How Anaye Milligan, Director of Marketing for Houston Methodist, is focusing his team on lead quality and using technology to better understand marketing ROI

Anaye Milligan, Director of Marketing for Houston Methodist, is focusing his team on lead quality and using technology to better understand marketing ROI.

How Anaye Milligan, Director of Marketing for Houston Methodist, is focusing his team on lead quality and using technology to better understand marketing ROI

Podcast Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast where we help marketers and CEOs learn the latest tips and tricks to help ignite growth in their business. This isn’t your typical marketing Podcast. We push beyond platitudes to deliver you real world stories from the trenches. Are you ready to learn? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to have fun? Well then, buckle up because you are about to enter the Ignite Podcast.

Interviewer: All right everybody. I’m really excited that you’ve all joined us here on Ignite today. I could not be more thrilled. We have Anaye Milligan. He’s the Director of Marketing at Houston Methodist. Obviously out in Houston, he’s been running marketing an increasing patient acquisition and patient preference and awareness.

He’s going to be sharing some of the more innovative things that they do at Houston Methodist but first, I’d like to welcome Anaye. Anaye, give us a little bit of background. How do we go from marketing manager of the New York Times to helping one of the leading hospitals in the country grow?

Anaye Milligan: The great thing about marketing is that it’s really a skill set. Understanding your target audiences, understanding your products and what are your proposition values and to find the conversions of these two things. You can do that with just about anything.

I was in the newspaper industry at the time. It’s … ago but currently Houston Methodist is doing great. But at the time there was an uncertain future of where digital that digitally impacted the newspaper industry. Moved to Austin by …. I decided I needed to so I ended up in healthcare. Simply say that it’s all … GP. There’s a lot of need for this skill set of digital marketing and internet.

Interviewer:  I love it. We got to Houston Methodist. I think you were at in Insperity as well. Let’s focus more on– we’re more focused on BDC Healthcare at that’s the majority of our listeners as well. I want to hear more about what you’re doing at Houston Methodist. Let’s dive right in to that. Talk to us about your role at Houston Methodist. What are your primary focuses? Is it patient acquisition, preference awareness and what are we doing to increase those channels?

Anaye: I think the main thing that everyone focuses on, is going to be acquisition. Everybody likes to see that we are actually getting people to fill out forms or to schedule online appointments which make the phone ring and that is acquisition, is the number one goal. So, that’s two. However, we recognize that it really is something that begins before the point of acquisition in terms of your campaign, your interaction with your consumer audiences.

For example, you’ll see a lot of healthcare systems and marketers touching on how we’re measuring what’s going on in digital. We’re seeing three things happening there which is going to be running digital conversion campaigns because that’s what you need. That’s really a formal last play contribution that’s really not recognizing that. Well, maybe the reason they were inclined to click on your ad as opposed … , is because you had a really effective re-targeting campaign on it. So, they came back to your site at a time to get organic. Their maybe SEO was really strong or made up. You had videos that you were doing in Primo Editors … , YouTube and other places.

What we try to do is find what are the most effective, sort of non e-journal tactics whether they’re online, offline. Whether they are awareness brand preference or conversion. Just push our money leverage ….

Interviewer: I love that. You guys are really trying to find– You’re trying to understand the journey, at which points do we pull more of the levers? Do we need more SEO, Facebook, YouTube? How do we end up getting more people bottom of the funnel when they’re on Google?

Now, to understand their journey, do you have some kind of tracking system that’s allowing you to see this lead, this patient came along this journey, had these touch points and ended up converting this way? Do you guys track all of that?

Anaye: We do but not to the extent that I’ve been so in other industries. The big challenge in healthcare is that everything is siloed. Everything is fragmented. Most healthcare systems don’t have or be old marketing technology stack or at least a … one. It’s very difficult to say, “Hey. These patients, might end up in our DHR or directly attributed back to this PDC campaign or this campaign or whatever else that it is that you did.”

We’ve made a lot of inputs in that direction. We have a lot that we are working on to solve that problem with technology’s end point. That’s probably a whole another conversation. It’s a really, really big deal that I think a lot of us really should be focused more on. However, what we have been focused on and made a lot of progress that I talk about now is really just focusing on the quality.

I think that a lot of folks are really looking at, “Hey, how many times did I make the phone ring?” or, “Hey, how many forms did I get filled out?” and not really looking at, “Okay. Those phone calls. How many of them actually went on to schedule an appointment? How far can we push our insights? How far can we push our understanding of what’s going on there?”

Same thing with forms does. You may have a lot of people filling up forms or getting to the page but you have a sense of what’s actually happening after that happens. One of the things that we did to make it more specific and tactical is we decided to– actually start listening to phone calls and determine, “Well, once we get people to pick up the phone and call and directly respond to that, what percentage of them are actually trying to schedule an appointment? What percentage of them are actually scheduled an appointment away?”

Then asking questions like those and actually doing a survey where we’re looking at three months worth of data and digging in gave us the proxies to say, “Okay. These are the actual conversion numbers that we’re seeing.” It’s not just that, “Oh, 5% of the people who click in our ad schedule’s an appointment.” It’s really only 2.2% or something like that because a large percentage of those that are clicking the ads, any phone calls are actually doing something other than trying to discuss an appointment but we had to know that because we went in and quality as opposed to quantity.

So … . When you do that, you should actually see your lead numbers. The number of leads dropped and it’s okay because it that means you should be able to focus on quality, quantity. After that drop you can start putting more money to what’s working for that.

Interviewer: Absolutely. I love that. That’s quite sophisticated. Are you guys listening to the calls individually or are you using sentiment analysis or some automated system within the call tracking to listen for appointment scheduling keywords?

