Growing Digital: Reaching Health Consumers Online

Watch this webinar and learn how to reach healthcare consumers online.

When it comes to your healthcare brand, it’s not always easy to know where to focus your digital marketing dollars. Learn how to prioritize content marketing, SEO, local listings, social media and reputation monitoring in a constantly evolving marketing puzzle.

You’ll learn:

  • Which targeting techniques are most effective
  • How to track campaign effectiveness (without driving yourself crazy)
  • Which tactics will take your social media and reputation management to the next level
  • How to rethink content creation and focus efforts on consumer engagement
  • Where SEO fits into the puzzle (spoiler: everywhere)


Today we’re gonna be talking about Growing Digital, Reaching Health Consumers Online. It’s not always easy to know kind of where to focus your digital marketing efforts and what’s up and coming in some of the different areas. It’s a really rapidly changing field. So we’re gonna walk through some different areas within digital marketing and address a lot of different needs there. To kick it off I wanted to share some information about making digital a priority, and this is something that we see growing and growing and has been a struggle for a while in healthcare specifically.

And just to give you some stats across the board. This is a Gartner survey that said that 98% of marketers, just across the board, even outside of healthcare, are really seeing that offline and online marketing emerging. Everybody kind of knows this. This is where things are at today. What we see as far as what people are actually doing though is kind of this ongoing trend. So this is a Salesforce research study that was projecting out from 2011 to 2016 and out into 2021. The switch from offline and traditional marketing into digital. You can see that growth continue to happen out of that entire pie. The slice space going to digital continues to grow, representing about a 21% predicted growth in digital marketing during that ten-year period.

So we know that the tides are shifting, things are moving much more online and towards digital and seeing this across the board in every industry. As far as how organizations are responding to this, this is some data that really looks at that trend line, and next month Ben will be sharing some more specific healthcare related information right out of that survey, around where people feel they’re at as far as integrating those online and offline marketing activities. So you can kind of see that wave that’s going on here where there’s a smaller number of folks that are kind of leading the charge here. They feel they’re fully integrated and optimizing, and more in that back half that are actively working on this problem, trying to figure out how does digital marketing fit into their overall marketing mix. So if those are things you’re struggling with, you’re certainly not alone out there in the world. That’s really where a lot of organizations are at today.

So today what I want to walk through is several different topic areas. So looking at content marketing, looking at social media, and looking at digital advertising and knowing that we have so many things on our plate. As marketers, we really need to be able to balance those out and really make them work well together. And of course, one of the things that we’re always looking at throughout this process when we’re dealing with the web, is search engine optimization and how that plays into it. Now we’ll really weave throughout the conversation today and you’ll see how each of these different tactics within these different areas pull together and help to increase or affect your overall SEO efforts.

To kick things off, I’m gonna dig into the area of content marketing. Just to kind of lay out a definition here, because a lot of different things end up being called content marketing, or, you know, there’s a lot of different viewpoints on what that actually means for different people, and really focused around engaging audiences, driving action. You know, when we’re talking about really specific audiences and we’re looking at driving profitable action. I really like that definition that focuses on some value being delivered to the organization.

We’re not just putting blog posts out there to do that, there’s some sort of action that we are expecting that people that we are targeting those posts to, to take that is going to drive value to the organization. So this is a lot more than just kind of clickbait [SP] headlines, you know, a list to go with five examples of this or that. It’s a lot more than just simply launching a blog. There’s a real effort there to building and engaging specific and targeted audiences.

This is something we talked about back in January of this year. Looking out at the 2016 trends, what we saw that was gonna be big this year and a lot of focus, and I think that’s really played out, where we’ve been talking about content marketing for a long time outside of healthcare as well as within, and a lot of folks have taken a pass at doing some activity in this area. And really seeing in 2016, people starting to step up their game here and take a new look at this and really have a better understanding of what it means to do content marketing.

And one of the ways I encourage people to think about this is really to look at your organization and the content that you’re producing as part of your content marketing effort, thinking about it like a publication. So if you go all the way back to grade school when you learned about newspapers and the different types of articles that appear within a newspaper or magazine. You’ve got these things like news features, opinion, and columns that appear within a magazine.

If you think about that in terms of your organization and the purpose that you’re putting this content out there, you still want to have this mix of content. You really want to have content that its purpose is there to inform. You need content that is there to entertain. You’re gonna have content that is really there to sell, to persuade. It’s really great if you can have some ongoing content, sort of those columns of engagement to continue over time and really help people to want to come back and to continue to engage with your organization. Along with all of this then you’ve got a layer of distributing that.

And so that’s a little bit more what we’ll talk about as we get into thinking about the digital advertising, the social media and that end of things. Just like I delivered newspapers back in the day when I was a kid, you’ve got those distribution channels getting those messages out there to your audience. To take a little bit of a look at the numbers, this is a survey of just B2C content marketers. So, again, across industries. But we’ll take a look at this in healthcare as well. So this is from the Content Marketing Institute, marketing cross. They did a survey of B2C marketers, looking at what tactics they were using in terms of content marketing. And as I said, it’s a lot more than just writing a blog. There’s a lot of different formats and approaches that you can take, different ways to get that content out there. This is looking, in the red bars, at what they saw people using, versus the grey bars of what people…kind of how people rated the effectiveness of those different techniques.

