Last week Mary Meeker, a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, presented her annual “State of the Internet” report. Her epic deck of 196 slides covers a huge range of trends, but there are several key takeaways for healthcare marketers. Here’s what you need to know.
Within the past month I have had a couple of occasions to seek healthcare services. First, while travelling with two colleagues to a client site, I was involved in a head-on collision at highway speeds with another vehicle. I wish I could say that we all walked away fine, but as is so often the case in motor vehicle accidents, that’s not what happened.
I have also been spending time with my father in the ICU as he is battling the effects of chemo-therapy for cancer treatment that has left him susceptible to infection.
Picture it: you’re on a website. You’re looking for a specific piece of information and you’re in a hurry. After looking at the navigation it isn’t clear where the information is. What are you supposed to do? You look around and there, you see it, the solution to all your problems: the search box, of course! You type in your request and press the submit button.
Behind the scenes an entire world of logic, computer processing power, and data spins to life to read your mind and deliver exactly the piece of information you’re looking for. If you misspell a word, it guesses the correct word. If the target of your search is a difficult or unusually spelled word, it uses a phoneme dictionary to identify similar sounding words or names. Search is one of the most complex and data intensive parts of any website. The denser the data, the harder the challenge to identify what the user means — not just what they say — and providing results that satisfy that need.
With the year over and the 2014 holiday season behind us, the trend is clear: Year over year, the number of consumers who shop online for the holidays has increased.1 But it’s not just about the holidays… The fact is, more and more people are shopping online all year long, for all sorts of things.2 And the experts agree that this trend will continue.
In an agile environment, our work is often about incremental improvement – seeing where change is needed, forming a hypothesis, trying something new, measuring results, and tweaking as needed. In that world, it’s easy to have a recency bias – the inclination to use the most recent experiences as the baseline for what will happen in the future. However, it’s equally important to look at trends to make sure that, as a company, we’re getting the results we want in both the short- and the long-term.
When tabulating the results of our quarterly client satisfaction survey, the thing that caught my eye was an improvement in the category of how well our clients believe we align with their goals. That question received the most significant improvement from last quarter to this one – from a 5.01 to a 5.28. (As a reminder, our survey is based on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest), and our target is always a 5.0 or higher.)
Now curious, I looked a little deeper. The previous four quarters had all been pretty consistent (5.09, 5.01, 5.04, and 5.01). Interestingly, the four quarters prior to that ranged from 4.49 to 4.96. What this tells me is that we made a change about a year ago that our clients liked, and the changes we’ve made more recently are being equally well received.
CVS rolled out a new brand along with the announcement that they are removing tobacco products from their shelves in all 7,600 stores and replacing those products with smoking cessation products. As a side note, Walgreens has also removed tobacco from their shelves but CVS Health rebranding takes this move to a new level.
As consumers of many products and services, we want to know our options to make informed decisions. We compare big-ticket purchases like cars and houses as well as every-day items like laundry detergent and food to make sure we get the value we want.
So why wouldn’t we compare doctors also?
With the number of mobile-connected devices projected to exceed the world’s population by the end of 2014, it’s more important than ever to have a Web presence that can accommodate mobile users. And since 31% of cell phone owners, and 52% of smartphone owners, have used their phone to look up health or medical information, healthcare organizations need to make their online experience seamless regardless of what type of mobile device is trying to access their information.
Pella Regional Health Center wanted to ensure visitors had access to their entire site, not just a select subset. Enter responsive design. It enables organizations to build and maintain one site that adapts automatically to the capabilities of the device being used. Essentially future-proofing an organization’s website since it presents the best user experience possible whether the Web visitor is accessing the single site from a desktop, tablet, mobile device or even a mobile-enabled refrigerator.
We know patients want to choose providers that deliver the highest quality of care. They tell us so in survey after survey, after all. The trouble is – how do healthcare providers tell them they’re good or, at the very least, better than local competition?
The business of communicating quality is a tough one. There is no one clear definition of what constitutes quality healthcare. I think this surprises many people not involved in the field, but those of us who spend our time here realize the complexities of our discipline.
Every specialty has its own elements of quality. But even within a specialty, there are many different ways organizations measure what quality means to them. The number of cases performed can be important, the training the care team has completed may be a factor, adherence to best of breed practices and protocols may be the key as can be the high tech tools available at the facility.
Add to this that no two patients are alike – arriving with different levels of progression with a disease, differing basic levels of overall health and a range of comorbities, all of which adds layers to the quality picture. With all of this complexity, you begin to see the difficulty in delivering solid quantitative measures of the relative quality of, for example, cardiology programs.
