What is Household IP Targeting and How Can I Leverage it for My Hospital

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shutterstock_232802296Household IP targeting is a process that allows you to target specific households based on their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. The IP address is a number that identifies your Internet connection through your Internet Service Provider, so it’s unique to each household.

Household IP targeting is as targeted as direct mail but does not include the costs of printing and mailing. Unlike direct mail, digital ads can be delivered multiple times to build frequency. So, how does it work?

1. First, determine who you wish to target. Like direct mail, you will need to start with a mailing list that includes at least the last name, street address and zip code. This list could be a database that you own, or you can purchase or rent a list based on your target demographics and other criteria.

2. Your target list is uploaded and matched to IP addresses. IP addresses will only be matched to a household if it can be matched with 98 percent certainty.

3. Create digital banner ads to serve to your targeted IP addresses. The cost is based on the number of impressions displayed to your targeted IP addresses.

Ads are shown on an advertising network on a variety of websites throughout the Internet, but only the IP addresses being targeted will see your ads. Your ads reach the exact households you have targeted without using cookies; IP addresses cannot be blocked or deleted like cookies can. It’s also important to note that you can block your ads from showing on certain websites. For example, as a Catholic health system, you may not want your ad to display on a website that shows risque content (even if your target is viewing that website).

Household IP targeting allows you to target specific households or businesses, allowing for countless healthcare marketing opportunities. For example, pediatricians wanting to reach households with children under the age of 13 can target, utilize or purchase a mailing list of women with children in the home. Using this list, they can display their digital ads to those specific households instead of all viewers on a specific website or social media network. To reinforce your message, we encourage a secondary touchpoint of direct mail to the same list.

Results are measured two ways: (1) clickthrough rate, in real time and (2) conversions, after the data is provided to match. Since we know which households were targeted and can see if they clicked, it’s possible to match back new appointments or patient data to determine if the patient was on the target list and if they clicked prior to their appointment. Being able to match back real patient data to a known target list is a more reliable ROI calculation method than relying on someone to indicate that they received a mailer or saw your print ad.

Now you might be wondering, how do I get started? Simple. Give us a call. Household IP targeting is a fairly new tool and we’d love to discuss how it may help get results for your health system. Next time you’re thinking about sending out a direct mail piece, try pairing it with household IP targeting to increase your frequency and your ability to report results.

Tips for Designing and Writing for a Senior Audience

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shutterstock_291750737Designing and writing for a senior audience is a little different from writing to a younger audience. Below are some pointers for your next piece targeted to a senior audience.


-Keep font sizes at least 12pt or even 14pt when using smaller fonts like Times New Roman

-Don’t use all caps and maximize contrast

-Avoid italics, condensed type and modifying typefaces

-Be direct and specific in writing. Asking questions or leading with incorrect information to make a point may lead to confusion later.

-Ideal word count is 300 words

-Develop content that appeals to emotions

-Limit the number of key points to three or five

-Use active voice

-Repeat main points multiple times

-Keep line lengths to a maximum of 50-65 characters

-Break lengthy documents into shorter sections or paragraphs


-Traditional, clean design

-Prefer a single image vs. a collage of imagery

-As a rule, lifestyle imagery vs. product shots is preferred

-Prefer identifiable photos vs. cropped images that do not show faces

-Select photos that are the target age market minus 10 to 12 years

-Allow for white space, provides a place for the eye to relax

-Simplify website navigation


-Prefer in-person interaction

-Deals and discounts get them intrigued

-Avoid stereotypes; 47 percent say stereotypes of their generation are inaccurate

-Gravitate towards research and testimonials

-Be clear about your organization’s purpose, mission and ideals

-Carefully select paper. Gloss can create a shine that makes text difficult to read and thin paper may allow bleed from text on the opposite side of the page.


Hitconsultant.net, 01/16/15



3 Ways to Boost Your Email Open Rates

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If your business is spending time and resources to develop emails for current or prospective clients, take note of these three tips to boost your open rates.

1. Segment Your List. 

  • There are many ways to segment and the benefits of segmenting your list at different stages of the email cycle are endless.
  • If you have demographics or other insights to segment your list from the beginning – do it. It can be as simple as changing the primary photo used to better resonate with the target of the email or vary the content of the email completely based on the email target.
  • Follow up with those who did not open the email a few days after the initial email push. Most email platforms do this second push to non-responders without a lot of extra effort. Try changing your subject line or modifying the email to try to capture their attention with the follow-up, since the initial email didn’t prompt an open.
  • Think beyond personalization with their name and segment your lists so they can be versioned and customized based on geography, where they are in the purchase cycle or other indicators of email preference.

