Blog

February 1, 2017

SIM Partners Earns Funding and Industry Recognition

By Jon Schepke

SIM Partners Earns Funding and Industry Recognition

These are exciting times for SIM Partners. Today we announced that we have secured $5 million in funding to drive customer acquisition with our Velocity platform. As discussed in a press release, our investors are excited about SIM Partners because of great work we do and the industry recognition we’ve received — such as a newly published Forrester report that features SIM Partners as one of the elite location management platform providers.

 

The report, “Vendor Landscape: Location Management Platforms,” by analyst Collin Colburn, identifies the top location management platforms that help businesses with multiple locations drive customer acquisition. Forrester names SIM Partners as one of only six providers that offer a full range of capabilities to enable consumer discovery for physical locations.

 

Those capabilities include support for local listings, landing pages, local customer reviews, local paid search, local display, and local paid social. The report, available exclusively to Forrester clients, also identifies a number of ways that businesses can leverage the value of location platforms like ours, such as enabling discovery across a wide variety of channels.

 

The Forrester report also articulates why location marketing platforms like Velocity are becoming more strategic to businesses that operate multiple locations. Especially as consumers find brands through increasingly diverse channels, businesses increasingly need outside help — to do the heavy lifting needed to share their location data, but also to provide expertise such as organic search and paid media. Because of Velocity’s depth and breadth, SIM Partners is a preferred choice. Contact us to discuss how we can help you attract and retain customers with location marketing.

January 26, 2017

Content Refresh: A Missed Opportunity in Location Marketing

By Charley Vail

Content Refresh

Local marketing campaigns tend to become very complex. Providing a user-friendly experience means managing many different elements. A vital element that should not be overlooked is on-page content, which can include content blocks, copy about the individual store, and information about current products or services that a store is offering. Unfortunately, on-page content can be neglected and not seen as a priority. Brands should be dedicating more resources to making sure the on-page content is timely and relevant. Plan ahead and develop content so that when a customer lands on your page, they can ingest something that applies to them. Be ready for current seasons, trending topic, or behavioral shifts.

 

Why You Should Regularly Refresh Content

 

Refreshing page content regularly is a strong signal to Google to improve page rank, which makes your business more visible at a local level. Doing so helps visitors searching locally find store location pages and connect with them on relevant topics. In 2010, the Google Caffeine update allowed pages with updated and relevant content to index quicker and take priority over those that are outdated. Updating page content has been something Google has favored for six years running now. It’s likely frequently updated content  is something Google will favor for years to come and should be viewed as a priority. Take advantage of knowing this information and provide local users with the timely and relevant content they desire.

 

Prompted search should be a key-determining factor on content creation. Internal and external events are affecting Google search queries on a daily basis. As my colleague Gib Olander explained in an October 2016 Street Fight article, prompted searches occur when an external event or a brand-generated event inspires people to perform branded and non-branded searches locally. Everyday provides a new opportunity to be found, if a brand is ready with relevant information. How are the people you want to attract behaving? Have you started an event that prompts behavior? Has an external event happened that prompts behavior? Examples of prompted searches can be found here.

 

Why Businesses Don’t Refresh Content

 

Don’t be a company that fails to dedicate necessary resources to maintain your content. Doing so starts with people. A company’s team could lack a dedicated content strategist or manager. If one is on staff, having them dedicate time towards managing this is vital. If the resources are available, define an approach that works best for you, based on your knowledge of your customers. An approach doesn’t have to perfect, but there needs to be one. Companies should find one that works best for their vertical or their products/services. Keeping up with the latest information and trends is simple because multiple platforms will assist you in this endeavor. Twitter is an instantaneous news source and a fantastic platform for digesting content. Analyze what is being said in Google or Yelp reviews. The path to relevant content can be found, but make time to look for it.  

