We’ve reached the tipping point where the most creative, engaging and action-driving digital marketing initiatives that were originally designed specifically for the Web can be a wasted investment. This is due to the fact that the majority of your audience is likely seeing this content on their smartphone and it’s not optimized for the mobile channel. Case in point, for the first time ever, smartphones outsold PCs this year, and that ratio will only continue to grow.
Mobile devices provide immediate access to information, anytime, anywhere. For example, patients can conduct research from within the doctor’s office or refill prescriptions on the go; people who exercise can check-in to their gym and track their fitness regimen; dieters can update their diet-trackers; and sport coaches can find the nearest doctor -– with directions -– should anything happen at out-of-town tournaments.
So, what’s the prognosis, if you’re not mindful of the growing audience using mobile devices? If the content isn’t optimized for mobile, then that new “find our nearest locations” button is probably too small to see on your customer’s Android screen and that great site-intro developed entirely in Flash won’t be seen from any Apple devices. This results in marketers running the risk of losing loyal customers, if their mobile web experience isn’t all encompassing on one device. Think of full customer service lines, decreased access to information and other missed-connection opportunities.
Many companies in the healthcare industry have already optimized mobile experiences for their patients and customers –- and with each example I’ve provided below, there are lessons to be learned to ensure an optimized digital experience for all users, making it that much easier for consumers to access information from any device.
Recognizing Healthy Mobile Attributes
Understanding that an increasing number of patients accessed their website via the mobile Web, earlier this year, Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the United States, launched an optimized mobile site. The new site means that Kaiser Permanente patients can now access their own medical information, securely and from anywhere in the world, through any Web-enabled device. Kaiser Permanente hopes to greatly increase the customer experience by featuring 24/7 access to lab results and diagnostic information as well as providing direct and secure email services with their doctors via a site that has fast load time, automatically scaled to the device’s screen size and providing easy navigation and scroll features. By focusing on the services that matter most to their patients, the company expects mobile traffic “to increase significantly with the new mobile-optimized site.”
Walgreens and CVS are two examples of pharmacies that truly understand the priorities of customers that are accessing their storefronts via mobile. In both their smartphone apps and optimized mobile Web sites, customers are able to input and/or scan their prescription barcodes for quick and easy refill orders. Additionally, these two sites feature a consumer-friendly navigation system with efficient scrolling features as well as e-commerce capabilities. Upon accessing the site, customers have the option to immediately download their respective smartphone apps -– a feature that more loyal and frequent customers surely appreciate.
Mobile Web and smartphone apps are only a part of the larger mobile experience. It’s also important for healthcare and wellness companies to think of the big picture and get creative with customer engagement. For example, Foursquare’s badge system is perfect for pushing patients to reach their goals. The company partnered with HealthMonth to introduce new Foursquare badges while making life improvements and help “increase the chances of actually making meaningful changes.”
Speaking of social, it’s time that marketers embrace their mobile-social customers. As I’ve mentioned before, healthcare marketers need to leverage the social Web. Many individuals are looking to their social groups for advice, information, counsel and resources – such as this woman who is grateful for the ability to quickly and easily share a photo of her son’s rash, which allowed a neighbor to identify the rare condition and intervene at a crucial time! Further, with about 40% of Facebook users coming in via mobile, Facebook has been placing a lot more attention on its mobile strategy, rolling out a multitude of mobile features for brands, including premium mobile ads and the new mobile-friendly Timeline layout for brand pages. How is your company’s social presence optimized for mobile users? Are the links, photos and features accessible via Facebook mobile?
Stay ahead of the curve to ensure that your customers are able to access the information, resources, products and services that are most important to their brand experience. Take note of trends like social gaming and Pinterest – activities that pull both mobile and desktop users. Aetna took note of the gaming trend and teamed up with social gaming company Mindbloom to offer Life Game, a “rewarding and effective way for Aetna’s members to make lasting improvements in their physical and emotional well-being.” And while Pinterest doesn’t currently feature a health, medical or healthcare category, this destination reaches an engaged community of mostly younger females -– the same segment that is responsible for most health and medical-care decisions.
Key Takeaway: Mobile is NOT an Afterthought
Mobile should be built into marketing efforts. Understanding both where and how your customers and patients are discovering your business will support in optimizing mobile experiences and ensure that engaging, informative and resourceful content is accessible to any consumer, from any device.
Nice article Ron. I've been thinking the same things and also that SMS texting could be used by doctors to better communicate with their patients. So many good reasons to use the technology to make it better for both patients and doctors.
Speaking as someone in the industry, the biggest barriers are usually regulatory in nature - or at the least the fear of regulatory. Still, there are some great examples in your article that can help spur some discussions. And there's no reason basic content as presented already can't be better optimized for mobile users - something we're pushing hard for.