Shawn McKee is the head of marketing at WebPT, where his responsibilities include positioning WebPT as an innovator and thought leader in the healthcare technology industry as well as driving company growth through demand generation, member marketing and advocacy initiatives.
Shawn joins host Renee to share his Top 3 Critical Pillars to Drive Demand for Your Product, including creating awareness with top of funnel content, building trust to drive engagement, and knowing your numbers to track metrics.
“I think it’s about building your story and the narrative at the top of the funnel that focuses on the needs of your prospects,” Shawn said. “It’s about what they want, what they need and how you’re solving those problems for them.”
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Recorded intro: From Yeager Marketing, this is the Top 3 for Tech Marketers podcast, where we discuss trends, challenges, successes, and plans with today’s most innovative technology marketers. Here is your host: Renee Yeager
Renee Yeager: Welcome to the Top 3 for Tech Marketers podcast. I’m excited to have Shawn McKee joining me today. Shawn is the head of marketing at WebPT. WebPT is an electronic medical records platform for physical therapy clinics. Shawn is a data-driven marketer and team leader, focusing on funnel optimization, ROI improvement, and revenue growth.
Shawn McKee: Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me, Renee.
Renee: Sure. Before we get started, if this is the first time that you’re listening to the podcast, on each episode we talk with today’s most innovative technology marketers about a specific topic and narrow it down to three focus areas that they feel are most interesting or really important. Today we’re talking with Shawn about his top three critical pillars to drive demand for your product. As this is top of mind for all marketers, I know we’re going to have a great discussion. If you’re ready Shawn, let’s get started.
Shawn: Yeah. Let’s do it.
Renee: Okay. My first question is around your number one pillar, which is focusing on creating awareness with top of the funnel content. Can you talk to me a little bit about how you approach that and what WebPT’s doing, or what you’ve done in the past that you’ve found most effective?
Shawn: Yeah. I think this is where you get first introduced to your prospects and to your potential market. I see a lot of mistakes in this one, in that a lot of companies tend to come out of the box just wanting to talk about themselves and talk about their products, and it always reminds of … There’s a Venn diagram cartoon of things you want to say and things your prospects want to hear, and if you don’t bridge those two your prospect falls asleep. It probably is better if I show it then talk about it, so that’s probably not a good tool there.
I think it’s about building your story and the narrative at the top of the funnel that focuses on the needs of your prospects, what they want, what do they need, and really thinking about how you’re solving those problems for them. At WebPT, we focus pretty heavily on education. For our customers, prospects, they care … Healthcare is a unique animal and it’s … In addition to all the standard business stuff, there’s tons of regulations, from the payer’s side … By payer, I mean insurance payer and government payer: so medicare, medicate. You have all these regulations and rules. It’s not so much direct-to-consumer for our prospects. They’re really dealing with all these different payers and trying to provide the best possible care to their patients.
For them, they’re struggling with things like compliance and regulation. We focus a lot on how do we help them with that. There’s a lot of things obviously they can do on their own to ensure that, as far as keeping detailed records and following the right processes, but that will also ultimately lead back to having the right software and right technology to do that. Getting paid for what they’ve earned. The numbers vary on what the actual statistics are, but insurance companies tend to underpay on certain things because they have so many different complex contracts in place. It’s really challenging for any one biller to say, “Okay. Well, Blue Cross Blue Shield was supposed to pay me this in this specific healthcare program,” or “Etna was supposed to pay me that.” They have to go through all these different contracts and look at that.
Declining reimbursements and underpayments are something that affect all healthcare providers, and so focusing on those pinpoints and things they’re trying to solve for is really a lot of what we do here. Just trying to educate on the tips and strategies to do that, and bringing in outside expertise, leveraging our internal expertise. Just making sure that we’re providing value with that top-of-funnel content, to make them successful at their business, and allow them to focus on patient care instead of paperwork.
Renee: Yeah. I was gonna ask you about that, because things change a lot in healthcare too, don’t they? It’s almost like if you’re providing educational content, being a resource where they know they can come back to you for updates and information could be really valuable.
