Great Ideas for Marketing and PR at Healthcare Conferences – #HITMC Twitter Chat Topics

HITMC Twitter

It’s time for our next Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (HITMC) Twitter chat. The chat will be held on Tuesday, November 1st at Noon ET (9 AM PT). To participate, follow the #HITMC Twitter stream on your favorite Twitter tool and add #HITMC to all of your tweets.

This chat will focus on “Great Ideas from Healthcare Conferences” and is hosted by John Lynn, Founder of Healthcare Scene. We’re in the midst of the busy fall healthcare IT conference season. No doubt you’ve come across booths, exhibits, giveaways, experiences, etc that have taught you how to be a better health IT marketing and PR professional. In this chat, we’ll focus on the great ideas you’ve seen, heard, experienced, and learned from the various Healthcare IT conferences you’ve attended.

Here’s a look at the 5 questions that will serve as the framework for the discussion:
T1: Which conferences do you attend and which audiences are you looking to attract at those conferences? #HITMC

T2: What features make a good (ie. effective from a marketing/PR perspective) booth? (Examples Welcome!) #HITMC

T3: Have you seen giveaways be effective? How and what giveaways? #HITMC

T4: What are some examples of bad booth behavior, design, etc? (Avoid Company Shaming Please) #HITMC

T5: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten about marketing and PR at conferences? #HITMC

Bonus: As an attendee at #HITMC (or other similar event), what’s the most valuable part of the conference? #HITMC

We look forward to learning from your experience and insights to conferences you’ve attended. Be sure to put the full schedule of #HITMC Twitter chats on your calendars.

How Can Your Company Tackle Glassdoor from a Marketing Perspective?

The following is a guest blog post by Patty Dickerson.
In the previous post, we looked at how Glassdoor could be impacting your company’s brand and impacting sales. Social media management is time-consuming and tackling another network might not be an immediate priority on your marketing to-do list. However, there are four quick steps you can take to proactively address your company’s brand on Glassdoor.
1. Check that your company’s Glassdoor profile is accurate:
Even if your company has never looked at Glassdoor, if an employee has reviewed your company, there’s a Glassdoor profile for it. Which means, even if Glassdoor isn’t a priority, you should at least make sure your company’s logo and profile information are accurate.  It’s also important to check that the information provided is consistent with your brand messaging.

2. Read your company’s reviews and CEO ratings:
If your company has a Glassdoor profile, it likely has at least one review. Read through the reviews, look for common themes – good and bad. Start to think about who needs to be aware of the reviews. Hold off on responding until you have a thoroughly defined response plan.

3. Engage with your human resources team.
If Glassdoor isn’t already on your human resources team’s radar, I’d be very surprised. Set up some time with them to look over your company’s current profile, reviews, and ratings. Discuss who else needs to become involved, and if there are any big issues, who can help address them.

4. Build out a Glassdoor engagement plan.
Just as engaging with people on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter requires thought and often a response plan, so does addressing Glassdoor reviews. Who is going to respond? How should he/she respond? When should a review be escalated?  These are some basic questions to consider as you build out your response plan. Responding is very important. As Chestnutt also wrote in his Pulse post, “ companies who choose not to engage are missing out on important opportunities.” For more ideas on how your company can build out a Glassdoor engagement plan, check out this SproutSocial blog post by Jim Conti.

Interested in learning more about Glassdoor? Check out the following blog posts and resources:

About Patty Dickerson
With a background in healthcare program management and editing, Patty Dickerson’s passion for content and digital marketing helps keep the HIT companies where she works on the pulse of what’s happening across the healthcare and technology industries. Patty has worked at a range of healthcare tech companies including NaviNet (now part of NantHealth), Curaspan, and MedAptus. Prior to working in healthcare IT, she managed a variety of Continuing Medical Education programs at Boston University School of Medicine. She has a MBA in marketing with a health sector focus from Boston University and BS in psychology and communications from Fordham University, where she was also a member of the NCAA Division I swim team. An active #HITMC and #HealthITChick twitter chat participant, Patty can be found on twitter at @PattyLDickerson or on LinkedIn at

Marketing Automation Software: Are You Using it Right?

