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Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

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Hospital Advertising Tips: Increase Patients with Ad Extensions

By | April 23, 2014

According to an article posting in July 2012 by Kaiser Health News, only 150 of 6,000 hospitals were actively using paid advertising (Google & Facebook) to promote their hospital and medical services. It is more than likely that this number has risen as hospitals are seeing the benefits of paid search marketing in driving incremental patients and general awareness.

As competition in this space continues to increase year over year and even month over month, it’s extremely important to that your hospital is standing out from an extremely cluttered search engine result pages (SERPs). The more clicks you can get (compared to your competition), the more potential patients you can acquire.

Below are a list of different ad extensions (which enhance standard ad copy) that can help your hospital stand out vs. your competition, which inevitably leads to more clicks and therefore more patients. If you are currently promoting your hospital and service lines using Google AdWords and Bing Ads—the below are very important to maximizing success for your health system.


  • Sitelinks and Extended (Description) Sitelinks: Google sitelinks have been around for several years and are honestly a ‘must-have’ for all advertisers. According to Google, advertisers see up to a 30% increase in click-through rate when implementing sitelinks. In addition to generating more clicks, sitelinks allow users on a general search such as “hospital” to get closer to where they want to be without having to navigate the web site (so we’ve seen improved conversion rates as well).

hospital advertising blog 1

  • Review Extensions: Review extensions are credible ratings from a 3rd party. No, you can’t site a random blog or Healthgrades review of one of your physicians. However; you can leverages U.S. News & World Report and other trustworthy rankings. Google has seen up to 10% increase in click-through rate when advertisers have implemented review extensions.

hospital advertising blog 2

  • Call Extensions: Call extensions are applicable to both computers/tablets and mobile devices. When users are searching on their phone, they see a phone icon with “call”. I see the most value in driving calls directly to your call center and it costs the same amount per click as if the user were to go to your landing page or web site. Google has reported call extensions to increase click-through rate by 6%-8%.

hospital advertising blog 3

  • Image Extensions: Image extensions are extremely new and have strict guidelines on the types of images that can show. In addition, Google will need to approve image quality, image type, image size, and image dimensions. Finally, Google is looking to experiment with image ad extensions on high-volume advertisers first as there is some back-end set-up that needs to be done. There’s no documented data on how click-through is affected by Google yet but I’d imagine it would definitely increase CTR. If you’re interested in trying this out, reach out to your Google Representative and cross your fingers.

hospital advertising blog 4

  • Location Extensions: Similar to sitelinks and call extensions, location extensions have been around for some time. As proximity is often an important decision when determining which hospital to visit, it’s important the user can easily see where your hospital versus where they are located. Location extensions gives the user just this feature but clicking the address. Google stated that this extension increases click-through rate by up to 10%.

hospital advertising blog 5


  • Sitelinks, Calls Extensions, Location Extensions: Just like Google AdWords, Bing Ads offers these ad extensions that have been shown to improve click-through rate in Bing and Yahoo as well.

hospital advertising blog 6

  • Rich Ads in Search: Otherwise known as RAIS ads almost a combination of Google’s image extensions and sitelinks and they can show up on both Bing and Yahoo. You can show one small image (generally a logo) in addition to sitelinks to help make your ad stand out. We’ve seen really good results when using these ads with our clients. Unfortunately, RAIS ads are only applicable on ‘branded’ keywords only.

hospital advertising blog 7

Ad extensions are simple enhancements that can make a huge difference in click-through rate and conversion rate—which means more patients for your hospital.

You be the judge; which ad do you expect to get more clicks?

Ad A

hospital advertising blog 8

Ad B:

hospital advertising blog 9

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Using Online Data to Predict Patient Behavior

By | April 16, 2014

wheelchairPredicting the future ain’t what it used to be. In fact, it’s more real than ever. Social media. Big Data. Predictive Analytics.  These are big buzzwords, to be certain, but also keys to helping your healthcare system or hospital to provide better and more efficient patient care.

