Marketing’s 5-Year Plan: Implications for Healthcare Marketers – Part 2
Here’s part 2 of my reaction to Advertising Ages Marketing’s Next Five Years: How to Get From Here to There. Part 1 is here.
THREE. Measurement Should Focus on Outcomes, Not On Reach
Instead of focusing on reach and awareness, Creamer suggests engagement – a deeper understanding of just what advertising does – is where advertising needs to go.
He quotes Ted McConnell, EVP Digital at the Advertising Research Foundation saying, “What I hope you will see in digital media… is that measures of exposure will become comparable and reliable and that measures of engagement will try to glean what happened inside a brain.”
(Let me chuckle for a second, “what happened inside a brain…” Right. OK.)
Measuring the success and impact of advertising campaigns (always a nebulous term) should be simple: You spend X and receive Y in sales. Creamer points out the reason measurement needs to change is because “advertisers have over time received less return on their marketing budgets…”
All marketers are seeing the landscape fragmenting, the number of channels increasing, attention spans decreasing. Back in 2008, Cluetrain Manifesto author Doc Searles dubbed the fragmenting internet landscape, The Splinternet.
For marketers, the Splinternet makes marketing much more complicated. Now you first must find out where physicians and consumers are, you need to engage them on their terms within those media, finally, you need to measure the results of those interactions, report those to your clients, and demonstrate return on investment so that they will continue to hire you. It’s a far cry from spend X and receive Y in sales.
In their September 2011 report on The Splinternet – A Social Computing Report, Forrester says,
“Fragmentation is a double-edged sword in terms of measurement: It generates massive amounts of data from which to perform measurement, but the sheer volume of potential metrics can cause paralysis or misdirect unsuspecting marketers. Fortunately, firms do not need to measure all the data, they just need to measure the right data, shifting from breadth-based approaches to focus on depth in measurement strategy. This entails defining [Key Performance Indicators] at multiple levels: first for channel-specific activities to determine tactical success, and second, a set of global KPIs to support standardized measurement and attribution across channels.”
The report continues,
“measurement is a top challenge for adapting to fragmentation. The failure of measurement to keep pace creates significant barriers to adoption for marketers because respondents simultaneously indicated that uncertain ROI is the top barrier to adopting new channels in their organizations. The source of this issue lies in the fact that most firms only measure basic metrics rather than deep, business-oriented performance indicators.”
If I’m reading this right, the issue isn’t measurement per se, it’s defining what you want to measure up front. Given fragmentation, it also means being open to testing and measuring the results of marketing in new channels.
I find this to be very exciting because it means that digital marketing is evolving to a point where audiences are only marketed to where they want to be engaged. Measurements can be done quickly, content modified accordingly, and effectiveness determined real-time.
FOUR. User Experience is the New 30-Second Spot
Here’s a big idea: User interaction and user experience need to be thought through and applied to every place a consumer interacts with a brand.
Think about the consistency of experience you have come to expect from Starbucks or McDonald’s before them. Think about Apple’s seamless experience from web store to physical Genius Bar.
[Digression: I love this recent BBC article on how Apple has become a fashion brand masquerading as a technology company with one, become a fashion brand masquerading as a technology brand with one goal: Getting you to buy more.]
If you are building a brand, consumers – whether healthcare providers or consumers – expect that you will provide them with an experience.
Because we’re moving into a world where marketing is splintered, multichannel marketing is critical and whatever channels are deployed need to have a common user experience.
According to the above-mentioned Forrester report,
“Customers want everything to be the same across all touchpoints and devices. Customers also expect everything to be available instantly. They send an email and expect a response within hours not days.”
(One of my pet peeves is a web site that doesn’t use a simple autoresponder to thank me for signing up and waiting for acknowledgement.)
Creating a consistent user experience doesn’t have to be expensive. The WordPress platform today allows you to create a very professional looking web site for hundreds of dollars. The plug-ins associated with WordPress, ShareThis for example, would have costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop and integrate 10 years ago. Today they are free. But the brand experience, the story you tell, the way you tell it on the web, in mobile, across platforms, in person, needs to be consistent and should be thought about as an experience. Otherwise, you will get lost in the fray.
FIVE. Merge Marketing with Technology
Creamer points out that by 2017, the brand and technological experience will have merged. For this reason, marketing and IT pros need to work together. He says, “it’s pretty clear that in the future every company will be a tech company as consumers become more gadget-obsessed and marketers of all stripes deal with tech-enabled tools.”
Going back to Forrester’s report on The Splinternet,
“success today depends on the mastery of multiple disciplines… Firms must take a multidisciplinary approach to harness the opportunities that the Splinternet presents. Technology, organization, process, and measurement are all interrelated contributors to a marketing organization’s effectiveness.”
This means every company needs to be a content company that uses technology to get their message out. The content, the story, along with the user experience is the key to success. Buying technology is easy. It is the the engine that through which the content is published, marketing is deployed, and results measured. Developing the story, the processes is more difficult.
If you don’t have a great story, no technology is going to help you succeed.
Healthcare faces numerous challenges when it comes to marketing, so being creative and able to understand and use technologies is essential for marketers. Creamer’s five-year on predictions are likely wrong but the ideas and the To Dos he offers are very useful. Most of his predictions, I believe, will come to pass long before 2017.