The following is a guest blog post by Jennifer Michelle, Founder of Michelle Marketing Strategies.

Marketing Automation

You fought to get it, you worked hard to set it up. Now you need to justify that investment.

The question is, can you?

Too often, companies wind up using only a small portion of the features their software offers them. Maybe they focus only on email marketing. Maybe they never got around to adding progressive profiling on their forms. Scarier still is when features are being used incorrectly and no one on the team is aware of it.

Here are the questions you should be asking to make sure you are getting the best out of your marketing automation software.

Visitor Behavior

The actions people take on your website are the first area of focus. Are people successfully downloading your white papers? Are they responding to the follow-up emails you set up? Are they requesting demos?

Problems in this area are the most obvious and are easily prevented by testing during program set-up. However, sometimes problems arise down the line when changes in one part of the software inadvertently impact your programs. For instance, you may not have realized that you need to flag emails in trigger campaigns so they are not affected by weekly email limits. This kind of beginner error can lead to people downloading reports but receiving nothing. Luckily, it is easily remedied by regular reviews of your programs and communication limits.

Your Sales Team

Think about how your team – marketing and sales – uses your software. Are the right people being notified when someone downloads a report or watches a video? Is the notification somewhere they will be sure to see it? (It’s no good showing an alert in your CRM if your sales team just focuses on their email.)

Go beyond simple alerts – find out if your team really understands your workflows and what kinds of nurture programs you have set up. Yours would not be the first marketing team to discover sales representatives are building emails by hand when you have already designed templates. Or, worse, that they are sending emails off manually on the same days you are sending automated ones.

This goes hand in hand with lead scoring. Does your team understand how your lead scoring system works? More importantly, is it working the way it should? Review your top scorers and see if they truly are your best prospects. Review your low scorers, too, and see if any good leads are being missed.

Have a Strategy

You cannot get the most out of your software if you have no roadmap. Plot out your workflows and regularly review them to make sure they still match your goals. Then compare them with your automated programs and look for discrepancies. Do you have redundant workflows? If so, is that intentional?

Take a peek at your content strategy. Does new content get added to your ongoing nurture programs? Is your sales team aware of your new content or your thought messaging goals? Your content is designed to help your sales team close deals; make sure they are in the loop.

Look for Gaps

Think about your audience segments – both prospects and customers. Are there nurture or re-engagement programs targeted to each segment?

Review the capabilities your software  offers – are you using all of them? If not, is that by design? If you are using them, can you see ways to use them more effectively? For instance, If you use forms, have you set up progressive profiling?

Can you measure results by individual program as well as by marketing channel? If so, are you making use of that information? Are you able to track not just Clicks and Downloads but also Customer Acquisition Cost, Lifetime Value and Return on Investment?

Best Practices

Most marketing automation companies offer a thorough knowledge base of videos and articles on every feature. Use it. Even if all you do is browse through the topic areas, you may discover features you need but didn’t realize you could access.

Some companies also have communities or user groups that can help answer questions or show you new ways to use their software.

Whenever possible, have your Account Executive set up templates for workflows and reports so you have something to refer to. (Be careful not to overwrite these!) You may also be able to arrange a time with them to review your programs.

Most of all, set up a schedule to regularly assess your marketing automation programs. As these are central to your lead generation and analytics activities, you need to know how they are performing. Review visitor behavior and see how your sales team is interacting with your leads. Find out how well the sales team understands your content strategy and workflows. Look for aspects of the software you could utilize more fully.

Regular reviews help you stay on top of the details and ensure you are getting the most out of your marketing automation.

And that’s how you justify your investment.

So busy you can’t see the forest for the trees? Let Michelle Marketing Strategies conduct a thorough assessment and make sure your marketing is working the way you planned. Assessment packages address marketing automation and are available for Lead Generation, Marketing Analytics and Adwords.

