Stephanie Burton

Triple Threat: How healthcare marketers should leverage landing pages, web sites and microsites

By Stephanie Burton on November 10, 2016

If you’ve been a healthcare marketer for any period of time, you’ve undoubtedly had to ask yourself this question: “Is a landing page, microsite or a separate page on my health system’s website the most appropriate call to action?”

Fortunately, there are answers. During this webinar, participants will:

  1. Review the important difference between websites, microsites and landing pages.
  2. Determine which tool to use when attempting to acquire new patients, retain existing patients or grow audiences.
  3. Explore which solution provides the most direct route to patient conversion.
  4. Learn which tool is appropriate for starting conversations with your audiences.
  5. Examine real case studies from within and outside healthcare.

Whether you’re looking to acquire new patients, retain existing patients, win back lapsed patients or grow patient volume, this webinar is a must watch for every healthcare marketer.

REGISTER BELOW TO WATCH THIS 30-MINUTE WEBINAR.

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Transcript

[Stephanie]
Hello and welcome to Triple Threat, How healthcare marketers should leverage landing pages, websites, and microsites. This is a webinar offered to you by Core Creative. We’re a full service marketing communications firm located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thanks for joining us. I am Stephanie Burton. I am the Director of Healthcare Marketing here at Core Creative. I have been here for a little over five years, have some experience on the provider side as well. I spent many years at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin working in a similar role.

[Tom]
I’m Tom Sanders. I’m the Director of Brand Strategy for Core Creative. I have a background in marketing, digital communications, and business planning, and my role at Core is to understand our clients’ business goals and identify the digital communication tools that are gonna help best strengthen the brand and marketing initiatives we work on with them.

[Stephanie]
When it comes to this particular webinar, I call Tom the brains behind the operation. He’s got that really great background that we can draw on, and that’s one of the things that I like about working at our agency. While we do specialize in healthcare, we also have some other areas of specialty, so we’re able to tap into those, and Tom has a background, as he said, in digital, but works most particularly here in a business-to-business world. So it’s great because we’re able to rely on each other to learn, and bring those insights to you, here today.

[Tom]
Absolutely.

[Stephanie]
So, we have got a few questions we are going to address during today’s webinar. We’ll also make sure that we show you examples. We know that it’s one thing to talk about this all in theory, but you need to see what it is that we’re actually talking about. So we’ll address these questions. What’s the difference between a landing page, a microsite, and a webinar? What do you use when you’re acquiring new patients, or retaining existing patients, or growing new audiences? What is the solution that provides the most direct route to patient conversion? Then, of course, what tool provides you with the opportunity to retain existing patients? So Tom and I are both firm believers in understanding what your objective is before you start doing anything, and hopefully you are as well. Generally for the purposes of this webinar, we’re talking in terms of two types of objectives, acquisition and retention, and there are options that we’ll talk about that address both of these objectives, but your objective needs to be specific, measurable, you need to include an audience. Who is it that we are speaking to? Then you need to have a time-frame associated with it, so the answer to just about any question you may have may be, what is your objective? So something important to keep in mind as me move throughout this webinar.

