Lauren Leone: “Organic social media is not going to gain you new patients. It is not going to be the first touchpoint that someone comes across your brand. The reach when you post something on your social page is less than 8% of your followers. Organic Social is not for patient acquisition, great for retention, great for community relations, great for re-engagement, but that is the max that it’s going to do for you.”
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 up, everybody, excited to have you here on Ignite. We’ve got Lauren Leone, our SVP of healthcare marketing. She knows all things about performance marketing for high-growth healthcare groups. Lauren, welcome to Ignite.
Lauren Leone: Good morning, Alex.
Alex: We are going to be talking today about the top digital marketing mistakes we see healthcare organizations doing, top marketing mistakes. This is going to be a good one, guys, because we see these things all the time. Y’all are wasting a ton of time like running these ideas through your head before you call an agency or calling agencies looking for the wrong kind of help. Then if you’re executing yourself, you’re doing the wrong kind of thing. You’re really going to like this one. This is tactical. This is super helpful. Lauren, let’s get cooking. Number one mistake, what do you see with Google Ads and the way people are running those ad campaigns? What’s the biggest mistake you see?
Lauren: With the way that the engines are running now, there’s the onset of smart bidding. Algorithmic machine learning is smarter than any human. I think rather than leaning into that, what I’m noticing organizations doing is over-segmenting and that can happen in a number of ways.
It can happen because you’re over-segmenting your geographic regions and thinking you have to have these micro-campaigns or you’re over-segmenting the way your budget is sliced and diced across all of your campaigns, trying to get more control. What that’s really doing is it’s hindering you from taking advantage of the fact that AI is smarter than a human being and really leaning in and allowing the machine learning to help you make real-time adjustments to your campaigns based on some of these nuances.
Alex: There’s a fine line like just leaving it all to the computers has also taken us and the like. Where do you draw the line? How do you get enough insight?
Lauren: Set up really smart tests. Think about what you want to know. Do you want to know if one market is performing better than the other, one state, one-half of the country, one region? Do you want to know if a certain demographic is working well? Set up an A/B test. Set them up fairly and equally. Allow those tests and those segments to still utilize machine learning.
Maybe your only restriction on a campaign is geography or only demographics rather than trying to layer geography, demographic device, all on top of each other and really stifling your ability to reach audiences that you didn’t even know were out there. You don’t have to give up testing and learning, but you do need to be smarter about how much segmentation you put on any given campaign.
Alex: Can you get all the insights you need if you set it up the way you’re talking about? Are you still or is the machine just saying, “You drove more conversions. You’re welcome”?
Lauren: The demographic is getting harder, the demographic information. For privacy purposes, that makes sense why it’s harder to extract that information. You’re never going to know that females aged 21 that live in this zip code and have college educations are the people that you’re reaching unless you have a campaign set up that way. If you’re only reaching that demographic, you’re leaving so many other potential patients on the table that you didn’t know potentially needed your services. There’s definitely a fine line that it’s not one line for every organization. I think you really need to have a conversation with your agency about what that line is for you.
Alex: Okay, beautiful. I love it. Not so easy. Don’t ever let the algorithm do everything. It’s almost like you have to provide the right inputs to the computer and Google’s trying to get rid of agencies probably over the next 10, 15 years, but they’ve been trying since I started Cardinal over a decade ago. They haven’t succeeded because computers still have to be told what to do for them to go figure out how to execute it, so you’re not going to get rid of humans that easily. What’s the second biggest mistake you have seen with our least favorite marketing channel?
Lauren: One thing to be clear here. We’re talking about new patient acquisition, and so we get a lot of inquiries. I feel all of the inquiries come through Cardinal’s website and I get so many that say, “Please help me with my organic social content.” Maintaining your brand, engaging with current patients, it is absolutely a great place to be. You should have someone on your team who’s responsible for patient relations, who can manage the channels, put out content about upcoming events, key dates. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s time to go get a mammogram. Whatever it may be, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Organic social media is not going to gain you new patients. It is not going to be the first touchpoint that someone comes across your brand. The reach when you post something on your social page is less than 8% of your followers. That’s not even people that don’t follow you already. People that don’t follow you are the potential new patients, so move away from reaching out to an agency and really limiting the scope of what you’re asking from them as just organic social and start asking, “I want to reach more new patients. Can you, agency, please tell me what channels I need to be on in order to do that?”
