Balancing the Marketing Mix – Digital and Direct

by admin in Uncategorised

MixMost marketers are now focusing their tactics on digital channels. Mobile, social media and paid search are increasing in prominence, and that means strategies are  shifting online as well.

Digital has taken the lead in large part because of both its low cost and its perceived immediate and wide-reaching impact. However, the latest Direct Marketing Association Response Rate Report has shed new light on ROI and CPA benchmarks, and what’s become clear is that cost-per-acquisition shouldn’t be the sole metric that defines where your spending goes (DMA). A good marketing mix is just that, a mix of approaches that encompasses the entire audience you’re trying to reach.

For instance, email was found to deliver the highest ROI, coming in at 21-23% compared to social media advertising at 15-17%, which puts it on par with direct mail. The CPA for email is the lowest at $11-15, with social media coming in at $16-18, and direct mail at $19. Using prospect lists increases the cost to $71 (Marketing Charts). Yet, if these are the only numbers you’re looking at, you’re almost certainly not engaging with all of your potential audience, primarily because these numbers don’t factor in response rates..

Direct mail still has one of the best response rates, 3.7% (using a house list, 1.0% for a prospect list), compared to 0.1% for both social media advertising and email — an almost 600% difference (IWCO Connect). With the rise of ad blockers, the idea of unlimited digital reach is at an end, and email lists may not include the entirety of a particular market (AdWeek). Direct mail has other advantages. A recent ethnographic study on the visibility of physical mail done by Canada Post has shown that direct mail is much more likely to be noticed, inspire, persist, and persuade (Canada Post).

Don’t leave any money on the table. Digital marketing should remain an important part of your marketing mix, but you may only be capturing half your market if you rely on it solely. Combining your efforts under a multi-channel marketing mix provides access to the full market. Using this approach allows companies to more fully realize the potential of these markets as well as establish more credibility as a brand with their audience.

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The Decline of Private Practices and How it Will Impact Healthcare Marketers

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PrivateThe landscape of the healthcare industry continues to shift, and one of the most pronounced changes is the decline of private practices. Through a combination of market forces and changing lifestyle preferences, more and more doctors are seeking employment with hospitals and major healthcare systems. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, the number of physicians employed by hospitals grew by 34%. (NEJM Career Center)

On the economic level, there remains continued uncertainty about the long-term effects of the Affordable Care Act. Currently certain specialties and high-cost service areas are seeing declining revenue as reimbursement is redirected. Physicians whose private practices revolved around these specialties are finding themselves priced out of business and are selling their practices to healthcare systems. (DMN3)

On the other end of the scale, many new residents aren’t interested in becoming small business owners. Whether it’s because they simply wish to focus on medicine, maintain a greater work/life balance, or lack of business training – these residents are directly seeking employment with hospitals. This group also does not want to shoulder administrative and insurance costs on their own.

According to the experts, this trend is likely to continue unabated. “In another five years, the physicians who have struggled to keep the old Dr. Welby vision will have retired,” says Perry Hanson, a partner in Wipfli, a health care consultancy in Wisconsin and Minnesota. (Managed Care)

This will mean a shift for healthcare marketers as well. Marketers will need to rethink strategies and tactics geared toward reaching doctors in smaller private practices in order to navigate the complexities of marketing to large healthcare systems. For instance, marketing to a hospital administrator may require creating a completely different persona. (LinkedIn Pulse) With targeting and segmenting becoming increasingly important, it’s vital to have a data partner that can provide targeted access to changing markets and one that understands how to navigate those markets.

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Optimizing Email Marketing for Mobile

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Optimizing

What are people doing on their smart phones and tablets? Checking their email. According to a recent study, this is the most popular activity on mobile devices, beating out both web browsing and Facebook. (Marketing Land) In fact, 53% of total email opens happened on a mobile device last year compared to only 36% on a desktop or laptop. (emailmonday) At the same time, there’s been a decline in click-through rates vs. open rates of 10% since 2011 (Campaign Monitor) which can be attributed to poor mobile optimization.

The most common time to click is right after opening – if you’re not optimizing for mobile you may be missing many potential conversions.

Mobile-friendly email marketing doesn’t have to be difficult; here are some best practices to integrate into your next email marketing campaign:

Build Trust – Who is the “from” name? Make sure you’re building trust by using a name your recipients will know to make sure they’ll open your mail.