Announcing the 2017 HITMC Awards – Submit Your Nominations

After last year’s successful Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (HITMC) Awards, we’re excited to bring back the 3rd Annual HITMC Awards. We were extremely impressed by the number and quality of submissions to last year’s awards and so we can’t wait to see the creativity, expertise, and skill that’s been on display again in the Health IT Marketing and PR Community (HITMC) and will be nominated this year.

If you have a campaign, a social media marketing effort, an exhibit hall booth or an exemplary healthcare marketing and PR effort you think was great, we’d love to have your submissions. Feel free to submit your own campaigns or recognize your colleagues. We want to hear about the best, most interesting, most effective, most creative campaigns we can find. Please don’t nominate any campaigns or efforts that have been nominated previously or that happened previous to 2016.

Here’s a list of the HITMC award categories:

  • Best Trade Show Theme or Campaign
  • Best Content Marketing Program
  • Best Social Media Program
  • Best Creative
  • Agency or Marketing Department of the Year
  • Marketing or PR Professional of the Year (an individual)

We don’t like long lengthy submission forms that discourage people from sharing a great campaign, so we’ve made the HITMC Award nomination form as simple as possible. We’ll be closing the nomination period on Friday, December 16th.

The winners will be selected by a panel of expert judges and each HITMC Award category winner will be recognized during the 2017 Health IT Marketing and PR Conference in Las Vegas. We’re excited to see all the creative things that are happening in healthcare marketing and PR.

If you have any questions about the HITMC Awards, please reach out to us on our contact us page. We look forward to seeing the very best in healthcare IT marketing and PR!

Submit Your Nominations Now!

Is Ignoring Glassdoor Hurting Your Company’s Brand and Impacting Sales?

The following is a guest blog post by Patty Dickerson.
As a B2B marketer primarily focused in the healthcare tech industry, when I think of social media networks, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook naturally come to mind. For many of us, these are the key social networks we use as we try to engage with prospects, customers, and employees. Depending on the type of product you are trying to market, there may be other networks that you also focus on (Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc), but there’s a good change that you use at least two of the three key networks on a regular basis. I’d like you to consider adding another network to your key marketing social networks list: Glassdoor.

Is Glassdoor a Social Network?

I bet you are asking “Glassdoor? Isn’t that a recruiting tool, not a social network?”  Well… yes and no. Glassdoor is a great recruiting tool, but it has also evolved into network that allows companies to engage with past, present, and prospective employees. Glassdoor has enabled companies to connect with employees and prospective employees anonymously in a way that hasn’t been done before: Not only can Glassdoor members review and provide feedback on a company, the company can respond back and proactively engage with members through the company updates.

Why Should Marketers Care About Glassdoor?

“Isn’t Glassdoor the responsibility of human resources?” is probably your next question. Yes, but the marketing team should also take note and even get involved. Employees are one of the greatest assets that a company, and its marketing team, has. According to Brandon Chesnutt in this LinkedIn Pulse post, employees are “a key audience that cannot be ignored.” Why? Bottom line, employees make great brand advocates. One of the very first ways for companies to start building followers and engagement on social media is to utilize employees, and Glassdoor is another great opportunity to do this. A good employee review on Glassdoor doesn’t just help attract good job candidates; it helps build the company brand by giving a glimpse into the company culture.
In addition, Glassdoor has great SEO. Glassdoor company reviews can, and often do, come up in coveted search positions. As with other social networks, linking Glassdoor to your company’s website and sharing links back to your site on Glassdoor can help your own sites SEO ranking. And, like your website and other social accounts, the strength of your Glassdoor profile, and likely search results, is tied to how accurate your profile information is, how often you update the profile, and consistent engagement with Glassdoor members.

Glassdoor’s Application Beyond Marketing and HR

Back in 2012, Gordon Andrew aptly stated on his blog Marketing Craftsman that, “Glassdoor has become an important research tool for job hunters, corporate recruiters, and anyone looking for unvarnished behind-the-scenes insight into what really goes on behind corporate doors.” The key thing that stands out to me here is the “anyone.” Since Glassdoor profiles, reviews, and CEO ratings can turn up in search results, “anyone”, including prospects, customers, partners, and investors, has the potential to come across a good or bad review. With that in mind, Glassdoor has the potential to impact sales, partnerships, and investor relationships.

