Today’s consumers are becoming increasingly more involved in their health care decisions. They often turn to the Internet as their first source of information, but must often navigate a labyrinth of health-related websites and content to find what they need.
Almost every health care organization—from hospitals to physician practices to pharmaceutical companies to insurers—has a website. So, when it comes to establishing an online presence, health care organizations need to cut through the vast clutter of the Internet to personalize—and localize—their marketing, communications and content.
For this reason, the medical community is starting to embrace online geolocation technology, or the automatic identification of online users’ geographic location.
The Timing Couldn’t Be Better for Geolocation in the Medical Community
While other industries have long recognized the value of geolocation in their online initiatives, the medical community is just now coming on board. There are a number of reasons contributing to this movement:
- A shift toward consumer-directed health care. As consumers are increasingly asked to take bigger stakes in their health care, they crave the necessary information to make more educated and frugal health care decisions.
- Evolution of the Internet as a viable information channel. The Internet as a channel for health information and communications is well-suited to fulfill consumer expectations for instant access, service and interaction. It is inexpensive, easy to use, provides access to a wealth of information, and exposes consumers to a global health care network.
- Rewarding online consumer experiences within other industries. Internet shopping and online experiences in other areas, such as social networking, are helping to shape the expectations associated with supplying digital information and services within the health care industry. In particular, consumers relish the responsiveness and choice they get from Internet shopping as well as the interaction that comes with social networks. These experiences are helping shape online initiatives for the medical community.
Geotargeting Helps Online Marketers Go Local
Whether the goal is to create an instant connection with a first-time site visitor; to drive success for online marketing campaigns; or to ensure the right content is in the right hands, today’s geotargeting technology provides the type of all-in-one tool to take online interactions in the proper direction—toward a closer relationship with your online audience a little closer to home.
The most innovative geolocation solutions allow any type of online health care organization to identify the location of online visitors down to a zip code level, without invading user privacy. This new generation of technology, called IP Intelligence, which is based on users’ IP addresses, can also uncover other valuable information such as connection speed, Internet Service Provider (ISP) and domain name, providing a more accurate picture of online traffic.
Applications for geolocation technology include:
Targeted Online Advertising and Promotions – Enables online marketers to increase reach, relevance and response for online marketing endeavors.
Content Localization – Provides the tools to move away from “one-size-fits-all” web content and instead deliver relevant information, language, currency, products and promotions.
Geographic Rights Management – Allows companies to adhere to licensing, marketing and regulatory rules and agreements in conjunction with the promotion of products within certain geographic areas.
Analytics – Offers companies a new way to view and analyze online data to improve web performance and site effectiveness.
Address Multiple Business Needs, Meet Online Goals with One Technology
The best practice is to start small. Implement geolocation technology within your web initiatives where it makes the most sense, and then expand to include other areas where cross-functional value can be achieved.
Specific examples of how online marketers within the medical community are using geotargeting in their online initiatives:
- Targeting the promotion of new services (i.e. state-of-the-art mammography) in relevant regions.
- Offering discounts on specific services and procedures (i.e. LASIK or cosmetic surgery).
- Automatically showing the nearest location of doctors’ offices or affiliated clinics, labs, or other medical facilities.
- Allowing hospitals to build community-based loyalty programs by connecting directly with people in the local area—delivering information on philanthropic efforts, upcoming events and patient forums.
- Giving health care organizations the ability to show local health screenings throughout the country without users having to search for local events when they visit the main website.
- Providing pharmaceutical companies with the ability to restrict the necessary product information in certain countries, notify consumers of local drug trials and patient education forums, offer regional disease and vaccine materials, and highlight corporate philanthropic efforts in specific areas.
Through a single technology, marketers can address multiple business needs and succeed in meeting a wide array of distinct online goals.