Rich Briddock: “If you make a great user experience improvement on your home site, it’s going to have a higher impact than if you’re just doing it on a paid landing page that has 300, 400 visits a month versus a homepage that has 20,000.”
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 I’m Alex Membrillo, the CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing. I’ve got Rich Briddock. He’s our SVP of performance marketing here at Cardinal’s. Has been one of the nearly a decade and has helped some of the biggest group in healthcare, small ones to with some of the biggest groups in healthcare, scale, through performance media. He also heads up our conversion rate practice and analytics. Rich, welcome to Ignite.
Rich Briddock: Thanks for having me, Alex.
Alex: Okay, everybody. We like short podcast interviews, and today is going to follow that same methods. 12 minutes of really highly impactful and tactical stuff. Today, we’re going to be talking about CRO and what it looks like to actually build out the process. We’ve talked in the past about what it is. We’re going to get a bit more granular today and talk about the process. Okay? Why should healthcare orgs care about CRO, Rich? Let’s just get people excited and then we’re actually going to talk about process.
Rich: Typically, why healthcare organizations should care about CRO is because it’s often the redheaded stepchild and that it just gets completely forgotten about, but there’s a lot of opportunity to improve patient acquisition by creating good user experiences and making it really easy for prospective patients to convert and take the action that you want them to take on your website. If that’s calling you or scheduling an appointment online, the goal really should be, how do I make it as easy as possible for my perspective audience to take the desired action that I want?
Companies who do that well, typically see conversion rates increase by 100%, 200%, up to 500%. As you can imagine, if you’re spending money, marketing dollars, on acquiring those patients, if you can acquire them five times more effectively, that really helps your marketing budget go much, much further in terms of your acquisition goals. It’s definitely something that you should be focusing on. I think just like with anything, it’s an area that industry leaders are already focusing on and have already been focusing on for a long time.
Alex: Do you find that many other healthcare groups are incorporating CRO into their marketing programs currently?
Rich: It’s something that is moving away from being a completely emerging discipline to now we have marketers who are much more aware of the need for CRO. I was on a discovery call with a prospect this morning and we were talking primarily about SEO. Then, there was a five-minute discussion segue into CRO. User experience and conversion rate optimization are definitely becoming more prevalent. I think that’s an increased catalyst for the need to do CRO because chances are, at least one of your major competitors will now be implementing it. Obviously, you don’t want them to have a competitive advantage over you and be competing on an unfair playing field.
Alex: A lot of people thinks CRO is just for the paid media landing pages, ads, it impacts everything organic. You can run tons of tests on your organic pages that they convert more highly, if you’re not running paid media, it’s still something you should look at, right?
Rich: Right. Absolutely. It’s really what your traffic is. We have a client right now where we’re running paid media for them and we’re doing CRO, but the majority of their traffic comes through their homepage and is organic. A lot of our CRO efforts that we’re doing is on that homepage because that’s where the most users are going. If you make a great user experience improvement there, it’s going to have a higher impact than if you’re just doing it on a paid landing page that has 300, 400 visits a month versus a homepage that has 20,000.
Really you want to be where the users are on the site and you need to be making improvements there. There are some additional things you need to bear in mind if you’re doing it on the homepage in terms of not impact, negatively impacting SEO, but an agency that understands SEO and CRO should easily be able to navigate those waters for you.
Alex: What are some of the things we’re doing on that homepage? Let’s start. I want to get tactical. I want to give people ideas. What the heck should I be doing for CRO? What are we doing?
Rich: Generally, there’s two core tests that you want to be doing all the time. The first of those is what we call a multivariate test. Essentially, what you’re doing in a multivariate test is instead of an AB test where you’re comparing one experience with another experience, and you have a hypothesis.
With a multivariate test, you’re actually taking a number of different elements, and almost programmatically we’re testing combinations of those different elements. You’re saying, I don’t really know what the most effective combination is to drive the best experience on my home page in the hero, so I’m going to do a multivariate test and I’m going to try three different hero images with three different H ones and three different buttons. The system will essentially tell me which is the most effective combination. Whereas if I’d done that as an A/B test, that probably would have taken me a long time to find that right combination versus just doing a multivariate where we can run it once and quickly gets the right result.
Alex: You need a tool that can do all this for you? Free tools, expensive tools, what’s out there?
Rich: There’s a plethora of different tools, just like anything in the marketing space. If you’re just getting started with CRO and you want to dip your toe in the water, Google has a great tool called Google Optimize, which is free, and you can run up to five concurrent tests through Google Optimize on the free version. There are some limitations, but by and large, for 90% of small businesses, I think Google Optimize is a fine choice. The downside there is there’s no support because it’s a free product. If you make a mistake, you’re on your own and you’ve got to figure it out for yourself.
Then you get into a premium suite. As an agency, we use a tool called Convert. They have unlimited tests that you can run. There’s a plethora of support. They check all your tests as you set them up and really help make sure that you’re understanding what you’re doing and how it’s going to impact everything. They also have a slightly better statistical model for measuring confidence, which is really important when you’re testing, to make sure that what you think is the winner really is the winner.
Alex: What does it cost?
Rich: Platforms range anywhere, and it’s usually traffic-based, can range anywhere from $500 to $3,000 a month. There’s only traffic and then some of the feature sets that you want, but those are typically the ranges. Google Optimize, if you want the free version, obviously it’s zero cost, and if you want the premium version, it’s $150,000 a year. Can get pretty expensive, but you’d have to be a massive organization to really need that.
