Measuring Your Content Investment


You know how great it feels to lock in that final jigsaw puzzle piece and see the entire picture. Wouldn’t you love to capture that same warm glow when you look at the website content for your hospital or health system? Of course you would! And you can—if you apply relevant metrics that will help you discover the value of this major marketing investment. So, what does it take to measure content ROI?

Business Goals Drive the Bus

Everything starts—or should start—with your business goals, which should incorporate your users’ goals too. You can figure out what’s important to measure by understanding what you and your users want to accomplish. But stay focused. Don’t bite off more than you can chew—at least, not when you’re getting started. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should. You don’t want to get sucked into the big black hole of tracking data for data’s sake. You want to focus on meaningful measurements in order to get results that can truly help guide the decisions you need to make about creating valuable content.

Take the Long View

Whether your healthcare organization wants more patients to pay their bills online or you’re interested in expanding your social media relationships, the key is to set up measurements that will track your goals. And it’s important to remember that you must stay in the game for the long haul. Arnie Kuenn, experienced content marketer and president of Vertical Measures, notes: “Content marketing is different from other forms of online marketing in that it does not always deliver ROI quickly. It may take weeks or months for a piece of content to be discovered by people and the search engines.” So don’t give up too early. A week’s worth of data doesn’t tell you much; a month’s worth—or a year’s worth or more—really starts to create a valuable knowledge base that can inform your next steps and make all the effort worthwhile.

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Death by Complexity in the Modern CRM

crm-complex-customizeEveryone knows customer relationship management (CRM) is important. It’s the main source behind lead conversion and revenue recognition for many companies. But using many of the CRM systems available can be difficult. Especially because out of the box, they might not fit your needs. If that’s the case, you should consider customizing the system. It’s easier than you think.

That’s the great thing about CRM systems today – they can easily be customized to your organization’s business model. However, along with the positives of easy point-and-click customizations, such as new data fields, also comes the increased risk of creating useless and unreliable data. In a recent article I read The Five Data Management Practices B2B Marketers Are Overlooking, author Derek Slayton cites research from the Aberdeen Group that says companies that actively manage their marketing data for hygiene and improved segmentation require just 64 marketing responses to generate a customer. Those that do not require 329 (industry average) or 622 (laggards) touches!

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How Can Healthcare Marketers Optimize for Natural Language Search?

Natural Language Search With iPhone Siri

Natural language search has been around for quite a while – ever use or WolframAlpha? But the shift from keyword-based search to natural language comprehension has gained much more attention since the release of virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and mobile search applications such as Google Now in 2012.

Throughout 2013, other tech giants have made moves to accommodate the growing natural language search trend as well. In March, Facebook released their natural language search engine Graph Search. Then in August Google announced Hummingbird, their latest search algorithm update. Both Graph Search and Hummingbird aim to not only understand what the searcher is asking but provide accurate and relevant search results to them. With the announcement yesterday that Yahoo has acquired natural language processing technology SkyPhase (most likely to keep up with competitors), it’s time to discuss what exactly natural language search is all about.

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5 Social Media Trends that Will Change How Healthcare Marketers Approach Strategy in 2014

5 Social Media Trends for Healthcare Marketers

Ninety-three percent of marketers will be maintaining or increasing how much they are spending on social media advertising in 2014, according to a new report from eMarketer. But where should healthcare marketers be focusing their attentions to get the most bang for their buck, not to mention their valuable time?

Social media strategy in 2014 will shift focus away from increasing the number of likes/followers your brand has to engaging your target audience through organic interactions. Marketers will need to adapt quickly across many social media channels in order to incorporate micro-video, image-centric content and native advertising into the mix. And finally, if you haven’t built out your brand’s Google+ profile yet you are already behind.

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Keeping Online Forms Simple

Maternity Pre-Registration Form

Who actually likes to fill out a form? What if that form is five to eight pages long? Would you finish it?

Probably not.

Online forms are created to gather information from a site visitor. It can be anything from a contact us form to a pre-registration form. Getting this information should be easy and seamless. Unfortunately, a lot of hospital websites out there throw an eight page form at the potential patient. Many site visitors will not even get to the last page to submit the form and either end up calling, or worse yet, go somewhere else for the same service you provide. We don’t want this to happen to you!

