Rich Briddock: “If you have enough traffic and you know how to nurture people and build these first-party audiences, that is going to be your competitive advantage because, that’s an audience that nobody else will have. That’s an audience that even the algorithms won’t be able to hone in on. These people are already engaging with your brand, so they already know you, and the chances are they like you. If you can develop strategies that really help you build those audiences and then nurture them to the point of conversion, then you will be successful and you will have a competitive advantage over the folks that don’t do that.”
Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.
Alex Membrillo: What’s going on everybody. Welcome to Ignite. We are going to ignite a discussion around first-party data today. I’m Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing and we have Rich Briddock on the line with us. He’s British, and he’s also the SVP of Performance Marketing. Let’s talk about first-party data. First of all, what is the difference between first, is there a second-party and third-party data? Walk us through that real quick and then we’re going to get into details about first-party data.
Rich Briddock: The difference between first and third-party data is, first-party data is essentially audiences that you build yourself. If it’s your remarketing is the most common first-party audience where someone will come to your website and then they will go into your remarketing pool. That is an audience that you’ve built yourself, you’ve collected those people, you’ve collected those cookies, and now you’re able to target them. Nobody else will have that audience. No one will be able to leverage your remarketing audience to target them. It’s not like your competitors can go out and find your remarketing pool and target them.
Third-party data though is audiences that you buy or that you serve against on other advertising platforms. If you are running paid social ads on Facebook, you might be targeting a native Facebook interest audience which could be people who are interested in dentistry or people who are interested in a certain type of surgery or a certain type of condition. That is a third-party audience that Facebook has compiled, and that you can target through Facebook with your ads, but that anybody else in your vertical could also target. They are not unique. Anybody using that platform can purchase that audience or can use that audience.
The issue with third-party audiences is twofold. Sometimes you don’t really know how they’ve been compiled and you don’t really know how quality the people are within those audiences. You don’t know every signal that’s been used to compile that audience. The second thing is, you don’t know how often they’re being updated. If you think about it, if I’m in the market for something and I get categorized as I’m interested in X because I behave that way, I may have already made my purchase. I may have already got that service, but I’m still in that audience and you’re still targeting me because that audience has not been updated. Cookies in that audience has not been updated.
That is primarily the issue with third-party audiences is it’s very convenient because you don’t have to go out and build your audience yourself, but you don’t know how recent those people are in those audience pools. Everybody else can use the same audiences, so it’s not really a competitive advantage. If you can build good first-party audiences, A: you can get people who are a lot more qualified, and B: you’re tapping into an audience that nobody else has access to. You’ve got a bit of an exclusive there with those folks.
Alex: Give some examples of third-party audiences provider groups. Let’s start with healthcare. Give some examples. Where did people use to go buy third-party audiences? What are some of the ones that still maybe a little bit work and then we’ll transition to first-party stuff?
Rich: The biggest area where you can tap into third-party audiences is going to be programmatic display. On programmatic display, especially when you get outside of Google’s realm into players like StackAdapt and healthcare specialty players like PulsePoint, there is a ton of third-party audiences that you can target. You can target condition models of specific conditions, you can target contextual conditions, you can target keyword-driven third-party audiences, so people who’ve been searching specific keywords or viewing articles that have specific keywords in them. You can get down to conditions, symptoms, treatments, all sorts, from a healthcare provider point of view.
Through PulsePoint, there are other programmatic providers available. This is just one that I’m mentioning, but through things like PulsePoint, you can even target physicians based on the types of prescriptions they write.
Alex: And patients based on condition symptom, right?
Alex: It’s HIPAA compliant. This is not heebie-jeebies stuff.
Rich: Yes, it’s HIPAA compliant. There’s no PII that’s being essentially moved from them to you, it’s all hashed. It’s all HIPAA compliant. Third-party audiences are still a good way of expanding your reach out to a relevant audience, but as there are shifts in the marketplace, obviously, Facebook is the big one, where data sharing has been limited with iOS 14, it’s harder to just rely purely on third-party audiences to drive all the performance that you need. Essentially now, what a lot of advertisers are doing, going one of two ways. They’re either really doubling down on first-party audiences, which is what we’re going to talk about a little bit here today, or they are leaving targeting wide open and they’re letting the algorithm essentially figure out where their consumers are. They’re using this wide-open targeting coupled with some messaging strategies and some ad format strategies that help the algorithm figure out who the right patient is. Those are the two strategies that people are going to and they’re relying less and less on third-party audiences.
Alex: Got you. Let’s talk tactics. What are some great ways providers groups can collect first-party data that can later be used for all the different types of advertising? First of all, how do we collect this stuff?
Rich: Absolutely. I’d say it’s twofold. There are two core mechanisms for collecting good first-party data. The first is, essentially, if you’re trying to build a pool, you want to offer people things. First of all, you want to drive them to your website. You want to give them a reason to go to your website because that’ll build your remarketing pool. Then when they’re on the website, you probably want to qualify them further. Especially from paid social or from display, you get a lot of people who click an ad, and maybe it was a mistake, they’re not really interested, or they bounce straight away. That’s not really a very valuable first-party audience. You don’t want to spend a lot of time and energy trying to reengage these people who were never really interested in the first place and just accidentally clicked on your ad.
