The revolutionary technology will be your most important digital channel by 2015. Get ready now.

Need convincing that the Mobile Revolution is finally here? Look no further than your own pocket. Those of us in so-called “expert” roles have been calling for the “Year of Mobile” for the last five years and so it’s with no small relief that we can finally say it has arrived. I thought we’d start this new column off with a big claim—one I hope provokes a similarly sized discussion on your end—mobile may be a relatively small digital channel for your brands now but it will be your most important one by 2015. I’d be remiss in my punditry if I didn’t back that up with some stats and figures (Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” of which these are entirely in the third camp):

CTIA, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, shared some very interesting numbers in their 2011 year-end wrap-up:
• 31.6% of U.S. households are Wireless-Only, meaning you should sell your shares in
any companies that only provide landline services.
• Wireless market penetration (number of active units divided by total U.S. population) is 104.6%, a less surprising number when you consider that many people carry work and personal phones.
• There were 2.3 trillion U.S. text messages sent in 2011 (monthly figures annualized).

There were two big smartphone market stories in 2011: U.S. smartphone sales eclipsed 50% of new device activations for the first time (the days of the “feature phone”—aka the “dumbphone”—are numbered), and Android became the dominant mobile OS for the first time ever. As of April 2012, Android has 50.8% of the market (up 2.2% from January 2012), Apple remains consistent at 31.4% (up 1.9%), and RIM and Microsoft continue to fall at 11.6% and 4.0% respectively (down 3.6% and 0.4%). (See graph below.)

Professional Use of Tablets

Some people may disagree, but we generally include tablets whenever we’re talking mobile. The lines are becoming increasingly blurry (and will become even more fuzzy when Microsoft’s new Surface tablet hits stores, bringing Windows 8 into the fray), but tablets are highly portable, 3/4G/LTE capable devices that often replace smartphone use, so our Mobile Rx columns will cover them as well. From that perspective, Pew Research is reporting that 29% of U.S. adults owned a tablet or eReader (Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo, etc.) as of January 2012, up from about 17% one year prior.
Those are impressive consumer numbers. What about the professional side? Manhattan Research to the rescue:
• 81% of U.S. physicians own smartphones, which is leveling off but remains significantly higher than the average consumer.
• 62% of U.S. physicians now own some kind of tablet device, with iPads being the clear device of choice (for consumers as well—Apple has yet to face any real competition in this market).
• 40% of U.S. physicians are living in a “three screen world,” switching between their laptop, tablet, and smartphone. Although they love the larger tablet screens, their lab coat pockets just aren’t up to carrying the extra size and weight. That’s likely to be the case for some time.

The majority of the apps and content used by physicians is for their own purposes (e.g. 18% are using some form of EHR), with few opportunities for so-called “swivel content” that they can turn around and show to their patients. Dramatic foreshadowing: There’s a big un-met need here, which we’ll come back to later.


At this point, you’re probably gripping your trusty phone in one hand while madly diverting budget with the other. Mobile represents a massive opportunity for healthcare marketers, which we’re only just now tapping into. It may not be your biggest digital channel by 2015, but it will be your most important one. It’s where the sick will look up their symptoms, where HCPs will turn to access tools and patient education materials, where the newly diagnosed will search for their newly identified conditions, and where the newly prescribed will find info on filling their scripts. Two healthy doses of good news: The rest of the marketing world has blazed a trail for us (like they have with most cutting edge technologies), so we can stand on the shoulders of some ground-breaking giants. Also, there’s plenty of opportunity for content and asset reuse here, especially things that have been approved by MLR for use in other channels, so the cost of going mobile need not be so scary.


Our experience across all levels of the health marketing space, from the biggest pharma and medical device manufacturers to the smallest biotech startups, tells me that the odds are that you’ve dipped your toe in the mobile pool without making a firmly committed leap. Now is the time to jump in, working your way through MLR approvals while there’s still an opportunity to lead the mobilization of our industry rather than trailing behind your competitors. There are some big opportunities out there, and here are the ways to take advantage of them:
• Create mobile optimized versions of all your web properties. These can range from independent mobile versions with completely rethought content, features, and user experience to dynamic, responsive designs that adapt to the device they’re viewed on. Target your HCP sites first, given their smartphone adoption, followed by consumer sites. At this point all new content should be mobile optimized at launch.
• Create useful mobile optimized tools for HCPs. Avoid building purely native apps if possible as the resistance to installing and using them reduces ROI significantly. Try for purely HTML5 or hybrid approaches that reduce cost and development time and build cross-OS tools.
• Create branded patient education materials. With this strategy you can close the “swivel gap” for tablet or smart- phones that HCPs can use at point of care.
• Mobilize your sales force with iPads. It’s time to move away from paper or old-school tablet PCs. If you haven’t already done so, launch an iPad pilot and get reps familiar with the device, productivity tools, sales aids, and learning and training opportunities. Consider an integrated suite of apps like our iCONNECT or look to custom-built solutions to deliver Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Closed Loop
The revolutionary technology will be your most important digital channel by 2015. Get ready now.

Marketing (CLM) that reps will embrace. Those are just a few examples of some of the more interesting possibilities we’re busy creating. A suggestion before you jump down to the tactical level: Think mobile first. A “Mobile First” movement has arisen (largely outside of healthcare), started by Luke Wroblewski’s excellent 2009 book of the same title (his points are still very valid now). Mobile is exploding (now more than ever). Thinking about mobile before desktop forces designers to focus on core experiences and needs in order to meet the constraints of smaller, slower devices. On the flip side, mobile capabilities (GPS, camera, multi-touch gestures, etc.) greatly extend the palette of functionality we can use over their desktop cousins, expanding the realm of the possible.

In the August issue of PM360, we’ll focus on writing the prescriptions to cure your mobile ills. Send your questions to: In the meantime, keep up with the latest in mobile and digital healthcare marketing on Digital Rx:

  • Jay Goldman

    Jay Goldman is a Managing Director at Klick Health and leads Kick’s Sensei Labs team in addition to heading the company’s Innovation group. He is a co-author of the New York Times bestseller “The Decoded Company” and has been published in the “Harvard Business Review.”


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