You can see social media, huge among the different tactics. Email and eNewsletters being both widely used and rated very effective. Articles, illustrations, videos, all those types of content being pushed out there. And then towards the bottom, some things that are just a little bit less widely used, things like infographics, using microsites for particular campaigns, or doing mobile apps, kind of on the lower end of that across the board. See a little mismatch in the numbers here because they asked the questions a slightly different way across the usage and effectiveness questions.

Taking a look, though, into healthcare marketing, this is some of that information coming out of our survey this year. We lined up some questions right in line with that marketing process, Content Marketing Institute’s survey, and looked at how are people in healthcare using these same channels. How many people are using each of these different tactics, and comparing that. So here we’ve got…the red is the B2C usage of the particular tactic. The gray is healthcare. And you can see these actually line up really, really well. We see maybe just a little bit wider usage in our sample for social media. That was right around 99%. Pretty much everybody is doing some kind of social out there. And just kind of follows along there very closely with how people are using these different tactics outside of healthcare.

See maybe a little bit more of a gap there around illustrations and photos. Maybe not something that in healthcare people are considering part of content marketing quite as much as outside. Same thing with blogs, there’s a little bit more of a gap there where I think some healthcare organizations have been a little bit more reluctant to take on blogging as a part of what they’re doing. Mobile apps as well, quite a bit lower within healthcare than outside. And again, I think that within the industry, there’s been kind of tension back and forth on what’s the benefit out of a mobile app versus maybe a mobile app around patient portal and some of that type of functionality, and a little bit of back and forth on where that functionality should go.

To take a deeper dive into the healthcare content marketing tactics, and again this is coming from our own survey that will be published here shortly. Here we’re looking at the usage in the red bars and the effectiveness, those items that were marked off as being most effective out of items on the list by respondents to the survey. And you’ll see a couple of gaps here. Just as a reminder, this is self-reported data, so we’re not taking kind of actual usage and trying to figure out if it was effective or not effective. This is how people self-reported that they felt like this was an effective tactic for their organization.

You’ll see a couple of interesting gaps here, one around articles on your website. You know, everybody is writing articles on their website. You know, fewer people feel that that is effective for them than some of the similar items there, things like videos or email marketing. Also, about the fourth or fifth bar in there, photos or illustrations, similar to that usage that is a little bit different. Not necessarily felt like that’s a strong kind of tactic to be using within healthcare, not one of the most effective things.

Definitely some interesting things there, video being very strong for healthcare. We see a lot of usage in video and that’s something, of course, across social media that performs really well. Email marketing is a good one to look at as well. Something that maybe isn’t quite as widely used in healthcare as in other industries, and it’s kind of up and coming but definitely something that is felt to be very effective when it is used. A couple things off there to the right that are a little bit less used in healthcare than other industries. Again, the mobile apps, people are not feeling that’s particularly effective or widely used. And then some online kind of slide shows, webinars, those kinds of things, also kind of falling off on that lower end.

So what does all that mean? As we think of all of the things that are played to all of the different ways that we can use these different tactics to create content, really where we’re looking here is thinking about going back and what is that consumer experience. Thinking about content creation around the overall consumer experience and balancing out what we have as healthcare marketers that is that core, sort of evergreen content. What are the services that we’re offering? What is our particular approach to care? The things that are kind of the boulders of those rocks in the middle of our website. And then reorient some things around them in a more consumer-oriented way, and I’ll tell you a little bit more about what I mean by that. But as we’re doing that, really thinking about ways to go deeper into that effort, some stats around that.

You know, a lot of times we see a lot of shorter blog posts, shorter snippets of articles, and what we’re finding from an SEO perspective as well as just kind of success in sharing and getting back links into articles, is that longer articles tend to do better and you have a really good opportunity within healthcare to tackle some of that well-researched, well thought out content that is maybe a little bit longer. And so there’s an opportunity here to kind of go back to the drawing board, and if you’ve been spending a lot of time writing those shorter blog posts, those kind of Buzz Feed style posts, think about going a little bit deeper and really creating some longer form content that tends to really draw users in over time.

So to kind of expand on that and kind of fill in for some of you that may not be deep in SEO all of the time. There’s been quite a bit of a shift in SEO over the last few years. And as we’re thinking about content marketing, all of this really applies in how we are organizing and strategizing the content that we’re going to create around a particular topic area. And the first critical piece of that is really the shift away from thinking about an individual page standing by itself to thinking about the entities that are represented on our website. So rather than thinking about one individual URL and what are the keywords that I want to focus on for this URL, and you know, how is that going to match up with what people are searching for, we’re really thinking about what is our organization about? What are the services we offer?

Thinking about those particular physical facilities, those physical people, the physicians that are providing care, and how can those be found, those real world items. How can they be found online? How do we connect them together so that they help to emphasize each other? So that if you have a physician that has particular specialties, that those things are tied into the content that’s written about the services that are provided. And all of that connecting together within the markup of your sites and the content you’re producing helps the search engines to understand the relatedness and the depth that you’re providing in that information.

The second item here is really getting away from keywords. Most people are pretty familiar with this, the idea that certainly the keywords, metatags [SP] field has been dead for a long time. But even the idea of stuffing keywords into the content on the page, making sure to repeat those exact phrases over and over again within the content, getting that up into your headlines and your page titles. You know, doing a certain amount of that is still important, but really the focus now is around topics. Search engines are all smart enough now to know that there are multiple ways to talk about the same topic, that healthcare with no space, healthcare with a space in there, and hospital are all highly related concepts and you don’t necessarily need to have the exact phrase coming through on every single page or fifty times on a page like you might have tried to five years ago.