Alex: Organic social, not for patient acquisition.
Lauren: Not for patient acquisition, great for retention, great for community relations, great for re-engagement, but that is the max that it’s going to do for you.
Alex: I love small business. I love our smaller medical practices just as much as the big ones. It frustrates me the most when the small ones come and say, “Help us with our Facebook feed,” and I say, “You are wasting your time. What you need are new patients. You’ve got about 18 followers and they’re all your family. There is no point to even posting to this thing.”
Lauren: The time and money you spend doing that post, it’s coming up with the content. Are you creating videos? Are you doing graphics? That is just so much time and energy and money that you’re spending doing these things. Convert that into a really smart paid social campaign that is targeted at new patients.
Alex: For the bigger medical groups out there, again, social works really well because you do want lots of reactivations. You do have lots of employees who need to know what the heck is going on in your brand positioning. Makes sense there. Smaller guys, I wouldn’t mess with it. All right, number three mistake. This is my favorite marketing channel. Tell us what to do, what to avoid.
Lauren: In the organic space, I can’t tell you how many times I get someone that comes to us and they’re looking for a short-term fix to their organic problems. “Let me bring you on for three months and I want you to fix all these things that you see. You did a great audit. You found all these technical issues. My URLs are a mess. My crawl depths are out of control. My backlink profile is toxic. Fix it for me.”
Three months later, you fix that one technical thing. “Thank you very much. I’m going to assume everything’s good to go and I’m going to stop doing SEO.” SEO really should be the foundation to any digital marketing strategy. It is owning the house. You’re paying a mortgage. That is going to be your money long-term versus the paid media, which is a great strategy, but you’re renting that space unless and until you stop paying for it, it’s not yours long-term. I would just say think about SEO is an evergreen, always-on strategy.
Alex: When Lauren was saying “organic,” she meant SEO because we were just talking about organic social. We’re talking SEO, SEO, SEO. Do you include reviews, listings, all of that kind of stuff in SEO?
Lauren: Absolutely. Local SEO showing up in that map pack, that is absolutely part of the equation. If we have a practice, a healthcare group that has physical locations, or even maybe now, we’re seeing mobile urgent cares. They’re servicing a trade area and going to the patient. You need to have a local presence. The “near me” searches, the zip code searches, the city searches are just continuing to grow. In order to return a result for those, you need to have off-site citations.
Alex: Absolutely. You’re telling me I ranked number one for Atlanta orthopedic surgeon, I have to keep going?
Lauren: Yes. Because if you stop, what’s going to happen is, naturally, your backlinks are going to start to fade off. They don’t last forever. The algorithms will change and you’re not keeping up with them. Your competitors are going to start doing things like growing their backlink profiles, adding more content to their site, and they’re going to get the positive uptick in their performance and you’re going to get the negative. You’re going to be going down as they go up.
Alex: Only number one for now. Eventually, you come down. An algorithm update could wipe you out. Don’t cry about it. It happens to everybody, but it could also wipe you out when you guys start over. It sounds like job security. For agencies, this is good news, Lauren. I’m liking this. Let’s stay in the agency’s face. This is good.
Lauren: For the marketers that are in-house too, you’re always needed.
Alex: Don’t let them tell you’re different. All right, Lauren. Thanks for joining us on Ignite. This is fun. We talked about the top three mistakes. Number one, over-segmentation in Google Ads. Number two, investing in too much organic social for patient acquisition. Number three, stopping SEO. Lauren, thanks for joining us.
Lauren: Thanks, Alex.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing, subscribe to our podcasts and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.
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