January 18, 2017

Think “Paid, Earned, and Owned” to Succeed with Location Marketing

By Jon Schepke

Think-Paid Earned-and Owned-to Succeed with Location Marketing

One of the most significant research reports of 2016 was published way back in March: the Forrester Wave for search marketing agencies. This report assesses the strengths and weaknesses of marketing agencies that provide search marketing expertise. But the report is also useful because it discusses trends that affect the way agencies help clients master search. I read these evaluations carefully to identify white spaces of opportunity for companies to grow their businesses through search, especially local search.


The 2016 evaluation uncovered a number of white spaces, such as the reality that many brands and agencies continue to focus narrowly on search tactics, seeking value from organic search and efficiency plays for paid search without thinking holistically about search as a strategy. In my recently published Search Engine Land column, I urge marketers to adopt a broader approach to search. In doing so, businesses should reframe their metrics to measure the value of combined paid, earned and owned media. I discus how a SIM Partners client that implemented a comprehensive organic and local search strategy lowered its blended cost per lead from $80 to $31.67 for pay-per-click advertising.


Check out my column and let us know what white spaces of opportunity you have uncovered in search. We’d love to help you improve your location marketing approach. 


January 16, 2017

Healthcare Creates an Omnichannel Future

By Brian Westrick

Healthcare-Creates-an-Omnichannel-Future-SIM Quick Take

Northwell Health, a network of 21 hospitals in based in New York, recently shared how the healthcare system is making a move toward providing omnichannel care. As reported in Internet Health Management, Northwell Health is developing a portal that will give patients telehealth services ranging from management of personal records to physician booking. Internet Health Management describes the portal as providing “omnichannel care” because the healthcare system is combining the offline experience (going to a hospital) with online (using the portal).


Our take: the article demonstrates how much progress healthcare systems need to make in order to become omnichannel. Being omnichannel means that a business provides a connected experience across the entire consumer journey, from awareness to becoming a customer. Doing so requires delivering the right content in the right touchpoint, ranging from mobile to social.


Leading-edge retailers have built omnichannel experiences that have influenced patient expectations of healthcare providers. As discussed The Healthcare Guide to Omnichannel Discovery, recently published by SIM Partners, patients live in a world where they can reasonably expect to order a shirt from and pick up the product in store, with the sales clerk having knowledge not only of the transaction but also of the customer’s purchase history. That expectation transfers to healthcare.


Patients expect healthcare systems to travel across devices and channels with them. They want accurate and complete information about physicians, their specialties, and insurance covered, and essential data such as hours of operation whether they’re visiting a healthcare system’s website, researching a ratings/reviews site, or calling a physician’s office. They want to book an appointment online and offline through any device or channel. When patients arrive at the physician’s office, they expect the physician to possess complete knowledge not only of the appointment details but also of the patient’s history.


A patient portal like the one being developed by Northwell Health is technically not a completely omnichannel experience, but it is an important building block. And kudos to Northwell Health. You don’t create an omnichannel experience by waving a magic wand. You build one piece by piece, by harnessing data, content, and experiences across multiple devices and channels. Healthcare systems like Northwell Health are building an omnichannel future.


Contact SIM Partners to discuss how we can help you develop an omnichannel patient access and experience strategy.

January 12, 2017

SIM Partners Predicts What’s Next for 2017

By Jay Hawkinson


Connected devices. Empowered millennials. Omnichannel discovery. They’re all elements of the rapidly changing location marketing industry. Not long ago, location marketing meant local search, and indeed near-me searches for places to go and things to buy remain an essential element of location marketing. But businesses with brick-and-mortar locations continue to think of location more broadly, and local discovery in a more contextual way, as consumers find what they want on their own terms, and brands tap into discovery channels ranging from Snapchat to Instagram in order to be present where near-me searches occur. At SIM Partners, we’re constantly thinking about the direction of location marketing. Here are a few predictions for 2017, direct from the people who are immersed in the industry: our own people.



  • The healthcare industry will continue to see a more comprehensive transformation to create digitally enhanced patient services, which is partly driven by the trend in healthcare consumerism. Patients will be more active in establishing their own digital ecosystem, where they determine where, when, and how they are searching for care. — Daisy Hoang


  • The use of augmented reality (AR) will grow significantly due to the success of apps like Pokemon GO. While the use of AR will grow in apps similar to Pokemon GO, brands will refine their approach to drive more interactions with their brick-and-mortar locations. Businesses will leveraging AR in apps to interact with in-store displays, offer in-store only coupons in real time, and allow customers to order special sizes of an item or items that are out of stock. This richer functionality will add an element of fun to shopping in store and attract a large amount of younger generations who prefer to shop online. — J.D. Blue



  • Voice search will play an even bigger role in local search queries given the uptake of connected devices across cars and homes. The need to be present in micro-moments of consumer decision marking across the omnichannel world will be even more critical with segments ranging from millennials to baby boomers. Brands will focus on making their location data available and actionable to engage in these moments of search. — Jay Hawkinson



  • Google My Business Pages will provide editable features and details. It will be even more important for brands to claim and manage all locations within a GMB dashboard. — Charles Vail


