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In Just One Year, New Media Marketing has Come a Long Way, Baby

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, July 8, 2009

This time last year, as we finalized the list of winners for the 2008 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards, the pickings were slim in the new media marketing category—it had the smallest number of entries by far. (We didn't even have a new media category in 2007, the first year of our program.)

And there were even a few campaigns entered into the new media category that didn't use new media at all. (Seriously, people—direct mail and billboards are not new media.)

What a difference a year makes.

In this year's contest, new media marketing is one of the most crowded fields. And it's not just about volume. The healthcare organizations that entered the 2009 awards clearly have a much better grasp not only on what, exactly, new media marketing is, they're also doing it much better.

Our contest is unique in that we place a lot of emphasis on goals and objectives, measurement, and results of marketing campaigns. That's part of the reason we only gave out two new media campaign awards last year. Both were large hospitals: Oakland, CA-based Kaiser Permanente and UK Healthcare in Lexington, KY.

Kaiser's new media effort built on an existing recruitment campaign. They created banner ads with subtle animation to get browsers' attention. The ads expanded when the user rolled his or her mouse over the ad to reveal copy about the benefits of working for the organization.

UK redesigned the site for its Markey Cancer Center, creating seperate portals for the three groups that use it—patients, medical professionals, and researchers. (Previously, the content for these three different audiences was all jumbled together.) They also strengthened the branding on the site, added a clear call-to-action, and made it easier to navigate. (The redesigned site looked much better, too.)

As for measurement, Kaiser's rich media banners allowed it to gather data on click-through rates and took that metric a step further by tracking how many of those visitors actually submitted an employment application.

UK didn't track data on the first iteration of its site—the shift to carefully measuring traffic and other analytics on the new site impressed our judges.

As much as the judges loved the 2008 Kaiser and UK campaigns, though, this year's competition would give them a good run for their money.

Healthcare organizations are creating truly integrated campaigns using a wide spectrum of tactics, from service-line specific microsites to online videos and podcasts featuring physicians and patients. They've created interactive widgets. They've built social networks. They've created user-friendly online find-a-doc programs. They've redesigned their Web sites not just to make them prettier (although most of them are visually striking) but to make them easier to navigate and more useful to their audiences. The sites have more content—not just an archive of press releases, but robust information that consumers, physicians, and staff will actually want to read.

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