What’s important to think about when you’re thinking about those topics, it kind of goes back to that entity model as well, is really creating a density around those topics. So it’s not just having the birth center service line represented in there with the page. It’s creating all of the content around the other topics that will help provide a user with information that would be highly related to the concept of a birth center. So maybe different approaches to giving birth, different preferences, how to create a birth plan, things like that that would be very tightly tied in and that the search engines are really gonna see “For users interested in this, they’re gonna be interested in that as well.”

The idea behind this for the search engines, is they want to get the user to the place that they’re gonna be able to find the best answers to their question and kind of the next question they’re gonna have after they answer the first question. And so they’re really looking at what is the depths in a particular topic area. And we’ll talk more in a minute about how to really leverage this as you’re thinking about the content marketing and the articles that you’re creating.

The last piece here is really kind of saying goodbye to web browsers a little bit and thinking beyond that into devices and certainly voice search. And I think we’ve all seen in the last couple years as mobile has taken off but then the whole bunch of different names have launched out there. There’s Siri, Cortana, Alexa [SP], Google voice search, all of those things showing up there and people are starting to interact with them in new and different ways.

My three year old, he’s obsessively watching Alexa videos. Just kind of amazed, I think, that somebody can talk to this computer and it’s talking back and doing all these things in the house, turning off and on lights. Just kind of boggles his little brain, as it should, I think. And so, thinking about the content that you’re creating and how it is going to interact with these new ecosystems where users are using voice search to get answers to questions. That affects not only kind of that interaction context where you’re interacting with information and when, but also the kinds of phrases that you use when you’re asking a question to an artificial intelligence rather than typing it into a search box. Different ways that you’re going to phrase some of those questions or think about the subject matter. So, all things to be considering as we move forward here.

So as I was talking with Joanna, one of our digital strategists here about some of the work that she’s been doing, something that popped to mind was this Four Actions Framework. When we’re thinking about these entities, thinking about this topic density, and she was really talking about working on some topic density for a client, this is, I think, a great way to really think about how you’re going to compete in the search space. So if you’re not familiar with the Four Actions Framework, this comes out of a book called “Blue Ocean Strategy” that’s been out for quite a while. It’s kind of a classic business book. But the idea behind the Blue Ocean Strategy is that when you have a highly competitive environment, you have organizations that are competing in what they call a red ocean.

So everybody is pretty much the same and you’re just kind of like beating each other to death. You’re trying to edge everybody else for rankings within that same search result page, for the same keywords. And what you need to do is kind of take a step back and figure out how to change the game, how to create a new value curve that will move you out of that red ocean and into a clear blue ocean. So that’s kind of that whole book summed up in about 30 seconds.

So what we’re looking at here is four different ways of doing that in order to move things into that new value curve. So you can eliminate something, you can take something out of the mix that has always been there, kind of stop doing something. You can raise something, so you can actually do more or raise the level of something that has already been there in the industry, just do it better. You can create something. So, add something into your offering that wasn’t there before, or you can reduce something. So, you know, kind of lower the amount of whatever you’re doing there.

So to take this kind of vague concept and apply it particularly to SEO, I think this is a great way to look at, for a particular topic area, what can our organization do that addresses some of these different actions in order to take us out of that head-to-head competition with everybody else for the same search results page? And really, you know, put us into a little bit cleaner space to compete.

So as we go around this framework again, things that you can eliminate: obviously keyword stuffing. So if you’re spending a lot of time on budgeting keywords in to all of your content, something probably not to do a lot with. Clickbait. If you’re spending a lot of time on short articles that are just kind of getting people to pop in and probably not retaining them through a visit, that’s not a good long term strategy for really boosting your SEO in that long term.

Some things that you might want to raise. So we actually are able to talk about something here called 10X content. This is a concept that Moz [SP], the SEO folks, have really helped to popularize. It’s the idea that you kind of go to that search results page, the one that you want to appear on, you look at the thing that’s at the top of the page. And you think about what would it take to get ten times better than that content. Can you go out and create a content that answers that question the same? Same topic, same question but just does it in a way that is ten times better than the thing that’s already there at the top of the page. So really raising the bar, creating something above and beyond to what is out there in the industry today.

I think you can also do that through topical density. So not only creating the one article about the one set of keywords that you want to rank highly for, but thinking about what are all those follow on questions that are going to come up for a user as they are, again, evaluating a person. If they’re going in there, they’re gonna have a lot of questions in their mind. There are a lot of different topics that they’re gonna be searching around for. And the more that you create a cluster within your site, densely linked together, clustered ideally under a particular URL so that the search engines can see that this is all highly related, that helps to raise the bar compared to maybe some of those other offerings out there, the search engines.

When you think about creating…take a look at some of the formats, the content formats that are out there. There may be an answer to that question that is a web page. There’s likely multiple web pages answering the user’s question that you’re trying to address. But thinking about, “Okay, can we create some imagery, a photo, a video, an illustration to help explain this concept?” Kind of shifting it outside of that competition for those organic search results and thinking about all of the different types of things that show up within a Google search results page, within any search results page, that are beyond what other people are doing.

I think there’s a huge opportunity here as well with schema and structured content. Where the competition may not be there yet and you can kind of get a leg up by going out and making sure that you are creating the metadata, the structured data for the content that you’re producing that will help get it into those different search interfaces, into the devices as people are using those to search.

