A new year is upon us, providing a great opportunity to take note of the big shifts in healthcare, digital marketing, and (most importantly) where they intersect! Here are the big themes that we see for 2017:
Healthcare Organizations Get Bigger
Healthcare providers continue to grow. They see the benefits of scaling their operations and the strategic advantages of aligning incentives by pulling more services under the same ownership. The challenge for marketers is to tell an increasingly complicated, ever-changing story in a way that helps consumers connect to the resources they need. Nowhere is that challenge more apparent than in the content strategy for the organization’s website(s).
Hospital Leaders Grapple with Uncertainty
The last few years have introduced more uncertainty to healthcare organizations than at any time in recent memory. A new administration means that we’ll see more uncertainty before we get any sort of long-term clarity. The reengineering of Obamacare will likely include themes such as improving services while reducing costs, increasing transparency to empower patients, and reducing regulation to foster more competition. All this places greater importance on consumer-focused marketing to build awareness, improve brand preference, and sell services.
Consumers Expect More Transparency
Transparency will grow considerably, but healthcare still has a long way to go. In our recent survey of digital marketing trends in healthcare, we learned that 42 percent of respondents plan to add star ratings and reviews to their websites in 2017. Providing this information rounds out a host of health system and government-driven efforts at transparency regarding quality of care (along with being a great vehicle for promoting providers). On the other hand, pricing transparency will have minimal growth due to the complexity of making this information relevant for consumers, but we will likely see more pressure for forward motion on this topic.
Consumers Rely on Mobile
Growth in mobile has been a hot topic for years now. Consumers are more sophisticated and expect more than just a responsive design. Google continues to make changes, including the separation of its search index for desktop and mobile. Great desktop experiences will no longer help your mobile search rankings.
Search Results Pages Keep Shifting
Search engines were once the card catalogs for the internet, but now they’re becoming encyclopedias by offering answers to everyday questions without sending users to the source material. In part, this comes from the adoption of personal assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, where searchers ask questions to get quick answers. While we still like organic search traffic to our websites, health consumers need accurate information from search engines about your providers, locations, and services. This is where the addition of microdata like Schema.org becomes essential to your SEO strategy.
Budgets Increase for Digital Marketers
Digital marketing budgets continue to surge. Current predictions show digital marketing spend will exceed TV ad revenues in 2017. Causes include an increase in time spent online, a growth of mobile advertising, and a cost increase for online ads. But online ads might not be enough as ad blockers become more common. Corporations across industries are considering other techniques, like native advertising and permission marketing, to cut through the clutter.
Consumers Control their Content
We’ve seen a massive shift to on-demand digital media. Getting in front of consumers requires engaging content, and storytelling is a common tactic among effective marketers. Podcasts, videos, and even Snapchat stories are proving to be valuable ways to connect with tech-savvy consumers, especially younger generations. Instead of generating lots of content, healthcare organizations will need to get strategic about the channels they use.
Marketers Expand their Technology Stack
Healthcare marketing organizations are starting to embrace the growing role and complexity of technology, although we haven’t seen the same movement toward Chief Marketing Technologists that is happening in other industries. Marketing automation and CRM platforms are top priorities for 2017. These technology solutions are catalysts of massive change for marketing operations, but far too many health systems look at them as new tools to execute on business as usual.
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8 Trends for Healthcare Marketers to Watch in 2017