Optimize the Subject Line – Keep it short and get to the point, but don’t forget to be compelling and creative. Focus on the first 4-5 words to ensure people know what you want to tell them and have a sense of immediacy to want to open your message.

Optimize the Pre-header – The text above your header is often the first thing that’s visible, especially on smart phones. Usually it’s a “to view this message in your browser” but look at it as an opportunity to offer a call to action or some other unique message.

Use Images – Most mobile email clients default to having images turned on. Select or create quality, compelling images that are linked to your content. However, it’s also important to keep your messages small and light. While mobile speeds are getting faster, they’re still not quite up to broadband internet. A good rule of thumb is to optimize your images and try to keep your email under 20k.

Optimize the Layout for Mobile< – Don’t make people hunt for your call to action, make it big and obvious. Put the unsubscribe link far from your call to action so it’s not easy to accidently click.

We all want our campaigns to have the maximum impact and reach. Optimizing for mobile is necessary to achieve your marketing goals, but is relatively simple. Keep these factors in mind and your campaigns will be ready for the most popular platforms.

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API – The Future of the Healthcare Digital Economy?

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In a world of growing apps and cloud based computing, expectations as to how information is accessed and how programs function have changed quite a bit over the last few years, prompting a market demand that is synchronously being driven by government forces, encouraging EHR vendors to develop platforms that promote the free exchange of information through open API’s.

API-LMany industries have fully embraced the open API — or application program interface.  Open API’s provide developers with programmatic access to software applications, which in turn allows third parties to build in additional functionality, custom tailored to the end-user’s specifications, hence promoting the free exchange and access of information.  

Yet healthcare, has lagged behind other industries in this area. For example, “The most valued patient data resides in the EHR, yet EHRs are architected to perpetuate data silos. Because of the lack of interoperability, healthcare providers can’t achieve true care coordination (Healthcare IT News).  There has, however, been much evidence in 2015 that several healthcare verticals, including both EHR and Payers, may be on their way to catching up with the pack.  

Over the last year we have seen quite a bit of progress and collaboration among industry leaders in an effort to “bring down the walls” and develop platforms that will better serve the needs of providers and in turn their patients.  We expect to see the implementation of many of those solutions in the coming year. “APIs are going to be the driver for the digital economy, and unless they [companies] are talking about APIs already, they will be left behind,” says James Parton of Twilio, a cloud communications company (Forbes).

APIs can be used to track important data or electronic health records (EHRs), such as patient insurance coverage, personal information, and payment procedures (Forbes). There is significant potential for business growth driven by open APIs. The platforms can be used for clinical data visualization, decision support and data integration with outside sources like HIEs. All parties using EHRs could see increasing opportunity to find the ideal customers and open new revenue streams. “For the smaller, specialized EHR vendors, the business case is obvious – whole new markets will be opened to them.” according to mHealthNews editor, Eric Wicklund (Healthcare IT News).

Yet interoperability is not without challenges. A large concern is that easy access to health records could lead to information exposure. A single sign-on feature may be the answer to this interoperability problem, but this feature must be both time-effective and location-aware. Adventura, a company that uses such a feature throughout hospitals, has worked with EHR systems in a way that allows a physician to sign on using his or her badge. The system, which is location savvy, can be used to call up patient-related information before the physician even enters the room, according to Cover My Meds’ article, Proactive, Analytical, and Interoperable Trends Affecting Today’s EHR Systems.

Whatever challenges remain to be addressed and overcome, open API’s will be the driving force in shaping how healthcare data is shared and used. When organizations are able to share data in real time and third parties can create value-added applications, whole new healthcare data ecosystems could be created. As Brian Murphy of Chillmark Research stated, “Open APIs will ultimately form the basis for the interoperable health records that patients and providers are demanding,”

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Email Marketing: The Power of Trust

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While algorithmic and mobile advertising are becoming rapidly and increasingly important, email still remains a powerful tool in your marketing mix. A new study on email marketing conducted by Blue Hornet Networks, Inc. has found that of over 1,800 consumers polled, 78% make a purchase at least once a month based on an email campaign they received, according to Direct Marketing News.

