This article was written for the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame (HIHOF) blog by Andy Gradel. Andy is Director of Digital Marketing for Wolters Kluwer Health, where he is responsible for the health division’s digital marketing strategy. He previously held similar roles with Main Line Health, Jefferson University Hospitals and Cooper University Hospital.
In my 20 years in the healthcare digital marketing space, I have yet to meet a digital director who has truly felt their team truly had all the resources they needed. From the biggest health systems to the smallest community hospitals, every web team has knowledge gaps, and most are doing their best to keep up with the daily barrage of requests and updates.
It’s easy to spend 40 hours a week focused exclusively on the day-to-day challenges. However, what separates our “innovative organization” inductees from their peers is their ability to plan and staff not only for today’s needs, but also tomorrow’s innovations. From Mayo Clinic’s foresight to bet big on social media in the early 2000’s and Community Health Network’s dedication of resources to their first-of-its-kind patient portal or Medical University of South Carolina’s investment in developers to build custom, interactive tools, leading organizations are always keeping an eye on the future.
With budget season quickly approaching for many organizations, here are four key digital marketing roles that could position your team for future success:
Analytics and Optimization Lead
As organizations (finally) shift from vanity metrics to measuring meaningful marketing metrics, it’s more important than ever to have a subject matter expert who can not only interpret your data but ensure you’re capturing and measuring the right interactions. With the ability to track every click, scroll, submission and, ultimately, determine the MROI for every dollar spent, this role is key to constructing the narrative of your team’s success. Even as reporting expectations rise, though, a surprising number of organizations still lack dedicated resources for this capability within their digital teams, which can keep them from identifying areas in need of improvement, resulting in unrealized and missed opportunities. With the right hire, this role can quickly establish itself as a core function within any digital team and provide the data needed to build a case for future growth.
There isn’t a major hospital or health system website that doesn’t have a few thousand providers, at least a hundred different specialties and dozens of locations, in addition to thousands of pages covering conditions, tests, treatments, patient resources, blog posts and more. To expect a visitor to find their way through that maze in a couple clicks can seem like a never-ending exercise in futility. But, with the ability to personalize your visitors’ web experiences well within reach for most content management systems, dedicating a resource to help your visitors find what they need – within just a click or three – can quickly improve engagement and conversion metrics for practically every organization.
About 8 years ago, I had a vision for a healthcare provider website where every provider, specialty and location were associated with every condition, test, and treatment. With the appropriate taxonomy in place, users would be shown related doctors, offices and specialties based on blog posts, health library content, patient stories and other content they were viewing. Those relationships and taxonomy structure would be the foundation by which our entire 15,000+ page site would be built upon and managed by a mere team of 5.
While the site functioned relatively well and, surprisingly, our lean team was able to manage an expansive property – thanks to the taxonomy structure – the underlying data never evolved from an assortment of band-aids and broad assumptions to become a true source of truth for our visitors and the organization. The missing cog? A resource dedicated to overseeing the taxonomy and ensuring the data being obtained was current, accurate and granular. This is a perfect example of a role that every digital team’s future can be built on, because whatever you’re building is only going to be as good as the data that’s powering it – and your ability to leverage that data.
Marketing Automation Lead
Marketing automation platforms such as Marketo, Hubspot, Pardot and Eloqua are well established in the consumer marketing world, but a much smaller percentage of hospitals and health systems are truly leveraging MAPs to the extent they could be. HIPAA and privacy concerns are always a challenge in the healthcare space, but the upside of ensuring patients, caregivers and other audiences receive the right messaging at the right time makes it a challenge worthy of every forward-looking organization’s time.
Developing, implementing, monitoring, and optimizing nurture streams covering multiple specialties, offices and provider groups is no small task. Combined with reliable analytics (see above), effective personalization (also see above) and quality data (yes, see above), marketing automation can be your organization’s tool for driving relevant web traffic to the point of conversion at the appropriate time.