[Tom]
Yeah, and as you said, Stephanie, the most important piece is to really understand what are you trying to do? It doesn’t have to be complex or fancy, but it does need to be clear. Are you looking to acquire? Are you looking to retain? Start right there, and within that, then understand where you want to place the emphasis. Are you hoping to grow your base? Are you trying to win patients back? Are you looking to engage them on a deeper level? This is important to set this as the beacon, so when we, coming around to identifying the ways to best communicate and provide information that helps them make choices, we’re using the right tool that’s driving the behaviors we’re looking for. In terms of online properties, many times it might seem really obvious. The obvious answer is to just throw the information up on a page on your website, and that’s fine, but what we want to talk about today is what some of the other options that might better serve your goals in terms of using landing pages or microsites to share that same information. So what’s the difference? Why should I consider one or the other? That’s what we’re here to talk about today. So we’re gonna start with landing pages. A landing page is a single page. It is within your existing website. It’s a destination page that appears in response to a click, an action. Typically those clicks are coming from search engine results, or some form of promotion like a banner ad, social media, or even e-mail. The thing that sets it apart from other pages on your website is that it is very focused. It’s a singular call to action, a very specific thing to do. It’s designed in a way to remove as many distractions as it can, because again, the main goal of a landing page is to drive conversion. There’s two types of landing pages: hidden and visible. A hidden page is one that doesn’t show up in your site navigation. In other words, a user browsing your site can’t really get to that page. To get there, they need a direct link. As I said, it can come from an ad, it can come from an e-mail, or search engine results. A visible page is one that can be found through navigation, so let’s just take a minute to talk about each one of those things. As I mentioned, people arrive on a hidden landing page from a direct link. This can be search engine results, online ads, e-mails, even a Vanity URL that you’re promoting through other marketing channels. It’s a single page and has a very specific call to action. It’s intended to drive quick conversion, and usually these pages are not included in the navigation of your site. They might take you into the site, but the intention is to drive a very specific behavior and remove those distractions. So what are the benefits to using a hidden landing page? Well the primary benefit is that it’s hyper-focused content that provides a direct route to a single conversion point. In addition, you can use a hidden page to test your messaging, your copy, your creative, your calls to action, and perform some A/B testing to see which are the stronger performers, which allows you to optimize and tweak on an ongoing basis. The thing you need to take into account when considering a landing page is that it’s imperative to really focus your message. Too much information leads to low conversion rates and high bounce rates for the page. Also, you are adding a page to your website, so there is gonna need to be some development resources to get that page designed, created, and launched. Then because the only way to arrive is through a promoted link, you do need to support it with a communication or some other advertising campaign that’s driving people to the page. Then finally, understand that it is just one step in your audience’s journey. Make sure that the look, the feel, and the message is consistent with both the upstream and the downstream steps in that journey. A disjointed experience is gonna cause people to fall off, so if you think of, what is the ad creative I’m using in an online ad? I have colors and a tone, and just a feel, and you come to this landing page, and it doesn’t support, or it’s not consistent with any of that, people are gonna feel lost and probably bounce off. So let’s just take a minute to talk about how a hidden landing page might work for you. So somebody is sitting at their computer, and they perform a Google search. In our example, this is someone looking for car insurance. They enter car insurance in Google and a paid ad from State Farm shows up in the results. It’s relevant copy with a clear call to action, get a quote. So, the user is seeing this and then they’re clicking on the ad. When the ad is clicked, the person arrives at this hidden landing page. Some things to note here. There’s no site navigation within the page. There’s no way for the person to move down a different path within the State Farm website. The copy on the page is minimal and the information that they’re asking for is short and direct. What is your ZIP code? There is an option here to call an agent to take the experience offline, but really when you look at it from a digital perspective, it’s just taking that next step to getting you your car insurance, and what is your ZIP code? So that’s where the journey component comes into play here. Once the ZIP code is entered, the person comes to another page that asks for a little more information. We could’ve put this all on the landing page, but now it’s starting to take the shape of a form. Typically, when you start to build forms, you want to throw things, more and more information. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get this? And you wind up creating these lengthy or somewhat lengthy forms, and we see a lot of high abandonment rates, so the shorter the form, the better you are to get those conversions. So what’s happened now is State Farm has set the customer journey in a series of steps. They had an ad that got your interest in getting a quote. They asked for your ZIP code which was the first step in their process. It was easy, pretty unobtrusive, and once you enter that, now they’re starting to ask you more information, and lead you through the process of obtaining your car insurance quote. Another example is some work we did for The Valley Hospital. Stephanie, would you want to talk about how we approached this?

[Stephanie]
Yes, we use hidden landing pages frequently for healthcare, because in healthcare there are a lot of things that the “general public” isn’t searching for, but specific audience subsets are. So in this case, fertility, or In Vitro Fertilization is a great example. In this case, we purchased several keywords through Google AdWords. New Jersey fertility doctors is one, and you can see that there is a direct call to action. As Tom said, this is very focused content, and it’s really focused on gathering information from a patient who is ready to learn more, or make a buying decision. So we want to capture that information. We use these with other campaigns like cardiology, and neurosurgery, it really can run the gamut. Those service lines that you don’t want to think about, and really don’t care about until you have a need for them, and once you have a need, you’re doing everything you can to learn more, so we want to make sure we are getting found by the people that want to find us. Google AdWords paired with the hidden landing page really helps us do that.