Max Kazen highlights the vitality of good communication using email marketing. Is your data current and relevant? The art of email marketing lies in making your customers believe they are getting the “best product for the best price.”  The key to successful email marketing is bringing in the right data, segmenting your audience(s) and personalizing content to reflect interests and past purchases. That’s the real strength of email – a focused, personalized message. However, even the best content can be undermined by a bad subject line, emails that are poorly formatted, a weak call to action, excessive copy or are sent to frequently – one send per audience a week seems optimal.

Email-LWhen a consumer finds that your data is relevant to his or her life or needs, they feel a connection to your brand and company. By consistently, genuinely and ethically offering what is best for a customer, you reach the “unconscious-decision making process.” According to Robert Cialdini, PhD, “once someone has given you authority to enter their life through email, they have made a certain commitment to consistency… (they) trust you, (they) believe you are an authority, and consistent with that belief, (they) will take certain actions…over and over to verify (their) own beliefs.”

So make a connection or sense of belonging that goes further than a purchase.  Provide valuable industry insight and establish credibility and trust.  Don’t focus on the sell and product offerings every time. Your subscribers will develop trust and recommend your services by word of mouth and electronic word of mouth (eWOM). “Good for us” data tends to yield the best results.

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Digital Growth to Continue

by admin in Uncategorised

With a new fiscal year approaching, the big questions are always: How much to spend on marketing; and where should those dollars go when it comes to ad buys? While your own budget will dictate the former, research shows the latter is driving directly toward mobile.  

Growth-LAll indicators show 2016 as the year of mobile. EMarketer reports that for the first time, the global advertising market will surge in the mobile department, “surpassing 100 billion dollars in spending and accounting for 50 percent of all digital ad expenditure.” In addition, for the first time ever digital advertising is forecasted to account for more than a quarter of all ad spend in 2016, according to a recent DM News article citing research conducted by Carat in 59 global markets.  

Mobile spending is also expected to nearly double over the next three years as consumer attention shifts from desktops to smartphones and tablets, parlaying a 430% increase from 2013 to 2016. If you think you see a lot of people attached to their phones now, by 2016, smartphone users will rise to more than two billion!

Think about it. How often are you frustrated when the data you search for doesn’t load properly on your smartphone? Today’s generation of consumers want their digital experience to be mobile-friendly and smart advertisers are using this trend to their advantage and healthcare marketers are no exception. Over 90% of physicians use smart phones and tablets and well over half routinely use these devices in a professional capacity (Epocrates)

“The strength of digital continues to dominate discussions and the new distribution of spending,” says Jerry Buhlmann, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, “…mobile dominates the way consumers access information, view content, browse products, and purchase goods….”

The numbers are truly staggering and the implications for marketers are clear — to reach and remain relevant and resonate with your target audience, digital and mobile advertising must be deeply integrated within your marketing strategy.  

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How much is bad data costing you?

by admin in Uncategorised

According to TDWI, bad data cost US businesses $611 Billion in 2013, the US economy over $3 trillion and is estimated to add up to $314 billion to healthcare costs alone (IT Business Edge). The impact on organizations large and small is staggering and contributes to a loss of anywhere between 15-25% of gross revenue for the average company’s bottom line, according to a recent article in IT Business Edge citing Ovum Research.  

What’s even more shocking is the fact that many businesses ignore the quality of the data they’re bringing in and the quality of their existing customer data, focusing primarily on sourcing the lowest cost solution at the time.  This pervasive, outdated approach has cost companies trillions in lost revenue — so when will businesses become less short sighted?  

Data-LThe problem lies with the market’s perception of data.  It’s too often viewed as a commodity and all data is equal, right? Well, even commodities carry distinction, despite popular belief.  Econsultancy’s Ben Davis refers to data as “the new oil,” going on to say “data must be polished before it is sent out to the public, just as oil must go through a refining process to become gasoline or kerosene.” If you fill up your car’s gas tank with kerosene, you may have a problem getting to work, just as if you are not maintaining your customer data or bringing in bad data, your approach, will predictably and inevitably, conclude with lost revenue, poor morale and in many cases the dissolution of the business.   

54% of marketers cite “lack of data quality/completeness” as their greatest obstacle. Bad data leads to a host of problems including higher consumption of resources and maintenance costs, distortion of success metrics, lower productivity, poor company morale, and loss of revenue – just to name a few.

Only once organizations have truly embraced the fact that data is fluid and constantly changing, will they unlock the value of their customer data, as well as, prospect data they are acquiring from third parties.

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