How PE Advisory Boards and In-House Marketing Teams Can Work Together to Create Value

[feat-text]All of a sudden, private equity advisory boards and in-house marketing teams find themselves needing to work together. In this blog post, I explore the trends in healthcare private equity creating this unlikely alliance. And I’ll show you some of the important ways that private equity and in-house marketing teams can work together to create value fast.[/feat-text]

If ever there was a time for private equity firms and in-house marketing teams to find common ground …

If a recent report from Bain & Company is any indicator, the state of private equity in healthcare is strong. While overall deal total and average deal size have decreased, Bain & Company estimates that the volume of private equity deals in healthcare has increased 21 percent. We’ve seen more consolidation across the healthcare industry, too.

All of which creates tremendous incentive for private equity firms to evolve the ways they create value.

 

Where In-House Digital Marketing Teams Can Help

For many private equity firms, the answer is right in front of them. Many healthcare organizations already have an in-house marketing team or agency partner that’s aware of how patient choice is evolving.

One thing we know is that most healthcare decisions are moving online. This gives healthcare consumers instant access to more healthcare choices than ever, which means healthcare organizations cannot afford to put those consumers through high-friction experiences—online, in person, or otherwise.

Here’s how in-house marketing teams can help lead the way:

Create Better Patient Experiences With New Capital

One area that’s in need of improvement is the patient experience. With more capital in hand, healthcare organizations can invest in the technology that other industries have already been using to create great consumer experiences.

Additional capital allows digital marketing teams to conduct a more thorough audit of current marketing touchpoints (for example, digital signs) and channels (email or social media) to understand the patient experience. This audit ought to answer a few important questions:

  • What are the most critical (highest volume) touchpoints in the journey that we absolutely need to get right?
  • Which channels are new leads using to find you? What about high-intent leads?
  • Which touchpoints are leading to friction indicators (abandonment, contact center cases, complaints)?
  • How are we continuously monitoring, quantifying, analyzing, and reporting on these patient journeys?
  • Do we have dedicated web pages or experiences for the search terms people use to find us most often?

With additional capital, marketing teams can also launch mobile apps that give patients a more convenient and personalized way to communicate with providers, make appointments, and even conduct telehealth appointments. Chris Gauld, writing for PrivateEquityWire, calls these companion apps “that embed technology, such as beacons, in care settings to serve location-driven digital content, fully-integrated appointment booking facilities, and video consultations. Platforms such as these also reduce patient admin costs and move the organization towards paper-light digital experiences.”

Finally, an influx of capital can help marketers create more human-centric digital experiences. Marketers can leverage data to improve digital marketing content design and structure. They can also align physical and digital touchpoints to create a seamless patient experience—from appointment scheduling to paperwork to the post-visit follow-up.

Meet Consumer Demand for Transparency

Think about the healthcare brands you, as a consumer, trust. It could be a perception about the brand, or it might be based on direct experience. Which brands do you consider credible? Where do you go for information? Trustworthy healthcare brands tend to prioritize transparency, especially concerning marketing campaigns.

Today, medical consumers are less willing to jump through hoops to get answers about pricing, insurance, or service delivery. They want immediate answers, and if they can’t find them, they’ll look for someone else who will.

Of course, this culture of transparency should make its way into marketing practices, too. Eric Silberman, in an interview with HITMC underscores the need for transparency between healthcare organizations and their marketing teams (in-house or third-party). “Silberman strongly recommends that marketing leaders demand and prioritize transparency from their partners. This doesn’t just mean transparency around results (which Silberman says is a ‘given’), but around market strategies and approaches as well.”

This goes for the private equity firms working with in-house teams, too. On both sides of the coin, there should be transparency around the strategies and tactics in use, campaign performance, and more. Harshit Jain, writing for Forbes, calls for greater visibility around real-time campaign metrics and performance.

Align Marketing Goals with Organizational Goals

This goes for both private equity firms and in-house marketing teams. Both need to ensure that marketing efforts are contributing to broader business objectives—to pin marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) to business goals. I see two immediate opportunities to do so:

Attribution

Which marketing practices, campaigns, channels, and touchpoints drive the greatest value? And do we have the marketing attribution capabilities in place to accurately track and report what marketing channel gets credit for a particular outcome?

Connect Business Systems

Siloed systems and system data can make “connecting the dots” quite difficult. The healthcare organizations creating value tend to have an integrated approach to their essential technologies, including:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Reporting and analytics software
  • Marketing automation and email platform
  • Call tracking solution
  • Online appointment scheduling
  • Electronic health records (EHR) system
  • Revenue cycle management software

Where Private Equity Fits Into the Mix

While in-house marketing teams have plenty of opportunities for creating value, their counterparts in private equity have work to do, too. After all, private equity teams often hold the pocketbook.