2. Pre-headers. 

Pre-headers are simply snippets of text extracted from the body of the email or new, short content that gets amended to the subject line of the email. The goal is to provide additional information about the content of the email to entice the user to open the email or scroll to content deeper in the email. Most email platforms offer a way to easily add pre-headers to your email. Or, your developer can add some simple code to indicate the pre-header text.

aahc blog 1

Example of a pre-header in recipient’s email:




Example of a pre-header with article titles:aahc blog 2








For more on pre-headers, this is a great article. Or, read more about how to implement pre-headers in your email software FAQs.

3. Test Your Email.

Most importantly, test the email to accounts you have set up in multiple email platforms before you push to the full list. Besides ensuring that the email goes through the spam filters, you can also ensure the email displays as desired across multiple platforms.

Think twice before including ‘free screening’ or similar words to your subject line. Spam filters watch for emails that look like spam, which include subject lines in all caps, words such as “sale,” “free,” or “limited time”. Also, ensure that your email body is conversational and doesn’t include an excessive number of links. Most email software offers a spam test, which will flag text and formatting that, might cause the email to be caught by the user’s spam filter.

Refer to the lists below to ensure you are testing in the most popular email domains and clients. Or, pull your email subscriber list to do your own analysis of the most popular email domains and if they typically open on desktop or mobile.

  Top 10 Email Domains Top 10 Email Clients
1 Yahoo Apple iPhone
2 Gmail Gmail
3 Hotmail Apple iPad
4 AOL Google Android
5 Comcast Outlook
6 MSN Apple Mail
7 SBC Global Outlook.com
8 Verizon Yahoo! Mail
9 RoadRunner Windows Live Mail
10 Optimum AOL Mail




Why Physicians Should Improve Communication With Their Patients

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shutterstock_169864958Why are Americans taking doctors to court so often? According to CBS News, Americans file more than 17,000 medical malpractice lawsuits a year and poor communication is the most common complaint. Many recent studies show that improved communication between the physician and the patient is one way to decrease the likelihood of going to court.

Two Harvard Medical School students performed a study to look at malpractice and how common it is with a large number of physicians, for a number of years. In the study, they found that 75 percent of physicians practicing a low-risk specialty will be sued by the time they are 65 years old. For those practicing high-risk specialties, 99 percent will be sued by age 65; both very high percentages.

The New York Times cited as a study performed in 1994 that looked at physician/patient relationships. This study showed that patients seeing physicians who were sued in the past were significantly more likely to report that their physician rushed them, ignored them or didn’t explain the reasoning for tests. Physicians who were sued most often were complained about by patients twice as often as those who were not.

As a physician, it’s important to communicate with your patient and inform them of what’s going on with their condition or illness. Physicians should speak to patients in layman’s terms because more likely than not they are not going to understand medical jargon that physicians speak on a daily basis.

An increased communication level also creates trust between the physician and the patient. If the patient gets frustrated or upset because of poor communication, the physician should take that into account and apologize. Physician apologies are not easy to come by, and studies show that this simple act lowers the risk of being sued. When a physician recognizes and acknowledges a mistake they made, it allows the patient to see that physicians are real people and they make mistakes as well.

So, what’s the best way physicians can apologize to upset or frustrated patients? Face to face. If poor communication is one of the main reasons physicians are sued by patients, it’s important to improve that communication and the first step is to apologize directly.

Errors are inevitable but when the physician notices and apologizes, it makes the patient feel like a person, rather than just another patient in the building.

Good Internal Communications Leads to Great Campaigns

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shutterstock_127585232Whether you are working on a branding campaign, service line promotion or announcement of a new physician– internal communication is vital to any external communication effort.

Before beginning any campaign plan, first ask all stakeholders the following questions:

-How does this support the brand?
-What do we want to accomplish?
-Who are we talking to?
-Why are we communicating?
-Why does our audience care?
-What do we want the viewer to take away?

Based on our experience with clients in all industries, most marketing departments start planning and developing external communications before they have consensus from all stakeholders on these questions. Lack of consensus on these key questions will likely result in messaging that misses the mark, campaigns that undermine vs. support your brand or excessive revisions to campaign deliverables.

In addition, asking these questions early in the process will bring forward any misconceptions or incorrect interpretations of the organization’s mission, vision, values and brand as a whole. Often times, individual departments want to tout services or initiatives specific to their department without any background around the health system’s long-term goals, mission or other ongoing initiatives. If the department does develop a campaign based on their misconceptions, it will not be approved by leadership or if it is in market without approval, it will undermine the goal of building the brand.

