HLM: How important is digital marketing to the overall marketing plan at Mayo Clinic?
Weston: It's critical, and not just for Mayo Clinic, but for the industry as a whole. Digital marketing is the primary focus of our marketing efforts. This includes seamless integration of digital social media tools allowing us to connect with patients when they need us, about the condition they are concerned about. The digital ecosystem is how consumers acquire and consume information today—especially health and wellness information. Mayo Clinic is committed to be a part of this digital health and wellness environment.
We also leverage the rich content we have to provide consumers with information about diseases and conditions, even when it is likely they may never become a patient. We view this as part of our moral responsibility—to share our knowledge and expertise to benefit others.
HLM: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) seems to have recently begun to gain mainstream traction with hospital marketing. Do you think SEM spending is worth the investment?
Weston: Search engine marketing comes with the price of entry these days. It's something you must do. With changes in the healthcare environment, and increasingly savvy digital consumers, organizations have to do more to get their brands into the consideration set. SEM will always be an important part of the marketer's toolkit.
HLM: Where do you see digital marketing for healthcare heading in the future? Will the bulk of marketing efforts eventually be online?
Weston: I think it will be similar to what we're seeing in other industries. For many there will be a need to grow brand awareness on a broad scale, and some traditional forms of marketing work best for that, but increasingly, digital and content marketing are becoming the mainstay of a marketing portfolio. Our investment in digital continues to grow and represents more than two-thirds of our current activity.
HLM: How does digital marketing enhance patient engagement?
When consumers have a moment of need, their journey goes in three directions. They ask loved ones what they should do, they ask their physician what they should do, and they search online. Mayo Clinic wants to engage consumers in each of these activities with our primary focus on interacting with them digitally.
Marianne Aiello is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.