Banner Health Senior Director of Digital Marketing Chris Pace shares a behind-the-scenes look at implementing an effective digital front door strategy.
In our wide-ranging interview for the Healthcare Insight podcast, Chris opens up about several topics critical for healthcare marketing professionals.
Here’s a glimpse into the implementation of a digital front door strategy for Banner Health, as well as how Chris is overcoming a common challenge that often comes with success: imposter syndrome.
It takes a team to launch a digital front door strategy. Any business has to have a digital front door. The key point for us was including clinical, operational and marketing as the engine that presents it out to consumers and tells the story. Having all of those teams involved and a “with us, not just for us” mentality is how we were able to be successful. Had we not had that organizational structure and operational efficiency mindset, this would have crumbled from day one—and it’s probably why a lot of systems struggle with these initiatives.
It hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. There were some bumpy roads on the journey [to develop a digital front door]. Our initial attempt at implementation of an enterprise CRM fell on its face, and we had to realize that and switch to inside resources versus outside resources, because we ultimately had to build it to suit our needs. That created some significant challenges, and in the meantime you have to keep the lights on while you’re building this.
Banner’s marketing tech stack is a competitive advantage—especially during the pandemic. We needed a way to syndicate and scale messaging in real-time. In the month of April alone we had 150 changes to visitor policy. You can’t effectively communicate that by snail mail or email, you have to be able to plumb that information into agent scripting in real-time.
On the website, our COVID page was our heaviest traffic page and we were able to adjust our resources so the page loaded fast and could be present for consumers looking for information.
We have 3.2 million customers in our CRM, so what better way to get messaging out to consumers in real-time and personalize it so it looks like it’s from your PCP than leveraging a platform like that. We launched a telehealth platform out of nowhere in April, and we were getting thousands of appointments a week because we had the tools and were able to message it out.
These things were unplanned but the scalability of technology and our processes, governance and all the things we had in place prepared us so that we could communicate faster and more effectively than our competition.
An authentic brand voice helped Banner Health build trust with the community. This is where luck collided with reality as our brand positioning aligned really well with our mission statement. We use the term, “Exhale” as our tagline and the manifestation of that term is that you can breathe a sigh of relief because things are easy. Given COVID, things aren’t easy so we had to walk away a bit from that message.
One thing we’ve worked closely with our brand agency on is getting our voice to align with what we call the “wise guide.” It’s the voice of a trusted friend who is also in healthcare. When the pandemic struck and [Chief Clinical Officer] Dr. Bessel became the face of who we are she became the wise guide. She has the demeanor and tone of “things are going to be OK, but we need to be smart and diligent in our approach to addressing the pandemic—and we’re all in this together.” That wise guide approach put us in a position where we could differentiate but also stand on our platform as the largest health system and largest employer in Arizona and deliver to the trust.
His team is focused on areas where they are uniquely qualified. I try to focus my team on the top third of their skill set. We’re basically a team of strategists. On service line marketing for example, we do a lot of paid advertising and social media; however, my service line marketers do not create that stuff—they align campaigns with business goals, build a plan that delivers on those shared agreements and then work with our advertising team and agency to execute. We don’t have people buying keywords internally, we outsource that. We focus on framing the strategy, understanding the messaging and aligning it to the brand. It’s a well-oiled machine. We want to make sure we’re lean enough to be nimble and have the flexibility to augment our teams with agency support when we need it.
There’s no resting on laurels—he’s always looking ahead. The key learnings from the digital front door strategy are that scale matters and we have to continue to double down on that capability. There are still some manual processes that we go through like content creation. We want our content to be seen as agnostic of the “where” [channel]. Our site is still too slow and I’m not happy about it, and I’ll never be happy about it so whatever we can do to improve site speed because Google is awaiting next year with new changes to the ads platform that will include site speed as a metric.
That means it’s not just about having the highest bid to win the auction, but you also better be able to deliver content when the user clicks. Also, GDPR isn’t here yet but I imagine with administration changes that we’ll start looking and behaving like the rest of the world again so we need to get our site GDPR compliant.
A zero-click strategy is becoming table stakes in health care. Being present in mobile is important and having a mobile responsive website is important, but where the wins happen is in what’s called zero-click. For those that don’t know, I’ll use a sushi example: Over the weekend, I wanted to get sushi so I searched “sushi near me” and discovered that I was across the street from a sushi restaurant and I did nothing: I didn’t click, I didn’t call, I just walked to the location. That is inherently zero click. It’s a difficult thing for marketers because we all want calls to action and trackability and that’s almost impossible to track. So how do you optimize it? Something like 70–75% of mobile searches now result in no clicks. That’s huge and frightening.
What we’ve done that has been really successful is first, we got our data accurate. That’s number one. You have to know what your locations are called, where they are and have consistent phone numbers. We built out that database and syndicated it with Google. They have about 80% of location share so you’ve got to be right there first—but you have to be right everywhere else, too. We now have location accuracy across 70 different listings sites. Google is indexing and fact-checking your data with the facts elsewhere and then comparing it with your listings on Google My Business. If you’re wrong, you’re going to be playing location whack-a-mole for the rest of your life. If you’re right, Google likes you and will pump you up to the top. That means if someone’s typing in “urgent care near me” you’re going to show up first.
He’s passionate about helping others deal with imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is simplified as the fear of being found out. It can be crippling. Had I not gone through years of therapy to recognize it and this [COVID] situation popped up during my peak imposter syndrome years, it would have been disastrous.
One thing that helped me, along with years of therapy and understanding myself and being true to who I am: there’s this Venn diagram that illustrates the things you know, the things other people know and the overlap between those. That overlap is significantly smaller than people give themselves credit for. Everyone has a unique gift and skill set that they can bring to the table. It’s not fair to yourself to assume that you aren’t a leader in whatever space you’re a leader in. When I lead others, what I like to recognize in them is the skills, values and gifts they have, because that’s what worked for me. I needed to hear that from people I trusted.
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