what’s going on with that.

So in the email direction I wanted to talk a little bit about email automation, and as we were talking internally about trends for this year and as we were gathering information from other marketing industry folks, one of the things that kept popping up was email automation, and a lot of people think that this is really going to be the year for email automation and higher degrees of personalization with an email. A lot of these things that we’re talking about aren’t new, groundbreaking things we’ve never heard of before. This is really, people are actually going to start using this, and especially in the healthcare space, I think this is one that is just really ready to be used out there.

We took a look back and in 2014 in our eHealth survey we asked the question how many healthcare marketers are using email marketing? How many of them are using it today? They want to add that in the next six months, or don’t have it at all, and this was one of the largest areas for growth that we saw back in 2014 where about 10 to 20%, depending on the size of the organization, were looking at adding email marketing in the next six months.

So that gets us up to 2015, and what we see in 2015 is that email is really still strong. So this isn’t something that’s been replaced by Facebook or replaced by other apps on our devices. Most consumers are using email daily. People are using it a lot. They’re spending a lot of time on their email and they’re using work email at home and home email at work and really it’s something that they’re accessing across the board. So obviously a really important place to be, a great way to engage with users, but what we’re seeing people do in healthcare a lot is still that email newsletter. What I would want to call out here is that ‘one size fits all’ is not a really great approach. We’ve got better tools out there and it’s really time to take advantage of those now.

Thinking a little bit differently from the email newsletter, sort of that blanket approach where everybody gets the same message, 5 or 10 different articles that are maybe exactly the same for everybody throughout the entire month. What we’re looking at here is going back to those retail strategies. So this was, on the left is the email I got a couple of days ago from Banana Republic. On the right is an email my wife got a couple of days ago from Banana Republic. They’re obviously not sending us the same information. We don’t want the same information. It’s not going to work, it’s not going to be effective for them. So they’re really tailoring things down, no fun intended, to their actual audience that they’re talking to, making sure that the messages that are in there are really relevant, based on the past history of interaction, what they know about you as a consumer.

So this is really that personalization strategy. This doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Some basic things like gender can start to target which messages are appropriate for whom. So just gathering that little bit of information, whether that’s behavioral or just demographic information about your email subscribers could help you really tailor those messages a little bit better.

Email automation is really the other piece of this and thinking about things like drip campaigns. So this was an example, in the last few months I signed up for MPR1’s mobile app, had to create an account, do all of this. As soon as I signed up, of course I got that welcome email. They’re describing the app that I downloaded, how to use that. Two days later, I get another email reminding me that I downloaded this app and explaining some more about what’s going on in there and how to use it and suggesting some content that might be interesting to me. Two days after that, I get another email, and continue to engage with me and talking about maybe a different way to use the app, some more information I might be interested in, and then it goes from this drip campaign into just more of a cyclical information cycle. So 30 days after that I start getting monthly emails with relevant content, a little bit based on my listening history and information like that. This is kind of a typical cycle that we see in email automation or in drip campaigns where there’s kind of an engagement cycle and then you move into just a regular, more spaced out interaction.

This is something that we see really helpful for some of those services lines that really take a little bit more consideration. You’re not going to get somebody to come in and decide today about their hip replacement or bariatric surgery. This is something that’s going to take them a little while to think through. They need to really wrestle with that decision. And everybody is going to start towards the beginning of that process, work through it, and you need a way to keep your brand in front of them throughout that entire process. Email automation is a great way to do that.

So where do you begin with this? I was talking about getting started. I want to remind everybody, don’t try to eat the elephant. That’s kind of the approach that we hear some people taking out there, is “We want to get a CRM system in place. We want to make sure that everything is talking to everything and all of the data coalesces.” That would be awesome if you can get that done. But that doesn’t mean that you need to not do any email automation this year or not do any personalization. There are a lot of things that can be done through the email tools that are out there, just to do even simple levels of this, to start single drip campaign around a particular service line, even two, three, or four messages can be helpful. Thinking about not even assuming that you’re going to have to have a dozen messages off the bat, but can we start with a drip campaign that maybe has four messages timed out over a month and continue to add to that as we see how those are working and what’s going on, what the results are, out of that.

