2016 Trends to Drive Your Healthcare Marketing Strategies

By Chowning Johnson on November 19th, 2015

As Thanksgiving draws nigh it’s hard to ignore that 2015 is quickly coming to an end. In the midst of preparing feasts, debating holiday cards, braving holiday travel and making unending to-do lists to keep it all together, like me, you probably also have 2016 planning dancing around like sugar plum fairies in your head.

While the daily focus year-round is ensuring we are helping our clients and Dodge stay on trend and ahead of the curve, I’m remiss not to mention the added pressure that comes with strategic planning at this time of year. So, what better time to tap some industry experts for 2016 insights and recommendations that might shape some of your thinking, or perhaps even shift some strategies.

Having their Dodge blog debut, a welcome to our sister agencies—AVID Design, HY Connect and PARTNERS+simons—that are part of the Myelin Communications family Dodge joined in June. Take a read and let us know what you think as we hit on web, SEO/SEM, social and paid media trends below—all with healthcare in mind.

Dean Richardson is a vice president who oversees strategy at AVID Design. An Atlanta-area company, AVID works with leading hospitals and health systems nationwide to develop websites and strategic digital solutions.

Working exclusively with hospitals and healthcare systems, the primary emerging trend is the development of content and functional capabilities geared towards community health.  We are seeing a much more robust user engagement on websites and through social media, especially blogs, that centers around encouraging wellness and healthier choices. Taking a much more positive approach to health, the primary goal is to keep people out of the hospital which in the longer term, benefits their communities as a whole.

Another key trend we are seeing, and integrating with our client projects, is to create interactive user experiences that follow more consumer-based experiences as seen outside of healthcare. One key initiative is creating rating systems that function similarly to Yelp, allowing site users to view physician ratings by actual patient experiences. These ratings come from patient satisfaction data that is collected by independent organizations, like Press Ganey. By integrating this data into hospital’s Find-a-Physician tool, hospitals and healthcare organizations are able to better assist patients with making choices regarding care. Another benefit, perhaps more importantly, this data integration and ratings availability has huge implications around search engine optimization.

Nick Kinports is VP/director of social media at HY Connect in Chicago. Entrenched in healthcare, HYC is a full-service agency focused on advertising, digital strategy and development, earned and social media, and media planning and buying. 

Looking to 2016, there are a number of considerations around SEO, SEM and social to ensure companies maximize their exposure and investment.

SEM

More efficiency. An increase in overall click through rates at the end of 2015 suggest ads are being better written by brand and agencies, and search engines are in turn rewarding those ads with better delivery to audiences that matter.

Increase in spending. Competition in search is heating up as more money is poured into the system. As inventory may not increase at the same pace in 2016, average bids and quality scores may be key factors in campaign success.

Mobile domination. Proliferation of mobile devices and mobile search will accelerate in 2016, meaning advertisers must be on the ball to deliver ads that have high view-ability across an ever-expanding universe of screen sizes and device operating systems.

SEO 

Real-time algorithms. Search engines will become more efficient at recognizing trends and events happening in real time, rapidly adjusting to serve the most relevant content to users. So far in 2015, we’ve seen many mentions of social media mentions affecting search without tangible results. Expect that to change in 2016.

Analysis of rich content. Video, audio, and interactive content were a hot topic for marketers in 2015. Expect search engines to implement ingenious ways of crawling and delivering results focused around rich content in 2016 that include rewarding brands with a higher organic search position.

Social

Instagram and Snapchat move up. Visual content is a trend that has built tremendous momentum in the social space. In 2016 brands will dive into utilization of paid promotion in Instagram and Snapchat to deliver meticulously produced content to younger audiences. Instagram has already made moves to open their self-serve ad platform to marketers with limited targeting and delivery options.

Facebook ingests publishers. Recent data suggests that in 2015 referral traffic from Facebook to top publishers fell between 30-50%. As Facebook and other social networks make content ownership plays brands may be forced to publish more high quality content directly inside social networks, pushing brand websites to be more transactional and less content-rich. Consequently, community management of content within social networks will be paramount to maintain brand identity and deal with customer service issues.

Stephanie Rogers, EVP of media + technology, is with PARTNERS+simons in Boston. P+s provides brand consultancy and integrated marketing communications strategies and campaigns to hospitals, health systems, health plans and life sciences companies.

The paid media marketplace is constantly changing, and as such there is never a shortage of new tactics and techniques for us to improve campaign performance. Here are a few things our radar for 2016:

  • Video ads. Video is the perfect medium for conveying complex topics and emotional messages, so it’s a great format for healthcare marketers. While TV still counts for 72% of all video viewing, online video is one of the fastest growing media formats and its share of digital ad spend is expected to rise again next year thanks to increased adoption of smartphones and tablet devices.
  • Ad verification. Online ad fraud was in the spotlight this year, with numerous reports highlighting the vulnerability of ad budgets in the wake of increased automated (programmatic) buying. We’re making ad verification part of every online buy and are modifying the terms and conditions of our media insertion orders to ensure we’re only paying for ads that are in-view, in brand safe environments, and reaching real human traffic (vs. bots).
  • Data management. Data-driven marketing is critical to ensuring optimized ad budgets and attention spans through more targeted and relevant messaging. But in order to utilize data, you must have a sound data management platform in place that allows you to gather insights and make performance improvements as you go. We’re moving toward Web-based dashboards that integrate data from multiple sources (advertising performance, social media, website) in order to optimize both creative and placement performance throughout the life of campaign.

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