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Use the power of data in digital marketing

March 23, 2016
by Melanie Haber and Ruchi Sanghani
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Over the past decade, one trend has become increasingly pervasive across all industries: digital. From marketing to workforce collaboration, companies have shifted—or are making the shift—toward digital practices. In some cases, this is due to business needs for increased efficiencies, but where marketing is concerned, this shift is largely based on the fact that society has increasingly become digital consumers.

In fact, 81 percent of people search for information online before making a purchasing decision. Unfortunately, when it comes to the addiction treatment industry, digital marketing can be incredibly expensive. “Rehab” is one of the most expensive search terms, and can cost $25 to $50 per click. So, how can facilities effectively leverage resources to make an impactful marketing campaign that will leave a lasting impression? Data.

When used properly, data can enhance the quality of digital marketing campaigns to increase conversions. It can be hugely beneficial in building trust and credibility, inspiring unique content, and informing SEO strategies. For those who may be interested in boosting marketing campaigns by using data, here are three easy tips to get started.

1. Research Before You Research

Before you invest tons of time and money into research, make sure you do a bit of digging first to make your efforts count. Ask yourself, “What data do we already have on hand that we can leverage?” and “What types of information will be most useful to our audience?” From here, you can appropriately develop the scope of your research based on any gaps that exist between the two areas.

Keep in mind that you might have a lot of data that is very easily accessible without realizing it. For example, patient charts are excellent sources of data for things like patient demographics. Create a questionnaire to send to your alumni asking for feedback. If you don’t already do exit interviews, start doing them. Count the number of participants you have during optional and recreational activities, or routinely collect employee satisfaction surveys from your staff. Of course, you need ensure that you’re complying with all clinical and research laws, but you’re positioned to collect meaningful data, and all of your research participants are right at your fingertips.

Once you determine what data you do and don’t have on hand and/or have easy access to, it’s time to figure out what your research goals are and how your current data aligns. Remember, you’re using this data in your marketing efforts, so what is most valuable to your audience? Most consumers want to know what life will be like after treatment. In this case, you may be able to obtain some data by surveying your alumni, but you also may need to conduct additional research to offer a more unbiased, generalized view of life after treatment and resources that can help. Alternatively, many consumers also want to know what other patients have to say about your facility. This is very easy data for you to obtain through alumni and/or patient surveys.

2. Avoid Ethical Pitfalls

This is a two-pronged concept. It’s important to ensure that you’re not only ethically conducting research or obtaining data, but that you’re also ethically leveraging the data in your marketing mix.

When it comes to research methods, there are a few key points you need to know, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll cover the importance of beneficence and autonomy. The addiction treatment industry is in the business of changing lives and providing hope for those who may be experiencing very dark times. It’s incredibly important that, above all, you practice beneficence, or the act of doing good. Simple acts of honesty, kindness, and compassion can be the difference between long-term recovery and a tragic outcome. Those seeking or receiving addiction treatment are likely to be vulnerable to undue influence. False promises, deceit, and coercion all threaten the health and well-being of individuals in treatment or in a research project. It’s paramount that those enrolling in research studies understand that it’s their choice to take part, and that everything they do and say is completely voluntary. Conducting research with the understanding that the individual and his/her needs come first will ultimately best serve you and your work in the long run.

If you’d like additional resources on how to conduct ethical research, consider reading the following from the Department of Health and Human Services: The Ethics of Social Research, Human Subjects Research Guidance, and Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research.

As far as the application of data is concerned, you never want to misrepresent your facility by leading the consumer to believe something that is untrue. Not only is this potentially harmful to someone in need of quality treatment, but it’s never good for business in the long run. Imagine: a consumer reads reviews about your facility on a third party site and the five most recent reviews were all submitted on the same day raving about the level of care given by the counselors. Said consumer chooses to attend your treatment facility due to the quality of care, and upon arrival does not experience this same level of care he/she read about.