Marketing Your Hospital with Google Adwords

Adwords Hospital Marketing TotalCom

Fifteen years ago, Google changed the face of digital advertising forever with it’s launch of Google Adwords, a self promoting advertising service any business can utilize to reach their target audience.

Even today, the potential this platform offers companies is exponential, with Google owning 67.6% of U.S. search engine shares.

Understanding Google Adwords is imperative to marketing your hospital in this competitive digital world.

Search Ads – Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Google Adwords uses search ads, or Pay-Per-Click (PPC), that allow your message to appear above or to the right of organic search engine results. You can specify which area of the page you want your ad to appear, and you only pay when someone clicks your ad. The cost-per-click varies, depending upon the competition.

When creating PPC ads, it’s important to stay extremely precise.  Use keywords that will help you reach your goal or objective. Take note of your top competitor’s ads to see what keywords are giving them high-ranking scores. Then, focus on what makes your hospital different from the keywords competitors are utilizing and try marketing those differences.  Your goal is to help viewers click your ad instead of the competition’s.

Landing Pages Save You Money

When you set up a PPC campaign, you are including links to a destination page. It’s a common mistake to make this page your hospital’s homepage.

Creating a landing page for your PPC ads increases the likelihood of achieving your goal and can improve your ad relevance, which decreases the cost-per-click. On the landing page, it’s essential to make sure there is a call-to-action. For example, you can create the page so visitors can fill out a form to request an appointment or sign up for a health screening event.

Use Site Link Extensions

Finally, make sure to take advantage of Google Adwords’ site link extensions.  Site link extensions increase your ad space and make you more relevant to any given search.

Advertisers have reported a 30% increase in click-through-rates (CTR) in the last year by using these extensions. Location and review extensions are seeing the highest CTR increases, and are extremely important for hospitals in-particular.

Hospital care is usually received locally, therefore, including a location link makes your hospital more relevant and accessible in a search.

Likewise, review extensions establish credibility. Patients want to receive quality care and if your hospital has great reviews, then seeing the high reviews beside your ad can make your hospital stand out among the competition.
It’s important to note that adding these extensions do increase the cost-per-click of your ads.

Without a strong knowledge on how Google works, the return on investment tends to be minimal. The only way to keep your hospital ahead is to join your competitors in competing for relevant Google Adwords.

Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

3 Tips to Overcome Decline in Your Hospital’s Facebook Posts

Facebook post declineAre your hospital’s Facebook posts being seen by fewer and fewer users?

There is definitely a decline in organic reach on Facebook.

According to Facebook, the reason for the decline is the increasing competition. More brands have Pages and are putting out more information. Facebook claims to want to make sure users’ experiences are good ones, so they are showing users stories in their News Feed that are most relevant to them (based on their prior activity on Facebook).

Some think it is because Facebook wants Pages to buy (more) ads.

Here are several tips to help your posts have a better chance of being shown in more users News Feed.

  • Quick and Original. Keep your posts short and original. It’s fine to share information from other sources occasionally. But the majority of your posts should be original content.

  • Pictures. Incorporate photos and videos. Photos depicting human interaction tend to be more successful. Show people interacting with your brand. Posts with videos are often times even more successful than ones with photographs.

  • Call to Action. Ask users to do something. Ask a question, take a poll, ask for feedback and opinions. Be sure to respond to those that do.

Be sure to use Page Insights to evaluate your most successful posts. Check to see which ones get the most likes, shares and comments.

Even though there may be a decline in organic reach, your hospital’s Page can still be used to build and grow strong relationships with the community in which you serve.

Contact Jimmy Warren to learn how you can better market your hospital.


Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grandkids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!


Content Marketing to Move Market Share For Your Hospital

Boost online visibility and convert prospects to patients with content marketing.

Hospital Heatlhcare Marketing Jimmy Warrenmarketing has certainly seen big changes in the past few years. No longer is a campaign that includes traditional media, elevator signs, a few Facebook posts and web banners, complete – or the most effective.  To connect with patients requires new and different tactics. One that should be considered is content marketing.

We often promote that we are “here when you need us”. And we are, but are we there for patients and prospective patients in the beginning? When they are searching online for a solution to their sleep problems or looking for an OB/GYN? To move market share requires building a relationship BEFORE a decision has been made about which physician or hospital to use. Content marketing is one way to do this.

