Benefits of Digital Marketing in Healthcare
Episode 398

John McAlpin, SEO Director at Cardinal Digital Marketing

Benefits of Digital Marketing in Healthcare

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Benefits of Digital Marketing in Healthcare

Episode 398

Recommended Book: 

Chop Wood Carry Water

Best Way to Contact John:

Twitter

Mentioned Link:

Cardinal Digital Marketing

 

Benefits of Digital Marketing in Healthcare with John McAlpin, SEO Director at Cardinal Digital Marketing transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Benefits of Digital Marketing in Healthcare with John McAlpin, SEO Director at Cardinal Digital Marketing was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast, where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes, and business success, with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast. Today, I have the privilege of hosting John McAlpin. He's the SEO Director at Cardinal Digital Marketing. He is the lead on SEO Strategy for Cardinal Digital Marketing. They're a digital marketing agency based in Atlanta, Georgia. Cardinal specializes in serving healthcare organizations like yours across the United States to expand patient base and ignite business growth. Currently located in Dallas, John is deeply engaged in both the local and national SEO community, and he's got a strong background in technical SEL, Web development, and digital marketing strategy. He's been featured as an expert in leading industry publications including Search Engine Journal and the work that he's done is really leading to better, improved outcomes through getting the right people in your door. So with that, John, I want to open up the mic to you to fill in the gaps on any of the introduction and tell us a little bit more about yourself. Welcome, please.

John McAlpin:
Thanks for having me Saul. Yeah, happy to be here. And so I really just loved working in this healthcare space. I've been working on it quite a few years. I really did get into healthcare for a very specific purpose. Like my dad was an EMT for a long time. My wife is a nurse. And so healthcare's… I was just always been surrounded by it. And so when I got… I went to school for an FID digital marketing, but knowing that I wanted to get into little more of the healthcare space. So I did in-house SEO for quite a while for a company called Epic Health Services.

Saul Marquez:
Oh, yeah.

John McAlpin:
And it's a national pediatric in-home healthcare space. And so, you know, it's nurses in the homes with kids, a special needs. And so it was a fairly unique in that space, which was a lot of fun.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. So really, it's in the family and you just kind of gravitated to it yourself. That's exciting. And so you've been at the SEO market within healthcare for how long?

John McAlpin:
About, I would say six years or so now. But beyond that, I've actually been doing web development for way longer before I could drive out like eleven or so. So, like, I'm at home doing what I saw my dad just building a website because when… he after he was an EMT, started doing I.T. for the city of Austin and built our whole internet system was on the website. I'm like, "wait…

Saul Marquez:
Amazing.

John McAlpin:
You can do that?" because I have just learned this stuff. You just go, here's a book. Here's what I could find out. So you to point me in the right direction. So I started to hack into away building just like before MySpace when everyone learned about a particular email. I started doing web development really early on. And he's kind of always had that in my back pocket. And so when I my first job out of college, getting into digital marketing and like,"Oh my God, it's like such a useful skill, I can actually finally use this for something." And naturally, as you had bring, I kind of blended into that.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. I mean that's so it's so interesting. And it's cool that you have that fire to do this kind of stuff ever since you were a kid. And fast forward to now you're doing it in a big way for a lot of big name companies, but also smaller entrepreneurial companies. We've got a lot of business leaders running companies, running health systems, listening to the podcast right now. For the folks listening, what would you say is something that needs to be on their agenda as it relates to digital marketing and SEO and helping them get some wins?

John McAlpin:
Yeah. So, you know, it's the biggest thing here is people say, you know, I know the digital marketing important. Some are really lean towards paid as something organic, just the end all be all. And the real truth is it depends on your customers or your patients in this case and how they find you. It's really understanding what it is they take, in some cases pavement. It might be the way to go or might be the only way to go. So it's really getting into those shoes. I highly recommend this exercise for business leaders is to go talk to your intake team or your customer service or whoever is talking to your patients and learn their language, learn how they're finding you. And the steps that go through become patients. And you may think, you know, that you might not know the intricacies of it. And when you really get to learn those steps, you can have a better idea of what the appropriate channels are for you due to your approach. That's how we do it at Cardinal is try to… before we even recommend which services. We're not trying to sell all our services. We try to sell what works and we think will work based on your business model. And so when you're looking at the you know, we're developing, we actually could even like what we would do with a lot of our clients actually as well. Sometimes it's not a phone conversation or a screen share. Walk through what you sometimes fly out a day in the life of the patient shoes and to understand what they're going through. So we know what they're looking for when they're searching, whether in that discovery phase at top photo acquisition.