Fund Marketing Initiatives That Get Results

Private equity teams can empower their counterparts on the in-house marketing team by using data to inform budget and resource allocations. Funding the right marketing initiatives can lead to tremendous results, but it has to be informed by the data, namely:

  • Patient data
  • Channel data
  • Service data
  • Campaign data

Private equity teams also can invest in the tools, processes, and people to extract these important insights. I’ve seen some settings just begging for an advanced marketing analytics platform, for example. While this addition to the marketing tech stack is no small decision, it can often bring together data sources and make critical insights more accessible to stakeholders across the organization.

In a related scenario, I’ve seen other marketing teams benefit greatly from an investment in data analytics professionals capable of building the kinds of data pipelines that healthcare organizations need to improve marketing performance.

3 Case Studies in Private Equity-Backed Healthcare Marketing

You might have noticed my frequent references to real-world examples of the strategies I’ve enumerated above. The proof is in the pudding! So I’ve asked my team to put together three detailed case studies from the world of healthcare marketing. The LifeStance, VitalSkin, and SmileDoctors stories show how greater collaboration between private equity and in-house marketing teams can lead to incredible results.

Here are the highlights:

  • LifeStance Health (500 locations nationwide): 195 percent increase in total site conversions in six months
  • VitalSkin (multi-location group backed by Armory Capital): 309 percent increase in patient leads
  • Smile Doctors (250+ location OSO in 17 states): 35 percent increase in conversion rates

These detailed case studies should help you evaluate the potential effectiveness of digital marketing, including viable strategies, potential outcomes, and ROI.

 

Time to Synergize in the Name of Better Patient Experiences

As private equity firms look to extract greater value from their acquisitions, they’ll need to make the patient experience a priority. As a recent post from McKinsey & Company indicates, “more than 60 percent of patients report they want more information when deciding where to get care.”

The time is now to think about how a better patient experience can help drive value. As the strategies I’ve outlined above indicate, private equity firms and in-house marketing have an opportunity to, yes, synergize toward driving higher value together. On the one hand, in-house marketing teams will need to meet consumer demand for higher quality, personalized digital experiences. On the other hand, private equity firms will need to fund their in-house marketing teams accordingly.

[optin-monster slug=”mdj3tb0igqtpn9qwmioz”]

Scalable SEO Web Design for High-Growth Multi-Location Brands

[feat-text]Summary: At some point, private equity firms come to the realization that a business’s website is central to its growth and scalability. So, how can you tell if the website can handle growth? Will your website structure support the addition of new brands? What about multi-brand SEO strategy and technical best practices? To answer those questions and more, start here.[/feat-text]

If we know anything about the inner machinations of private equity marketing, we know the importance of viability. The private equity firms we work with constantly seek validation for the viability (or lack thereof) of a business’s digital presence. And here’s what we always ask them:

How’s the website lookin’ these days?

While it’s not the only marketing consideration for high-growth businesses, a solid website is one of the most important. High-growth companies need a website that can grow with them. What does that mean? It means you need to look for—or put in place—all the tenets of future-proof web design.

 

How to Recognize Scalable Web Design

A growth-ready website will be able to support both immediate and near-future growth goals. When you think about the future of your multi-location business, including expansion plans, where will your website(s) fit in? What kind of functionality and flexibility will you need in six months? What about one or two years from now?

If you’re planning to open new locations in different regions, what will your site look like across all of these brands?

All that said, don’t panic! The need for custom coding, or lingering tech issues, shouldn’t prevent you from growing. These are technical problems that can likely be fixed. The question is, how good or bad is the problem? How much money and time will it take to get things right?

And while you’re at it, ask yourself what it will take to put in place a framework to support your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy (SEO-friendly websites allow search engines to discover, crawl, index, and rank). It’s a lot, we know. But it certainly isn’t rocket science. To that end, use these four best practices to build a website that scales with you and ensures your business is found.

 

1. Evaluate Your Current Position and Plan for the Future

First and foremost, think about your long-term goals and plans. For example, it might not make sense to invest substantial resources and budget toward SEO activities and web design if a brand will be dissolved a year from now. On the other hand, if you recently acquired a brand with a strong backlink portfolio and high-ranking content, it might make more sense to keep that website as is. From there, you can examine organic visibility and rankings, then build a plan based on what’s working and what isn’t.

The point is to understand where a given site fits into your plans for a given business. To reach that understanding, ask yourself these questions while evaluating websites:

  • What does the competitive landscape look like?
  • How will your keyword strategy need to evolve as you grow? Will you be adding new services or products?
  • What keywords do you currently rank for?
  • Do you dominate some local markets but not others?