Boost online visibility and position your hospital or physician as a leader who is trustworthy and knowledgeable with quality content.

What (to write about)?
Know the topics consumers in your service area are searching for online and create content that addresses these issues. Use Google keyword tools to learn exactly how many consumers within a 25 mile radius were looking for information about diabetes or depression in the past year. Then by creating blog content that discusses these topics you will make your hospital more visible and more relevant – early in the cycle of the consumer moving from prospect to patient.

Where (does the info come from)?
When a physician is the author, credibility is established for the physician and the healthcare facility.  Service line managers and other clinical staff members are great resources for material. Guest bloggers can provide quality content as well. Share the responsibility. Look around and tap into the resources in your own building.

How (to get the info out)?
Take your efforts past just publishing the blog post. Break up the content into snippets of info and recycle on social media and your hospital’s website. Be sure to link back to the article for more information. One blog post can become content for many posts and tweets.

Content marketing is one way to move market share for your hospital. By increasing online visibility, you are able to form meaningful and relevant relationships with prospective patients BEFORE they make that call for an appointment or referral. Content is key to be the one they call.

Contact Jimmy Warren to learn how you can better market your hospital and monitor your reviews online.


Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grandkids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!


Marketing Your Hospital to the New Generation

Marketing to Millenials There is no doubt that in today’s digital world that marketing your hospital has evolved to include more than just traditional marketing and advertising efforts. Today, everything from search engine optimization to social media plays a role in getting people to choose your hospital over the competition.

While Millennials are likely not the majority of cardiac, cancer, and some other service lines, they are your future patients and often assist their parents and grandparents in making key healthcare decisions, often doing the research online for their parents and grandparents.

Be Social

Statistics show that social media is essential for reaching the younger generation.

Did you know that 90% of 18 to 24-year-olds trust healthcare-related information if it is shared by someone they are connected to on social media? (Statistic provided by Search Engine Land.) Therefore, it is essential that your hospital is not only active on social media platforms, but that you should also encourage happy patients to mention your hospital on social networks.

Despite this statistic, only approximately 26% of hospitals within the United States are active on social media (statistic provided by DC Interactive Group). Social media isn’t going away – if your hospital is not active on these growing platforms, now is the time to start.

Monitor Reviews

Before determining which hospital to visit or doctor to use, most Millennials search online for reviews and other, relevant information about the doctor or hospital. Therefore, it is essential that someone is monitoring and responding to online reviews not only for each of your hospitals, but also each of your doctors.

Fortunately, there are several tools that allow you to quickly and efficiently monitor reviews across the Internet, providing you with real-time emails to notify you of new reviews.

Use Online Advertising

In addition to being social and monitoring reviews, you can help improve the overall recognition of your hospital through affordable online advertising. There are a variety of ways to have your hospital and doctor profiles to show up across the Internet – plus, it is incredibly affordable when compared to traditional advertising methods.

Not only can you track the results, but you can also choose which websites your ads appear on, who sees your ads (by choosing demographics), and the geographical location that you are targeting.

At the end of the day, with Millennials relying on the Internet when choosing which hospitals and doctors to trust, it is important that your hospital is showing up online. Get active on social media, monitor and respond to reviews, and use the power of online advertising to help your hospital stay in the mind of your target audience.


Contact Jimmy Warren to learn how you can better market your hospital and monitor your reviews online.


Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grandkids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

Marketing Your Hospital through Video

Online video is on the rise.  Marketers should take note.

More and more consumers are watching video online.  They are watching hours per week, VIdeo Marketing for Hospitalfrom their computers, smartphones and tablets.  For hospital marketers, this indicates we should be devoting more time creating videos to communicate our messages and integrating these videos into our traditional and social media marketing.  If we believe in going where the consumers are, then online video is definitely a place to be.

Simple, informative videos can be effective – and not necessarily expensive. Videos can be produced with a handheld camera or even with a smartphone. Videos that are not too slick, polished and perfect deliver authenticity – a preference of many consumers.

Video doesn’t have to be shot with a camera to be effective – slide shows, Prezi presentations, and still photos can be used to create a video presentation that is effective and again, not expensive. Like any marketing effort, video should be used as a tactic to meet a marketing goal – and not just because it would be a fun thing to do.

