Yesterday, my colleague, Monica E. Oss, discussed serving consumers directly via direct private pay services (see Winning In The Private Pay Market all members). If this targeting of consumers is part of your growth or sustainability strategy, you may want to pay attention the following two statistics recently reported by Google:
- 60% of health care consumers are now “researching” their various treatment options online before making a purchasing decision.
- 84% of these consumers are making their purchasing decision online before ever calling or entering a business.
What does that mean for treatment providers? Roughly 50% of the private pay consumers — as well as the consumers with new or expanded health care coverage in your market — are deciding where they will receive treatment solely on what they see online.
Startling as that number is, it will only get larger with each successive generation, and as the current population continues to age. This is why the organizations with a strong online presence are winning the early stages of the battle for consumer-driven referrals, and why managing your online presence will need to be a big part of your marketing strategy if you wish to compete in the coming years.
Before you can effectively manage your online presence, you’ll need to understand “the three R’s” that affect it most:
Search Engine Rankings — 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. Therefore your positioning on these search engine result pages is often the first impression a consumer has on how you stack up against your competitors. Are you above or below alternative treatment options? Are you even listed? These answers could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential revenue.
Online Performance Ratings — This may come as a surprise, but your consumers do not trust you. In fact, 76% of American consumers believe health care-related companies do not tell the truth in their communications and informational materials. On the contrary, 78% of American consumers say online ratings are the most credible form of information. This is why federal (Medicare Quality Care Finder, see CMS Quality Measures – The Tail Wagging The Dog all members), Payer/Health Plan, and third-party (Healthgrades, see Performance Matters – When It’s In The News all members) rating websites are quickly becoming a critical element to managing your online presence. How these websites report your performance in key measures such as outcomes, quality, safety, and more go a long way towards influencing your target consumers.
Consumer Reviews — When your purchasing something on Amazon, do the comments and consumer reviews affect your purchasing decision? I’m guessing yes – and the same is true in health care where 83% of American consumers say online reviews influence their decision-making. Where will your target consumers see these reviews? New search engine functionality called “integrated search” is integrating them into regular search engine result pages (such as Google and Bing). This means both moderated reviews (screened, often verified and tracked reviews linked to government or payer/health plan websites) and “open source” reviews (mostly un-moderated and verified reviews appearing on third-party websites, social media groups, blogs, and forums) can directly alter how your target consumer is perceiving you online.
Tomorrow I’ll discuss my five step blueprint for a “Winning” Online Consumer Marketing Strategy. For a sneak peek, check out my recent presentation from The 2013 OPEN MINDS Innovation Institute, Consumer Marketing In The Age Of Health Care Reform — How To Win (Or Lose) Online .
For another free resource, see: Get Marketing Leverage With Web Marketing & A Social Media Plan all members