[Tom]
Great. So now let’s talk about visible landing pages. So, like the hidden landing page, this is a single page on your website focusing on a single message, and a single conversion point. You need to know what your message is and how the call to action provides that next logical step in the patient journey. The difference, and the reason we call it visible is because this is a page that can be found when browsing the site. So you can do the same types of promotions as you would with a hidden page. E-mail, advertising campaigns, AdWords, what not. It’s just that there are other ways people can come across this page, and because it is discoverable within the website, you generally want to make sure that the content will be around for a while. It can get pretty frustrating if you design a visible landing page for a short-term campaign, somebody comes to the site, they browse to it as opposed to being invited, and what happens is they come back looking for it, and the page is gone, and they can’t find it. There’s no trace of it anywhere, so that can be a little frustrating. A benefit of using a visible landing page is that you can cross-promote it within your site. You can find ways, additional ways within your site to drive that traffic outside of just the ad campaigns that we do with the hidden landing pages. An audience that you’re not proactively engaging, in other words, they might not be on your mail list, they might not be in a geographic area that you’ve targeted with AdWords, they still have the opportunity to arrive at this page. But because of that, once they arrive, you don’t want them to feel trapped, so that’s one of the reasons the navigation tends to be present on those landing pages. Domain authority, this really applies to all landing pages. By having focused content with relevant inbound and internal links, you’re building the overall authority of your site in Google’s eyes. It’s not gonna skyrocket you to the top of search engine results, but there is dozens and dozens of things that Google looks at, and they assign you an overall domain authority score. The better your score, the better you tend to stand in rankings, so it’s just one way to help strengthen that score. Some considerations for those landing pages is that you’re building them within your existing site, again, whether it’s hidden or visible, and oftentimes you need to comply with the layouts, the information taxonomy, and the functionality of the site, which can present limitations. Again, in the case of hidden landing page, with the main navigation at the top of that page, there’s more opportunities for people to get distracted, and that can hinder your conversion rates. So here’s an example of a landing page we did with Verizon. This was a promotion that rewarded customers, existing customers. If you had the right type of plan, you would register your number, and you’d be rewarded with data based on the number of slam dunks that occurred during the NBA Playoffs. The page was promoted in a variety of ways, but more importantly, anyone on Verizon’s website could come across this, and they might choose to enroll or upgrade their plan as a result of seeing this offer. But there is potential for distraction. Maybe I come across this page and I’m not sure what plan I have, and so I login to My Verizon to check it out. But once I’m in the customer portal, there could be a message waiting for me, there could be a different promotion, a phone upgrade that I’m eligible for. Any number of things that could distract me from what I was doing, and then these are the types of things that need to be taken into account when planning these pages, because I came here, I had some interest, but there was an outlet for me to go try to find some information that ultimately prevented my conversion. So those are landing pages. Now let’s talk about microsites. As opposed to landing pages, which are contained within your existing website, a microsite is a standalone entity. A microsite is usually a separate domain, generally tied to a specific campaign or an initiative that has a set duration. A microsite is gonna allow you to present a lot more information than cramming everything on a landing page, but remember the key to making it work is to be as specific as possible. A big advantage, one of the biggest advantages of a microsite is that it can be a way to create an experience for your customer that doesn’t require a budget to redo your existing website. It also gives you flexibility beyond any constraints that you might have within your existing platform in terms of site functionality, or layouts.

[Stephanie]
I think the important thing here that you mentioned, Tom, is that you can design a website and launch a website at a much affordable rate than you can to overhaul a health system website. We use microsites a lot with our healthcare clients for a couple of reasons. The most important being that some of our clients have that request for a website overhaul going through the budget process, and it may take a year or two, or three, or more, to get that to go through. In the meantime, we can use a microsite that is mobile-optimized and allows your users a really good experience as a call to action for your campaign in lieu of your website, so it’s a great alternative.