Your video should be uploaded to your hospital’s YouTube channel for easy viewing with any device as well as embedded on your website. Be sure to include tags, descriptions, and a transcript on YouTube. And most importantly, disable suggested videos so that when the viewer is at the end of your presentation, they are not bombarded with competitive options.

Video as a marketing tool is beneficial not only in the message delivered to the intended audience, but when uploaded and optimized on your hospital’s YouTube page, there are SEO benefits as well.

Need more convincing?

Below are statistics and from Adrants that clearly demonstrates the popularity of online videos.

Recently, Blinkx  released the results of survey of online video viewing habits conducted on its behalf by Harris Interactive. The survey was designed to reveal viewing and social media sharing habits of U.S. consumers and uncovered some not-so-surprising trends.

In total, 2 out of 4 people watch online video.

  • 57% watch 1 to 5 hours each week
  • 26% watch more than 5 hours each week
  • 17% watch less than one hour each week
  • 86% watch videos on their computers
  • 35% watch videos on their smartphones
  • 23% watch videos on their tablets
  • 14% watch videos on their smart TV

Smartphone users watch more viral videos with 61% viewing virals on their smartphones. Tablet users watch more entertainment with 48% viewing entertainment on their tablets.

Of smartphone users:

  • 61% watch viral videos
  • 48% watch entertainment
  • 41% watch news
  •  24% watch how-to videos
  • 17% watch TV shows
  •  14% watch movies

Of tablet users:

  • 48% watch entertainment
  •  45% watch news
  •  44% watch viral videos
  • 40% watch TV shows
  •  34% watch movies
  •  29% watch how-to videos

Of course, for Smart TV users, most (72%) watch movies and TV shows (64%)

In terms of video length, in general, shorter videos are viewed in smaller screen and longer videos are viewed on larger screens.

In terms of the most memorable advertising videos, entertainment category videos (movie trailers, etc.) are most remembered at 37%. This is followed by consumer goods at 17%, financial services at 17% and cars at 15%.

Need help developing a plan for an inexpensive video for your hospital? Need help optimizing your YouTube channel? Contact Lori Moore at TotalCom Marketing.

Brand storytelling through traditional and new media channels, we are TotalCom Marketing, a full service advertising agency in business this year for the 30th year. We are located in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, AL.

Facebook to Market a Nursing Home? Yes!

Facebook for Nursing Home MarketingFor a number of reasons, in order to build census, long-term care facilities can no longer rely heavily on faxing over avails and dropping off cookies to the hospital discharge planner.

Instead, new tactics must be considered to win over a different audience. New channels that will reach and influence the decision maker BEFORE the care decision making process starts – the Baby Boomer adult children of prospective patients.

One channel worthy of taking a look at – social media giant Facebook.

  • 45% of Adults 60 plus use Facebook on a regular basis (Pew Research).
  • Adults 60 plus are Facebook’s largest growing audience – increasing more than 80% since 2011 (istrategylabs).
  • The top 4 online destinations for Adults 60 plus are (in order) Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube (AARP).
  • Baby Boomers spend more time online than do Millennials – an average of 27 hours per week compared to 25 hours per week (WSL).

A few more reasons to consider Facebook:

  • Familiarity – Marketers should personally use it to professionally understand and successfully execute it – and most do.
  • Interaction – Baby Boomers are accustomed to one-on-one interaction, and Facebook, unlike traditional media which is more of a one-way communication channel, affords this opportunity.

But before a page is created and posts and pics are added, it is important to understand:

1. All media efforts – whether social or traditional – should be used as a tactic to accomplish a marketing objective, and should tie back to the overall strategic plan. Just because Facebook is “exciting”, or a magazine is running a special, or an event would be fun to participate – does not mean it is a good idea. All efforts must connect back to the company’s overall plan for success.

2. A social media policy must be established. This is imperative regardless of whether or not your facility participates in social media marketing, as employees, patient families, volunteers, and visitors are all present and can bring your facility along with them – for good or  bad.  With the guidance of HR and Legal, clear rules and boundaries must be developed, shared and documented with all of the above audiences – especially employees. Clear rules and examples of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable must be shared through a variety of channels including online, in social media, new employee/volunteer orientation, in-house signage, communication with family, etc.

