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:
Boston – Tuesday, 10/18 – TBA (Near Connected Health Symposium)
San Francisco – Monday, 10/31 – TBA (Near MGMA Annual Conference)
Phoenix – Wednesday, 11/1 – TBA (Near CHIME Fall Forum)
Chicago – Wednesday, 11/30 – TBA (Near RSNA)
New York City – Monday, 12/5 – TBA (Near Digital Health Conference)
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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 — blog.drift.com/no-more-forms — 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.
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.
Since the normally scheduled #HITMC (Health Care IT Marketing and PR Community) chat was so close to the 4th of July and most of us are enjoying various summer travels, we decided that July and August would be a great time to take a break from the monthly #HITMC Twitter chats. So, enjoy your summer and find some time to spend outside with family and friends.
Don’t worry though, we’ll be back with the monthly #HITMC Twitter chats in September. Join us for the September #HITMC chat on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). Put it on your calendars and see you then.
One of the consistent themes at the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference is that the healthcare sales cycle is a long, complicated process and the process usually involves a large number of different stakeholders. There are no “impulse buys” in healthcare. It’s usually a longer, drawn out process.
With this concept in mind, it’s no surprise that we often talk about the importance of content marketing as part of a healthcare IT company’s strategy. The beauty of content marketing is that you can influence a wide group of stakeholders with your content as opposed to a salesperson who likely only builds a 1 to 1 relationship with only one person in the decision-making tree.
I recently came across this great article by Aloft Group on inbound marketing for healthcare that provided added insight into why inbound content marketing really matters in healthcare:
I recently asked a CIO at a large hospital system in the US what she finds most important in firms that she chooses to work with. I can tell you that none of the items in the above list [better patient outcomes, efficiencies, cost savings, patient safety, etc.] even came to her mind. She assumes you better be able to do those things. Her answers were interesting—and much “softer” than marketing people like to hear. She cited attributes like integrity, honesty, being proactive, intelligent and a strong listener. Not exactly something you’ll see in the standard feature/benefit column.
There’s an important lesson to be learned here. The companies that are most successful in marketing to providers are the ones that certainly solve problems, but also bring strong human qualities into their product and service mix.
But this is tricky, right? “Human qualities” aren’t something you necessarily talk about; it’s something you do. But how do you demonstrate this when you aren’t even working together yet?
How are you making sure that you position your company as one that is full of “integrity, honesty, being proactive, intelligent and a strong listener”? Are your salespeople doing that for you?
From my experience, creating the right content will illustrate your company’s intelligence and ability to listen and understand the market. It will demonstrate how you’re proactively moving the market forward in an honest and effective manner. That’s a high bar for content, but that’s what’s possible.
Of course, it’s worth noting that displaying the “human qualities” of your company isn’t something that happens overnight. Things like integrity and honesty are proven over time. However, once it’s built, it’s a powerful and unique attribute that’s hard to replicate by other companies.
It’s worth mentioning that displaying these attributes through your content is one thing. Making sure the right people are reading that content is another, but that’s a topic for a future post. Start by making sure you’re sharing the right messages and then you can start working on distribution of that content.
This chat will be an opportunity for the HITMC community to learn, explore, and experience a new social media platform together. The platform we’ll be talking about and using is Snapchat. Our exploration of Snapchat will be hosted by John Lynn (Snapchat Username: crashutah) from Healthcare Scene.
During a recent exchange, I got the idea that it would be fun for the #HITMC Twitter chats to be more actionable and for all of us to dive into a new social media platform or technology at the same time. Snapchat has become extremely popular for many people and so it seems right that we take a minute to explore Snapchat and see if it makes sense for us to use it in our healthcare marketing and PR efforts.
