Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

Everybody’s Doin’ It

black and white construction crane with scaffolding

Or almost everybody. Overhauling their website, that is.

Yep, virtual cranes are dotting the Internet landscape these days. In our recent research with healthcare organizations about their digital efforts, nearly a quarter completed an online overhaul in 2013 (24%) with more than twice that number either in the process of redesigning or in the planning stages (41% and 19%, respectively).

That’s a lot of construction activity. More importantly, however, is what do health systems hope to accomplish in their redesigns and why are so many of them doing this now?

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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Digital Marketing In Healthcare, But Were Afraid To Ask!

Survey eBook Cover

I’m very excited to announce our new eBook – Digital Marketing in Healthcare, which outlines the findings from Geonetric’s recent survey of 250 healthcare organizations!

If you are involved in the Web, digital marketing, advertising or social media in healthcare or if you manage or support people who are, this report will provide critical intelligence to help your organization to be more competitive online, such as:

  • What do your competitors spend on digital?
  • How are organizations like yours staffing their digital marketing efforts?
  • What capabilities are healthcare organizations adding to the online mix this year?
  • What digital marketing tools do they find most valuable?
  • Is anyone actually using Vine?

You’ll find these insights and much more right here!

Remarketing: Somebody’s Watching Me!

Woman Holding Coffee Mug

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about remarketing (sometimes known as retargeting), a marketing technique that targets your site visitors with ads for your organization AFTER they’ve left your website. For example, I shopped for lamps last year on and then, for weeks afterwards, it seems like every site I visited presented me with ads for, many with the specific lamps I’d viewed!

You’ve probably experienced this yourself and realized that these ads are no coincidence but rather an aggressive marketing tactic by which one site follows you around the Internet with ads after a single visit.

I don’t like remarketing (so much so that I sometimes find myself writing snarky poetry about it like this). I find it to be annoying, intrusive and clumsily heavy handed. While remarketing is less intrusive when shopping for lamps – for something truly important and personal, like my health, it would be more than annoying. It would be downright creepy!

As a consumer, I don’t like remarketing and have steered clients away from the practice. But, as my friend Linda’s coffee cup reminds me on many a Monday morning, “Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant.” A quick Google search shows that many healthcare organizations are using remarketing today. As a technique, remarketing works for many advertisers or it wouldn’t be gaining in popularity.
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First Look: Details from Geonetric’s eHealth Survey Unveiled

benchmarking graphic

There are very few sources of good information about how healthcare marketing is adopting digital tools. Chances are you know more about how other industries are embracing digital than healthcare.

Wouldn’t you like to know:

  • What your peers and competitors spend on digital?
  • How they staff their teams?
  • What they think is working and what they consider a waste.

Geonetric’s eHealth Survey Results has the information and benchmarks you need.

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Super Bowl Ads Admit: “You Don’t Really Care About Our Product Right Now”

Ben Dillon Facebook Banner and Profile Image

Unless you are a Seahawks fan, you probably agree that the Super Bowl this year was a bit of a snoozer. For those of us watching the ads more than the game, however, it’s always an exciting evening!

My takeaway from this year’s crop of ads was a little different. A surprising number of brands seemed to be recognizing that their products just simply aren’t interesting to consumers at that moment in time.

At one level, this is obvious. Unless you’re selling beer, soda or salty snacks, the audience for the game just doesn’t care. You’re not relevant to where they are mentally at that moment in time. They are there to watch the game and hang out with friends, not to shop for a new car or change banks.

On the other hand, this speaks to the core value proposition of interruption advertising – if you get the eyeballs of the right people pointed at the screen, your message is valuable.

But what if this just isn’t true? What if the context where the advertisement is shown really does matter?

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How the Google Stole Christmas

Google Stole Christmas

Twas the night ‘fore Thanksgiving and Mother logged on
To the Internet looking to shop until dawn.
Black Friday then Thursday then Wednesday too,
The deals kept on coming, so what could she do?
On Amazon, on eBay, on Overstock she yelled,
On Toys R Us, Best Buy and Zappos as well!
She maxed out one credit card, then pulled out one more,
She shopped ’til she fell asleep on the floor.

The Grinch name of Goo(gle) found the whole thing quite funny,
His internet business practically printed out money.
But the season was starting and competition was high,
More aggressive tactics he’d need to get by.
Email blasts, PPC, and SEO anew,
Door buster discounts and remarketing too!
What’s that? Never heard of it? What does it do,
Asked Marvin from marketing to the Grinch name of Goo.
Our customers come and our customers see,
And sometimes they buy, but sometimes they flee.
We cannot allow them to just get away,
We’ll follow them, track them and hunt them like prey.

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No Matter What You Call It, It’s All About Content Marketing and Brand Journalism

David Meerman Scott HCIC 2013

We opened the first full day of the 2013 Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC) with a keynote by author David Meerman Scott. Scott’s been a regular feature at HCIC over the past several years, including last year’s excellent session on newsjacking.

This year’s focus was similar, but included two other ideas – writing for your buyer personas and creating content like a news outlet.