The lower left hand corner then reducing what can you do a little bit less off. Obviously, you can’t just go out and do more of everything. You’ve got to cut something out. And two things that I see people really kind of reducing their effort on. One is reference content. So we used to see that people would spend a lot of time basically writing their own health library and going out and answering all the questions about how is a particular condition diagnosed, what does treatment look like, all those kinds of things.

We see less of that going on. You certainly want enough to give a person some context about what this thing is within a particular service line, but a lot more of the content that people are creating is unique to their organization, their approach to care and just those things that really differentiate them, as well as confirming that that service is available.

The inside out structure is another area that we definitely see people reducing. So a lot of times you go out, and try as you might, you still end up with an overall structure on your website that really reflects your internal organization. So you really see those departments, you know, build out in the overall structure. And all of that stuff may not make sense to your users as they’re exploring and it may not help some of that topical density.

So just because two different services live within the same department doesn’t mean that they’re highly related. If you think about all the various types of cancer that are out there, very different audiences that are coping with those different conditions, different interests, different questions, different therapies that are appropriate for each of them, really thinking about how to break that apart and orient that in a way that it makes more sense to their overall audience. So just some things to think about in order to take some stuff off of your plate as you’re rethinking content marketing and how to really focus in and create some deeper content and gets more value out of those efforts.

Now that’s gonna tie right in with social media and we’re gonna talk a little bit about that and touch on reputation management as well. The big shift here is, one, kind of away from talking as much and not necessarily completely stopping the talking but also listening and thinking about using social for listening as much as for talking. I think the trend in the past has really been to go out there and tweet and post and push a lot of content out. There’s a channel to really, you know, push things out to your audience.

What we’re seeing in some of these different studies that are out and trends that are going on. This is from a Salesforce study, looking at marketers who are increasing spending within social media in the coming year, and finding that the largest area that spending was being increased in is social media engagement. So not just the pushing things out but how do you respond, how do you listen and engage? So a lot of growth is going on in this area. Just kind of at a high level, in our own study we saw a lot of growth in this area.

So this is something that a lot of folks have somebody full time on staff dealing with. That was one of the largest areas that we saw within our own survey. And like I said, Ben will be kind of digging into that fully next month. But something that a lot of organizations are doing, but there’s a lot of different levels that they’re doing that at. So how they’re planning for that, how that plan mixes in with the rest of their marketing organization, a lot of variability in there.

One of the areas to look at and to kind of broaden what you’re thinking about when you’re talking about social, again, thinking about going deeper, is to look into some of those more hidden areas. Of course, you can go post things kind of in the public Facebook space on your own page and different areas like that out there on Twitter. A lot of what’s going on in these platforms is much more hidden, though. Looking into Facebook groups, looking into forums, discussion boards, niche communities, both locally and out there kind of at large. If you’ve got some particular areas of excellence or conditions that you offer some unique treatment for, looking at a national level at some of those discussion boards, at those different patient communities that are out there and digging into what’s going on there.

Not necessarily saying to jump right in and engage with that, but you can learn a lot from lurking in these communities and really understanding what are the questions that people have? What are they facing on a day-to-day basis? You can see just a little bit in this snippet here, this Type 2 diabetes forum, a lot of the questions about particular medications and particular results of those tests. Creating some longer form content around that, really helping to answer those questions. This can be a great source of just that information and questions that are maybe not available or not visible quite on the surface.

So a little bit different way of thinking about social and about thinking about engaging with your audiences out there. This is kind of an astounding stat that I shared earlier this year as well. Among folks age 35 and over, looking at digital audience penetration and engagement, Facebook is really the outlier here. So we’ll talk a lot about Facebook. It’s really looking at that one out of every six minutes that’s being spent online on Facebook. And if you’re on mobile, one out of every five minutes. So, huge numbers there for Facebook. And of course, that’s where a lot of folks are spending their time in creating social media content.

This was an interesting quote one of my colleagues kind of captured at the Content Marketing World Conference just about a month ago from Amanda at Cleveland Clinic, saying that “The Facebook algorithm killed us.” So there was a change to the Facebook algorithm and how things showed up on the newsfeed about a year ago, and things just kind of changed as that shifted. So the reminder here. If you’re relying on a platform like Facebook, kind of a non-owned, rented sometimes called platform to drive a lot of your traffic, you really need to be aware of that and have some other kind of backup strategies in place. And that’s really what they had done. They had email available there, and that helped to kind of take over where Facebook left off and they were able to continue growing and moving forward from there.

But just being really aware when you’re thinking about Facebook, when you’re thinking about other social media sites. Even search. We’ve seen that as well on Google search results page. You know, whether they’re gonna display stars next to the ratings on a particular entry or take that away next week. You’re really left up in the air, in some ways, around what you’re going to get out of some of those so-called rented platforms.

So something to keep in mind when you’re thinking about social, is really pairing up those rented platforms with things that you own. So whether that’s traffic on your own site that’s using the traffic to capture the audience, get emails and start to really build that audience in a way that you have more ownership of, I’m really wanting to encourage you to mix those things together.

Another great usage of social media when you’re thinking about content marketing and weaving some of these ideas together, and even going back to the idea of kind of lurking around some of these discussion boards, looking for content ideas, you can really use curated content and posting some of that on social media. So this is sharing somebody else’s post, sharing somebody else’s content with a little bit of your own context around it, and seeing what the engagement on that is. If you are posting and sharing links out there and one of them is really taking off, you’ve kind of hit on a hot topic for your audience, that may be something that you want to prioritize.