 

Refreshing content applies to businesses in all industries, ranging from retail to healthcare. You might not think of hospitals constantly refreshing their content, but they do. In fact, they have to. Large medical centers usually include a network of providers who live in a state of change, whether updating the hours they keep or the locations where they work. But medical centers also have constant opportunities to revise content beyond necessary changes to name, address, and phone data about their providers. The Cleveland Clinic offers a steady stream of content ranging from articles about the risk that cheerleaders face for suffering from concussions to videos welcoming new members to its team. It’s interesting to note how well Cleveland Clinic balances the usefulness of fresh content with the need to provide essential data such as location addresses.

 

Ways to Get into the Habit of Refreshing Content

 

It is important to establish an editorial calendar and regularly update content based on your brand’s planned marketing and PR events at a local level, which are natural opportunities to create visibility. The calendar should also track external events in your area, which will generate opportunities to tap into annual events, especially if your business participates in them in some sort of sponsored capacity.

 

Additionally, regularly perform topic and keyword research and update your content to take advantage of trending content. Be sensitive to opportunities for promoted search. And above all, start taking action. Your refreshed content doesn’t have to be extremely different than what you have now. Add new images for content on your site. Re-write topics you are already talking about with slightly different keywords. Include new inventory for products you offer or user-generated content. Rotate in new content blocks that touch on products or services that have been in your portfolio or inventory for years. Define a strategy and implement it. And at the very least, do these tasks once per quarter and you will be putting yourself in a better position to succeed.

 

January 24, 2017

Moving Forward with Wellness Care

By Mike Hill

Forward

I recently got a glimpse of one possible future for healthcare when I came across a TechCrunch article about Forward, a San Francisco startup that wants to be “the Apple Store of doctor’s offices.”

 

According to TechCrunch, Forward offers patients a medical staff equipped with technology such as artificial intelligence and proprietary digital stethoscopes to more effectively monitor your health and treat symptoms before they develop into full-blown problems. Member patients pay $149 monthly to manage their wellness care with providers who do everything from blood testing to nutrition counseling. The fee includes access to staff, a native app, and wearable sensors. Its state-of-the-art office contains six exam rooms and a testing lab onsite.

 

In a post on Medium, CEO and Founder Adrian Aoun explained that the idea for Forward arose after a family member suffered a heart attack. The experience made Aoun more sensitive to healthcare’s use of antiquated technologies — and also to the healthcare industry’s application of technology to treat costly afflictions such as heart attacks rather than treating patients while they are well. He saw an opportunity to empower physicians with the right tools and environment to help them adapt to a focus on wellness care.

 

But he decided that he needed a fresh approach. Rather than try to reengineer existing healthcare system, he created an alternative in Founder’s subscription-based approach. As he wrote:

 

The primary function of software in the healthcare industry today is not to take care of people — it’s to make sure everyone gets paid. No one has the incentive to build tools and algorithms to predict your heart attack. Because the sad truth is that your traumatic heart attack is someone else’s financial windfall. The resulting heart bypass surgery generates $100,000+ in revenue for the hospital. There is no one villain here. The entire system is set up for failure.

We started Forward to deliver better health to people at a lower cost. But if we had to do this by working within the existing healthcare system, we wouldn’t even know where to begin. How do you unwind everyone’s broken incentives, retrofit ancient software, and convince a bunch of people to change a system in which they benefit from the status quo? We felt it would make more sense to instead start from scratch and to build things the right way from the start.

 

Our take: Forward is definitely on to something — and the healthcare system is more incented to change than its CEO might realize. Payment structures for healthcare providers are moving from rewarding physicians for outcomes provided as opposed to fee for service. In the future, providers will be compensated based on how well a provider manages a patient’s health before they required service. And with consumer healthcare premiums and deductibles shifting more of the cost of care to patients, stakeholders in healthcare have more of an incentive to pay for staying healthy than for getting treated for an illness.

 

Forward has provided a glimpse of how physicians can use technology to manage wellness care — and also to provide a more pleasant experience. In healthcare, combining an experience with data and content creates both patient access and long-term retention. Forward gives all healthcare systems a glimpse at engagement coming sooner than you think.

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 Macys.com 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

whats-next2017

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.