Less than half a generation ago, topics such as social media, SEO, website user experience, mobile optimized interface, email marketing, and SMS marketing were loosely acknowledged developments of the digital age.
When we fast forward to the present, we can appreciate that as much as word of mouth and referral source marketing were staples of the past, digital marketing has become the pillars of the future. In fact, in just a few more years, many leading marketing experts expect that the term “digital marketing” will become as redundant as “wireless Wifi.”
Digital is the future that is already here.
Today, I want to share some thoughts on the future of “digital” marketing; specifically in terms of physical therapy business and how it must leverage digital channels through a content marketing strategy in five precise steps.
The Future of Digital Marketing
1. Content Congruency.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) have become truly interesting as of late, primarily because of the incorporation of user generated preferred algorithms. What used to work in the past is quickly becoming less relevant as Google, Facebook, and other social platforms have now integrated powerful algorithms designed to kill clickbait.
All this has changed the game of keywords as well as data tagging. Counter-intuitively, while it has made it far more complex than it ever has been, the journey to success has been made simpler for one reason:
It is no longer good enough just to have keywords and phrases on a website, alone. Every aspect of your online presence must reflect the same content and brand congruence. This means whatever is on your website must match consistently with your social media, ads, search returns, and extended media platforms. It means, all these footprints must tell a unified story, all going in the same direction. After all, without good content, no one bothers to look twice. With good content, people keep coming back — driving traffic, higher rankings, and all the benefit that comes with delighting a growing audience.
As such, when thinking about your company’s content, you must also think about the big picture in play — the creation of a digital footprint.
2. Think Digital Footprinting.
Where you’ve been; where you are; and, where you’re going — when summed across every online platform, this is your digital footprint. Since UpDoc Media launched, we’ve taken a strong stance concerning of one’s digital footprint as it directly relates to the future of digital marketing.
Currently, digital marketing is more or less seen as various marketing channels which are unified by an overarching digital marketing strategy. There are numerous target segmentations which have their own optimized marketing channels such as social media, email marketing, SEO, etc. all with their own direct ROI. Therefore, current concerns regarding digital marketing are more focused on the functionalities of individual marketing channels rather than a governing strategic approach.
While this may remain current in the next year, or even two, the future will be reversed. The future holds that a company’s digital footprint will become the central concern; that the pieces which make the daily footprints are tactically unified in both short term and long term synergies.
3. Walking In The Same Direction.
Expanding on the point above, making sure a company has content congruence across its digital footprint will become a daily task. Marketers will do this for a very considerable chunk of their available time. In addition to this, content flow will need to be curated in a way where channel synergies are created — that one social media channel boosts the reach of another. The future of digital marketing will no longer be about “inbound vs. outbound” or “paid vs. organic.”
ALL these directional flows will need to be done in a way where each points to the next; paid content is confirmed by organic conversations — inbound traffic is precisely matched with outbound segmentation. After all, it is only through such an approach that SEO/SEM results will bring desired audiences to the same place, every time.
Consistency is KEY.
4. Presence Will Not Be Enough.
In time, everyone will have a digital footprint. Everyone will have a site, a blog, a YouTube channel, social media, a podcast, email campaigns, daily live video broadcasts, etc. etc. etc.
Some may even have tens of thousands of followers. However, all this won’t be enough. We’re at an age where clicking colored wording and tapping on links is just habit. Everyone does it. We don’t even think about it. See something? “Sure… I’ll like it.” In fact, a strong majority of social media users tend to engage favourably with links that they don’t even open for themselves. That means there’s a bunch of sharing, liking, retweeting, etc. without people even reading the shares they are recommending to their own social circles — much less converting from browsers to customers.
So, if not presence… then what? Story. Belonging. Community.
5. Your Digital Footprint Must Share A Journey.
The future of digital marketing will go beyond the face value of your digital outlets. It will be all about the path, the journey, the story of how your digital footsteps unfolds, crosses, and walks alongside your customers’ daily lives. Much as when print media was the standard; where everyone had a newspaper, everyone has a mail out newsletter, everyone had a Yellow Pages ad, and everyone had a magazine — the presence was no longer enough and it is the same today.
It was the experience of the content; primarily, the sharing of experiences, journeys, memories, and key moments which kept audiences engaged. Digital marketing has indeed entered such a state of ubiquity. Consistent content will become pivotal. Brand experiences will become absolutely crucial. It will not longer be the “what” that differentiates; it will be the “how” and “why” audiences should remain loyal to you.
The best answer: Because, you are loyal to them… their needs, their desires, their demands, their preferences, their values; all to deliver above and beyond expectations along a shared journey which creates true engagement and brand loyalty.
Some Closing Thoughts
When considering the best ways to implement digital marketing in physical therapy, the playing field becomes truly dynamic. For physical therapy and rehabilitation at large, this will shine beyond any other context in the healthcare industry. Why? Because, the stories of rehabilitation, recovery, and restoration are powerful, inspiring, and easy to relate to.
Everyone has lost something; gaining “it” back, is a win for the underdog — which means, it’s a win for everyone. To get ahead of the curve and to prepare for the future of digital marketing in physical therapy business and practice, consider building now: the framework needed for content congruency, the curation of digital footprinting so that all your channels create strides in unison, all to tell a story and invite target audiences on a meaningful lifelong journey, together.
About The Author
Ben Fung is Physical Therapy, COO and CoFounder at UpDoc Media, a digital media & marketing company that specializes in the business of physical therapy & healthcare. Ben received his doctorate from Azusa Pacific University and his MBA from the University of Michigan. He is a recognized speaker regarding marketing and social engagement. Additionally, Ben has been regularly recognized as a social media top influencer. His career spans all healthcare settings, corporate excellence, organizational culture changes, media, and, consulting for healthcare executives as well as venture capital.