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Marketing Before and After COVID-19

Sponsored by Banner Imaging

By Patrick Knauer

Before COVID-19, Banner Imaging used a two-pronged approach to consumer marketing. Our primary marketing goal was to help consumers easily find address and contact information for Banner Imaging’s 23 locations. This not only helped create frictionless experiences for patients, it also helped to reduce missed appointments and volume loss due to error and confusion.

Secondly, we created the term “shoppable modalities” to describe when consumers invest their time seeking an imaging service or provider. Because today’s health care consumer is shopping online, this enables many opportunities for digital marketers. Digital tactics like search, social media, email and retargeting are tools that can be used in a performance campaign designed to increase volumes.

But when COVID-19 hit, consumer behavior changed. Our approach to marketing needed to transform as well.

Prior to stay-at-home orders in our service area, analytics clearly indicated the most common action patients preferred were visits to our clinic webpages. However, after stay-at-home orders were given, website visits dramatically decreased while clinic phone calls rose to prominence. This change in behavior illustrated a couple of central patient needs.

First, there was a big need for information from the basic (hours of operation) to the complex (services for high-risk individuals). Beyond the requests for information, however, we realized a common theme – patients were seeking guidance from trusted health care professionals. The need for guidance included: how to access imaging and radiology services, feeling safe in a health care environment and staying healthy outside of the health care environment.

Digital Transformations

For digital tactics, we rely on our website bannerhealth.com as the source of truth. This approach enables us to focus on content and information at one end point – and broadcast that information through channels that are fed by our data.

The Banner Health website contains location, services and contact information for all Banner Imaging locations. We use clinic webpages to feed information through our business listings vendor, Yext, which automatically updates hundreds of Internet directories and listings. Most importantly, this includes Google My Business. Google My Business is considered the “homepage” for our Banner Imaging clinics as the number of views and actions taken on Google My Business far exceed our own website. Utilizing Google My Business is the easiest and most effective method of communicating business changes to consumers. Google My Business also created new categories specifically to alert consumers how COVID-19 impacted operations. Between our website and Google My Business we had an effective reach on communicating business changes and access instructions.

Additionally, we relied on the Banner Health Blog to offer guidance during COVID-19. This included articles on staying safe and advice from our thought leaders on mental and physical health during the pandemic. The articles were promoted on multiple channels to help reach our audiences. These channels included email, social media and Google My Business. The viewership and engagement on COVID-19 guidance was tremendous. Although volumes were down in Banner Imaging locations, our relationships and trust with our patients was growing thanks to content marketing efforts. It’s our belief that the lasting effects of building trust with consumers will ultimately generate a positive impact to volumes.

Brick and Mortar Transformations

Banner Imaging also made many changes inside the clinics. The campaign, “A Safe Place for Care” was created which enacted cleaning, safe distancing and masking protocols to make the environment safe and reassuring for patients and providers. Posters, i-frames, table tents, floor and window stickers were created and placed within the clinics to reinforce instructions and the efforts Banner Imaging took to safeguard patients. The signage also encouraged patients to visit the website for a deeper dive into the COVID guidance content we generated.

Finally, Banner Imaging transitioned clinics across disparate geographic regions to serve patients who had no respiratory symptoms. These locations were labeled “Non-Respiratory” to inform patients that they were intended to serve individuals who were not symptomatic for COVID-19. These locations were also imaging destinations for high-risk patients. The marketing team then built awareness of Non-Respiratory locations through advertisements on social media, search, as well as on bannerhealth.com and email.

The Results are Not Yet In

The overall financial and business impact of the efforts made by Banner Imaging will not be understood for some time to come. However, by listening to the needs of the patient and involving teams across content, branding, operations and marketing to reach our consumers, the end result was holistic and patient centered. Trust and rapport with our patients is one of the most valuable assets we can nurture in a time of volatility and uncertainty. In the past weeks we have seen a trending lift in patient confidence reflected through volumes – although the environment remains fluid. We believe our marketing efforts have helped contribute to these positive indicators and we will continue to listen and respond to the needs of our patients in the days ahead.

For more information, visit bannerhealth.com.

Patrick Knauer, MBA, is a service line marketing program director-ambulatory for Banner Health.

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