It is easy to blame a ‘rogue department’ for produced materials that don’t meet long-term objectives and branding requirements. However, it may be that the blame lies with the leadership or marketing team for not making internal communication about the brand an organizational priority. The organization’s brand development and goals shouldn’t be a once a year conversation between the CEO and Vice President of Communications – it should be a constant driver of all organizational activities.

All employees who have the power to communicate externally should have access to branding information, messaging, goals and objectives. Tips and tools for internal communication and consistency include:

-Marketing team blog
-Email newsletter
-Private Facebook group
-Discussion forum
-Standardized approval process
-Annual communications calendar
-Yammer, Google or other internal chat
-Graphic standards and communications guide

The HOW to communicate is not as important as the HOW OFTEN. Any internal communication tool should be used consistently and frequently. Don’t wait until there is an ‘uh-oh’ or your agency has missed the mark on a campaign- start today to improve your internal communications.

More Than Just a Name

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shutterstock_165761981If your hospital is going through a merger, acquisition or if your name/logo has become dated, you are probably beginning to think about a new name and/or logo. Before calling your advertising agency, it’s important to get leadership on the same page regarding the name, brand architecture and brand nomenclature.

Brand architecture is the relationship between a parent brand and its sub-brands or other entities, e.g. partnerships, affiliation, join ventures, etc.

Brand nomenclature is the system by which a corporate brand and its sub-brands are named.  

While selecting a new name is important, it’s just as important to create an established brand architecture and nomenclature system to communicate effectively, maintain consistency and streamline decision making. If you spend time on brand architecture and nomenclature before names and logos, your name and logo projects will more efficiently meet your needs.

The most common health brand architecture and nomenclature types are:

-Parent Brand Dominant
-Parent Brand as Endorser

Your health system may use a blend of these types across different levels of branding. There is no right or wrong type of system, but having a system and rules which govern the system are the key to success.

Before establishing guidelines, review and understand your organizations long-term goals. For example, if you want to be regionally or nationally known, fragmenting your brand by having the parent brand be only an endorser might not be the right strategy. After you have reviewed the long-term goals, identify the different levels of your organization (foundation, system, departments, practices, etc.) and explore which levels warrant their own name or logo. Remember that just because it has a name doesn’t mean that it needs its own logo. Develop options for each level of your organization to force critical thinking of multiple scenarios.

After a brand architecture and nomenclature system is established, institute a process for requesting a new logo or name to ensure compliance. Exceptions are bound to happen, but having leadership on the same page will ensure that expectations are few and far between.

Leading a rebrand effort with brand architecture and nomenclature also helps to plan for the costs associated with the rebrand. From signage to uniforms, logo variations have cost implications and knowing if your organization will move forward with a handful of approved logos or countless approved logos will drive rebrand cost scenarios.

Content summary from SHSMD.U online course developed by Jean Hitchcock and Gary T. Naifeh with my added commentary.

Three Must-Do’s During a Merger or Acquisition

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Being involved in a merger or acquisition is something most healthcare marketers will do at least once in their careers (okay, multiple times). It’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus on the immediate requests by their CEO, physicians and the media. Even if you’re already on the treadmill that is a rebranding initiative, take a few minutes to consider the following must-do items to ensure a successful rebrand.Acquisition Sign

Establish a Baseline and Goals

Research should include community members as well as the staff of both health systems. A road map to a final NewCo brand cannot be developed without knowing the starting point. Everyone involved needs to clearly understand the obstacles to overcome and the strengths to leverage as the new brand is developed.

Review the baseline data in detail. Where do you want to see key metrics one month after the brand launch? Three months? A year? Set goals early to ensure all decisions made going forward work toward these goals.

Communicate Frequently

By seeking input and being as transparent as possible with employees and the community, those who have reservations will have an opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed, while champions will be empowered with knowledge to continue to drive the new brand forward. In addition to pushing information out, it’s just as important if not more important to create an avenue for feedback and questions. Some ideas to improve communications include:

  • Merger-focused microsite
  • Town Hall meetings (internal and community)
  • Letters to the editor, ads and other public communication
  • E-newsletter
  • Email address or contact form
  • Diligent monitoring of social media and local news website forums

Plan for the Full Scope 

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in the naming, logo, mission and launch campaign. A successful rebrand involves operations, marketing and clinical teams who must work together to determine success metrics and milestones for the merger across both organizations. Rebranding efforts often get derailed by unexpected costs of integration and brand implementation. Advanced planning not only ensure the rebrand progresses as scheduled, but it also allows for the exploration of a way to reduce costs throughout the implementation process. One of the most important things is to understand the various options and costs of rolling out the new brand.