 

2. Lay a Strong Foundation for SEO

As you already know, a high-value SEO strategy requires far more than keyword-optimized blog posts. You need to have a website structure, site architecture, and URL hierarchy that supports a comprehensive SEO strategy. This framework will ensure that you can rank for target keywords and facilitate scalable digital growth.

The website should follow these architecture principles to allow it to scale with your growth efforts:

  • Organized: Page types are grouped and easy to navigate wherever a person is on the site.
  • Discoverable: Can people get to your most important pages in three clicks or fewer, no matter their entry point?
  • Uniqueness: No duplicate content! Make sure to trim down duplicate content and create redirects where needed.
  • Linkable: Do your pages have the authoritative information that people want to link to from their own sites?
  • Consistent: You want continuity in terms of theme, structure, and page types throughout all sites of a given brand or brands.
  • Valuable: Do your site visitors get something from your site (instead of only being sold something?).

Why is this kind of foundational site structure so important? For one, Google bot-crawlers have an easier time finding well-structured websites. By avoiding dead-end pages and making sure that all of the most important pages are always accessible, Google will know which pages it should serve its users based on what they’re looking for. Perhaps most important, people who can find and navigate your site with ease will be able to make purchase decisions with greater ease, too.

When building a new website or redesign an existing website, map out the pages of your website before you start building. In addition, make sure to implement a strong SEO technical framework. A scalable technical framework helps your content get discovered, crawled, indexed, and ranked at a much faster rate. Our recommended technical framework includes:

  • Custom post types → Content silos
  • Dynamic XML sitemaps
  • Crawl rate optimization
  • Clean URL structures
  • Dynamic schema markup in theme

 

3. Use Scalable Web Technologies

One common trait we find among high-growth companies is that they tend to invest in the right marketing technologies. That means tech that is easy to roll out across multiple brands, capable of handling high volumes of users and load, and secure.

Here’s what we recommend:

Content Management System (CMS): WordPress

Too often, businesses invest in a custom CMS that isn’t scalable. These solutions tend to be clunky, difficult to use, and require custom coding. High-growth businesses that rapidly add new locations or brands need a more nimble solution. We recommend WordPress. This is the largest open-source content management system with robust SEO implementation capabilities. It is known for “ease of management,” which is very important for growing at speed.

Hosting: Flywheel

You simply can’t afford to have website downtime. An inaccessible website leads to poor user experiences, missed opportunities, and lost customers or sales. We recommend Flywheel, a WordPress-only CMS with daily backups, automated plugin updates, and enterprise solutions for multi-site projects.

Security: Cloudflare

The last piece you need to look after is security. Your website needs to be secure against intruders for a couple of reasons. Intruders can steal information, compromise user data, and even prevent your website from functioning properly (or at all). Put simply; businesses cannot afford the hit to their reputation and customers’ trust that comes with security breaches. We recommend Cloudflare to our clients, which offers:

  • Mitigation for DDoS attacks
  • Prevention for malicious bot abuse
  • Improved load speed via CDN

 

4. Plan for Migration

If you are merging brands or developing a new website for an existing company, what do you do with the old website? This question comes up a lot in the world of private equity. The first step is to determine whether or not there is usable or successful content on the old website. We recommend making this determination based on both quantitative and qualitative indicators.

From there, you can develop a detailed migration strategy. For that, you’ll need to map out your new content strategy, including the implementation of proper 1:1 redirects to maintain earned authority. In general, your migration strategy should look roughly like this:

  • Planning: Where are your websites now, and where are they going? What questions do we need to answer to get from point A to point B successfully?
  • Pre-Launch Prep: Just because you’re in a hurry doesn’t mean you need to roll out your new sites in a haphazard fashion. Have your new structure ready to go before go-live—perhaps in a test environment—so you can check and test for potential problems before you release your site to the general public.
  • Navigation Salvage: Make sure you’ve accounted for all redirects so that traffic from old pages is automatically (and correctly) redirected to new pages.
  • Migration and Launch: When conducting “the big move,” make sure you have plenty of hands-on deck to make the transition with as little disruption to user experience, web traffic, and regular business as possible.
  • Post-Migration Traffic Assessment: This is a critical step in the process. Get some web traffic analysis software in place (Google Analytics is a good tool for this) to check for red flags, sharp traffic drops, or error reports. There might be some things you didn’t account for that need to be resolved due to the migration.

 

Build Scalable Sites, Rinse, and Repeat

A clean, well-structured, search-optimized website is all well and good. But growth-oriented businesses and multi-location brands need a little bit more. What we’re after is repeatability. Once you get the hang of the four recommendations we’ve laid out above, you’ll be able to put the website of every acquisition through this process.

The result will be a high-growth digital machine supported by the very latest in scalable SEO web design.

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