You know, weaving into your content marketing strategy, that you want to create some content assets around that of your own. Maybe think about that 10X concept of, “Okay. This is really resonating with people. How can we make this even better than what else is out there today?” And building on top of that to kind of test out and test the waters into different areas and see what maybe is going to work for you out there.

So how does social and reputation management both kind of fit more into an overall SEO strategy? This is really something that you want to think about as part of SEO, because when folks are out there searching for certainly your branded terms as well as topics that you’re out there talking about, they’re gonna get a whole mix of results back. Kind of things that you see on the screen. So everything from a local search result, to videos, to news articles. You really want to be aware of this ecosystem. Your social profiles and the content that you post out there are part of that. The ratings and reviews that you’re getting on various websites are part of that. And really, you want to make sure that you’re taking care of this and paying attention and keeping all that clean.

So as you’re thinking about all of that, you want to be maintaining that clean ecosystem. Making sure that all the profiles are complete, up to date, accurate, that you’re maybe spreading content out across some of these different channels so that you can be found in a variety of ways. I definitely encourage sharing on the social and third party platforms, but I would say don’t… I see some sites and some platforms that really push social shares at the expense of the user experience. You’ve got invasive pop ups or you’ve got things kind of taking over the page, really trying to get people to share the content. Probably not worth it to potentially hurt your bounce rate or impact the overall user experience of your site to try to get those extra few social shares. You really want to be able to balance those things out.

And the last thing I’d recommend here is if you’re putting a lot of effort into social, make sure that you’ve given your website a social checkup, and this involves a number of different things. First off, you’re gonna want to have your sites mobile optimized. We see such a high number of folks using things like Facebook on mobile devices. Again, that was the one to five minutes spent on mobile is on Facebook. So if they’re coming off of Facebook onto your site within the app and it’s not mobile optimized, whether it’s responsive today or not, just what is that user experience to look like if they’re gonna have kind of a click user experience when they get there. That’s something that you’re gonna want to address if you’re making that investment into social.

You want to make sure that you’ve got social metadata published on your pages. So what I mean by that is things like Open Graph, Twitter card, This tells social media sites, things like Facebook or LinkedIn, exactly the information that you want displayed about a particular page on the site. So it’ll tell them what is the featured image for this piece of content, what is the title and description that I want shown, what it appears on Facebook share. And these things can be a little bit different than what you might put out there for kind of the regular page description for Google. Or just maybe what is the regular part of the content. So you want to have some specification, I guess, in there of exactly how you want some of those things to show up.

Check your site. This is seems like a no-brainer. Most sites anymore have social profiling somewhere on there. It’s usually kind of the logos of the different social media platforms that you’re participating in. Make sure that those are up to date and working. I’ve seen a number of sites where you go…you want to link out to the Facebook page and it doesn’t actually get to the Facebook page, or they’ve changed their Twitter handle and it no longer links there. I’ve seen quite a few where those images that are used to link out are dated and not the right logos for those different platforms today. It doesn’t look real great if you’re using the Twitter logo from four or five years ago. So just make sure that those are working as kind of a baseline thing, but it’s amazing how often that goes wrong.

And then thinking about the social share buttons. I know there’s been, in healthcare specifically, a little bit of kerfuffle about the Facebook Like button and having that on pages and kind of protecting user’s privacy. You know, I don’t think you need to use a lot of those embeds or kind of really fancy controls. Just having a few links on the page for sharing this on Facebook, sharing it on Twitter. Keeping it minimal and really functional. But making sure that you’re tracking those clicks. So if somebody is sharing that off in a platform, that you can see that inside of your analytics and really be able to track all of those things. So that’s kind of a starting point for a checklist, if you’re out there investing in social, some things that you want to make sure are going on on your website.

So turning over to digital advertising here, really want to think about targeting and tracking, and in both ends of that spectrum. How are we going to hone in on a particular audience and how are we gonna measure what’s going on there? Thinking about some of the strategies that organizations are using. Again, this is from a Salesforce study, looking at which particular strategies are being used out there. A lot of folks advertising on social using display banner ads. The red is currently using. The gray is things that they’re planning to add over the next few months. Seeing video advertising. That’s something that we’ve seen be really huge as well.

Something I would encourage you, if you’re out there producing videos, whether that’s TV commercials or just kind of in-house videos for using on social media, thinking about creating some of those shorter snippets that can be used within some of the video platforms to do pre-roll [SP] advertising on YouTube. Things like that can be really, really effective. And then native advertising as well. So you can see on the left hand side then how folks rated those as effective or very effective. Again, the social platforms being a pretty strong strategy there for folks to be using.

One of the reasons for that, and probably the main reason that this works really well, is that you have so many different targeting options. Especially pretty much everything other than search are things that you can target out of social media specifically. So thinking about not only search terms we’re really familiar with, doing Ad Words, ads within Google search results, but thinking about all of those different ways that you can use the different advertising platforms. Contextual ads off on other sites that are based on the content that’s being browsed, targeting based on demographics, interests. One that I see kind of underutilized in healthcare is that behavioral targeting, using some of the data that Facebook has and offers you through in-market segments.