  • Mobile will reach 70-percent of all searches in 2017, hitting a peak. The number of mobile searches will continue to increase year over year but at a much slower rate, growing at a rate in step with increases in overall searches. — J.D. Blue


  • Similar to what we saw in 2016 with the unsuccessful push of beacons to SMBs, chat bots and instant messaging will prove to have too low of a ROI to gain widespread adoption at the SMB or national/local level. — Adam Dorfman


  • The importance of AMP pages will rise in search rankings, and spammy clickbait headings will be penalized further in search rankings. — Charles Vail


  • Healthcare systems have been traditionally slower in adopting technology compared to their retail and banking counterparts. However, we will be seeing a much more accelerated of cloud adoption in healthcare — and a greater number of digital health companies offering their solutions via a SaaS model in the cloud. — Daisy Hoang


  • Because of issues like massive data breaches, bid rigging from top agencies, digital traffic reporting errors in Facebook, we’re seeing a lack of trust toward marketing agencies and brands alike. In 2017 there will be a major shift towards transparency and cybersecurity for both brands and marketing agencies, creating major opportunities for startups that can solve those issues at a much faster rate then large corporations. — J.D. Blue


What are some of your predictions for this year? Connect with us — we’d love to hear what’s on your mind.

January 11, 2017

Wearables Fit Healthcare

By Eric Borchers

A SIM Partners QuickTake


BlueCross and Blue Shield of Tennessee recently revealed that the insurer is giving members who own Apple Watches access to BCBST’s native AlwaysOn mobile app. AlwaysOn is a wellcare app for managing members’ health, including diet and exercise. The Apple Watch integration is part of a larger BCBST effort to make wellness management data from its patient portal available to users via mobile devices and wearables. The news came weeks after Aetna said it would help its members pay for an Apple Watch provided they use the wearable for wellness management.

Our take: for years, wearables have been perceived as a nascent technology, but the healthcare industry is helping wearables go mainstream as healthcare providers look for ways to shift the focus of healthcare from treatment to health maintenance. The Mayo Clinic recently announced an agreement with Gentag to develop wearable biosensors used to combat obesity and diabetes, and healthcare systems ranging from Massachusetts General Hospital to the VA are exploring how to use wearables to manage patient data and provide services.

Wearables are a natural fit for healthcare systems because of wearables’ monitoring abilities and also because wearables, when well designed, is a natural extension of a patient’s body. The Apple Watch, as it refines its own user experience, may be a big winner as wearables take hold — the Cleveland Clinic recently reported that the Apple Watch is the most accurate wearable for measuring one’s heart rate.

To understand how healthcare systems engage with patients, get to know wearables better. Contact SIM Partners to discuss how we can integrate devices such as wearables into your location-based patient retention strategy.

January 4, 2017

Why Data Amplifiers Are Powering Location Marketing

By Adam Dorfman


In 2017, data amplifiers are exerting more influence over location marketing as local search and omnichannel discovery converge.

Data amplifiers consist of data aggregators (such as Neustar) and publishers (such as Google) that share a business’s location data across the digital world, where people conduct “near me” searches. It’s imperative that businesses with multiple locations share their location data with these amplifiers instead of taking the scattershot approach of directly managing their location data across tier-two directories. Due to their scale and reach, data amplifiers deliver more payback for a brand’s location marketing investment.

And data amplifiers are becoming even more important as consumers adopt more devices and channels to discover brands. As Google notes, about 60 percent of online consumers start shopping on one device but continue doing so on another. No business can possibly hope to keep up with omnichannel consumers — but the good news is that they don’t have because data amplifiers efficiently distribute brands’ location information no matter where consumers are searching for them.

My latest Search Engine Land column discusses in more detail who the data amplifiers are and why they are increasingly important in an omnichannel world. Check out my column, and contact us to discuss how we can help you succeed with location marketing.

December 21, 2016

Winning in Patient Engagement

By Sara Khan


Patients expect healthcare systems to deliver a more cohesive patient experience from awareness to care in an on-demand environment. They want healthcare systems to possess the kind of seamless service across channels that they get from the best retailers. But how can healthcare systems succeed in this era of patient engagement? These key points were addressed during a webinar SIM Partners hosted along with guest Forrester delivered on December 15.

The webinar, “Winning in Patient Engagement” was hosted by Amanda Bury, Managing Director, Healthcare of SIM Partners, and also featured Kate McCarthy, Senior Analyst Serving CIOs, Forrester. Amanda and Kate discussed ways that healthcare systems can deliver better patient engagement in an increasingly omnichannel, on-demand world. Amanda addressed a number of key points, including:

Patients Want Connected Experiences. Patients expect healthcare systems to travel across devices and channels with them. They want accurate and complete information about physicians and essential data such as hours of operation whether they’re visiting a healthcare system’s website, researching a ratings/reviews site, or calling a physician’s office.  

Patients Want a Great Experience from Awareness to Care. Savvy healthcare systems are realizing that being responsive to the digital patient means going beyond awareness and conversion. They’re applying the omnichannel experience in other areas of the experience lifecycle.

