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SHSMD17 – Day 1 Recap – Time to Think Differently

Although not an official theme for the 2017 Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD17), it was difficult not to characterize Day 1 of the event as one in which attendees were encouraged to “think differently” about healthcare and healthcare marketing.

Right from the start, SHSMD17 organizers challenged the norm by holding a cocktail reception BEFORE the opening session. This unconventional approach was utterly brilliant given what they had in store for attendees in the the conference kick-off.

To get things started, local a cappella group, reVoiced, serenaded the audience with an amazing rendition of the National Anthem. They quickly followed with an impressive vocal performance that was reminiscent of an opening number from ‘Glee’. It was a pleasant departure from standard conference fare.

Opening keynote speaker, Ceci Connolly, President and CEO at the Alliance of Community Health Plans, later took the stage and gave a thought-provoking 60 minute presentation that challenged preconceived notions of healthcare’s biggest challenges. From high-deductible plans to rising drug prices to payer consolidation, Connolly repeatedly offered new perspectives and ways to re-frame issues. She ended by asking the audience to “think differently about healthcare” and suggest we take the lessons learned from seat belt safety initiatives and apply them to healthcare.

Following the keynote, attendees were treated to yet another reception, this time in the SHSMD17 exhibit hall.  A quick tour of the hall yielded a pleasant surprise – mixed in with the usual booths from marketing agencies and consulting service companies, were several technology vendors. Unlike prior years, there were a number of marketing automation providers, content management platforms and patient analytic engines.

Also noticeable was the diversity in booth messaging. There were pop-up banners everywhere extolling the benefits of expanding beyond healthcare marketing’s traditional roots. You could almost see the words “marketing as a strategic partner” floating above the LED-powered booth halos.

For me the clearest evidence of “thinking different” came in the form of a simple SHSMD17 sign – one that I felt elegantly demonstrated that healthcare marketers are approaching things from the right perspective – that of consumers and patients. It also showed that marketers have a sense of humor.

 

3 Things To Look Forward To At #SHSMD17

This week I will be heading to the AHA’s Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development annual conference (#SHSMD17) being held in Orlando September 24-27.

SHSMD is targeted at PR, communication and marketing professionals that work on the provider side of healthcare. About half of the attendees are from hospitals and large health systems. The balance are from agencies, marketing service providers and MarTech companies. In 2016, there were over 1,800 attendees along with 140 exhibitors.

As a marketer from the vendor side of healthcare, SHSMD gives me a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of what life is like for marketers inside hospitals. The terminology is the same: acquisition, impressions, conversions, and content, but the context is completely different. Most of us in the HITMC community are ultimately measured in terms of revenues and deals won. At SHSMD the measures of success are patient volume, appointment density and HCAHPS scores.

This will be my third time attending SHSMD and I’m really looking forward to it. I will be live-tweeting the event using the hashtag #SHSMD17 and blogging daily about the latest news from the conference. NOTE: If you use any sort of Twitter utility like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, I would strongly suggest adding “-booth” to your search parameters to filter out the numerous booth cattle-call tweets…which is really ironic if you think about it.

Here are the top 3 things I’m looking forward to at this year’s event:

  1. Ed Bennett @EdBennett and Cynthia Floyd Manley @CynthiaManley session Improve Patient Satisfaction with Hospital-Sponsored Online Support Groups – Monday September 25th at 11:30am. I met Ed many years ago at a #hcsmca meetup in Toronto organized by my good friend Colleen Young. Ed gave a talk about the challenge of proving the value of social media to hospitalists. His insights were spot-on and I’ve been following him ever since. Similarly I have heard Cynthia speak about her experiences at @VUMCHealth and came away with new appreciation of how hard it is to get content approved for marketing purposes inside a hospital.
  2. SHSMD Exhibit Hall. The SHSMD exhibit hall is fascinating. There is no better way to get a sense of what will be trending next year than to see what the agency vendors are displaying in their booths. In 2015 a lot of signage was centered around patient acquisition. In 2016 it was physician referral directories and matching patients to physicians within the network. As well, there is nothing more fun than to watch vendors try to attract the attention of fellow marketers. Let’s be honest, marketers are jaded when it comes to exhibit halls. We’ve all been there and done that. SHSMD exhibitors, therefore, have to work doubly hard to be noticed. If you watch carefully you can pick up useful ideas that you can use to improve your own booth experience.
  3. Connecting with great people. To me there is nothing better than connecting with people at conferences. I love catching up with old friends (like @DanDunlop and @kate_gillmer from Jennings Healthcare Marketing as well as @SarahBennight from Stericycle Communication Solutions) and trading exploits from the past year. I also enjoy meeting people in-person who I have gotten to know online. However, my favorite is meeting new people and learning their personal stories – especially how they landed in healthcare marketing.

