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2017: New Year, New Marketing Trends - Part 2

Jan 19, 2017

As we move into the new year, it’s important to look at developing marketing trends in order to keep our digital marketing strategies fresh and relevant.

In Part 1 of this article, we looked at 2017 marketing trends related to content and channels. In Part 2, here are some more areas where we, at Greystone, agree with what a select group of marketers think will be important related to customer-centric marketing, new generation of marketers, technology/data and techniques for 2017:

Customer-Centric Marketing

  • We will see a greater focus on customer retention with increased efforts to build relationships and engage customers throughout the life cycle with content that is customized and pertinent to the individual. Marketing spend will be adjusted to invest in these retention efforts and we will continue to see CRM grow of importance in healthcare.
  • Customer advocacy will be become a strategic weapon in the shift toward giving as much as is given. In fact, Ellen Valentine, Marketing Evangelist at IBM, states that “in 2017, customer success will become a central practice for many leading organizations.” For healthcare, that means even more attention to the patient journey – both physical and virtual.

New Generation of Marketers

  • “Full brain marketers:” Specialization will no longer be a requirement. While there will still be a place for a few specialists, e.g., SEO and programmatic buying, data analysts and the such, marketing leaders will need to be more generalists who can work with both the art and science of marketing: from creative and brand design to product marketing and demand generation —and more.
  • To carry the above further, successful marketers will navigate the perfect storm of storytelling, meeting customer needs and streamlining digital interactions — three components that will be vital to the long-term success of marketing organizations.
  • And more on the above: marketing designers will need to be skilled across multiple design forms, including visual, graphic, web, production design, UX/UI, video and photography. Tech advances will aid in acquiring and perfecting new skills.
  • No more silos! As technology and strategies advance and improve, the people involved with functions such as sales, customer success, support, education and more, it’s crucial for these teams to collaborate and work with marketing. In healthcare, that means that we need to break down the departmental barriers and work more closely with our operational and service line peers. True “marketing operations” will be the new frontier for many of us.
  • The chief digital officer (CDO)—once hailed as the solution to today’s tech-heavy marketing environment — will begin to sail off into the sunset. Most organizations are in the process of making the necessary shifts in technology and culture to create digital processes. Once these shifts have been ingrained into the organizations, the CDO position will no longer be needed. This trend hasn’t taken great hold in healthcare, and may never do so.

Technology and Data

  • As Google continues to promote mobile-friendly sites with its algorithms, UX will become even more important as a ranking factor. Content that can be crawled by Google’s mobile ranking algorithm and structured data on your site will help. Smart marketers will also monitor user behavior and expectations to monitor changes.
  • Deepening customer connections and fueling strategic growth will be transformed with cognitive insights. Insight and technology will converge in new ways to advance the patient experience.
  • Advertising inefficiency will be decreased by applying improved marketing techniques and data to ad technology.
  • “Dark data,” which Gartner defines as "information assets that organizations collect, process and store during their regular business activity, but generally fail to use for other purposes,” is increasing exponentially. This huge mass of data is overwhelming for most. Thus, smart marketers will focus more on the data they already have, as opposed to trying to accumulate more data. Up to 88% of organizations do not share their own customer data between their sales and marketing departments, so there is a lot of work to be done. In healthcare, many operational and service lines aren’t sharing data with marketing or vice versa.
  • Predictive analytics: Fixed algorithms will give way to machine learning for analytics and marketing technology solutions. Machine learning can be used to more quickly spot changes in customer behavior, allowing marketers to more quickly deliver customized, personalized content.
  • The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: 80% of marketing executives believe that AI will revolutionize the marketing industry over the next 5 years.  Are many of us even considering AI in healthcare marketing solutions?


  • Customer life cycle:  Engagement efforts will shift to engaging customers throughout the life cycle. Chandar Pattabhiram, Chief Marketing Officer at Marketo, offers this equation for a new marketing formula: Inbound + Broad-based lead generation + Account-based marketing (for B2B organizations) + Paid media personalization + Direct marketing = Successful customer engagement. Are we thinking in these terms in healthcare?
  • “Center-brain marketing” will become more pervasive. Center-brain marketing brings together tools, technology and left-brain technical people together with right-brain creative talent. As we move more towards an era of machine learning, this combination will become important in achieving marketing success.
  • Chatbots, or “affordable butlers,” as some refer to them, are becoming more pervasive. Their value in streamlining transactions and collecting data while chatting with customers one-on-one is huge. Chatbots are useful on many levels, particularly with customer service. Chatbots offer a means to increase engagement without becoming intrusive or pushy. Will this come to healthcare?
What, if anything, is your organization looking to do differently or as a new project this year related to your digital marketing strategy? We’d love to hear from you and we wish everyone a great 2017 and beyond.


  • trends
  • HealthCare Marketing