To start, let’s take a look at the company reviews. With the anonymity that Glassdoor provides, employee reviews are pretty revealing and can give a glimpse into management across the company or even provide insight into how well a product is developed. Yes, some reviews are rants, but like Yelp or other review sites, readers take note when the reviews are consistent. The same goes for the CEO ratings, and when combined with company reviews, can give prospects, partners, and investors, an idea of not only who is leading the company, but his/her management style and the level of respect employees have for the leader of the company.

If you work for a large healthcare organization that’s looking make a big purchase of a healthcare IT product, partner with a healthcare IT vendor, or even invest in the company itself, wouldn’t you want to know how the company is being led and if employees believe in the product? I’m not sure healthcare organizations are aware of the power of these reviews and ratings yet, but the potential is there for Glassdoor to evolve into vetting resource for prospects, partners, and investors.

In my next post, I’ll look at suggestions on how your company can tackle Glassdoor.

About Patty Dickerson
With a background in healthcare program management and editing, Patty Dickerson’s passion for content and digital marketing helps keep the HIT companies where she works on the pulse of what’s happening across the healthcare and technology industries. Patty has worked at a range of healthcare tech companies including NaviNet (now part of NantHealth), Curaspan, and MedAptus. Prior to working in healthcare IT, she managed a variety of Continuing Medical Education programs at Boston University School of Medicine. She has a MBA in marketing with a health sector focus from Boston University and BS in psychology and communications from Fordham University, where she was also a member of the NCAA Division I swim team. An active #HITMC and #HealthITChick twitter chat participant, Patty can be found on twitter at @PattyLDickerson or on LinkedIn at

Health System Marketing and the Value of Physician Profiles – #HITMC Twitter Chat Topics

HITMC Twitter

It’s time for our next Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (HITMC) Twitter chat. The chat will be held on Tuesday, October 4 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). To participate, follow the #HITMC Twitter stream on your favorite Twitter tool and add #HITMC to all of your tweets.

This chat will focus on “Health System Marketing and the Value of Physician Profiles” and is hosted by Amanda Bury, Managing Director of Healthcare at SIM Partners. During the HITMC Twitter Chat, Amanda will lead a discussion of the importance of physician profiles, and the importance of accurate location data so that healthcare systems are visible when and where patients are searching for them.

Now for the 5 topics we’ll be discussing:
T1: What is the number one way patients are digitally finding your healthcare system? #HITMC

T2: What is, or do you think is the most visited part of a health systems website? #HITMC

T3: Physician directories are the number one place patients are going. How are you powering this area to be a patient acquisition tool? #HITMC

T4: How is your healthcare system managing your location and physician data across Google, Yahoo, Bing, Apple Maps, etc? #HITMC

T5: What other industries is your healthcare system looking at to disrupt the patient journey? #HITMC

Bonus: What other tools (such as online scheduling/star ratings) is your health system utilizing to give patients a retail-like experience? #HITMC

We look forward to exploring health system marketing and physician profiles as a HITMC community. Be sure to put the full schedule of #HITMC Twitter chats on your calendars.

Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community Local Meetups this Fall 2016

Coming out of HITMC 2016, many people wanted the opportunity to get together in their local communities with others from the HITMC community. I loved the idea since there are many people who can’t make it to the Health IT Marketing and PR Annual conference. Plus, if you’re anything like me you need a little bit of HITMC to tide you over in between conferences.

With that in mind, we’re excited to announce a whole series of HITMC Meetups that will be happening across the country this fall. Many of the events will coincide with other Healthcare IT conferences, so we’ll hopefully get a good mix of locals and HITMC members attending the various conferences.