Like a usual #HITMC chat, we’ll be using Twitter to discuss what’s happening and for all of us to connect. We’ll also use Twitter to help people who might be having issues with snapchat. However, as you’ll see in the “topics” below, we’ll also all be spending time connecting with others in the #HITMC community on snapchat along with learning about snapchat features like stories. What better way to learn than to do? Don’t worry if you don’t know snapchat already. You’ll be in good company. The point of this is for us to all learn together. #NoJudgement
Now for the 5 “topics” we’ll be discussing: T1: Share your snapchat account so others can follow you. (Manually post or use the Snapchat share feature) #HITMC
T2: Connect with 5+ other #HITMC people on Snapchat (Tutorial). Ask questions on Twitter if you have any issues.
T3: Post a #HITMC related idea to your Story (Tutorial). Ask questions on Twitter if you have any issues.
T5: Send a message on Snapchat to someone you connected with. #HITMC
Bonus: Do you think Snapchat has value in healthcare IT marketing and PR? #HITMC
Note: Please do download snapchat to your mobile device before the Twitter chat. Yes, it will probably be best to do snapchat on your mobile while following and contributing to the Twitter chat on your laptop/desktop.
Each year at the Health IT Marketing and PR conference (HITMC), I get a lot of feedback from the community on what we can do to better serve their needs. At HITMC 2016, one of the feedback I got over and over was a desire to hold some local HITMC meetups outside of the annual conference.
With that in mind, we’re excited to announce two HITMC local meetups that are already on the books while a number of other cities are still in the planning stages and will be announced later.
HITMC Utah Meetup – Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 7:30 PM MT – The Grand America Hotel Lobby Lounge in Salt Lake City Utah – This meetup is happening during the WEDI Annual conference, so it should be a great mix of local Utah healthcare IT marketing and PR professionals along with a number of HITMC community members that are just in town for the conference. You can register for the event here. See many of you in Salt Lake City.
UPDATE: The Atlanta Meetup had a change of dates. See the new dates below. HITMC Atlanta Meetup – Thursday, June 28, 2016 at 6:30 PM ET – Park Tavern in Atlanta, GA – We’re excited to have Dodge Communications hosting the HITMC Atlanta kick-off event. At the event, they’re looking to discuss the goals of the local group, cadence for the meetings, venues, etc. No doubt there’s some great momentum for the HITMC community in Atlanta after holding the HITMC annual conference there. Register Now if you plan to attend.
We’re really looking forward to having the community grow through these local events. If you have a colleague or friend that might be interested in attending one of these events, please share it with them. Everyone is welcome!
One of the beauties of the healthcare IT marketing and PR community (HITMC) is that we’re happy to share the lessons we learned. We got to see this first hand yesterday when community member Colin Hung was live tweeting his experience at the Marketing Summit conference in Las Vegas (#MKTGnation) on the #HITMC hashtag.
This is a massive marketing event hosted by Marketo that many in the HITMC community would have love to have attended. Unfortunately, most of us weren’t able to attend, but we can vicariously attend and learn thanks to people like Colin who give back to the community by sharing the insights he gleans from the conference. We hope that more in the community will do the same as they go to other marketing and PR events.
Here’s a sample of some of Colin’s tweets from the event including the keynote session by famous actor Will Smith.
This chat will focus on “Actionable Advice for Healthcare IT Marketing and PR” and is hosted by John Lynn from Healthcare Scene. Coming out of the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference, we like to focus people on the actionable advice or ideas they got at the conference. With that in mind, we’ve focused the entire #HITMC Twitter chat on actionable advice for those working in healthcare IT Marketing and PR. No doubt, much of the advice that’s shared will come from the conference, but we certainly welcome any and all advice whether you attended the conference or not.
Now for the 5 topics we’ll be discussing: 1. What advice would you give health IT PR Professionals?
2. What advice would you give healthcare IT marketing professionals?
3. What advice would you share around health IT content?
4. What advice would you give about tools for your health IT marketing and PR efforts?
5. What advice would you give around health IT careers?
Bonus: Any other advice for healthcare IT marketing and PR professionals?
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.