So think small with this. Shift that thinking around from maybe the monthly newsletter to where can those content efforts really pay off for particular service lines and how can we use some of the tools that are out there to start to take little slices out of this without having to tackle the whole big problem.

We’re also seeing some combined approaches out there. So email shouldn’t stand all by itself. It can do certain things well but the more you combine it with other approaches, the payoff is even bigger. We’re seeing things like PPC driving email signups to drip campaigns. So email combines with using those email addresses to create custom social audiences that you can boost post and target in those ways. Of course email plus retargeting of somebody tracks through an email campaign that you’re running on to your website and you can retarget your information back to them as they’re out and about on the web, and in different ways get your brand in front of them as they’re continuing to surf around the internet.

And of course, combining a PPC or social promotion with some email re-marketing. So if you already have somebody on your list, you’re doing some of those activities, just re-triggering an email to them once they visited your site. Different ways of combining those tactics out there, and I think we’re going to see more of that in 2016.

The third of these more tactical themes is around content marketing, and you are probably asking yourself, “This sounds like maybe five years ago when we were starting to talk about content marketing or blogging, and getting consumer content out there,” and I hate to go with the kind of 2.0 moniker on this, but it’s a little bit like that. I think everybody’s been out there experimenting with different ways of getting timely content in front of the consumers and we’re hearing people take a step back and think about that strategy a little bit more, and then starting to approach it in some new ways.

What we’re seeing out there in marketing in general are a lot of branded content hubs. So you’re seeing big brands out there, Williams-Sonoma, REI, big consumer brands that are getting in front of consumers through just engaging content in really an editorial type of experience, so basically creating that magazine look and feel that matches the interest of their audience and really engages them with content that is really not about the brand itself but just more about the interests of that particular audience.

An example of Adobe CMO website, it’s a great way for a company like Adobe that has products out there in many different spaces, lots of different creative professionals use different pieces. They may be doing entirely print work, maybe doing photography, maybe doing more web design. How do you market to that entire group without alienating one audience for another? They’ve really taken that creative approach and to bridge all of the different products and services that they offer into one publication. So great translation there to healthcare, where we’ve got a lot of different service lines that are all competing, one of the ways that we can bridge that through a content experience.

What we’re seeing in healthcare is really just that. So Cleveland Clinic, with their health essential site, their health hub site, really pulling a lot of that together and starting to get a lot of those articles out there and taking a little bit different approach. So we’re seeing more and more healthcare organizations start to experience with that and see what’s going on out there, how that’s working for them. What we’re also seeing alongside of that is that this tends to be a little bit of a siloed effort. I don’t think we’re 100% of the way to where we need to go with this.

Already you’re probably out there creating consumer-oriented content that has some sort of a time-sensitive, timely nature. In the PR area, you’re creating email newsletters or you’re creating blog information, probably putting patient stories out there. Probably someone in your organization has a print magazine that goes out maybe quarterly to your local area, and of course you’re doing social media as well.

So what’s a little bit different from having these silos to taking this more editorial approach that we’re starting to see more of is really thinking like that newspaper, thinking like a publication and thinking about all the different types of content that make up a typical newspaper or a traditional publication. You’ve got news information, you’ve got feature articles, opinion pieces that are in there, and the columns, the kind of ongoing dialogue with individuals that you can count on in being in there and being engaging.

Now really thinking about the intent behind those different types of content. Content out there that’s consumer-oriented that is really informational in nature, and maybe actually how to get healthier or how to take the steps that we’re talking about, information that’s just out there really predominantly to entertain. We’ve seen a lot of video content that healthcare organizations are producing that really has entertainment, a good feel about it. That’s out there as well.

Of course we’re always trying to persuade people to take a different look at their health and that ongoing engagement. So what we’re looking at now is ways to take all of those pieces and put them all under a single brand. So not necessarily putting one type of content off in its own silo, thinking that the blog is essentially the column, this is the way that we’re going to engage people over time, but really looking at a site that can combine all of these in an ongoing way to engage that consumer audience.

And then looking at those tactics, kind of where these live and how they get promoted as the distribution channels. How do people find out about this? How do we continue to push this information out there and having that supporting the overall approach to content marketing as we go forward into 2016?

