Summary: What digital marketing strategies should private equity firms use to grow their acquisitions? Which techniques lend well to growth and scalability? Let’s look at three real-world case studies.

The pace of consolidation continues to quicken across the healthcare industry. By most estimates, hospital mergers and acquisitions will remain robust through the end of 2021 (at least). Unsurprisingly, the private equity firms involved in these deals will need to rapidly incorporate and ramp up their new acquisitions and businesses.

With more and more healthcare decisions moving online, digital marketing can help private equity firms meet their growth goals. Compared to traditional healthcare advertising like print, radio, and television, digital marketing is relatively inexpensive and offers a compelling return on investment (ROI). Digital gives firms the ability to:

  • Precisely target and refine audiences to the people most likely to convert
  • Rapidly build brand awareness in new markets and drive patient volume
  • Accommodate quick shifts in priorities as objectives change, or new acquisitions occur
  • Change messaging and offers virtually in real-time to improve conversions and leads

 

Private Equity-Backed Healthcare Marketing: Three Case Studies

As to what scalable digital marketing for private equity looks like in the wild, we’ve put together three case studies from our own client portfolio. These detailed case studies should help you evaluate the potential effectiveness of digital marketing, including viable strategies, potential outcomes, and ROI:

 

1. LifeStance

LifeStance is a leading behavioral health company with more than 350 clinics around the country. The company delivers evidence-based psychiatric, psychological, and therapeutic care to children, adolescents, and adults. What follows is a snapshot of our work with LifeStance. You can also read the full LifeStance case study.

Challenges, Goals & Solutions

To scale marketing up from three regional brands to more than 20 brands across the country, LifeStance needed to create a repeatable digital platform that could be quickly deployed for new regional brands. Reinventing the wheel each and every time was out of the question due to resource limitations. To support these aggressive growth goals, LifeStance needed a digital marketing agency specializing in multi-location medical groups. With the help of our team, LifeStance put in place a highly scalable marketing strategy, including:

Full-funnel content marketing strategy

The full-funnel approach to LifeStance’s content accounted for the different stages of the patient journey. The idea was to surface the right content, at the right time, for the right people. To get there, we helped execute:

  • Sitewide keyword optimization to match user intent
  • Link building, including niche edits, guest posting, and forums
  • On-page and technical SEO, including custom post types, crawl rate optimization, and clean URL structures
Lifestance case study results

By surfacing the right content, at the right time, for the right people, we were able to help Lifestance account for the different stages of the patient journey and achieve top national rankings.

Efficient paid search and social media campaigns

To capture incremental patient volume at a cost-effective cost per acquisition (CPA), Cardinal helped LifeStance launch various paid search campaigns. Our approach was to invest the next dollar in the most effective channel—to be fluid, agile, and adaptive across the board.

Here are the main ingredients of our paid search and paid social media strategies for LifeStance:

  • Campaign consolidation and restructuring to improve algorithm performance without sacrificing relevancy
  • Testing specific themes, such as insurance and “from home”
  • Testing new ad formats, including expanded text and responsive search
  • Brand awareness campaigns through paid social media advertising
  • New social media creative to support a full-funnel approach
Lifestance Case Study Stats

Our approach was to invest the next dollar in the most effective channel—to be fluid, agile, and adaptive across the board.

 

2. VitalSkin Dermatology

VitalSkin Dermatology was founded to form stable, long-term partnerships with dermatologists nationwide. The group is backed by Armory Capital, a Champaign-Urbana family private equity office with a legacy of lasting partnerships. Given Armory’s flexibility and permanent capital, VitalSkin plans to continue its aggressive expansion plans. What follows is a snapshot of this engagement with VitalSkin. You can also read the full VitalSkin Dermatology case study.

Challenges, Goals & Solutions

The question that VitalSkin faced was how to build a marketing strategy to support a multi-location dermatology group? VitalSkin needed a comprehensive approach aligned with the goals of its member practitioners, first and foremost. At the time, the company had little digital presence, fledgling internal systems and processes, and ambitious growth goals. The team needed to tackle a few challenges, in particular:

  • Show doctors the value of the marketing services they will receive through VitalSkins
  • Set up viable telehealth and live chat options to support customers across the country
  • Personalize marketing messaging and campaigns for each location’s value proposition and services
  • Drive patient acquisition for newly acquired and existing dermatology practices in the portfolio