Shawn: Yeah. That’s exactly right. They just released a final rule on one of the many healthcare [inaudible 00:05:50] that just came out and it’s 1400 pages. They released it. This is very important. It’s 1400 pages. If you’re a normal human, you can’t read it, right? That’s the type of thing where … Healthcare changes a lot.
What we would do, what we did in that case was we pulled it down. We sat with it. We had someone go over it, pull out the high points and condense that into a fairly lengthy blog post, but a fairly lengthy blog post is a lot easier for them to consume than a 1400 page, legally [inaudible 00:06:40]. Those are the type of things that … Giving our audience that insight and the what’s coming next. They look to us a lot for that. That’s a tremendously important thing if you’re really trying to build your brand and really show value, and build that trust prior to having them come on board.
Renee: Yeah. Yeah, I can se that. For your customers, what’s there journey look like? Are they typically using another platform and they move to you? Are they not electronic yet? Do you have a mix of that? What’s that look like?
Shawn: Yeah. It’s been an interesting few years. I’ve actually been working in healthcare tech for about the past seven years, so I’ve really watched a lot of change happen. In the early days, everyone was coming off of paper. EMRs were really not that great, but they knew they had to get on them. A lot of people made that shift already. The numbers are probably around 25-or-so percent of our market, the therapy market, are still on paper. Some of those people will still convert, but a lot of them are either later in their career and it’s not worth it … I met a guy at a conference that told me that he was going to die with paper. He was like, “I’m not switching. [crosstalk 00:08:26] EMRs.” There are people like that. The number of people coming off paper, or the number of clinics coming off paper is pretty limited.
Now, what we’re seeing is a lot of fallout and a lot of consolidation, as far as providers go. There been a couple of EMR providers go out of business over the past year. It’s transitioning people off of those systems and the systems that just aren’t very good. We’re really shifting, now, into that rip-and-replace phase of this market, right? There’s a lot fewer people coming off paper and a lot more people saying, “You know what? This EMR, this billing software, this doesn’t provide what I need for my business.” Now they’re starting to look. A lot of creating demand is starting to plant those seeds with those people, saying, “Are you able to do this type of thing? Are you able to find these type of numbers, and if you can’t, then you’re probably not using the right technology.”
Renee: Yeah. Well yours is really targeted to physical therapy clinics, too. Right? Has that been part of your product strategy, homing in on what these clinics need and where other EMR systems might have even been too broad or not focused enough to cover their specific requirements?
Shawn: Yeah. That’s exactly right. A lot of EMR companies went broad and then tried to retrofit for therapy and rehab therapy. That includes occupational and speech therapy. We really started in physical therapy, but have branched out a little bit. Yeah, that’s … Having been in the EMR market for a while, you do see things that work really great for certain specialties that just don’t transfer over, because it’s so complex.
For us, it’s always been, how do we stay on the forefront? How do we stay on the cutting edge? We just released an integrated product this year: an outcomes tracking product. Being the first to market with that type of product … The focus has enabled us to really lead the charge on a lot of what needs to be in the market and what therapists need to provide the best care possible.
Renee: Yeah. That’s great. Do you see a lot of companies in your space doing that level of specialization, or pivoting their businesses a little bit to be more specialized?
Shawn: Yeah. That’s an interesting question. We do see companies that have started that focus, but then tend to try to branch out quickly. The therapy market isn’t a huge market. We’re talking 30 … 35,000 clinics. I think a lot of people … With us being the market leader and having grabbed a lot of that market-share and continuing to get more, I think that a lot of other companies and some of our competitors are saying, “Well, who else can we add. Can we add chiropractors.” We have one competitor saying, “Oh, well we’re gonna go into other verticals like anesthesiology,” and things like that.
For us, it’s about staying focused. Not to say we’ll never go in any other verticals, but there’s just still a lot of work to be done here and to continue to get more of the market here.
Renee: Yeah. No, that makes sense. The second pillar that you mentioned is building trust and engagement with your audiences. I’m thinking here we’re talking about content consumption, but tell me if I’m wrong. I know we did talk a little bit about content. Talk to me more about how you build trust and engagement with your content.