[Tom]
Right, yeah the major benefit of a microsite is that flexibility. You can do things that you might not be able to do on your corporate site, either due to functional limitations or even operational hierarchy and approval limitations. You can do more with design, you can do more with navigation. You can basically make it anything you want it to be. That strengthens your storytelling and engages in conversions with patients, and your creating appropriate conversion points, not generic ones like we would expect to see on a company website. It also gives you the flexibility in terms of your budget so you can focus development efforts on what you need and not necessarily have to worry about downstream effects. What I mean by that is, maybe we want to build a farm or some data capture piece in a certain way. We introduce a piece of code to do that. If we did that on a corporate site, maybe it breaks an existing code. It’s just, it’s not saying it would, but the potential is there, so all of those things need to be tested, which lead to more lengthy and costly development efforts. They still need to be specific, but you can get into a deeper level of conversation and interaction, and offering multiple interactive spaces within the site. Some things to think about is that they typically drive conversion towards the top of a funnel. Giving people information that piques their interest as opposed to confirming their intent. While that can be more cost-effective and have less technical constraints, there’s still websites that need to be developed. As a standalone entity, there is a chance for some domain confusion as well with your customers, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing the URL. A good piece of advice is to focus the URL naming heavier on the call to action or the campaign as opposed to your brand name. You don’t want to confuse people and put them in a position of trying to understand which site I need to go to. Then finally remember that the microsite has a shelf life, a predefined duration. They’re not really intended to last a long time. Shortly after the campaign, the site should be sunset and redirects should be put in place, and configured to drive any residual traffic after your campaign back to your company’s site. So here’s an example of a microsite from Airbnb. The purpose of this site was to solicit and share customer experiences. It’s not providing any booking, reservation, pricing, or transactional information. It was simply a way for collecting and promoting the voice of the customer. Again, this isn’t driving hard conversions. It’s not driving business conversions, but it’s certainly driving those soft conversions in that it strengthens the interest in the person viewing the site by creating brand awareness, building brand affinity, and providing genuine and believable testimonials that do support the business. Another benefit is that some of these stories can inspire really good ad campaigns as well, so it’s a great way to get inspired and connect with your market.

[Stephanie]
I love this strategy that Airbnb has pursued. It’s something that we use frequently in the healthcare world, where we’re using patients, to use a term that we use frequently, as a messenger. So using those patients as messengers, and then providing them with a platform. This is exactly, it’s a great parallel example.

[Tom]
Then finally, websites. The website is an online extension of how your company does business, and I know you’re asking, we just talked about these landing pages and microsites, so why do I need a website? Well here’s the deal. Your website is really the Swiss Army knife of your digital presence. Your website is a way to more tightly integrate your campaign message with the other durable content that exists on your website. Services for example are something you’re likely to promote regardless of any campaign that may or may not be running in a market. By focusing efforts to update the website, you’re continuing to improve the overall site copy with updated copy, refreshed images, and that helps keep your website from becoming stale. By continuing to be relevant, you further establish that domain authority within the search engines like Google. There’s a few things to take into account. You have to comply with the existing functionality, and any limitations of your existing website. So unlike microsites, you are tied to the same platform and the features of your existing site. If you do need something built, there’s a chance that it wouldn’t be approved by your IT department, because of either competing priorities or as we mentioned, you might be asking for something that has a bigger effect on other parts of the site. Then, on your website, you’re up against distractions at every turn, from the main navigation, to other cross-promoted content, there’s a lot of ways that people can fall away from that conversion that you’re trying to drive. Finally, you need to understand, how are you going to get the data to show your success? You’re gonna put a lot of effort into creating this campaign and launching it, and promoting it. You want to make sure that the metrics that are being captured on your site are gonna show you whether or not that’s happening. Chances are there’s probably reports being generated on the entire website performance, so understand what you’re looking for specifically and create or configure that in your analytics tool to make sure that you’re getting the data you need to assess your performance.

[Stephanie]
I think one important note here, Tom, is that if your website is not offering a good user experience, you want to take that into consideration, and perhaps look at something like a microsite or a landing page. Good user experience, it should be mobile-optimized. If it is not mobile-optimized, again, look at alternatives, and also look at updating your website, which I know is easier said than done, but definitely something that should be proposed.

