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A strong online presence continues to be one of the most important components in aneffective marketing strategy. Keeping pace with technology and user trends to ensure your plan is on target is key. Data is moving from desktops to pockets, purses, wrist bands and eyewear at a rapid pace, as mobile devices now relegate desktop computers to “land line” status.

Traditional marketing mediums are shifting gears to embrace the interactivity mobile devices now bring to once stagnant printed pieces. Both patients and physicians are equally reliant on mobile devices for everything from referrals and appointment scheduling to retrieving medical records, x-rays, archived data and the latest research. In an increasingly mobile marketplace, it is important that a website and its content conform to mobile technology and the manner in which it is used. Mobile devices today facilitate data capture and distribution in a way that we could not have imagined just a few years ago. Images, videos, podcasts, and more are captured and uploaded to mobile sites and social media pages in just a few seamless steps.

As evidenced in website analytics reporting, a growing number of users are accessing web pages with a mobile device — a trend expected to continue and eventually surpass desktop users. In the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project Survey, it was reported that 90 percent of adults have a cell phone, 58 percent of which have smartphones. And as of May 2013, over 60 percent use their phones to go online.
According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, in conjunction with Millward Brown Vermeer, ANA, Spencer Stuart, Forbes, MetrixLab and Adobe, digital marketing requires a shift from the traditional marketing mindset. In an overview of the report, which was an initiative that gathered data from over 10,000 marketers in 92 countries, companies are encouraged to utilize “purposeful positioning” and try different digital technologies, such as social media. The report underscores that, “in today’s digital world, the way marketers engage customers has transformed.”

While desktops and non-mobile websites are expected to remain relevant in both business and social realms, the way this information is presented and promoted is distinctly different from that of mobile pages. Many traditional, non-mobile websites will continue to serve as the complete read, rather than the “cliff notes” of mobile sites. Mobile devices are expected to supplement, rather than eliminate, this “connected” technology.

Mobile sites and pages are developed specifically for the smaller screen of a mobile device. They contain “need to know” content for people on the go. The format is simple and use of audiovisual very popular. Standalone mobile websites have their own reporting, designated trackable phone number and optimization effort. Though, this may also require separate monitoring and updating, depending on how the mobile site is designed.

Now, advances in responsive web design (RWD) are gradually closing the desktop-mobile site divide. The premise of a responsive web development approach is to create a single site capable of accommodating both worlds, larger desktop screens as well as those of smaller mobile devices. RWD sites auto-adjust to provide optimal viewing across a broad range of devices. Responsive sites also eliminate the need for multiple website updates.

While current responsive sites can suit the needs of some, many lack the visual appeal and fluidity of a website designed specifically for a desktop platform, proving too much of a compromise for others. Online advertising — banner ads, Google adWords and other pay-per-click forms of advertising — must accommodate web and mobile users. And tracking tools, to which traditional website owners have grown accustomed, have also changed a bit for the “unified” responsive function.

Though time and technology are rapidly resolving these issues. According to Shervin Kalinia, former director of marketing at St. Lukes Hospital in Houston, there is not a “one size fits all” solution for practices. It depends on specific needs and expectations for a website, as well as website and marketing life cycles and budgets. “With the number of website visitors accessing sites from their phones, there’s an unprecedented marketing opportunity for doctors to embrace the mobile web,” said Kalinia.

“However, the window of opportunity to stay competitive during this shift is closing as a growing number of doctors move to a responsive design overhaul, or development of a separate mobile website,” Kalinia added.

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