There are times in our lives that we wish we had that crystal ball. Picking breakout stocks or NCAA upsets is great, but imagine having insight into the future based on real data. And imagine that insight being actionable. That data can impact your healthcare system directly and help you reach more patients efficiently.

No need to imagine any longer.  Your crystal ball is here with healthcare predictive analytics.

Every one of your potential patients leaves a tremendous digital footprint.  They search Crohn’s disease, arthritis treatments or dementia care. They talk on Facebook about living with diabetes. They tweet about migraines and join forums to learn about concussion prevention.

And you, as a healthcare marketer, can use that data to anticipate patient needs, prepare your staff and provide better care.  Here’s how:

A variety of off the shelf tools can gather and analyze online conversations around keywords. Google and third party tools can track search volume. By marrying this data with your own historical data, you can then start predicting patient needs.

Here are a few examples of how online data can help your healthcare system or hospital.

  • Online conversations and searches around concussion injury tend to spike during the fall high school and college football season.  If you know that come November, your patients and prospective patients are hungry for information around concussion prevention, you can offer workshops, clinics and online information around the topic when it is most sought after.
  • Conversations around back and knee injuries often spike over Thanksgiving. As the dads and uncles take the backyard football games against the teenager, injuries are bound to happen. What can you do to anticipate this and offer tips, services or flexible appointment options in the days leading up to, and just after, Thanksgiving?
  • Bariatric conversations grow in volume and intensity during the holiday season and beginning of the new year.

Too obvious for you? How about these examples:

  • First, analyze the historical volume of conversations and searches around consumers talking about or searching on flu like symptoms. Then map that trend line to documented flu cases. It is very likely that the online information is a leading indicator of flu cases.  By monitoring online activity you can then anticipate the next flu outbreak.
  • If a local TV or radio celebrity takes up a cause, say breast cancer awareness, you can track the rise in local interest in mammograms and offer extended hours at your women health centers.
  • Suppose you find that weekend warriors in your area are active online during the first nice days of the year and lamenting how their old knee injuries prevent them from running.  You can make plans to heavily promote your runners’ clinics on social media and PPC advertising platforms during that first nice weekend in spring.

The days of guesswork around understanding patients are behind us. Using real data from real patients and understanding it in real times allows us all to provide better care more efficiently for our communities.


Check out our study of the competition health systems face in paid search.

Health Systems & Paid Search

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It’s National Doctors Day: Reward Your Physicians by Minimizing Negative Reviews & Generating More Patients!

By | March 30, 2014

Every day, more and more people are using the internet to research and find doctors near them. There are several websites out there such as,, that allows users to read user-generated reviews about each of your physicians. According to, who surveyed a total of 4,515 patients, patients are most likely to use online reviews as a first step in finding a new doctor. In addition, Healthgrades is the most popular site for physician reviews, but Yelp is the most trusted.

Unfortunately, sometimes even one disgruntled patient can ruin the reputation of your doctor and steer prospective new patients to another physician. According to NBC News, of 2,137 polled, nearly two thirds said that doctor ratings were “somewhat important” and 19% of those surveyed said doctor ratings were “very important.”

Below is an example of a doctor that has received less than stellar reviews from Healthgrades, which is the number 2 and 3 rankings. Users are more likely to click the top 1-3 listings than to scroll down further, so this could be detrimental to this particular physician and health system in terms of generating new patients and even retaining current patients.

Doctor SERPs

We have been working with health systems and physicians to improve their reputation management by using sponsored listings (i.e. paid advertising) to:

  • Push  negative reviews further down on Google
  • Generate incremental patients by sending users to specific pages where they can easily schedule an appointment
  • Inform prospective patients or existing patients of a new doctor for a specific health system/hospital
  • Inform prospective patients of a new doctor practicing medicine in their area

By using paid advertising through Google AdWords, we bid directly on a doctor’s name (and variations of the doctor’s name) to seal the number one position above any organic listings such as This tactic is very cost-effective, averaging around $.25 per click!

paid search doctor ad

In conclusion, celebrate National Doctors Day by minimizing your physicians’ online negative reviews (if any), leverage positive reviews and also help bring in incremental patients with these paid search marketing tactics.