Saul Marquez:
Well, it look, this type of white glove services is awesome. And I know that healthcare can be pretty, pretty complicated. So your suggestion of walking down to the intake area and hearing what language is being used is a very interesting tip, so one that definitely should we should all take into consideration whether you be the hospital system or even a customer service team within a company. What language is being used by your customer service team, that matters.

John McAlpin:
Yeah. And so if you don't mind, I actually have a very specific example to help. So…

Saul Marquez:
In SEO?

John McAlpin:
Yeah. And SEO, when I was working in-house doing the pediatric home health, we were wondering why we weren't just growing. And so we had a lot of referrals. But our actual organic new patient who just started through organic search was not growing. I was pretty stagnant. And so we took a look at our site and we realized we use the same terminology for this. It was private do skilled nursing, which is kind of a 50 dollar word, right? It's like how many people… the layman probably doesn't know. That's very much an industry term. And we're thinking about what we're industry leaders. We want to use those terms. That's not really what searchable in the case of our users. And so when I talk to our intake team and like I do, they are they actually saying these words are like, no, they just call this home health nursing. And so when we did some research into that. That's when the door is open, wide open and we started experiencing some serious growth. That's a really small scale example, but really actionable one.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. You know, and oftentimes we're not wired to think that way. Right. I mean, we're wired to solve problems in healthcare and not necessarily wired to put things in a way that are going to get us the optimal results to get patients in the door, to get customers in the door. And, John, this is such a great example. Do you have any other examples of how you've been able to improve outcomes or increased profitability by doing things differently?

John McAlpin:
Yeah, for sure. I mean, a lot of times what we like to do, especially with our healthcare clients, is people think, "Okay, well, let's just list the conditions that we're trying to treat at this healthcare facility, whether that be, you know, just an urgent care clinic or behavioral health or anything along those lines, it's always like list of things that we can do." We'll dive into detail about that, provide information, because if you can be… have some useful treatment ideas, use a some at home treatment things. If it's a simple something like, for example, if you have seasonal allergies, things that are common treatments so that they may say, "Okay, well, this is a really helpful website. I really liked going here and getting that information" when they actually need real help, though. Have you had a tougher recall? But additionally, to actually help with organic growth in terms of ranking for keywords and becoming an authoritative figure to really try to provide helpful information that we like to do. And then we've noticed that actually through a heat map tracking and tracking the user flow that users more oftentimes will go through out the other side, learn more information and eventually become patients that way as well.

Saul Marquez:
That's awesome. Yeah. So you don't necessarily think about the workflow and in how somebody goes from researching a condition to your lobby. So you know, and it doesn't always work out. So I'd love to hear from you, John. Maybe a time when you guys made a mistake or had a setback and what you learned from that.

John McAlpin:
All right. That's a really good question. So I'm real focused on the technical SEO, right?

Saul Marquez:
Yes.

John McAlpin:
So I love trying all the new trends of things that I hear in my really early SEO years. I was working at an agency and everyone's like "look, it's all about size speed. Google is all about size speed and we're going eventually …they did launch some new algorithm updates about, you know, mobile speed and things like that. But it's one of the things you can do is compress your JavaScript and CSS files, which for layman terms you just, you know, make it smaller somehow. But I will get into the details of how it actually works. But so it's two ways you can do it. You can go through a developer and manually compress that, which is basically putting everything on a single line, which is really tedious.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Very manual. Very tedious.

John McAlpin:
Yeah. Yeah. Or you can if you have a WordPress site, you can just get a plug in and you have to be really careful about plugging so you can be very useful and powerful and they can also break your site. I tried it on a few clients and saw some pretty immediate growth. It was a long term growth. It was a quick boost. But you know, a quick boost is so helpful.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah.

John McAlpin:
And so I'm like, "yeah, I'm going to do this for everyone because everyone deserves the exact same strategy" which obviously is not true. And so I actually did it on a site that was built pretty poorly and I thought, "hey this site's built poorly. This has to help. Right?" And I immediately started ranking, started dipping. And in my mistake wasn't just that I tried it on a site without like thinking clearly, but like it was I didn't go back and check the functionality of the site look like. Because once I went back and said, why are these rankings dropping, I quickly realized it. "Oh, man, I think was a sliders. And the core functionality of the home page was just broken. So isn't displaying anything." And so you can easily point fingers and say, I was a bad development, but really, I should have checked out the functionality immediately and I let it ride maybe about a week, which in the long run didn't really hurt the business. But it could have.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah.

