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Monday, December 14, 2015

5 healthcare marketing trends to watch in 2016

Sherilee Coffey, Director of Creative Operations

If you're interested in trends and predictions, this probably isn't the first blog post you've read about what to expect in 2016.

It's fun to envision the future, particularly in the area of advancing technologies—Oculus Rift!

But we understand that most healthcare organizations aren't jumping into virtual reality quite yet. So, in this blog post, we're focusing on trends that healthcare organizations of all sizes and budgets can—and should—be on top of in the coming year.

Here are 5 trends worth noting—and acting on:

1. Healthcare content gets a consumer focus. Compelling content has always been an essential part of healthcare marketing. But with all the competition for people's attention, it's more important than ever to create content that your audience finds valuable. It was a particularly hot topic recently when healthcare marketers gathered at SHSMD and HCIC.

If you aren't currently creating engaging and useful content, commit to doing so in 2016. (Dare we say resolve?)

To help, here are some of Coffey's top healthcare content tips:

2. Hospital SEO evolves. Search engine optimization (SEO) best practices are constantly changing, and 2016 will certainly be no different. An important SEO topic in 2015 was Google's increased emphasis on mobile-friendly websites.

In 2016, look for mobile to become even more of a factor in search results. (We linked to a great article about this in a recent click-worthy content blog post.)

Also, watch out for Facebook. In October, the social media giant released its universal search feature, which can index 2 trillion posts across its social network. This move makes Facebook a potentially powerful search engine for people looking for healthcare content and services. This will be the year we find out whether—and how—consumers are going to use this new feature. And you'll want to take stock of how your organization's content appears on Facebook search.

As the ways people search for content—and the tools they use—evolve, it's going to be important for hospitals to make SEO a part of their digital marketing strategy. A good place to start in 2016: Make sure you are set up for future success by heading off common hospital SEO problems.  

3. Mobile continues to dominate. It seems like each of the past few years has been "the year of mobile" in one respect or another. A notable moment in 2015 came when mobile searches surpassed desktop searches. This was just part of a larger trend that we've seen across the hospitals and health plans we work with. Year after year, the percentage of people who visit hospital websites using a mobile device rises.

If your hospital or health plan doesn't already have a mobile-friendly website, you're definitely behind. Make 2016 the year you catch up.

4. Content delivery gets more attention. In addition to creating compelling content, healthcare marketers need to deliver that content to the right person at the right moment. This was another big topic of conversation at HCIC this year.

In 2016, look for email to get renewed interest among healthcare marketers. It's an effective way to reach individual consumers with info that is valuable to them in the moment, such as healthy pregnancy tips sent out based on a woman's due date or news blasts about topics of interest chosen by the consumer.  

Here's another content delivery tool on the rise: application programming interfaces (APIs). Hospitals can use content APIs, such as the one Coffey created for our Health Information Library, to automatically deliver relevant information on their website pages. So, for example, when someone visits a cardiac service page, they can find out about the service as well as get links to the latest and most relevant heart health information.

Pro tip: One of our favorite sources of information for digital trends is Mary Meeker's Internet Trends report. Look for the 2016 version in May. You can find past reports at www.kpcb.com/internet-trends.

5. Data analysis trumps data gathering. Healthcare marketers have a wealth of data available to them that can help prove ROI. But gathering that data from different sources and compiling it takes time.

In 2016, we expect to see marketers focus on tools and solutions that let them spend their time analyzing data rather than gathering it. To that end, look for Coffey to announce a dashboard product for our digital clients in the first quarter of 2016.

What's your 2016 healthcare marketing strategy?

Whether your areas of focus in 2016 are in line with those listed above or in other areas, we'd love to talk about how we can put our expertise to work for you. Give us a call at 888.805.9101 or email us.  


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