Get Ahead: 3 Things You Can Do Now to Simplify Your Fourth Quarter Plans

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shutterstock_3011652291. One easy way to increase your fourth quarter income is to market a service to patients who have already met insurance deductibles for the year. You can use the cost savings as an additional enticement to schedule procedures through the end of the year. This tactic is most effective if you get the message out to patients at the end of the third quarter or very early in the fourth.

2. October is breast cancer awareness month and November is prostate health awareness month. It’s time to devise your screening specials and get your ad campaigns designed. With everything else going on day-to-day, sometimes it’s hard to think ahead about these upcoming projects. Starting now gives your team time to blend these additional needs painlessly into your workflow over the next few months.

3. Get your holiday cards designed and printed now. Not only will you have one less thing on your plate for the stressful season leading up to Christmas, you’ll likely save money on postage and design costs if you aren’t rushing to get them out at the last minute.

Why Defining a Buyer Persona is Crucial in Healthcare Marketing

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shutterstock_2536225331. Defining a buyer persona brings your target demo into focus.

When you go through the exercise of defining a buyer persona, you write their story. By doing so, you are uncovering their hopes, concerns, behaviors, activities and needs. When you have a full picture of your target rather than just the basic demographics, you are better able to tailor your message to those consumers and reveal unique opportunities for establishing connections.

2. Inaccurate buyer persona’s can alienate your target audience.  

“As a rheumatoid arthritis patient and as a healthcare marketer, I cringe every time I see the TV commercial for a Humira. If doesn’t connect with me and, even worse, it perpetuates the false myth that people are suffering from RA can take an injection and then run off to build a playground during a rainstorm. Only 20 percent of patients achieve full remission.” Shannon O’Connell, AcrobatAnt Account Executive said. Much of today’s healthcare marketing includes lifestyle images of people running, biking, gardening and playing with kids. While we want to communicate the message that good healthcare will allow patients to get back to their lives and daily activities, healthcare marketers need to ask serious questions about patient outcomes before making that promise.

3. Buyer persona’s will often uncover ways to improve patient experience. 

The process of wiping the slate clean and thinking about things from the patient’s perspective will often uncover valuable wish list items that could make all the difference in getting word-of-mouth referrals or higher ratings in online reviews.

Easy steps for defining a buyer persona:

1. Research to find basic information such as gender, age range, education levels, household income and geographic areas.

2. Survey to discover their activities, priorities, how they source information, social media usage, most important factors, when seeking healthcare and any other lifestyle preferences that could be relevant to your facility.

3. Define their needs and expectations as well as any struggles or issues where they will seek relief.

4. Define how others influence their buying decisions.

5. Survey to discover your practice’s strengths and what makes you stand out from competitors.

6. Use this information to group similar consumers together.

7. Develop an anecdotal story about a fictitious person who represents each type of group.

Communicating with Patients in Healthcare

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shutterstock_212419438As communication leaders in our healthcare systems, it is up to us to educate and lead the staff, as well as the physicians, on the best ways to communicate with patients. “Delivering bad news unsettles everybody, not just the patient,” said Dr. Riess, founder of Empathetics.

Delivering bad news is not easy. It takes patience, empathy and a relationship to be able to deliver bad news to a patient. Here are four tips to pass along to staff that will help in communicating with patients.

1. Develop a relationship with the patient. If you develop a personal relationship with your patient, they will develop trust in you. Having that trust between you and the patient will make delivering bad news much easier. They will confide in you to help them and to give them the best options and/or treatments. This relationship will help your patient be at ease.

2. Don’t use medical jargon. It is important to remember your patients are people, they have emotions and they don’t use the same language as healthcare providers. When delivering bad news to a patient, you must explain their condition in the simplest terms. The patient wants and needs to understand what the bad news really means, but if you’re speaking medical jargon to them, they won’t understand.

3. Show empathy. “You need to attend to the fact that this is really serious news and attend to the emotion,” says James Tulsky, chief of Duke Palliative Care at Duke University. As the healthcare provider, you need to show empathy towards the patient when delivering bad news. If you don’t show empathy or your patient doesn’t see you as being empathetic, this could have an impact on the way the patient perceives you as a provider.

4. Deliver news in a quiet, personal area. The patient should feel comfortable when receiving bad news. The environment should assure that the patient is comfortable enough to ask any questions or voice any concerns they may have.

It is important for all staff members to be aware of the communication process between the providers and patients. Everyone within the health system needs to be on the same page and delivering news to patients in the same way in order to provide the best possible care for each patient.