The Great Recession of 2008 has affected many businesses and has greatly changed the way companies do their marketing. Now every dollar counts and companies are trying to find innovative ways to get the highest return on investment. This has greatly impacted non-profit hospitals and has caused them to scramble and find ways to make up for the slowed growth.
Hospitals may be in luck as new ways to market through search-engine marketing, mobile devices and social networking. More hospitals have been allocating more money towards these aspects of marketing rather than traditional media buying. These have proven to be more cost effective marketing strategies that have a higher return on investment.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing is one of the most direct approaches to reaching your target audience and is very measurable. You can measure the number of hits that you get from a particular advertisement and can achieve a higher ranking when people conduct a search. This means that whenever a person conducts a Google search for their symptoms, the hospital or doctor’s office will pop up on the top results page. This in turn directs more traffic to that website and can be measured by the number of hits that particular site got in a specific time period.
Mobile Devices + Apps
Many hospitals are also embracing “telemedicine” by creating apps or mobile sites for patients’ convenience. For example, WebMD has created an interactive app that connects patients with trusted health and wellness information. The app also helps patients get reliable first aid information and local health listings. Also included in their app is a pregnancy app that tracks a woman’s pregnancy until delivery and provides health tips to future mothers.
With mobile sites and apps reinventing the medical field, house calls can be made via video chat. This gives people who may be out of town a chance to still see their doctor and receive an evaluation. This can be done with a person’s smartphone that has high definition quality or a person’s computer that has a webcam. Webcam house calls are a growing trend and more hospitals and doctor’s offices are offering this support.
Social media first started off as a method for people to keep in touch with peers and meet new people. This has turned into a way for businesses to keep in touch with their customer base. People can speak directly to the business by tagging them in a tweet on twitter or by writing on their Facebook page. People feel like their voice is being heard and that their opinions matter.
The University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital utilized social media to do something that had never been done before. They came up with a fundraising contest called, Challenge for the Children, in which they used social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to raise money for a new hospital. The University of California at San Francisco utilized the popular Facebook game, FarmVille to help raise money. In the game players could purchase in-game items that contributed to the cause. Much of the campaign’s success came from FarmVille and ended up raising ten times more than their initial goal of $100,000.
This successful challenge helped pave the way for a new children’s hospital, which is going to open later this year. With the high success of this campaign hopefully more hospitals will move towards social media engagement and marketing in their future campaigns.
Social media adds a personal approach to a marketing campaign and has the ability to put the business in contact directly with the consumer. Building that rapport with your customer base by reaching out to them on social media makes them more likely to come back.
With all the promise of digital marketing, T.V. and newspapers have the highest budget just because they are the most expensive. However, we are seeing a bigger focus on digital marketing, which has changed the marketing advertising fields completely. Companies are taking a more innovative and personal approach to promoting their business rather than traditional media buying.
Written By: John Garcia
John Garcia is a communications intern at esd & associates working with multiple client and internal social media and public relations efforts. John holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has experience in working with agencies and non-profits.