Still wondering how posts and pics can benefit your facility? Facebook offers opportunities to:

  • Build trusting relationships with decision makers
  • Establish expertise in the industry or in a specific niche
  • Influence decision makers
  • Humanize your brand
  • Keep families and friends up to date with your facility (i.e. new activities, renovations, etc)
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Monitor and manage your online reputation
  • Generate leads
  • Recruit new employees
  • Retain employees
  • Acknowledge volunteers
  • Better inform patient families and employees during weather events, crisis situations, etc.

If any of these can help you accomplish your marketing objectives and overall strategic plan, then Facebook deserves consideration as part of your marketing efforts.

If you have questions about how to set up a Facebook page for your facility, or about content, social media policy, or strategy,  contact Lori Moore at TotalCom Marketing.

Healthcare Marketing: For Stickiness – Motivate Your Audience

Understanding what motivates your audience helps make your message resonate.

Understanding your audience is a key ingredient for successful messaging. Healthcare marketers must know and understand their audience to effectively comsticky marketingmunicate with them.  We are often too quick to talk about features and about our hospital than to talk about benefits and what it means to the consumer.  We must always stop and ask from a consumer’s perspective, so what?

There are many methods to use for getting to know you audience.  Market research, patient interviews, primary and secondary consumer research and, of course, listening. We have all used these and many other methods with varying degrees of success.

The desire for all healthcare marketers is stickiness.  For our message to stick.  To resonate with our target audience.  To achieve this, it’s not only important to understand our audience it’s also important to understand what motivates them.  Some of the most successful advertising campaigns are the result of not just knowing the audience but having a deep understanding of what motivates their audience. Nate Fleming, writing for the Agency Post ( summed up successful advertising this way, “the most powerful messages tap into the audience’s desired emotional state and transport them from where they stand to another place and time. A message that connects deeply has a kind of transformative power that only comes from knowing what makes the audience tick. And it’s not just made of words. There’s magic in it”.

He continued, “In this fast-moving digital age, it’s easy to get distracted by technology and forget that human beings with beating hearts are the fuel that keeps our economic engine running. These strategies focus on activating the human reward response by focusing on a specific desired emotional state or end goal. A good message is a promise. And if yours promises to help people achieve one or more of their end goals, you’ll have messages that are both memorable and motivational”.

Fleming went on to list five key motivating factors for consumers.  They are very helpful as we try to create messages that resonate with our audiences?

1.  Power and Control

An absence of power or a feeling of loss of power activates the threat response. By offering to bring stability, empowerment and order to people’s lives, you can activate the reward response and appeal to your audience on a deep, emotional level. In healthcare, quite often consumers have a strong emotional sense of losing control.  They feel their health and possibly their healing and recovery are totally outside their control.  Hospital can respond to this by offering help and the expectation of good outcomes. The “Truth” campaign does just that by empowering young people to rebel against the big tobacco companies that were trying to manipulate them.

2.  Pleasure and Enjoyment

Promising luxurious, sensual experiences appeals to the reward system in ways that don’t need much explanation. Promise consumers’ senses a good time, and you’ll tap into a motivational nerve that is millions of years old. In addition to the expectation of good outcomes that lead to an enjoyable life, hospitals have been successful tapping into this emotion by offering amenities that go beyond basic medicine and treatment.  BMW focuses on this motivator with the promise of the “ultimate driving machine.” Klondike bars also do it in a very clever way by posing the question, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”

3.  Freedom and Independence

Promising people a sense of freedom encourages people to look to you as a companion that supports their desire to break free from social norms and the confines of their current reality. Freedom to act courageously and get outside the box is an alluring proposition for many. Hospitals can offer a new improved life with the right kind of treatment and successful recovery.  Levi’s flips the freedom switch with its “Go Forth” campaign that celebrates freedom and the hard work that comes with it.

4.  Certainty and Understanding

The discovery of truth and knowing the inner workings of things can be very potent motivators for some. Promise to be a source of clarity and confidence, and you’ll tap the basic human need for security. Feeling safe is a comforting reward.  By communicating and becoming the source of helpful knowledge and information, hospitals can connect with consumers.   Lumosity brain training leverages this by helping people understand that they can improve their mental capabilities because of a thing called neuroplasticity.

