Smartphones are everywhere. By now you can’t deny it. Whether or not you’re one of the many people who keeps your smartphone close at all times, as a healthcare marketer you must care about what the growth in mobile devices means for how people search and interact with brands.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and another 19 percent rely on their smartphone for the majority of their internet access. Most importantly for you, though, is that 52 percent of smartphone owners have used their phone to search for health information online.
In other words, mobile is where your patients are.
That should be enough of a reason on its own to invest in a mobile marketing strategy, but if you still meet resistance to the idea in your organization, there a few other compelling reasons to invest in mobile marketing.
You’re on the go, the screen is small, typing takes some effort—the mobile experience already provides enough inconvenience. If your website isn’t easy to access or use, visitors will click away to something else.
No marketer wants to deal with high bounce rates. If you think people are quick to click away from badly designed desktop websites, you can bet they’ll do so faster and with more annoyance on any website that offers a disappointing experience on their phone or tablet.
High bounce rates are already bad for SEO, but Google has also explicitly said that it’ll give priority to websites optimized for mobile in search results. Google is such an important player in how people find businesses of all types today that SEO has to be a consideration in every marketing strategy. If you want to do well in search, you need to make sure your website fares well on mobile devices.
Finally, the people who come to your website from mobile devices are likely to be visitors closest to the point of making a decision about coming in. Within an hour, 70 percent of mobile searchers proceed to take a related action. Many of your desktop visitors may be potential patients, but an even more significant proportion of your mobile visitors are likely to be.
You know you need one now, so where do you start?
Step 1: Make sure your website shows up in a way that’s easy to navigate and read on mobile devices. Using responsive design is one of the easiest ways to do this.
Responsive design typically provides the same information on different device types, but merely reorganizes it so it’s easier to find what you need and see the writing in an easy-to-read size.
The Central Family Practice website is a good example. You’ll find the same images and information, but pieces of information are stacked on the mobile website where they’re side by side on the desktop so it’s visually intuitive in each setting.
Most of your mobile visitors are also your desktop visitors because 90 percent of website viewers hop from one device to another. That means your mobile strategy shouldn’t be something you treat as completely separate from your overall marketing strategy. You should be targeting the same personas on both devices; you just need to make sure your content and design are tailored to how your visitor’s needs differ in each setting.
You can re-purpose content so it’s properly formatted for different devices. Long-form pieces you expect people to read on desktops can also be made into shorter, more scannable pieces for the mobile audience. Sometimes this may mean changing up the content itself, but in many cases, it can be as simple as changing up how it’s organized.
MedicineNet’s mobile page on sciatica has the same sections and information as its desktop page, but it provides a list of links on the main page to make it easier for users to jump to the section that’s most relevant to hem.
Don’t assume branching into mobile should automatically mean creating an app. Evidence suggests that while mobile users do make use of apps, they mostly stick with a few main ones they use frequently, rather than wanting to download something new for all of the mobile websites they visit.
Create an app if you want to offer your customers information or services that they can use the app to get frequently enough that it’s worth the download.
Texas Children’s Pediatrics created an app for parents with a sick child. These are busy people dealing with something stressful. There’s a good chance they’ll want to find answers while multitasking, which means both that they’re more likely to be using their phone and that they’ll want to get to those answers easily.
That’s a situation where an app is more useful than navigating to a website: Condition-specific information, navigation to and within the hospital, and keeping track of medications are all likely to be useful in app form in a way that your blog content and website copy won’t be.
An app may be worth developing for your audience, just make sure you consider carefully if it’s the right choice for what you’re trying to achieve.
It’s easy to want to hold off on dealing with every new trend that hits marketing, but mobile is one trend that’s proved to have staying power and a significant amount of influence on a website’s success. If your hospital hasn’t started to treat it as an important part of your inbound marketing strategy, now’s the time to start.