Digital Strategies Grow Patient Volumes

Digital Strategies Grow Patient Volumes


A nation-wide medical group providing physician-led, office-based treatment for individuals suffering from opioid and alcohol use disorders, was investing in its network of centers and needed a creative digital strategy to reach potential patients.

Standards set by Google, Microsoft and Facebook limit recovery-oriented drug and alcohol services from advertising on their platforms unless advertisers obtain certification from LegitScript, a for-profit third-party company. The seemingly well-intended restrictions were developed to protect consumers from fraudulent ads and illegitimate operators; unfortunately, the restrictions also impact legitimate providers of medication-assisted treatment – a therapeutic approach considered the “gold standard” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for treating the disease of addiction.

Worse, investigations have revealed the costly certification is not always effective against spammers or bogus listings, pushes legitimate providers lower in search results and has the potential to impede vulnerable patients from accessing information about care options.

Strategy and Tactics

Given the social media landscape – and the client’s target demographic – we deployed a creative paid strategy on Twitter and Snapchat, both of which allow ads by addiction treatment providers. Because drug and alcohol misuse tends to be more prevalent with younger adults, we focused much of our efforts on Snapchat, which primarily reaches adults 18 to 24 years old.

To track visits and effectiveness of the spend, we implemented geofencing ads targeting areas near the client’s treatment centers or in local high-risk areas in each market. The geofencing technology provided data that allowed us to draw a correlation between potential patients who were served an ad and their visits to the immediate vicinity of a center. With this data we could fine-tune our advertising placement and frequency.

Execution and Results

We ran geofencing ads surrounding 40 centers, focused heavily on newer locations. Over a 10-month period geofencing allowed us to correlate more than 15,000 clicks and 1.7 million impressions with more than 350 center visits at a cost of $500-600 per location.

We also ran a Twitter and Snapchat campaign in 10 states to increase brand awareness of the company and its services. The Twitter ads generated more than 3,500 clicks to the website from a spend of $1,500. The Snapchat ads resulted in more than 1.1 million impressions and nearly 7,000 swipe-ups for just over $2,000.

Using both macro and micro tactics, the campaign reached more than 2.8 million people and generated nearly 20,000 clicks over a 12-month period with a total ad budget of less than $27,000.

Ultimately, our efforts with Karmanos brought their brand to an audience of more than 112 million in our first year.