Summer 22 Blog: Spring Conference Recap

WHPRMS Spring Conference Recap 

By Becky Goplin

Amidst the return of in-person conferences and tradeshows, the WHPRMS Spring Conference proved there’s still a place for valuable virtual events. Held on the last Wednesday of April, the half-day mini conference brought together Wisconsin-based marketers and communicators for a morning of learning and camaraderie.

Following the welcome by the current president of WHPRMS, Miranda Greenwold of Black River Memorial Hospital, the day kicked off with the keynote presentation, “Optimization Best Practices in Improving Campaign Performance”.

The team at Hailey Sault – Stephen Moegling, Ann Elkins, and Brittney Hanson – posed the illusive question, “How’s your campaign optimization going?”

According to the chat, many attendees said, “not as well as it could be”. Oftentimes at live events, the most valuable conversations happen at the bar, long after the sessions are over. Those more intimate types of interactions were happening in the chat. The side conversations, the sharing, the admissions, the confessions, the engagement – it was all happening there.

Luckily, Hailey Sault had some tips to mitigate the challenges of fine-tuning campaigns so they’re performing at their highest levels.

  1. Develop a deeper understanding of key audiences

Start with personas! Spend some time digging into your audiences – figure out who they are, what they’re into, and how they consume media. Then determine your top-performing messages to target them with, and break those down by service line and channels. Next, figure out what calls-to-action are performing well and converting. Finally, don’t forget to nail down when these folks are most frequently online, and when the best time of day is to engage with them.

Another benefit of personas – they can become a bridge to your clinical liaisons and other stakeholders that are not marketing minded and can be used as an interdisciplinary tool to agree on who your organization is serving. Blending the clinical with the marketing can result in great planning and alliances across teams. A win-win.

*Hot Tip: Hailey Sault recommended a couple of different avenues to collect data points for personas, including Global Web Index. They’ve done focus groups with patients and asked about the process, what could have been said sooner to get them in the doctor’s office, etc. They’ve also invited clinical teams participate in the focus groups and have gathered a lot of 3rd-party data just by researching articles as well.

  1. Determine what business outcomes you’re trying to achieve

Spend some time at the start of the campaign outlining what the desired goals & outcomes are for both your department and the larger organization. Are you looking to:

  • Lower the cost per acquisition for certain patients?
  • Drive revenue for service lines?
  • Learn more about your audiences?
  • Find out which personas engage at the highest level in digital platforms?

Clarifying the answers to these types of questions at the outset of the campaign can ultimately reveal what needs to be optimized at the finish line.

  1. Establish a process and timeline

Decide how you’ll measure performance by determining what analytics are important to track. Outline those key metrics and think through how long your campaign will run. Will it be a week? A month? A quarter? Collaborate with your team to determine what’s realistic for identifying insights and updating media. Then make the necessary optimizations and update the creative after you’ve pulled your first data set.

*Hot Tip: Hailey Sault recommended having 2-4 weeks of data to review before deciding what changes to make. They look at both industry and internal benchmarks. Always track your own organizational benchmarks so you can see your own needle move. Engagement rate is key to track to understand what messaging and creative is resonating with audiences. You can measure engagement rate through social media, programmatic clicks, level of engagement on your website landing pages, etc. Watch out for red flags like high click-thru rates but low conversions. Data can be complex, but Hailey Sault suggested using products like Google Data Studio, Google Tag Manager, Hotjar and Datarama to spend more time pulling insights from the data and less time manually aggregating it.

  1. Optimize media & creative

Once you pull the data, review the overall performance, and decipher what’s working and what’s not, then you can begin to optimize both your media and creative. For your media, look at the days of the week or even times of day that are performing better than others and make any necessary shifts.

When it comes to your creative results, compare those against your own benchmarks as well as industry standards to determine what’s top-and low-performing. Be sure to look at the full user experience. Per the presenters, “Creative should include all ad and video creative as well as landing pages.” Bring the direction back to the creative team. Share the data with them, let them know what you’re seeing, and brainstorm how to adjust as needed. You can then change things like imagery, messaging, or calls-to-action.

*Hot Tip: One easy step toward optimization – shift dollars to different channels if one channel needs a boost over another.

  1. Bring it all together

Gather your team to talk about the benefits of continuous optimization. Keep realistic expectations. Know your limitations of what you can realistically get done from a process, timing, media, and creative standpoint. Have a “start doing” list AND put together a “stop doing” list! Outline your priorities and always track against those, and you’ll be on your way!

After the enlightening keynote presentation and a short break, the conference attendees then split off into two different breakout sessions.

