Can you handle the success of your social ads?

Social media advertising is one of the most popular marketing tactics for businesses today.

In fact, Gartner estimated that more than 80 percent of companies planned to deploy a social ad campaign in 2017 alone. However, despite their popularity, niche targeting capabilities and cost effectiveness, many B2C marketers, and particularly those in healthcare, often still question the effectiveness of paid social campaigns.

The stats don’t lie. When utilized correctly, social ad campaigns can be extremely effective in pinpointing healthcare consumers in need of services, thereby driving demand. In fact, according to Facebook, the average healthcare conversion rate for social advertising is 11 percent – one of the highest among 17 top industries, including retail and hospitality. The real question isn’t whether a healthcare organization can benefit from a social media campaign, but whether that organization can handle the success of the campaign once they open the floodgates.

To achieve success, healthcare organizations need concrete strategies for ensuring they are operationally prepared to handle the leads generated by social campaigns that include:

Healthcare consumers desire the same timely, personalized, seamless omni-channel experience they’ve grown accustomed to from other customer-focused industries. “What happens next” when a consumer responds to a social media ad is no exception. Imagine the consumer experience shortfall if a healthcare organization crafts an effective click-to-call ad encouraging patients struggling with mental health to speak to a healthcare professional, but the individual encounters long hold times or rude staff. Think about what would happen if an organization launched a Facebook campaign to promote same-day appointments, when, in reality, the organization’s primary care physicians had no availability for the next several days. Not only do these situations lead to poor downstream campaign ROI, but they also can create disgruntled consumers who are very willing share their poor experience with others, often quickly via online reviews.

To avoid breakdowns in the consumer experience, it is crucial that all stakeholders have a seat at the strategy and planning table. These stakeholders could include marketing, as well as operations, IT, outside agencies and even the providers themselves. Before a campaign is started, stakeholders must agree that their providers and all locations, including call centers, have the desire and capacity to handle the increased volume. Further, organizational key performance indicators (KPIs); benchmarks; and monthly, quarterly and annual goals for all departments, including marketing, operations and patient care teams, should be made transparent to ensure the proper initiatives are being taken from the start.

In addition to having organizational alignment before embarking on a campaign, it’s also vital that all members of the organization make a consumer-first mindset a priority. Fewer than 50 percent of healthcare consumers report that they are currently satisfied with their healthcare experience. More importantly, research shows that patients are just as likely to switch healthcare providers as they are hotels if they don’t receive responsiveness and convenience. Therefore, in a social advertising campaign, an organization’s inbound patient management team is likely more important than the ad itself.

These team members are on the front lines, and often the first point of contact for a prospective patient, making them the voice of any hospital system. While high turnover rates (approximately 30 percent to 45 percent) for these positions can pose a challenge, organizations that equip their inbound patient management teams with proper lead management tools can help ensure consumer experience remains a top priority. When employees leave the organization, the next hire will be able to securely access patient notes and speak to patients in a relevant way, without asking them to repeat their information.

According to a survey from Altitude, 47 percent of consumers expect a response to inbound inquiries within an hour, while 84 percent do not want to wait longer than a day. For this reason, it is imperative for healthcare organizations and their inbound patient management teams to set reasonable service level agreements (SLAs) for responding to inbound leads. By adjusting protocol to handle leads within 24 hours, healthcare organizations have increased conversion rates by as much as a 44 percent.

In October 2016, the marketing department at Legacy Health, a non-profit health system in Portland, Ore., set a goal to generate an additional 120 bariatric surgeries annually. In partnership with Influence Health, the organization developed a multi-channel campaign strategy that promoted health risk assessments and weight loss seminars via direct mail, email, banner ads on the organization’s websites, Google and Facebook. The campaign launched in January 2017 and by July had generated 1,396 leads, of which 32.4 percent, or 452, came from Facebook alone, even though the social channel accounted for only 10.7 percent of total campaign costs. The campaign included the use of a unified lead management tool that “illuminated the black hole” that was the consumer conversion touchpoint by providing the marketing department with real-time visibility into inbound phone calls and form fills generated by the campaign. By monitoring response times and conversion rates, the organization identified opportunities to revise call center scripts and ultimately, based on increasing success, decided to allot time for their nurse navigators to manage leads. After seven months, the total surgical pipeline value was so large and the ROI so compelling that this organization decided to add another surgeon to its team to handle the increased volume.

Ultimately, by aligning the whole organization, keeping consumer experience at the forefront and responding efficiently, healthcare organizations are not only setting themselves up for social media advertising success, but are also establishing a solid foundation of best practices that will further propel them into the age of healthcare consumerism.

Angela Jones - VP, Client Engagement Strategy, Influence Health
Angela is the vice president of client engagement strategy at Influence Health. In this role, she leads the Client Service teams as they deliver integrated CRM and digital campaign strategies for hospital systems across the U.S.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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