Here are the local meetups we have on the schedule so far:

Utah – Wednesday, 9/28 at 7 PM MT
Water Tower Plaza at Thanksgiving Point
3003 N Thanksgiving Way Lehi, UT 84043 (MAP)
Register for Utah HITMC Meetup

Atlanta – Thursday, 9/29 at 6:30 PM ET
Marlow’s Tavern
2200 Avalon Blvd, Alpharetta, GA (MAP)
Register for Atlanta HITMC Meetup
*Thanks to Dodge Communications for helping organize the Atlanta meetup

Baltimore – Monday, 10/17 – 7 PM ET (During the AHIMA Annual Convention)
TIR NA NÓG Irish Bar & Grill
201 E. PRATT ST., 2ND FLOOR, Baltimore, MD 21202
Register for the Baltimore HITMC Meetup

Boston – Tuesday, 10/18 – 7 PM ET (Near Connected Health Symposium)
40 W 3rd St, South Boston, MA 02127
Register for the Boston HITMC Meetup

San Francisco – Monday, 10/31 – 5:30 PM PT (During the MGMA Annual Conference)
Perry’s San Francisco
155 Steuart St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Register for the San Francisco HITMC Meetup

Phoenix – Tuesday, 11/1 – 5:30 PM MT (Phoenix Time) (During the CHIME Fall Forum)
twenty6 (Inside the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa)
5350 East Marriott Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85054
Register for the Phoenix HITMC Meetup

Chicago – Wednesday, 11/30 – 5:30 PM CT (During RSNA)
44 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Register for the Chicago HITMC Meetup

New York City – Monday, 12/5 – 7:00 PM ET (During the Digital Health Conference)
District Tap House
246 West 38th Street, New York, NY 10018
Register for the New York City HITMC Meetup

As you can tell, we’re still finalizing the venues and times for many of the meetups. We’ll update this post as those details are finalized and registration for the local meetups is opened. If you live in one of these cities and have suggestions on great locations, we’re all ears.

See everyone at these local meetups and please share them with your friends and colleagues that might be interested in being part of the Health IT Marketing and PR community.

Marketing Automation for Healthcare IT

The following is a guest blog post by Jennifer Michelle, Founder of Michelle Marketing Strategies.

Preparation is Everything

If your company is venturing into the world of marketing automation, the first step is to make sure you are clear about what features you need and how you intend to use them. A little preparation before you start reviewing vendors can save you a lot of hassle – and a lot of money.

First and foremost, sit down and plot out your lead flows and your funnel. Think about how you reach out to people and what triggers you will use to shift people into different levels of nurture. Do this for all your audience segments, as well as all stages of your funnel.

Think also on how you want to notify your sales team about new leads or upsells. Are there specific triggers you will want to signal a transition from MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) to SQL (Sales Qualified Lead)?

Then look at the bigger picture: what capabilities will you need beyond email automation and lead scoring? Do you need the ability to track marketing costs? Do you want to create reports on program outreach and success? Do you need help tracking search engine rank and links? Do you want to replace your CRM or integrate the one you currently have? Do you need web design or landing page design capabilities?

A Note about Demos

When you start scheduling demos, don’t get stuck considering only the big names, like Hubspot, Marketo or Pardot. These are all good products but, in the last couple of years, several new vendors have appeared on the scene that offer tremendous capabilities for far less money. Before you make any decisions, see demos of Drip, Active Campaign and SharpSpring, too.

To get the most out of your demos, include people from a variety of your teams. Including people from your IT and sales teams can bring in new perspectives and give you critical information before you have signed a contract.

Above all, ask a lot of questions. If they say they can do something, ask them to show you. This is especially important if you are switching vendors due to problems with your existing automation software. If that is the situation you are in, be clear about the problem you are experiencing and make sure they can show you exactly how their system can handle it.

What Do You Get?

Once you know what you need, find out what each vendor has to offer. Make sure they do full-on marketing automation and not just email automation. See how they structure funnels and workflows – does their approach make sense to you?

See if they sort leads via lists or tags. Does their system have the flexibility you are looking for?

Make sure they can create triggered campaigns (such as you would use when someone downloads a white paper) and scheduled/manual  campaigns (such as newsletters or trade show invitations).

Find out if their emails, forms and landing pages are responsive. See if they offer reporting functions or financial tracking. Ask how their lead scoring system works. What options do you have for notifying your sales team of new leads or lead behaviors? Do they offer a shared calendar so your whole team can see what outreach is occurring?

