The Evolution of Digital Advertising

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Digital Strategy

In a recent episode of the Touch Point podcast, True North Digital Senior Marketing Specialist Michael Robideau advises hospitals and healthcare systems on ways to optimize their digital advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Michael Robideau, Senior Digital Marketing SpecialistWith more than 10 years expe­ri­ence in digital/search mar­ket­ing, includ­ing stints with e‑commerce and retail brands as well as serv­ing as dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist for Fairview Health Ser­vices, Michael under­stands the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing land­scape in health care as well as anyone.

He recent­ly appeared on the Touch Point pod­cast to share expert per­spec­tive on how health­care mar­keters can fos­ter brand loy­al­ty and build a pipeline for high-val­ue ser­vice lines dur­ing the crisis.

Lis­ten to the full episode and get the high­lights from Michael’s inter­view below.

On Digital Marketing Shifts during COVID

Some mar­keters have this idea that they don’t want to offend peo­ple by adver­tis­ing online, but there are oth­er ways health­care orga­ni­za­tions can engage con­sumers and help them through the cri­sis. The health sys­tems we’re work­ing with are indus­try lead­ers because they real­ize every­one is des­per­ate for real, accu­rate infor­ma­tion right now—and we’re help­ing them meet that demand.

If you look at search and social data, every­body wants to know about the coro­n­avirus and they need con­tent that helps them under­stand what’s real­ly going on. Most impor­tant­ly, they’re ask­ing the ques­tion: “How can I help take care of myself?” Hos­pi­tal and health sys­tems are the most trust­ed sources of that information.

For a while, Google was block­ing legit­i­mate com­pa­nies try­ing to put out valu­able infor­ma­tion or try­ing to get peo­ple to make a shift and go to online health­care plat­forms. You can’t search any­thing relat­ed to COVID-19 or coro­n­avirus with­out Google basi­cal­ly own­ing those top spots in search rank­ings as they rewrote their plat­form strict­ly for this pan­dem­ic. They’ve tak­en con­trol over search results so it becomes even more impor­tant to find dif­fer­ent ways to get your con­tent out there.

Dur­ing this cri­sis, we have to adjust our think­ing on dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing and ask our­selves: What is a con­ver­sion right now? A con­ver­sion is not a new patient while access is lim­it­ed, but it might be look­ing at how much con­tent are they con­sum­ing. How much are they view­ing or down­load­ing? How much are they respond­ing? We’re build­ing a pool for when this turns back on. There’s going to be a flood­gate and we have to be ready to open it.

These are chal­leng­ing times, with Google claim­ing the major­i­ty of search traf­fic and delays in launch­ing cam­paigns on Face­book as their employ­ees are work­ing home like every­one else. How­ev­er, that does­n’t mean we can’t start fill­ing the fun­nel while the costs are down.

It’s a down mar­ket, so we can take the approach of look­ing at dif­fer­ent goals and dif­fer­ent tac­tics, where the con­ver­sion might be cap­tur­ing search vol­ume for phras­es like, “Do you offer this ser­vice?” or “What type of doc­tors do you offer?” We’re look­ing at that high­er lev­el, top-of-the-fun­nel con­ver­sion now.

On Brand Strategies during COVID

You have to ask your­self: Is dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing stop­ping? Is my com­peti­tor stop­ping? No, they’re not. Are they able to gain patients like you? No, but they’re not stop­ping adver­tis­ing. They’re not stop­ping build­ing their brand and that’s the most impor­tant thing. By putting that top-of-the-fun­nel infor­ma­tion out there, it’s almost like a piv­ot to the new par­a­digm of patient acqui­si­tion. We’re build­ing pos­i­tive impres­sions and get­ting them to remem­ber us so that when the cri­sis is over, they choose us for their care.

Once our cam­paigns are live and we review the data, it’s clear that con­sumers are engag­ing with health­care con­tent. You’re see­ing impres­sions go up much high­er than they typ­i­cal­ly would because there’s so much demand. We, as health­care mar­keters, have a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to start build­ing more brand loy­al­ty dur­ing this crisis.

Most peo­ple don’t know their pri­ma­ry care doc­tor anymore—if they even have a pri­ma­ry care doc­tor (they might have a facil­i­ty or a clin­ic they turn to when seek­ing care). That’s where we can start build­ing trust and dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing our health­care brands.

On Building a Pipeline for Priority Services

A per­son­al sto­ry: My wife is home and it’s been a clean­ing-the-house type of moment for both of us. So we said, let’s look at get­ting some­one out to price get­ting some trees tak­en down. Let’s get peo­ple out to look at replac­ing the garage door. Like us, peo­ple have more time than ever to be plan­ning and prepar­ing to make pur­chas­es for things they need.

At some point soon, we’re going to get back to nor­mal and there’s going to be a flood­gate of health­care orga­ni­za­tions look­ing to refill their fun­nel. Every­one of us will be re-invest­ing imme­di­ate­ly when we can, so you’re going to see a sharp increase in costs for those who haven’t been con­sis­tent. Google and Face­book like those adver­tis­ers that have stayed true to them. When you have a cam­paign that runs con­sis­tent­ly, it builds cred­i­bil­i­ty and gives you a com­pet­i­tive advantage.

So even in these dark times, if we’re tak­ing those cam­paigns and just kind of shift­ing what we’re doing with them and keep run­ning, Google loves us. It gives us that abil­i­ty to stay ahead of the curve.

On Effective Content

I’m see­ing a lot of neg­a­tiv­i­ty in the news and online, but there are many ways that we can actu­al­ly start to find joy in this cri­sis. There are so many incred­i­ble sto­ries with­in health care and we can start adver­tis­ing around that. This could sim­ply be inform­ing the com­mu­ni­ty of what’s going on and how to stay safe. It’s about expand­ing focus from sole­ly bot­tom-of-the-fun­nel con­ver­sions to build­ing brand aware­ness and affin­i­ty at the top-of-the-fun­nel. In some ways, we’re hit­ting the reset but­ton on adver­tis­ing right now. There are so many new oppor­tu­ni­ties to edu­cate, inform and teach our audi­ences who are hun­gry for information.

For exam­ple, elec­tive surg­eries are post­poned in many areas—but just because we can’t do it does­n’t mean peo­ple aren’t search­ing for it. I’ve been walk­ing on a dai­ly basis with my fam­i­ly and my knee is start­ing to kill me. Am I going to be able to get my knee tak­en care of right away? No, but that does­n’t mean I’m not try­ing to fig­ure out, in two months, where I am going to go and what I am going to do.

You’re see­ing these shifts in dig­i­tal adver­tis­ing. Instead of talk­ing about com­ing in for an appoint­ment, your mes­sag­ing can answer ques­tions like, “How do I take care of myself until I’m ready to come in?” It’s crit­i­cal to build that brand knowl­edge now so you’re the best choice for treat­ment when the time is right.

On the Future of Digital Advertising in Health Care

I think one of the biggest shifts is the idea of tele­health and dig­i­tal health care. The vir­tu­al care mar­ket has been grow­ing slow­ly for a long time—and now it’s explod­ing. There were a lot of ques­tions around how it works. While in-per­son vis­its have been pre­ferred, every­body’s now being forced to use tele­health. I think you’re going to find that once peo­ple get a taste for it and find out how sim­ple it is, that’s going to become the new norm.

For health­care orga­ni­za­tions, pro­vid­ing that edu­ca­tion is crit­i­cal. It’s a new way to build rela­tion­ships with our brands and fill the fun­nels for pri­or­i­ty ser­vice lines.

Have Digital Marketing Questions?

Let’s con­nect around your dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy and how we can help.

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