Q&A with Rick Ramos on the Complexities of Ad Campaigns

Reputation Staff Writer

Rick Ramos

Rick Ramos is the chief marketing officer at HealthJoy, a health benefits startup that raised more than $21 million in funding. He published Content Marketing, an Amazon No. 1 best-seller that received 4.5 out of 5 stars from readers. Find out what he has to say about building and running marketing campaigns. 

You talk about how it’s okay to fail, that it’s part of the process in marketing (and probably everything), but how do you know when to change course or to ask for help? After all, maybe your idea that failed is truly visionary or ahead of its time, and people just aren’t ready for it.

If you’re creating a new marketing campaign, you aren’t always going to get it right the first time. Your goal should be to tweak and improve it until you get it to perform better. The most important thing is to make sure you are tracking the right data, and let that be your guide.

For example, if you are launching new ads on Google, many variables might not be perfect from the start: keywords, negative keywords, location targeting, time of day, device, ad extensions, ad copy, landing page and your offer. Each of those elements might have hundreds of different variables that you can tweak and improve. You can’t expect to nail everything correctly on your first try.

You’ll find the same thing happens with many other forms of performance marketing. Over your career, your batting average will improve as you learn best practices, but you’ll still go through the same cycle.

I’ve worked in ad tech for a large portion of my career and written hundreds of thousands of ad campaigns, and the process never changes: Create, kill your failures, improve the successes and try to perfect your user acquisition model.

Now that most everything is online and so little is in print, it’s easy to make changes to copy, ad campaigns, etc. It’s good because if you make a mistake, you can easily fix it. But even when it’s right, it’s hard to let go, because it’s never truly finished if you can still make changes. How do you strike a balance, call it a day and move on?

You are never done marketing a company. There is always more you can do. It’s all about prioritizing.

I use quarterly OKR (objectives and key results) planning to help decide what’s important. Usually, I start with brainstorming opportunities for improvement and potential new initiatives. I identify critical tasks, figure out what I want to take on and who on my team should tackle other projects. I set deadlines and goals, but I always set aside enough time for the unexpected projects that are so common in marketing. Every quarter, I’m looking to improve at least one aspect of our business.

When you’re planning, rely on data. Use Google Analytics, MixPanel, Optimizely or whatever tool you prefer to figure out the best opportunities for improvement. If you send all your users to a single landing page, do you know if it’s the best page for conversions? Have you tested it against other concepts, headlines, layouts?

If you are reviewing your numbers often, it becomes clear where you should focus. Use the 80/20 rules and do some testing with every part of your funnel. You’ll be way ahead of the competition.

Your book, Content Marketing, was published in 2013. If you could update your book right now, what would you change?

I think a lot of the concepts in the book are applicable today, but I would touch more on nurturing sequences.

You can acquire a lot of visitors with content, but you won’t turn all those people into customers right away, so you need to get them onto your email lists or into sales funnels. This means creating content that pushes them down the funnel. Talk about how your product or service addresses user problems.

You’re the chief marketing officer at HealthJoy, a relatively new company that started only five years ago. Can you tell us what digital marketing strategies you’ve used that have worked best to grow the company? Did you make any noteworthy mistakes along the way and, if so, what did you learn and how did you bounce back?

HealthJoy is a benefits experience platform helping employees make smarter health care decisions with personalized guidance and AI technology.

We started the company and product development to serve ACA users, but after two years, no matter what we did, the user churn was too high. So we ended up pivoting to the group space, selling our product to companies to lower their health care costs.

Since our pivot, growth has been a hockey stick graph, so we know we are on the right path. We’ve proven market fit, and our clients are thrilled with our service. We’re improving the overall satisfaction that employees have with their benefits while saving companies money, so it’s a win-win.

We use a lot of marketing strategies, but I put content marketing at the center of everything we do. The employee benefits space is complex, so the amount of content we can produce is insane. We try to write content for our two primary audiences: HR professionals and benefits consultants. We try to put a unique perspective on it.

We write ebooks and other downloadable assets that provide value in educating our possible customers. I think that as a company, you need to give to your target community and establish trust. We spend advertising dollars on promoting our offerings on social as well as other outlets. We always do it in the most targeted way possible. Our ideal customer is companies with over 250 employees, so targeting this audience is essential to maintaining a low cost of acquisition.

Reputation matters no matter what business you’re in, but healthcare, in particular, is a challenge. Nothing is more important to us that our health, and if someone makes a mistake with it, it can be hard to forgive. How do you protect your reputation when you operate in such a delicate sphere? What do you do when something goes wrong?

We help thousands of employees every month make significant personal decisions about their healthcare. We understand the seriousness of that responsibility and have developed robust processes to deliver the best recommendations possible.

Occasionally, someone might disagree with our advice, and that’s okay. We are transparent on why we make such decisions and make sure members know we always put them first with everything we do. I think being open and “showing your work” goes a long way to maintaining your reputation.

I would say the most important thing to do to manage your reputation is to have a formal social listening strategy. This should encompass monitoring your brand on social media. Quickly address customer feedback and always be honest with them.

For more great actionable advice on managing reputation in the health care industry, download our 2019 Healthcare Reputation Report today.

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