With regard to #3, if you are heading to SHSMD or know someone who is, please let them know about the #HITMC, #HITsm and #hcldr meetup happening on Monday evening 5:30 – 6:30pm at the High Velocity Sports Bar in the conference hotel. The meetup is being sponsored by our good friends at dotHealth. We’ve set up an Eventbrite registration for the meetup – so we can get the right number of tables. It should be a fun event!

Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community Local Meetups this Fall 2017

Last fall we did a massive tour across the country doing a wide variety of local meetups (I believe 10 in total). It was an incredible experience to have a casual meetup with so many members of the HITMC (Health IT Marketing and PR Community) community including many who weren’t able to make it to the Health IT Marketing and PR Annual conference.

While we won’t be traveling quite as much this year, we are still excited to announce a number 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 from around the country attending the meetups.

Plus, for the events we’ve already scheduled dotHealth has gotten on board to sponsor the local meetups and provide everyone who attends free drinks. Thanks dotHealth!

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

Orlando – Monday, 9/25 – 5:30 PM ET
(During the SHSMD Conference)
High Velocity Sports Bar in the Marriott
8701 World Center Drive, Orlando, FL 32821
Register for the Orlando HITMC Meetup

Anaheim (Southern California) – Monday, 10/9 – 7:00 PM PT
(During the MGMA Annual Conference and AHIMA Annual Convention)
McFadden’s Anaheim
400 Disney Way, Anaheim, CA 92802
Register for the Anaheim (So Cal) HITMC Meetup

About Our Meetup Sponsor – dotHealth

dotHealth is the organization behind the launch of the .health domain extension. Just as education has .edu and organizations have .org, now the health industry has .health. .health domains are for brands, organizations, and people advancing health! Interested in learning more? Connect with a dotHealth team member at the upcoming HITMC meet up or reach out at hello@get.health!

If you’re in San Antonio or New York City, we’re considering Fall meetups there as well.  Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll be sure to send out more details.

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.

Choosing the Best CMS for Healthcare Marketers

The following is a guest blog post by Eric Martin, Vice President of Web Solutions at Influence Health.

As healthcare provider organizations quickly transition to more retail-like businesses, marketing leaders are under pressure to create seamless, personalized multichannel consumer experiences – spanning responsive websites, mobile apps, social channels and other digital touchpoints. To achieve this, marketers need to be honest in their assessment of the capabilities of their current content management system.

Traditional web content management systems (WCMS) lack intelligent solutions for sharing content across channels and devices, limit design choices and make it difficult for marketers to tailor their messages to individual consumer preferences. Contemporary decoupled content management systems, on the other hand, allow content to be created, stored and managed in a dedicated environment, independent of where it may ultimately be published. This creates unlimited design freedom, while standards-based APIs make it easy to integrate the CMS with other marketing systems.

In order to completely own the front-end presentation and consumer experience that today’s healthcare landscape demands, healthcare marketers need to pursue a decoupled CMS solution that provides their teams with the following five must haves.

  1. CONTENT MANAGEMENT AND PUBLISHING

The first step in evaluating a CMS platform is to ensure marketers and content editors find the solution’s content authoring, editing and publishing interface intuitive, helpful and highly efficient. If non-technical users can’t create and publish original content independently, in minutes without HTML, marketing leaders should move on. An elegant inline editing feature to help users visualize how content appears in the mobile or desktop environment should also be included. Finally, marketers should be able to create custom content approval and publishing workflows that go through the stages of ideation, authoring, editing and publishing very rapidly, without any IT intervention, to a variety of devices and channels including web, mobile apps, and digital displays.