John McAlpin:
Especially if I didn't check sooner, and I should have checked immediately. But lesson learned. Something that you can take to heart that well, that's a really small thing that really applies to our lives when you really do think clearly about the changes you're going to make, the impact, and make sure you test it.

Saul Marquez:
Such a great call out John. Test everything folks because it's happened to me, too. You know, I had my my web developer try to put a new play bar at the top. And what ended up happening was it affected the way that my show notes was coming out. So the dependencies, you never know all of them. And so take John's message here, folks, and check, check, double check or have your teams doing it. Check, check, double check. Because it definitely makes a difference. So what what what are your proudest experiences in digital marketing be in healthcare John?

John McAlpin:
One of my favorite was when I was working in house because I wasn't just as SEO at the time, I was doing everything from paid to social, managing the content and of course, SEO. And when you have that level of control over one thing, you're able to just really not ever I mean to theoretically you're able to knock at the park, right, because you're able to control everything. And the messaging is consistent. And we were just experiencing tremendous growth and ended up being able to sell to a new buyer. We… was very successful campaign. And I just really enjoyed seeing how synergy can play. I think that was really important for my early foundation to… understanding the importance of channels working together. And so that's something that I really love about Cardinal, is that we have true account managers. It's not like some agency where you're just working with an SEO person, you're working with a separate person who just four paid. At Cardinal, we all work together as a team. You have an account director who's actually helping you manage the full strategy. And so what we've experienced in all channels and those are value. And then you also work with each individual manager specialists and so that you get that full range and everyone has a cohesive strategy. And that really makes a big difference.

Saul Marquez:
Sounds I get definitely get that expertise across the board and then the specialist with each channel. And so you guys have a lot of projects. And I know we had a chance to connect before our interview, John. And pretty exciting stuff that you guys are working on. If you had to highlight one of the things that you're most excited about today, what is it?

John McAlpin:
Yeah. So one of my present you were doing at Cardinal is, well, we're really big on SCS. That's how we were founded and our patents really strong. If I get a lot of hits from the insights that we're getting and providing to our clients. So we are really focusing a lot on providing actionable insights. That's a key difference there. When you work with an agency, typically you'll get a monthly report that says something like, "here's your traffic. Here are the keywords you're asking for. Here's how much money you spend if it's paid ad. And here are your conversions and conversion actions they were." At Cardinal, what's really exciting is we have a V.P. of strategy. His name's Rich and he works with our clients to track all of our performance all the way through to end conversion. And we work to integrate with your CRM. If you don't have one, we can help set you up with the right type of CRM to help manage your lead flow and see what is actually working and really analyze your top, mid and bottom funnel. And so that helps make sure that we're doing the right strategy and make careful adjustments that we need. We're also providing in-depth 24/7 accessible data studio dashboards for our clients. So if they need a little bit of information, they don't have to email us and wait for us to respond, which we typically respond pretty quickly. But sometimes you need that quick data, right. And you may not want to go from all your different platforms to get it. And then every month, of course, we would do a walkthroughs. But, you know, we try to go that extra mile to make sure that we provide our clients with the most actionable information.

Saul Marquez:
Well, I think that's that's a that's a great way to do it. An excellent philosophy that will ensure results. So you guys have had a lot of success. I mean, you work with large companies, like I mentioned before, folks John was very, very modest in his intro, but they work with companies like Hilton Hotels and Resorts, MedAssets, various different hospitals across the US, Care Spot, Express Healthcare, just to name a couple right. So these folks are doing some real work for some some great organizations. In this part of the podcast, it's a lightning round. Everybody knows how it rolls here. So I've got a couple of questions for you, John. Lightning round style, followed by a book that you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

John McAlpin:
Let's do it.

Saul Marquez:
All right. What's the best way to improve healthcare SEO?

John McAlpin:
So everyone's doing basically, it's a similar strategy. So how to stand out, try to personalize the experience for each patient from top of the funnel to the bottom to in-house patient experience. Follow that. Make sure that marketing is consistent all the way through.

Saul Marquez:
What would you say the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid here is?

John McAlpin:
Stop following the exact steps your competitors doing. Just because it works for them doesn't mean it'll work for you. Oftentimes competitors can play some black hat SEO tactics and it will eventually get punished for that.

Saul Marquez:
That's good. How do you stay relevant despite constant change?

John McAlpin:
Cardinal's extremely data driven. While we're making our decisions based on experience, most of the time we let data be the end all be all decision making factor. And so when we're trying to think about trendsetting and staying ahead of the curve in making sure that we're truly innovating, we make sure that the data is that is there supported it. We don't like to waste our client's time and money with silly trends that are not going to pay off.

