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VHC Physician Group

In convincing people to have surgery, the right words are crucial.

Strategy / Search Engine Marketing

the obstacle

Obesity in the United States is a major health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data in 2016, more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults were obese.

There are surgical options available that can help people to lose significant weight and live a longer and healthier life. However, only about 0.2% of all those that are eligible take advantage of these surgical options every year.

The Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) Physician Group was holding weekly, in-person weight loss surgery seminars with the actual doctors that perform the procedures to meet with and educate prospective patients. The registration rate was low, however, and of those who registered, only a handful actually attended.

the opportunity

The VHC Physician Group had already established that seminar attendance resulted in a high rate of surgical follow through by attendees. It just needed to increase registrations for and, more importantly, attendees to its seminars.

In considering how to achieve this goal, we first needed to understand and empathize with prospective patients. Knowing that a surgical option is both a daunting consideration but also a major financial decision significantly informed our strategy.

We then outlined the patient journey from consideration through to the actual procedure to help inform our communications approach, the content, and the content structure that we needed to present.

VHC Physician Group Search Engine Advertising Example

Example search engine ad that achieved a significant click-through rate during the campaign.

After doing some market research on the best way to reach this audience, we recommended that the client take advantage of search engine marketing to reach people looking for information about the specific surgeries. We established multiple campaigns organized by surgery and targeting keywords that indicated intent or interest. Then, using carefully crafted search ad language, we enticed them to click into a microsite we designed and developed based on our patient journey analysis. Each campaign ad directed the prospect to a relevant landing page that aligned to the keyword which they searched.

VHC Physician Group Search Engine Marketing Microsite

An example page from the Weight Loss Surgery microsite to which some of the ads linked.

We designed the microsite to effectively educate prospective patients about the available surgical options, create an overall experience to establish and build their confidence in the VHC Physician Group, reduce their anxiety and stress about the process, and ultimately funnel them to register for the seminar.

The campaign was a huge success. Through iterative testing and optimization of the search ads, as well as the content and seminar registration calls-to-action, the overall campaign achieved an increase in seminar registrations of more than 10 times that of the comparable period prior to the campaign. Additionally, the campaign generated approximately three times the surgeries projected based on the advertising budget and the baseline analysis prior to the campaign.

the optimism

The internet has revolutionized and democratized access to medical information. Prospective patients are increasingly turning to the internet first to learn about healthcare options and procedures.

By approaching this problem through the eyes of a prospective patient, instead of those of a doctor, we recognized the opportunity of reaching them when and where they were most likely to take action—online. By designing a microsite to address their concerns, fears, and questions about surgical weight loss, Virginia Hospital Center was able to act as an expert guide to the process. It helped build patient trust and functioned as a pre-qualifying tool for the in-person seminars.