Having certain things that then a user can do on the site and more importantly, tracking those things, helps you build more qualified first-party audiences. You may have a downloadable, you may do something as simple as setting up what we call scroll tracking. Essentially, through Google Tag Manager, you can track how far down a page a user got. Maybe they got down to 50% of your page, which signifies that they’re pretty interested in your content. You can segment audiences through Google Analytics by how much time a user has spent on the page or on the website. You can do something similar through Facebook where Facebook will actually determine what the top 25% of your website users are, based on the activity that they take on the site.
Tracking and having offerings, and what we call micro conversions is a great way to further qualify your first-party audiences. Now, that’s number one. Another example is, it doesn’t just have to be downloadables. You can have a quiz. For a lot of healthcare clients, you’ll see behavioral health clients. You could have quiz like, “Do you need help?” I think I see this a lot in the rehab space. “Do you have a problem?” They’ll have a quiz, someone could take it. “How many days a week are you having a drink? How many drinks are you having?” They fill out that quiz and then essentially it says, “Yes, you may need to take action.” Or “No, you’re in the normal range,” but you can then remarket to people who have taken that quiz if you are tracking [unintelligible 00:08:29]
Alex: Can I remarket to people that have just scrolled through my site, been on my site a long time, build an audience off that, serve them a different ad?
Rich: Correct. Exactly. That’s what I meant with scroll tracking and with an average time on site, you can do that. For Google Analytics, you can do the duration stuff. In fact, you can set up all of those conversion actions through Google Tag Manager. You just have to have somebody who knows what they’re doing in order to set that up [unintelligible 00:08:52]
Alex: Enough traffic to warrant making separate audiences and creating ads.
Rich: Yes. That gets to my second point, which is the other way to drive good first-party audiences is you want to start thinking about your advertising as a funnel.
A lot of DR advertisers will focus on the bottom of the funnel. The challenge with just focusing on the bottom of the funnel is, while it’s great for driving a low CPA, it usually will be very expensive to engage with at that point. If you think about some of the very competitive healthcare landscape, you may be paying $10, $12 a click. If you are trying to build an audience of 10,000, 20,000 people or do 20,000 times 12, that’s a lot of expenditure. That’s $250,000 you’ve got to expend to build that audience, which is pretty cost-prohibitive for most people.
If you go up the funnel though, and all of a sudden you’re building a first-party audience by showing a brand awareness video to someone, a 15 to 30-second brand awareness video to someone at the top of the funnel. Maybe it costs 2¢ to 3¢ to watch that video, which is typically cost per view or cost on Facebook, then all of a sudden, building an audience of 20,000 people that have watched your video, costs significantly less. It’s a fraction of the cost. What you can do is you can have them engage with that content and watch that content. If they watch beyond a certain percentage, you can say, “Okay, these guys are interested in my content. They’re lukewarm leads.” Then you remarket to them because they watched your video with something else. Maybe it’s another video, maybe you drive them to a landing page, whatever it might be. Then if they complete that step, they then go into another first-party audience which is going to be a little bit smaller, but now they’ve done two things. They’ve watched your video and they’ve gone to your page, and now they’re a hot lead, or they’re a warm lead. They’re engaging with you across multiple touchpoints, and you know that these people are interested.
Those are going to end up being, by the way, your most valuable audiences, if you can get them to be big enough. These are people who are actively engaging with you, they familiarize themselves with the brand. They’ve read your content and know what you have to offer. These are the people that you should be prioritizing from a targeting point of view.
Alex: Chatbots can get the first-party data in there too, Facebook link. Tell us all the different ways we can collect the data.
Rich: Again, I think chatbots ends up being one of those micro-events where you use it as a way to segment people’s interest level. Maybe someone comes to the website and they have a question, they’re not ready to give you their information yet. If you have a chatbot, they can ask the bot that question and so you know that they’ve engaged with the bot. This immediately probably puts them into the top 5% of engaged users that have come to your website, because they’ve been bothered to ask the bot a question. Then you can fire a conversion action based on that bot engagement and that conversion action, put that user into a pool and you can target them. Again, just similar to what I just described with the funnel and with those micro-events, chatbots are a good way to create that list of warm users.
Alex: Got it. What tech or processes are needed here, Rich, to make this all happen? Do I got to be a really advanced provider group, or can Joe Shmoe do this?
Rich: You probably need Google Tag Manager to set up all the trackings. Even if you’re like, “Well, hang on a minute, what’s a Google Tag Manager?” It’s a free tool and it’s fairly intuitive. I would say you may want a contractor to help you set some stuff up. There are loads of tracking contractors out there. You can find Upwork and all these places. They’re reasonable.
First of all, it’s just having a plan. Figuring out, okay, how am I going to drive these audiences? Am I going to do it through this funnel strategy where I have a lot of videos up top? In which case, you then need video content. Am I going to do it by tagging a bunch of activities on my website or having a bunch of downloadable content? In which case you guys need to produce the content and you need to decide on what you’re going to tag or create experiences.