I think if you picked up on one theme out of these, it’s really I think we’re at a point in 2016 where not one of these tactics can really stand alone. And we still see people doing this. We talk to a client and they have somebody looking at SEO. They have somebody else entirely looking at blogging and somebody else entirely looking at PPC advertising. When you start to pull all of those things together, you really see how all of those parts form a greater whole and you need to really look at them cohesively. Hopefully in 2016, we’re going to see a trends towards really thinking about these different tactics, how they play together as we’re working towards an objective.

One way of thinking about this, this is kind of a framework we presented at SHSMD this past year, thinking about different ways that people engage with information. So if I’m a healthcare consumer looking for information, depending on my current situation I may be having a more active search for information. I may be actually going out typing things into Google that are very specific. I may be in that searching mode. If I have been recently diagnosed with something, I may be doing that but I also may be monitoring, looking out there for information that if it matches the condition I was just diagnosed with, that’s going to catch my attention and I’m going to dig into that.

There’re also some less directed information gathering methods. So just browsing when we’re looking at Facebook, or we’re just surfing around out there looking at information, things may pop up, catch our eye, as well as just generally being aware of information that’s out there.

So all of these tactics that we’re doing really line up with these modes of information seeking, and as we’re looking forward to the next year, I’m really excited to be able to connect more of these together and see how they play together as you combine these different approaches.

Ben: All right. Our final trend for today is disruptive innovation and as I think many of you know, I have been on the SHSMD board, the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development for a number of years. Last year, I guess last year and the year before I had the opportunity to be part of a really groundbreaking research report that was called “Bridging World: The Future Role of the Healthcare Strategy.” It’s a great report. It’s available through the SHSMD website for free even if you’re not a member. And I looked at not just how was the healthcare system changing, I think a lot of organizations have looked at that, but how do our pieces of that have to change in what we call the strategy disciplines, and marketers and web folks and PR and people like that, how do what we do needs to change?

The first indication in that report was labeled “Be nimble to exceed the rate of change.” Ultimately, because of a lot of the things we’ve talked about today, changes in the competitive environment, changes in the regulatory environment, changes from a lot of different directions, there is a need for our organizations to be able to change and adapt faster than ever before.

As we’ve looked at innovation within healthcare, we’ve looked at how do we get better as an organization, as an industry, we’ve gotten pretty good over the years at things like lean and six sigma. Those are really approaches that look at betterness through the removal of waste and documenting processes and consistency in the delivery of services. So healthcare I think has gotten pretty decent at that, not all organizations within healthcare, but I think as an industry, we’ve gotten much better at that kind of evolutionary change, that kind of evolutionary movement. In order to compete with new startups that are popping in and consumer retail players that are entering the space and changes in the way that healthcare gets paid for, and a lot of these other shifts that are going on, is going to require more than that kind of evolutionary change. It’s going to be more than becoming lean or becoming more efficient. It’s really going to require organizations I think to get into different businesses in different ways than they ever have before.

Now, this revolutionary change often times historically has just been a process of chaos. You sort of make a decision you’re doing it and you jump in and hopefully you can work out all the details before you implode. However, I think there’s, over the last 10 years or so has really been a major shift in the research and the understanding for how organizations could do this, and a lot of that has been focused on the startup world. So as we look at new ventures and new business opportunities within healthcare, we look at them in the same way that we might look at startups out there, I think we can use a lot of the tools, a lot of the methodologies, a lot of the learning to tap in in the startup world. If you think of that as a very rapidly evolving laboratory in which to try ideas, we can now bring those into the corporate world, and we’re seeing other industries doing that. We’re just starting to see that kind of thing happening in healthcare.

So when we look at the startup world, startups are a very specific thing. Startups are really organizations that are in a mode of discovery and they’re trying new things and they’re changing rapidly and they’re doing that until they’ve validated a certain set of things. The big things that we look at are one we call product market fit. Do you have a product that’s priced and packaged in a way that people want it? And then do you have a scalable, repeatable business model behind that? When you have those two things, then you have a real business that you can then take to market and accelerate and grow. It largely takes maybe some time and some financial resources more than sort of what we see in the early stage, which is really we have no idea how this is all going to turn out and we need to be very flexible and really do constant, aggressive learning in order to be successful.