Shawn: Yeah. These things are not mutually exclusive, right? When I think about building trust, for me, it’s a few things: one is you got to keep your promises. Right? That comes down to … We live in such a clickbait world where you see an ad and it’s like … I’m going to use one that I’ve seen recently: “Aaron Rodgers banned from the league. Find out why.” I’m a Packers fan, so I jump on that quickly. I’m freaked out. I’m like, “Oh no. What is this latest news here.” Then you get on it and it’s an advert… Buy a supplement and [inaudible 00:13:57] in 30 days. That’s not keeping your promise. That’s not building trust. I don’t know what the product was or who … what the company was, but that’s … I won’t buy from them.
It’s really, if you promise something in an email, the landing page needs to … You’re driving [inaudible 00:14:17] that needs to deliver on that. To download the white paper, that white paper needs to deliver that. It’s really about the quality of the content and making sure that you’re delivering on those promises, and then mapping all that content across the funnel, so you’re delivering it at the right time and every piece is driving to the next step, continuing that person deeper down the path into your content web and your sales funnel there.
Renee: That was going to be my next question. We do a lot of that with out clients, where we map that content out through the journey and take them on a path, based on interest, or go deeper. I was going to ask you if that was your strategy: if you’re doing deeper levels of content as they get closer to conversion, or if you were doing something different.
Shawn: Yeah. I think that’s the other level of building that trust. As you’re going deeper and they’re getting closer to making more decisions and saying, “You know what? I actually realize this is my problem and what I need is this type of solution. Now I’m gonna look at you and these two other vendors,” it’s starting to build that deeper funnel content that’s … The case studies, the video testimonials, and some of that stuff that shows the success you’ve delivered for other companies, because I think that’s …
You start to get down there and it’s really just, “I want to know that I’m on the right path.” You’re looking for those cues where, “I recognize this.” If you’re ever lost and you’re driving and you think, “Oh, I think I’ve gone too far. I think I had a … I don’t know if I’m in the right place,” and all of a sudden, “Oh no, I recognize that. Okay.” It’s that sort of reassuring them throughout the journey, that they’re going down the right path and then continuing that, even post-sale with the content you’re delivering after that.
Renee: Yeah. That whole … And even that advocacy level, right? How do you get those customers to say great things about your and share their successes, and keep them engaged? Right?
Shawn: Yeah. We actually just launched our program this year and it’s still pretty early. It’s been in this sort of limited release with some of our top promoters right now, but yeah, how do you source this material? How do you get in front of those people? It’s been pretty helpful to start engaging people.
One of the cool things we do is we do a weekly NPS score, and if someone is marked as a promoter, then we’ll have a followup email with them if they’re interested in doing an online review, or a case study, or being a reference; that type of thing. We’ve automated a lot of that now through this advocacy platform, but how do you surface those people? We have almost 9,000 clinics and about over 60,000 people on the platform, so it’s … How do you float all those people to the top? That’s a lot of what we’re working on now.
Renee: Yeah. That’s really interesting. What a good strategy, because our clients do net promoter, but they’ll do it once a year even. You know? Doing it with that kind of frequency, I think would probably uncover a lot. Very cool.
Shawn: Yeah. It’s pretty interesting, because you’ll basically take the detractors and push them to the department. Either this is a product issue or this is a service issue, and you push that to those people. You try to resolve that faster.
I think there’s a lot of data that shows … Some of the people that can love your brand the most are those people have had a problem and you fixed their problem, right? As opposed to the people that just use the product and never really have had to engage that much. It hits both sides and it’s really been pretty useful for us to drive a lot of that lower-funnel content.
Renee: I had just had a conversation yesterday with a woman who … She’s a CEO of a software company, and she was telling me that they did a net promoter score, and they only do it twice a year, but they hired a team to do followup contact with the people who had issues. Their score was fairly low. I forget what she said it was. I think it was in the 60s. Through that outreach, in a very short period of time, I want to say the next quarter. When they redid the NPS, it was up in the 90s or the 80s. Just by being super proactive, it made a huge difference for them. That’s really great.
My last question for you is around knowing your numbers. This was one of your critical pillars. Our audience is very much data-driven marketers, and it’s really a requirement today for all marketers. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and how you approach it, and what you’re tracking and looking at. What you found most insightful.