So this is data that they get from providers like Datalogix [SP], Epsilon [SP], that takes consumer information about purchases. It’s kind of all that information that you don’t want to know that everybody has about you, that’s out there about where you’re spending your money and your time and what’s going on in your life, and post that all together in some ways that could be pretty interesting for healthcare marketers as you’re thinking about the kinds of products that people out there are purchasing, what their household structure is when they have moved. Things like that that can be great targets for running healthcare campaigns.

Another underutilized area within healthcare is remarketing, and there’s been a lot of kind of fear about that…and there’s some lighter ways to use remarketing within healthcare. So just simply getting your brand back out there rather than going broadly in trying to build brand awareness among everybody in the entire geographic area. Maybe focusing that down and just trying to kind of remind and stay top of mind for those folks that have recently engaged with you. So there’s some ways to use remarketing that aren’t that creepy. You know, I’m shopping for a sweater, now that sweater is following me all over the internet. Things that may not be as appropriate for healthcare marketing. But some ways to use not only the actual remarketing ads but also thinking about those lists that you can create as part of the remarketing to leverage into other strategies.

Custom audiences and some of the connections within the platform. So, targeting people who are your followers or people whose email addresses you have and kind of doing some of the same targets there. As well as broadening those out, any of these lists really, with similar people, find people like my followers or like people who follow these other accounts, using lookalikes to kind of grow that list out and use some of that intelligence that’s built into the platform to do that.

So lots of different options. No reason to stick with just one. So definitely think about layering these together. So, you know, not just going with demographics but also layering in some behavioral things. You know, layering that in to repeat that kind of brand top of mind information after you’ve kind of targeted based on the demographics or behavioral, getting out there and back in front of them again. Or on the right hand side, we’ve got kind of a chain of these things going together. Using maybe some search marketing really is great at identifying that intent.

So you know if somebody is typing these words into a search box, there’s some kind of action that they’re trying to take, there’s something in their mind at that point in time. It’s much more action-oriented, less passive than maybe putting stuff out on social media. But focused on that intent, being able to capture that and use some of the remarketing tools to build up that list and go out and use lookalikes to find more within those areas. So lots of different ways to pull all these together and really focus in who you’re targeting, getting that narrowed down so that you can have some really effective campaigns out there.

So one of the things that I’ve noticed when folks do get out there and run these campaigns and they are effective, and a lot of times they’re surprised by how effective these campaigns are. So when you’re connecting all this together, you’ve got a strong call to action, you’ve got maybe a particular type of appointment you’re pushing for, a particular screening or something like that, I would encourage you, you know, don’t count all your eggs before they’ve hatched, but do be prepared for success. Have a plan in place. If you’re able to very quickly fill up all of those appointment slots, is there the ability to have more?

If you’re able to fill up all those times for screenings or meet everybody’s capacity, what’s gonna happen next? Does that mean you’re just gonna shut the campaign down and wait until the capacity frees up again? Or do you have a plan in place to really operationalize what it is that you’re working towards. And I’ve seen a number of campaigns over the years where you kind of hit this brick wall of “We got more response than we thought. There’s way more need for this out there than we anticipated, and we’re kind of stuck because we’re not ready to tackle that demand.” So definitely give some thought to that ahead of time. Like I said, don’t count your eggs before they’ve hatched, but do give a little bit of thought and planning to what could happen if this is really successful.

When I think a little bit about how we are tracking the effectiveness of these campaigns, going back again to our Geonetric survey from this year, we have some questions around CRM. So this is kind of the first thing that jumps to mind when you’re thinking about tracking, what about those CRM systems? And we found that out of the responses that we got, about 12% didn’t know if they were using a CRM or not. And out of the 28% that were currently using a CRM, there was about 26% who didn’t know which system they were using. So, to me, both of these kind of indicate what I’ve kind of seen out there, is that there’s a little bit of a disconnect, especially in healthcare marketing, between the boots on the ground that are doing all of the day-to-day campaigns and running these things and the folks that are really crunching the numbers and using the CRM systems.

So I would encourage you to go over to their desk, introduce yourself and really get to know the people that are working in the CRM side of things. Start to connect the dots there, if your organization has made the investment in this. Really be able to take advantage of that and figure out how you can start to tie things together. If you don’t have CRM in place or kind of tying these pieces together isn’t in the cards right now, I would also encourage you… Within our survey, we saw only 53% reported tracking conversions. So I would encourage you to at least get out there and use some of the web based tools that are at your disposal to track some of those basic metrics, thinking about both micro conversions, things within the page, of small interactions that the predecessor is hopefully a bigger action, as well as those macro conversions where there are dollars on the line and you can really tie each conversion to a particular dollar number.

A framework that I like to recommend people start with for this if you’re kind of lost when it comes to tracking or what we should be looking at or how do you even organize thinking about this, is one that Avinash Kaushik has pushed out there. Worked with Google, and this is really incorporated in it. If you’ve been in Google Analytics a bit, you’ll notice this is exactly how things are organized in there now.

It’s taken a few years for them to get there, but this is a great way to think about that pathway that you’re encouraging folks to move through, whether that’s coming from content marketing, from social media, through advertising. You’re really moving people through each of these stages and you want to be able to track the effectiveness of your efforts across acquisition, how are you getting people into your content, how are you attracting customers through the actual behaviors and how they interact with your information. Where do they land? What do they do? Do they bounce right off? Do they come back again later? All the way through the conversions. What is the business impact of these activities? How can we measure that? Like I said, whether that’s a very small…just watching a video within a page, all the way through to actually calling and making appointments or filling out a form online, scheduling that doctor’s visit.

