Mark Taylor, a managing partner with the interactive agency Rosetta, recently shared a few of his thoughts on the subject with me.
Med Ad News: Why is the consumer relationship with mobile phones so well-suited for healthcare marketing?
Mark Taylor: The mobile has grown into something of a remote control for our lives. It’s an always on, multi-channel interactive communication device, which we increasingly use to entertain us, to see what our friends are up to, guide us, to alert or inform us. The truly personal nature of the cell phone brings with it the potential for a symbiotic relationship between utility and marketing. For example , there are many cases of simple text messages being used to alert populations at risk in developing countries of dangerous infectious diseases. Closer to home, hospitals are using text messaging to both disseminate information to patients and to create a support structure. We have a special relationship with our mobile devices, partly due to the fact that we take them everywhere we go, people develop far closer attachments to their devices than to their home PCs or laptops. Those same PCs are also much more likely to be shared than a mobile device and therefore less truly personal. It is this device intimacy that will provide healthcare companies with unrivalled possibilities to build and maintain one-to-one relationships with their customers and potential customers based on the age-old marketing principle of the value exchange (back to the symbiotic relationship between utility and marketing).
Med Ad News: How are companies marketing using apps on the iPhone? What are a few successful examples of healthcare marketing through iPhone apps?
Mark Taylor: Many companies are using the iPhone application platform to provide marketing opportunities. Kraft Foods are proving that if you can provide relevance and value, consumers are even willing to pay for your messaging. Kraft’s iFood Assistant is now #2 amongst paid apps in the Lifestyle category of IPhone applications. Nationwide Insurance married utility with messaging in its app which enables Nationwide customers to find local resources, document an accident, and submit claims information from the accident site. In terms of healthcare applications, there is a large selection of healthcare apps; most are for data tracking, storing medical information, or reference. The most popular are either for weight loss tracking or reference - WebMD has an excellent application, for example.
Med Ad News: Where does mobile marketing fit in for healthcare brand managers in a multi-channel approach?
Mark Taylor: The personal nature of the mobile device makes it excellent for communication on sensitive topics and we are sensitive about our health. So mobile is perfect for establishing one-to-one relationships with our most valuable customers. There are really five things to remember about using mobile as a channel:
1. Mobile is part of a multi-channel approach. Done correctly, the healthcare industry can lead with mobile marketing, it should not do only mobile marketing
2. Go beyond SMS, there are hundreds of healthcare and lifestyle applications available for the 30 million iPhone and iTouch users - many more will see the light of day as Blackberry, Google and others get into the applications field
3. More than ever, be relevant. The nature of the relationship between the consumer and the channel/device makes this more than ever essential
4. Aim for response, use the channel to start conversations not to blast messages
5. As with any other initiative, establish, clear measurable goals