5.  Achievement and Accomplishment

For many people, the act of doing something is fueled by an even deeper need to achieve a goal or to create for ourselves a sense of accomplishment. Promise to be a means to achieve this state, and you’ll find plenty of takers.  Good health and an active life is an achievement or accomplishment every consumer desires.  Hospitals wellness programs can certainly offer a promise of a better, healthier life.  Nike has consistently tapped the human need to achieve a personal best for decades. Then again, so has the My Fitness Pal application, where members have lost 100 million pounds since 2005.

Fleming concluded, “delivering on the promise in your message at every turn, of course, is the key to making your message work. Simply saying the words isn’t enough. Which goes without saying and is certainly worth repeating. Sound bytes alone won’t cut it. The promise must match the experience.”

Understanding what motivates our audiences is the key to creating messages that have stickiness. We should always strive to understand consumer motivation and then craft our message so we not only communicate but we connect – with the mind and heart.

Healthcare Marketing: The Big Data Debate

10 Marketers weigh-in on whether big data is useful or harmful.  Big Data for Healthcare Marketing

There is much talk today about “Big Data.  The availability of a massive amount of consumer data that can help marketers make their efforts more precise and with pinpoint targetability.  The healthcare industry has certainly been a player in the use of all the data that is now available.  Despite HIPPA regulations there is an enormous amount of data that hospitals and healthcare organizations collect and can access.  When combined with state medical information and demographic tendencies, healthcare marketers have invaluable information at their fingertips.  And there are now several very large companies who work specifically with healthcare companies to help collect and mine the data and then use it to create very targeted messages to consumers.

But a debate rages among advertising and marketing professionals about the advantages, opportunities, disadvantages and liabilities of “big data.”  Recently Jami Oetting writing for the Agency Post ( collected viewpoints from 10 very experienced and respected marketers concerning “big data.”  Here are their comments.

1. Deacon Webster, Owner and Chief Creative Officer | Walrus

At some point, we’ll be able to tell unequivocally whether somebody who saw a message was more compelled to make a purchase than somebody who didn’t. That’s the ultimate goal of most advertising, so it’s hard to argue that having concrete causation data is a bad thing. It’s the real-time nature of the data that can lead to rash decisions. Nobody measures a car commercial’s effectiveness by the number of people who saw the ad, got off the couch and drove to the dealership within ten seconds of seeing it. People don’t behave that way. Yet, lots of digital advertising is measured and optimized against this exact type of behavior.

We need to practice a bit more patience and realize that there’s a non-interacting majority out there that might enjoy and look forward to a brand’s messaging but don’t feel the need to like, share or retweet it. There are plenty of things in the world that we enjoy without telling anyone.

2. Juliet Haygarth, Managing Director | Brothers and Sisters

I’m dog-sitting for my best friend, and I’ve just returned from an emergency trip to the vet. Panic-stricken, I bundled Dolly onto the table in the surgery room, and the vet sat and checked her over. I love Dolly, so when the vet told me her temperature and heart rate were normal, I felt pretty darn grateful for those little bits of data.

Data is a very useful tool; it can help steer and guide decision-making. It measures our progress and success. It helps us make constant improvements. It can reassure us everything is heading in the right direction.

My concern kicks in when slavish reliance on data occurs, when it becomes the be-all and end-all in strategic and creative development. This is dangerous in a world where a lot of data isn’t necessarily that accurate and certain stats can be invested with undue importance. A few years ago, it was all about the number of Facebook likes, and now the latest thinking debunks this in favor of deeper tools like sentiment tracking. The integrity and intelligence behind the data needs to be actively questioned.

I’m a fan of good data. I’m also a fan of gut instinct. When the two are combined, insight and creativity can be set free rather than hemmed in. If data is our only tool, it’s unlikely we’ll transform a category or move people to do something, whether that is voting in an election or buying a certain brand of washing powder. Painting by numbers will give you a competent picture, but people will know it’s not an original Picasso.

We must not fool ourselves into thinking the subjective business of creativity can be put through some sort of rational filter in order to manage our risk and make us less fearful. Data should be respected, but before we bow down before it we need to think – how was this measured and was it worth measuring in the first place?

3. Jonathan Ashton, Executive Director | TBWA

We are making steady progress toward the state where “more is not always better.” When do we reach too big of data? What are you going to do with even bigger data if you are not already seeing clear benefit from the data you already have? The solution to data blindness is not to track more data or to buy some industrial strength data management tools. The solution is to align strategy and creativity with the data that matters.

