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Marketing Performance After Privacy Changes: What to Expect

In this episode, Jenny welcomes Hedy & Hopp’s own Director of Marketing, Julia Pitlyk. Reflecting on their latest discussions around changes to patient data privacy, Jenny and Julia discuss what healthcare marketers should expect from their marketing tactics and analytics. They focus on two main areas of change: marketing activation and analytics, and specifically discuss how those two areas will be impacted by implementing server-side Google Tag Manager to address new privacy guidelines. They also discuss how other solutions, like new analytics tools and CDPs (Customer Data Platforms), differ in terms of how they impact these areas. Jenny and Julia also recommend ways to reset the benchmark of marketing performance and emphasize the importance of making sure marketing and legal/compliance leadership develop a shared point-of-view on how to move forward with new guidelines. 

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Jenny: [00:00:00] Hi friends, welcome to today’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy – a healthcare marketing podcast. My name is Jenny Bristow. I am the CEO and owner of Hedy & Hopp, a full service, fully healthcare marketing agency. And I am so excited today to have Julia Pitlyk join the call. So I’m very excited to announce that Julia has officially joined Hedy & Hopp as our Director of Marketing.

So welcome aboard, Julia. 

Julia: Hello. So happy to be here. Second time on the podcast now in a different capacity. So excited. Thanks for letting me jump in on this really exciting topic. 

Jenny: Oh, it’s so exciting. We did a webinar earlier this week and we had really strong attendance. It was really kind of heartfelt for me to be able to see the number of healthcare marketers that want to get this analytics and patient privacy issue right.

Now, nobody’s doing bad things on [00:01:00] purpose, right? They’re just taking things from other industries and putting them into healthcare. We didn’t as an or as an industry really realize the overall repercussions. So the webinar was fabulous. Side note, if you want to receive a copy of it, shoot me an email. We have it recorded.

Happy to share. Jenny at hedyandhopp .com. But today, let’s talk about execution because a lot of the Q&A, we did an extended Q&A, really just stayed on the line for folks to ask any questions. A lot of it was around like, “And then what?”

Julia: “Yeah, what now?” Yeah, absolutely. I love that you said in the webinar, like, we are problem aware at this point, right?

We’ve been dealing with this OCR guidance for almost a year. So the need to change is known. And we’ve heard so many people at all the conferences we’ve been to this year say, okay, we stripped off our analytics. We’re kind of in this. “What are we going to implement?” and then the next bucket is “And then how are we going to get back to marketing and what’s that going to look like for us and our patient acquisition [00:02:00] efforts in this sort of new paradigm of analytics and activation changes?” 

Jenny: Yeah. So in this podcast episode, we’re not going to talk about the different journeys and ways you can fix your tracking. We have plenty of content on that. And like I said, the webinar is a great crash course if you want a recording of it, send it to me. What I want to talk about today is the path that we see most systems and providers and payers moving towards, which is server side tag manager, right?

They’re choosing not to do a CDP like FreshPaint. They’re choosing not to move over to a new analytics platform like PiwikPro, though, at the end of the session, I want to chat with you a little bit about the what ifs if they do that. But for those folks that are moving over to server side tag manager, I want to talk a little bit about kind of what that looks like. First of all, give me your thoughts. Like if you’re moving over, because you were on the client side really recently, like what kind of conversations are people having at the leadership level or what should they be having at the leadership level? 

Julia: Yeah, absolutely. My [00:03:00] brain is always going to two big buckets.

It’s the analytics and the activation. And of course, they go hand in hand, especially over the past, what, decade and a half as marketers have become more and more data driven. We’re so used to looking at the data, making decisions, changing our tactics. Rinse and repeat. So I’m thinking about, okay, if I’m sitting on the client side, I’ve implemented server side Google Tag Manager to address the OCR bulletin and some of these guidelines that have come out, what are my analytics going to look like? And what’s my activation going to look like?

So I think first and foremost, I like to think about, like, what is just wholesale off the table? And we talked about this in our webinar a bit, and it’s hard to say but things like list buying, of course, list uploads, building lookalikes, like those are all things that you’re taking your data, you’re giving it to an ad platform, you’re feeding the beast as we say, like, no more.

That, very clear, put that in a bucket, that’s off the table. Then it’s okay, What tactics and activation [00:04:00] strategies are on the table in a different way?

So for us, that’s a lot of, like, the retargeting piece, right? You can do retargeting with data in the platform. So all of these, like, walled gardens we used to talk about Facebook, Google, they’ve got their data. You can use things like a consumer who clicked on an ad as an action that you can retarget on.

So that for me is, like, looking at that activation bucket first, because server side GTM is going to handle a lot of the analytics issues that are coming up from this bulletin. But it’s looking at that activation bucket and first and foremost saying like, okay, what do we put on the table? What are things we kind of need to tweak?

And then some of those bigger questions that come out of it for me are, Okay, we took some tactics off the table. We changed some things from our retargeting and our conversion attribution. What is our data going to look like? Because so many of these marketers are saying, well, leadership’s not changing our growth expectations after this bulletin came out.

[00:05:00] We still need high performing digital marketing and the tactics we were doing were getting us there. For me, it’s that next step is how to proactively talk to leadership about, w’re changing tactics because of these reasons, what should we all expect to come from it? And sort of giving some runway to really learn from the tactical change.

Jenny: Absolutely. It’s sort of like whenever thinking back, whenever folks switched from Google Analytics to GA4, right. It went from session to event targeting. That’s not apples to apples, right? And so this is that same kind of situation. It’s a line in the sand, not apples to apples anymore. Our goal is still the same efficacy of spend, but it’s, it’s not the same.

One thing I heard in a webinar I did yesterday with a hospital specific group in the afternoon I did one, is one of the people actually said, “I feel like we need to go back to strictly analog marketing tactics” and it hurt my heart. I was like, No. No, do not do that. [00:06:00] Digital is still 100 percent possible.

You just have to stop putting data into these platforms. Like you said, walled garden, use what’s in Facebook. You can use Facebook’s targeting if they have specific targeting set up based off of age, occupation, interest, whatever. You can still use all of that, right? You just can’t upload your list into Facebook to make it more specific.

Julia: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So I think like a very specific example that we see a tactic, kind of a journey that we see a lot of our clients doing is patient acquisition marketing goes to a landing page. The goal is to fill out the form, right? Like, I love that. Cause we want that, that email address, something to have more of that one to one communication with, making sure that you’re doing it in systems that are compliant.

So that journey makes perfect sense. So I look at that and say, okay, what in this new world order needs to change. And it’s optimizing the ads to that conversion of filling out that form because you’re taking a thing that’s happening in your world and you’re sending it back to the ad platforms and [00:07:00] saying, optimize for this.

So, if that’s being taken off the table, what can we expect to see in our campaign performance data because of that? Those tactics were on the table because they worked, right? Like, we’re performance marketers. They made the ads perform better. They brought down CPAs. So if I’m in that seat and what we’re telling our clients in that seat is that needs to be treated as, you need to look at it as sort of a new benchmarking period, telling your leadership.

What do you think the next two to four weeks, maybe even a couple of months. Like, yeah, we are making a technical change. I would literally like in the measurement plan documents that we have and in your analytics tools, like on this date, we changed these things for any optimization and say, okay, now we have this line in the sand.

And for the next two, four, six, whatever weeks, we’re looking to see what’s happening to our CPA. Like we heard at some conferences, the numbers are going to go in a direction that [00:08:00] you probably don’t want, you don’t want them to go in. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel good. This isn’t a marketing optimization tactical change.

It’s a regulatory and compliance one. But I think really running through that thought experiment of, what are we expecting to see, starting to see that with leadership and really start to say, like, we need to have this X amount of weeks as a learning period to see what performance we can get with this new type of compliant marketing and then use that to inform some updated projections and budget needs.

And I know all of that sounds very, those aren’t ideal conversations to have. I think again, like we said, to any client any year of doing this, it’s, bring the data to the table and have an informed conversation based off of that.

Jenny: And I think it’s really important to highlight that we’re not stripping away all data, right?

We’re not going into a blind world where we don’t understand anything anymore. If you choose a server side Google Tag Manager implementation, which again, most people that we’re talking to [00:09:00] are choosing that path from an annual cost savings, speed of implementation, et cetera, you still can use UTM parameters.

To be able to track and understand the success of campaigns, keywords, creatives, a lot of platforms like LinkedIn just two weeks ago came out with the LinkedIn conversion API that you can actually tie in to pull conversion data in to be able to understand how to optimize. The part we’re missing though, for people to understand is that automated feedback loop where it’s automatically optimized completed conversions.

You’re still going to get conversion information. You’re just going to have to pay a little bit more attention to the way that your team chooses to optimize or your agency, whatever chooses to optimize those campaigns. Right. But it’s not the end of the world. 

Julia: I think this is also one of those periods of time where it’s, let’s roll up our sleeves and really get into the data. Yes, we’re going to, we’re going to lack some of that automated sort of I would say I would also challenge like this, this is an opportunity, to paint it nicely, to roll up your sleeves and look at, even when [00:10:00] you have, before you make some of these tactical changes really look at the patient acquisition, let’s see as far down the funnel as you can.

And I think, we really push a lot of our clients to do this when we do that full ROI analysis, but let’s take it beyond that form fill, which is a wonderful marketing conversion, but how many of those patients, or prospective patients, we should say, how many of them pulled through to schedule an appointment?

How many of them pulled through to actually show up to an appointment, right? And that’s definitely a, again, a roll up your sleeves data exercise, but I would be really curious to know, are you seeing certain trends in certain channels where maybe you’re getting a lot of volume form fills, but not quite the pull through lower funnel.

And maybe this is a way to inform some adjustments to your marketing mix spend, too. 

Jenny: Oh, I love that. That’s such a positive way to go into it as an opportunity versus simply feeling like you’re having things stripped away from you. So I love that. Pivot with positivity, as we say at Hedy & Hopp. [00:11:00] Agreed.

Julia: Agreed. I think this puts us in a little bit of like, a last touch attribution world. I’m curious what you think about that. Google ‘marketing attribution models’ and you’ll find so many complex custom implementations. I feel like this pushes us to a last touch, but maybe helps us get a little bit away from chasing that holy grail of the perfect attribution model at the same time. What do you think? 

Jenny: Yeah, no I agree with that. I think it’ll be interesting once we see more full implementations and more time with those implementations. I’d love to have somebody from our activation analytics team on a future podcast and talk about the data. Like what have our clients seen?

Because right now I feel like it’s going to be mostly speculation. I think there are still ways that you could do a multi-touch attribution model. But I don’t know with real world execution what that’s going to look like. So I think that’s kind of like a TBD, totally agree. Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about, so that’s the solution if somebody is going the path of server side tag manager.

Or the, [00:12:00] not solution, that is the expectation of experience. You know what I’m saying? If they choose a CDP or a new analytics tool, which are the other two journeys that we talk about in our webinar and our overall education process around this they don’t, it doesn’t necessarily change it. You know what I’m saying?

Like on the tactic execution, you can’t do remarketing just because you chose to go with PiwikPro or you can’t do, you can’t upload lists to Facebook simply because you chose to go with FreshPaint. It doesn’t change tactical execution, but it may change the way that you view data and the way that data is presented to your leadership team, right?

Julia: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s where, like, looking at some of those other journeys, I just keep pulling my brain back to analytics and activation because exactly that. If you implement PiwikPro, like the tactical stuff still needs to be put back on the shelves and the things we mentioned earlier. So that’s, there’s just definitely two big buckets to navigate really through.

I think CDPs, uh, for an organization that’s ready [00:13:00] for it. And by ready, there’s a data maturity, there’s resources on tech and marketing, there’s budget. I think those are better positioned to be a solution that helps tackle both the analytics and the activation because it sits kind of right on top of your, your world and it takes your data and sends it to the, the analytics and the activation platforms.

So that’s something that I think could be a really good path forward. But again, got to be ready for it. Your organization’s got to be ready for it. So that’s why we focus so much on the server side GTM because it’s something that we’re just, has a lower barrier to entry to get that, get the analytics to get the data back. But you’re, you’re exactly right. It’s not, there’s no one perfect, easy switch to flip on or off. That’s going to address the complications in all of these buckets. 

Jenny: So it’s really interesting to me that nobody yet is talking about marketing tactic changes based off of this.

I feel like we’re the only ones raising this. So far, so when we think about like [00:14:00] problem or versus solution aware, when you think about marketing analytics, most organizations are solution aware, but the number of questions in our webinar yesterday or on Wednesday about tactical changes as a result of all of this was kind of astonishing to me.

I feel like most people aren’t even problem aware yet on that side of the house. So it’s going to be interesting. I feel like over the next six months, as people start figuring out, Oh, wow, my agency is trying to do media buys as normal and they aren’t bringing anything new to the table, but they’re not the ones that are going to get the big OCR fines.

We are right, right, right.  

Julia: And that, I think that a lot of that comes from, in the problem aware period, right? What we’ve been saying, audit everything, go to, scrape every tag you may know or not know is on your site. Look at your entire martech stack. And I think where some of that is coming from is that, if you read the bulletin, it’s, you can very clearly when you read it, kind of ascertain, okay, we’re talking Google Analytics, we’re talking about Meta. But then you start to see all of these other tools that [00:15:00] work based off of some semblance of like seeing an IP address or a device. And it really, you start to turn over all those rocks and think about all the ways that you, communicate, distribute content on your site, and it really opens up this kind of this hornet’s nest of activation.

So I think that’s where again even though you may know at a high level, okay, we can’t feed the beast with our data, IP is PHI, like, still doing that audit because it really helps you kind of block and tackle and look at what solutions in your tech stack you may need to change in addition to tactics.

Jenny: Exactly. Exactly. Oh, I feel like this has been a really helpful overview and hopefully it’s going to spark some really good conversations within organizations about how, uh, they want to approach it better setting expectations, kind of creating a level of calm around it, right? Like we can’t change this.

So we might as well lean in a way that is healthy for our organization and not create unnecessary chaos within our conversations and expectations. So [00:16:00] I like that. Any parting words?

Julia: Well, I love that because I find calm and spreadsheets, taking the data and saying, okay, what, what might be worst case scenario, middle case scenario, best case scenario, like, just again, finding a little bit of clarity through taking your, taking your mind to what could happen to your marketing next, I think is going to just help, uh, keep ripping the bandaid off and keep setting those expectations. 

Jenny: And knowing it’s not just their organization, right? Everybody in healthcare is experiencing this. And I had one person push back whenever I was chatting with them and they said like, well, what’s enforcement look like if other people in our niche part of the healthcare world are not yet doing this, that means their marketing is going to be more successful than ours over the next year to two years.

And we are private equity backed. So that means our performance will be worse. Right? And then it’s like a spiraling conversation of like, how long could we keep doing this until we’re fined? And I just think, that is a different way to approach the problem because Hedy & Hopp, in our hearts, we just want to protect patients data.[00:17:00] 

Right. So like, yeah, it’s difficult, but like, is that extra 2 percent growth that you’re going to experience going to be worth the potential liability down the road? I don’t know that your private equity firm would think that’s true. 

Julia: It does come down to some POVs. Ours is out there and it’s always on the side of the patient privacy, but that is definitely something for every organization’s marketing leadership, organizational leadership, and legal and compliance leadership to have equal seats at the table to discuss.

Jenny: I love it. Well, for our loyal listeners, I want to make sure that you follow us on all of the social channels because we have a really fun micro content series we’re going to be launching in the coming weeks called “Hit of Happy.” It’s going to be hosted by Julia and she’s going to be covering a lot of information that we get asked really often by prospects and clients and really digestible short series.

So we’re going to put links to our socials in the show notes. Please go and follow us there if you haven’t already, [00:18:00] because I guarantee it’s going to be worth your time. So thank you again for tuning in today to We Are, Marketing Happy, and we’ll see you on a future episode. 



About the Author

Jenny Bristow is the CEO and Founder of Hedy & Hopp. Prior to starting Hedy & Hopp, Jenny launched, grew and sold a digital agency in Seattle and worked at Amazon. She was named one of St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 under 30, won a Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 and speaks regularly at healthcare marketing industry events.

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