Patients Want On-Demand Care. As patients seek care on their own terms, healthcare systems are moving care closer to patients. For instance, healthcare systems are setting up health and wellness centers in retail locations ranging from pharmacies to grocery stores.

Amanda shared next steps healthcare systems can take to be more responsive and engaging to patients in an on-demand, omnichannel environment:

1. Understand your patients’ omnichannel journeys.

  • How many touchpoints do they encounter?
  • What devices are they using to do initial service line and symptom-based research?
  • Which devices do they use to find your physicians again after visiting your location?

2. Create a foundation with location and physician data.

Healthcare systems need to manage location data as a precious asset, kept accurate and scalable across the mobile ecosystem where empowered patients create near me moments

3. Optimize content for each channel and device.

Healthcare systems need to provide contextual content appropriate for mobile devices and wearables, where people are meeting different kinds of needs.

4. Create next moments on demand.

Download The Healthcare Guide to Omnichannel Discovery to learn more about succeeding in an omnichannel world through connected patient experiences across the entire patient journey, from awareness to choosing care.



December 14, 2016

Introducing The Healthcare Guide to Omnichannel Discovery

By Amanda L. Bury


I am excited to announce the publication of The Healthcare Guide to Omnichannel Discovery, a new ebook from SIM Partners that will help healthcare systems be more responsive to omnichannel patients.

As we point out in the ebook, by the time a patient selects a doctor, it is likely that they have used their smart phones, tablets, and desktops to visit physician directories on healthcare systems’ websites, third-party rating/review sites, and social media. Many healthcare systems are struggling to keep up with the way patients are navigating this omnichannel world of devices and channels to find facilities and physicians — which is where our new ebook comes into play.

The Healthcare Guide to Omnichannel Discovery gives healthcare systems advice on how to get started meeting the needs of omnichannel patients. Our main contention is that succeeding in an omnichannel world requires healthcare systems to harness location data and contextual content to guide patients across the entire patient journey, from awareness to care.

I will provide a glimpse of some of the findings in our ebook on Thursday, December 15, at 11:00 a.m. CST through a webinar, “Winning in Patient Engagement,” which features Forrester Analyst Kate McCarthy. I encourage you to register for the webinar and download a copy of The Healthcare Guide to Omnichannel Discovery here.

Contact us to discuss how we can help you succeed with location marketing.

December 13, 2016

Giving Back in 2016

By Jon Schepke


Giving back is important to everyone at SIM Partners. One of the best ways we can give is through our work. In that spirit, I am proud of the way SIM Partners has rallied around an important charity, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

Toys for Tots has been distributing toys to needy children for decades. In 2015, Toys for Tots distributed 18 million toys to 7 million children throughout hundreds of drop-off locations in the United States. As announced December 13, SIM Partners has made it easier for toy donors to find drop-off locations.

The improved functionality supports the mission of the Toys for Tots program, which collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which a Toys for Tots campaign is conducted. In 2015, Toys for Tots distributed 18 million toys to 7 million children.

Through our pro bono work, we have designed for the Toys for Tots website a locator tool that emulates the best store locators you find on retailer sites. The locator gives donors a map-based drop-down menu with essential location data for the closest brick-and-mortar drop-off centers. By making the search for locations easier through our Velocity platform,  we’re connecting more donors with needy children.

Our collaboration with Toys for Tots is part of our Give Back program, through which the company performs community-service projects. Throughout 2016, our people gave back in many ways. For example, in 2016, our employees donated their time to the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Green Star Movement — important community outreach programs that make Chicago a better place by giving to those in need (via the Greater Chicago Food Depository) and inspiring students through art (via the Green Star Movement).

Thank you to all the SIM Partners employees who give. You make all the difference.

December 9, 2016

Facebook Flexes Its Location Marketing Muscle

By Jay Hawkinson


Facebook continues to strengthen its position as a go-to source for location marketing. The world’s largest social network has been rolling out a number of features to help businesses manage their location marketing presence. For example, in October, Facebook launched tools that make it easier for brands to provide services on demand, such as “request an appointment” for professional services and food ordering for restaurants and related businesses. In my recently published column for Adweek/Social Times, “It’s Time to Take Facebook Seriously for Location Marketing,” I discuss how businesses with brick-and-mortar locations can improve their own location marketing efforts on Facebook. I urge you to read my column and make sure Facebook is part of your location marketing strategy. Contact us to discuss how we can help you do so.

December 5, 2016

How Omnichannel Consumers Affect Location Marketing

By Adam Dorfman


The rise of the omnichannel consumer has challenged businesses with brick-and-mortar locations to provide a consistent experience across channels and devices. Consumers expect brands to be present with relevant content whether consumers are interacting with them on Snapchat, Facebook, or through a Google search — and that experience needs to be seamless from search to the in-store experience. In my recently published Search Engine Land column, “How Brands Can Win with Omnichannel Discovery,” I discuss how businesses can successfully engage with omnichannel consumers by combining location data with compelling content across channels and devices. Check it out, and contact us to discuss how SIM Partners can help you improve your location marketing with omnichannel consumers.