  1. DIGITAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT

In today’s dynamic digital environment, content is being displayed and published to more devices and across more systems than ever before. In fact, every minute Google receives over 4 million search queries, blog writers publish 1,400 new posts and Facebook users share over 2.4 million pieces of content. This puts healthcare marketers under huge pressure to produce more and more content to a consistently high standard. Therefore, they need a system that automates key content governance processes, making identifying and fixing errors and inconsistencies simple for content authors and editors.

When vetting a solution, marketing leaders should ask if validation rules and tooltips are built directly into the authoring experience. This ensures content is compliant with standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508 accessibility requirements, as well as SEO and mobile best practices and the organization’s own brand standards. Strong preference should be given to a system that notifies users of misspelled words, broken links, or forbidden terms, before and after the content is published. By ensuring that these post-publishing auditing capabilities and workflow tools are included in the digital quality management system, users can identify and correct errors and quickly find instances of outdated content that need to be updated or removed.

  1. DIGITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT

As digital marketing teams work feverishly to feed each consumer’s ravenous appetite for digital content, a CMS solution with an integrated Digital Asset Management is now a necessity. This ‘must have’ helps teams maintain brand consistency by streamlining
and simplifying the way they manage digital assets in a central, secure way across the enterprise. This feature should track and organize digital assets with native platform integration to best-of-breed data and content sources where image files, audio and video are stored. It should also allow users to filter and classify digital assets by tagging attributes such as file type and meta-data tags (e.g. “Ortho photos”) or by creating named collections (e.g. “Oct. 16 breast cancer awareness campaign”). Further, based on their permissions, teams should be able to browse, search, move and manipulate assets across the entire digital experience portfolio from a single interface – eliminating asset redundancy.

  1. HEALTHCARE CONTENT AND INTERACTIONS

Great digital experiences enable consumers to quickly find information related to products and services and make it easy for them to complete their desired transaction. In healthcare, that means finding a physician that matches exact criteria, scheduling an appointment, getting driving directions or a phone number for a preferred location, registering for classes or events, applying for a clinical trial, and so on, easily! If not, today’s consumers are just as likely to switch providers as they are hotels.

Healthcare marketers therefore, need to seek a CMS solution that contains a robust set of healthcare-specific applications that will allow these user experience requirements to be fulfilled without expensive, time-consuming custom development. They should also ensure these solutions integrate with third-party data sources, such as physician credentialing systems and contact center applications, and are built to allow marketers, not developers, to modify the front-end presentation.

  1. DASHBOARDS AND ANALYTICS

Subtle adjustments to an organization’s content and conversion strategy can make all the difference in marketing performance. Healthcare organizations need to implement a CMS platform that displays key analytics in the same interface where their users manage content, to ensure that important insights are always front and center. They should also confirm that a solution integrates with all major analytics platforms and allows their team members to measure site traffic, A/B test results and social engagement in real-time. Further, dashboards, reports and widgets need to be fully customizable to meet each team member’s unique needs.

Ultimately, by selecting a decoupled content management system designed for healthcare, marketers are equipped with the ability to test new campaign ideas, experiment with new delivery methods such as mobile, and nimbly respond to changes and challenges in the marketplace without requiring IT handholding at each step.

Why Patient Experience Needs To Be More Than A Catchphrase


The following is a guest blog post by Yolanda Hernandez, Senior Marketing Strategist at StudioNorth.

How are Amazon and Yelp conditioning consumers to expect the same experience when they become patients?

People don’t stop acting like customers when they need medical treatment. They expect the same comfort, speed, accuracy and satisfaction they get from their favorite stores and online vendors.

But healthcare isn’t a new pair of shoes. The stakes are much higher. Patients may want the same experience as retail customers, but their expectations for security, privacy and outcomes are much higher.

That’s why patient experience (PX) is more than just a catchphrase—it’s the critical factor healthcare marketers must embrace to succeed.

Patient Expectations Forged by Customer Experience

How demanding will our patients/customers become? Today, even in a strange city, you can easily find the exact restaurant you want based on price, style and peer reviews. Why can’t patients expect the same when they’re looking for healthcare?

Most healthcare providers offer no great navigation tools, no price transparency, and no tools to answer the question, “Where do I go for what?”

