More Mobile, More Devices: Do You Know Where Your Patients Are Coming From?

If it’s true that information is power, Mark Zuckerberg may be on his way to becoming the most powerful man in the world. Simply put, the amount of data that flows from Facebook’s nearly 1.3 billion users to the company’s servers is staggering — so huge, in fact, that it not only fuels the company’s billions-based bottom line but also provides a glimpse of the future for anyone else hoping to reach online consumers.

Case in point: Last week, Facebook announced a new cross-device reporting system that allows advertisers to see how people move between their many devices and platforms — phones, tablets, apps and the web — before they convert. Designed to give Facebook advertisers a better sense of their customers’ decision journeys — and, of course, convince them that Facebook advertising works — the system also speaks to larger developments that are likely to impact your marketing efforts whether you use Facebook or not.

Imagine for a moment, a woman sitting at home, watching Botched on her big-screen TV and considering her own rhinoplasty revision. Smartphone in hand, she texts a friend to solicit her opinion and receives the name of a local doctor who did some work for a another friend. The next day, while riding the bus to and from work, she fires up her tablet to read other patients’ reviews of the doctor on RealSelf, eventually getting back home where she gets on her laptop and sends an email to the doctor’s office requesting a consult.

For Zuckerberg and company, being able to track her behavior is just another way to promote the value of Facebook Ads. For doctors, understanding what’s driving the process will be the key to remaining relevant as time goes on:

More devices are a double-edged sword

According to a study by GfK, more than 60% of online adults use at least two devices every day and almost 25% use three devices. More to the point, perhaps, more than 40% of them sometimes start an activity on one device only to finish it on another. For doctors, this is both an opportunity as it provides added touchpoints and a challenge because it’s increasingly hard to know where your audience is at any given time.

Mobile is the future

Actually, with 60% of total digital media time now being spent on mobile devices (comScore), mobile is the present. Obviously, your website needs to be mobile-friendly — if it’s not, people will abandon it in seconds — but mobile also requires reevaluating tracking methods because traditional tracking methods, such as analyzing cookies, don’t work consistently across the wide variety of mobile environments.

Determining appropriate attribution will only get more difficult

Determining what websites, platforms and channels deliver visitors to your website is key to assessing the relative value those paths provide and determining where to focus your time, energy and marketing dollars. Unfortunately, many brands fall for the “last-click myth,” focusing on direct links and overlooking others that came before and potentially carried more weight. More mobile users using more devices will only complicate the process further.

Doctor Takeaway

Reaching mobile, multi-device consumers presents challenges and opportunities

If you want to understand the interplay between mobile and multiple devices, consider this: Of the people who showed interest in a mobile Facebook ad before converting, more than 32% converted via desktop within 28 days. Whether you use Facebook ads or not, there’s no escaping the fact that understanding how and where people use their many devices today will be the key to connecting with them in the future.

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.

, , ,