Check out our study of the competition health systems face in paid search.

Health Systems & Paid Search

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Hosting a Google+ Hangout on Air for Your Healthcare Organization

By | March 10, 2014


More and more health systems, hospitals and physicians are using Google+ Hangouts on Air to replace webinars and news conferences. These public broadcasts are a great way for healthcare organizations to showcase medical research, hold physician roundtable discussions, announce organization news or publicly comment on a timely topic or event. The benefits to Hangouts on Air are they are free, allow you to broadcast to an unlimited audience, and also provide an opportunity for interaction and engagement with viewers.

Once your organization has a couple Hangouts on Air under its belt, they are fairly easy to use and don’t require a significant time investment. However, if this a new healthcare marketing idea and you are just getting started with Hangouts on Air, it can be a little confusing. Follow the four P’s – Plan, Promote, Practice and Prepare – to ensure your Hangout on Air runs smoothly.

1. Plan

While this is an obvious first step, planning the Hangout on Air is crucial to its success. Pick your date and time carefully. You don’t want your Hangout on Air competing with an industry event or Monday morning priorities. Additionally, it is important to set up your Hangout on Air on Google+ properly and give it a professional appearance prior to promoting it. Make sure to include the time, date, description, presenter bios, hashtag and a link back to your website. Create a branded banner and video trailer for your Hangout. And finally, check that your Google+ page and YouTube channel are connected properly, as the Hangout on Air will automatically broadcast to your YouTube channel.

2. Promote

Now that your event is official, promote it! Share event details on your organization’s blog, Google+, Facebook, Twitter and any other social networks. Many organizations make the mistake of only promoting the Hangout on Air on Google+, but they have a much larger, more captive audience on their other social networks. Cross promotion can help ensure your Hangout on Air is well attended. Also, encourage presenters to promote the Hangout on Air on their social networks, and ask employees to add the event link to their email signatures. Promotion should start at least two weeks prior to the Hangout on Air.

3. Practice

Test video and sound on the computers that will be used for the broadcast. Additionally, make sure the light is adequate in the rooms where the presenters will be located. It should be hosted in a private location where the microphone won’t pick up background noise. Ask presenters to wear the same shirt they will be wearing the day of the Hangout on Air. If this is your first Hangout, download the Hangout Toolbox to obtain Lower Thirds, which is the banner that runs on the bottom of the screen to tell your audience who the speaker is. Test the appearance of the Lower Thirds to ensure it shows up the way you want it to the day of the Hangout on Air.

4. Prepare

Have all presenters set up and ready to go at least 30 minutes before your Hangout on Air is scheduled to go live. Check video, audio and Lower Thirds. You don’t want to lose your audience because the Hangout on Air doesn’t start on time due to technical reasons. Click “Start Broadcast” and your Hangout on Air will begin!

Remember to keep an eye on comments in the Comment Tracker and by searching for posts with the event hashtag, so that you can address any questions during the Hangout on Air. Following the broadcast, check your YouTube channel and add an optimized title, description and tags. And finally, remember to keep promoting the Hangout on Air in the following weeks. Some people won’t be able to watch live, but would still be interested in consuming the information at a later date.


For more illustrations on how patients use social media and search, check out our webinar on The 2014 Digital Patient Journey on Tuesday, March 25th at 2 pm.

