In this case study, we’ll outline the business challenges faced by the largest private pediatric primary care practice in Oregon. We’ll outline how they stabilized the practice after COVID and focused their marketing approach toward new patient development in spite of historic healthcare pressures.
This pediatric group has been in business with its current partnership structure for over 20 years facing intense competition for new patients during extraordinary regional growth. It has grown with the market and currently has a half dozen locations spread throughout the metro region.
Like many private practices, the COVID pandemic put tremendous pressure on the organization to serve its patients through an unprecedented surge of sick care and calls for information. The practice also worked hard to provide clear communications to patients around the continuously changing parameters and availability of vaccinations. Meanwhile, the volume of profitable well-visits plummeted during COVID shut downs in 2020 and 2021.
Employees had been stretched thin for three years managing the changing medical regulations and protocols around COVID, the high demand by patients for same day sick visits and COVID testing. Employees continually covered shifts for employees who were out for illness, caregiving, or unpredictable COVID exposure or sick quarantine. In 2021 the team saw a large wave of requests by regular patients for catch-up wellness exams and regularly scheduled vaccinations.
Costs for labor have skyrocketed over the last two years and inflationary supply costs are at historic highs.
New patient growth at the various locations had been uneven for the last five years. Some locations were more profitable than others. There wasn’t a strategic marketing plan for new patient growth. Some locations had capacity for more growth while others were maxed out in space with no available provider appointment slots. The company needed to maximize new patient potential without adding more labor for the short term.
The company’s executive team recognized their marketing efforts needed to refocus from being reactive around COVID communications and provider changes to driving new patient growth. They needed a smart market development plan to target specific locations for more new patients immediately. The long term plan needed to focus on building out capacity for new patients at other target locations throughout the region. In January 2022, they hired Pineapple Digital to accomplish these objectives.
Pineapple Digital worked with the company’s executive team to analyze the market, define metrics and objectives, and create specific goals. We launched the new plan in March 2022. The goal was to attract new patients in specific geographic areas and grow target clinic locations. For media execution, we chose Google Search Results Ads, Social Media Display Ads, and SEO optimization of the existing website. Our brand development team created new messaging, imagery, and website copy.
Google Search Results Ads: The Google ads targeted women aged 21 – 45 in households earning over $80,000. Google keyword phrases for ad buys were researched to drive the most qualified patient traffic. We wrote compelling ad campaign text to filter web traffic for those most likely to want a new pediatrician, with links to a landing page that included calls-to-action welcoming new patients.
Social Media Display Ads: Facebook and Instagram were used, targeting specific zip codes and higher household incomes. Our brand division designed creative display ads to be relevant to young women aged 21 – 45 with catchy headlines and friendly phrasing. The ads were differentiated from other healthcare practices using close up photography of kids interacting with their parents (not doctors) in fun and loving ways. Links from the ads directed traffic to a new landing page using calls-to-action welcoming new patients.
SEO: The existing website was optimized for keyword phrases that parents use when searching for a new pediatric provider, such as “pediatrician in Portland”, “pediatric clinic in Beaverton”, “pediatric behavioral health”, or clinic names of competitors. Website pages and navigation were reordered to help drive new patients to a new landing page with clear calls to action for new patient conversion. The current site was better optimized for a mobile experience.
The team monitored ad results and SEO metrics throughout the year, focusing on cost per impression, cost per click, new patient conversions, and cost per conversion. We tracked new patient volumes by location to check results by region. By adjusting variables in the ad campaigns and continual testing, the team achieved improved return on investment by driving down costs per new patient and increasing overall results.
The combined SEO, Google, and Social Media Ads campaigns were a success. Through the end of 2022, the organization saw an 8% increase in new patient volume growth over the 2021 experience, far exceeding the estimated 2% market growth. Targeted locations for extra campaign spending saw over 20% growth with pediatricians commenting, “I don’t know what you did, but it’s amazing.”
Pineapple Digital continues to manage the digital marketing campaigns for the company and is currently launching expanded programs for the year.
Google ads from March ‘22 to December ‘22 experienced 3,670 links to the website at a click-through-rate of 4.67% of people viewing those ads. The new patient conversion rate from those who clicked an ad and visited the website was 8.74%, exceeding industry average. Total new patients specifically from the Google campaign were 321.
Website users who completed defined action goals continued to climb throughout the year with more efficient metrics and improved ROI throughout the campaign. In all, we saw 13,653 conversions from the website to a patient engagement activity.
8,781 users called the company from the website via mobile device, many of those new patients. Over 1500 users filled out a “welcome” new patient form to enroll with 20% of those being newborns.