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Understanding Your Goals and Analytics Through Dashboards and Scorecards

Let’s face it, most online marketers (especially in healthcare) have trouble understanding their online goals and initiatives. Heck, a lot of organizations don’t even know what their goals are or how to generate good goals (I am not going to touch on how to generate good goals today, that’s for another post). And a lot of times, when organizations do have goals, they aren’t measurable.

One of the workshops I attended at the SHSMD Annual Conference this year in Chicago, IL was centered on dashboards and scorecards — specifically the right and wrong ways to do them and the information that should be going in each. Let me first go over what all of these different pieces are.
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How Important are Web Conversions, Really?

I was recently interviewed for an article on digital marketing. We covered a range of subjects around measuring marketing effectiveness, processes for continual improvement and how to build better ROI.

Then the whopper of a question came — how important are conversions, really? I was a little taken aback. This is someone working in hospital marketing and someone I know is very Web savvy. Isn’t this obvious? Isn’t this what we’re all working for?
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Is Dynamic Content Right for Your Hospital’s Website?

SmartPanel Personalization

The Web is a great channel for engaging health consumers, making connections and converting them into patients. It’s natural, therefore, that we’d want to tailor the digital experience based on their individual interests – an approach that’s becoming more and more popular on retail websites.

But what works well for retail isn’t necessarily useful for healthcare. People use our sites differently. Failing to recognize this can lead to a site that’s awkward, creepy or even risks HIPAA violations. So how do you know if using dynamic content is right for your hospital’s website? Let’s explore.

What makes a site dynamic?

Dynamic websites are based on content management tools where the content lives in a database rather than static files. Pages are assembled as users access them, pulling the most relevant and up-to-date information together at that moment.

For example, when someone looks at a page about birth center services, you want current information about obstetricians, birth center tours and birth preparedness classes on the page. If a class is full or was held yesterday, you don’t want it to appear in that list. A monumental task to manage manually, but trivial for a dynamic website.

There are other factors that may cause different content to be delivered. For example, if the user is inside the hospital when they visit the site then you might offer different information for them compared to someone outside such as interior facility maps rather than campus maps.

You may also present things differently depending on the device used to visit the site. Mobile phones and tablets should have a user experience tailored to the needs of those platforms using responsive design.

Implicit vs. Explicit Personalization

Taking dynamic content a step further brings us to personalized content.

Personalization can work several ways. The first scenario is context personalization, tailoring content and calls to action to the context of the page that the user is currently visiting. This is a sort of implicit personalization in which consumers aren’t required to provide their permission in order for the customization to occur. For example, when looking at a health library page on cancer, the user should be presented with links to oncologists, screenings, support groups, services and the like (for more information, have a look at our SmartPanel technology).

The second scenario is explicit personalization – when you serve up content that is specific to that person. This scenario requires you to be very careful and only use explicit personalization when you’re absolutely sure who the person is that you’re interacting with. That only happens after the user has logged into your portal. In this scenario the user most commonly requests the type of information she would like to see and that’s used to help populate the portal home page.

Tips for Personalization Success

I’m sure you’re thinking of something you’ve seen on and wondering if it can be done for your health system’s website. At Amazon, items that you looked at follow you around the site, follow you to other sites that you visit in the form of ads, appear again on your next visit to the site and they even show up in your email inbox.

The reality is that these types of techniques don’t translate well to healthcare, so let’s think through how healthcare is different and how health consumers will access your site.

  • Healthcare relationships are built on trust and confidentiality. People don’t care a great deal when a consumer product company is tracking and targeting them to upsell the latest and greatest gadget, but get very upset when the NSA does the same thing. The rules just aren’t the same for all players. And most consumers don’t like the idea that they are being targeted using sensitive information such as health data.
  • Context matters. Hospital website users are dealing with different issues at different times… and often for different family members. With the exception of a few chronic conditions, they only care about an issue when they’re actively looking for it. So it’s important to optimize the experience around what they’re looking at today, not what they looked at last week.
  • Beware the shared computer. By visiting your site, consumers are giving you information about themselves. Be careful when trying to tailor the experience that you’re not inadvertently exposing any of that sensitive information to what might be a different person using the same computer!

