Posted: July 11, 2017

Do you remember learning how to drive a car? Turning the key in the ignition, gently pressing your foot on the gas, gripping the steering wheel with sweaty palms as you pulled out into traffic. And all that’s assuming the car’s an automatic. If, like a lot of people, you never learned to drive stick shift, imagine the shiny new car you have to drive isn’t automatic, you don’t know how to handle a clutch, and you have to start parked facing uphill. Would you make it to the top without help?

In the world of local listings technology, a top-notch service team can be your driving coach, helping you switch gears and teaching you how to drive your new investment.

My team has worked with clients where our service made a big difference to their organization. And while we acknowledge that technology is key in today’s digital world, without the added value of a dedicated industry-specific service team – time, expertise, mentorship, partnership – you might end up with a solution that’s more costly in the end. Technology without reliable access to experts and insights might be too frustrating to manage or force you to spend more in time or training to get where you need to go.

The value any service provider offers is that time, energy, expertise, personality, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Think about that for a minute. How do you really measure the value of time, expertise, personality, relationship? Sometimes value is simply unmeasurable. And that is a challenge for many service providers. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I’m a stickler for measuring the return of any dollar you spend, but how do you measure the dollar value of a vendor taking your call after hours and fixing your problem quickly?

Below is a summary of a case study where our services enhanced the solution to provide great results. My hope is that others will learn from their situation and will carefully consider local listings technology investments that don’t come with the backing of an expert service team.

The challenge

Managing local listings was quickly becoming a critical need in the healthcare industry and this client was using a small media buying agency to help claim various listings on Google and Bing. However, the wait for postcards or phone calls to verify accounts made the process extremely long and required a lot of effort to verify even a single location and physician across major search engines, multiple healthcare directories, and social sites.

One of the most notable challenges for the system was the realization that Google had published the phone number for its heart center as the main hospital’s phone line. The heart center was inundated with calls for the main hospital. This led to confusion for the staff and major frustration for the patient base.

The plan

The system’s team needed an industry expert to identify and outline steps for their success and to offer the technology and manpower to achieve established goals. Influence Health’s fully-managed solution offered a much smoother process for claiming and verifying local listings. Our team also provided education around local listings and shared industry best practices with the client’s marketing team – this type of knowledge-sharing was an added value that helped our client make a case internally for the importance of search in a consumer’s healthcare journey to receive services or choose a doctor.

STEP ONE: Influence Health created a project plan identifying priority listings based on service line and important markets, as well as prioritized directories with the most impact to the business. Based on the assessment, the team identified major milestones and goals expected within the first six months of the project.

STEP TWO: The team then opened and/or transferred management of existing directory accounts (e.g. Google, Bing, Yelp), which allowed Influence Health to claim and verify listings as well as submit correct data on the system’s behalf.

STEP THREE: The Influence Health and health system teams agreed on a source of truth for location and physician names, address, and phone numbers (NAP) as well as other descriptive information. Once that was determined, the team quickly gathered all listing information and formatted it in various templates accepted by healthcare and local directories.

STEP FOUR: Influence Health’s service team submitted information across the local search and social ecosystem through API connections to the major data aggregators (Infogroup, Acxiom, Factual, and Localeze), Google, and Facebook, as well as followed the required data submission methods from each directory identified in the plan.

STEP FIVE: In an ongoing effort, the Influence Health team regularly met with the system to review progress, continue submitting data to the ecosystem, and address outstanding issues.

The results

Within a 12 month period, our team was able to report a 90% accuracy across all of their location and physician listings. Their Google ranking increased by 21% across several key market areas. This increase in visibility on Google, a major digital front door to healthcare organizations, led to a great improvement in consumer actions on their local listings.

  • 38% increase in click-to-website actions
  • 145% increase in clicks to “directions”
  • 35% increase in click-to-call on mobile devices

As we often see with our clients, improvements start with getting accuracy across the web to improvement in visibility on Google to an increase in user actions or interaction.

The tricky thing about getting these types of results in the digital landscape is that to sustain the level of accuracy, visibility, and user actions, you have to keep working at it with submitting information regularly (e.g. make sure Google doesn’t revert to incorrect information that someone else submits) and continually optimize the listings with additional data attributes (e.g. images, reviews, etc.).

Listen, the truth is that technology is always changing and you may find a vendor that shows you a shiny tool but that doesn’t have the support behind it. This may tempt you to jump in the car and pump the gas, but think about this: while new listings technology will sometimes live up to your wildest dreams, you won’t really know how easy it is to operate until you’re in the driver’s seat. For this reason, it is imperative that you take the value of service into account when making these decisions.

Want to learn more about how managed services can help your healthcare organization succeed? Request a free Healthcare Marketing Assessment.