The difference between what patients wish they could have and what they expect to get could narrow in the next few years. Consider these comparisons patients may soon make between the retail and the healthcare consumer experiences:

Retail Consumer Expectations Potential Patient Expectations
Easy comparison shopping Easy healthcare provider comparison
Easily accessible peer reviews Easily accessible patient reviews
Easy store website navigation Easy provider website navigation
Complete product selection Complete selection of services and specialties
Online purchases Online appointments, scheduling and test results
Instant access to billing data and automatic payments EHR and on-line billing
Interfaces that predict next purchases Predictive analytics
Cost transparency and predictability Insurance and co-pay transparency and predictability
Credit card chip readers Inpatient barcode wrist bands

For some patients, a great experience is being able to access and transfer health records online, schedule appointments with doctors quickly and easily, or check in to the hospital as if they’re checking in to a hotel with concierge services.

For others, it may involve real-time biofeedback data helping them regulate medications, for improved quality of life with fewer doctor’s visits.

For healthcare providers, all of the above will mean giant upgrades in how they gather, store, process and share data. Superior PX will require superior IT.

Winning PX Requires a 360-Degree View

When consumers shop for health services like they do for other products and services, they’ll grow to expect a high level of personalization from the companies they solicit. Providers need to have a 360-degree view of all their healthcare touchpoints and needs to win, serve, and retain them.

Forrester: Vendor Landscape: Healthcare Analytics, Q1 2017.

Yet most healthcare providers are focused on predictable outcomes, not on patient experience. That’s understandable—without predictable outcomes, it’s hard to have a product to sell—but patients aren’t interested in predictable outcomes. They’re interested in individual outcomes that affect themselves and their families.

This is where healthcare IT marketers have an opportunity to create PX breakthroughs.

The Needle a Patient Needs

Take wearables. Consumers already trust wearable fitness devices, and many healthcare organizations have made mobile monitoring a useful reality. From providing IoT data for medical supplies to monitoring how often homecare patients are taking their meds, the use cases are nearly endless.

Will patients figure all this data out before providers do?  They may have to—because there’s still a big gap within many providers’ systems.

Doctors already feel like they have too much data to deal with, and without a data strategy, most healthcare organizations simply can’t process all of their data. Finding value in all that data is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack—but if that’s the needle a patient needs, delivering it is a huge PX victory.

Healthcare IT marketers who can translate haystacks of data into needles of PX insight will dominate the new landscape of consumer-based patient expectations.

About StudioNorth
Whether it’s influencing a purchase decision, supporting your cause or building a brand people care about, StudioNorth has the depth of experience—and the resources—to make it happen.

Our campaigns integrate a strategic mix that includes traditional print advertising and marketing collateral, video production, integrated social media campaigns, digital advertising strategies, and advanced website/app development to help our clients grow and realize their goals.

HITMC Sneak Peek: Brand Building in a Time Crunch

The following is a guest post by Kelcie Chambers, Account Director at Dodge Communications.

It takes time to successfully rebrand a company, but in the world of healthcare marketing, time can often be a luxury – not a guarantee. Though many marketers are familiar with the various components that make up a successful rebranding campaign, a short time frame can impact the rules of the game.

Here are 5 ways to ensure a smooth rebranding effort when you are up against the clock.

  1. Discuss business goals and limitations openly. Transparency is crucial during every step of the rebranding process, and this is especially heightened during a tight turnaround. There’s simply no time to go down one road, only to land back at square one because of unspoken legal parameters or business conflicts. Discuss the company’s business goals openly and don’t hold anything back. This drives the purpose of the project, brings people together around a collective goal and helps avoid one-off tactics. When stakeholders are on the same page, you can be sure the end result will resonate with everyone – most importantly, your target audiences.
  2. Make research a priority. When facing an impending deadline, it can be overwhelming to consider the long list of to-dos and be tempting to cut corners. It’s important to know how and what to prioritize before you begin. Often, research and planning get the boot while marketers jump straight into tactical execution. Invest time in competitive research. Conduct focus groups. Engage detractors, not just advocates. If you don’t prioritize market research, you may set yourself up for failure.
  3. Establish milestone markers – down to the hour. If you’re up against a tight timeframe, chances are your final deadline is engrained in your mind. While it’s important to keep this date at the forefront, you must mark milestones along the way to ensure the project stays on track. When the clock is ticking, every minute counts. Set deadlines down to the hour, so deliverables and feedback are in hand when you need them. Take the time to understand how everyone on your team works, so you can cater to different project management styles for maximum efficiency and better results. Try letting go of sticky note murals, and upgrade to a digital project management tool that will allow your entire team to view project activities, deadlines, and updates.
  4. Set expectations with decision makers. Timelines and assignments aren’t just for marketers. Educate the executive team on exactly what you will need from them and when you will need it by. Bring the right decision makers into the conversation mix from the beginning, and set aside ample time to collaborate as a group. It is important to hold everyone accountable and communicate that missed deadlines can derail the entire effort.
  5. Don’t set the finish line prematurely. When thinking about a rebrand, typically a new name, logo, tagline, and look and feel come to mind. Be careful not to declare victory too early. While these components are a critical piece of the overall effort, what follows is as important as establishing the visual elements. Launching the brand is exceptionally important, from internal communications to the external rollout. Make sure that messages are reinforced regularly with PR, email automation, newsletters and other communications support.