With these few tips in mind, you can create a fantastic experience for your site visitors and one that moves them towards becoming a patient.

VitalSite 6.7 is Here!

Last week our engineering team released VitalSite 6.7. It contains a slew of new features, fixes and enhancements focused on helping consumers find your site and the content within it. This release includes enhancement to site search, support, and a range of tools for webmasters.

Site Search Enhancements and Support

Screen shot of VitalSite's module search showing provider directory
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Stop Gambling with Your Marketing Dollars

Campaigns.inddMarketing channels and audience behaviors are evolving rapidly. Traditional marketing campaigns take months to implement and even longer to see tangible value. And they’re much too rigid to work in today’s fast-paced marketing environment.

Geonetric approaches marketing differently. We launch Responsive Campaigns ― campaigns that not only help healthcare marketers prove their value, but also solve many of the flaws inherent in traditional campaigns.

With Responsive Campaigns, you begin with the results. The first step is to establish the goal and determine how to measure success. You create value right away ― you don’t waste time planning and brainstorming. You execute an arsenal of tactics in short iterations ― each week, you plan and create new work, immediately test it by taking it “live,” evaluate the results, and make rapid adjustments. You conduct many small experiments and adjust your decisions as new data is available. And your focus always remains on the results and ROI.

To learn more about Geonetric’s Responsive Campaigns, check out our free white paper – Stop Gambling with Your Marketing Dollars: A Guide to Geonetric’s Responsive Campaigns.

Why Would You Try to “Cheat Death”?

At first I thought it was a joke. But no. As part of the re-branding effort of Gaston Memorial Hospital to CaroMont Regional Medical Center, they also launched an edgy new tag line:


The re-branding was done by local ad agency Immortology which did nothing to convince me that the announcement in early April wasn’t just a big April fool’s joke. In fact the announcement included employees unveiling “Cheat Death” t-shirts and signing a pledge to help local residents lead healthier lives.

The backlash from the campaign was severe and the campaign was taken down within a few days — ultimately leading to the dismissal of the CEO two weeks later.

Honestly, I feel bad for the CaroMont team here. They were trying to be bold and a little controversial to get attention. Something that, quite frankly, we see too little of in healthcare marketing. Furthermore, the slogan overshadowed what appears to be a serious program intended to promote wellness and stave off disease. Again, a step that many healthcare organizations know that we need to be committing ourselves to and one that more than a few organizations give little more than lip service.

But it all went bad over two words: “Cheat Death.”

What can we learn from this?

For starters, healthcare is a unique space from a marketing perspective. More and more provider organizations are moving to agencies with big brand credentials over those dedicated to healthcare. But those agencies often don’t understand how their messages will play with a healthcare audience. We have an agency involved here that, according to their website, “…specializes in creating hard to ignore and impossible to forget solutions…” The campaign certainly lived up to their brand promise!

Now, if you’re putting a message out that you intend to be controversial, don’t be surprised that it’s controversial. I think CaroMont could have really embraced the controversy and stood by their decision if only for a week or two. This would have allowed them to use the publicity to push a message about improving wellness and working to reduce the incidence of disease. By caving almost immediately, the team looked incompetent.

Also use the Internet for some quick, inexpensive and very effective marketing research. For example you should Google your proposed taglines. In this case, the slogan wasn’t particularly original. Some of you may recall a similar outcry when the identical slogan was adopted by juice maker Pom in 2010. Certainly a quick Internet search would have turned this up.


Pom was pushing the limits and didn’t immediately back down. It made the short-lived campaign memorable. Maybe a drink maker who is regularly chided for making overzealous health claims about its product can get away with that in a way that a hospital can’t.

But there’s no reason not to think that the tagline would stir up controversy.

Perhaps the campaign was more fundamentally flawed than I’m giving it credit for. We’ve been talking more and more about the inherent risk in investing months and months – along with many thousands of dollars – into big splash branding campaigns.