Some ways to tie that back to some interesting numbers then. At the acquisition level, one interesting stat that you can pull together is to look at, if you’re putting a lot of effort into SEO, look at what would we be spending right now on PPC ads to get a similar placement to get to that kind of traffic coming from ads within the search engines? And how much is that gonna cost us over the course of a year, a couple years, as we continue out there? That’s one way to look at some of those acquisition costs and balancing out “We could spend the money in ads, we could spend the money and the effort in content and SEO to really boost our placement. Which one is gonna give a better return on investment?”

When you’re thinking about behavior, looking at repeat visitors, subscription, the social likes and followers, making sure that you’re building that audience as part of your efforts. Like I said, with that Cleveland Clinic Facebook example, when you’re using some of those rented platforms, things may change and everything could just kind of switch up tomorrow, making sure that you’re building some ongoing value for your organization in the audience that you’re creating. And then looking at engagement, time on page, page views. Some of those metrics, a lot of times we kind of call those [inaudible 00:47:08] metrics when you think about page views. But there are ways to dig into those and look at them deeply and really get some information about how well things are working.

And then you want to see how those are tying into those conversions. Looking at things like the number of appointment requests that you’re driving online, percentage of overall appointment requests. Even at the simple level, getting those goals set up in GA and then estimating a goal value. So kind of work your way backwards from we know that if one patient goes through with this procedure, it looks like this kind of revenue. We need to get ten in the door to get that to happen. And so we’re gonna value each of these at a tenth of that overall value. What will happen, if you get some of those goals values going on within Google Analytics, in those goal conversions, is that’s gonna filter out and display some page value throughout the rest of your site.

So you can really start to tie the content that you’ve been creating to those goal conversions. Track a lot of those [inaudible 00:48:11] over multiple visits and see what is the most valuable content on your site. How are people arriving there and what should you be doing more of? What might you want to back off of? And make some good decisions based on that data.

Kind of a final thought here. I want to leave you with one more thought about PPC versus SEO. Again, bringing it back to the SEO side. You know, a lot of folks really put the effort into the SEO and wanting to kind of get that sort of free organic traffic by getting up to the top of the results. That’s great for a lot of types of queries. One thing to keep in mind as you’re doing that is, the search intent and the different types of queries that the search engines are handling and how they respond to those differently. So here on the screen you’ve got an example of a query for cancer treatments. And the way that Google is interpreting this is just a general information request, and that’s why you get this box over there on the right hand side that’s really helping to inform you about that general topic.

And you’ve got a map there with some local results that are geared towards that topic. So what can be really difficult to do when you’re thinking about SEO, is to get at the top of the page for a particular topic areas. So when you’re thinking about those topics versus maybe something with a local intent or where you’re actually looking for a particular business or trying to take some kind of action, Google tends to focus those down into more local search results, the kinds of things that you can really win at.

When you’re thinking about these big topics, you’re often up against those huge players in the space. You’re up against Mayo and WebMD and a lot of those that, as a site, are very broadly based and have a huge page rank that is difficult to overcome. This is where PPC becomes a better play where you can actually get some presence on that page. As you can see here this is the updated results page where they’ve taken…Google has taken the ads out of the right hand column. They’re pushing them up to the top. Gets a lot of visibility there. And so for a lot of these broader search queries, this is really the way to get into the search engines and to get some visibility there.

So to bring it all back together, got one idea to leave you with and then a few takeaways. The one idea is this stat that I found that says…out of a Gartner study, 71% of marketers report having an innovation budget, and that budget is somewhere around 10% of marketing spend.

So I thought this is a great concept. Not something that I hear a lot of healthcare organizations talking about, their innovation budget and how they’re going to use that to test out new things. So if this is not something that you have today or a concept that interests you, I encourage you, as you’re thinking about budgeting, to really play around with the idea, “How do we take just a small slice either out of our current budget or as we’re planning for next year?” And just assume that you’re going to try some new things with that, that you’re gonna put some effort into some areas that you haven’t tried before. And it may not pan out. You know, you may try ten things and nine of them are gonna fail. But really, you’re gonna learn a tremendous amount, and that one thing that you find that’s successful may be very successful for your organization.

So it’s always about learning and growing and iterating on the things that are working and not working. So I think that’s a great way to do that. Some of the key takeaways, if I had to give you a few bullet points to just walk away from this with, really thinking about how all of these different channels are interrelated. While we often divide these out and think about them a little bit separately, each of them can play off the other. You know, like I was mentioning with using maybe social to test out concepts for content marketing, using paid and organic in smart ways to make sure that you can get the visibility you need within the search engines. You know, there’s a lot of cases where one particular channel can help to solve problems in another, and vice versa. So really think about them holistically. That’s what we really like to try to do here, is to pull them all together and look at what we’re trying to achieve and the best ways to use each of those channels to build on each other and make that happen.

Definitely encourage you to tie your efforts closely to your organizational strategy and think about going deep. Think about that quality over quantity rather than churning out dozens of blog posts that are maybe in that shorter content length. You know, digging in deep and getting something that’s gonna have some lasting value and really is going to get those shares and that visibility that you need, really is gonna benefit you in the long term. And then of course tracking your efforts. Build on the successes that you have, continue to iterate and learn from the things that don’t go so well. And be prepared for a success. Plan ahead and think about what’s gonna happen when you win.

