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Marketing Automation: The New Frontier

January 2014

Internet marketing can be a daunting task for healthcare providers. According to a Pew Research survey, 72% of patients rely on online information when choosing healthcare products and services. The importance of accurate marketing cannot be ignored. With the constant stream of data from various marketing solutions, multi-channel sources, and patient electronic management systems, the pressure mounts. How can you organize data and manage patient care while gaining the best return on your investment? A solution is available.

For all medical environments—whether enterprise level hospital or physician practice—the rise of marketing automation ushers in a new era of internet marketing.

Prior to the introduction of marketing automation, website analytics tools have been the standard mechanism to assess internet marketing campaigns and website performance on an aggregate level. Marketing automation is the next progression in internet marketing, capturing the individual visitor level data and correlating it to their preferences and website behaviors. Gone are the days of bombarding consumers with information you think they want and need. A key benefit of marketing automation is the ability to deliver quick responses to search queries and capitalize on consumer’s sentiment in a changing environment. Relationship and customer experience management are key to the successful healthcare practice of the future. As you demonstrate to the consumer that you are interested in what they want and need, they will begin to consider you on their short list of treatment providers.

The strength of these tools lies in the integration and personalized messaging, which allows hospitals and physicians to supply the desired information into the right hands - your patients. These services are systems that nurture and respond to the consumer seeking answers for their healthcare issues. They allow the provider to market to the individual during their decision-making process with pre-designed automated content based on the consumer’s interactions on the website. Logically, the provider’s website is the ideal place for them to find healthcare services and educational material.

The benefits of marketing automation are not just for the consumer, but also accrue to the provider. By collecting and storing multiple marketing datapoints in one dashboard, the provider is positioned for rapid and informed marketing responses leading to better return on investment. Typically, these companies offer the ability to view and analyze a single dashboard showing individual visitor habits, including such things as search terms, referral sites, review sites, online events, email, and social media. Once the visitor downloads a paper of interest, subscribes to a newsletter, or registers for a free webinar or event, the entire “web-track” is visualized. This action then triggers lead scores, lead alerts and predesigned emails with content that is useful and of interest to the known visitor. Some solutions provide a basic inbound marketing component for on-page website optimization and search as well as integration with Google Adwords and Google Analytics.

Healthcare providers use these systems to market to the consumer based on their behavioral preferences for both elective and non-elective treatments. By developing and using permission-based content and educational material, you are nurturing and building trust in your ability to provide answers. For example, if your practice or clinic specializes in women’s health, your website would contain information on seminars, webinars or educational papers concerning preventative treatments—allowing the interested visitor to register and check email permission boxes. This action would trigger intervals of additional educational content pieces around the subject of interest. These automatic emails are sent to the individual allowing your practice or facility to stay in the forefront of the consumer’s mind. You address their issues by demonstrating your ability to care about their needs and nurture them along the path towards becoming your patient. Many solutions give the healthcare provider use of brand and regulatory compliant templates for emails, landing pages and social media. These can be customized and designed for various campaigns and targeted towards the particular audience such as patients, other healthcare providers, referral practices, administrators, etc.

In summary, the key to the success of marketing automation is creating great website content that nurtures the potential patient towards trust in your practice or facility. For the medical practitioner looking to invest in effective marketing solutions for an information-soaked present, marketing automation supplies the answer. Furthermore, in an age when patients are apt to lose patience, your practice must exude trust and reliability. Consumer care and administrative ease meet in marketing automation.