All of a sudden, private equity advisory boards and in-house marketing teams find themselves needing to work together. In this blog post, I explore the trends in healthcare private equity creating this unlikely alliance. And I’ll show you some of the important ways that private equity and in-house marketing teams can work together to create value fast.

If ever there was a time for private equity firms and in-house marketing teams to find common ground …

If a recent report from Bain & Company is any indicator, the state of private equity in healthcare is strong. While overall deal total and average deal size have decreased, Bain & Company estimates that the volume of private equity deals in healthcare has increased 21 percent. We’ve seen more consolidation across the healthcare industry, too.

All of which creates tremendous incentive for private equity firms to evolve the ways they create value.

 

Where In-House Digital Marketing Teams Can Help

For many private equity firms, the answer is right in front of them. Many healthcare organizations already have an in-house marketing team or agency partner that’s aware of how patient choice is evolving.

One thing we know is that most healthcare decisions are moving online. This gives healthcare consumers instant access to more healthcare choices than ever, which means healthcare organizations cannot afford to put those consumers through high-friction experiences—online, in person, or otherwise.

Here’s how in-house marketing teams can help lead the way:

Create Better Patient Experiences With New Capital

One area that’s in need of improvement is the patient experience. With more capital in hand, healthcare organizations can invest in the technology that other industries have already been using to create great consumer experiences.

Additional capital allows digital marketing teams to conduct a more thorough audit of current marketing touchpoints (for example, digital signs) and channels (email or social media) to understand the patient experience. This audit ought to answer a few important questions:

  • What are the most critical (highest volume) touchpoints in the journey that we absolutely need to get right?
  • Which channels are new leads using to find you? What about high-intent leads?
  • Which touchpoints are leading to friction indicators (abandonment, contact center cases, complaints)?
  • How are we continuously monitoring, quantifying, analyzing, and reporting on these patient journeys?
  • Do we have dedicated web pages or experiences for the search terms people use to find us most often?

With additional capital, marketing teams can also launch mobile apps that give patients a more convenient and personalized way to communicate with providers, make appointments, and even conduct telehealth appointments. Chris Gauld, writing for PrivateEquityWire, calls these companion apps “that embed technology, such as beacons, in care settings to serve location-driven digital content, fully-integrated appointment booking facilities, and video consultations. Platforms such as these also reduce patient admin costs and move the organisation towards paper-light digital experiences.”

Finally, an influx of capital can help marketers create more human-centric digital experiences. Marketers can leverage data to improve digital marketing content design and structure. They can also align physical and digital touchpoints to create a seamless patient experience—from appointment scheduling to paperwork to the post-visit follow-up.

Meet Consumer Demand for Transparency

Think about the healthcare brands you, as a consumer, trust. It could be a perception about the brand, or it might be based on direct experience. Which brands do you consider credible? Where do you go for information? Trustworthy healthcare brands tend to prioritize transparency, especially concerning marketing campaigns.

Today, medical consumers are less willing to jump through hoops to get answers about pricing, insurance, or service delivery. They want immediate answers, and if they can’t find them, they’ll look for someone else who will.

Of course, this culture of transparency should make its way into marketing practices, too. Eric Silberman, in an interview with HITMC underscores the need for transparency between healthcare organizations and their marketing teams (in-house or third-party). “Silberman strongly recommends that marketing leaders demand and prioritize transparency from their partners. This doesn’t just mean transparency around results (which Silberman says is a ‘given’), but around market strategies and approaches as well.”

This goes for the private equity firms working with in-house teams, too. On both sides of the coin, there should be transparency around the strategies and tactics in use, campaign performance, and more. Harshit Jain, writing for Forbes, calls for greater visibility around real-time campaign metrics and performance.

Align Marketing Goals with Organizational Goals

This goes for both private equity firms and in-house marketing teams. Both need to ensure that marketing efforts are contributing to broader business objectives—to pin marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) to business goals. I see two immediate opportunities to do so:

Attribution

Which marketing practices, campaigns, channels, and touchpoints drive the greatest value? And do we have the marketing attribution capabilities in place to accurately track and report what marketing channel gets credit for a particular outcome?