Understanding the difference between key performance indicators and performance indicators is important in the big data conversation. A KPI is an action that is tied to ROI (something that can be tested and optimized). A PI is just that — some indicator of performance that can be measured. Just because you can measure it does not mean you should pay attention to it.

A clear focus on the right data can already prove the effectiveness of the broader marketing strategy, not just the advertising. (Who has a chief advertising officer for a client anyway?) Raw data must turn into brand-driving insights. No tool can do that. Only deep experience and innovative, creative human minds can truly see the signal in the noise. Sure, big data can turn into incremental media spend efficiency or a more precisely targeted direct response campaign, but the real challenge is to turn the right data into the big ideas that disrupt entire business categories.

The industry must be careful to focus on what matters in our growing obsession with data. Trade the obsession for dashboards and reports for a passion for client results.

4. James Denton Clark, Managing Director | Karmarama

This is all about fear and how fear stifles creativity, innovation and progression (in all things). People in a recession are scared, and they don’t have the confidence to try new things that may have turned their businesses around.

Big data is a rubbish name. It sounds like Big Brother and the inference in this question is that extreme measurement and identification stifle creativity. So, let’s call it smart data.

As we emerge into a more confident economy (from a culture of fear), having reassurance in the effectiveness of what they do will give brand owners the confidence to test, learn and innovate more.

And that’s what we’re all about. So why should data be at the heart of everything we do?

Because it will unleash the creative industry, not hurt it.

5. James Green, CEO | Magnetic

Big data has become a grossly overused term — overused enough for it to be banned from industry events I’ve attended. The reason everyone is fed up with hearing the term “big data” is because it’s a bit like the term “advertising.” It covers so much ground that, really, it’s no longer useful. If you were asked to write about the state of the advertising industry, you’d have to cover a variety of topics including old media and new, creative, research and reporting, social and mobile, agencies and client-specific trends. Although there are some trends that run through all of these topics, the most interesting information is found by being specific.

So is the case with big data. Everyone has some part of their company that they would like to improve. And no matter what that is — purchasing, selling, accounting, marketing or investor relations — big data is here to help. You can now not only see the trends, but also the parts that make up the trends all the way down to individual events. And often we find that what we thought was a simple trend is made up of more interesting separate parts. For example, an uptick in sales in a geographic region may hide a downtrend in sales among a demographic. But big data can help you see through it all and create separate strategies for each component part.

There is no doubt that big data will help all marketing campaigns become more effective. But deciding what to focus on and then applying the right tools will separate the winners from the frustrated participants.

6. Shirley Au, President, COO | Huge

We see data impacting advertising in two areas: efficiency of delivery and effectiveness of experience. We use data to drive the right experience to the right user, at the right time and in the right place.

Rather than just retargeting the same user 30 times after visiting a site, this means integrating customer profile data with third party data to deliver a more rewarding experience. Our use of sophisticated segmentation systems provides users the same experience across all touchpoints — from desktop and mobile to apps and advertising.

We’ve had this data and personalization capability for some time, but what’s changed is how we merge users’ site personalization with ad targeting and customer data to optimize a desired action (e.g., reduced call center volume).

This is a departure from traditional marketing where you might test creative among a small audience and optimize media based on clicks. In this method, the question about ROI was: Does my marketing work? Now, the question is: How do I manage marketing on an ongoing basis, maximizing the right KPIs and providing the best experience for my most valuable users?

We believe data shifts the onus of the industry from proving value to making effectiveness an ongoing process: we create, test, refine and repeat; we keep learning as our users keep evolving.

What’s hurting the industry is a focus on short-term results and immediate financial return versus the long-term impact, which can ultimately stifle innovation. We know click generation and cluttering pages with upsell opportunities will generate some sales, but it can also damage a brand’s relationship with the user.

7. Robert Guay, SVP and Managing Director | Digitas

Like everything else, marketing data must be used in moderation. Most importantly, marketers have to determine which key performance indicators are most relevant to the long-term success of their businesses.

Clients will often use data to prove that campaigns are effective to drive an upper-funnel metric-like awareness or consideration. Sometimes it’s not possible (or easy) to connect media spend farther down the funnel to actual purchase or, better yet, lifetime value. The challenge is that it is easy to get focused on an upper-funnel metric and actually get good at efficiently driving customer engagements, but we have to be sure we know to what end.