The first thing I’d say is, get a plan. Second thing, then you can do the test setup, build the content that you need, build the videos for the top of the funnel, all those things. If you’re doing all that stuff anyway, there are ways to do it relatively easily. You can build stock video footage through loads of tools out there, like Wave or Promo. There are tons of video builders, Canva. Then, as I said, Tag Manager is a free tool where you can do all the tracking [unintelligible 00:13:44]
You don’t have to be a super-advanced marketer. It’s obviously easier if you already are familiar with these tools, and if you’re already doing the tracking, and you’re already doing video content and you’re already doing downloadables. Anybody can do it as long as they have a decent plan in place, and they’ve figured out the implementation piece.
Alex: Okay. Does email play in here at all? How would I use this to segment people in my email nurture system? It’s like someone that came in for an ACL tear I want to serve different content to, where they haven’t even come in for the ACL tear I suppose, but they were on the ACL page. Can I email them different content? Is there any carry-over or no way to do this?
Rich: You can build pools of people who have clicked through from certain email campaigns. Maybe as a provider, you were doing some kind of promotion one month or some kind of new patient special. You blast a bunch of folks out on your email list. Maybe it’s last patients. A good example of this would be, on the dentist side, you get a ton of last patients, right? Because a lot of [unintelligible 00:14:56] base and they only come in when they have a toothache or they need a filling, et cetera, et cetera. You may try and reactivate them on a six-monthly, 12 monthly basis. As long as you’re using UTM parameters on your links, in your email, back to your website, you’ll know that they clicked on that email from that specific campaign that came to your website, and then you can remarket to them differently with different ads. Maybe you had an email-only offer to reactivate your list. They clicked through, you know they came from that campaign, and then you could serve them an ad on social or on display that is just that offer, just for them. Maybe it’s only that specific group of last patients that you want to see that promotion. Yes, you absolutely can incorporate email into these efforts.
Alex: Let’s talk about the future here. The iOS 14 thing, the tracking’s gotten worse, conversion tracking worse, Facebook’s ad revenue I’m sure is plummeting, and it’s all going to Google. We’re seeing it with clients, more to Google, more to Google. It seems to be a common theme that we’re trying to now protect our data. It wasn’t a thing. We would’ve handed over our social security number to Google five years ago. Now, no. Do you think it’s not only fun to harness your own data and do something with it, but going to be critical here in the coming years as these third-party signals become less reliable?
Rich: I think there’s going to be two things that set advertisers apart when it comes to disruptive advertising. The first is that, as I said before we even get into first-party data, the first is that what’s going to happen is all the big platforms, all the self-serve platforms are essentially trying to go to a model where they control everything in terms of targeting. Google just released this new mass performance product, where you don’t do any targeting and it figures out which products to serve stuff on, which we’re looking into right now. Facebook has DCO and is encouraging people to run wide open targeting and massive audiences. Ultimately, the general thought is that it’s going to go more and more to the place where you are not even picking the audiences anymore. Facebook will do that for you or a display vendor will do that for you, and it’s all going to be programmatically figured out by the algorithm on finding that person and serving them at the right time with the right message.
What is going to help advertisers and agencies stand out in that model is creative, and having great creative, and having a great story to tell and really understanding their users and understanding if they’re promo driven, having a great promo. It’s really going to be about actually setting yourself apart, positioning yourself in the right way, as a market of one, and truly differentiating yourself and then effectively communicating that through good creative. That’s going to be how you set yourself apart, and you do well when audience targeting becomes less of a thing.
The other thing too, though, is if you have enough traffic and you know how to nurture people and build these first-party audiences, that is going to be your competitive advantage because like I said, that’s an audience that nobody else will have. That’s an audience that even the algorithms won’t be able to hone in on. These people are already engaging with your brand, so they already know you, and the chances are they like you. That is the low-hanging fruit from an audience perspective. If you can develop strategies that really help you build those audiences and then nurture them to the point of conversion, then you will be successful and you will have a competitive advantage over the folks that don’t do that. Those are the two things that I think will truly be where this thing is going here in the next two, three years.
Alex: I like it. I’d almost like to do an episode just on that. How do you harness your own future and not rely on all of these platforms to dictate it for you.
First and third-party data. Y’all heard everything there is to hear. HIPAA compliancy in tag. You can run a lot of these types of advertising. You need a good amount of traffic, but I’d also encourage you when you’re building these audiences, first-party audience and third-party, whatever it is. When you’re building these audiences, go and create wonderful experiences based on where they are in their journey. We’ve got lots of podcasts episodes, Rich and I, talking about a creative process, how you can roll out really good creative at scale based on someone’s part of the journey that they are in. Not everybody should be getting offer-based messaging. You should be building different audiences. Sometimes they just need to get educated on what your practice provides. Maybe they just moved to the area, all kinds of fun stuff. They are in previous episodes, so please go back and listen. Rich, thanks for joining us on Ignite.
Rich: Thanks for having me.
Alex: We appreciate all your wisdom.
Speaker: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast, and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.
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