The new tagline was really for their new wellness campaign. As a campaign message, they could easily have tested the message in the market using online promotion while maintaining flexibility to tweak things on the fly.

In fact, following an approach like Geonetric’s Responsive Campaignssm is the best way to avoid this sort of disaster using a very dynamic, results-driven approach that utilizes actual user behavior and feedback in optimizing the effectiveness of the communications throughout a campaign cycle.

I hope that the take-away from this isn’t that we should avoid being bold and memorable. That we shouldn’t take risks in our advertising. Healthcare marketing needs a real shot in the arm. While this effort may have missed the mark, that doesn’t mean that we should step back to only do what’s comfortable and safe.

It’s Time to Take a New Approach to Marketing Campaigns


Marketing is a fast-paced discipline. Every day, new tactics and opportunities for getting your message out to your target audience are uncovered and vying for budget. Which tactics are best? How do you know if you should put your eggs in the billboard basket or the PPC basket? And how do you measure these tactics in a meaningful way, tying clicks and passerby’s back to actual procedures and service line volume?

No amount of gut instinct can tell you for sure.

A New Approach

That’s why we take a different approach at Geonetric. We launch Responsive Campaigns — campaigns that are flexible, nimble and easy to adjust.

With our Responsive Campaigns, we set a measurable goal, launch tactics in the market quickly, measure our efforts and adjust them immediately to maximize performance. We can measure the return-on-investment of any tactic at any moment – and we tell you which tactic is working best.

Most importantly, our team of experts invests itself in the success of a campaign. We measure our results against the goal daily, and we meet weekly with our clients to share our thoughts, results, and recommend a new series of tactics. This is not a “set it and forget it” approach!

A Shining Example – Colonoscopy Campaign

Want proof our Responsive Campaigns work? Last fall, we partnered with Crozer-Keystone Health System to develop a campaign focused on scheduling colonoscopy procedures.

We built the campaign using responsive marketing strategies and delivered results that matter – 73 new appointment requests in just three months!

See how we achieved this in our case study.

Data Puke vs. Actionable Data


There is a misunderstanding with some online marketers that simply believe looking at your website’s visits and pageviews is indicative of the successes or failures of your site. Really? Come on, you can do better… a lot better.

I challenge everyone to dig deeper, but not so deep that you generate data puke. Data puke is the difference between ‘Web Reporting’ and ‘Web Analysis.’ It’s a term that Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, uses heavily and it’s one that has stuck with me ever since first reading about it. In essence, most of the time Web reporting generates data puke, where Web analysis generates actionable data.

In Avinash’s blog post, The Difference Between Web Reporting And Web Analysis, he gives readers a list of 10 signs you’re doing Web analysis in hopes that you can identify data puke when you see it. While I agree with what Avinash has to say, I would like to put my own spin on this list and share with you 5 signs you are generating data puke and then give you 5 signs you are generating actionable data through performing Web analysis.

5 Signs You Are Generating Data Puke

  1. The only numbers you are looking at are the high-level “dashboard” numbers (most of the time dashboards are data puke).
  2.  “What’s this?” or “What’s this showing?” is how someone else looking at the report you just created instantly responds.
  3. It doesn’t pass the “so what?” test. Ask yourself “so what?” for every statistic you pull, and if you don’t have a measurable or economically identifiable reason to measure it, then don’t. You’re wasting your time.
  4. If you are looking at a report and there is no mention of a ‘target’ or ‘goal’.
  5. There is no context behind anything you are presented with or presenting to others.

Now, keeping in mind the 5 things listed above…

5 Signs You Are Generating Actionable Data through Web Analysis

  1. The “thing” you are looking at isn’t just data, but data along with measurable action items that the business can take based off of that data. Or in the same vein, it is showing data that directly corresponds to the targets and goals the business has set in place.
  2. If you are looking at something that has a clear and defined path of how the analyst got to the point of gathering that specific information, it probably took some analysis (a breakdown of big data into actionable datasets).
  3. If, when looking at or generating a report, you see an explanation of the business implications, or economic value, that the data is showing outlined in the report itself.
  4. Any glimpse that you can see where someone is comparing data to previous timeframes and giving someone a visual queue of whether things are improving or getting worse. The person is at least looking at the numbers now compared to where they used to be, which is showing some form of business analysis through the analytics (although it still needs to pass the “dashboard” and “so what?” scenarios listed in the previous section).
  5. When viewing or creating a report that effectively has segmented data or user information, that is probably the product of someone performing Web analysis. After all, according to Avinash Kaushik, “All data in aggregate is crap.”