Shawn: I think it’s a great time to be a marketer. I think in the past, maybe it was a little bit more of a, “I’m doing ads in magazines and I’m doing shows.” You didn’t really have so much of a seat at the table, I feel like. Sales was driving it, and marketing was sort of just facilitating. Now we’re at a point where marketing has enough data on their side, and we’re able to track things digitally and through the different channels in a way that we really have a seat at the table. It’s a great time to say, “I love sales. I love the salespeople.”
I think sometimes you’ll get an anecdote that will come back and say, “Well, I have no more leads,” and “Leads are no good,” or “I can’t sell any of this stuff,” or whatever. You know, they tend to be a little bit reactionary. Having the data that you’re pulling, to go back and say, “Well you know, I understand you’re feeling that way, but here’s what we’re seeing.” You can really ensure that, one, they’re following up on the leads appropriately; but two, it’s just everything’s out on the surface.
Some of my favorite metrics … I think we definitely … I think there’s been this shift from not tracking anything, to really being focused on leads only. I think the shift now is moving beyond that. For me, we mapped the entire funnel. We’ll look across campaigns at how many visits this drove, how many … what we would call conversions or names: people who download a whitepaper and give us their email and name, sign up for the blog, sign up for the newsletter. From there, how many of those people shift into leads, which is basically requesting a demo. From there, how many people are unqualified to get to NQL, to get to SQL, and all the way down the line. For me, I want to see the full metrics and I want to see conversions at pretty much every stage of the newsletter, or of the sales funnel, so that we can target that appropriately.
One of the big things that I’ve been pushing pretty heavily is how to track our spin to pipeline. How are we going from … what we’re spending on a campaign to the amount of pipeline that’s generating, and then ultimately how does that close from an ROI perspective.
Renee: Are you focused on doing a lot of inbound? Is it the majority of your spend? What are you doing to drive people? You mentioned a newsletter, but are you doing anything else-
Shawn: Yeah. We’re almost exclusively inbound. One of the reasons really is our market is so niche, right? This goes back to that content play, right?
At a previous company, I sold to physician practices. You have a much larger market to go after. You could use a much broader portfolio of lead sources. You could really diversify. You could buy a lot more paper lead programs. You had a lot of other channels to use.
In the therapy space, it’s much more niche. It’s really about the inbound and about what you’re driving. For us, about half of our leads and revenue come in through the website. We produce a ton of blog content. We drive a lot of people into our newsletter funnel, downloading whitepapers, and just get them into that database so we can continue to market to them until they’re ready to buy.
Renee: Is your sales process in-person? Is it a SaaS model? What does that look like?
Shawn: It’s a pretty standard SaaS model. Almost all the leads come in through inbound. We have a qualification team that will [inaudible 00:24:50] and then pass to sales, and then they will do the online demo and then sign them up. Our sales cycle is pretty fast: it’s about 30 days.
Renee: Oh wow. Okay. Great. They just renew every year or …
Shawn: Yeah. It’s interesting, we’re actually … Depending on the size and the product … For a large enterprise client, because of all the work involved, they do sign a contract that’s over a year, but most of our customers are month to month. The good part is an EMR is really sticky. It’s a good [crosstalk 00:25:34]
Shawn: So yeah. It’s really that we are constantly having to win the business, but it’s also … As I mentioned, it’s not easy to switch a lot of patient data over. We have to do really well in those first few months, because if we start off on the wrong foot, it’s pretty easy for them to say, “You know what? I haven’t really started using the system, so let me just go in a different direction.” It really puts it on us to deliver that value.
Renee: Yeah. No, that makes sense. You mentioned being all inbound. How are you looking at and tracking your ROI across your different channels?
Shawn: We do different paid stuff. We do events. We do google. We do have a couple of paper lead sources. From those, we look at the specific campaigns and what’s happening there. We also promote a lot of our whitepapers. We look at cost of conversion to a whitepaper, to get someone into the funnel. We use Facebook. Things like that.