Kelcie Chambers, account director at Dodge Communications and Betsy Martinelli, senior manager, corporate marketing at Omnicell learned these lessons firsthand when undergoing an entire rebrand and launch within just 3 months. Be sure to catch the pair’s session coming up at the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference (HITMC), “Building a Solid Brand When the Clock is Ticking.”

During the presentation, you’ll receive practical advice on how to drive a rebranding initiative on a tight timeline, including what elements need more attention than others, what deadlines are realistic and how to get all members of the team working together toward the same goals. The presenters will also describe the essential components of an effective rebranding strategy, including corporate identity development, advertising, web, social media, and public relations.

After their successful rebranding effort several years ago, these marketers continue to work together today. Hear directly from Kelcie and Betsy as they share their firsthand insights on Thursday, April 6 at 3:15 pm at HITMC.

About Kelcie Chambers
Kelcie Chambers combines years of agency experience with a thorough understanding of the healthcare and technology spaces to strategically oversee a wide variety of Dodge’s public relations and marketing accounts. Committed to helping clients strengthen their market share, she has successfully created and executed powerful integrated campaigns to enable some of the world’s most recognized brands enhance awareness, advance thought leadership and nurture demand. A news junkie at heart, Chambers’ passion for storytelling is the catalyst driving her to help companies discover the unique messaging and communications vehicles that foster relationships with target audiences and set them apart from the competition.

Customer Stories: The Holy Grail of HealthIT Marketing

The following is a guest blog post by Colleen Pinto.

With the end of the year upon us, many healthIT businesses are evaluating their 2016 marketing ROI and goal setting for 2017. Tis the season for lessons learned. According to HealthcareIT News one of the biggest mistakes healthIT companies make is focusing their marketing efforts solely on their specific solution rather than their customers’ pain points. Whether a company’s tech streamlines patient check-in or helps maximize revenue cycles, the solutions themselves are sterile – simply software or equipment. Companies need to remember that on the other end of the solution there is a physician – who is having to spend hours of his day importing data into a computer; a patient – who needs a second opinion as soon as possible; or even a loved one that is impacted.

That’s why in my role as a healthIT marketer, I am constantly drawn to the powerful role that customer stories play in healthcare. By putting a face to the product, they humanize the technology and clearly demonstrate outcomes – which is critical in the era of value-based care. As you craft your 2017 marketing programs, here are the top three ways to make the most out of customer stories in healthIT.

  1. Case Studies

Case studies are probably the top piece of content healthIT companies think of completing after obtaining a customer story – and for good reason. These pieces tell stories, make brands and technology come to life, and demonstrate momentum. According to Gartner, peer reviews also continue to be one of the more significant buying influences for tech buyers. Since case studies are written from the client point of view, it is easy for prospective customers to see how a product or service can also benefit them.

For example, say a hospital is experiencing inefficient workflows because its physicians are constantly dealing with corrupt or lost CDs containing patient images. The hospital then does a search for a cloud-based imaging solution. It comes across a case study showcasing a system that has helped another hospital not only reduce CDs by 90 percent, but has also enabled physicians to receive images before a patient even arrives through the hospital doors. Chances are that one piece of content is going to have a strong influence in the hospital’s vendor selection process.

Once a case study is complete, you can then leverage the content in inbound marketing and lead generation efforts. This includes hosting the content on your website, adding it to appropriate lead nurture streams, and ensuring it’s seen by the right buyers by distributing it via LinkedIn ads. If you have the resources, consider embedding video testimonials in corresponding case studies to make them interactive.

