Yesterday, we wrote about the growing number of online ratings for health plans, health care provider organizations, and clinical professionals (see Succeeding In The Online Ratings Game – First, Know The Score). Why does this matter? Because whether we like it or not, and whether you agree with the rating systems or not, consumers, referral sources, and payer managers are influenced by these ratings. And ratings will affect your referrals and your contract rates.
Our question for management teams – do you know the online ratings for your organization, for your clinical professionals, for your health plans, and for your competitors? And, do you know if your competitors are posting their fees, and how you stack up? To succeed in an era of online comparison shopping, managing your online reputation is an integral part of your marketing plan.
So what to do? The good news is, those organizations that properly manage and optimize their online reputation will have the edge – the key will be to manage the overall ratio of positive and negative factors from search engine rankings, performance ratings, and consumer reviews. In our work with OPEN MINDS clients, I recommend a five-part “blueprint” for a winning online consumer marketing strategy.
Step One: Understand your current online footprint – It’s impossible to make improvements to anything if you don’t know your starting baseline. Before constructing a “plan” to improve your online reputation, you need to start by analyzing your rankings (those we discussed yesterday), your search engine ranking position, and any online comments and reviews of your organization and your clinical team.
Step Two: Work on the basics – The more you manage an online consumer marketing strategy, the more sophisticated that strategy can become. But it’s a mistake to “run before you can walk”, because all continued marketing must build on getting the basics right. Do an assessment of your “in-house” platform (your website, blogs, press releases, etc.) – and whether you are maximizing the reach of your current content online.
Step Three: Develop a consistent reputation management strategy – Looking at your online footprint one time doesn’t take much of a strategy. The key is tracking it over time, and addressing the issues that arise on a consistent basis. Improving your online reputation means developing a regular schedule for “online management work.” This means setting guidelines for employees, and developing a standard procedure (if “X” happens, then we do “Y”) for handling whatever situation arises. Attempting to handle each occurrence as a “one off” will only drain executive team time and resources. An easy first step toward a more robust monitoring program is to set “Google Alerts” for your company name so you are notified when it is being mentioned on new webpages and social media channels.
Step Four: Expand your online presence – If you have done steps 1-3, you should now have a good picture of how consumers “see” you online, and you know enough of the basics of online reputation management to expand your presence. This means utilizing “cause-related” social media and blogging that is designed to reinforce your market positioning and focused on your target customer groups – consumers, referral sources, and payers. Also, be sure to list your organization and your clinical professionals in appropriate online directories (e.g. Google Places, Wikipedia, Superpages, Yelp, and Angie’s List). Also, at this stage, your team can start to develop strategies that encourage positive reviews and comments from your current customers.
Step Five: evaluate, reassess, and adjust your strategy – The online environment changes way too fast to “sometimes” manage your online reputation. Even a great strategic plan can’t be a “one and done” effort. The key to regular improvement and sustaining a great reputation is to track changes over time, and then make the adjustments to ensure those changes are for the positive. The key question is, are you seeing a positive ROI from four perspectives – financial, risk management, digital, and brand?
Remember, this process is not always whether your investment will make an immediate impact, but what will happen if you don’t develop a consumer marketing strategy. For more on these important topics, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:
- Where Does Your Organization Rank Online?
- How To Win (Or Lose) Online
- Can Your Customers Find You Online?
- You’re Being Rated – Like It Or Not
- What Are Your Online Professional Standards?
- Are You A Winner Or A Loser With Consumers Online?
- Marketing Is Dead! Long Live Marketing!
And don’t forget to join us on June 17, when we join Todd A. Landry, Executive Director, Lena Pope; and Cynthia Odom, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Skyland Trail, for our session, Running A Best Practice Digital Marketing Program: Using Online Marketing & Social Media To Your Advantage, at the 2015 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute.