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Making the Most of Your 2024 Paid Media (Part 1): Patient Marketing

In part one of a two-part series on paid media, Jenny welcomes Hedy & Hopp’s own Director of Activation, Lindsey Brown, and Director of Marketing, Julia Pitlyk. Together the group discusses what healthcare marketers should consider when planning their paid media strategies from 2024. They focus on how to balance awareness building and lead generation objectives in a media plan, the merits of paid social and exploring creative formats to tell a compelling brand story, considerations around patient data privacy in paid media tactics, and how to develop robust measurement plans for paid campaigns. Jenny, Julia and Lindsey also provide recommendations on how teams can conserve some of their 2024 media budget for experimental channels and tactics.

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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 be joined by two fabulous members of the Hedy & Hopp team.

We have Lindsey Brown, who is the Director of Activation and Julia Pitlyk, who is Hedy & Hopp’s Director of Marketing. Welcome ladies.

I am so thrilled to jump in today. We’ve been talking so much about privacy, it feels really good to change gears. One of the things that our team gets really excited about is thinking about patient acquisition efforts.

And we’ve been having lots of conversations about paid media strategies going into the new calendar year, whether folks operate on a fiscal or calendar, everybody’s still thinking about a fresh start going into January. And so I wanted to pause and really spend a little bit of time with y’all talking specifically about paid [00:01:00] media and what a patient acquisition marketing mix should look like right now.

So Lindsey, I’d love if you’d kick us off just talking a little bit about where our clients heads are at and kind of the conversations you’ve been a part of what folks are thinking about right now.

Lindsey: Absolutely. So a lot of our clients are obviously in the planning stages. And so they’re thinking about “What do we need to change for next year?”

Obviously they’re making some changes because of privacy, which we won’t get into too much on this call. But they’re really thinking about how do we get more leads? How do we get out to more patients? And the first thing that they always think about is “What are those channels that are producing the best ROI from us from a lead perspective?”

So they go straight to the things like paid search that are really great at generating those leads. And there’s a really great way to, to attribute that to a paid search campaign, for example. The problem is with paid search, it is, it’s like a demand, it’s a demand platform. So you’re only going to get the people that are already interested.

So what we’ve been talking with our clients about is really thinking about what are those things that you need to do to build [00:02:00] up awareness and build up interest and consideration in your products and services so that when they’re ready to start searching and they’re ready to start moving forward, you’re going to capitalize them in your search campaign.

So that’s kind of where the conversations have gone. 

Julia: Yeah. I love that, Lindsay. I think about that all the time in terms of what are the right paid channels that are about demand creation, right? That’s where we tend to look at awareness and some consideration. But then, yes, paid search is so wonderful for that demand capture of someone. Think about what they’re putting in the search bar, right?

Their zip code plus whatever condition they’re looking to treat. That’s the place that absolutely our clients want to make sure that they show up. But I think the planning phase is a great portion to say, okay, where do we need to pull up a little bit and think about that demand creation?

Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely. So things like making sure your message is out in front of more people, making sure that partnerships that you have available and it’s not just a paid media thing, although paid media is really going to help you with that. It can help you with the volume. It can help you control sort of where that message is, how you spend that budget.

Media is perfect at that, [00:03:00] but there’s still other ways you can get that message out, right? You’ve got your earned efforts that you do through your PR. You’ve got owned efforts through email marketing and email communication and that kind of thing. But paid media really is going to help you sort of, expand sort of your existing ecosystem and give you a little bit more control over where you’re putting your dollars in your efforts to start to see those results come in through that funnel.

Jenny: I would love to hear both of your thoughts about how paid social plays into the patient journey and when it’s appropriate versus when it may not be, whether we’re thinking about brand marketing at a high level or service line or provider specific. What are your thoughts? 

Lindsey: You want to go 1st? I can go 1st.

So from a paid social perspective, it’s a good question because there are so many social platforms. Five, 10 years ago, we were thinking about, Oh, it’s just Facebook. And then, okay, it’s Twitter. And then, okay, see, those are things. Now there’s a million different paid social platforms. So I think first and foremost, you want to make sure that the platforms that you’re in is actually where your audience is.

So a lot of [00:04:00] times our clients will just say they want to be in Facebook because they have a Facebook account, but maybe their audience actually isn’t active on Facebook, and they’re more Instagram people. They’re more TikTok people. They’re more Snapchat type people. Just kind of depends on who you’re looking for.

So you want to make sure number one, that you’re going to find your audience there in order to return that and get those better results and performance from your campaigns. But I think that paid is really supplemental to your overall social efforts. And this is also something I think that marketers kind of end up siloing a little bit.

We’ve talked about on previous podcasts where just because it’s the paid team that’s running that show doesn’t mean that’s it’s in a silo with what you’re doing with your social efforts overall. So if you want to have a paid social campaign, first and foremost, you have to have some sort of social presence because you want to gain some traction with your potential followers or your potential patients, potential customers and then those paid efforts can kind of.

And get them to do something else, like get them to your site to sign up for something, get them to your site to download an application or something like that, that organic efforts may not [00:05:00] really do. So you have to think about it in what you’re doing from an organic and owned perspective, and then using social or paid part of that to help supplement those efforts and drive to an actual action.

I don’t know. Julia, what do you think? What are your thoughts? 

Julia: Yeah, I totally agree. And I love paid social from really sort of that awareness and, again, I’m going to probably say this a million times, that demand creation standpoint and, to go back to your question, I think it can work from sort of an overall, let’s say we’re talking about a hospital or health system, some overall awareness, but I think you can also talk to it from a service line specific type of demand creation.

My challenge to our clients and I think a challenge when you’re getting into planning mode to think about is how can you really get creative with the creative formats that paid social channels are allowing you to play with these days compared to something like paid search where it’s pretty darn limited. It’s a lot of text based, you got to really play back those keywords in, have some of those dynamic sort of search ads going on.

Paid social really allows [00:06:00] you to storytell. You can storytell through, wonderful static imagery and copywriting. You can storytell through some really creative short form video.

There’s so many ways to really get some more of that emotion, which health care is rich with, again at the overall level or at the service line level and really reach people and start to stick in their mind. So I really encourage, especially if you’re trying to tell a really emotional or really compelling story, to lean hard into paid social and your media plans.

Lindsey: Yeah, totally agree. I love that. That it’s like it can be more creative. You can be more creative. And especially as we’re talking specifically about patient acquisition, you’re talking to real people and real consumers. And so they want to see things that are interesting and relevant to them, things that kind of make them stop and think.

The long scroll is a real thing. We do it for hours and hours a day. You’ve got to find a way to cut through that. And so using social media in that way is really beneficial. And then again, from a paid perspective, it allows you to kind of broaden your net, [00:07:00] increase your user base, and then drive to more specific actions.

You can start to see some really great results. 

Jenny: I love that. That’s a great kind of thought process of how to combine the two together and stand out. I hate to use the privacy word, but I feel like we have so many podcasts talking about this and we are not a privacy agency, but we have become experts in it.

So one of the things we’ve been counseling a lot of our clients on as they head into the new year is how they can continue doing a lot of the tactics they were doing before with patient privacy and consumer privacy front of mind. So specifically what I’d love to hear from y’all, overall, we’re saying don’t stop digital just because of everything that’s going on.

This is not a directive to go back to traditional mailers exclusively and billboards. We can still do digital. I specifically want to talk about social media targeting and the new rule of not really feeding the beast. So I’d love if, Lindsey, if you could give just a concise explanation of how can you still do [00:08:00] social and targeting effectively yet still be complying with all of the new privacy guidelines?

Lindsey: Yeah, I will try to be concise. I have a hard time being concise sometimes, I’m going to do my best. All right. So, from a social media specific perspective a lot of that feeding the beast comes from using things like targeting lookalike audiences. So that’s what we called feeding the beast. In social media, that is one way it’s a really, it’s a simple way to be able to optimize in real time your marketing efforts, right?

But if we don’t have the pixels on the site because we know that’s a not compliant way to move forward and we want to cut those off, that means that there really isn’t that learning that’s going on specifically from users on your site. There’s still learning that’s going on within the platform itself.

So, for example when we talked about, Julia talked about, storytelling a little bit earlier, one way that you can leverage something like Facebook and storytelling and still get to better targeting without using your site visitors or your site data is to just [00:09:00] retarget within the Facebook platform.

Let’s say you have a series of videos. You want to tell a four step process or a four step story, excuse me. And you start with your first one. And then those that have seen the first one, now you can target them with the second video. And then you can target with the third video. Now you start to, like, build in more of that story and you can do that all within the platform itself without having to use a pixel, without having to use any data from your website.

So there’s still ways to get more targeted within those platforms to leverage the targeting capabilities within the platform itself. They’re all available without the pixel. Sometimes I really think that those pixels are, like, helping those platforms more than they’re actually helping marketers because they’re learning more than really we’re learning as marketers.