With the amount of data available to brands today, those who do not effectively use it will fall behind quickly. The best practice for big data: Use common sense and only place confidence in those measurements that have a proven connection to business growth.

8. Jalal Nasir, Founder and CEO | Pixalate

All the talk about big data and what it means for agencies can be frightening, but the obsession with big data can also be intoxicating. Agencies now have the ability to effectively measure a campaign’s success and target the audience that brands want to attract by using hard-nosed data and numbers. The litmus test of a successful big data company includes the ability to keep cost of acquisition, process and curation of data relatively low. Before, ad-tech companies used legacy technology stacks for data storage, processing and visualization, which slowed the pace of technology innovation and drove the cost of doing business higher. But big data companies have now figured out a cheaper way to acquire more data, so every interaction a user has with a brand will be curated and more relevant. If applied correctly, this will be a consistent feedback loop that will change the nature of advertising as we know it.

I think that, with anything in life, expecting perfection on day one can lead to disappointment and can hurt our industry. Rationalizing and predicting human behavior with some level of probability is quite complex, but we will find a way to use technologies to solve this problem. This will take time, team effort and multiple technological iterations to get it right if it all. But, it’s an intoxicating problem that’s worth solving.

9. Gina Grillo, President & CEO | The ADVERTISING Club of New York

Big data is more than a buzzword surrounding our business. Our industry has made significant strides in its ability to gather, measure and analyze information in order to precisely target and reach audiences. We now have the capability to tap into this intricate realm of analytics that can be used to understand, track and predict consumer behaviors and preferences. And from there, we are better able to strategically place our creative messages in the right channel at the most receptive moment and in front of the right set of eyes. These are invaluable insights for the world of advertising.

But are we using this data to its utmost potential? As an industry, we are becoming a bit “obsessed” with the opportunity that comes with data collecting tools and techniques. New pressures to effectively hone in and reach people based on their attitudes, needs and desires is front and center. Marketers remain focused on the real goal: to entertain and engage. That leads to true effectiveness and ROI.

Advertisers and marketers still have a ways to go in terms of making the most of this powerful resource. Fortunately, they are already on the fast track. We are working to utilize data in an innovative way by conducting a survey with the help of PwC to track and measure the industry’s progress toward promoting greater diversity. And as we approach the 50th anniversary of the International ANDY awards in 2014, industry leaders will have the opportunity to come together to not only celebrate creativity, but also explore how to strategically bring the innovative use of data and analytics into the mix in the next 50 years of advertising. The future lies in mastering the right combination of strategically placed ads and engaging and connecting with consumers through these messages and content. Only then will the ‘buzzy’ concept of big data truly prove its relevancy in advertising.

10. Amy Lanigan, Vice President of Client Strategy | Fluid, Inc.

Data and ROI metrics will ultimately make advertising accountable, which is fantastic. In digital commerce, it’s essential. Smart use of data is digital’s ace in the hole. The wealth of digital data holds endless insights and ideas. It commands we set up success metrics. Its constant stream is a chance for ongoing testing, optimization and iteration.

That said, ‘big data’ can be bad. Bad like big government, Big Brother (in the book and on TV), Big Gulps and the Big Dig in Boston — overwhelming, intimidating and debilitating. Similar to endless excel spreadsheets and brainstorms constrained by metrics, measuring everything rarely helps anyone.

The two ‘bigs’ worth keeping? The big picture and the big ideas. The big picture keeps us out of the weeds and focused on goals. We get to mine the data whys and what-ifs. And the best big ideas have a foundation in data-driven insights — even the bold, crazy, go-for-it ones.

If data is our only obsession, it hurts us. Luckily, we’re a multiple-obsession industry — groundbreaking creative, innovation, intuitive experiences, conversion, client satisfaction, etc. You name it, and there’s someone up at night at an agency thinking about it. If we partner with our clients early on to define which data matters most and how we should measure success, our obsession can be positive. Our obsession then means we mine data in ways that positively impact customers and the experiences we create for them — which is flat-out fun.

I know this is a long post but I thought the opinions expressed by a wide variety of marketing experts were very revealing and helpful.  The take away for healthcare marketers is big data can be very useful.  It does indeed help us sharpen our message and our delivery methods.  But it’s not the golden egg or magic bullet.  Instincts, experience, intuition, creativity, common sense and the ability to distinguish between data and meaningful, helpful data are very mush a part of a successful marketing effort.