During breakout 1.1, Miranda Greenwold, Nathan Bruley and Mark Hughes from Black River Memorial Hospital spoke on the topic of, “Using Organization Data to Make Better Marketing and Communications Decisions.”

For breakout session 1.2, which I’ll go into more detail on here, speakers Emily Gall and Kassie Dalsveen from North of Eight Design & Marketing enlightened the audience on what trends to watch out for in digital marketing in 2022 and beyond. In other words, “Digital Marketing in an Existential Crisis”.

The speakers referred to themselves as, “weirdos in the woods that like Marketing”, but really, they represent a rock-solid creative team helping to elevate brands to soaring heights. They came to enlighten us listeners to the fact that not all digital marketing is created equal. There’s the “easy” way, the “check it off the list” way, or the “difficult” way – gathering testimonials, creating your own influencer teams, and above all else listening. You can ask yourself, “If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?” or instead, you can ask, “Since my customers are already in the digital space, how do I invite them into the room?”

First, the duo defined what exactly digital marketing is. Digital marketing is content such as Google Ads, targeted display, organic & paid social, website, SEO, native advertising, email, SMS, OTT – or essentially – “all of the things”.

And to make things more challenging, digital marketing is always changing. Today’s digital audience can see through the B.S., and they are on the lookout for authenticity. They’re in the driver’s seat and know when they’re being sold to.

Given all that, where do us marketers stand? Unfortunately, in a lot of cases we might be missing the mark without even realizing it. Whereas traditional media was a one-to-many model, social media and digital marketing is quite the opposite. Now it is many-to-one, and social media is a conversation with your audiences that involves a lot of back and forth. We can no longer tell our audiences what to do or what we think they want to hear. We must personalize our marketing efforts and connect with people on an individual level. Emily & Kassie explained, “Great marketing elicits an emotional response that triggers an action”.

But don’t worry – there’s hope for us yet! Emily & Kassie went on to break down some tips to help us be as effective as we can with our digital marketing campaigns.

  1. Rework your messaging

First, determine your audience and be as specific as possible. Micro target your patients. Develop 3-4 avatars or personas that you’re planning to talk to based on the demographics you’re trying to reach.

Make your messaging less about you, and more about them. “We’re not selling hot girl leggings,” our speakers to rightfully explained. (Although I personally love a pair of hot girl leggings. Who wears actual pants anymore? But let’s get back on track…) In other words, in our line of work we’re not selling a physical product. People don’t want a service; they need an outcome. The speakers used the following examples: “People don’t need physical therapy – they need to be able to climb the stairs in their house. People don’t need gastroenterologists – they need to be free from pain. They don’t need an ENT – they need to have a restful night’s sleep.” The goal should always be to connect with people where they’re at and get them to take an action to help them live longer, healthier lives.

*Hot Tip: Emily & Kassie recommended incorporating more video, testimonials, and staff highlights. Lean on your staff to share messages out. They are thought leaders who can share free advice and educational opportunities! But always keep in mind that the messaging should connect to what people in your area know and feel about something.

  1. Rethink brand awareness

Especially in rural situations, healthcare organizations should rarely need to execute paid brand awareness campaigns because you should already be seen as a staple organization within your communities. Brand awareness can come into play, however, as you justify organic digital communication, print, out-of-home media, and public relations. But don’t waste the power of digital marketing on brand awareness alone. Use traditional marketing methods (billboards, newspaper, etc.) for awareness – not digital.

  1. Assess your KPIs

There isn’t exactly a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to determining what key performance indicators are important to track. This will likely vary from organization to organization; however, you could try shifting your focus from a straight email open rate to a softer measurement of success – like engaged users who click and read more information. Or perhaps instead of keeping track of Facebook page likes, pay more attention to the community engagement on your page and with your content. First and foremost, humanize your marketing, make it about people, and make the content matter to them. Put people first and you might find that your definition of success changes. You might have slightly less impressive numbers, but your reputation within the community might be drastically improved.

After reviewing some staggering healthcare statistics for the year 2022 (and discovering that 47% of people are concerned that the health-related information they find is trying to sell them something rather than provide accurate information that answers their questions (yikes!)) we moved into the “2022 digital trends to consider” portion of the presentation. Those are as follows:

  1. Video is king-particularly patient testimonials, practictioner interviews and facility highlights
  2. Telehealth is rising in popularity
  3. Combine digital strategies to reach your consumers where they are – which digitally could be anywhere – streaming their favorite show, scrolling through social, or searching through Google.
  4. Hone in on the user experience and patient journey. Create highly targeted landing pages. Nothing is worse than clicking on an ad that speaks to you and then it just goes to the home page. If the experience is disrupted in any way, you’ll lose people.
  5. MyChart is becoming an event bigger resource for bridging the gap between providers and patients, so be sure to include that in your channel mix.
  6. You’re up against new competitors like Amazon and at-home testing kits such as Everlywell, Modern Fertility and Cologuard, so take that into consideration when designing your marketing. Integrate those competitors into your messaging. Something as simple as, “Got your Everlywell test results back? Let’s talk next steps…” can go a long way.