(Have a customer that’s not referenceable? Determine if the opportunity can provide enough detail to tell a strong story, with measurable results. If so, an anonymous case study can still be of value.)

  1. Media Relations

Case studies are just the beginning when it comes to leveraging customer stories. Next, it’s time for companies to expand the customer story’s reach even further through strategic media relations initiatives.

Imagine that a healthIT company is about to make a press announcement surrounding the latest version of its product, or wants to insert itself into a healthcare conversation that is making national headlines. Simply including a customer quote in a press release or having a customer available for media interviews will greatly increase a company’s ability to garner top media coverage. (INSIDE TIP: Bring customers along to industry tradeshows as a secret sauce to garner more media briefings and interest.)

Why? Because validation is a powerful tool. While a company’s technology itself may be fascinating, Joseph Goedert, news editor of Health Data Management notes, “What reporters want is to know what the real news is and to talk with a user about their experiences–including what went well and what didn’t go so well–to inform their peers about how best to optimize the technology.”

  1. Social Media

Social media is one of the most affordable ways to reach large and/or targeted audiences. LinkedIn’s latest report indicates that at the end of 2013, there were over 4.4 million healthcare practitioners, executives, channel followers, and opinion leaders on LinkedIn. Further, in 2014, more than 75,000 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and consultants posted 152,000 tweets a day.

With decision makers and potential customers right at your fingertips, it’s crucial for marketers to continuously leverage customer stories every day via your corporate social media channels. For example, companies can utilize customer quotes, images and videos in tweets and LinkedIn posts that link back to case studies, media articles and more. As you plan your customer engagement strategy on social media, ask yourself:

  • Does my company have a public Twitter list of referenceable customers?
  • Are case studies, testimonials, etc. in a regular rotation in our social editorial calendar?
  • Are my leadership and sales teams connected via LinkedIn to all customers and prospects?
  • Does my company welcome new customers publicly on Twitter to show momentum?
  • Does my social media manager actively engage with our customers on all channels?

Ultimately, through these collaborative initiatives, healthIT organizations will be able to effortlessly increase the reach of their customer stories more than they ever thought possible.

About Colleen Pinto
Colleen Pinto is the savvy storyteller and integrated comms catalyst at AR|PR specializing in leading and servicing a growing roster of tech clients in the healthIT and mobile sectors. Follow AR|PR: @AR__PR

Conference and Event Planning Insights from Inbound 2016

The following is a guest blog post by Patty Dickerson.

Conferences and events are an important part of most marketing strategies, so as marketers it can be a special treat to go to a conference as an attendee. A few weeks ago, I was able to attend HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Conference in Boston and came away with quite a few insights I’d like to share with the HITMC community.

Inbound Overview:

First held in 2011, the conference has grown significantly in the last five years with close to 19,000 attendees as well as over 170 sessions and eight different topical tracks this year.  I haven’t been to Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit or Salesforce’s Dreamforce so I’m not sure how HubSpot’s Inbound conference compares to them, but I did attend last year and am a regular HITMC attendee.  Compared to HITMC, Inbound can seem a bit overwhelming. It is primarily geared toward digital and inbound marketers, but in this first post, I’d like to share some ideas and observations from Inbound that can help those of us who plan events and conferences.

Conference Timing:

Inbound16 was held November 8-11 with the main conference kicking off on Wednesday, November 9th. Date ring a bell? Yup- that’s right, Inbound officially kicked off the day after one of the most polarizing elections in U.S. history. An interesting day to start, while half of the population was elated the other half was despairing, and the mood of the conference that first day was very odd. Additionally, the kick-off keynote speaker, Ta-Nehisi Coates, switched up his talk to directly address the election results. As a content marketer, I respect his decision to do so, as he was being authentic, transparent, and relevant in his content delivery. However, it did seem to polarize the conference, as well as the conference conversation on twitter. I’m sure HubSpot will think again about hosting Inbound the same week as a presidential election.

  • If any of you are planning big user conferences, be sure keep in mind any sort of external events that could impact your event.

