OK…we admit that it’s a freshly-minted word, but PHYGITAL recognizes an increasingly useful trend in marketing. PHYGITAL refers to a crossover of the physical (PHY-) and the digital (-GITAL) aspects of the brand experience.The majority of today’s consumers shop online and in “brick-and-mortar” locations, and those two activities are always closely integrated. Although the name might be new, it’s a commonplace consideration in the retail world, and it’s making inroads in healthcare marketing as well.
Healthcare can take a page from retail brands and others as they devise new ways to meet customer expectations. The end result is to create a better, smarter, and more personalized customer experience. The goal is the same in healthcare. Your marketing vocabulary says “enhanced patient experience. ”Long before the buzzword arrived on the scene, retail consumers would often look online for information that helped formulate their shopping and purchase decisions.
Retail customers would visit a physical store to validate their decision and finalize their purchase. Nearly 25 percent of consumers make their purchases in a real-world store. The percentage is much higher for in-person healthcare delivery.
These purchase steps can be in any order. An item that is seen (tried, touched, experienced, encountered) in a physical store first, might be subsequently purchased online through Amazon or the like, or vice versa.
A few retail examples of the phygital experience include:
For various reasons, phygital marketing is proving to be essential to brick-and-mortar retail. It’s true that real-world retail locations often struggled against the tide of online eCommerce. As a practical matter, these two activities can be integrated marketing tools that seamlessly complement each other for the benefit of the customer.
Today’s healthcare buyers—prospective patients—typically shop online and buy in person when considering a course of treatment, a doctor or hospital.
What’s more, the physical and digital crossover has a strong connection with the large and vital millennial audience. This demographic group has never been without the Internet. Major retail brands increasingly target the “phygital generation.”
It’s perfectly natural and expected for millennials to begin or conclude their purchase process online. Healthcare immersion marketing has the opportunity to create a positive (and integrated) Healthcare patient experience through the office, the website, and via social media.
Millennials also love, expect and demand quick answers and fast, convenient customer service. Often, that’s as close as their smartphone. The challenge for marketing professionals is to effectively combine these channels and deliver an immediate, immersive and positive customer/patient experience -- essentially, immersion-communication.
In the past, doctor offices, hospitals, and the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt new technology…patient-doctor email for example. Competition and availability of tech advances are now bringing techie tools and ideas to provider offices. Ideas like phygital may be somewhat slower to gain traction. But patient expectations, and productivity benefits, have energized the adoption curve.
Healthcare thought-leaders, leading medical practices, and hospitals have recognized this trend as an increasingly important marketing and business operations tool. Before the phygital catchword popped up, providers had begun embracing change.
In addition to the website, social media and other marketing and communications elements, major healthcare players such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and many others are finding current-day examples that use phygital to enhance the patient experience, professional reputation, and brand allegiance.
One of the most significant advances in accessibility is the growing adoption of telemedicine and virtual office visits (online, smartphone or app), nearly any time and nearly anywhere in the world. In addition, consider:
Major brands and others in the retail world have recognized the benefits of the PHYGITAL customer experience in the path to a purchase decision. By aligning all the physical and digital touchpoints, the retail consumer (or healthcare patient) quickly and easily receive consistent information that helps their purchase decision.
In the future, healthcare systems brands will be able to provide a single tech platform to enable individuals to multitask. They can book virtual and real-world appointments, connect with allied health providers, and manage their personal wellness plan from a single online device.
Eventually, the target audience and individual health-and-wellness plan will expand from online and social media to include emerging technology in augmented reality, artificial intelligence, integration with the Internet-of-Things (smart home and smart car devices).
In many respects, the phygital buzzword is late to the party. It is now catching up with many aspects of physical-and-digital marketing techniques. Convenient, quick and informative are the watchwords.
Begin with the consumer/user perspective. Millennials alone are an important and demanding audience. Recognize the importance of expanding on phygital opportunities that support the brand experience, capture more opportunity, and greatly enhance the patient experience.