[Tom]
Yeah, that is a great point. We talked about the constraints of design and functionality, but it can be, remember, you could be inheriting the bad with it as well. So here’s an example of the Gold Medal website. It’s a nice, clean site. Not a lot of information, but when you really break it down, there’s lots of distractions. There’s so many calls to action here that if I have taken out an ad or done something to drive people to this page, they’re immediately met with options that take them in different directions. So whether that’s looking at recipes, or looking at blogs, getting some tips, we have a visual carousel at the top that’s bombarding me with images that are scrolling by, each with separate messages. A lot of ways that can take me away from whatever it was I was promoting, and away from that conversion point. Then we even have social icons on this site, so in addition to driving to other areas of the site, it can take me down a completely separate digital path, one that’s likely to be far more consuming. So maybe I came to this site looking for recipes, but I see the Facebook icon and I click on that, and maybe there is a Facebook recipe, but now I’m in Facebook, and we all know what happens then. Two hours later, I’ve caught up with my family and never really converted in the way that Gold Medal wanted me to.

[Stephanie]
That’s never happened to me.

[Tom]
So, what are our key takeaways? First with landing pages, understand that they’re used to convey very focused, almost hyper-focused message and a very specific call to action. Typically they’re used to engage a very specific audience, so when you know exactly who your audience is and a specific need that you’re helping them meet, that’s where the landing pages, whether they’re hidden or visible, are going to come into play. Microsites tend to focus a little more heavily on the acquisition side of things. They’re driving awareness and engagement. They’re used to bring people in, and get them involved with your brand. They might not be making a hard decision, but it’s getting them comfortable with your brand so when that decision point comes down the road, they might, or they hopefully have the brand affinity that they’re coming back to you. Then there’s websites, and like we said, websites try to do it all. They can help with acquiring and retaining pretty much everyone that’s interacting with your brand. They do serve a purpose. They lend credibility. They can show a scope of services, a breadth of services. They can give you different options to engage, but understand when you’re saying more, to do that, you’re taking away focus and introducing those distractions. So again, the key to making any of these work and understanding which one is right to you is to go back to the start and just understand, what are you trying to do? The more detailed and specific you can be, the more easier it will be to see the solution that’s gonna best meet your needs.

[Stephanie]
So, I’ll ask what may be an obvious question, but some of our audience members may have this question, which is, websites can do everything, so why not just start with a website, and ignore these other options?

[Tom]
Sure, well that’s a good question, and I guess the first thing is if you start with the website, you’re in a very noisy environment, so I’m not saying don’t use the website, but understand that your message runs a great risk of being diluted. There’s going to be other things competing. If you’re trying to get patients to sign up for a service or schedule an appointment, there’s gonna be other things that could either make it confusing for them, or distract them from doing it. Whereas a landing page or a microsite is going to be more tailored to the specific service or need that you might be trying to promote.

[Stephanie]
Great, great, what questions did I not ask, or issues that you wanted to address that we did not get to?

[Tom]
I think the big thing is to understand, websites are not bad, websites are good, but they tend to be more general, and cover pretty much everything your company’s doing. So when you break it down to landing pages and microsites, the one thing I would say is understand, specifically in healthcare, that the landing page is the better option when you have an immediate call to action. You’re trying to get somebody to schedule an appointment, or come in, or meet a doctor. The microsite, we can get a lot more information on the microsite, but it’s really around interest, so if you think of something like a knee replacement, I might know that I’m going to need my knee replaced. I’m not ready to do it now, so I don’t necessarily want to make an appointment for it, but I’m in a fact, in an information gathering point. That’s where a microsite is really going to serve you well, because what it’s going to allow me to do is to get the information on my own terms, and then you can focus the multiple types of things I’m going to be assessing. So I’m still focused on knee replacements, but maybe I’m looking at what are some of the options I have? Are there video interviews with doctors? Are there patient testimonials talking about the facility or the rehabilitation that they received? What are the things that can be served up through that microsite that just make me comfortable, so when I do hit the day where I need my knee replaced, I’m comfortable making the decision.

[Stephanie]
That’s a really great example, because knee replacement is still considered an elective surgery. We know people may eventually need to have it, but you have a little bit of say as to when you can have that knee surgery, as opposed to something like cancer, or immediate or urgent heart surgery, where landing pages may be a better option for you, because someone is ready to make a buying decision pretty quickly, pretty quickly.

[Tom]
Yeah.

[Stephanie]
Great, well thank so much, Tom, for your time. We hope that everyone was able to take away something today, and we appreciate you for your time, and joining us today. Thanks so much.

[Tom]
Thank you, Stephanie.