Top Five: Data Science with Bryan Aungst

So far in our Top Five series, we’ve discussed internal marketing campaigns in healthcare settings. We’ve also learned what tools and technologies can help get healthcare content in front of target audiences. Today, we’re focusing on data science and strategy. How should healthcare marketers use data to make better marketing decisions?

To learn more, we sat down with Bryan Aungst, Chief Strategy Officer of Martin Communications, Inc. Here are our favorite five questions from our interview.
1. What are some common data points healthcare marketers should be monitoring?

Of course, there are the standard pieces like the traffic metrics for their site—where are visitors coming from, how long are they staying, how are they interacting with your site, etc. There’s also the classic KPI like clickthrough rates, bounce rates, and the like. Then, there are the more complex pieces to layer in, like site-side retargeting. At a minimum though, everyone in marketing—not just the healthcare space—should be leveraging GA to understand the traffic structure of their online presence.

The golden standard for systems with complex CRMs is tracking traffic from digital advertising down the funnel, and seeing which channels are driving actions—which may be different depending on the desired outcome. If you’re trying to get people to make appointments, you may find that social works best, but if you want them to register for screenings, maybe OTT is going to be king. It’s going to vary from system to system and audience to audience, so there’s no one catch-all solution.

2. What are some mistakes you see marketing departments making based on analyzing data?

The thing that I’m often most surprised about are the teams that take the time to painstakingly collect performance data on their KPIs and then do nothing with the information they gather. Data not scrutinized are the same as data uncollected. It’s not enough to monitor, you need to optimize approaches based on the data. If you don’t know how to do that, it’s time to engage with someone who can help.

3. What are some common trends you are seeing this year and into 2020?

OTT and geofencing are king right now, at least in our local markets. Video consistently delivers over static creative that requires *GASP* reading, so the OTT piece isn’t too surprising. Couple that with the knowledge that people are cutting the cord at record rates, and it’s pretty clear why OTT is so hot.

Geofencing is something that many might not know what it is at face value, but that they’ve certainly experienced. Gone are the days when as marketers we are impressed with being able to target specific ZIP codes. Now, we’re targeting individual buildings. This is how you get a coupon for Dunkin’ Donuts when you’re walking by.

The implications for being able to engage someone with a branded message when you know they’re physically in a space to take action on said message are amazing. Geofencing to this level has been outpacing almost all other forms of digital for us in the past few quarters, and I’m betting on that to continue to play a significant part in our strategies for the foreseeable future.

4. What is your #1 tip for healthcare marketers to start doing right now?

That’s kind of a loaded question. I don’t think there’s one thing that someone can start doing that’s going to completely revolutionize their world. I think a good place to start is more frequent testing of creative. The retail world understands this. Consumer products understands this. A/B test your creative. Workshop it. Focus group it if you have time.

There are resources available to do this sort of thing very affordably. Remove your intuition and the bias of the people you work with from the decision-making process when it comes to creative and communications. Let the audience tell you what’s going to make them move. Our President always says, “Don’t sell, let them buy.”

5. Do you have any example stories you could share?

Here’s something I learned pretty early on that has made things a bit easier for me. When I was in grad school a few years ago, I was working on a health-related communication study, and I was struggling to make sense of a large set of observations. I was trying to apply all of these fancy methods to organize the information and structure the models that I had just learned, but I was just kind of spinning my wheels.

A cohort pointed out that the data I had in front of me really was simpler than I was giving it credit for, and we were able to use a standard Excel function to visualize it in a way that was much more useful than anything I had created up until that point. That story has two morals. The first is to focus on the basics first, and don’t make things needlessly complex. The second is to get a new set of eyes on your research when you’re hitting a wall. Chances are, you’re too close to tell how far away you really are.

Bryan is the Chief Strategy Officer at Martin Communications, a full-service marketing/advertising agency in central PA. With a strong interest in how big data can be used to tell personal stories, he helps his clients optimize their creative and their budgets to make the most impact.
You can reach Bryan at
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