If you are looking for a replacement for your website, does the vendor offer that? Do you like the way they set up blogging and web pages?

Consider also whether they give you data on web traffic or SEO. Do they integrate with Google Analytics? What about social media? Can they help you schedule posts or track visitors from your social media accounts?

Also check out their CRM features. Can they integrate with the one you have? Do they offer their own built-in CRM?

Look up online reviews and ask for customer references. These are a smart way to ensure you are getting full information on the product. These are also the best places to get information on customer service.

Ask about Service

No matter how great the features, it all gets thrown out the window if the customer service is awful. Find out what you get ahead of time, including whether there is a user community or knowledge base.

See if they will set up program templates for you or if they will work with you one-on-one while you learn. Find out what templates you get out-of-the-box and whether they can be branded. Do they offer templates for emails, landing pages, forms and workflows?

Get Technical

Great features mean nothing if the system is always down, so get clear data from the vendor on system uptime and email deliverability rates. Find out what kind of technical requirements are needed to run the product and integrate it with your website. See what kind of support the vendor provides if you are ever flagged for spam or blacklisted.


Price is always a big factor in the equation. Find out exactly what you are getting for your money. Some vendors offer a free trial or money-back guarantee, which is always a plus. Also consider how many users you get and what adding more would cost.

Ask if training and ongoing support are included. If not, what do they cost? Are they offering support by phone, email, chat or an online database? Are there obligatory launch or kickstarter fees?

See if programmatic support is billed differently from technical support. For instance, does your fee cover a question about why an email was not delivered but not cover a question on best practices in setting up a campaign?

Could you get what you want from a less-inclusive vendor if you supplement with less expensive apps? For instance, if a less expensive vendor has everything you need except landing page design, would it still save you money to get them plus LeadPages? If they don’t offer a shared calendar, can you make do with Google Calendar? If they don’t provide search engine optimization tracking, can you get what you need from Google Analytics?

As with any sale, you can often get a better deal if it is getting to the end of the quarter. If you are switching from a competing vendor, they may also be willing to cut you a deal. Above all, make sure you are protected from big increases when your first contract expires.


When shopping for marketing automation, due diligence is the key to a good outcome. Plot out what you need ahead of time and go into your demos prepared. Ask questions and be sure each vendor shows you exactly how their product works.

When you do all that, you are already 95% of the way to a successful implementation – so you can make your choice with confidence!

New to marketing automation? Let Michelle Marketing Strategies conduct a thorough assessment of your needs and help you select the right marketing automation vendor for your company. Campaign, lead scoring and reporting help is also available.

Sponsored Content in Healthcare Marketing – #HITMC Twitter Chat Topics

HITMC Twitter

It’s time for our next Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (HITMC) Twitter chat after a nice summer break. The chat will be held on Tuesday, September 6th at Noon ET (9 AM PT). To participate, follow the #HITMC Twitter stream on your favorite Twitter tool and add #HITMC to all of your tweets.

This chat will focus on “Sponsored Content in Healthcare Marketing” and is hosted by John Lynn from Healthcare Scene. One of the most popular topics discussed at the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference is sponsored content.  As healthcare marketing has evolved, most organizations are evaluating sponsored content as a part of their larger PR and marketing strategy.  However, it’s a challenge to know how to do sponsored content effectively.  Join us for this Twitter chat to discuss your experience with sponsored content and learn from other people’s insights.

Now for the 5 topics we’ll be discussing:
T1: Why do you do sponsored content or not do sponsored content? #HITMC

T2: What are the keys to doing sponsored content effectively? #HITMC

T3: What benefits have you seen from doing sponsored content? #HITMC

T4: Is it better to create the content on your own or outsource the content?  Why? #HITMC

T5: Where are the best sponsored content opportunities? #HITMC

Bonus: What’s the right balance between sponsored, earned and owned media? #HITMC

We look forward to exploring sponsored content as a HITMC community. Be sure to put the full schedule of #HITMC Twitter chats on your calendars.

