The first two installments in this three-article series, “The addictive properties of digital communication” and “Face it – your job is to exploit digital addiction,” leads us to the obvious question: how do we shape the digital behavior of our target audience? However, before we answer this question, there is one more obvious question to think about: why do digital marketers do such a poor job of leveraging this most powerful addictive force of behavior?
One answer. First, much of what counts for digital healthcare communication today is graphic analog promotion, coded up in HTML. Healthcare promotion has moved seamlessly from the print ad and the direct mail piece to rich media websites, microsites, and TV/video. This apparent conversion to “digital” ignores the difference between media versus communication. Digital media such as video and websites have all of the content capacity one can ever imagine. Digital communication, in contrast, such as SMS and its variations such as What’s App, are thin media vehicles that rely on text and brevity, which are not of the mindset of healthcare communication. The first order of business in exploiting the addictive properties of digital behavior is to think thin.
Once we understand that digital communication by its very nature has to be light, parsimonious, laconic, tight, frugal, and positively sparse, we can address the question of how to shape the behavior of our audience.
First and foremost, now and forever, is content. Without new content that is valuable to the audience, or at least old content that can be reshaped into new forms so it appears as new content, there is no shaping of behavior. Behavioral modification begins with reward. Exploiting and mining all of the assets that a company has developed, but not utilized, is yet another subject. For now, let’s assume that that there is sufficient content.
The next step is to make delivery efficient to the recipient. Our healthcare audience needs us, begs us, requires that we cut to the chase. Get rid of the tiresome images of the classic patient, the extra gaseous white space, the overdone presentation of logos of the company and the product and the campaign – get to the content that your audience wants and needs. Understand that you don’t have ten or five seconds – in the digital world it’s more like ten or five nanoseconds. The fastest to the reader’s attention wins the competitive race to deliver value.
Next, repeat often. For years, the industry has measured impact by share of voice or share of rep calls. The same principle applies in digital. To think that quarterly brand communication will make an impact is to raise the metaphor of a fart in a windstorm. Frequency counts.
Fourth and last, your communication has to be repeatable. Repeatable is necessary on the company side so that multiple communications can be developed in a cost-effective process. From the reader’s perspective, repeatable means that it is familiar and easy to digest. It is efficient communication.
Here is the opportunity and the challenge. Who is ready to seize it?