Healthcare Marketing: Current Trends in Social Marketing for Hospitals

Best practices for healthcare organizations utilizing social media.

Trending concept.Zsolt Bicskey writing for recently gave what he thought were the top trends and best practices for using social media by hospitals and healthcare organizations.  His main points are provided here with some slight editing.

Incentivizing Social Media

Having media accounts is useless without followers. Few patients have a reason to follow their hospital on Facebook — it’s up to marketers to convince them otherwise. Start by asking patients to like your pages and profiles (put your info on a business card, perhaps?) and even incentivize the process with drawings of gift cards for the gift shop or discounted parking, etc. Or, if you’re really into making a splash in the online community, send patients information via social media about upcoming appointments and health information they may find informative. The same idea applies to emailed newsletters, text message appointment times, and other reminders.


Marketers have found that people react better to bright, attractive imagery rather than boring blocks of Web text. When you’re making posts or publishing blogs on social media, accompany them with multimedia like videos, infographics, and images. People are more likely to halt their newsfeed scrolling if they come across something that pops off the page. Think visual when you start out on your campaign and find pictures and graphs that accurately reflect your information.

Website Linking

Websites can be like secondary storefronts for hospitals and healthcare organizations. In terms of social medical marketing, link to and from your website with your social profiles and keep it stocked full of new, original, and accurate information about your hospital and your service lines. As mentioned, the best marketing campaigns set you up as a professional authority in a field. Writing pamphlets, articles, and blogs can help support this idea — all you have to do is link them through to your website.

Enlisting the Masses

It would be impossible for you, a busy healthcare marketer, to do all of this on your own. Instead, enlist help from your staff and other experts. Did you get new technology? Ask a doctor or nurse to write up a few hundred words that you then publish on your website. Don’t be afraid to try new things, either; sometimes the most successful strategies are the ones no one has ever tried before.

Going Forward

The most important thing to do is to keep at it. Don’t give up if you don’t have every Facebook follower in town; focus instead on the long-term goal of creating an online brand and presence. Healthcare is a difficult, competitive field on the Internet. It is your job, and you should employ social healthcare marketing in order to support your organization as a source of valuable healthcare information and to provide patients with information.

Hospital Marketing: 5 Tests to Keep Your Brand Relevant

 A critical view of your brand can make it enduring and stronger.

Hospital Brand TestA hospital’s brand is extremely important.  With the changing healthcare environment brands are in transition with new alliances, new ventures, a host of rating organizations, consumer-driven marketplace and so much more.  Which means it’s more difficult to keep a strong and consistent brand.

It’s crucial for hospitals and healthcare organizations to frequently revisit the brand, reassess and keep the brand as clean and consistent as possible.  Here are 5 tests every brand should ask and consider on a regular basis.

1.    How is your brand perceived in the marketplace?

What is the consumer perception of your brand?  Is it gaining strength or waning?  Does the consumer have a clear idea of what and who the brand is?  Do they know what the brand stands for?  Is the brand relevant to the consumer?

2.    How is the brand communication?

Take an inventory of all brand touchpoints.   Patients, physicians, providers, payers, employees, management and board.  What is the brand communicating to each?  Is it consistent?  Does it reflect the mission and values of the organization?

3.    Analyze your brand architecture.

In many ways this may be the most difficult.  As organizations grow and change, it’s difficult to keep consistent and clearly defined brand architecture.  Do patients understand the different product and service lines and how they relate to each other and to the master brand?  Is there confusion?   A weak brand architecture creates weak brand equity.

4.    Assess the brand expression.

Does the brand have a consistent image, look and feel across all touch points? Can the consumer tell that all parts of the brand are part of the overall brand family?

5.    Examine the brand expression.

How is the brand expressed?  Does it have a consistent tone, personality and message?  Do all the communications speak the same voice and reflect the same character and heart?

In today’s environment it’s so easy to get sidetracked, disjointed and inconsistent.  It’s easy to get going in too many different directions and sacrificing the brand for expediency or politics.  And when this happens, the brand is weakened.   Healthcare marketers should constantly be asking these questions and diligently communicating a consistent, well-planned and strong brand.  Across all platforms, to every audience and with every execution.  I know it’s easier said than done.  But we must always be fighting the good fight to protect and enhance our brand.