GreyMatters 2018

Search Now Drives More Traffic to Websites Than Social

searchA three-year trend of social driving traffic to websites has been reversed, according to a report from Shareaholic. It appears that Facebook’s recent troubles have played a hand in that reversal.

According to Shareaholic’s data, 35% of traffic to websites assessed in the survey came from search engines, while 26% of traffic came from social networks. The survey data came from over 400 million users and over a quarter of a million mobile and desktop sites visited by those users. The websites included verticals such as food, tech, design, fashion/beauty, marketing, sports, parenting, religion and general news.

A drop in referrals from Facebook is considered to be the biggest factor in the switch from social to search referrals. In the first half of 2016, Facebook accounted for 31% of website visits, but by the second half of 2017, the percentage of referrals from the social media platform dropped to 18%.

As might be expected, Google drove most of the search referrals by the second half of 2017 at 37%. This was an increase from just under 28% in the first half of 2016. The next largest search referral site was Bing, at less than 1% of referrals.

As Mid-Year Approaches, It’s Time for a Marketing Checkup

checkupIt’s hard to believe, but as May arrives, it signals that we are one-third of the way through 2018. As we near the halfway point of the year, it’s time to pause for a mid-year marketing checkup to ensure that your current marketing strategy is effective.

Here are four areas to look at:

  • Social media. The social media space is always changing. For example, until recently, Facebook was a leading platform. However, scandals and other issues over the past year or so have affected Facebook’s reputation, and many users are either leaving the platform or greatly curtailing their use. Also, different demographic groups prefer different platforms. Who are you targeting in your social marketing efforts? Are you using the platform most likely to appeal to your target audience?
  • Data maintenance and security. Most marketers have tons of data available. Yet at least half of marketers say:
    • Their databases contain a large amount of incorrect data.
    • Their databases are missing a lot of important data.
    • They are having a hard time dealing with decaying data.

    In addition, organizations are struggling with data security. A majority of consumers believe that their personal data is not being managed securely or appropriately and that their data is susceptible to hacks and cyberattacks. When consumers believe that their data is at risk, they will find another business that they trust more. What is your organization doing to address these concerns?

  • Mobile load speed. As mobile becomes the primary source for people to conduct online searches and more, it becomes more important that your site pages load quickly. Consumers are impatient and will not wait more than a very few seconds for a page to load before they move on. Google guidelines call for all initial page elements (including interactive items) to load within 5 seconds and for subsequent pages to load within 2 seconds. Yet, the average page takes 15 seconds to load. How does your website compare with load speed?
  • Marketing attribution. This is one of the most important strategies for effective marketing, yet less than one-third of marketers say they have used attribution on all or most of their marketing campaigns and only 17% say they look at performance of all their channels as a whole. If your organization is not “all in” with attribution, this is a good time to work on your efforts, even if it’s just to start looking at the budget, training and other considerations to boost your strategy for 2019.


Don’t Make These 8 Mistakes With Your Physician Directory

directoryFor healthcare marketers, a primary concern is marketing your physicians to bring in more patients. The online physician directory is probably the most important tool for this strategy. Are you inadvertently sabotaging your directory?

Let’s look at some areas where organizations may be slipping up with their physician directories.

  • Call it what it is. Using a moniker other than “find a doctor” can hamper your efforts. People wanting to find a provider at your organization want to find the physician directory easily. Ideally, the physician directory tool will be included in a prominent location in your primary navigation.
  • Don’t make the user work too hard. Requiring the entry of multiple search parameters before showing physicians can be a turn-off for some users. This is an area that should be tested before going live to find the most effective search options for your users.
  • Give each physician an individual bio page. People want to know about a physician before scheduling an appointment. There should be an individual page for each physician with a unique URL so that the page can be shared.
  • Give adequate information about physicians. Yes, people want to know the educational background of a physician, as well as any certifications and areas of specialty. But you should also include a profile photo, publication history, any videos or other relevant media, as well as patient testimonials. Listing information such as outside interests and activities is a bonus that helps to round out a user’s perception of the physician.
  • Fine tune the search filters. Be sure to use terms that people will actually be searching for. A person looking for a physician who treats cancer may or may not know the term “oncologist.” A woman with breast cancer is looking for someone who specializes in breast cancer, so she should be able to get results from the term “breast cancer” in the search field. Refining search teams might benefit from testing.
  • Use professional-looking profile photos. Many organizations have guidelines for profile photos, like having all physicians standing in front of a particular backdrop wearing a white lab coat. Regardless of how your organization gets the photos, they should be professional and have a consistent look. And the images should be high resolution.
  • Include contact information for various contact points. There should be not only a phone number for a user to call if more information is needed or there are questions, but there should be other contact options as well. Perhaps a person is looking at the profile after normal hours, so would prefer to email rather than call. If you offer an online contact form, make sure that is linked as well.
  • Include advanced search options. The more a user can narrow his/her search parameters, the more likely he/she is to get the specific information needed.

Here are a couple of examples of physician directory listings that incorporate “about” and “bio” information on individual provider pages:

How well is your organization’s physician directory performing?