These are trends that are getting a lot of buzz right now and sometimes go by other names like content marketing and brand journalism.

Content marketing is all about using content to engage with your consumers. Health systems have a tremendous amount of reference content on their websites – content written in a very clean, professional way that explains what the organization does along with fundamentals of diseases, conditions and treatments. That content is great, but it’s not particularly engaging. It may answer a question when consumers are at a very particular point in their healthcare journey, but just as often, that content is doing little more than filling space. Content marketing is more about providing information that addresses the various needs of health consumers and patients at every stage of their experience with a health issue.

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An Appeal for a Balanced Digital Promotion Strategy

WeighIndividuals devoted to organic search engine optimization (SEO) and those to paid search have butted heads for years. Each espouse a purist view on the acquisition of traffic that’s incompatible with the other. Does it need to be this way?

The Arguments

The SEO community argues that the power of the Internet comes from its ability to even the playing field for all involved. This philosophy to let the best content win allows small companies, even individuals, to have a voice equal to that of the largest firms. This democratized utopia has been tainted by the growing influence of paid advertising that directs naive consumers not to the best results, but to the sites able to pay the most.
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Question: Who Should Own Social Media? Answer: Yes.

nails and thread

Last week I had the great pleasure to attend the Mayo-Ragan Healthcare Social Media Conference in Rochester, MN and I found myself amazed at how far some healthcare organizations have come in their use of social media. However, while there are trailblazers, many more healthcare organizations are still trying to figure out how the proliferation of channels fits into their communications strategy, and how to be effective given their limited resources and ownership of social.

The conference format was heavy on case studies, but often light on models and theory, so what follows are my personal insights from the sessions:

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The 2013 SHSMD Annual Conference in One Word

SHSMD Annual Conference

Having spent my week at SHSMD schmoozing with the biggest gathering of healthcare strategy, planning, communications, marketing and PR professionals that the Society has ever had, the current state of our industry can be summed up in a single word:


We’ve been on the cusp of major industry shifts for a few years now, but for all of the discussions and debate, no one is really sure what our industry is going to look like three years from now.

This week saw the biggest step to date in terms of actual implementation of the ACA (AKA Obamacare) and we’re still playing a guessing game to determine what its real meaning to our service mix and financial picture will really be. Obamacare applies leverage to the edges of the healthcare system, but doesn’t dictate what the care delivery system will look like or how it will work.

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Live Longer, Better

Daniel Buettner presenting at SHSMD 2013.

Daniel Buettner presenting at SHSMD 2013.

I’ve been a Dan Buettner fan for several years now. The “Blue Zones” author has started a movement to make us healthier, not one at a time, but by creating communities which make us healthier. In fact, my community in Iowa is going through a Blue Zone transformation right now!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

First off, what are Blue Zones? Buettner began his career as a reporter. The Blue Zones project began as a feature article for National Geographic. Visit a handful of Blue Zone communities around the world and identify the features that cause the members of these communities to live longer with fewer chronic diseases and other health issues.

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IOS 7 First Impressions

ios 7 passcode screen

Apple’s much-debated mobile operating system refresh has been in our hands for a few days. While there has been a lot of commentary about the new interface, it’s come mostly from hardcore early adopter-types. I’ve been curious about how more casual users would take to the new changes, so I did a quick poll of iOS users around the office to get their thoughts and first impressions. Here’s what I heard:

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Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away

Not Provide in Analytics

There’s been a noticeable increase in the level of griping by SEOs about the way that Google has been treating them. The complaints are mostly focused on the rapid growth of (Not Provided) keywords from Google searches. While SEOs struggle with the changing tools available to them, what Google is trying to accomplish is much larger than frustrating the search optimization business – they intend to fundamentally change the way we approach our organic search strategies and I believe they’ll succeed.

(Not Provided)

About two years ago, Google started to slowly shut off our ability as website managers to see what searches brought visitors to our sites. Google decided to hide the keywords used by anyone using the search engine through an encrypted (https) connection and clicking an organic (non-paid) result – primarily those logged into Google when doing a search.

Their argument was that this is a privacy issue. Google explained that they should protect the browsing habits of anyone using an encrypted search. These users wanted greater privacy – that’s WHY they used an encrypted page, after all. Functionally, this meant anyone logged into Google for any reason including Gmail, Google Voice, YouTube or Google Analytics would now have their keyword searches hidden from destination websites.

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What Can Food Network Teach Healthcare Marketers About Branding?


Over the course of 15 years, Food Network has gone from a niche boutique channel to a mainstream entertainment network. As healthcare marketers, we are facing a similar transition. Where once our organizations were focused on the niche business of treating the sick and injured, we’re now playing a larger role in the lives of our patients – we work with our communities to create healthier environments, we work proactively with our patients to keep them well, and we help them manage their conditions and support their recovery after they’ve gone home.

In an interview with Food Network’s Alton Brown, two network heavyweights, Bob Tuschman, senior vice president programming and general manager and Susie Fogelson, vice president of marketing, had a candid conversation about the internal workings of this evolution.

What can the experience of this entertainment network teach us about the path that we see ahead?

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