The Digital Crystal Ball: 5 Healthcare Marketing Trends to Watch for in 2014

digital marketing, 2014, trendsIt’s (almost) 2014 — do you know where your patients are?

Increasingly, they’re on their computers and smartphones, on the Internet and on social media, researching procedures, reading reviews and narrowing the search for that one special provider who will perform the procedure they’re interested in.

Along the way, they’re encountering trends and technologies that help them become more empowered than ever, the same trends and technologies that you’ll need to monitor to ensure that your digital marketing efforts are in sync with their needs, concerns and online activity. Here are 5 that promise to grow in importance in the year ahead:

Online video

To say that online video is exploding is an understatement of epic proportions. Americans currently watch more than 1.2 billion videos a day and video content accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic. From video advertising to rolling selfies via Vine, Instagram and other platforms, those videos constitute the most actively shared content on the Internet. If you want aesthetic consumers to share your content, now’s the time to start recording.

Natural language search

The new movie, “Her,” about a man who falls in love with his operating system, is fictional but it’s safe to say that consumers are having an increasingly Siri-ous love affair with voice-based search. Rather than typing questions into a search box, they’re speaking into their devices, conducting so-called natural-language searches that promise to redefine the results they receive. Released six months ago, Google’s Hummingbird update is just the beginning.

Google+

Speaking of the 800-lb. gorilla of online search, Google+ will likely shed its “ghost town” image in the coming year. It already boasts more than 540 million users — more than Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram — and it’s bound to grow for one simple reason: As the “social layer” for the rest of Google’s offerings (YouTube, Gmail, video Hangouts, etc.), it’s becoming increasingly embedded in the services millions of people use every day.

Price transparency

The average nose job or butt lift may not be covered by insurance, and therefore outside the realm of Obamacare; nevertheless, price transparency will increasingly become the norm for all medical treatments. Covered or not, patients already have ample access to pricing information, which will put more pressure on doctors to post their prices and/or explain how they focus on providing the best value not the lowest cost.

Wearable technology

Does Google Glass belong in the OR? Can a smart watch encourage healthier activity in your patients before and after surgery? At this point, there’s no clear answer but it’s increasingly clear that the combination of wearable tech and the rise of life-logging offers the potential to gather and share a tsunami of data regarding a patient’s lifestyle and medical history. How that information is used (or misused) will be another trend worth watching in 2014.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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