As of 2017, millennials have the highest spending power of any generation. This means that they will be making treatment decisions for themselves, their parents, their friends, and for some, their children. And if there is one word that defines millennials, it’s “digital.”
Now, more than ever before, it’s critical that treatment facilities maintain a strong and trusted online presence. Millennials are web-savvy and will not take information at face value. This generation looks for transparency, credibility and third party validation. For marketers, it’s critical to keep a close eye on digital trends to understand how millennials are engaging with brands online.
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, which is both a blessing and a curse for marketers. It opens a slew of new opportunities, but also creates challenges to adapt and refine strategies at a steady pace. So, it begs the question, what trends should be top of mind in the year ahead?
1. Mobile is first. Mobile will dominate digital marketing. Websites that accommodate and focus on mobile users will see a boost in visibility and traffic.
Responsive web design and speed are essential to mobile success. Google has rolled out AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), which serves up a stripped-down, mobile-friendly, fast-loading version of content. Speed has always been rewarded with rankings, and this mobile-only speed initiative is rewarding sites that serve up less resource-intensive URLs.
2. Conversational content is rewarded. To excel in 2017, focus on developing an authentic and trustworthy brand. This is important for the healthcare industry as a whole, but especially the addiction treatment industry. Personalized, relatable and targeted content will be key to establishing this trust. Conversational language that speaks to the user and their intent will create a non-commercial tone. Human elements such as user testimonials, imagery, third-party reviews, ratings and trusted endorsements will all help to develop a, personable yet, authoritative healthcare brand.
3. Interactive videos attract engagement. In an increasingly distracted society, video will continue to drive social engagement. Particularly, videos that can “stop the scroll” will be those with compelling visual content that can quickly capture the attention of an audience, without the need for audio or captions.
With the consumer craze over virtual reality (VR), video tours will also begin to grow in popularity. The real estate and hospitality industries have already adopted virtual video tours to help drive conversions. While this hasn’t been heavily explored in the addiction treatment industry, expect to see new adopters following suit of these other industries.
4. Connected technology changes search. If businesses aren't already accounting for voice search technology, conversational queries, natural language processing and machine learning, they are already behind. The world is increasingly connected, and it’s becoming easier to access information from anywhere. Look at the rise of virtual assistants: Google Home and Amazon Alexa are taking off in the consumer realm, readily used to find and access information via voice command. All of these technologies are collecting data, becoming smarter with each query. The software is able to recognize tone and inflection in voice, which can assist with serving up the most accurate result. Keywords will be much more conversational in the future.
While we can’t foresee every trend in 2017, we can be confident in one thing: the digital realm will continue to evolve at an unprecedented pace. As an industry, we have a responsibility to care for consumers; as marketers, we have a responsibility to stay informed on how we can best serve their needs.
Andrew Garcia is the digital marketing strategist for Recovery Brands