So, does any of this ring a bell? Are you performing Web analysis or creating Web reports filled with data puke? Challenge yourself. Challenge your peers. Stop generating Web reports that are filled with data puke and start performing Web analysis, which in turn generates actionable data.

Awareness is a Crutch When Measuring Marketing Success

awareness billboard

Healthcare marketers track consumers, communicate with them, engage with them, build relationships with them, and then convert them. That’s the true goal of marketing success.

So how is it that so many of us have come to focus on awareness as our key success measurement?  Look at our marketing today. Campaigns that say little more than “look at me, look at me!” Billboards and TV ads with no call to action. Web efforts measured by the number of visits.

Does any of that really matter? Does it move the needle of success for your organization? Does your CFO care?

The answer, of course, is “No.”

Awareness is a concept that was created to price mass market advertising tools. Two billboards aren’t created equal – one is better than the other because of the number of people who see it. That’s all awareness measures – how many people see your message.

But seeing isn’t believing. And seeing certainly isn’t becoming a patient.

Instead we should be measuring how many consumers walk through the door as a result of our engagement and relationship building efforts.

But most of us don’t. We focus instead on measuring awareness.

And we wonder why we have trouble getting more budget allocations. Think how much stronger our arguments at the budget table would be if we could demonstrate that our marketing delivered real value.

So instead of buying as many views as possible for the least amount of money, try creating marketing that truly engages and connects with consumers and converts them into patients. Start counting how many prospects your marketing turned into patients.

Easier said than done right? Well if you want to learn how to use digital marketing to generate real results – and we don’t mean awareness – watch our webinar Reinventing Digital Marketing Campaigns.

How Metrics and Transparency Will Make You a Better Digital Marketer

Site Analytics

“You can only manage what you can measure.”

– Peter Drucker

It’s easy to get obsessed with numbers and metrics when you’re working with the Web. There’s no shortage of information about what’s happening with your website, app or campaign. The cup of data overfloweth.

For a certain set of people, and I count myself in this category, data is just fascinating. I find myself getting lost in spreadsheets and databases while attempting to tease out just one more insight.

But the point of data isn’t in the data.  It’s often not even in the insights that come from the data. The point is the act of measurement itself.

Measurement creates focus. This is really the reason why we do it. This is really why it matters.

If you’re doing your metrics properly the process starts with defining goals. Aiming only matters if you know what your target looks like. So you start with goals and the goals lead to metrics.

If you don’t approach the problem from this direction, it’s easy to get into trouble. I was recently reviewing the pay per click (PPC) campaign work that a client was having done with a third party. Initially they were thrilled with the numbers they were seeing – a large numbers of clicks, with a low cost per click. As we talked about why they were making the investment and what their goals were – questions that they were never asked and hadn’t considered before starting the PPC campaign – it became clear that there were many issues:

  • Traffic was going to the wrong pages – generic service line pages rather than campaign landing pages
  • They needed offers associated with the campaign that didn’t exist
  • The quality of the traffic (complete with near 100 percent bounce rates) was terrible
  • They were paying for many brand keywords that were not specific to the campaign and which they already owned from an organic search perspective
  • And, in some cases, they were promoting offerings for which patients rarely choose providers of have much input

Where was the problem in this? They never defined the ultimate goals of the effort! And they confused operational metrics with goal targets. Beginning with a goal of scheduled procedures rather than the general tactical charge of “promote this service line” would naturally have led to questions about converting browsers to patients, targeting audience segments, messaging needs, and a just a more holistic view of the process.

Instead, they’d been feeling good about money that they were throwing away.

Setting up a process for goal-driven marketing is not hard to do. To learn how to do this, and to learn more about how metrics and transparency will make you a better digital marketer, watch our webinar – Translating Site Data Into Action.