Answering your Content Marketing Questions from #HITMC

This is the first in a two-part series addressing the user-generated questions that were posed during the “unconference” session focused on content at last month’s Health Care IT Marketing and Communications Conference (HITMC). I asked session facilitator Don Seamons of Lumeno Marketing to join me in sharing his answers to each question in his own words. We hope this leads to further discussion, especially for those who were unable to attend the session.

HITMC content marketing
HITMC attendees listed questions about content marketing that were addressed during the “unconference” session.

The 2016 HITMC in Atlanta served up two days of excellent education and networking. Cases in point:

  • Both of us learned a great deal from an “unconference” session on health IT content marketing. Don facilitated an hour-long discussion on content marketing that included about 75 people from across the HITMC spectrum.

The unconference session was jump-started by 11 topics/questions written by HITMC attendees on a poster throughout the show. Don facilitated the session and Jared shared some opinions, but we agreed there was more we wanted to say on these topics. So, through the good graces of John Lynn, our opinions are published for you below. We’d love to see your opinions in the comments section.

1. How is accountable care changing IT marketing?

Don: This is an intriguing question. I can’t say with certainty that accountable care changed the way we market health IT, but it did come to the forefront of the health care industry at about the same time that content marketing was starting to take hold of the marketing profession. Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, not many people in the health care industry understood — or even knew about — the concept of accountable care or its corollary: value-based care. Because it was an unknown, health care organizations were able to shape the thinking around this critical topic through content such as white papers, eBooks, infographics, case studies, videos, etc. Instead of becoming a top-down exercise, opinion was shaped from the bottom up. And as a result, many industry experts who happen to be employed by private for-profit and not-for-profit businesses are seen by the market as thought leaders. That helped build the brand of the organizations for which these experts work, and, at least from my perspective, showed health IT businesses that content marketing works.

Jared: As a result of consumerism in health care being accelerated (not caused) by the ACA, health IT vendors can gain a competitive advantage and position themselves more strongly by adding the voice of the patient in their marketing. While everyone says that they are focused on patients, few actually include the voice of patient advocates and end users in their marketing because it requires moving away from discussing their products or services. Consider learning more about the Society for Participatory Medicine or looking to well-established patient advocates such as Linda Stotsky, Casey Quinlan, “e-Patient Dave” deBronkart, Bernadette Keefe, Hugo Campos and others to better understand what patients truly are demanding from health IT.

2. Is the press release extinct?

Don: There’s a place for the press release in health IT marketing, and there likely always will be. Although the media industry is in flux, journalists and editors still function as gatekeepers to audiences we want to reach. So, here are a few suggestions to keep press releases viable:

  • Have something to say. Press releases have a well-deserved reputation for being uninteresting. Don’t waste your time on something unimportant to your audience.
  • Write well. Nothing bugs an editor more than poorly constructed sentences, spelling errors or grammatical fails.
  • Remember the long tail: If your only purpose for writing the release is to get your corporate keywords on “the wire” and drive search engine traffic, you may think you can get by with a shabby release. But words get read by people, not just bots, and they reflect on your brand forever once they’re online.

Note: The press release as a means for driving Google juice is getting less effective as SEO turns more to social media as a means of assessing relevance.

Jared: The press release still has its place, but not in the same way. The strategy of bombarding media contacts with a steady stream of press releases about your company’s awesomeness is no longer the pipeline to media coverage and is obsolete at best. “Corporate” announcements such as winning industry awards, landing big health systems as clients or hiring a new CIO can still strengthen your brand, but only in smaller doses. The competitive advantages goes to firms that learn how to sprinkle press releases in with a strong presence of engaging content and sharing with influencers.

3. Gating

Don: To gate (put content behind a “gate” via a web form) or not to gate (give away content in the hopes that it will be seen by more people)? That is the question. I say do it. For sure. It’s the means by which modern B2B marketing works. You can’t call someone a lead if you don’t have relevant details on that person. And what’s the point of tracking a person via marketing automation without knowing who you’re tracking and how to contact that person? So have a strategy. In general, make introductory content free, but as the content increases in value to the prospect, start asking questions via forms. Ask a few at a time, then slowly build out your prospect profile.