Updated web design

The approach here was to develop a future-proof website from the ground up. The new website needed to accommodate multiple patient demographics, as well as the addition of new brand acquisitions and location growth. As a central piece of our parallel SEO strategy, the website was built with foundational SEO and conversion-optimization best practices in place. This included:

  • Multi-location website architecture that’s scalable, valuable, unique, and search-optimized
  • User experience (UX) and technical optimizations in line with the latest best practices
  • Seamless, user-friendly site structure and navigation
  • Rich, consumable, high-value content

Search engine optimization (SEO) audits and updates

SEO was essential to building a powerhouse brand capable of dominating organic search results. To capitalize on VitalSkin’s new multi-location website, we orchestrated a comprehensive SEO strategy, including:

  • Deep keyword phrase research, target keyword list, and search optimized content
  • Development of keyword-focused on-site content, including blog posts and marketing resources
  • Location pages for all locations
  • Targeted link-building focused on core pages
Vitalskin SEO case study stats

To capitalize on VitalSkin’s new multi-location website, we orchestrated a comprehensive SEO strategy to drive traffic to their site.

 

3. Smile Doctors

Smile Doctors is a leading group of orthodontists with 200 locations in 17 states. When the group engaged Cardinal Digital Marketing, they were ready to turn their smattering of direct mail and Google Ads campaigns into a full-fledged marketing strategy capable of sustaining new growth and acquisitions. Scalability was essential to this project. What follows is a snapshot of our engagement with Smile Doctors. You can also read the full Smile Doctors case study.

Challenges, Goals & Solutions

To lift up conversion rates, brand awareness metrics, and lead volume across all of its locations, the Smile Doctors in-house team needed a partner for more strategic media management. To compete in an increasingly competitive orthodontic market, Smile Doctors needed a scalable pay-per-click (PPC) advertising strategy, as well as the introduction of Facebook advertising (paid social), smart display, and video ads.

Strategic campaign restructuring

The most dramatic improvements came as a result of campaign-level consolidations. For PPC, this meant grouping campaigns by themes and intent at the ad group level. This strategy was particularly important for a multi-location group like Smile Doctors; it allowed the algorithm to find the most cost-effective conversion while still targeting ads based on location.

Other restructuring efforts included:

  • Developing lookalike audiences to prospect for new users
  • Testing generic keyword sets for new opportunities
  • Testing new bidding strategies, such as smart bidding
Smile Doctors Case Study CPC stats

Grouping campaigns by themes and intent at the ad group level allowed the algorithm to find the most cost-effective conversion while still targeting ads based on location.

New campaign-specific landing pages

Our creative team wrote, designed, and developed new customized landing pages for each corresponding ad campaign. This helped ensure a highly tailored, highly relevant portfolio of advertising campaigns. In addition, the new assets followed paid media best practices, which improved click-through rates (CTR) and lowered cost per acquisition (CPA). Such as:

  • Relevant and persuasive copywriting aligned with consumer intent and target audience
  • Trust signals, such as testimonials, ratings, reviews, certifications, and case studies
  • Mobile optimization and responsiveness
  • Conversion rate optimization (CRO) best practices
Smile Doctors CVR Stat

Our creative team wrote, designed, and developed new customized landing pages for each corresponding ad campaign and followed paid media best practices to improve CVR.

Full-funnel advertising strategy

To increase brand awareness and reach those most likely to convert, we used a full-funnel approach that spanned social media, smart display, and other digital channels. This approach helped Smile Doctors avoid a common issue with social media advertising, in which companies inflate their budget without generating qualified leads. Once we’d generated enough upper-funnel campaign data, we used the data to build custom audiences and campaigns that aligned with the user’s stage within the buying cycle. This set up our bottom-of-the-funnel campaigns to be far more efficient.

Smile Doctors case study stats

To increase brand awareness and reach those most likely to convert, we used a full-funnel approach that spanned social media, smart display, and other digital channels.

 

The Power of a Repeatable Framework

The three case studies above demonstrate the incredible power of repeatable, multi-location marketing strategies. It’s what can happen when a private equity firm finds a dependable agency partner that can be trusted to quickly generate results in lockstep with new acquisitions and expansion.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But the right framework should make it far more efficient for private equity firms to deploy the marketing strategies that make the most sense for specific businesses, industries, or locations.

 

Alex Membrillo Cardinal CEO

Alex Membrillo

Founder and CEO

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).