Alex: It almost seems like CRO is a confluence of design and analytics like you need a designer or design contractor to help create the variation, your ads, landing pages, and stuff like that.
Rich: It’s really a confluence of three things. Design and analytics, like you mentioned, you have to be a numbers person, you have to be data-driven, you have to understand user experience, but really, you have to understand marketing and marketing strategy, and the patient journey, and what the prospective patient is trying to do once they reach that page that you’re testing.
As soon as you understand the psyche of what the patient is trying to do, what value props are important, which value props are unique, their motivation, then you can start to build some hypotheses for some great experiences that you think are going to outperform what you currently have on that page. You really have to understand your end-user. I think that’s the core piece. It’s not just tactical, it’s very strategic.
I think, to add to that, one thing about, should you do CRO, another benefit of doing CRO is it forces you to do a lot of research that can just uncover things that make your other channels more effective. You’re having to do qualitative research on the prospective patient. Ideally, you would be doing patient journey mapping. You’re doing a lot of quantitative research to understand where your patients are spending time, what topics they’re interested on your blog.
All of these things that you’re mining data from to get a much richer understanding about your prospective patient, which you can then utilize through other channels. How you talk to people through paid social ads, how you talk to them through your PPC ads, what blog topics you should be writing, email, newsletters, you name it. The research component of CRO is definitely beneficial in terms of helping your other marketing strategies perform better.
Alex: What are some of the things you’re tweaking on a site and the conversion rate practice that we’re doing? Give them all the options, different things to test.
Rich: That is A/B tests, which are just, you’ve got your current page and then you have an idea on how you can improve it, and so you create that page that’s got that idea implemented, and you test them against each other to see which is most effective. That’s probably the simplest type of test you can run. Then you’ve got the multivariate, which I’ve mentioned.
You’ve also got a split URL test. It’s like, well, I’m going to do a test where I route 50% of traffic to one experience on one page and I route 50% of traffic to a different page and see which pages are most effective at driving the end result that I want to see. Should I send traffic to a blog or should I send traffic to a landing page? If I’m trying to drive phone calls, well, chances are it’s the landing page. You could essentially do a split URL test like that. Then the other thing that isn’t necessarily a test per se that we like to run is something called personalization. Obviously, I think most people know these days what personalization is, but the idea is to create a one-to-one message match between what a user is searching for and what a user sees on the page, or what an ad that a user clicks on and then what is on the page, or you may do personalization based on some other criteria about that user. They’re a repeat visitor. You give them a more transactional message, or you have some demographic information about them, or you know they’re interested in a certain service line. Personalization again is trying to help the user get to the most pertinent information quicker.
Alex: How long does it take to run a good test?
Rich: It really depends on how much traffic you have to that page. Typically, the rule of thumb is if any test that doesn’t have at least 300 to 350 conversions, you’re not really that interested in the results of that test because it could be an outlier. That’s what you’re looking for in terms of test numbers is about 350 conversions. Really think about how long it would take you to get to that number.
Obviously, if you’ve got a homepage where you’ve got 100,000 sessions a month, it’s probably pretty easy to get to 350 conversions quite quickly, but the average test duration in terms of what we’ve seen, two to four weeks, sometimes longer, sometimes six weeks, really depends on that traffic volume. The nice thing is there are calculators out there that you can punch it ahead of time which will give you an estimate of what test duration needs to be depending on how confident you want to be.
Alex: Biggest roadblock groups have run into running tests they should be aware of getting them now.
Rich: It’s knowing what to test, honestly. The biggest roadblock is knowing what to test. On average, 8 out of 10 tests fail. They do not produce winners. The biggest roadblock is having a good research system, good research process to generate some very sound hypothesis for tests. Because otherwise, what happens is you’re like, “Well, I just need to test. I’ve been given this mandate to test by my boss,” and you run out and you’re like, “What’s the easiest thing I can test? All right, I’m going to change the button color or I’m going to change the headline.” Four weeks later, it’s either inconclusive or it’s not a winner.
Then you write back to the drawing board again and then you’re running a bunch of tests that don’t teach you anything and don’t win. That’s the major roadblock. You’ve got to have a very good research layer for deriving great hypothesis in order to make sure that you’re running more of the right tests and you’re generating more winners.
Alex: Sounds like doing it in-house is difficult. You need like really tenured marketers and CRO that have been through the thing or is it possible to just– if 8 out of 10 are failing, I’d be nervous to just shoot from the hip on what I’m testing.
Rich: I don’t think you just want to go in with no experience and just spinning up tests. I think there are some good resources online. CXL being one of them, CXL Institute. There’s also a lot of clickbait online as well, like how to run a CRO test, the best things to do with the CRO tests, just trying to rank for those things, and don’t necessarily always give you the right answers. You’ve got to be mindful of how to navigate them, but a lot of it is how good is your process, how good is your testing calendar, how quick is your testing velocity, and how good is your prioritization method? How do you know which tests to run first? Which are your most important tests?
If you don’t have those things, I think running in-house could be very difficult. Then also you’ve got the design challenges of having to make the changes to these experiences which can get very technical. Some of them are relatively straightforward that can be executed easily through the platform, but some of them require devs and dev resources which often can be very difficult to get in-house when your IT team has a huge list of other priorities that it’s got to facilitate for the organization.
Alex: Yes, and Convert, I think we run a lot of the tests in Convert, so it doesn’t require devs.
Rich: That’s correct.
Alex: [crosstalk] All right. Rich, thanks for joining us on Ignite.
Rich: Thanks, Alex.
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