I must say that I fear that in the nearer-than-comfortable future, we’ll be able to track visitors without gating. Much of the information we’ve shared as web consumers either knowingly or unknowingly is already for sale, and as it becomes more widely available, it’s going to get cheaper and easier to access. But I think for the sake of your brand, you’ll want to build a relationship with prospects that is based on permission and trust. So gate. And offer. And ask.

Jared: This one seems pretty cut and dry for me. Map your content to your sales funnel and determine your objective, as well as consumer expectations, for that type of content. You would typically gate content if your objective is to fill your funnel with actionable prospects whom you can nurture over time.

Be mindful of making a form too long or cumbersome. One session attendee said her analytics showed that the strongest turn-off was making phone number a required field. Find the balance between the amount of information needed at that point in the customer journey and your ability to reach your objectives.

Of course, then I read this article about one company’s decision to do away with all gated content — — and wondered if I’m right after all.

4. Quantity vs. quality of content

Don: As a writer who thinks pretty highly of his skills, I say go for quality. Quantity without quality is damaging to your brand. That’s especially true in health care. Tell authentic stories (shout-out to @ctrappe), ones that speak to your expert audience. If they’re not authentic, interesting and well-told, it won’t matter how much content you have.

Jared: I have written and talked a lot about this topic. The answer is more obvious than some want to admit; aim for both! In fact, it’s still highly possible to lose the quantity battle but win the content war. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 76% of B2B content marketers plan to produce more content in 2016. Quantity is important, looks good on the surface and tends to increase top-line traffic. Quality can be more difficult to assess, but quantity means absolutely nothing without it. Focus on finding the angle or expertise that makes you different, and avoid adding to the noise at all costs.

5. Cost

Don: How much should you pay for content? It depends on how much a prospect is worth to you. Marketing value always comes down to return on investment. Good quality content has a cost, but it also has value. As you determine your marketing budget and estimate your lead value, make content part of the equation.

Jared: Common methods to reduce content costs include repurposing content, amplifying well-performing content and curation. (Although I tend to only prescribe curation in moderation.) Budget for owned, earned and paid promotion of your content. The mix of all three tends to give the chance of the best ROI.

6. Distribution options

Don: As distribution options expand, go where your audience goes. We can compare our audience to water. Like water, the audience flows through channels and takes the path of least resistance. As a marketer, it’s been relatively easy in the past to find that path. Television and other mass media were like massive rivers of audiences. We just needed to dip our buckets into the rivers to capture what we could; the bigger the bucket (or the bigger the spend), the more we could capture. But things are different these days. The rivers of mass media have been diverted into smaller channels. It takes some effort to find the creeks and rivulets where our audiences are running. And rather than dipping buckets into the water, we’ve got to get into the water and go with the flow. The mass media rivers, while smaller, are still effective. But the social media creeks are highly targeted and can yield more value in niche markets such as health care IT.

Jared: I assume this is referring to which channels to publish in and the debate of building on “rented” vs. “owned” land. I subscribe to Gary Vaynerchuk’s unconventional answer from his new book, #AskGaryVee:

“Most people try to tell new marketers that they need to own their content and keep it on their own site so they can monetize it, usually with low-paying ads. The problem is that when you’re only posting on your own site you’re at the mercy of the traffic that goes there. For most people that’s not a huge number, or at least it’s not as many visitors as they’d like. But if you post content on sites where the potential for virality isn’t dependent on your popularity but on the quality of your content, you can gain a lot of followers … In short, don’t worry so much about owning and monetizing your content, especially early on. Get it out whatever way you can.”

Stay tuned for part two of the series, and let us know what you think in the comments.

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We're glad you found the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (or as we affectionately call it...HITMC). This blog is a place for healthcare IT marketing and PR professionals to come together and share their insights, skills, expertise with other people trying to make healthcare better through the use of technology. This blog grew out of the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference which is held annually. We look forward to connecting and learning from you. Please feel free to reach out to us on our contact us page if you have any questions.

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