To sum it up: be flexible, remember why you entered healthcare marketing in the first place, always keep your audience in mind, and your digital marketing will undoubtedly soar to new heights!

Last but certainly not least, the closing session of the day was hosted by the team from Agrace – Josh Riley, Wade Udelhoven & Lindsay Huebner. They shared their expertise on, “Applying Marketing Savvy to Aid Recruitment”.

The past couple of years have been challenging to recruiters due to the pandemic. At the start of 2020 as lockdowns commenced and dragged on, many employees were looking to stay in their positions due to the uncertainty that COVID-19 provided. Those who were typically in offices found themselves working from home. And in many cases, parents found themselves working with their children present due to the lack of available childcare. 2021 then presented its own challenges, with vaccine mandates and many employees gaining a greater perspective of what they wanted out of their lives and careers-resulting in the “Great Resignation”. Employers had to meet employees where they needed to be. Agrace, like many companies, found themselves with over a hundred open positions and an increasing need to source positions and recruit differently. This year, in 2022, job seekers have many options and due to inflation, employers are finding themselves needing to offer higher referral and retention bonuses to get people in the door and keep them.

This is where marketing can come in. Your marketing team is likely made up of natural brand ambassadors that can aid HR in ensuring your company is positioned to new talent in the best light possible. I happen to be a massive Mad Men fan and here I’d like to quote Don Draper. “If you don’t like what people are saying, change the conversation”. It always helps to have marketing in your back pocket to do that. Seek out the masters of storytelling who can help you craft a message that will resonate with prospective employees.

Job seekers are certainly looking for jobs on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor and others, but the

best talent typically comes from passive recruiting – connecting with people who aren’t even looking for work! Marketing can help by creating a recruitment toolbox. We can also help with initial messaging to those passive candidates to help recruiters create their own voice.

So how can recruitment and marketing come together?

While recruiters are focused on current job seeker sites and tactics, requirements, position descriptions, offering competitive wages and benefits, marketers are focused more on target audiences, personas, differentiators, key messages, and the media mix. Those can all come together in outreach tactics such as ad/social copy and placement, web content, testimonials, and video.

It’s important to sit down and have initial intake conversations. Decide what types of roles need to be filled, where to search for candidates, what the company differentiators are that will stand out in the crowd, and what pitfalls recruiters are running into where marketing can help.

Once these decisions are made, your recruiting and marketing teams can join forces by reaching the best potential employees in the following ways:

  1. Web pages designed with job seekers in mind

According to a Career Arc survey published on HR Dive, 61% of job seekers visit company sites before applying for a job. Therefore, it’s important to make pages easy to find and link to, and ensure they’re created with a mobile-friendly, responsive design.

*Hot Tip: Pages should include key words that the job seeker is using, and they should answer questions about culture, benefits, and the hiring process. Lead with things that are important to job seekers like culture, diversity, equity & inclusion, and employee engagement. And be sure the website backs up all your efforts in those areas. Marketing can assist by creating and customizing new web content, especially for hard-to-fill roles.

  1. Use videos and testimonials

Videos are easy for job seekers to consume, so make it as easy on them as possible with videos that show the culture of your work environment, and video testimonials of current employees. You can even show a potential employee around your physical space with video virtual tours. If you don’t have any videos, there’s no better time than the present to start developing them. Or, if you’re in the position where you already have videos on hand, be sure to repurpose what you have.

  1. Have your social media presence also reflect your culture

Social media is most definitely a part of a candidate’s research, so also be sure to lead with your culture on social media. Be authentic and highlight a variety of positions and teams. Also be sure to feature your current employees. Make sure to be selective about the platforms that best fit your business and leverage any platforms you’re already on. Remember that organic posts will only get you so far – you should also incorporate social media ads into your mix. To make posting easier and more efficient, create customizable branded post templates that can be easily plugged and played.

  1. Leverage engaged employees

Employees that are highly engaged with your organization are the best brand ambassadors. Encourage staff to share social content. Offer branded apparel, teach your differentiators, show your appreciation, and know the importance of making a good impression. You just never know-your next rockstar employee could be searching on your site right now.

And that’s a wrap on the WHPRMS Spring Conference! For those of you who attended, we hope you found the content valuable, and for those who were unable to attend, hopefully this recap provided a small respite from your FOMO. See you all at the WHPRMS Annual Fall Conference!