How Monitoring Your Organization’s Online Reputation Can Improve HCAHPS Scores


reputation_reviewsHCAHPS has been the barometer for understanding patient experience during hospital stays for the past decade. These surveys are standard, consistent and publicly reported.

However, managing online reviews is another critical aspect of a healthcare marketer’s digital and patient experience strategy—and they shouldn’t be ignored. Online reviews add depth to HCAHPS scores and—when monitored and managed actively—can improve HCAHPS scores and provide competitive advantage.

In a study conducted by, two years of HCAHPS hospital survey data was analyzed from the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) across more than 4,800 hospitals. HCAHPS data was reviewed alongside online reviews and ratings for the same hospitals, and some significant discoveries were made:

  • Positive online sentiment leads to higher HCAHPS scores.’s data analysis found a direct correlation between positive online sentiment (in the form of online reviews) and increasing HCAHPS scores. Hospitals with a 4-star HCAHPS rating or higher were twice as likely to have a 4-star rating or higher online. Hospitals whose online sentiment was not as high as their HCAHPS scores indicated had 2.8 times as many complaints about categories that HCAHPS does not cover. What’s more, they were three times as likely to see HCAHPS ratings fall the following year. For all hospitals included in the study, an improvement in online sentiment led to a rise in HCAHPS scores of an average of 17 percent year-over-year.
  • Online reviews give early warning to issues that impact patient experience. With insight from online reviews, hospitals can identify and address problem areas before HCAHPS scores decline. HCAHPS surveys are sent several weeks after a patient leaves the hospital, so feedback is inherently delayed. Because online reviews are available immediately, issues surface early, and providers can address negative reviews and resolve issues before they impact responses to HCAHPS.
  • HCAHPS do not capture aspects of patient experience seen in online reviews. Nine specific patient experience questions are covered in HCAHPS surveys; however, online reviews provide insight to additional areas of patient experience such as time to appointment, wait times, administrative issues and experiences with billing and insurance. The unstructured data — free text from social media and review sites — can be analyzed using natural language processing. This in-depth analysis of unstructured data makes it possible for hospitals to quickly understand patient sentiment, identify trends and make changes to improve patient care.

HCAHPS data is available on CMS’s Hospital Compare website, however awareness of this resource among consumers is only 13 percent, and only 3 percent of consumers surveyed have visited the site. By contrast, 85% of consumers start their search for a doctor on search engines and online review sites.

Patient Experience Depends On ORM

Online reviews are a critical addition to capturing the entire patient experience and help supplement the important information surfaced in HCAHPS surveys. By implementing an Online Reputation Management (ORM) strategy, healthcare organizations can address negative feedback immediately and early by continually monitoring, managing, responding and requesting online patient reviews. This patient experience data can be critical to a healthcare organization’s long-term success.

Note: This sponsored article was written by Lindsay Neese Burton, who is the Healthcare Marketing Director at Lindsay spent more than a decade as a healthcare marketer at large Academic Medical Centers in the Southeast focused on developing marketing strategies for consumers and referring physicians. Now as part of the team, Lindsay helps healthcare organizations create digital marketing strategies and leverage online feedback to meet their goals. Logo

Creating More Engaging Marketing Copy

marketingFor decades, marketing copywriters performed in “push mode” – writing copy for one-way messaging that was delivered via mass media such as newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. With the advent of the internet, marketing is now a two-way affair, with consumers having the ability to respond directly to marketers/brands.

Despite this interactive state, many marketers are still crafting their messages in push mode. How can you make your messaging more engaging?

  • Subtle is better. Let’s face it – most people don’t like advertisements or sales solicitations. And if you’re pushy with your messaging, they really won’t like it. Think of some of the recent campaigns that got people talking lately. In general, those messages have appealed to the senses or sentiment. For example, who doesn’t love the kids from Shriners Hospitals for Children? So, tone it down and find ways to really connect with your audience.
  • Talk like your audience talks. While flowery, complex prose has a place in some circumstances, marketing messages are not one of those circumstances. In the healthcare space, messaging can be challenging when clinicians get involved and want to emphasize achievements and results in a format that sounds more like a post-doctoral dissertation. One way to learn how your messaging resonates with your audience is to get feedback from lay people. You can do this informally by using family and friends or you can utilize focus groups in a more formal setting. Bottom line: people don’t like being talked down to or trying to interpret overly complex messages.
  • Listen first, then write. Who is your target audience? What are their concerns and priorities? What kind of vocabulary do they use? Some ways to learn how to speak to your intended audience include:
    • Reviewing social media interactions - look at how the most frequent and most enthusiastic commenters express themselves.
    • Publish surveys that include open-questions. Review the manner in which those questions are answered.
    • Solicit questions from your followers on all channels. What are they asking about? How are they asking? What are their priorities and concerns?
    • Check your online reviews. See what people are saying about your organization and how they’re saying it.
  • Make your audience feel more included by asking questions in the title and body of your content, and by telling stories that are relevant to them.
  • Show that you are human by being approachable and authentic. While you strive to be accurate at all times, sometimes a mistake slips through. Own up to your mistakes in an open, honest manner.

What is your organization doing to improve engagement with your audience?

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