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4 Ways for Health Associations to Increase Engagement

Kurt Voelker

Vice President, Business Development and Growth, Forum One

There are endless articles detailing how emerging digital trends can help private-sector healthcare businesses increase revenue. But what about health-focused associations? How can the latest technologies help them to better connect with and provide value to their members, improve website engagement, and drive growth? 

There are a number of proven and emerging digital trends that Health associations can apply to their own business intelligence goals and member needs. Below, are 4 ways for health associations to increase engagement

1. Leverage big data and machine learning

The cloud computing revolution over the past 10–15 years has matured to the point that it is no longer reserved for large commercial healthcare enterprises that can afford a new breed of tools. Massive data storage, real-time querying and analysis, and web interfaces to explore and dissect data are readily available and affordable to the health association sector. These abilities are delivered on-demand through a myriad of services. Data represents a huge opportunity for health-focused associations in particular because of their access to membership data as a source of valuable information for the network itself. For example, expanding data collection—both in terms of the process as well as what data is able to be collected—and architecting centralized data platforms can serve multiple data-centric products across the organization.

The opportunity for health associations to leverage advances in data platforms does not end with providing data products to patients and families, practitioners and clinicians, researchers, and policy makers.  Using similar data aggregation, storage, management, modeling, and visualization tools, implementing business intelligence solutions can help health-focused  associations better track performance across the organization. Lastly, creating key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards to track success will help drive business insight in both the short and long term.

2. Personalize the online experience

For the past several years, healthcare companies have been steadily adopting new and increasingly sophisticated approaches to convert website visitors into buyers through marketing automation tools. Public-sector health organizations are increasingly starting to use these same tools and techniques to measure interest, awareness, and drive sign-ups, donations, applications, and other transactional online actions. Put simply, these platforms allow health-focused associations to:

  • Personalize content and landing pages based on visitor data
  • Track and analyze individual site visitor behavior
  • Manage and track email and/or social media campaigns and outreach in an automated way

Introducing marketing automation into a digital ecosystem will create personalized experiences for both members and visitors. Furthermore, personalizing the user experience so that health-focused associations can put the right content in front of the right person, at the right time, is now attainable. By unifying site visitor data through a CRM and other systems, it is possible to craft personalized digital experiences that promote content specific to an individual’s role, location, career stage, or interest area(s). An example is placing relevant calls-to-action  (e.g., join, sign up, volunteer, participate) into context based on previous interactions with an association’s digital properties.

3. Utilize new engagement channels

The explosion of machine learning, combined with the popularity of messaging on mobile is setting the stage for another big paradigm shift in interfaces. As a result, conversational interfaces are showing up everywhere, and have the potential to help health associations better serve their business and membership goals. 

Health associations can benefit from incorporating new engagement channels into their digital footprint such as chat interfaces and bots that could help practitioners and clinicians navigate their careers and professional development, advance lobbying and advocacy efforts, voice services detailing relevant events, finding and connecting patients and families to the right topical experts directly from within Facebook Messenger. These services create a more proactive relationship with online visitors when seamlessly integrated into a digital presence.

4. Adopt emerging tools for networks

At the heart of most health-focused associations are a network of people– from patients and their families to practitioners and clinicians, researchers, and policymakers. Networks are both the source of organizational value and the audience they serve. How do modern health-focused associations learn from, and better compete with, digital networking platforms that target their exact membership base? From Discord, Slack, and LinkedIn, to international messaging apps like WeChat and WhatsApp, to good old-fashioned email, how can health associations demonstrate their added value in providing their own community services and meeting members where they are on existing networks?

Most health-focused associations already use email to stay connected with members. However, it’s often the external networking platforms that provide the most opportunity to reach members in a new and meaningful way. Moderated discussions, event recaps, knowledge sharing, and news updates are just a few ways to interact with current and potential members and encourage reciprocal active participation with their association. An essential part of this is to foster an inclusive, safe, and productive community experience for members. Creating a deliberate plan ahead of time to address this has the ability to strengthen a health-focused association’s relationship and trust with its members and audiences while at the same time providing a positive online experience.

The above approaches provide a great opportunity for health-focused associations to assess what kind of information they want their members to have, identify internal communication gaps, and determine the resources needed to modernize. While they are certainly not one-size-fits-all solutions, they can bring direct value to health associations’ existing and ideally growing communities.

Written By

Kurt Voelker

Vice President, Business Development and Growth, Forum One

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