"Whether you’re using paid advertising through Google or approaching it from an organic standpoint, available real estate and click through rates are decreasing."
Rebecca Gill is Vice President of Digital Services for emagine, a digital marketing agency in the Boston area. Her agency helps companies of all sizes, from startups to large hospital systems in industries such as healthcare, biotech, pharmaceuticals and medical device manufacturing. In this interview Gill explained the unique challenges her clients face, and the dramatic changes Google has made that have transformed how search marketing is being done.
What’s your role in the company and what does your firm do?
emagine is a 20-year-old, full-service digital marketing agency based outside of Boston. My role at the agency is Vice President of Digital Marketing Services. This basically means my team and I handle all things related to online search and social.
What products and services do you offer?
The agency does everything from branding and messaging to website design and development, support and maintenance. And my team specifically works on organic SEO, paid search ads, display ads, remarketing, and paid social media.
Who do you help?
Most of emagine’s customers are within the healthcare industry. This would include healthcare, pharmaceuticals, medical device manufacturers and biotech companies. This could also be anything from a large hospital system down to a very small biotech that is developing some type of biotechnology.
They’re very diverse in size and the products and services that they’re offering. Sometimes we’re working with large marketing teams and sometimes we’re interacting with a researcher at a small biotech who just needs to get marketing started.
What challenges do your customers typically have?
We’re in healthcare so we work with biotechs and other companies that have emerging products and offerings. One of the biggest challenges we face is helping companies with a fast time to market. Some of our clients struggle with FDA regulations and restrictions which will limit some of the things we can do with them, or what can be said online. And then there’s the fact that we have a variety of teams by size and experience level.
This may be a large hospital system where we’re dealing with multiple parties and stakeholders. Inside that type of organization, our challenge is working with multiple departments who have conflicting goals and objectives. We find ourselves working not just as an advisor, but also one who must keep peace and prevent internal competition.
Moving down to the small biotech, the challenge shifts to having no marketing staff or experience. In this role we must play the role of educator and advisor to the client. This shifts the conversation greatly and my team must quickly adapt to the changing client needs and engagement requirements.
Our customers’ challenges are diverse, although, some of the challenges and difficulties they have tend to overlap from client to client.
Can you share a brief success story?
A recent client was a medical device manufacturer who needed to create a brand-new website that was in addition to their core corporate website. They wanted to target a very specific set of patients and physicians within a set geographical area. The key challenge was related to timing. We had a very small window to execute this project and our timeline was extremely compressed.
Our team literally had to design and build a website from scratch, as well as, implement healthcare structured data for organic SEO purposes. Then we had to roll out a pay per click campaign through Google ads and social media to support the need for quick website traffic. This was all done within a couple of months, which is far below the standard time for website design and development.
The initial results they received were very good, and they’ve expanded that initial 90-day trial throughout the next year or so. It shows that all things are possible when you’re focused and working together with the same end goal and mind – to achieve excellence.
What are your thoughts on upcoming marketing trends for 2020?
For organic SEO the trend is going to continue with the things we’re seeing right now in 2019, which really started at the end of 2018. Google’s been shifting this last year or so to a strong focus on structure data and schema markup. It’s using its Knowledge Graph and artificial intelligence to make the search engine results page rich and very informative.
The negative of that, is that it’s reducing the real estate marketers have for placement within organic SEO or even paid advertising. As a result, it’s greatly impacting and influencing the amount of click through rates to actual websites. That is, without question, a challenge that everybody’s facing. Whether you’re using paid advertising through Google or approaching it from an organic standpoint, available real estate and click through rates are decreasing. And this is an issue that is not going away.
This is going to continue to grow as a problem for marketers. And it means we must be smarter at what we do. We must take a more holistic approach to organic SEO and pay per click, because there’s going to be times where we’ll have to use one over the other.
Since we do both pay per click and organic at emagine we can pick and choose what we’re targeting and with different channels. We’re big fans of structured data and schema, and that’s not just the structured data Google’s pushing to you. We encourage our healthcare clients and everybody within that space to adapt and implement the healthcare specific structured data from Schema.org.
We do everything we can to help Google understand who we are so their Knowledge Graph can pick up as much information as possible and present it to searchers. That’s something we started pushing in 2018, are now pushing in 2019 and will keep in 2020 for sure.