For us, we have a high bar for leads, in my opinion, in that someone has to actually request the demo to be considered a lead. It’s not someone downloads a whitepaper about switching their EMR. They’re still not, in our funnel, yet a lead until they say, “Hey. Have someone call me. I wanna actually see your software.”
Shawn: We look at the cost of putting [inaudible 00:27:17] into that top of funnel, as well, and how is that changing, and then tracking that through to see does that line up with what we’re paying to get something in at the lead level.
Renee: Do you ever have instances where you’ll have your sales team do a followup phone call, even if they haven’t reached “I want a demo” stage yet? Maybe event leads or where they’re face-to-face with someone. Is there ever an instance for you where that makes sense?
Shawn: Yeah. I think you nailed it, right? Which is event leads. Those tend to be a little bit different. There are some other situations where it may not be exactly like that, maybe it’s a referral or something like that. Most of the time though, that’s where we are now.
It is different when we look at the enterprise space, because those are much longer term. If you get someone download a whitepaper, and you lead for them, and it makes sense, then we’ll have someone reach out in that kind of an instance, before they actually raise their hand and say, “Give me a demo.”
Renee: Yeah. No, that makes sense.
I have one last question for you. It’s kind of my bonus question: I’d like to know, what do you think marketers should be focused on for 2017? I know a lot of marketers are in planning phases now. What are you going to be focused on and what do you think they should be focused on?
Shawn: Yeah. That’s a good question.
For me, there’s a couple things that we’re focusing on this year. Really three things, and they haven’t changed all that much from what I was focusing on this year. I think a lot of times people go into these planning phases, and they go in and they think, “I’m gonna go in with a clean slate. I’m starting over and I’m gonna.” You know, it’s your new year’s resolution stuff, right? For me, a lot of that is not exactly the way it works.
One of my big things this year was cleaning up the data and the way we look at the data, and the way we look at the world. We made a ton of progress this year, but that’s going to continue into next year. I have a very good team, but they’re coming from a place where all they ever cared about was the lead number. Now, it’s like, “Okay. That’s good, but what happens after the fact. If you give me a thousand leads and none of them close, then that’s not a success.” Right? Getting people to check off those success milestones. That’s one piece.
For me, we’re going to go more into the enterprise market. This is sort of a buzz saying now, right? The most recent one is the “account-based marketing.” So we’re targeting more hospitals now than we have in the past. How do you get in front of those hospitals? They’re not coming in droves through our inbound process, right? That’s really optimized for our SMB clients. How do we evolve our website to cater to both ends of the market? How do we reach out and target them very specifically? How do we make sure we’re not burning a lot of cycles with these wrong prospects? That’s the other one.
And continuing in the competitor targeting. It’s an interesting … There’s a lot of shakeup happening in healthcare. I think the recent elections … Who knows what’s going to happen. You’ve heard all these crazy thing about repealing the Affordable Care Act. What are they going to replace it with? I think now its how do we create that sense of urgency to switch? How do we pull people out of the wait-and-see if they’re worried about that? How do we harp on those pain points of your current system and get you thinking about why you need to make that move? It’s always I guess, for me, about how do we help sales create that sense of urgency and drive demand of those new prospects.
Renee: Yeah. I know in enterprise too-
Shawn: I don’t know if that fully-
Renee: Yeah. No, it does. I was just going to say, I know enterprise too. If you’re used to selling to SMB, it’s a different buying cycle. It’s a different circle of influence. You’re going to be talking to different audiences possibly, so that sounds like a great opportunity and a lot to think about there.
Shawn: Yeah. We’re going from selling to the people that use the software and the platform, to selling to people that don’t. Right? Having to justify that to them. That’s always … It’s having that deep understanding of who the buyer is, who the influencer, and how do you help the champions on the inside vocalize for you and drive your cost. I think with marketing, it’s always changing, and you’re always just trying to stay a couple of steps ahead of it and see what’s new. It’s a lot of fun.
Renee: So fun. Great stuff.
Thanks so much for being on, Shawn. And with that, we’ll wrap it up. I really appreciate you joining us and sharing your insights and experiences. Thanks to everyone for listening and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on a future episode. We look forward to having you join us again. Thanks, everybody. Thanks, Shawn.
Shawn: Thanks, Renee.