So, I really think that again, you can stick to what’s available within the platform. And some of those platforms do have really great ways to target depending on what your audience is and what you’re trying to achieve.

Jenny: So for example, let’s say that a provider is trying to target for mammography campaigns, they’re doing a free [00:10:00] breast exam through the month of November.

You can use the Facebook or the Meta targeting to target women over the age of 40 that live within your zip codes, right? That’s the kind of stuff that is still available that I think a lot of folks are just thinking is off the table. Like, Oh, we can’t do any targeting anymore. We just have to like spray and pray, like the old school marketing.

Right. Like that’s not how it is anymore. Like you, you can still do targeting just using Facebook’s targeting situations, Julia thoughts. 

Julia: Yeah, I agree. I think what is off the table is sort of what healthcare marketers were doing when it came to the classic example, like the abandoned cart retargeting ad, right?

If somebody clicked through from a Facebook ad to a service line web page and almost filled out that form, but didn’t quite, retargeting to come back and schedule an appointment like that from your own website’s data is off the table, right? But when it comes to retargeting based off of the click on that ad, which is [00:11:00] data native in that Facebook platform, that’s still okay.

So I think for me, it’s been really helpful to look at that entire end to end journey from the first introductory piece of content or ad we want to put out to a user of a specific target. Jenny, just like you spoke to, women over the age of 40. What are the stories, what are the messages we want to tell them throughout and then map out a layer underneath?

Like, what are the data signals that we will need to get from where in order to power that journey in paid social or in other paid media campaigns? And then as you do that, there’s going to be a couple that are now off the table, like sending that data from your website back to Facebook. But I think you’ll find that there’s still plenty more on the table from native targeting and retargeting within the platform than you may think when you’re grappling with some of these new privacy guidelines. 

Jenny: I love that. That’s helpful. Anything else that either of you want to share that we haven’t touched on yet, thinking about patient acquisition brand awareness and kind of heading into the new calendar year.[00:12:00] 

Lindsey: So one thing I do want to bring up is I think the measurement piece. So, Julia, you peaked it perfectly, like you’re looking at certain data signals to understand where people are, understand then how to modify or optimize within that platform. So, again, measurement also is not off the table. You can still measure all of the efforts of your marketing.

It just may not be as necessarily seamless or all within Google Analytics or all within one place. You’ll have to probably bring it in a little bit piecemeal, but there’s still absolutely possible to understand how users are engaging with your content, how they are moving forward in a pipeline, how your things are helping to drive that forward.

And so again, not completely off the table, just might take a little bit of additional upfront work and thinking of how you’re going to do that, but it’s absolutely possible. 

Julia: I love that, and I’ll leave my parting thought with what everybody loves to talk about in media planning and planning season, which is budget.

And we know from talking to a lot of our clients budgets are flat at best, if not decreasing slightly. [00:13:00] But then there’s also: do brand awareness, market these new service lines, let’s experiment in a couple other channels. Like how do you grapple with a flatter or shrinking budget and all of these different objectives?

One of the things that I’ve found successful, especially with working with leadership who maybe has new ideas about new channels or things that they want to test and learn is take a classic kind of 80/20, or maybe even 90/10 model when it comes to your budget. Make sure you’re allocating as much as possible within reason to the channels that work.

Ideally, you know that they work because you have some really great measurement plans like Lindsey just spoke to. And make sure you siphon off a little bit, 20 percent, 10 percent, to be intentional about experimenting in some of these channels. That’s a strategy I found really helpful when you want to innovate, but you also don’t have an infinite amount of funds to do so. 

Jenny: I love that. That’s such a great strategy. And I think I would just like, like to leave it that if there’s anyone out there that’s listening to this and you are kind of feeling the [00:14:00] pressure of going into a new year with a flat budget and all these privacy concerns, reach out. Chat with us. We have set up all of our clients are still getting full conversion reporting for all of their media plans in a compliant way.

It is possible. And so if you’re still kind of grappling with that, you don’t have full tracking in place, you are struggling getting reports to leadership. Call us. We’d love to chat with you. And with that, we are going to be doing another episode talking specifically about provider marketing.

So if you are a marketing team that is responsible for both patient acquisition and provider marketing, or if you’re provider marketing specific, look for part two of the series and tune in to hear more about media planning for providers. And with that, thanks for tuning in to today’s episode of We Are, Marketing Happy.

We’ll see you soon. 



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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