Eight Web Trends That Matter To Wellness Businesses

The Web’s always a happening place. Fortunately, not every trend matters to your health and wellness business.

These eight trends offer your wellness business the most revenue and profit potential in 2011:

1) Developer-dependent no more

Time for a website overhaul?

Hand-cranked websites by an expensive local developer are quickly becoming relics – the kind that aren’t worth much on Antiques Roadshow.

The new answer: build your website on top of a content-management platform like WordPress.

Your staff will be able to easily update content without having to navigate HTML – so your ideas won’t be stalled by steep hourly rates and your web developer’s workload. Many hosting providers will install WordPress or a similar platform at no additional charge. And tons of great add-on products are available that improve search optimization and other valuable features.

More features, more functions, better security, less expensive to build and maintain – it’s a no-brainer.

2) On the move

More folks are using smartphones (think Android and iPhone) and netbooks like Apple’s iPad or HP’s Slate.

That means your website needs to work well on a small screen.

On the other hand, do you need to create your own iPhone app or jump on the location-based social network bandwagon with services like FourSquare and Gowalla? Nope, not in 2011.

3) Netbooks – the new “pocket folder”

For those of you offering complex services and products where buyers care deeply about technical details, small-footprint netbooks and iPads are a gamechanging tool for traveling reps.

Interactive applications can make it easy to communicate a lot of technical information easily, replacing the stacks of (inevitably outdated) print marketing collateral your reps hauled around in the past.

For example, Medtronic’s equipping iPads with custom apps to help its reps to market stents to cardiologists.

4) Knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone…

The magic words are “integration” and “sequencing” – deliberate coordination and timing between email newsletters, marketing emails, postcards and other direct mail, social media activity and other online and offline marketing actions.

Smart wellness businesses will put a stop to the uncoordinated marketing of prior years – for example, newsletters and marketing emails that barely acknowledge simultaneous print and event-oriented marketing campaign.

Instead, focus on integrated marketing tailored to specific objectives and using  additive (not addictive!) integrated marketing techniques that accumulate over time.

5) Look what I found!

People watch more YouTube videos every month than run Google searches. Half of all adults have watched an Internet video.

Of course, watching the latest crazy pet video or posting a done-to-death exercise demonstration doesn’t do a thing for your wellness business.

But if you have a clear vision for how video marketing will help you grow, then providing video content that actually helps customers make a buying decision, optimized for search engines so that it’s easy for potential customers to find your videos, has never been easier or more affordable.

One thing that’ll help in 2011: improved video search capabilities on Google, Yahoo and Bing (Microsoft’s search engine).

6) BadaBing!

Google’s the 600-pound gorilla of search, with 65% market share. But Microsoft’s Bing already has 14% market share and is already beating out Yahoo.

Why should you care?

Make sure your SEO firm is paying attention to how Bing optimizes search results, not just how Google’s believed to optimize search results. It’s clear that Yahoo is becoming increasingly marginalized in almost every respect, so start focusing on the new #2: Bing.

7) It’s all about ME

Hyperlocal news sites will increasingly give wellness businesses highly targeted ways to market to people in your own community. Not the nearest big city, but your actual neighborhood. Think Alpharetta, not Atlanta.

Practically every city of any size has at least one hyperlocal news provider who competes against the local newspaper’s website. In Dallas, for example, it’s PegasusNews.com vs The Dallas Morning News.

Even more importantly, AOL’s hyperlocal site Patch says it’ll cover over 500 neighborhoods in over 20 states by this year end.

These sites give you great – often free – local marketing opportunies.

One caution – be wary of Patch sales pitches to “get in on the ground level.” On the web, getting in early means their site’s not getting lots of visitors yet!

8) Social media sanity

Your wellness business spent the last year frantically posting updates, pictures and more on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, take a deep breath. Do you see a clear payoff for those efforts? Are your posts coming from the same small group every time? Lots of retweets or hardly any? Are you reaching potential customers – or chatting mainly with existing customers?

Let analysis of actual results – not media hype – decide whether this is a worthwhile marketing activity for your particular business.

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