Anaye: We’ve done both but what I’m talking about now is actually listening to everything that … . We hired a to do that for us with three months … .

Interviewer: I’m sure that was an exhaustive process. What you’re really looking for– You’re not trying to solve the quantity issue. You’re trying to solve the quality issue. We have a lot of riff raff out there. We’ve got tons of leads coming in but the majority of marketers– what we’re not tracking is what’s happening with those leads? Who’s actually scheduling an appointment, and are they becoming a patient?

Let me ask you this. You have an EHR system, are you guys layering on CRM or any kind of marketing system on top of that? Or, are you guys working with Salesforce or looking to work in any of that regard or just relying on EHR?

Anaye: Well, that goes back to the point that I was making. Well I think that’s a clear enough question because when you say CRM, it’s such a broad term. There’s CRM where people say, “Well okay. That’s Salesforce, sales … .” Or, “CRM …  Salesforce. Marketing for CRM, that’s sales force service for a health club or maybe it’s some combination of … .”

it’s a healthcare CRM which is a completely different thing like or health grades. It’s such a strange acronym. They mean so many different things but it’s almost not useful to think of it like that’s the–

What I can say is that the project that we’re working on right now is not really trying to either buy or implement CRM. It’s really focused on finding a way to identify, have a unique consistent universal identifier that goes from someone’s clicking on an ad and picking up the phone all the way up through the EHR so we can connect that same person that you with our app to the person that ends up in our EHR and ultimately our financial … .

You don’t necessarily need a CRM to do that. It might be even better not to have a CRM too because there are other  that are better. They’re doing that sort of thing. That’s what we’re looking at right now.

Interviewer: So interesting. Tracking the whole journey throughout and finding out if they became a patient in the end. That is no easy task, Anaye, that you’re taking on. I love hearing that because we’re developing technology that does that, so I love hearing that. That is indeed from the best healthcare marketers in the country.

Great. We’ve got a really good feeling for analytics data and how we’re tracking lead quantity and quality. I want to shift gears just a little bit. We’ve talked about the struggles that your having. What do you feel is going to help increase patient acquisition in the future? Where do we see the trends? Do you still think paid search, SEO are going to drive things? Where do you see yourself placing emphasis in 2019 that maybe you weren’t placing as much emphasis in 18?

Anaye: I think the basics still matter a lot. I think paid search and SEO are huge. I think SEO is a big deal. I also see sort of doing this but doing it in different ways. Finding ways to actually engage with people where they get to their hour of need.

This idea of content marketing isn’t new. This idea of consumer engagement isn’t new but the ways that you’re able to do it. We’re really focused on trying to be relevant and really being highly segmented in our messaging and our interactions where we’re providing content and interaction that people find useful. That’s really based on us understanding the target audience and having something relevant in various … .

Interviewer: Yes, and getting to them before their time of need. I love it. Do you see that the tactics that you roll out are going to change by service line? Do you guys have a singular focus or area of specialty there at Houston Methodist that you mostly work on? Is it oncology or orthopedics anything?

Anaye: We do every day said pediatrics at our hospitals. We’re … this year because … . That includes orthopedics, that includes transplant, and neurology and so forth. We really focus on what we call front door services where acquisition [inaudible 00:10:42]. Things where consumers can go out and make choices … . I’m going to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, but I’m probably not going to do that with a cardiovascular surgeon. So, we’re not going to run out of our cardio [inaudible 00:10:57] but we will run out for direct response to those services where a consumer can go out and find a real doctor and do their own evaluation [inaudible 00:11:08].

Interviewer: Yes, makes a ton of sense and it gets them in the door in early end of the process before they have a high acuity need. Okay, I’m loving. I’m loving it. This is super helpful. I’ve got a bunch of agencies, that listen to this podcast as well. What do you find is the best mix of work that stays in house versus– what do you work with partner agencies on?

Anaye: That depends on … . That’s something that I’ve actually been talking to people a lot. We’ve been fortunate enough to grow the team a lot here in Houston Methodist, and so have probably a larger team, … a lot of other healthcare systems. What makes sense for us, would make sense for others but as a rule of thumb, I like to think of it as the closer you get to the brand experience, so the closer you get to the point of action, you should exert more control.

That might look like, everything that is involved with running a paid search as paid search campaign, PPC campaign, which can be very, very– a lot of meticulous … , very specific management that can be a little tedious, we have to get in there everyday and make choices. Also, you need a very specific skill set to be able to do  agency the partner to do that sort of thing. Then, partner would give you a strategic standpoint, makes a lot of sense.

Once they’ve actually clicked on that ad, and they’re going to your website, well, you should try and everything thereafter. As you get better and better at that, you run a AB test which things are actually work for you starting with your and all that. The more intimate or the closer it is to your brand towards your goal, you want to have control.

Where it’s not scalable or where it extends further away, [inaudible 00:12:49]. That changes based on your research.

Interviewer: I like that. I think that is the perfect blend. The closer to the point of action, the more control you need to exert. Lessons from Anaye, I love it. Anaye, this has been super helpful. I want to be respectful of your time. We can’t thank you enough for the insights that you’ve imparted on us. We’re going to have this whole transcribed for our listeners and we hope that you have enjoyed this session of Ignite. Anaye, thank you so much for your time.

Anaye: [inaudible 00:13:17] Thank you for listening.

Podcast Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. If you liked what you heard, please leave us a rating and review. Before you go, please remember to subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss the next episode. For more digital marketing tips, make sure you visit Have a great rest of the day. Don’t forget that the most important part of your job is to ignite growth.

[00:13:46] [END OF AUDIO]

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