There have been a number of tools that have developed out of that, and I’ve included a couple of them here, things like Lean Startup, Lean LaunchPad, those are great resources, great books. Actually the Lean Startup book here, anything by Steve Blank, but certainly this sort of seminal hard business review article about how Lean Startup changes the way we think about things, the Business Model Generation book, which is about writing lightweight, flexible, easily changeable business plans by doing them on a single sheet of paper. These kind of tools have become the norm for startups.

In that, startup ecosystems have started to develop. Now here we have a lot of involvement with the startup accelerator program called the Iowa Startup Accelerator. Our CEO, Eric Engelmann, has been deeply involved. David and I are both part of the founding group that put that together and volunteer fair amount of our time working with startups in that mode. So we’ve seen how these kinds of things can really help early stage businesses to evolve and change and find their way much, much more rapidly than the ways that we used to approach these things in the past.

And again, this is not something that really exclusively works for a couple of 20-somethings with dad’s credit card trying to put a business together. When David and I were studying with Steve Blank for instance, he tells a story about how the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, as they are working with private partners, groups that typically they’re giving grants to, and particularly around the later phase of those, when they’re looking at not just proof of accounts and stuff but actually commercialization of investments that they’re making, using these tools trying to replicate the experience that startups are going through in some of these programs is the first thing they found that’s really moved the needle in terms of successful commercialization of these investments by those organizations. So they’re looking, I think at this point they are using a lot of these same tools as a standard part of taking those investments out to market. And so we’re starting to see healthcare organizations do this as well. I think a lot of us have seen what Mayo Clinic has done in their Innovation Center or Center for Innovation I guess, but you don’t have to be Mayo Clinic in order for this stuff to work.

This is a couple of images from an event that our CEO ran along with some staff in the Iowa Startup Accelerator for a medical center here in Cedar Rapids, Mercy Medical Center. We’re putting together for them for instance, an innovation experience, a series of meetings and facilitated events to help them figure out how to generate businesses, what ideas that they’re kicking around are really valid, how do we go about getting them through? We think of the startup stage if it was a startup company and then ultimately how do we make sure that they have the tools and the things that will allow them to be successful over time.

So these were things that very typical healthcare organizations out there can use to tap into the innovation that exists within their own organization in order to do some of these kinds of things. Very exciting space, and we’re starting to see I think this year, a lot of organizations who have created innovation centers within their organization but are not quite sure what to do with it looking to actually start to act on this mission to create more innovation within their own organizations.

So a few final thoughts before we break for questions here, just a sort of recap. I mean when we do these trend webinars, the things only sort of thread together. We’re not creating one story. It really is a mix and match of the different major things that we think we’re going to see here in the coming year. I think we saw things coming together in a couple of different ways. First off, we see a couple of these trends are really responding to changes in the market. In particular, changes in our customer. We’re seeing greater consumerism. We’re seeing more choices being made. We’re seeing the shifting of dollars and other trends out there moving to a point where consumers want information in order [5310] to make different kinds of decisions.

So we’re going to have to be much more transparent. We’re going to have to provide information, and not only do we have to but I think providing that information ourselves gives us an opportunity to craft a story around it that really makes it compelling, whereas much of this information frankly is out there today but we just have no ability to build our story around that.

And in general, we’re going to have to connect with consumers and engage them around content that they’re interested in, and often times talking about ourselves on a day-to-day basis is not the thing that they’re particularly interested in. So we need to look at other content strategies if we really want to be effective in connecting with consumers outside of that moment in time when they have to be making a decision.

We have a couple of trends that really fall under I think technology enablement, like the technology out there has shifted. It’s available. It’s become a routine part of what we all do, and so things like ubiquitous search and email automation I think really come out of the fact that there are these tools out there and they’ve become more accessible and easier for brands that don’t have huge marketing organizations to really make good use of and find to be productive.

And then finally, we have some ways that we’re adapting to these systemic changes that are going on, regulatory change, payment reform, a bunch of these sorts of things. And in that realm, I think the need to be able to innovate faster, to create new businesses, to get beyond evolutionary change is really, really important. I think there’s a lot of organizations that have been struggling with that and I think we’re finding that as those organizations are starting to tap into the tools of the startup world, they’re able to have much greater success in doing exactly that.

Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2016