The quality data that’s reported to government agencies is little help here. Truly, most patients would be shocked that one of the key metrics for the quality of a cardiology program is how long it takes for a patient with symptoms of a cardiac event to receive an aspirin!
Those MasterCard® commercials have it right. Everything costs something, but some things are worth more than what they cost. They’re valuable. And that’s how we need to think about website content.
When considering a purchase, we often think only about the amount of money we spend. We know the numbers, the price, the cost. We can feel the bills or coins leaving our hands—or we see the balance in our bank account drop. We buy stuff all the time:
- Morning cup of coffee = $
- Cool new kicks or hoodie = $$
- Washer and dryer = $$$
- Family trip to Disney World = $$$$
But what’s the value of these purchases? That’s not something you can measure in money. It’s priceless.
- Coffee = Delivers the eye-opener that jump-starts your day
- Cool kicks = Identifies you as a trend-setter or stellar group member
- Laundry pair = Offers the comfort of knowing you can have clean clothes when you need them
- Disney World vacation = Provides a fun setting for family bonding time
Value comes from the intangibles—like feelings—related to the products and services we buy. Feelings like attention, fun, trust, relationship, comfort, caring. Yes, you spend money for these products and services, but what you get back makes the cost worthwhile.
For some time now, standard Web guidance has been to open hyperlinks in the current window instead of opening them in new windows. For those not familiar with what I’m describing, the following provides an example of each:
- This hyperlink opens the destination page in the current window. This is the recommended approach.
- This hyperlink opens the destination page in a new window. This is NOT the recommended approach.
There are multiple reasons that inform the recommended approach. If you’re not familiar with them, here are a few of the more important ones:
I’ve had a lot of questions lately about remarketing (sometimes known as retargeting), a marketing technique that targets your site visitors with ads for your organization AFTER they’ve left your website. For example, I shopped for lamps last year on Overstock.com and then, for weeks afterwards, it seems like every site I visited presented me with ads for Overstock.com, many with the specific lamps I’d viewed!
You’ve probably experienced this yourself and realized that these ads are no coincidence but rather an aggressive marketing tactic by which one site follows you around the Internet with ads after a single visit.
I don’t like remarketing (so much so that I sometimes find myself writing snarky poetry about it like this). I find it to be annoying, intrusive and clumsily heavy handed. While remarketing is less intrusive when shopping for lamps – for something truly important and personal, like my health, it would be more than annoying. It would be downright creepy!
As a consumer, I don’t like remarketing and have steered clients away from the practice. But, as my friend Linda’s coffee cup reminds me on many a Monday morning, “Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” A quick Google search shows that many healthcare organizations are using remarketing today. As a technique, remarketing works for many advertisers or it wouldn’t be gaining in popularity.
Unless you are a Seahawks fan, you probably agree that the Super Bowl this year was a bit of a snoozer. For those of us watching the ads more than the game, however, it’s always an exciting evening!
My takeaway from this year’s crop of ads was a little different. A surprising number of brands seemed to be recognizing that their products just simply aren’t interesting to consumers at that moment in time.
At one level, this is obvious. Unless you’re selling beer, soda or salty snacks, the audience for the game just doesn’t care. You’re not relevant to where they are mentally at that moment in time. They are there to watch the game and hang out with friends, not to shop for a new car or change banks.
On the other hand, this speaks to the core value proposition of interruption advertising – if you get the eyeballs of the right people pointed at the screen, your message is valuable.
But what if this just isn’t true? What if the context where the advertisement is shown really does matter?
Retail powerhouse Proctor and Gamble figured out a bit of marketing magic. They uncovered the moment that mattered the most to their consumers: when they stood in front of the store shelf and decided what to buy. Proctor and Gamble termed this the First Moment of Truth (FMOT) and they spent a lot of time, energy (and money!) focused on in-store displays.
Google decided to study this process. They wanted to see where influence took place and at what point shoppers moved from undecided to decided. Google uncovered that there is a step before the FMOT – and they named it the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).
ZMOT describes the time when consumers go online and research the product, read reviews and watch product videos – actions that, according to Google, more than 88% of U.S. consumers perform.
It’s easy to picture consumers in their ZMOT – researching which big screen to buy for the big game or which resort to stay at on vacation. Today ZMOT is a powerful force in decision making. Heck, you’d likely feel uncomfortable making a big decision without doing some online research first.