Connect Business Systems

Siloed systems and system data can make “connecting the dots” quite difficult. The healthcare organizations creating value tend to have an integrated approach to their essential technologies, including:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Reporting and analytics software
  • Marketing automation and email platform
  • Call tracking solution
  • Online appointment scheduling
  • Electronic health records (EHR) system
  • Revenue cycle management software

For more on attribution, integrating systems, and aligning marketing with organizational goals, see: How to Measure Healthcare Marketing Performance.

 

Where Private Equity Fits Into the Mix

While in-house marketing teams have plenty of opportunities for creating value, their counterparts in private equity have work to do, too. After all, private equity teams often hold the pocketbook.

Fund Marketing Initiatives That Get Results

Private equity teams can empower their counterparts on the in-house marketing team by using data to inform budget and resource allocations. Funding the right marketing initiatives can lead to tremendous results, but it has to be informed by the data, namely:

  • Patient data
  • Channel data
  • Service data
  • Campaign data

Private equity teams also can invest in the tools, processes, and people to extract these important insights. I’ve seen some settings just begging for an advanced marketing analytics platform, for example. While this addition to the marketing tech stack is no small decision, it can often bring together data sources and make critical insights more accessible to stakeholders across the organization.

In a related scenario, I’ve seen other marketing teams benefit greatly from an investment in data analytics professionals capable of building the kinds of data pipelines that healthcare organizations need to improve marketing performance.

3 Case Studies in Private Equity-Backed Healthcare Marketing

You might have noticed my frequent references to real-world examples of the strategies I’ve enumerated above. The proof is in the pudding! So I’ve asked my team to put together three detailed case studies from the world of healthcare marketing. The LifeStance, VitalSkin, and SmileDoctors stories show how greater collaboration between private equity and in-house marketing teams can lead to incredible results.

Here are the highlights:

  • LifeStance Health (500 locations nationwide): 195 percent increase in total site conversions in six months
  • VitalSkin (multi-location group backed by Armory Capital): 309 percent increase in patient leads
  • Smile Doctors (250+ location OSO in 17 states): 35 percent increase in conversion rates

These detailed case studies should help you evaluate the potential effectiveness of digital marketing, including viable strategies, potential outcomes, and ROI. Read: How 3 Private Equity-Backed Healthcare Groups are Scaling Growth.

 

Time to Synergize in the Name of Better Patient Experiences

As private equity firms look to extract greater value from their acquisitions, they’ll need to make the patient experience a priority. As a recent post from McKinsey & Company indicates, “more than 60 percent of patients report they want more information when deciding where to get care.”

The time is now to think about how a better patient experience can help drive value. As the strategies I’ve outlined above indicate, private equity firms and in-house marketing have an opportunity to, yes, synergize toward driving higher value together. On the one hand, in-house marketing teams will need to meet consumer demand for higher quality, personalized digital experiences. On the other hand, private equity firms will need to fund their in-house marketing teams accordingly.

Alex Membrillo Cardinal CEO

Alex Membrillo

Founder and CEO

Some say Alex Membrillo was born to be the CEO of a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi-location companies. Others say the Flock chose him. Together with his outstanding team of high-flyers, Alex has led Cardinal to the promised land. Awards proudly include A Best Place to Work designation. A spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately-held US companies for three years running.

And yes, a closet-sized office just past the foosball table by the restrooms.

Having once tasted the bright lights and stardom that comes with being named a Digital Marketer of the Year by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), Alex is no stranger to the spotlight. He’s a Forbes Agency Council writer with placements in leading national publications including Entrepreneur, Search Engine Journal, Physicians Practice, and The Wall Street Journal. He has also served as an expert speaker for conferences including the American Marketing Association, SouthWired, SMASH Senior Care Marketing & Sales Summit, Vistage Executive Leaders, SHSMD, and HCIC.

More importantly—and beyond all the credentials and cool accolades—Cardinal has experienced exponential growth under Membrillo’s leadership. His innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry, especially the world of healthcare and private equity. His team is also growing in lockstep with his client portfolio, the two groups of people he lives to serve (alongside his loving family, of course).