Session Organization and Selection

Inbound 2016 had a variety of “Inbound Itineraries” to help plan which of its 170+ sessions to attend. This is a great idea for larger conferences with a variety of session options. Since I wanted a broader experience, I ignored itineraries and tackled my schedule one day at a time, focusing instead on sessions that were geared toward marketing strategy, lead generation, social media, and email marketing. Unfortunately, within the full agenda, there wasn’t a clear way to tell if the session was for beginner, intermediate, or advanced marketers, so choosing sessions based on skill level was a bit difficult. I hope that next year Inbound notes skill/experience level within a session description. This is a good idea for any large conference with overlapping sessions.

  • Group agenda options into common topic themes
  • Label sessions by skill level

One big improvement at this year’s Inbound was the ability to pre-register for sessions. This meant that if you planned your schedule in advance, then enrolled in sessions the week prior to the conference, there was no problem getting into the sessions. This was a big problem at last year’s conference and there were one or two sessions that I missed because the rooms were full. Compared to last year, I was able to get a least one interesting insight from each session, though the quality of one or two of the sessions I attended was a little disappointing.

  • Provide pre-registration to popular sessions or make sure that there is room to fit all attendees who want to attend

Conference Website and Mobile App:

For the most part the conference website, Inbound.com, was easy to use, and attendees could login to create a customized schedule from the agenda. The recommend itineraries were easy to find, but if you didn’t use them, the daily sessions weren’t listed in chronological order. This made it harder to see which sessions were being held at same time. You could tag sessions to “My Interests” then go back and view a shortened list, but the lack of chronological ordering made the session planning a little harder, which was also complicated by an automatic log out if you were inactive for a short period of time.

  • Make website easy to use
  • Order agenda sessions in chronological order
  • Provide ways for attendees to tag sessions of interest

As I mentioned previously, the session pre-registration worked well. In addition, I was able to download the calendar to my google calendar, which was vital the first day because the mobile app didn’t initially sync personal schedules from the Inbound website. The full agenda from the desktop site was available, but this required logging into the conference website within the app. Though frustrating, it was corrected the first afternoon, and personal schedules were available on the mobile app with session notifications for the duration of the conference. For any of you considering mobile apps for your conferences, it is a good idea to test the app before the conference to make sure it is set-up properly.

  • Ask attendees for feedback on the conference app before the conference starts
  • Test conference app prior to the start day
  • Fix app problems quickly

Food:

Lunch is also quite unique at Inbound, as HubSpot arranges to have local food trucks parked next to the Boston Convention & Exhibit Center where the conference is held.  Attendees with All-Access and VIP passes could scan their badge to get lunch at any of these trucks, but food was also available for purchase to those with Community passes. Most of the trucks parked within “the Lawn on D” that is located on the east side of the convention center, a bit of a hike from the west side, but doable.  Having lunch outside was risky, given that the conference was so late in the year, but the weather cooperated and while a little cool, it was mostly sunny.

  • Don’t be afraid to try something different for food, but have back-up plans.

While no lunch session or break was scheduled, food was served from 11am-2pm. This helped spread out the lines for food. I would have liked a list of the food trucks and their location so I could plan my meals efficiently, since my goal was to be able to attend sessions during the 11am-2pm time frame.  Regardless, the food was great; my favorite lunch was the Green Muenster Grilled Cheese from Roxy’s. It was a little hard to eat without a lunch area, which along with the spaced-out lunch time, made networking a bit of a challenge. Just some more food for thought (pun intended) as you plan networking opportunities into your own conferences.

  • Consider how to best optimize mealtimes for attendee networking.

Attend again?

In addition to these event planning takeaways, I was able to get some great insights from Inbound’s content sessions. Although I did get a lot more out of the conference this year than last, the price was high, especially when you pay out of your own pocket. Travel expenses would also be a factor. I’ll likely go only if I can get one of the really low discount rates, which means booking far in advance.  However, if I’m paying for the conference on my own dime again next year, I might be tempted try a new conference like Content Marketing World.  Of course, this would be in addition to HITMC which is my must attend conference.

How Can Your Company Tackle Glassdoor from a Marketing Perspective?

The following is a guest blog post by Patty Dickerson.
patty-dickerson-healthcare-it-marketing
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.
glassdoor-free-employer-accounts
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 https://www.linkedin.com/in/patricialdickerson

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.

Welcome to HITMC!

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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