So with that, I’m gonna move to taking a few questions. Looks like we’ve got a few queued up here. First question here is around looking to beef up content, thinking about mobile. So, long pages of content, do those work on mobile, and thinking about those sites that are mobile responsive and thinking about whether you’re creating the content for the desktop or for mobile. So it really depends, I think, on the intent behind that content. So if you’re creating actionable content where the reason the user is coming to the page is to take almost immediate action. I want to schedule that appointment. I want to contact that office. I want to find that phone number. Yeah, shorter is going to be better. You know, getting those key actions to the top of the page, whether that’s on desktop or mobile, making sure they’re prominent and easy to access is going to be very useful.

As far as what I’m recommending around some of this longer form content, really looking at making sure that of course you’ve got readable design, something that is gonna be comfortable to be read on a mobile device as well as on desktop. That’s a concern on a lot of sites. As I mentioned with thinking about Facebook and how that connection to your website, making sure that that user experience on mobile is really a positive user experience. Kind of on a tangent, I’ve encouraged folks in the past, encourage everybody to go out and look first at the mobile sites. Rather than defaulting to your desktop and pulling up the page somebody is talking about, go out to your mobile site on your phone and see what it looks like on there. Just kind of change the wiring in your brain a little bit to make sure that those are top of mind for you. It’s really easy when you’re sitting at your desk, working at your job, to forget about going out there on your phone and checking things.

But really looking at the design of those longer pages. People do read on their devices. We do a ton of reading, each of us every day, whether that’s email or websites or social media. People are not afraid to scroll. They’re not afraid to read longer form content and they’re not afraid of switching devices as well. So if you make it easy for them to kind of capture that URL, share it with themselves even, and switch devices midstream, that can help with some of that longer content. So, wouldn’t necessarily shy away from longer content on mobile but definitely think about the intent behind that content. And for the things that are a little bit more action-oriented rather than being kind of informative and building on other efforts, to really take a look at the differences there.

Question as well around the survey that I mentioned, Geonetric survey. Again, if you didn’t hear that early on in the webcast, we’re still working on finishing up the final run of that, and laying that all out and then tabulating the final results. If you go out to survey or if you put a comment in the survey for the webinar, we’ll make sure to get you a copy of that when that’s ready to go. So that’s gonna be coming out shortly. And as I mentioned as well, the November webinar will be actually about that survey, looking at industry trends, and Ben Dillon will be reporting on that as well.

Look at some other questions. I think we’ve got a couple others. So, question here about trimming out. If you’ve got a limited budget and there’s a whole bunch of recommendations, the question here is “We use a company for digital and they’ll give me a rundown on recommendations and we need to trim due to budget. How would you rank which is most important to least?” Some of the options here being Google search, banner, text, ads, YouTube pre-roll, Facebook ads. If I had to, not knowing all the details about your strategy, go out on a limb here and think about some different ways that you might rank and prioritize those efforts, I would probably lean towards thinking about some of the search, especially local search, and prioritizing that rather highly because that is very close to a user’s purchase intent. So they’re trying to make a decision, you can really get at that with some of the search queries.

That’s probably one of the first things that I would try to do within a strategy, is make sure that if somebody is asking about buying the service that I offer, I’m gonna be there when they’re asking for that. Some of that would play in with how well you’re already ranking for those types of queries. You want to balance that out and you want to make sure that you’re focusing really around queries that have strong intent with them, not just some of those broader based things, intent that you can really serve well so that you’ve got good solid landing pages. Making sure that those are gonna follow through when somebody gets there.

Going from there, really kind of see what works. There’s a little bit of locality to this though. Things that work in your city may not work in other cities. But definitely if you’ve got the opportunity to do some of the YouTube pre-roll or some video within the advertising, that seems to be working really strongly for folks. It depends a little bit on what you’re trying to promote out there. But I would definitely think about investing a little bit outside of the box rather than going and spending a lot of time on maybe banner ads or some display advertising. Just, again, going back to that blue ocean concept, kind of take a look at your market, take a look at who you’re competing against and see if you can find a place to play that’s a little bit outside of what they’re doing, where you can have some space to explore.

So a question as well about what about content marketing. I mentioned a little bit about Facebook being a rented platform. But this question is really about other third party platforms, like Medium. Would you recommend, if we’re doing a blog, to look at some of those platforms? Some things that I’d consider there. I wouldn’t necessarily put the kibosh on that across the board. But if you’re looking at something like Medium, that’s a third party platform, for posting blog posts, you get some upside to being out there and getting some visibility within that platform, getting some shares just within the platform itself. Some of the downsides would be on your kind of domain level SEO. So this is something that you could maybe launch in the sub-domain but not part of your main website domain.

I would want to make sure that you can get all the analytics and tracking and all of that kind of stuff out of there as well before I jumped on board with that. I think there’s a little bit of a difference between that kind of a third party platform versus something like Facebook where you have very little control over some of those decisions that are going to be made. A little bit more is allowed you on one of these platforms is more of a content marketing. You’ve got a little bit more control over how things are gonna go. It’s a little bit more shaped up for you as a marketer, as a content marketer, to be participating there.

So, definitely give a thought to your overall SEO strategy and just your overall comfort with the platforms, I guess, that you want something that your authors are gonna be comfortable with as they’re publishing out there. All right. Well, I thank you for your time and attention today, and I hope you’ll join us next month for our webinar on our digital marketing survey.

Growing Digital: Reaching Health Consumers Online