Patient Journey Webinar

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Fight Dirty Healthcare Data Like You Fight MRSA

By | February 27, 2014

Just as hospital clinicians are aggressively fighting accidental infections at every turn, so too must hospital marketers diligently battle the numerous dangers threatening their online data. We all know that MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus - is a serious problem in healthcare; what not enough healthcare executives understand is that inaccurate Google Analytics tracking is causing “garbage in, garbage out” at hospitals nationwide. Service line managers should be reviewing, analyzing, and cleaning their data meticulously, so they can not only optimize their online conversions, but also trust their data and advocate for additional financial resources.

Why should you care about your data?

In a recent Analytics audit we did for a major national healthcare system, we found that almost every major metric was inaccurate:


Unfortunately, dirty data lurks at every turn and can creep up when you least expect it. Like a doctor diligently washes her hands to protect her patients, you can protect your marketing efforts from infection by implementing these preventative measures below.

Dive deeper into your referral traffic.

In a recent audit we did for a major national healthcare system, we found over 78% of the “referral” traffic was actually internal, guest wi-fi access hitting the main homepage. Because of this inaccurately-categorized internal traffic, the hospital was overestimating its homepage visits by 23%.

Implement subdomain-friendly code across all online domains.

This same hospital didn’t realize that they needed to implement subdomain-friendly code across its five different online domains; its .edu site, blog, and internal search, were all incorrectly tallied as referral traffic. All of this can be easily fixed with Google Analytics code that properly tracks the user’s cookie. As a result, here’s what the hospital’s Analytics was showing versus the reality:

Referral Data

Don’t miss out on the latest updates to Google Analytics.

You installed Analytics a long time ago, so you’re golden, right? Wrong! Analytics has been through several upgrades recently, and hospital marketers need to take the unfortunate step of having to upgrade their Analytics code. Especially exciting is the new Demographics reporting capability: this reporting will give you not just a look into your overall traffic, but also who your leads and new patients actually are. Check out the slide below – do your hospital’s service line marketers understand their leads at this level of detail?

What We Know About Your Leads

In the future, to keep up with the ever-changing world of online marketing, hospitals should implement Google Tag Manager, which allows for far more flexibility and adaptability than previous versions of Analytics.

Attribute traffic back to the appropriate campaign.

With every email or online campaign, hospital marketers must also be conscientious about tracking every link through Google’s URL builder. Because of this hospital’s campaign misattribution, the hospital’s email traffic lacked any campaign attribution – robbing the hospital’s hard-working email specialist of her well-deserved credit. Again, here’s a look at the what the hospital’s Analytics were reporting, versus the stark reality:

Reality Metrics

Establish Analytics Goals to satisfy long-term objectives.

Many hospitals face the dual problems of both heavy turnover within their marketing departments, and shifting priorities amongst senior leadership. To combat this, set up Analytics Goals that meet the hospital’s long-term objectives – rather than just the senior management’s “flavor of the month,” which can be easily tracked as Events.

These more permanent goals tend to revolve around online conversions and user engagement, both of which can be tracked accurately; in addition, a savvy marketing department tracks its PDF downloads, virtual tours, online quizzes, and incoming calls.

Just as MRSA is no laughing matter, neither is bad data that causes wasted spend, inaccurate reporting, and strategic mistakes. If this article has you wanting to wash your data – and your hands – here are three concrete next steps to ensure your next report is an accurate one:

  1. Enlist an unbiased third party Analytics expert to conduct an in-depth audit and clean-up.
  2. Just as you distribute an employee handbook to orient new staff members, create and disseminate an online marketing handbook that ensures that team members keep your data clean in the long term.
  3. Don’t be satisfied with numerous disconnected data sources. Implementing technologies like Tableau allows you for the first time to gain clear tracking from your call center to your patient database to your analytics.

You wouldn’t want your doctor examining you without taking the appropriate sanitary measures, so don’t send out your next mailer or e-blast without ensuring your data is clean, transparent and accurate.

Check out our white paper about physician-inspired healthcare ISV market(ing) opportunities.

Health IT Market(ing) Opportunities

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