Top 3 trends driving digital shift in hospital marketing

By Molly Merrill
10:40 AM

Hospital marketers predict that by 2013 traditional and digital marketing channels will flip-flop in terms of importance, according to a crowdsourced survey by Acsys Interactive.

Acsys Interactive, an interactive marketing and digital development company based in Farmington, Conn., has released its 1st Annual Crowdsourced Survey on Emerging Marketing. The survey asked hospital marketers around the country what emerging marketing topics they wanted to hear about from their colleagues.

Peer questions were collected, synthesized and presented to industry thought leaders. From a variety of hospitals and healthcare systems, including many of the nation's most renowned organizations, more than one hundred respondents completed the survey. Acsys released its findings of this research in their "Insights In Action" publication.

The survey found that 66.3 percent of hospitals currently use traditional channels such as print, direct mail and radio for marketing, with only 9.9 percent using search engine marketing (SEM), display advertising and social media. However, the poll shows that by 2013, 36.6 percent of hospitals will shift to online marketing and 49.5 percent say their marketing budgets will be split equally between online and offline. The findings were the same regardless of hospital size.

The survey shows this long-awaited but fast-moving shift is the result of a confluence of three major trends:

  1. The rapid proliferation of digital channels, such as social, video and mobile, in hospital marketing.
  2. Increased demand for marketers to step outside their traditional roles and improve the customer experience on other platforms, including those that have long-languished, such as the intranet and patient portal.
  3. A desire for increased marketing productivity, including the use of integrated marketing and more meaningful, business results-focused measurement.

The survey found more than half of all respondents expect to significantly increase resources in Web video and social media.

[See also: Study: Hospitals’ Facebook use is poor]

"One thing that stood out to us was how much traction video seems to have as an emerging tactic thanks to the tangible benefits and ROI that it delivers for organizations," said Mike Stutman, SVP, strategy & innovation at Acsys Interactive.

Survey respondents also said they expect to invest more in SEO, paid search websites, mobile, patient portals, physician portals and Web content.

"Instead of just providing data, we're providing some real insights, thinking, implications and actions items for marketers to take with their organization and even with their personal career," said Stutman.

The survey found 40 percent of respondents felt that personal evangelism regarding the use of social media was the most effective way to get their organization onboard.

One of the problems that hospitals face, according to the survey, is that in the majority of hospitals there is only one staff member who is dedicated to giving the hospital a digital presence.

Acsys encourages hospitals to start today by putting a plan in place to prepare for this digital change – one that includes knowledge, a team and resources, the backing of senior leadership and a roadmap.

Click here to view the full report.