Posted: April 27, 2017

You understand the value of service line campaigns, how they can generate quick wins, and with the right lead management, how they can prove the downstream value of your marketing efforts. But with all the channel-specific restrictions and regulations in healthcare marketing, knowing how to navigate search and social advertising for something like Women’s Services versus something like Bariatrics can be tricky. There is no one-tactic-fits-all solution.

With this in mind, we figured we’d give you the benefit of our 20+ years of healthcare service line marketing expertise to offer you some of the worst advice you’ll ever get for your service line campaign strategy. After all, if you don’t know the pitfalls, how can you avoid missteps?

Worst. Advice. Ever.

  • There’s no time to make sure all key stakeholders in your organization understand the goals and the campaign call to action; just launch quickly and touch base after it’s running. 
  • Don’t overthink things by doing a competitive analysis upfront or painstakingly pointing out your differentiators. Just tell consumers that you have a “world-class” department and let them draw their own conclusions about why they should choose you.
  • Offering Same Day Appointments isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The best way to drive volume, fast, is to stick with existing processes like directing inbound calls directly to the practice where the staff is highly invested in the success of your campaign. 
  • Don’t overwhelm consumers with facts and data they don’t care about. This includes success rates, readmission information, estimated out of pocket costs, provider ratings, and detailed information about the services and procedures you offer.
  • By all means, motivate consumers to finally take action by being as severe and scary as possible in your cardiology, oncology and bariatric messaging. There’s nothing like death and dying to improve response rates.
  • For women’s services, your best bet is casting a wide net. All women’s health issues are basically the same.

No, Really


Clearly, the above list is bad tongue-in-cheek advice; and yet it was compiled based on our real-world experience working with service line leaders and marketers to rescue hundreds of underperforming service line campaigns. Now that we’ve got the pitfalls out of the way, we’d like to share some solid advice based on the highest performing service line campaigns we’ve had the privilege to manage and measure.

  • There’s always time to make sure all key stakeholders in your organization understand the goals and the campaign call to action. Never move forward without understanding capacity, training those who will manage inbound leads, and ensuring the patient experience will be seamless and excellent all the way through the journey. 
  • Always do a thorough competitive analysis upfront and really nail your differentiators in your messaging. Give consumers a compelling reason why it is in their best health interest to choose you.
  • Offer Same Day Appointments whenever possible. When it’s not possible, ensure Appointment Requests are responded to with immediacy by friendly, knowledgeable staff and that campaigns are turned up or down based on availability. 
  • Always provide consumers with facts and data that will help them make an informed decision. Today’s consumers value empirical data and are far more likely to select a provider that is transparent about success rates, readmission information, estimated out of pocket costs, provider ratings, and detailed information about the services and procedures they offer.
  • Motivate consumers to take action by presenting them appropriate information about risks and risk mitigation strategies. Leverage health risk assessments (HRAs) in social media campaigns and see tremendous results. 
  • Whenever possible, personalize campaigns based on specific conditions and procedures. Information that is timely and relevant to a consumer is what cuts through the marketing clutter.

Finally, we hope you enjoy the following very practical, very tactical service line specific advice below.

Bariatrics Campaigns
Your search ads for bariatrics will work best if they’re procedure-focused, and your social ads perform better by showcasing engaging topics like free seminars and patient testimonials.

Cardiology Campaigns
Both search and social cardiology campaigns are most successful when they focus on same-day or next-day appointments. You can also win by targeting based on symptom-focused keywords and use risk assessments and great heart health content to engage.

Orthopedic Campaigns
In search, you reach orthopedic candidates most easily by targeting keywords around symptoms and procedures. You can talk about symptoms in social campaigns as well, but patient success stories really make an impact.

Oncology Campaigns
No surprise, oncology search campaigns do well around keywords focused on screenings, procedures, and types of cancer. When it comes to social, you might think it’s funny that humorous content actually does really well – it can help balance the serious subject matter.

Primary Care
Quick, close, near-me, same-day … all these things drive traffic with primary care search ads. Using “Make an Appointment” as a CTA should be standard practice. Across social promotion, you can bring awareness to locations and convenience.

Women’s Services
Women’s Services campaigns can cover a range of age-specific concerns and appropriateness. Focus your keywords for search ads, and the corresponding landing pages, on terms delineated by these factors – think childbirth, endometriosis, mammography, etc. On social, targeting by age, particularly for new or expecting mothers, works best.

All joking aside, we know it takes a considerate eye and careful tone to balance messaging, imagery, and calls-to-action for every service line you promote. You have to think about the channel as well as the conditions and procedures. But with some planning and experience, you can create a relevant and engaging cross-channel experience for your consumers.

Want more digital marketing tips and templates to guide your healthcare marketing strategy? Download our Digital Marketing Toolkit.