Digital Marketing

On the 5th Day of #HITMCChristmas … Joel Cessna from Eruptr

Note: In case you missed the other 12 Days of #HITMCChristmas, you can start with the first day here along with the story behind #HITMCChristmas or read all 12 days here as they are published.

On the 5th Day of #HITMCChristmas we’re excited to feature, Joel Cessna, VP of Sales at Erputr.

Tell us a little about yourself and Eruptr

Eruptr prides ourselves on providing effective and measurable digital strategy and campaigns. With 98% of our client base being hospitals and health systems, we have a very robust process and campaign experience to draw upon. Our operations team also is made up of former hospital digital marketers, so they understand many of the challenges our clients face on a regular basis.

As far as my background, I have been working with hospital marketers since 2010, focusing on patient acquisition via digital tactics (health risk assessments and search). In my role today I serve as VP of Sales at Eruptr where I work with clients on their digital efforts and help them measure the effectiveness of these campaigns.  I have really enjoyed meeting so many great individuals in this industry both on the client as well as the vendor side. 

What have been the most successful marketing or PR initiatives your clients have done this year and what made them successful?

2020 really has thrown everything out the window, and it was a learning year for everyone. However, a few items really stood out to me. First, seeing so many organizations launch a form of virtual care on their website to ensure patients were being seen in some capacity. With so many patients reluctant to seek care in person due to safety concerns, finding a way for providers to continue to provide care was key. 

The second actually piggybacks on #1, and that is we saw many systems do a brand campaign with a focus of a “Safe In Our Care” concept, promoting that it is safe to come into their facility for care. We all read numerous articles about people not going in for care with serious health concerns that became worse, so it was important for healthcare providers to show the community the steps they took into providing a safe environment.

The third point of learning came from having multiple clients pause their marketing efforts, while many continued to keep their campaigns running. Again, this was a learning experience for everyone so when it came time to pause marketing efforts, mostly due to fear of hospital capacity issues and/or the pause of elective procedures, there was no tried and true method to follow. However after what we have seen, it is highly recommended to at a minimum continue your SEM efforts. Patients are still searching for care at this time so if you are not there when they search, your competition will be. We also did an analysis of those that kept SEM running vs not, and those that continued to run their SEM campaigns noticed a significant increase of volume not only when others paused the campaign, but also when others turned their campaigns back on. If you choose to continue your awareness tactics (such as display and Facebook for example), consider altering your message to ensure it is relevant and that it does not come across insensitive. 

How should healthcare marketers approach search marketing?  What are your top tips for getting the most out of paid and organic search?

The best providers do a mix of both paid and organic. Paid search helps care providers immediately leap frog organic (SEO) results and positions them in the top 3 ad results. For savvy searchers that want to avoid paid ads, you want to make sure you are showing up organically high on the page as well. In addition, using these in conjunction with one another will help your overall campaign performance and relevance. 

When it comes to paid search specifically, one really needs to think about what your main goal is. Are you trying to drive volume? Are you promoting a new facility? Depending on the objective you are after will help determine the keyword approach you take (acquisition vs info seekers). Also never set up a campaign and forget about it. Proper campaign management will have campaigns reviewed on a regular basis by evaluating keyword performance, quality scores, bid adjustments, etc. 

Lastly, one thing often overlooked is the landing page experience. As you are spending budget on search advertising, you want to make it as effective as possible. If you are driving people to a page with no clear call to action, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. I see many landing pages with either barely any content on the page, or in many cases too much content with too many links for people to link off to. Keep the page simple. Make sure you have a phone number, or form fill, or online scheduling platform (as examples) easily seen by the patient. Ensure you have a clean bulleted list of conditions you treat along with treatment options. Bullets are easier for patients to read than multiple paragraphs (these will also help with your quality scores). And it is OK to put a map of your location(s) as well. Think about it from the patient’s perspective: WHO are you, WHAT conditions do you treat, HOW do you treat those conditions, and WHAT step do you want me to take next.

Where do you see opportunities for healthcare marketers when it comes to social media marketing?  What platforms are top of the list for healthcare?

While social media is primarily used as an awareness tactic, there are some campaigns that can drive a high volume of conversions as well. The platform that will drive the most will be Facebook, and we see a lot of results with some service lines such as Bariatric Surgery and Orthopedics. If you have online health risk assessments, Facebook can be a fantastic platform as well to drive prospective patients as well which helps you identify at risk patients in your community while also capturing their contact information. 

What’s the most compelling marketing campaign you’ve ever seen (healthcare or otherwise)?

I will be honest, I am a sucker for testimonials. We worked with Virtua Health in New Jersey on a bariatric campaign that included video patient testimonials and placed them both on Facebook as well as YouTube preroll. These drew a ton of visibility as well as landing page conversions.  Videos can provide not only a brand experience for the patient, but by providing those heart tugging videos showing care and compassion is what many patients seek, especially in times like we are experiencing now. It is really great when you can not only provide these, but also measure them to downstream revenue for your organization.

What advice would you give healthcare marketers as they plan for 2021?

We still obviously have a lot of uncertainty about what lies ahead with the pandemic. Our hope is that the vaccination helps curb this quickly, but I think providers need to plan on it lasting well into 2021. So there are two things that I would recommend to do moving forward:

  1. Work with the partner that places your digital SEM campaigns (Google) to get your organization whitelisted for COVID terms. If you plan on doing any marketing around vaccinations or care, if your landing page or keywords references COVID type keywords, you will want to make sure you are whitelisted in order to do so.
  2. At a minimum, keep your SEM running. Make sure that you are still there for patients when they are searching for care.

What can the HITMC community do to help you and Eruptr?

We really appreciate the HITMC community.  It’s been great to be able to present multiple times, provide thought leadership articles, etc. We appreciate it!  Hopefully, we’ve provided value to the community and we look forward to connecting with more people in the future.

Be sure to follow all of the 12 Days of #HITMCChristmas.

About the author


John Lynn

John Lynn is the Editor and Founder of the nationally renowned blog network The Healthcare Scene network currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 7000 articles. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. Plus, Healthcare Scene recently added Health IT focused career resources and to the network.
John also co-founded two companies: and Plus, John is the Founder of 10 other blogs including the Pure TV Network and Vegas Startups. John’s 25+ blogs have published over 15,000 blog posts, garnered over 30 million views and had over 122,000 comments. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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The Healthcare and IT Marketing Community (HITMC) is an extension of the HITMC conference that is the first of its kind event that brings together marketing and PR professionals from throughout the health care community. We strive to provide amazing marketing and PR related content that helps HealthIT companies and healthcare organizations  stand out amidst all the noise of the industry. If you’re looking to market to hospital executives, doctors, practice managers, patients, or other healthcare professionals, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the HITMC community!