Saul Marquez:
What's one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?

John McAlpin:
It's conversion and I'll be all that. We want to make sure that we're driving money. What are the factors that lead to better conversion rate?

Saul Marquez:
Love it. And these two questions coming up here are more on a personal note for the listeners to get to know you, John. What's your number one health habit?

John McAlpin:
Health habit? Oh, man. Honestly, I really love basketball.

Saul Marquez:
Nice.

John McAlpin:
I think I take the Richard Branson approach when you're going to exercise, make sure you're having fun doing it, play a game or something. And so that's my favorite.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Love it, man. And what is your number one success habit?

John McAlpin:
I have pured out… I have scheduled times throughout the day where I get on Twitter. And it's not like a social media addiction. It's I'm learning. I really follow only a specific set of it's basically work, only Twitter. I follow an SEO pros. And so we have a really tight knit community in the SEO group and we are always sharing new insights, having conversations, asking questions and learning. And so every day I'm learning something new just by going on there and having conversations with my peers. Sometimes as people I meet up with my peers sometimes it's other SEO's I know from across the country that I may see maybe once a year. But we're making these connections and sometimes this fellow writers that I've written adjacent to. But really, it's having that routine where I'm constantly learning something new every day.

Saul Marquez:
I love that man. And what a unique approach, right, to… these Twitter as part of your staying current and up to date method. There's no more up to date method than Twitter, right?

John McAlpin:
Yeah, especially for us SEO.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. That's cool. What book would you recommend to the listeners?

John McAlpin:
Can I recommend two?

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that's fine.

John McAlpin:
I have a business one and then a personal escapism one.

Saul Marquez:
All right. Fair enough.

John McAlpin:
So a former CEO of mine, I was just in need of a book, my eyes just need some… to read some different about a book ideas. And he recommended this one I really loved. It was Chop Wood, Carry Water. It was really cool. It talks a lot about, you know, life lessons like the process is more important than the goal and developing that growth mindset. It's really great. It's a short one, too.

Saul Marquez:
That's an interesting title.

John McAlpin:
Yeah. Yeah. It's about a young American guy who really wants to become a samurai. He goes and does a whole samurai immersive school and it's about, you know, building character and things like that basically.

Saul Marquez:
Chop Wood, Carry Water. Love it.

John McAlpin:
And then for escapism, I recommend Watchmen, highly innovative, one of The New York Times best selling books.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. Love it. Some great recommendations there, John. And folks, if you want additional details on our interview with John McAlpin today from Cardinal SEO, you want to go to outcomesrocket.health and in the search bar type in cardinal and you'll find the best way to get a hold of them. There, all the show notes as well as a full transcript. This has been a really fun episode. Just diving into some high level tips. But obviously, if you want more details, John's gonna give you a best way to get a hold of them here. But before we do that, John, leave us with the closing thought.

John McAlpin:
Sure. If your goal is to foster growth in your organization here, a few quick tips, especially for people who are just dipping their toes into the digital marketing realm. When you're defining your goals, make sure it's clear but achievable. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by promising the moon. But yet be ambitious. Be realistic. It's going to save you a lot of backtracking in the future. Also, find out, as I mentioned before, or how your patients are behaving, where they're finding your services in your field and really the full cycle, not just demographic but psychographic realm of your patients. And then most importantly, surround yourself with people who have more experience than you in each facet of your strategy.

Saul Marquez:
Some great takeaway points, they're John. And so with that, where can the listeners ask more questions and get in touch with you?

John McAlpin:
Sure. If you're just looking to read something quick, check out any of my articles at search engine journal. Just go to search engine journal and search John McAlpin. They have a lot of great other great authors there. They're all amazing. If you want to ask me a question directly, it's a quick question. You can find me on Twitter @seocounselling. And if you want to learn a bit more about agencies and how they can help. If you're not certain if Hiring in-house is the way to go, and you're looking for see how the agency can help. Check out cardinaldigitalmarketing.com

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding, John. And so, folks, a lot of different ways to get in touch. We'll leave John's Twitter handle as well as the place where he contributes as a writer. The show notes, just go to outcomesrocket.health type and cardinal in the search bar, that will pop up or check out cardinaldigitalmarketing.com for more info. And John, just want to leave you with a big thanks for making time for us and also for sharing some things that will really help our listeners take their business and their patients outcomes to the next level. Really appreciate John.

John McAlpin:
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resources, inspiration, and so much more.

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